September 26, 2023 by Pauline G. Carter
With busy lives and a budget to live by, lots of dog parents likely have neither the time nor the money to cook for their dog every day, much as they would like to offer healthier and more palatable alternatives to kibble and canned food. Fortunately, there’s a more practical solution that can satisfy dogs and the humans taking care of them: the ageless art of meal prepping.
If you do meal prep for yourself, know that you can adapt the same approach and cook up batches of homemade dog food using fresh, nutritious ingredients. Make the meals ahead, store them in your refrigerator or freezer, and then simply reheat them before you feed them to your pup.
For an owner who’d like to treat their dogs to delicious food and utilize their batch cooking skills in the process, here’s a handy guide to pet meal prep.
Why You Should Consider Making Homemade Meals for Your Dog
To begin, there’s nothing wrong with feeding your dog processed dog food, as these products are specifically formulated to be pet-safe and nutritious to dogs. But as the discerning dog parent now knows, not all processed foods are the same. Some may contain low-quality ingredients, fillers, and artificial additives that you’ll want your dog to avoid in the long run.
In contrast, making your dog’s meals at home provides you with a level of control and customization that processed foods cannot match. You’ll know exactly what goes into their food, allowing you to tailor their diet to their specific needs and any allergies or sensitivities they may have.
Should you cook for your dog all the time? Most dog parents would be inclined to mix and match things up, opting for healthy and good-quality premade dog food on some days and homemade meals on others. The tips listed below should be useful for the days that you want to be in charge of the latter.
What’s Your Dog Allergic To?
One of the most important considerations you should make is your dog’s allergies, if they have any. This will guide what you put into their food and the care you put towards cleaning their dog stainless steel bowls to avoid contamination.
Just like people, some dogs can be sensitive to common allergens, such as:
If you suspect that your dog has allergies, or if you just want peace of mind before prepping their food for them, consult your veterinarian for allergy testing.
What Foods Should You Never Include in a Prepped Meal for Your Dog?
To ensure your dog’s safety, you’ll need to be aware of common foods that are toxic or unsafe for them. Some ingredients that are harmful to dogs, and that should never be included in a meal for them, are the following:
- Xylitol artificial sweetener
Also remember that seemingly innocuous foods, like small bones, can pose a choking hazard or lead to intestinal blockages. Avoid the foods listed above, as well as bony food, when shopping for and prepping dog-friendly ingredients for your homemade meals.
How Can You Observe Proper Nutrition for Your Dog in Their Meals?
Largely like humans, dogs thrive on a balanced diet that includes protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. However, the specific requirements can vary based on factors like age, breed, and activity level. Before you start doing meal prep for your dog in earnest, consult a vet or a pet nutritionist to formulate the best nutritional plan for your canine.
How Can You Batch Cook Meals for Your Dog Like a Pro?
Meal prepping doesn’t have to be a daily chore. You can consider batch cooking to make the process more efficient. Prep large quantities of dog food on a certain day of the week, and portion it into airtight containers or freezer bags.
Once you’ve prepared a batch of delicious homemade meals for your dog, you’ll want to make an effort to store these meals properly. This will maintain their freshness and keep them safe for your dog to consume. Airtight containers should successfully keep out moisture, pests, and odors and preserve the quality of the food.
Never store your dog’s meals near heaters or leave them in front of direct sunlight. Always keep them in a cool, dry place, such as the refrigerator or freezer, to prevent spoilage or degradation of nutrients. You should also keep track of when you cook a batch of meals. To avoid fresh meals going bad because you’ve forgotten about them, label them with dates and make sure they’re within your line of sight in your refrigerator or freezer.
Some Last Considerations to Ensure Food Safety for Your Dog
Always wash your hands and your utensils thoroughly before and after handling ingredients for your dog’s meals. Also remember to cook ingredients like meat and eggs thoroughly to kill any harmful bacteria.
In addition, once you start cooking for your dog, monitor their health and weight. If they don’t take to the food well or are experiencing symptoms like diarrhea or sluggishness after eating homemade food, consult your vet and adjust their meal plan accordingly.
Meal prepping for your dog shows your absolute dedication to ensuring your beloved pet’s health and happiness. It strikes the perfect balance between cooking for your dog every day and feeding them kibble that may not contain the best nutrients for your dog’s needs. With convenience and nutrition covered, meal prepping will be the more sustainable feeding solution for both you and your dog—and one that will likely leave your dog’s tail wagging with satisfaction and happiness.
About Author (Pauline G. Carter)
Pauline G. Carter is a well-known pet blogger who has written about the world of pets for several years. She is passionate about pets, from cats and dogs to birds, reptiles, and poultry. Her blog, which is updated regularly, is filled with articles and guides on pet care, nutrition, and training. She also shares her experiences and observations on pet ownership, making her blog relatable and informative for pet lovers. She is a true animal advocate and is dedicated to promoting responsible pet ownership. Let’s Go …