Frugal DIY: Homemade Dog Food Recipe

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This is an oldie, but it still get’s a lot of traffic and fresh comments weekly. I guarantee your little furry friend will LOVE this Homemade Dog Food recipe!

Please Note:  Take a minute to read through the comments, there are some great suggestions, tips, and warnings when it comes to making your own dog food.  This is something I’m new to, my dogs are loving it but just know that you’ll likely need to supplement with dry dog food (or add in specific nutrients to the food) for the various needs they may have.

I’ve been really enjoying my new-found love for DIY projects lately, specifically when it comes to cutting costs on everyday products. It’s been fun to investigate what we can do to save money outside of clipping coupons and scouring the deals.  Not that deal hunting and coupons aren’t an incredible way to save – but learning to make things from scratch is fun and in some cases can be much cheaper!  The catch is though that you are going ot be investing more time.  With that said, clipping coupons and deal hunting can also be very time consuming.  The main benefit I’m seeing is that you know what is going into the products you’re using such as the Homemade Laundry Detergent and the Homemade Dishwasher Detergent.  There are no surprises this way.

With that said, dog food is a big expense in our household.  We have a Border Collie and an Australian Shepherd, while I wouldn’t consider them large dogs they are very active dogs and eat twice a day.  Our Australian Shepherd (collie mix) has a very sensitive stomach and we’ve tried many different brands of dog food, some of the specialty ones are upwards of $40 a bag!  When I was visiting with my husband’s aunt over the holidays we began chatting about this issue and she said very matter-of-factly “Why aren’t you making your own food for him?”  Ummmm….that’s a great question, I have no idea!  So I came home eager to try out this recipe and test it on the dogs.  It’s a HUGE hit, they both licked their bowls clean.  I hope your pups enjoy it too.


  1. 1lb Ground Beef (Chicken, Turkey, etc)
  2. 2 Cups Brown Rice (you can use other grains such as Barley or Oats too)
  3. 5 Cups of Water (I used 2 cups Beef Broth 3 Cups of water, but just because I had it on hand)
  4. 1 Package Frozen Veggies (Fresh would be better!)
First you’re going to brown the meat, then add the veggies to the pot.  Since dogs don’t chew their food up like we would it’s good to break up the veggies into smaller portions.  Not because they could choke, but to get the more of the nutrients.  I used a food processor to simplify it.
Next you’re going to add the rice and water to the post.  Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 20-30 minutes.
 When the liquid is gone and the rice is cooked it’s done!  I let it cool down a bit then I separated the pot into 9 (generous) 1 cup servings.  I formed each serving into a ball shape and placed them on a cookie sheet with wax paper.  Then you just stick it in the freezer so they stay in that form, then into a ziploc bag.  Now you have ready to serve meals, just thaw them out and serve!
A few things you should note:
I learned upon serving these dinners – 1 cup was quite a bit of food even though that’s how much dry dog food I’d normally serve.  I was able to split 1 cup between both dogs (one is still a puppy so I mixed hers with puppy food too) and they were happy as can be.  Whether it’s cheaper or not is still to be determined.

Leave a Comment


  1. Sophie van Coller says:

    I find your blog quite interesting. I have aFoxterrier and a smal mixed breed dog, and I found hat they do prefer homemade food above commercial food. I will really try some of your recipes. Thankyoiu.

    • Sophie, I am glad we could help! :)

    • I saw that someone is using turkey to make dog food. Turkey can be fatal to pets its causes pancreatic problems. Can can be deadly. People research foods before assuming that its OK for your pets. I know someone is going to say there is turkey products for pets but these are process and have by products not knowing how much is really turkey or turkey flavoring. I know someone who dog almost died eating a few pieces of white turkey meat. Thought I would share this information if it could save a pet.

      • Thank you for the heads up. I think the safest thing to do is always consult your vet before trying out a new diet for your pet! Better be safe than sorry

  2. Anonymous says:

    dogs are not carnivores, cats are.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dogs are definitely carnivores…

      • Cpl thoughs: I certainly hope those searching for alternative methods for their beloved pets Totally disregard any comments from the idiot posting as ” Anonymous.” to simply disrupt your blog. I enjoy the comments from real mothers who speak of everyday issues
        I am grateful to run upon this site. KEEP helping each other!

        • Marci Loehner says:

          Thank you so much! That truly means a lot to us at The Frugal Find. We strive to bring trustworthy content to our readers! Have a great week!

    • dogs are carnivores think about it they are decadence’s of wolfs…

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually dogs even the iconic wolf are omnivorous, hence the need for fruit and vegetable in their diet.

      • Anonymous says:

        No, they are carnivores. Even carnivores require fruits and veggies, but they, in the wild, obtain the nutrients by the stomach contents of their prey. Dogs lack the digestive processes to break done plant matter like us omnivores. This is why the veggies must be pureed, else the dog’s system won’t absorb the nutrients.

        Source: basic bio classes you should have paid aattention in.

      • Anonymous says:

        What are animals that eat trash, feces, meat, and vegetables called? Dogs.

  3. Hey, thanks for your recipe. I applaud your foray into making your dog’s food; I’m doing the same thing, cause I don’t trust store bought anymore.

    Unfortunately, your recipe lacks many essential nutrients your beloved companions need to remain healthy. Commercial pet foods are formulated to provide adequate nutrients, but homemade dog food must contain a protein source, a carbohydrate source, sufficient vitamins and minerals, and some fat. Recipes need to add oil, calcium, vit. D, E, iodine, plant oils if your not using dark meat of chicken and other stuff.

    A good site I found was:

    I also found a veterinary food supplement recommended by Vet schools (UC Davis, Ohio State University, and others) for Balance It. At 50$ for a pound, Balance It is a bit pricey for me now so I’m going to purchase my last bag of dog food and do full research on making my dog food.

    Thanks for your recipe.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, this diet is unfortunately very deficient in many required nutrients (most concerning being calcium and phosphorus in a growing puppy), and in calories required to meet the dogs’ needs. I would suggest consulting with your vet to make it more balanced if you are interested in feeding a homemade diet. I would be interested in hearing how these dogs are fairing after being on this food for a year.

      I think it is important to encourage anyone who wants to feed a homemade diet to work with their vet to create a balanced diet. Animals that are fed incorrectly (especially growing animals) can have severe health consequences if fed incorrectly (neurological problems, lameness and fractures, death, etc.).

      • YES! My dad’s dog developed cushing’s disease after being fed a carrot & chicken based homemade food. Too much protein and/or not in the right nutritional balance can lead to cushing’s disease or other health issues.

        On the upside, since so many commercial dog foods are so crammed full of GMOs & other toxic additives, maybe it is a wash because the pet is most likely going to get sick continuing to use that food too so might as well feed them what you feel is best with what you can control?! It really sucks that we are forced into either spending more than our own food to feed our pets healthy food, or we have to feed them commercial food… no middle line it seems.

  4. I’ve been making my Queensland Blue Heeler’s food scratch because i lost my job and commercial food was too expensive. Since then I’ve noticed how much happier and healthier he seems. But he also seems much hungrier. I don’t know if it’s because it tastes so good or if he is missing something. Any ideas?
    I’m starting with a whole turkey including organ meats. I fill a roasting pan with water and cook as i would for myself. (no seasoning) i then separate the wings, thigh and legs and separate the breast from the back and cook some more. (to get in there real good). I let it cool and then grind the entire thing, bones, meat, skin, cartilage, gristle and organs along with some carrots, oregano and Shallots from my organic garden. I add more water to top it off and 1 cup of freshly rendered pig fat. This is a 5 gallon pan full.
    I put it in the fridge to cool and congealed. I mix 6 cups of this with 3 cups local organic rice cooked with either fresh turnip greens or cabbage from my garden. He will eat 4 cups of this mix for dinner. (he eatsoncea day) and he still wants more. Is he being greedy? Is he missing some vital nutrient?
    I do not want his nutrition to go down hill. In all honesty his food is so good I’ve eaten it. Is anything wrong with this diet? Thanks in advance for any advice in this matter as i love him very much .

    • Hi, David! You pup sounds like a lucky dog to have an owner that cares so much about him :) I hesitate to give you an opinion about the safety/nutritional value of the dog food you are preparing because I am not a vet and would hate to give you wrong information. However I have read that shallots and any plant related (onions, garlic, leeks, etc.) are dangerous to dogs because over the course of time they can cause anemia so I would for sure skip those from your recipe. I would consult your vet to make sure your pup is getting adequate nutrients with this diet. Good luck!

      • Anonymous says:

        Garlic is good for dogs

        • Everything I’ve read points to garlic being toxic to dogs. I guess the best thing would be to double check with your vet before giving it to your pooch!

          • Anonymous says:

            Raw garlic is bad for dogs, but as long as it’s cooked and not given every day you’re totally fine.

          • Zanetta Smith says:

            Onions AND garlic are very toxic to dogs! I don’t give a crap what this anonymous dude is saying! Size of dogs and amounts vary, but it is much safer to just not feed them at all! If you are so informed, then why aren’t you making yourself known? Oh and just to let you know sir/lady…my dogs digest almost all fruits and veggies. Though there are some that should be avoided. Yes, dogs ARE omnivores!

            My only concern about the recipe above, is the organ meat. Dog should not eat too much, especially liver. It can cause liver stones.

            And here’s a list of veggies that shouldn’t be fed…




            green peppers


            potatoes (white)

            onions (shallots, onions, garlic, scallions, etc.)

            chives (toxic to dogs and cats)


            Swiss chard

            Dangerous with explanation…

            Grapes and Raisins: Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs. As little as a single serving of raisins can kill a dog

            Onions: Onions destroy red blood cells and can cause anemia. Sometimes requires blood transfusions!!!!

            Chocolate: Chocolate can cause seizures, coma and death. Baker’s chocolate is the most dangerous. A dog can consume milk chocolate and appear to be fine because it is not as concentrated, but it is still dangerous.

            Coffee, Coffee grounds, tea and tea bags: Drinks/foods containing caffeine cause many of the same symptoms chocolate causes

            Macadamia Nuts: Macadamia nuts can cause weakness, muscle tremor and paralysis.

            Animal fat and fried foods: Excessive fat can cause pancreatitis.

            Bones: Bones can splinter and damage a dog’s internal organs.

            Tomatoes: Tomatoes can cause tremors and heart arrhythmias. Tomato plants and the most toxic, but tomatoes themselves are also unsafe.

            Avocados: The fruit, pit and plant are all toxic. They can cause difficulty breathing and fluid accumulation in the chest, abdomen and heart

            Nutmeg: Nutmeg can cause tremors, seizures and death

            Apples (can be fed without core), Cherries, Peaches and similar fruit: The seeds of these fruits contain cyanide, which is poisonous to dogs as well as humans. Unlike humans, dogs do not know to stop eating at the core/pit and easily ingest them.

            Raw eggs: Raw eggs can cause salmonella poisoning in dogs. Dogs have a shorter digestive tract than humans and are not as likely to suffer from food poisoning, but it is still possible.

            Salt: Excessive salt intake can cause kidney problems.

          • Thanks for this comprehensive list! It really is tricky to know what to give/not give. When in doubt I always think that checking with your vet is the best thing to do

    • Anonymous says:

      Hi David. Shallots are no good for dogs. I’m quite suprised he has not had any problems due to them yet. Also poultry bones are VERY bad for dogs. Turkey is great but you NEED to remove the bones before you mix. Pork bone is also bad for dogs. Please do some research about what not to feed your dog. The last thing you want is something happening to your pet.

      • anonymous says:

        Poultry bones are actually really good for your dogs as there is lots of calcium in them. I usually give my dog frozen chicken necks and never had a problem!

      • Anonymous says:

        Bones are VERY good for dogs !! As long as they’re raw of course.

      • Muttman says:

        I know this is a late comment but PLEASE do not give your dogs poultry bones. When chewed and broken apart, the bones splinter, sticking in your dogs throat, mouth, and throughout his body. This is why you never see poultry bones for sale at pet stores. Cooked or uncooked, keep away from them.

        • anonynous 2 says:

          David runs the cooked bones through a grinder. The only hazzard in feeding cooked bones is splintering. Other wise they are a highly nutritious food source supplyng minerals, marrow, and other essential nutrients. I also grind well cooked bones and other poultry carcass parts and my dogs are doing well.

        • Raw meaty bones like chicken necks are very healthy for dogs and will not splinter if raw. Never give cooked bones unless ground up but raw meaty bones are great and vet recommended.

          • Marci Loehner says:

            Kerri you are correct. We have been feeding out Dutch Shepherd half raw, half kibble for the past two weeks. A lot of protection dog trainers feed 100% raw and give kibble as a reward. These are gentlemen who have been doing it for over 50 years so I’ll trust what they have to say!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Not sure if this has been addressed already but avoid giving your dogs too much liver. In large amounts, it can cause vitamin A toxicity. Also onions and garlic can cause anemia in dogs, even in small amounts though a very small amount of garlic may be benificial. It’s best to consult the ingrediants with your vet or look up whether or not the dog can have each ingrediant before putting it in the food. Just some helpful tips! :-) also dogs and wolves are in fact not carnivores they are omnivores, meaning they need a blend of vegetables and meats for proper nutrition and digestion. Cats however are carnivores, and can not survive on a vegetarian.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I have 2 dogs, both of them have become allergic to hard dog food. One was throwing up all the time and the other was itching and licking herself to death. My vet told me to make my own food for my dogs and see if it stops and it did. After researching what kibble was actually made from, I cant believe they are still in business. I have also tried the expensive ” natural” dog foods and they still had the same reactions so I am sticking to making them their own dog food.

  7. I have been cooking my rescue dogs food due to their allergies and my dislike for the “by products and meal” used in commercial foods for years now, and find some of these comments extremely helpful, while others extremely harmful. To compare even on a minute scale a dogs digestive system to that of 50 years ago, let alone hundreds is absurd and leaves others subject to what could be deadly to their pets is sad.

    Wild dogs, wolves, large and small cats that lived years ago and those that live in environments today such as parts of Australia, Africa, and numerous other countries that man has not destroyed or almost destroyed due to the dumping of chemical wastes, the use of other chemical and toxic products for production of our “meat production” had the opportunity to eat whatever portion of the animal they killed and leave the rest. If you watch a wild or starving dog kill an animal once the kill is completed and they begin to feed they go for the stomach. Why? Because it is where most of the animals they have killed organs (intestines and stomach) are located that have already processed the grain and vegetables they are craving. They then begin to eat the meat off the bone, etc. What you see in the wild is the remaining bones of carcasses the animals didn’t eat

    I do give my dog bones to chew on but they are large round beef bones, (that are trimmings my butcher saves me for free/ probably because I buy 40 lb boxes of chicken from him $25) for that I cook just enough to kill any bacteria and they can still get the nutrients from the bone marrow in the center which does not splinter and is totally digestible which doesn’t leave the opportunity for GI cuts or tears which could lead to surgery or death. It also keeps them busy and gives a great treat. I also get gizzards and livers from him cheap but not to much because it could cause toxicity. Just look at the amount of organ meats in an animal compared to the rest (it’s not rocket science)

    Thanks for the article I got some great ideas for varieties

  8. Anonymous says:

    Can you tell me where to buy the commercial dehydrated base?

  9. Hi! Thank you for sharing this recipe. I tweaked it a bit. I just browned the meat, added the rice, food processed steamed veggies (frozen pees, carrots, squash, and green beans about 5 oz of each). My dog loved it!! I also added a supplement for hip, joint, and coat called The Missing Link. I meant to buy fish oil for her omega 3, but I read that Chia seeds can be given to dogs. Has anyone also heard this or done this? I was going to add these to her next batch. They are great for a lot of reasons but I read that they have 5X more calcium than milk, 7X more vit C than oranges, 3X more iron than spinach, 2X more potassium content than bananas, 8X more omega 3 than salmon! . . I’m also wondering why you add the water to the recipe? I didn’t put water in mine.

    • Glad you liked this recipe,Jess. I am guessing your tweaks made the recipe a bit more moist than the original one. I would add water as needed, and if you feel you don’t, that perfectly ok. I have also been intrigued by Chia Seeds. I use them myself, but had not considered them for dogs. I’m happy to hear that they are OK for pups! Will definitely keep that in mind.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I think if you add eggs with the shells it would add some of the calcium your pups need

  11. Courtney says:

    I have a SUPER picky Springer Spaniel who I swear does not like to eat and has a severe milk allergy. He was on a cup of dry food and 1/2 cup of Pedigree wet food just to get him to eat. Just recently he decided that was no longer good enough and would stick his nose up and refuse to eat. I was doing anything to get to him to eat his food. I was adding apple sauce, ham, homemade chicken jerky treats, chicken broth, literally everything but the kitchen sink and milk products of course. A friend suggested homemade dog food. I began to search the internet and almost immediately found this recipe. I made it today for him and he was EXCITED to eat and kept hopping up on the counter to see what I was doing and to smell it (they are notorious counter surfers). He ate every single piece of food as soon as I put it down. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! If you have a picky eater this is definitely the recipe for you!

  12. Brian Dews says:

    My 6 year old Pomeranian loves this recipe and has been eating this for a few months. Thanks for sharing it! My comment is to ensure that you add a nutritional supplement either to the food while it is cooking, or portion out and mixed into the serving. For a 10lb dog, i portion out 1/2c services and feed him 2 per day, with a 1/4 tsp of vitamin & mineral supplement. I found this brand at Whole Foods called “I and Love and You”, called “Super Power Powder” that has all they need. It also does not leave an adverse flavor. Good stuff, good ingredients.

  13. My dog has been having tummy problems. I took him to the Vet for a check up and the Vet suggested I half his dry food and offer chicken and brown rice. He usually only has dry food, because he farts and pukes with wet food. So I cooked up your recipe with chicken. I pureed 2/3 of it and mixed it with the left over 1/3. He is an English Staffy and it made 4 staffy sized serves (measured around 350g per serve, which is about a small dog food can). He LOVES it!

    I also walked in on one of my sons having a spoonful. “Mmmmm, this is the best dog food I’ve ever tasted”.

    I really hope he wasn’t comparing that with some other dog food he may have consumed.

    • I am so glad your pup liked this recipe. I am so amused that your son enjoyed it too :) Thanks for sharing!

  14. Some friends of mine gave their dog a tsp. of garlic a day mixed with his food. The dog had long bushy hair. Their vet is the one that told them do this. It keeps fleas off a dog. The dog lived 15 years, never had fleas.

  15. I’ll bet my little shitzshu girl would love this! I like the idea of “balling” them up and freezing them. I cant wait to start cooking for her. And maybe she’ll finally be anxious eat her own food instead of going after the cat’s!
    One thing-I’ve read that raw veggies are best. Would you suggest perhaps adding those in last so they stay raw or cooking them with everything else?

    • Carolyn, I think you bring up a a good point! It sounds like a great idea to add the veggies towards the end of the cooking process so that they retain some of their consistency and don’t lose all their nutrients. They won’t be raw, but neither will they be over-cooked. My sister’s Jack Russel loves mini-carrots so that’s how she sneaks in her pup’s veggies every day!

  16. My son just adopted a Whippet puppy (6 or 7 months old). We were told he has a wheat allergy. He bought “Grain Free” dog food, as we were told he was eating that brand. We have not noticed an improvement of his condition as of yet (missing hair) He also makes some homemade food. I am looking for recipes that do not include wheat or oats. It seems that most Treat recipes call for oat’s & or wheat flour!! This has me totally stumped. Also I thought that rice was a grain, but a lot of the commercial dog foods have Brown Rice! Someone please HELP. I want to make sure that his puppy gets proper nutrition food & treat wise. I would not mind making his food or treats, if I have proper recipes to use..

    • Tami, I wonder if your pup has other allergies besides wheat. I have struggled with my German Shepherd (Cody) who is constantly scratching. After a visit with a Vet who specializes in allergies, he recommended getting dog food that’s made from Kangaroo and Oats (Iams KO ~ you can get it online but it requires a prescription). It seems that dogs can become allergic to many everyday foods like chicken, fish, rice, etc. However, Cody continued to scratch despite the change in his diet and so we had him tested for other allergens. It turns out that he’s allergic to dust mites, pine trees and a bunch of other things in the environment. So now he takes daily allergy medication (but the dose for dogs is different than for humans). He is also taking daily immunotherapy drops that were developed specifically to treat his allergies. Needless to say, this has been quite a journey! I don’t know if you have access to a Canine Allergy Specialist but if your pup is highly allergic, you might want to go that route. I’m afraid it’s going to be more complicated than what you hoped for. Best of luck to you! I hope you can find some answers

  17. Joni DeVaul says:

    I have a Chorkie and she is rescued. Who ever had her before I did surely gave her people food because she definitely knows what is dog food and what is people food. She hates all kinds and brands of dog food. I even tried the natural foods they keep in the little refridgerators at the store and she wouldn’t eat that either. So I was looking the internet for some kind of home- made dog food I could fix for her and came upon your recipe! Decided I was going to make some up tonight. So I did. While I was putting it away in the cup size servings, she came in and was smelling and smelling around. I had a little bit left over that was not big enough to put away, and filled up about half of her little bowl, which is about cup size, maybe a little more. And LO and behold she chomped it all up. She seemed satisfied because she had eaten some left over steak earlier. She seemed to really like it. I am anxious to see how she does with it tomorrow. I did add some eggs and shells to the mixture and a little canola oil and pureed it. Wow if she likes this and will eat it, it is a miracle. Thanks so much for sharing your recipe.

    • Marci Loehner says:

      Hi Joni!

      Did you end up feeding your Chorkie the dog food this week? I love hearing feedback from readers who are trying our recipes!

  18. We add 1 tbsp of garlic powder ( not salt) 1 tbsp of bone meal supplement ( Now from ebay 12.00 for bottle ) and put 1 tbsp of non fat cottage cheese to top . The dogs go wild for this ! Sometimes we add 1/4 cup of expensive natural dry kibble to it …for the big male dog. We have a dog with pancreatitis so we strain the ground the turkey to remove fat. Tupperware has great tool to cook turkey and strain fat all at once in microwave….we use brown rice ( not microwaved )

  19. Denise Sayles says:

    You might add apple cider vinegar, organic, to help health.


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