Our oldest pug, Bam Bam, had stopped eating his dog food, was losing weight, and is sick with cancer. He was raised on manufactured dog food. We wanted to intervene by making our own dog food and treats to see if we could get him to eat better. Our veterinarian advised us to check out http://www.balanceit.com for vet-approved dog food recipes, as she cautioned that it’s challenging to create a balanced diet for your pet on your own. We found a great recipe with ground beef, brown rice or quinoa, carrots, and peas that Bam Bam gobbles up! We also made beef jerky with our food dehydrator that we all can eat, and baked beef meatballs with riced cauliflower and sweet potatoes for pug-approved treats. Now, Lucy, our other pug, prefers this to her manufactured food and we cannot really blame her. Most importantly, we have 2 happier pugs and have fun making them food that we know exactly what it is made up of. It sure saves money on dog food, too!
Dog Food: (Pictured with ground beef, quinoa, peas, and carrots.)
90 grams mixture of veggies, finely cut or riced. We feel like you could experiment with different vegetable combinations.
138 grams of whole grains. The recipe called for long-grain brown rice, which we use sometimes, but quinoa worked well too.
156 grams of ground meat.
The recipe called for 15% fat or less total in the dog food.
Measuring Method 1:
I weighed the ground beef on my kitchen scale. Then, I took the ratios from the BalanceIt.com recipe. There is a 58% ratio of vegetables and 88% dry weight of whole grain. I use the recommended ratio for liquid on that whole grain. Using proper ratios of meat-to rice-to vegetables is important, so your pet has a balanced diet.
If I had 1,000 grams of ground meat, I would need 580 grams of vegetables and 880 grams of dry whole grains.
The tricky part can be adding the water. I can’t really find a good guide for gram ratios on cooking rice, so I measure the grams in my measuring cups, then add the suggested water. For brown rice, it is approximately 2 1/2 cups water, and for quinoa it is 2 cups water per 1 cup of dried grain (according to wholegrainscouncil.org).
Measuring Method 2:
1 pound beef
1 3/4 cups diced fresh or frozen
2 1/4 cup whole grain (If brown rice is used, add 5 1/2 cups liquid)
Directions using either measurement method:
Sear ground meat, our pugs like it kept chunky. After browning approximately five (5) minutes, then add vegetables and rice. Let heat one minute, then add liquid. Veterinarians recommend no salt. I add a little stock (chicken, beef, or vegetable) instead of water or add stock concentrate to the water. I find that using stock instead of salt adds more complexity of flavor. I do this when I cook for humans and the pugs seem to appreciate it. Actually, I tried their dog food and I would eat it. We store it in cheap plastic sandwich bags with no Ziploc, and put those in a big freezer Ziploc bag that we reuse. It allows us to make a lot (double or triple recipe) and pull them out of the freezer as needed. It takes about a day to thaw, so I usually move one to the fridge the night before I need it. We feed our pugs the amount of food our dry bag of dog food says to feed, two cups a day each. We like to add a splash of water to the bowl before microwaving it approximately 15-20 seconds to keep it moist. Then give it a stir and check the temperature, as there can be hot and cold spots. If I make it too hot, then I add a little crushed ice, stir, and recheck temperature before feeding it to the dogs.
Buy big, inexpensive lean cuts of meat. We bought a Round Roast, but you can use London Broil or Sirloin. The less marbling (fat mixed with meat) the better, since fat does not jerky well. Soak the meat in soy sauce for an hour (optional), and dehydrate for about twenty four (24) hours, at approximately 160 degrees. It’s a good idea to move the meat around after about twelve hours so no meat touches other meat. You will start to notice the meat getting darker, becoming firm, and shrinking. When you think it’s done, put it in a bag in the fridge. If moisture builds up inside of bag then put back in dehydrator, because that means it is not done. We usually store it on the counter or you could keep it in the refrigerator. Theoretically, it should last forever.
Use one pound ground beef, 3/4 cup frozen riced or finely diced veggies (we used frozen riced cauliflower and sweet potato, but you can mix it up), one egg (to bind ingredients together), and 1 cup of oats. Resist salting it, or use barely any, because veterinarians caution that too much salt could hurt your pet (https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/ss/slideshow-foods-your-dog-should-never-eat).
Beat Egg with salt if added, add to ground beef. Add vegetables and oats. Mix (warning-frozen vegetables felt freezing as we formed meatballs by hand, so next time I’m trying it with a cookie scoop). Form meatballs to a size you think your dogs would enjoy. We made ours little, about the size of a quarter or silver dollar. Bake at 375 degrees on a silicone pad (so they don’t stick and so you do not have to use oil), for approximately 15 to 20 minutes or until cooked through. Make sure there is no pink in the middle when you pull the meatball apart to check them before giving them to your dog, or use a meat thermometer to make sure they reach 160 degrees (as this is the USDA recommended temperature since bacteria/E-coli can be in raw beef, according to https://www.foodnetwork.com/grilling/grilling…/meat-and-poultry-temperature-guide).