You've made the healthy decision to switch your dog to homemade food … congratulations and welcome to the Top Dog family! It can be daunting to know where to start, but we are here to help you every step of the way. Veterinarians have long recognized that nothing has more of an impact on the health of your pet more than nutrition. Let's get started!
It’s important for homemade dog food to be complete and balanced, meaning it meets all of your dog’s nutritional needs. It is not essential that every meal be this way, but that it includes a variety of foods at different meals over time. As long as your dog gets everything it needs spread out over several weeks, its diet will be complete and balanced.
Every batch of homemade dog food must have a nutrient supplement, or "completer", in order for it to be complete. But what nutrients does your dog need? How much do they need? Where do you get them? How do you know what recipes are balanced?
That's where we come in.
Simply select your recipes, prepare them, add Top Dog Meal Completer and you're done! You still have to cook the food, but all the guesswork has been done for you. Whether you cook your dog food or serve it raw, our recipes have been verified by a pet nutritionist to provide balanced meals that your dog will love. Our completer does not contain any preservatives, unnecessary ingredients or artificial flavors so you can add it to any recipe knowing you are giving your dog the absolute best.
Consult with your vet before starting a homemade food diet to make sure you have an understanding of the specific dietary needs of your pet.
There is no “right” cooking schedule. Some people get a handful of recipes and cook them over a couple of days. This way food is ready in the freezer for the next several weeks. Others cook during the week alongside preparing meals so food is always fresh. You can also combine these methods; have a surplus of frozen meals, but cook fresh meals during the week and rotate your supply. No need to cook every day unless you want to. You will figure out what works best for your lifestyle and your dog’s feeding schedule.
If you are preparing a raw diet, simply prepare the food and store in the refrigerator for a few days or freeze and use later.
What you will need:
- Knives and a cutting board
- Large pan and a boiling pot
- Meal prep containers or bags for fresh meals
- Reusable bags or freezer safe containers
- A large mixing bowl or bucket
- Wooden spoon
- Scale (to weigh protein and liver)
- Vegetable peeler
- Meat grinder
- Food processor
- Slow cooker
- Rice cooker
Step 1: Choose recipes with different proteins and vegetables so your dog's diet will be varied and balanced over the upcoming weeks. Feeding one recipe forever is not a balanced diet. You can scroll through all Top Dog recipes by clicking "recipes" at the top of the website. It is conveniently divided by proteins. Also, click "Printable Recipe Book" and select individual recipes to print and save your favorites for easy reference.
Step 2: Make sure you have plenty of refrigerator and freezer space as well as storage supplies on hand.
Step 3: Check your supplies and compile your shopping list.
Below is a printable quick start recipe guide with a shopping list. It includes 3 simple recipes (beef, chicken and turkey) with few ingredients and minimal cooking to get you started.
Beginner Recipe Guide and Shopping List
Prepare your food
Follow our simple recipes to prepare your dog food. Don't forget to let the food cool before adding in your Top Dog Meal Completer. Adding completer to hot food can reduce its effectiveness. Separate food into portions and refrigerate or freeze them.
Ready to feed
You’ve done all the cooking and portioning and you are ready to feed your dog nutritious and delicious homemade food. It is important to remember to introduce homemade food slowly over time. Switching food too quickly can cause gastrointestinal problems, vomiting, diarrhea or loss of appetite. Start by mixing some of the new food with the old food and progress from there. Here is an example:
Day 1: 25% new diet and 75% old diet.
Day 3: 50% new diet and 50% old diet.
Day 5: 75% new diet and 25% old diet.
Day 7: 100% new diet.
Homemade food is optimal when it is served at room temperature. When reheating your food out of the fridge or freezer be careful to not over heat it as it diminishes the potency of the completer. Make sure to stir it before giving it to your dog to ensure that the temperature is even across the entire portion and doesn't have any "hot spots".
If your dog does not eat their food within 15-20 minutes, refrigerate it and try again at a later feeding time. Some dogs do not like change and may protest eating for a meal or a day initially, but this will diminish in no time. If your dog shows signs of distress when switching over to homemade food and you have taken the switch to homemade food slowly, you should consult with your vet to discuss any food adverse reactions.