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Nutritional Wisdom: Balancing Essential Nutrients In Homemade Dog Food

At A Glance

Integrating protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals will ensure that homemade dog food will provide everything your dog needs to remain healthy for years to come.

Other benefits of nutritious homemade dog food include:

  • Variety
  • Minimal additives and preservatives
  • Allergy management
  • Cost savings

Last Updated on: Dec 07, 2023

custom oil-painted dog portraits by Poshtraits

Making homemade dog food is all the rage right now, and there are many reasons why. When done right, you can give your dog healthier meals at a lower cost. What’s not to love about that?

Despite holistic dog gurus on the internet saying you can create a balanced diet with random ingredients, rigorous research says otherwise. Upon analysis, 95% of homemade dog food recipes online failed to meet guidelines set forth by multiple well-regarded organizations.

Does this mean that making your dog’s food at home is a pipe dream? Fortunately not, thanks to homemade dog food-making machines that do all the hard work for us.

If you’re wondering how to balance essential nutrients in homemade dog food, this guide has all you need to know!

The ABCs of Essential Nutrients for Dogs

Here are some elements that comprise essential macro- and micronutrients your dog needs:


homemade dog food - protein

Protein contains ten essential amino acids vital for bodily functions that dogs’ bodies cannot synthesize. It is especially important for glucose production, which is their energy source.

Healthy protein sources include chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, limited amounts of pork, and certain fish varieties (salmon, whitefish, herring, walleye, and flounder). The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) recommends 22% of total calories come from protein for puppies and 18% for adult dogs.

AAFCO establishes guidelines for ingredient definitions, product labels, feeding trials, and laboratory analyses of the nutrients that go into pet foods. – Dr. Virginia LaMon


Fatty acids contribute to cellular function and structure, promote healthy skin and coat, and enhance food palatability. Healthy sources include plant-based oils like corn, soybean, canola, flaxseed oil, and salmon fish oil.

Puppies need about 8% of their total calories from fat, while adult dogs need 5%.


At least 20% of a dog’s total daily calories should come from carbs (sugars, starches, dietary fibers). This is where they obtain a significant portion of their energy.


Fiber is needed to maintain a healthy gastrointestinal system and prevent excessive weight gain. Carrots, pumpkins, apples, dark leafy greens, brown rice, and flaxseed are high-fiber ingredients.

Too little fiber will lead to constipation, while too much will result in loose stool. For most dogs, the ideal amount is around 2% to 4% of their total daily calories.


dog food - vitamins

Dogs require various vitamins obtained from different food sources. But a certain balance is needed: vitamin deficiencies can lead to health issues, and excessive amounts can be harmful.

Essential vitamins for dogs include: A (found in carrots and pumpkins), B (liver, green vegetables, whole grains), C (fruits, vegetables, organ meat), D (liver, fish, beef), E (leafy green vegetables, liver, bran, plant oils), K (fish, leafy green vegetables, fish), and choline (liver, fish, meats, and egg yolks).


Dogs need these 12 minerals for various body functions:

  • Calcium (tofu, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower) and phosphorus (meat and eggs) – essential for strong bones and teeth.
  • Magnesium, potassium, sodium, and chloride (fruits, vegetables, whole grains) – for nerve impulse transmission, muscle contraction, and cell signaling.
  • Sulfur (meat and fish) – for healthy skin, coat, and nails.
  • Iron (red meat and poultry) – supports red blood cells and the immune system.
  • Iodine (dairy, kelp, seafood) – for a healthy thyroid.
  • Zinc (eggs, lamb, liver, brewer’s yeast) – immune system, healthy skin and coat.
  • Selenium (meat, vegetables, seafood, brown rice) – boosts the immune system.
  • Copper (whole grains, seeds, seafood) – for healthy bone growth.

Research has shown that homemade dog food is often deficient in the following: zinc, choline, copper, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and vitamins D and E.

How Your Dog Benefits From a Balanced Homemade Diet

dogs eating fresh food

A balanced homemade diet for your dog will provide many benefits:

Ingredient Control

You have complete control over the quality and source of ingredients and nutrients in homemade dog food, ensuring only high-quality, fresh, and wholesome meals for your dog.

No Additives or Preservatives

Homemade food does not contain artificial additives, preservatives, and other potentially harmful substances often present in commercial options.


You can tailor ingredients to meet your dog’s specific dietary needs, taking into account their age, size, breed, and health conditions.

Allergen Management

If your dog has food allergies or sensitivities, you can easily exclude ingredients that may trigger adverse reactions.


Different recipes make food interesting and enjoyable for dogs compared to a repetitive commercial diet.

Cost Savings

Depending on the ingredients, homemade dog food is often more cost-efficient than premium commercial options.

Creating Balanced Meals With a Dog Food Maker

dog eating food

Researchers found that out of 200 recipes for dogs, 95% did not meet National Research Council or AAFCO guidelines for at least one essential nutrient, and 83.5% had multiple deficiencies.

To ensure your furry friend gets all the nutrients in homemade dog food, you can use a homemade dog food-making machine. A food processor, slow cooker, and nutrient analyzer in one, it helps making highly nutritious meals simple, easy, and quick.

You can just throw in whole ingredients in the mixing bowl-often without having to break them down. And with a couple presses of a button, you’ll get food that’s been gently cooked, providing your dog maximum nutrients and flavor.

You can provide all the essential nutrients in homemade dog food with a bit of research, smart shopping, and a cutting-edge food-making machine. Here’s to tastier meals that reward our dogs with an optimal diet that commercial options can’t beat!



I am a full-time mum of two kids and a beautiful golden retriever. Writing is my passion: from food journalism to pets, parenting tips, etc. I can write on just about everything under the sun. I have been writing for the past 7 years and during that time, I have been a regular contributor to several blogs and pet magazines. I have also written feature articles, POV pieces, and dabbled in a few different formats of writing over the years.