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How Much Homemade Dog Food to Feed Your Dog?


 It’s not easy knowing what’s actually hidden in your dog’s diet when feeding off-the-shelf dry dog food. Behind the healthy, happy dogs on the packaging is usually a product filled with ultraprocessed grains and rendered animal byproducts. Little wonder then that dog owners are turning to homemade dog food. By buying and cooking your dog’s food, there’s no doubt what’s going into your dog’s body.

This is also critical for dogs with allergies or intolerances. For instance, dogs that need a low-glycemic diet for diabetes or renal disease won’t tolerate most branded dog foods. It's better to feed them nutritionally-balanced homemade fresh food.

But without the handy feeding guidelines on branded packaging, pet parents are left with a bunch of questions. Chief amongst them: how much homemade dog food to feed their dog.

Below we’ll explore homemade dog food, and we’ll advise on just how much to pile in your dog’s bowl.

Why counting calories is so important

Calories are the measure of energy stored in food. Eat more calories than you burn off, and you’ll start piling on the pounds. The same is true for dogs.

Unless their owners carefully control their calorie input, dogs are at high risk of obesity. That can result in numerous health consequences, including diabetes, heart disease, inactivity, liver disease, and more.

Therefore, it’s critical to ensure your dog is eating the right amount of calories for their size. Typically, pet parents do so by reading the calorie information on a dry food bag. With homemade dog food, that’s just not possible.

However, you can still calculate your dog’s daily calorie intake to ensure they eat the right amount.

See the table below for an approximation of caloric needs for average indoor pets:

Weight (lbs)

Calories per day

10

200 to 275

20

325 to 400

50

700 to 900

70

900 to 1050

90

1100 to 1350

If you’re mathematically minded, try out this simple equation:

Resting Energy Requirements (RER) (kcal/day) = 70 x Ideal Body Weight (kg)^0.75

It calculates the calories needed per day based on your dog’s ideal body weight. But you can always talk to your vet for their guidance.

Another good rule of thumb is that dogs eat roughly 2 to 3% of their body weight. There’s an obvious problem with this rule, however. Not all homemade dog food is calorically equal. Three ounces of beef, for example, has more calories than three ounces of carrots. That’s why calories are usually the best measure. 

Nutritional balancing of homemade dog food

When you’re at home, you can serve up nearly everything to your dog (we don't recommend this). It’s not as easy for packaged consumer brands. They have to abide by the AAFCO nutritional guidelines, and there's a good reason for this.

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is a private, non-profit organisation dedicated to regulating the sale and distribution of animal feeds. It establishes the agreed ingredient definitions and nutritional requirements.

For example, dog foods given for growth and reproduction need:

  • At least 22.5% protein
  • At least 8.5% fat
  • Minerals (includes calcium, phosphorus, potassium, etc.)
  • Vitamins (includes vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, thiamine, etc.)

Whereas dog foods for adult maintenance need:

  • At least 18.0% protein
  • At least 5.5% fats
  • Minerals (includes calcium, phosphorus, potassium, etc.)
  • Vitamins (includes vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, thiamine, etc.)

AAFCO's guidelines go into great detail on the specific amounts of each amino acid, fat, vitamin and mineral needed. If a dog food recipe—store bought or homemade—is deficient in any specific nutrient, it may cause health issues over time.

For example, if your dog is deficient in choline, he or she may experience reduced brain growth as a puppy or develop liver problems as an older dog.

Therefore, recipes should have the adequate vitamins and minerals.

For dogs, organ meat is one of the best source of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes outside of muscle meat. Indeed, organ meats even help with certain diseases: heart helps heart disease, liver helps liver diseases, etc. – just do not exceed 5% of a meal being liver.

Homemade dog foods that contain liver, heart, gizzards, kidneys, and even pancreas will have lots of beneficial nutrients from natural sources—but they will still be likely nutritionally deficient.

How to make nutritionally balanced food?

If you're making a recipe from scratch, you will require software to help you formulate it. This software is generally used by a veterinary nutritionist who is trained in formulation and understands the detailed dietary requirements for puppies, certain breeds and more.

For instance, if you were to make a homemade dog food for your new puppy without the right amounts of DHA, it will likely lead to impared brain growth.

If you don't have proper training in this software, the next best thing we recommend is to find a vet-approved homemade dog food recipe.

Risks of homemade dog food

A recent study found that 95% of homemade dog food recipes online have at least one nutrient deficiency. You already know you can believe everything you read online—well, your dog's homemade dog food recipe is no different.

This is why you need to do your own extra research and make sure you're making a recipe that's truly "complete and balanced" according to AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles.

One way to do this is to look for the recipe's Guaranteed Analysis and compare it to AAFCO's Dog Food Nutrient Profiles it publicly makes available. Can't find a Guaranteed Analysis? If the recipe you found online doesn't have one, chances are it isn't nutritionally complete.

Serving sizes based on calories per cup

Once you've chosen a recipe, look at its nutritional info to find its calories per cup. Feed your dog the corresponding amount based on the calorie table shown earlier in this article.

Nutrition is actually much more complicated than calories-in-calories-out math. If you see your dog gaining weight, you can reduce the amount you feed them. Alternatively if you have a puppy, they may need up to double the calories shown in that chart.

If you're uncertain how much your dog should eat, contact our team at woof@yumwoof.com for assistance from a nutrition expert.

Don’t do it alone

Are you still confused on how many cups of food your dog should? Unsure how to start making your own homemade dog food?

Finding the right "complete and balanced" recipe is difficult, and there’s no need to do it alone. Perfect Dox Food Mix was created to make this easy. All you do is mix a protein source and a designated amount of the mix. Then, give a good stir and cook.

The serving amounts are easy to find, as well as the Guaranteed Analysis showing how the food is nutritionally balanaced.

The result is a delicious, healthy homemade dog food that easily determines the calories per cup. No more asking how much homemade dog food to feed your pup – it’s right there on the packet. Simple!

So, what do you fancy cooking for your doggy tonight?

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