While dry kibble has been the go-to for several decades, more dog owners these days are making the switch to home-cooked meals. From a pure quality and nutritional standpoint, it makes sense.
Despite all the measures that dog food manufacturers take to create high-quality kibble, the products are still highly processed. We're taught that processed foods can cause obesity and slew of health issues. So why is that our dogs' diets are made up entirely of processed foods?
We rely on commercial dog foods for several reasons. They're affordable, readily available, and don't require any preparation on our part. Many people think that making homemade meals for your pup is an expensive and time-consuming process. In reality, it's easier than you think.
You don't even need to slave over a hot stove. Just whip out your Instant Pot machine!
Instant Pots are handy little gadgets that can make dog food preparation a breeze. They have all the functionality you need to prepare healthy and nutritious meals for your canine companion with barely any work at all. Just put the ingredients together, hit a few buttons, and you're good to go.
Why You Should Consider Making Your Dog's Meals
There are several reasons why you should think about creating your dog's meals. The biggest is that it's simply better for your pup. There are a lot of unknowns in commercial kibble. Mystery ingredients, questionable manufacturing processes, and unnecessary additives all affect the quality of the food.
Truth is, your dog's not getting the high-quality nutrients that they need. The very nature of creating and preserving commercial food strips a lot of essential vitamins and nutrients from the ingredients.
While you may see a lot of great stuff on the packaging, that doesn't necessarily mean that your pooch is getting top-shelf quality. In most cases, the stuff that's used in dog food are things that aren't good enough for humans. So, you'll see a lot of meat scraps, lower-quality vegetables, and a ton of filler.
When you cook your dog's meals in an Instant Pot, you have greater control over what they're putting into their bodies. You can choose prime cuts of meat, wholesome vegetables, and more. Plus, you don't have to worry about quality control issues.
Almost all of the major dog food brands have done recalls at some point due to potential contamination. Not only that, but many studies have come out recently about how certain popular ingredients are doing more harm than good for the canine population.
All of this can be avoided when you're the one calling the shots.
If you have a dog that suffers from allergies, it's more important than ever to have control over what they're consuming. It's not hard to find horror stories out there about sensitive dogs suffering in silence due to commercial kibble.
Popular allergens in dog food can cause hair loss, weight gain, and a slew of other problems. While some dog food options cater to allergy sufferers, they are few and far between.
Ultimately, cooking your furry friend's meals is about providing your pooch with healthy meals that meet their needs. Dogs are supposed to be members of the family, so why wouldn't you want to give them the very best?
The biggest obstacle that's stopping dog owners from switching to homemade dog meals is the cost. Home-cooked meals will indeed cost you a bit more than a large bag of kibble. However, the tradeoffs are well worth the investment.
Dog food recipes cost more to make because they don't contain fillers! Most manufacturers pump the food with unnecessary fillers to keep costs as low as possible. Things like corn, wheat, and soy are relatively common.
However, those ingredients are not good for your pup. They're difficult to digest and don't offer much in terms of nutritional content. Essentially, they're empty calories.
Dog food recipes only use essential ingredients. There are no fillers, unwanted byproducts, chemical additives, or artificial preservatives. The best recipes are all-natural and healthy.
If ongoing costs are a big factor for you, there are some ways to save some money. You can easily use food scraps to supplement your recipes. No, we're not talking about human food that you don't eat. Those are even worse for your dog than cheap kibble. We're talking about natural food waste.
When you're cooking for yourself, there's a good chance that you're throwing away a lot of nutrient-rich extras. Foods like carrot tops, cabbage cores, brown bananas, and other things that you would normally throw away are great for dog food recipes.
They're still chock-full of vitamins and nutrients. Instead of tossing them out, you can reduce your food waste by implementing them into your dog food recipes.
The Foundations of a Healthy Canine Diet
The key to successfully cooking your dog's meal in an Instant Pot is to provide them with a balanced diet. You need to choose your ingredients carefully and make sure that your pup is getting all of the essentials. Here are some things that your recipes need to have to keep your pup healthy.
At the core of every recipe you make, there should be a high-quality protein source. Protein is essential for your dog's muscle health. You can use chicken, turkey, beef, deboned fish, and more.
The great thing about cooking your pup's meals is that you don't have to treat it like human food. Feel free to leave in the organs, cartilage, and some bones. They provide additional nutrients that your dog needs.
Most commercial kibbles are filled with simple carbs, which are notorious for causing blood sugar spikes. For your homemade recipes, go with complex carbs.
High-quality carb ingredients include foods like sweet potato, butternut squash, and pumpkin. The great thing about those foods is that they're also great fiber sources that can keep your dog's digestive system in check.
Fruits and Vegetables
While protein is the most important thing to give your dog, fruits and vegetables are essential, too! Plant-based ingredients are where your dog is going to get the bulk of their vitamins and minerals.
The best fruits and vegetables to use are antioxidants.
These include blueberries, cranberries, spinach, and more. Antioxidants can improve the immune system and fight off free radicals.
When you're choosing plant-based ingredients, you need to make sure that the foods are safe for dogs. As you probably know, some foods are toxic to canines. Avoid ingredients like grapes, garlic, avocado, onions, and anything else that could cause some potential issues.
Last, but not least, your dog needs fat. Standard fat from the meat source will do just fine. However, if you want even better health benefits, try using other healthy fats.
Coconut oil is great. It enhances the taste and can improve energy levels. Omega fatty acids through salmon oil and flaxseed are good, too. They can keep the skin and fur healthy.
3 Dog Food Instant Pot Recipes
Now that you have a better understanding of why home-cooked meals are the way to go, let's talk about some recipes. Dogs are pretty easy to please when it comes to taste. Your biggest concern when cooking a recipe is whether or not it meets your pup's nutritional needs.
The following recipes do well across the board and are great alternatives to traditional kibble. Plus, they're easy to cook in your Instant Pot!
#1. Instant Pot Stew
This recipe is packed with great nutrients. It's very similar to some standard kibble formulas. However, instead of blending and baking everything, you'll be feeding it to your dog as a rich stew.
The first step is to prepare all of the fruits and vegetables. Cube the potatoes, slice the carrots, and get rid of the apple core. Also, rinse and drain the kidney beans. The chicken doesn't need any preparation aside from standard washing.
To start the cooking process, place the chicken breasts at the bottom of your Instant Pot. Then, add water until it's just barely covering the chicken. After that, toss in all of the additional ingredients except for the frozen peas and olive oil.
Cook this mixture on the "Low" setting for about 8.5 hours. Once you reach 8.5 hours, add the frozen peas and let the food cook for another half hour.
Once the mixture is soft, turn off the Instant Pot and let everything cool. Drain all of the excess moisture and use your fork to mash everything together. Then, mix the olive oil in. The chicken should fall apart into a shredded texture.
You can separate this recipe into smaller individual meals and pop the leftovers in the freezer for later.
#2. Chicken and Brown Rice Stew
Looking for something high in fiber? This stew is a great recipe to try out. The brown rice is much healthier than wheat or other grains. It tastes great, has plenty of great complex carbs, and keeps your pup's system regular.
This recipe is very easy to make and doesn't cost a ton of money. Plus, it takes less than half an hour to cook up.
To prepare the ingredients, all you need to do is chop the sweet potato and carrots. The chicken thighs will cook whole in the Instant Pot. This allows you to take some of that flavor from the bones.
Place all of the ingredients into the Instant Pot and cook for 23 minutes in the "Manual" mode. After you have released the pressure and let things cool for a bit, remove all of the chicken bones.
Chicken bones can break up in your dog's system and cause serious health issues. So, make sure that every piece of bone is taken out.
Break the remaining chunks of chicken apart with a fork and mix everything until it's fully incorporated. The texture should be light and fluffy. If you want to add coconut oil, do so now.
Let the food cool down to room temperature before you feed your dog.
#3. Homemade Beef Instant Pot Dog Food
This beef-based dog food is filled with great ingredients. Not only does it provide high levels of protein, but your dog can also take advantage of the nutrient-rich beef livers.
This recipe is designed to work with whatever natural food waste you have on hand, so feel free to make adjustments based on what's available.
Before you cook, combine the water and vinegar. Let the rice soak in this mixture for a few hours. Then, strain the rice out and set the water aside while you start cooking the meat. You can cook the ground beef and livers with the "Saute" function of the Instant Pot.
You should cook the proteins until they are about halfway finished. Once they reach that sweet spot, add the soaked rice and the remaining water from earlier.
Stir what you currently have in the Instant Pot together before you add the vegetables on top. Don't mix the vegetables in. Instead, close the pot, seal the vent, and let it cook in the "Manual" mode for about 12 minutes.
Once the timer is up, release the vent. At this point, you can add bananas and coconut oil. The recipe is pretty much done! Just mix everything together until you have a nice fluffy mixture.
Of course, let the food cool down before you feed your pup. You'll have plenty of leftovers, so make sure to separate your portions and freeze the meals for the future.
It's not hard to make nutrient-rich dog food that your furry friend will love. Give these recipes a try and see what your dog thinks. Chances are, they'll be begging for more. As always, make sure that you consult with your vet before you make the switch to homemade food. Your vet can give you valuable recipe tips.
Also, you must start off slow. Start by mixing your homemade recipe with the standard kibble. Then, slowly decrease the kibble until you're fully transitioned. This will help your dog avoid stomach upsets. With a bit of patience and know-how, your dog can reap the benefits of healthy homemade meals.