Dog Food Recipe Books: An Honest Review of Seven of the Top Cookbooks for Dogs
by Janice Jones |Last Updated 06-29-2023
A few good dog food recipe books should decorate a prominent place on your kitchen shelf if you are a homemade dog food chef . But which books do you choose?
Dog Food Recipe Books
Overwhelmed by the number of dog food recipe books out there for purchase? I know I was and it seemed that more were coming on the market every day.
We looked at more than 30 dog food cookbooks claiming to be pet cookbooks, some which were better than others, some that should never have been written, and some that were very well written, accurate, and helpful for even the novice cook. I decided to review six of these books.
How We Rated the Dog Food Recipe Books?
If you are planning to provide a homemade diet for your dog, it is critical that you know about canine nutrition. Since there are doctorate programs that concentrate on animal nutrition, you might wonder if you could ever know enough to provide your pooch with a well-balanced, tasty diet?
A good cookbook provides not only recipes and cooking instructions, but also information on the nutritional content of the food. This requires the author to analyze the recipe to make sure it meets the nutritional guidelines established by the The National Research Council of the United States National Academy of Science, the organization that periodically releases reports on the nutritional needs of dogs.
A good helping of nutritional information for the cook is an important addition
Beyond the nutritional needs of dogs, dog food recipe books should be
- Easy to understand
- Well organized
- Contain ingredients that are readily available in most locales
- Use an abundance of locally grown, real foods
- Contain illustrations if necessary in how to prepare the food
- A good mixture of meals and treats unless the book specifically states that it is meant to be treat or meal only
- An explanation and recommendation for any supplements if the food is not nutritionally complete
- Specify whether the recipe is for puppy, adult, senior, or all-life stages
- Clear guidelines on how much to feed
- Relatively newer copyright date
What Guidelines Were Not Important to the Review Process
- Dog Food Recipe Books that had a catchy title
- Excellent cover design
- Abundance of colorful photographs
- Dog Food Recipe Books that had clever captions and chapter titles
Do Dog Food Recipe Books Need to Be Written by a Veterinarian?
The short answer is yes and no. Certainly a veterinarian with her extensive training in animal science is in a good position to write a cookbook for dog owners.
Others have degrees in areas such as animal nutrition that can be a great source of information to any pet lover.
The third group of people who write excellent books are those that have a keen interest in canine nutrition, have studied it on their own or through college courses. They have come to an understand of the needs of dogs and are passing on their knowledge to the general public.
People who love to cook for their dog could write a cookbook filled with their favorite recipes. Unless each one is complete nutritionally, the recipe is of little value.
The problem with this group is that often they get raving reviews from people who know little to nothing about canine nutrition.
Is it Cheaper to Prepare a Homemade Dog Diet or Buy Commercially Available
It can be cheaper, but the best way to know for sure is to compare what you would feed commercially with how much it costs to prepare the food at home. A simple kitchen scale and a bit of math is all you need.
Start by choosing a high quality dog food kibble. Since you plan to make your own, buy a small bag for comparison purposes.
Homemade Vs. Commercial: Compare Costs
Say you purchase Brand A which is 37.99 for a 15 pound bag. That amounts to $2.53 per pound or 0.16 per ounce.
Next, read the dog food label to determine the amount to feed. The label should show ages and weights. For Brand A, I discovered that an 8 month old puppy who is 10 pounds should consume 1 cup of dog food per day. One cup of Brand A’s kibble weighs 4.7 ounce so one day’s worth of food would cost $ 0.75 USD.
If you can obtain ingredients for less than $ 0.75 then you are saving money.
Why Do People Prepare Home Cooked Meals For Their Dog
- Healthier ingredients
- Control over ingredients
- No worries about product recalls
- Lack of trust in the Commercial Dog Food Industry
- Combination of love of dogs and love of cooking
- Can take advantage of seasonal vegetables and fruits.
What Dog Food Recipe Books are on Your Shelf?
Often you can choose a great dog food recipe book based on the views of previous purchasers. Canine Cookbooks may be the exception.
Many cooks choose a book based on the same criteria that we did not take into consideration such as a catchy book title. Which dog food recipe books made our short list? Here are the six we recommend but for different reasons.
Six Dog Food Recipe Books and Reviews
Organic Dog Biscuit Cookbook (Revised Edition): Over 100 Tail-Wagging Treats by The Bubba Rose Biscuit Company
This book is a little different from the others I review in this article. As the title implies, it’s all about biscuits or treats for your dog. All of the recipes are free of corn, wheat and soy and easy to prepare. This book is ideal for those who enjoy baking and can be a great source for those who love to cook with kids.
You know your dog is getting a great treat when you bake them yourself. A fun addition to this book is their assortment of cookie cutters that you purchase separately. The largest cookie cutters make extra large bone shaped biscuits, which may be too much for a small dog but they do offer molds that work just as well. Or, you can press them into a small ball and flatten before you bake. I’m willing to bet that your dog won’t care what shape his biscuits come in.
- Biscuit recipes only in this book
- All recipes require organic ingredients
- No corn, wheat or soy used in any of the recipes
- Easy prep
Here is an idea if you’d like to purchase dog cookie cutters.
The Healthy Homemade Dog Food by Charlie Fox
Here’s a down to earth, easy to read cookbook with some fun recipe titles such as Fishcake Feast, Champions Chicken Risotto, and Cowboy Chow Down.
Beyond the clever titles, author Charlie Fox does offer a decent amount of nutritional information as well as foods dogs should never eat.
Recipes are included for breakfasts, dinners, snacks and special occasions. He addresses the needs of puppies, adults and seniors as well as those with special health problems such as allergies and diabetes.
Beyond the whimsical, there is some sound advice especially for those just getting started with home cooking for their dogs. Ingredients in the recipes are simple and easy to locate most anywhere. Recipes include both gram and ounces needed making it useful for residents of different countries.
The downside of this cookbook is the lack of nutritional analysis. The recipes seem more like adding fun to your dog’s diet rather than replacing it all together, although that does not seem to be the intent of the author.
- Fun, easy recipes
- General nutritional information provide but nothing specific to each recipe
- Offers ideas for raw, dehydrated and slow cooked meals
- Good for the occasional home-cooked dog food chef
- No specific nutritional analysis although the author does recommend you check with your vet for advice
- As dog food recipe books go, this is one to consider if you are just getting started with home cooking
Dr. Becker’s Real Food for Healthy Dogs & Cats by Dr. Karen Becker
If you are looking for simple recipes and instructions, this would be our number one choice. The recipes meet NRC and AAFCO requirements for puppies and adults and the best part of this book is that it provides nutritional analysis of the recipes. This is a big advantage over cookbooks that provide recipes that “look good” on paper but may not be good for your dog.
There are recipes for beef, chicken, turkey, egg, and sardines. The recipes in this book are 75 percent meat (and organ meat) and 25 percent fruits and vegetables. There are no grains or dairy included in the recipes of this book.
If you use this book, you will need to put together a vitamin/mineral mix, essential fatty acids and calcium. The book provides instructions for putting your own mix together or purchasing a mix.
- Simple, Clear Recipes
- Meets NRC & AAFCO Requirements for Puppies & Adults
- 75% meat protein, 25% fruits and vegetables
- Nutritional analysis provided
- Useful and a complete substitute for commercially prepared foods
- On our list of dog food recipe books, this one is highly recommend for experienced as well as novice home cookers.
K9 Kitchen: Your Dogs’ Diet: The Truth Behind The Hype, 2nd Edition by Monica Segal
This book takes a different approach to cooking for dogs with the assumption that each dog is unique and a one size fits all approach to home cooked meals will not work. Like people, each dog has their unique nutritional requirements and addresses many needs.
Monica Segal starts with the basics and then helps the reader modify the diets to meet the specific needs of the dog whether they are just basically picky eaters to those with medical problems.
The book contains 60 diet plans: 20 cooked, 20 raw and 20 combinations and includes nutrient requirements for adult dogs based on the latest NRC 2006 guidelines.
This is a well researched book that includes facts and references to scientific studies. There is even a section that helps the reader determine if a medical problem might be related to diet.
The nice thing about the book is how well Segal has managed to keep it simple, yet provide enough information for the average home cook to individualize a diet that works.
Unlike many books for dog cooks, each recipes shows calories, and grams of protein, fat and carbohydrates. There are many different types of foods included in the recipes such as red meat, poultry, fish, organ meat, eggs, vegetables, fruits and grains.
Most of the recipes contain between 7 and 14 ingredients plus supplements, which may be too much for some cooks pressed for time. The recipes use kelp, zinc and vitamin E, most use vitamin B compounds and wild salmon oil.
Many of the recipes use magnesium, manganese, cod liver oil, safflower oil, flaxseed oil, copper, multi-mineral complex, salt. That means that in order to do these recipes right, you are looking at a higher price tag.
This book is ideal for anyone getting started who wants to truly understand the nutritional needs of dogs.
- Excellent source of detailed nutritional information
- Each recipe provides details such as calorie count, protein, fat and carbohydrates
- Recipes are based on the 2006 guidelines provided by NRC (National Research Council)
- Recipes are included for raw, cooked and combination (something for everyone)
- Extensive research and studies cited for those who like a more academic approach
- Purchase the later version because it has been updated. Both are available online
- Downside: Some readers may be overwhelmed by too much detail, for example, asking readers to create a spreadsheet to do analysis. This is not something that most home cooks would do for their family, let alone the dog. (No offense fur babies)
Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet Dog Food Recipe Books by Steve Brown
This is an interesting read because Steve Brown delves into the ancestral diet of the dog and then compares it to modern day NRC (National Research Council) guidelines.
Brown provides one recipe for boneless beef, one for poultry that includes RMBs (Real Meaty Bones) (chicken necks, whole or ground), and one that combines both.
Other ingredients in the recipes include heart, liver, vegetables, fruits, sardines, eggs, oat bran, and oysters. Supplements include bone meal, hemp seed oil, salt, kelp, chia or flaxseeds, vitamin E, and coconut oil.
The recipes in this book are high in protein and low in carbohydrates. The need for balanced fats is also addressed, going beyond the need to find the correct Omega 3 an Omega 6 ratio.
The recipes meet NRC guidelines and the nutritional analysis is provided in the book. There are also guidelines for supplementing a commercial diet, a plus for those that can commit entirely to homemade.
There is a section on food storage and how to calculate calories that come from protein, fats and carbohydrates.
This book is more complex than many people want, though you can certainly use the recipes without following all the details about why each ingredient is used and exactly which nutrients it provides.
Those of us who want to learn more about canine nutrition will find this book a real eye-opener. I refer to my copy frequently and find the information invaluable.
This book is likely to appeal to those who feel we have gotten too far away from our roots (thus ancestral diet). The author looks at the nutrients in different foods and one can combine them to make balanced meals all without using synthetic supplements as many of the commercially prepared dog foods do. He does, however add vitamin E and bone meal).
- Good for those interested in raw diets
- Makes use of NRC Guidelines
- Balanced meals and nutritional analysis is provided for each recipe.
- Our dog food recipe books review highly recommends this book, but it may be to complex for the average beginner
Feed Your Best Friend Better: Easy, Nutritious Meals and Treats for Dogs by Rick Woodford
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Author, Rick Woodford, known as the Dog Food Dude has put together a collection of 85 recipes that are easy and fun to prepare for the average beginner.
As nutrition goes, there isn’t very much information in the book that can’t be found online. But, you can go to his website and type in one of his recipes. From there, you can download a complete nutritional analysis which may be easier than reading it in a book.
There’s a couple of sections worth noting that seem to stand out from the rest of the books, including feeding off the cutting board, something that probably most of us do from time to time.
He provides recipes for different life stages and different medical conditions that can be helped with proper nutrition. There’s even a recipe for food to stuff into a Kong. I also thought the section about choosing a commercial dog food was good as well as training suggestions for mealtime problems.
If you are just getting started this is a decent beginning. I would recommend that you print out a few of the nutritional analysis statements and ask your vet to review.
- Fun easy recipes to prepare
- Online nutritional analysis information provided free
- Some topics not addressed in other books including mealtime behaviors and Kong fillings
- May be too basic for some more advanced cooks.
- Received excellent reviews on Amazon
Takeaway from the Dog Food Recipe Books Reviews
It is important that you know something about dog nutrition if you are going to be preparing home cooked meals for your dog. The easiest way to begin is to purchase and read a few good dog food recipe books.
Not all dog food recipe books are created equally as we have seen. If you are looking to start out small, consider the Organic Dog Biscuit Cookbook
You can use these recipes over and over or try a different one each time. Biscuits can be stored and used as training treats and you can decide if home cooking is for you.
If you’re getting started and need some nutritional information and some yummy recipes your dog will love, I would recommend you try out Feed Your Best Friend Better by Rick Woodford and The Healthy Homemade Dog Food by Charlie Fox.
Serious cooks and those that love the details, the other three books reviewed on this page should be on your wish list or better still, on your bookshelf.
If you found Dog Food Recipe Books Helpful
Here are a few more ideas you might want to check out.
Cooking for Your Dog: Owning a Smart Pot Can Earn You Two Paws Up
Small Dog Homemade Food: 8 Ingredients You Must Include
Homemade Diet: Is it Nutritionally Adequate?
5 Surprising Reasons to Offer Your Dog a Home Cooked Diet