Homemade dog food is one way to make sure your dog is eating high quality ingredients without harmful additives.
Making all of your dog’s meals at home requires commitment and education. It’s essential to make sure that the recipe you use has all the essential nutrients your dog needs.
Delighted Dog Stew is a simple way to give your dog healthy variety from time to time. It doesn’t require handling large quantities of raw meat or investing in expensive grinders. This stew has on three steps:
- Simmering up a rich meaty broth.
- Straining out bones and skimming off the fat.
- Adding meat and tasty vegetables and starches.
Ready, set, go to your kitchen
Homemade dog stew is made with meat and bones, fresh vegetables and a little bit of starch such as rice, oats, sweet potatoes or corn.
Roasted first then simmered slowly for hours, meat and bones make a rich broth. I use five to six pounds of chicken, the remains of a holiday turkey carcass or beef neck bones. The meat doesn’t have to be expensive. Having the skin and bones is fine. They flavor the broth and will be strained out later.
Roasting or browning the meat first avoids the gray scum that forms when meat is simmered in water.Put the cooked meat into a large stock pot and cover with water. Add one or two bay leaves, if you wish. I use a slow cooker or a large pot on the back of the stove for several hours or even overnight.
Straining and skimming the broth
Remove the bones, skin and other material that has come loose in the simmering. Ladling the solids into a colander set over a bowl allows you to keep all the broth. You don’t want either fatty skin or cooked bones in your stew. The fat can upset a dog’s digestion. Cooked bones get softer and break up, but they can still get stuck in a dog’s throat or digestive tract.
Let the broth sit until it cools. With a large pot, this can take a long time. When it’s barely warm to the touch, put it in the refrigerator overnight. The fat will rise to the top and turn solid. Then, you can easily skim the fat off the broth and throw it away.
While the broth is cooling, pick the meat off the bones you removed from the soup. Chop it into small pieces. When it has cooled, put it into the refrigerator until you’re ready to put the stew together.
Delighted Dog Stew
After skimming the broth, put the pot back on the stove and reheat on low. Add the chopped meat to the broth. While the stew heats, prepare any of the following and add to the soup:
- Three large carrots, scrubbed. Lop off the very bottom and the very top of the root and slice thinly.
- Chard, kale or spinach. Cleaned spinach can be put into the soup whole. Chard or kale should have the tough ribs removed. You can then roll up the leaf from side to side and then slice finely crosswise on the roll to make ribbons. These vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals.
- Cabbage. About a cup, finely sliced. This can give some dogs gas. Skip it if your dog is prone to farting.
- Zucchini, washed and sliced into small pieces.
- Acorn, butternut or other squash. You can roast these yourself or buy canned pumpkin pureed.
- Sweet potatoes. Clean them, cut the dried ends off and dice. They can be thrown into the soup with their skins.
- Brown rice, oatmeal, barley or quinoa. Add only a small amount — say half a cup to a large pot of soup. Dogs don’t digest starches well.
These are just suggestions. You can also add parsley, broccoli cut into small pieces, corn, cooked beans, tomatoes or cauliflower. Frozen, canned or fresh vegetables can all work.
Calcium is a good supplement to add to homemade dog food. This Whole Dog Journal article describes ways to increase calcium in homemade dog food, calcium-rich foods you can add and calcium supplements.
5 things to NEVER add
Some things should NEVER be added to homemade dog food, including:
- Onions, in any form (raw, cooked or dehydrated). These can cause a potentially fatal form of anemia in a dog. Depending on the size of the dog and how much onion was eaten, a reaction can occur within days of eating the onions. An anemic dog can’t get enough oxygen to his organs and muscles.
- Garlic. Garlic comes from the same plant family as onions. While it doesn’t have as powerful an effect on a dog, it probably should be avoided.
- Fat trimmings or skin. Fat and fatty skin, whether cooked or raw, can irritate a dog’s pancreas causing pancreatitis. While this recipe uses fat and skin in the making of the broth, both are removed leaving the flavor but not the irritating richness.
- Bones. Cooked bones are brittle and splinter into fragments that get stuck in a dog’s throat or digestive tract.
- Salt. Too much can lead a dog to develop sodium ion poisoning. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, a fever, seizures or death. Best to leave it out.
With the exception of bay leaves, I don’t use any spices in Delighted Dog Stew. The soup has good flavor on its own. Keeping it bland tends to avoid digestive issues.
Delighted Dog Stew can be served by itself or over kibble. When the ingredients are finely chopped, it’s much harder for the dog to pick out what he wants to eat.
Keep enough in the refrigerator to feed your dog during a week. The rest can be frozen in batches to serve later.
More recipe ideas for dogs
If you enjoyed reading about Delighted Dog Stew, check out these posts for more homemade dog treats: