When using a slow cooker or crock pot, the goal is obviously to make a large serving of food for the entire family with very little effort. You simply toss your ingredients in, set it and move on with your day. But there’s one member of the clan missing out on the pot roast, soup, stew or chili that happens to be simmering on the kitchen counter: your pet. Leave the pooch out no more because now you have one more use for that slow cooker, and it’s making pet food.
Why opt for homemade pet food? We’ll give you a few reasons.
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Imagine eating the same meal two or three times a day, every day, for months — or even years. Boring, right? Also consider all of the pet food recalls we’ve had just over the past year, from the more recent pig ear treats to Hill’s Pet Nutrition’s recall back in March when more than 30 of its products were reported affected. Now, more than ever, pet owners are craving more control over what their dog or cat eats. And making your own pet food is much easier than it sounds, especially when a slow cooker or crockpot is involved. Plus, you could save money by making a month’s worth of dog food versus buying an expensive bag of dry kibble that could run you anywhere around $50.
Before we get to the recipes, there are a few things to keep in mind when preparing from scratch. Dogs, much like humans, are healthiest when eating minimally processed foods. So when shopping for ingredients, opt for fresh veggies and protein.
What to feed dogs
According to Canine Journal, the six basic nutrients required for dogs to maintain a balanced diet are water, protein, fat, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins. These nutrients help with growth and maintenance of cells, tissues, organs and more, keeps intestines healthy, and promotes good skin and hair growth, among other benefits.
Many recipes have the same ingredients — such as kidney beans, peas, carrots, rice, butternut squash or sweet potatoes and protein — and for good reason. Kidney beans and sweet potatoes are rich in protein and carbohydrates, peas and carrots are packed with vitamins, like vitamin A and C; and rice has fiber, manganese and magnesium.
A slow transition
Once you’ve made the decision to make adjustments to your dog’s diet, be sure to slowly incorporate the new diet into your pet’s life as the dog’s digestive system needs time to adapt. Canine Journal recommends spending four to 10 days transitioning to the new diet.
Daily portions vary, so it’s recommended to refer to your vet.
Ready to make some pet food? Here are some of the best dog food recipes out there.
Ground chicken dog food
Place ground chicken, kidney beans, carrots, butternut squash, peas, green beans and white rice in a slow-cooker, set for four hours, and you’ll have 14 servings of dog food ready to serve and/or freeze for later.
Ground beef dog food
Similar to A Fork’s Tale, Damn Delicious’ slow-cooker recipe also calls for butternut squash, carrots, peas and kidney beans. But instead of chicken and white rice, Damn Delicious uses ground beef and brown rice.
Chicken thigh & turkey recipe
Skip the ground chicken for this BarkPost recipe. Mix 2 pounds of chicken thighs or drumsticks — yes, with the skin and bone intact — with ground turkey, diced sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, butternut squash and carrots, chopped green beans, brown rice and water. After eight hours, remove all the bones from the chicken and serve.
Chicken breast dog food
As we mentioned before, many dog food recipes use the same veggies, including sweet potato, green beans and carrots. They also use either brown or white rice. But in terms of protein, that’s where you can get creative. The Bark’s recipe uses two boneless chicken breasts.