How to Cook for Your Dog and Cat

It's easy to make your own pet food at home.

Are you tired of a panicking every time there is a new pet food recall? Do you worry that the dry kibble you feed your dog or cat isn't nutritious? Then, you may want to try cooking pet food at home. Homemade pet food is often cheaper than store-bought products, doesn't have fillers, reduces waste, and gives you peace of mind about what your dog or cat is eating. However, talk to your veterinarian first to make sure this is safe for your animals.

Learn About Ingredients and Unsafe Foods

You can't cook the same meals for your family and dog or cat. Pets have unique nutritional requirements and can't tolerate some foods. In addition, some cats and dogs have allergies. Before you start making anything in the kitchen, consult with your veterinarian and get a list of safe and unsafe ingredients.

In general, you want to avoid cooking with the following ingredients for your pets:

  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Xylitol
  • Alcohol
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Mushrooms
  • Nuts
  • Yeast dough
  • Dairy
  • Coconut

Get the Best Recipes

One of the best sources for recipes is a veterinarian who is board-certified in nutrition and has experience cooking at home for pets. Look for a vet who has received training from the American College of Veterinary Nutrition (ACVN). You can also check out the ACVN's cat and dog guides for pet owners, which explain the animals' nutritional needs.

What to Feed Dogs

In general, you want to make sure each meal has a cooked protein, cooked carbohydrate, vegetable, and fat. Some examples of cooked protein include chicken, turkey, beef, pork, fish, sardines, or eggs. Cooked vegetables can include carrots, peas, green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, sweet potatoes, or squash. You can use vegetable oil as a source of fat.

Sample Recipe for Dog Food

Dogs require balanced food with specific amounts of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Your dog's medical history, weight, and age will affect recipes. The following sample recipe from Paula Terifaj D.V.M. is for a 20-pound healthy dog. Talk to your vet before feeding this meal to your dog.

Ingredients

1/4 pound of lean ground turkey

1 cup of cooked brown rice

1 cup of cauliflower or broccoli

1/4 teaspoon of a salt substitute (potassium chloride)

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

mineral and vitamin supplements recommended by your vet

Instructions

Make sure all the ingredients are fully cooked before combining them in a dish for your dog.

What to Feed Cats

Cats require protein, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. A small amount of carbohydrates is fine, but cats don't need a lot. Good sources of protein are meat and fish, such as chicken, beef, pork, sardines, or salmon. Carbohydrates can include white rice or corn. Make sure you blend all the food together well before serving it to your cat and take out any bones.

Sample Recipe for Cat Food

The MSPCA-Angell Animal Medical Center recommends the following recipe for a healthy cat that weighs 12 pounds. Talk to your vet to make sure this meal is appropriate for your pet.

Ingredients

3 ounces of cooked salmon

1/3 cup of cooked rice

1/5 cup of cooked sweet potato

1/4 teaspoon of vegetable oil

mineral and vitamin supplements recommended by your vet

Instructions

Make sure all the ingredients are fully cooked before combining them in a dish for your cat.

It's not hard to make homemade food for your dog or cat. However, you should consult your veterinarian about any recipes you plan to use to ensure that you are meeting the specific needs of your pet.