A healthy, nutrient-rich diet is important for any dog, regardless of age. However, for senior dogs, it’s even more essential. Being mindful of what and how much your older pooch eats can go a long way in helping to manage common issues associated with dog aging, including obesity. There are lots of high-quality, specialty dog foods available and I’ve had great success with some of them but they can be expensive. Making your own dog food is a more affordable alternative to commercial versions and you’ll be able to control what goes into it. If you’re concerned about your pooch missing out on nutrients, adding supplements can be helpful too.
Be sure to keep any food allergies or dietary restrictions in mind and talk with your vet before starting your dog on a diet of homemade food, particularly if they suffer from any health conditions. You might also need to adjust the ratio of protein to grains and veggies to accommodate your dog’s needs. With that in mind, here are a few of my favorite homemade dog food recipes for older dogs that contain tasty, safe ingredients.
Brown Rice, Turkey and Veggies
VetCo has some great vet-approved homemade dog food recipes and resources, including this one for a simple, healthy meal of brown rice, turkey and vegetables. Once the mixture cools, you can divvy it up into single servings (the recipe makes about 12 cups) and either refrigerate the portions for up to five days or freeze them.
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 2 cups brown rice
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- ½ package frozen broccoli, carrots and cauliflower (or chop two cups of fresh vegetables and cook them for about four minutes until they’re just starting to get tender but still firm)
- 6 cups water
- In a large pot, add the water, rice, ground turkey and rosemary.
- Stir to break up the turkey and ensure the ingredients are well mixed.
- Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add the frozen or fresh vegetables. Continue to cook for five minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat and let the mixture cool before serving.
This beef stew from Money Crashers is one of the best homemade dog food recipes to replace commercial wet food.
- 1 pound beef stew meat
- 1 small sweet potato
- ½ cup diced carrots
- ½ cup diced green beans
- ½ cup flour
- ½ cup water
- 1 tbsp organic vegetable oil
- Microwave the sweet potato for five to eight minutes until tender but still firm.
- Cut up the beef stew meat into nickel-sized chunks.
- Heat the vegetable oil over medium heat in a large pan. Add the stew chunks and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes or until well done.
- Take the beef out of the pan but reserve the drippings.
- Dice the cooked sweet potato.
- Turn the heat to medium-low and heat the drippings. While whisking, slowly add the flour and water to the drippings to make a thick gravy.
- Add the sweet potato, meat, green beans and carrots to the gravy and mix to coat.
- Cook about 10 minutes or until the carrots are tender.
- Let the stew cool completely before serving to your senior dog.
- The leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days.
Dry Dog Food
Wondering how to make dry dog food? Henrietta Morrison’s cookbook Dinner for Dogs is an excellent place to turn. It’s filled with tons of ideas, ranging from oatmeal breakfast for dogs to homemade dry dog food recipes. The Bark breaks down the process of how to make dry dog food here – it takes about an hour – using one of Morrison’s recipes featuring lentils, turkey, carrots, sweet potato, apples, steel-cut oats, parsley and rosemary.
I stumbled upon quite a few homemade dog food recipes on Genius Kitchen, including this one for chicken casserole. While cabbage has antioxidants that are good for senior dogs, it can cause gas. If this is an issue, you may want to decrease the amount the recipe calls for. As for the spinach, it’s safe for dogs, however, not all pooches like it, so adjust accordingly.
- 4 pieces boneless chicken with skin
- ½ cup carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1 cup cabbage
- 1 cup broccoli
- ½ cup green beans
- ½ cup spinach
- 1 ½ cups brown rice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Rinse your vegetables and steam them until they’re almost soft enough to mash. When they’re done, set them aside.
- While your veggies are cooking, put your chicken in a pot and add water to cover it. You want the water to be about an inch above the chicken.
- Bring the pot to a slow boil and boil the chicken until the meat is cooked and the water turns into an aromatic broth, about 20 to 30 minutes.
- When the chicken is cooked, remove it from the pot but reserve the broth.
- Cook the brown rice in three cups of the chicken broth.
- Remove the chicken skin and chop the chicken and steamed vegetables into small, bite-sized pieces.
- When the rice is finished, combine it with the veggies, chicken and olive oil in a large bowl and mix together. You can also add some chicken broth.
- Let the casserole cool completely before serving to your dog. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge in a sealed container for up to three days.
Peanut Butter and Banana Dog Biscuits
No compilation of homemade dog food recipes would be complete without a treat! If you’re watching your senior dog’s weight, moderation is key, but for a special occasion, try these peanut butter and banana dog biscuits from All Recipes.
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
- ½ cup mashed banana
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- ½ cup wheat germ (can also try oats instead if your dog isn’t a fan of wheat germ)
- 1 lightly beaten egg white for the egg wash
- Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (150 degrees Celsius). Lightly grease a cookie sheet.
- In a medium bowl, stir the peanut butter, egg, banana and honey until well blended. Add the wheat germ and flour and mix thoroughly. Put the dough on a floured board and use a floured rolling pin to roll it out until it’s about ¼-inch thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut into your desired shapes. Place the biscuits on the baking sheet and gently brush the tops with the beaten egg white.
- Bake the biscuits in the oven until they’re golden brown and dried, about 30 minutes. Take them out and cool them on a wire rack.
Whether you go with commercial food or you try one of these homemade dog food recipes for senior dogs, combining a nutritional diet with exercise will keep your older pooch healthy and energetic.
Looking for a quick way to add some nutrition to your dog's diet? Check out Nibbles, our line of freeze-dried fruit and vegetable dog treat alternatives, which are single ingredient selections carefully chosen to help dogs with dietary restrictions such as food sensitivities, kidney disease, liver problems or simply dogs that need a low calorie option. Choose from green beans, diced carrots, apple slices or blueberries all sourced from Canadian and American farms.
If your senior dog has mobility issues, check out our Dogger dog stroller, Grippers traction socks and our Gentle Rise Pet Steps & Ramps. The assistance products are designed to help keep dogs moving, so they can safely get the exercise and stimulation they need.