Leftovers: Make Your Own Pet Food

Okay, so from the title of this post I probably have you thinking I’m crazy, right? But think about this: when you put leftovers in the fridge, how many times do you not take them out again until a month later when they’ve started growing their own new, primitive lifeform leftovers? Why not hook Fido up with some of that before it turns gross, and keep it from going to waste?  Pre-empt the leftovers by setting aside raw meat during dinner prep to cook for your pet, mix with some veggies and grains, and you’ve got a wholesome and nutritious pet food in your own kitchen.

The benefits of making your own dog food:

  • As I already mentioned, it cuts down on food waste.  Either way, you’re paying for that chicken or rice.  If you’re the type who keeps leftovers with good intentions but habitually forgets to eat them, and you have a dog, you might want to consider making your own dog food.
  • It’s hard to tell what’s in dry dog food and what, of those ingredients, is actually good for you dog and giving him or her the nutrients they need.
  • Dog food can actually be pretty expensive because in some cases you’re paying for fancy packaging, imaging, and branding, not what’s actually inside.  All that stuff is geared towards humans, and many people buy right into it without a second thought.
  • If your dog is recovering from illness or surgery, providing them with a solidly nutritious meal that meets their needs can make their recovery a whole lot better.
  • It’s fun, and your dog will love you (even more).

This is my dog, and she loves people food.  I don’t feed her anything processed and I stay away from breads (sometimes she gets cheese if she annoys me for long enough).  She likes baby carrots and turkey.  A lot.  Sometimes when I’m preparing chicken or beef, I have some extra meat, and I also end up with extra vegetables and whole grain rice.  I could throw this away, or put it in a container and not see it again until the next time I clean out the fridge.  Instead, I cook it up and mix it all together and put it in my dog’s bowl.  It’s not difficult for me (I cook her chicken while I’m waiting for my own food to finish cooking, for example, or I cook hers with mine and just set it aside), she doesn’t need a huge portion, and she tears into that bowl like a pack of wild hyenas, so I know it must taste pretty good.  I don’t feed her homemade food every night; but I have found that if I follow a few simple guidelines, she tolerates very well the occasional treat when I run out of her regular food.  I’m hoping in the future to switch to totally homemade food for her.

You can kind of wing it when it comes to making pet food at home, but veterinarians say that it should be 1/3 protein and 2/3 vegetables and grain (thanks AllRecipes).  Use natural ingredients – remember, your dog is an animal and their stomachs need to be able to tolerate the food you give them.  Pay attention if your dog has trouble going to the bathroom or is having diarrhea.  Give them a day or two to get used to the food, and if you don’t see an improvement, switch them back to what they’re used to.  You also need to feed them smaller portions than you would dry or canned dog food – use this helpful weight chart to determine the appropriate calorie amounts.

Some things to avoid putting in your homemade dog food:

  • Onions or onion powder
  • Garlic
  • Anything that includes bones
  • Grapes
  • Hops
  • Liver
  • Fat trimmings
  • Potatoes
  • Raw eggs
  • Salt or sugar
  • Bread or dough that contains yeast
  • Broccoli (unless you like dog farts)

Good dog food ingredients:

  • Thoroughly cooked chicken, fish, lamb, or beef (fat removed) – boiling is a good cooking method for this purpose.
  • Boiled, chopped eggs
  • Brown rice
  • Mixed fresh or frozen vegetables (green beans, carrots, corn), finely chopped or pureed (this helps your dog get the nutrients, since they aren’t big chewers)
  • Chicken broth (unsalted)

Hopefully you’ll have some fun making some sweet dinners for your bff of choice.  You don’t need to break the bank and start feeding your pets lobster and filet mignon, but you can make use of the things you might otherwise not eat and end up eventually throwing away.  You should be eating the same healthy, fresh, and simple foods your dog is enjoying, so it won’t be too much trouble, right? If you get ambitious, there’s also several doggie biscuit recipes out there to try.  Good luck!

Always consult with your vet before making any major dietary changes!

If you have your own pet food stories to share, please leave a comment.


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Categories: leftovers, Pets in the Kitchen


I'm a writer of web content and advertising copy in the interactive space. I'm kind of a geek, but I like other stuff, too. My passions and loves include cooking and food, travel, music, and reading; my husband & favorite architect Jonathan; my wonderful family and friends; and my loyal, quirky dog.

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2 Comments on “Leftovers: Make Your Own Pet Food”

  1. August 24, 2010 at 6:55 am #

    I love My Dog
    Training is the best investment you can make in your relationship with your dog. You’ll need to do your homework first, though, to learn how to communicate what you want in a way that your dog will understand. Stay consistent and patient, reward your dog for getting it right and remember: you can train a dog of any age.
    How to make dog food ,how to stop dog from bed habit
    ask Mr.dog

  2. M. Bartos
    September 17, 2010 at 11:58 am #

    Nice article. But you shouldnt cook the meat for your dog. Its better to give it to them raw. Would your dog cook its prey after it caught it in the wild? Also,
    liver is ok, just small amounts once or twice a week as it is very rich. Raw eggs are also fine, so it potato, just not the potato peel. A dog needs starches. Bones are good also as they have plenty of calcium in them and the marrow in the middle is excellent for dog health. Look into Raw food diets for dogs.

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