Dog Diets: Mixed Feeding, Rotation, and Homemade Dog Foods

Making homemade dog foods for mixed feeding diet

Here’s a behind the scenes look at our dogs’ diet and feeding plan, including how it’s evolved over the years as they’ve grown, aged, and encountered other needs for diet changes. People tend to eat a wide variety of different foods and aim to balance their nutrition over time. Dogs are usually fed quite differently. Ready-to-serve commercial dog foods are often marketed as fully complete and balanced diets, and many owners feed a steady diet of the same food. If your dogs love to eat just about anything (like ours) they probably don’t complain, but their bodies might. It’s a lesson we’ve had to learn ourselves, and we still continue to learn and evolve our feeding plan. If you’ve ever thought about switching diets or adding more variety, we encourage you to look into it further, chat with your vet about your dog’s health and needs, and decide whether making some changes might be right for you and for your dog. We currently mixed feed, and it’s honestly much simpler (and more economical) than expected, and our dogs are wild about their meals. Here’s the scoop on our evolution, reasons, process, and more.

Note: This post was first shared many years ago. Time rolls on and senior Oli passed away after a long well-loved life. Humphrey’s diet continues to change to suit his needs and special health factors. He’s currently on a mixed feeding plan of complete and balanced foods as primaries, with small amounts of other foods, toppers, and supplements. He also still enjoys lots of tasty treats, both bought and homemade. 

Two Dalmatians playing on the beach at low tide during winter sunrise

Our Food Journey

Oli’s Middle Aged Spread

Dalmatians love their food, but Oli was always an extra voracious eater. Exercise kept things in balance, until he was bitten by a snake while we were living in Australia. Yikes! We were lucky, but his recovery from the venom and anti-venom required a long period of avoiding exercise or elevated body temperatures, which wasn’t easy in Australian summer weather. No exercise and many guilty treats later, he needed a doggy diet. Efforts to trim down with exercise and controlled intake weren’t working, so Oli went on a prescription diet to support weight loss. After a period with his weight down and stable, it was time to transition him back to a more standard diet.  But what whould that diet be?

Looking for Dog Dietary Options

Oli was a older lad at this stage, but still a very active. We want to feed him well in the hope of giving his body the best chance at a long healthy life. I started to read, research, and reach out for advice. With support from his vets, we slowly transitioned his diet to a different type of kibble. Why kibble? Options available in our market weren’t as broad at the time, with a choice of kibble (dry dog food biscuits), wet (canned food), or homemade. A complete and balanced kibble suited Oli and our circumstances best. And I know it’s perhaps a contentious topic for some, but there is nothing wrong with feeding a well-formulated complete and balanced commercial diet. Any and all types of food can be bad if created poorly, stored poorly, or (sometimes for reasons unknown) makes your dog feel poorly. 

Not sure about your dog’s food? Looking at options and alternatives? Be mindful of qualifications and any potential biases for websites and nutritional advisors. Look past the pretty packaging, marketing, sales pitches, and peer pressures. Talk with your trusted vet and get advice from a qualified nutritionist if you need specialist advice. Our vets have been great, including reaching out to their network of expert peers and specialist contacts for infomation and advice on our behalf, especially after Humphrey’s diagnosis. 

Looking at a dog food review website? Blog post? Article? If it has links to foods or to sites where you can buy recommended brands or products, chances are good they’re making affiliate or referral money by recommending that product or source. This doesn’t necessarily mean the content is biased, of course, but include that factor in your considerations along with their qualifications when taking any advice. 

Into reading all the details on product lists and labels? Yeah. Me too. Unfortunately, dog food contents can be a bit tricky. Sometimes intentionally tricky. They’re useful for managing preferences or sensitivities, but ingredients lists aren’t much help in judging quality, quantity, processing, or nutritional bioavailabily. They are, however, handy for checking for ingredients that we don’t want in our foods and for flagging untrustworthy behaviours, like ingredient splitting or negligible quantity vanity ingredients. Learning more about dog food ingredients and nutrition, how to interpret labels, and looking closer at manufacturer and product information has helped in changing our food choices. 

The Dalmatian Dilemma

Dalmatians have a genetic issue with processing purines, which poses a problem for healthy dog diet planning. Many dog foods and treats include high amounts of purine-rich ingredients, which are excellent for most dogs, but potentially risky for Dalmatians. Oli had other health factors to consider, and young Humphrey was still in the early years of heightened risk for monitoring purine-related stone formation. Their primary foods were different to suit their life stages and activity levels. With the support of our vets, we also included small amounts of lower-purine extras as toppers. These were excellent for scent and taste appeal, but also for satiety and purine management. This was a very low-level mixed feeding approach, with kibble still forming the main diet. Oli’s weight remained stable, even as he continued to further slow with age. His skin and coat had never been better, and he loved meal time! This post was titled “Breakfast of Champions” when first shared because breakfast time was when we included homemade dog food toppers in their feeding plan. Now everything is a rotational mix.

Adapting and Adjusting

Over the years since this post was first written and shared, diets continued to evolve with our boys ages, activity levels, and individual needs. But most of the fundamentals remained the same. Brands and formulations of kibble changed, but still formed their main diets. Preparation of different types of homemade toppers was always an exciting time for the boys, sniffing good smells while meat seared, roasted, and/or poached in the slow cooker (my source for free dog-friendly broth for treat making) and drooling while supervising shredding, pureeing, and packing of tasty toppers. With no history of urinary issues thus far, we also relaxed our purine moderation a little and started including some new air-dried foods as toppers. Being complete and balanced foods, using these made calculating main diet vs. extras even easier.

Solo Dog Life and Quarantine Weight Gain

Sweet senior Oli passed away during New Zealands extended COVID restrictions. Humphrey adjusted with the help of time, love, and the company of furfriends, when permitted. But social activities were often limited and the humans were usually working from home. He was also reaching middle age and, unfortunately, all those conditions were perfect for adding extra weight. We reduced treats, dropped the extras back to a base commercial diet, and increased his exercise. But losing weight can be difficult, and we took advice to put him on a feeding plan mixing his usual kibble with a prescription diet kibble. We did extra activities. We added extra playdates. Hooray! He was doing great. Outwardly great, that is, until a routine vet check found an issue with his heart that upturned everything in our world. At this stage, we couldn’t know whether nutrition was a factor, but several of Humphrey’s long term kibble brands and formulations were implicated in DCM cases. After discussing options with his specialist and his vet, we changed his diet completely in the hopes of improving his heart as well as managing his weight differently. He also began a regime of medications and supplements. 

Humphrey’s Current Mixed Feeding Plan

Humphrey’s current feeding plan is primarily commercial complete and balanced dog foods. Yep. Still commercial complete and balanced. The big change? Variety, brand selection (and avoidance), and double checking to avoid DCM risk ingredients, especially pulses. We mix feed on a slow rotation of complete and balanced foods for meals. It’s an evolution, but aims to balance the right fit for Humphrey’s nutrient needs, digestion, and purine-moderation. Small amounts of complete and balanced wet foods are also included, and these are excellent for giving his many many many supplements and medications. We slowly rotate through brands and formulations, but with care for his sometimes sensitive digestive system. His plan has more than one primary protein, but we don’t rotate outside of those main protein groups. My trust in foods is still shaky at this stage, as I’m sure you can imagine, so mixing and rotating is also handy for that risk factor. As extras in his bowl, we also feed a small amount of lightly seared or cooked meats (chicken and taurine rich turkey are current favourites), and a variety of fruits, vegetables, toppers, and supplements. Check out “What’s in Humphrey’s Bowl” later in the post for full details.

What's the Best Type of Food for Your Dog?

There’s no perfect answer to that question. It’s a decision that you’ll need to make individually after you investigate the options that might work for you and for your dog’s needs. Some dogs have breed specific considerations (like our Dalmatians and purines), individual dietary needs or sensitivities, or other health factors that will affect food choices. Include your trusted vet (and nutritionist, if you use one) in the discussion. Your lifestyle, family situation, and budget are also big factors. Ready-to-use foods are convenient for busy owners or for dogs that often travel or board. Ready-to-feed raw diets usually require more effort to ensure balance, a whole lot more fridge and freezer space, and also have extra food safety, handling, and health risks. Homemade diets, whether raw or cooked, require effort to ensure balance, prep time, and storage space, but these can be a great option for managing special dietary needs when kept in careful balance. Or you can pick elements from different models and create a customised mixed feeding approach. The key factors? Balance and the right individual fit.

Food Choices and Pressures

There are many conflicting views about foods and sometimes they come with a lot of pressure. But for many dogs, a single complete and balanced food can be enough for a very happy, healthy life. If your choice of food or feeding planning is supported by your vet and is working well for you and for your dog at their current life stage, then that’s great. Not sure? Ask them for advice at your next visit or set up a consult.  See the grey boxed notes earlier in this post for cautions and links to futher information from qualified sources.

Nutritional Planning for Individual Dog Diets

Are you eating the same thing for every meal? No, me neither. People tend to eat a lot of different foods. Individual meals or days may not be complete or balanced, but we trust that things will balance out nutritionally over time. We tend to be much more static with dog’s foods, trusting (sometimes misplaced…) foods and neglecting the risks. It’s a rut that we’ve fallen into ourselves, especially in recent years, much to our regret. Unfortunately, this type of static feeding can amplify the risks of dietary deficiencies, conflicts, intolerances, etc. If your dog isn’t quite getting everything they need from their food and that food never changes, nutritional problems may arise that affect their well-being

Feeding complete and balanced foods (or a balanced and complete plan) is very important. This isn’t easy if you’re making your own dog food. Heck, it’s not always easy when you’re feeding ready-made dog foods either! But more on that below. If you’re keen to go homemade, you’ll probably need help from a qualified nutritionist to build a plan that suits your dog’s dietary needs. Thankfully, the world is incredibly connected these days. If there are no experts in your area, you can still do a remote consult with a qualified nutritionist to build a customised diet plan and/or use a food calculator from a reputable source to check the balance in your homemade dog food recipes. 

You won’t find homemade dog food recipes, ready-to-serve recommendations, or specific feeding information here on our blog. I genuinely believe that every dog is different. Whatever food or foods you choose need to be purchased or prepared as well as portioned to that specific dog’s individual needs, health, age, and activity level. Our boys had different feeding programs with some overlapping elements, but the needs of young active Humphrey and slower senior Oli were always very different, even though they were both big male Dalmatians. As time carries on, Humphrey is now the dog stepping towards senior status and his needs will continue to change with age and health factors.

Considering Different Dog Food Options

Making homemade food or assembling a raw or fresh diet. This can be a great option, if it’s done in balance and well-suited to the individual dog’s needs. Customised home prepared diets can be particularly useful for managing allergies, dietary issues, and other health concerns. If you’re keen and committed, please don’t be intimidated by my cautions above. Balance is essential, but there are plenty of professionals and resources available to help you find the right food combinations and build a balanced and complete homemade feeding plan for your pet. If that includes raw meats, you’ll need to be extra cautious about food safety, your dog’s digestive health, and people/pets around them. 

Feeding ready-to-serve raw or prepared dog foods. Unless your chosen ready-to-serve food comes prepared as a complete and balanced diet (see below), this requires the same careful balance as preparing your own raw or homemade foods. Still, buying this way may be more convenient than starting from scratch. Additionally, products might include ingredients that you’d otherwise have difficulty sourcing, like processed organs or ground bone for dogs that can’t chew or digest full ones. Suppliers may also offer assistance with balancing custom diets using their products. As always, check to ensure that you are comfortable with the qualifications of anyone giving nutritional advice.

Feeding ready-to-serve complete and balanced commercial dog foods. There are many different ready-to-serve complete and balanced dog foods on the market. These can be used for standalone meals, as part of a mixed feeding plan, or as a supplementary part of a primarily homemade diet. The market is growing rapidly, and there are so many more options available now than when we started our dog food journey. Ready-to-serve dog foods used to be synonymous with kibble or canned, but in addition to expansion in these product areas, now there are cold-pressed, air-dried, freeze-dried, fresh, and more. Of course, with variety comes the challenge of selection. The choices can feel almost endless, especially if you don’t have to consider special issues, like the Dalmatian purine factor. Select suppliers and products with care and consideration. You’re trusting your dog’s health to their research, nutritional formulation, sourcing, and quality control.

Including complementary foods, toppers, and treats. These types of extras aren’t usually complete and balanced foods, so you’ll need to moderate the portion of your dog’s daily intake that’s allocated to extras. Alternatively, you’ll need to treat them like other unbalanced homemade or ready-to-serve foods, do the calculations, and ensure that the full diet is balanced.  The common dietary recommendation for dogs is to make sure that at least 90% of the day’s calories are coming from complete and balanced foods (95% for puppies), with the remainder as a small flexible feeding allowance for any other types of foods, toppers, or treats. 

Combination, blended, or mixed feeding plans. As long as it’s done in balance and with due care for digestive concerns, you can combine different ready-made and/or homemade products to customise your dog’s diet. This is the approach that we’ve taken, as noted above and detailed below. We’ve retained a primarily ready-to-serve complete and balanced dog food feeding plan using different brands and fomulations, and we also include a small amount of toppers and add-ins. It’s a good fit for Humphrey’s current health needs and for his digestion. It’s also well suited for including lots of variety in his overall diet, but still keeps the prep, storage, and serving fairly convenient. 

Food on the brain? You might also enjoy our post on why I started making dog treats. Although treats are a much smaller part of the diet than meals, the same opportunity for healthy informed choices still applies, whether you’re cooking, shopping, or both. Being a dog chef is not for everyone. Nor right for every dog. Quality commercial has its place, and we buy lots of different ready-to-serve dog foods and treats.

Dalmatian dog looking at homemade dehydrated fish jerky dog treat

Benefits of Adding Variety to a Dog's Diet

As I mentioned above, feeding a dog a single complete and balanced diet is something that many of us do, without realising that it can have some serious risks. Pet foods can be marketed as “Complete and Balanced” if they meet AAFCO (or equivalent) nutritional profiles and/or have passed feeding trials. In theory, this means that they contain all of the essential nutrients to maintain you pet’s health. But this doesn’t necessarily translate into full and complete feeding, bioavailability, or an end-state healthy balance for an individual pet. 

Freshness, recipe formulations, serving sizes, digestion, health factors, and a myriad of other considerations vary on an individual basis. A formulated complete and balanced dog food doesn’t necessarily mean it will give every individual dog a complete and balanced nutritional outcome. Where feasible, adding variety to the feeding plan may support better long term health. The overall feeding plan still needs to be complete and balanced, but mixing or rotating foods can help to manage risks and/or balance out individual issues, whether with the food, the dog, or both. Plus it makes meal time a lot more interesting for the dogs than eating the same food every meal of every day, even if it’s a really great food. Variety and rotation may also help to reduce the risk of developing sensitivities, intolerances, or allergies over time. 

Different Ways to Add Variety to a Dog's Diet

Mixed Feeding

Mixed feeding usually refers to mixing different foods for mealtime. Commonly, this is done with ready-to-serve wet and dry foods, but it can be done with any combination of foods, as long as they’re compatible and suited to your dog’s digestion. Some dogs do better with combined food bowls, others with switching between meals, and some can eat just about anything anytime without issues. To reduce the chances of digestive issues with sensitive pups, make changes slowly, trial new foods in small amounts, and try to keep the digestibility similar within meal groups if you’re mixing within a single meal. Remember to calculate the full daily dietary intake, split the portions, and measure or weigh your different foods to the correct portion serving size. Different foods can have very different nutritional densities, so don’t just split by volume or use a calibrated eyeball to estimate, especially when you are getting used to a new product of formulation.  

For dogs like Humphrey who are a little sensitive or have special health needs, mixed feeding can be a good way to adjust the overall bowl, but still keep the total intake complete and balanced. Especially if you’re just mixing with different complete and balanced foods. Easy as! For Humphrey, mixing foods lets us adjust the macros and fibre, as well as add extra nutritional variety and interest. Humphrey would never turn down a meal, but added interest is great for picky eaters who might need a little extra temptation. And if interest of a different variety is occupying your mind, mixing different ranges of dog foods might also help to keep both the doggy diet and your finances better balanced. 

Rotational Feeding

Rotational feeding cycles through different foods. Commonly, this is done on a long rolling schedule or on a bag-by-bag basis with a period of overlap between switching, if needed, for the dog’s digestive system to adjust. But depending on your dog and digestion, you can rotate on any food or frequency that suits. It might be meals, days, weeks, months, bags, or just an every now and then change. Whatever approach you choose, make sure that your schedule suits the size of any dog food bags or containers so that foods stay fresh during use. Switching formulations on an ongoing basis can help reduce the risk of individual issues with nutrient profiles, bioavailability, or developing ingredient sensitivities over time. But as a note of caution, rather than feeding everything under the sun, it’s also good to have some protein groups that haven’t been in the regular diet just in case you ever actually do encounter sensitivity issues and need to trial alternatives. Rotation may not suit some dogs, either due to digestive considerations or other health factors. As always, if you’re not sure, chat with your vet. 

Blended Diets with Mixed and Rotational Dog Foods

If it suits you and your pup, you can combine both. This is what we’ve chosen to do with Humphrey. His main meals currently cycle between breakfast and dinner, each with different primary protein groups. Mixing his bowls helps us adjust the meal to suit Humphrey’s digestion and satiety, as well as add nutrients, variety, and interest. It’s also part of how we continue to moderate purines. Switching between different primary foods, rotating supplementary foods (including brand/formulation), and using different toppers/extras adds even more variation. 

Because of his medications, he also has extra snack times on the schedule, adjusted from his mains as part of his total daily intake calculation. Wet foods work great for giving pills and supplements, and (you guessed it) adding even more variety into his diet. 

As noted above, easy-to handle complete and balanced dry foods can work great as alternatives for treats, too. It’s extra appealing when its not just their every meal “normal food”. Shhhh. Don’t tell the dogs. Hehehe. Bonus for being able to sneak in a few extras within the overall complete and balanced portion of the daily intake, just remember to watch the totals. It’s a really handy option for training treats, and one of our go-tos for training time. They’re also good in puzzles, enrichment toys, snuffles, etc. Dental kibble in Humphrey’s snuffles is currently a secret treat time fav, and snuffling gives each piece of the dental kibble a well-chomped solo crunch. 

What's in Humphrey's Bowl?

Humphrey’s Rotational Mixed Feeding Plan

As noted in the evolution above, Humphrey has recently transitioned to a new diet with a variety of different commercial primary foods. Depending on the meal and where we are in the rotation, his diet includes:

Primary Foods:
  • Complete and balanced dry dog foods (see below wrt DCM implicated brands/ingredients)
Supplementary Foods:
  • Complete and balanced wet dog foods
  • Other complete and balanced dry dog foods (kibble, freeze-dried, air-dried, and/or cold-pressed)
  • Meat. His current favourite is taurine-rich dark turkey meat, usually lightly seared to suit digestion
Small Quantity Extras/Toppers:
These extras and toppers are always small quantity special additions, and not all together at once, of course. Some of these foods need prep, so to keep mealtime easy, we do individual bulk prep for frozen free-flow. I’ll talk more below about how we prep and store different foods for easy use. It’s been a learning and adapting experience over time, but it’s all pretty smooth sailing now.
Supplements and Toppers:
  • Probiotics, digestive aids, sprinkles, and similar on a variety rotation
  • Supplements on a maintenance level in consultation with vets
  • Supplements on a therapeutic level in consultation with vets
  • Prescription medications

At some point, I’ll update this post with more pictures, but the times we currently feed main meals are dark for photoshoots in our short dreary winter days. And it feels like animal cruelty to make a meal outside of feeding time and pop it away for later. Humphrey would howl in protest! Haha! Blog dog revolt! But he endured the brief torture of a mini photoshoot of some of the elements we use, and was paid handsomely with a treat afterwards.  We don’t feed everything you see in this post together or in quantity, of course! And on that subject, there are a few other things not in our bowls. On to the next section for some exclusions and words of caution.

What's Not in Humphrey's Bowl?

Anything with Peas, Beans, Lentils…

In some dogs, diet has been implicated as a cause factor for developing dilated cardiomypathy (DCM). I’ll preface this by saying that the science is still young and the jury is still out, but because of Humphrey’s health condition we are no longer willing to take the chance on any food that contains pulses. High consumption of pulses and some other foods may be linked to a heightened risk of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in some dogs, potentially related to taurine and/or carnitine metabolism or some other digestive factor. See the FDA link above for implicated brands and check your dog food labels very carefully. Regretably, we used to feed an implicated food – it went out in the rubbish after Humphrey’s DCM diagnosis and that brand (and several others) will never darken our door ever again. 

Raw Meaty Bones

These are a common favourite for dogs, especially raw fed dogs, but for Humphrey they’re not suitable due to past dental issues.  Many complete and balanced foods, including some of those in Humphrey’s rotation, include bone in their formulations. Though that is not nearly a much fun as gnawing or as good at cleaning teeth for the raw meaty bone loving pups out there. Bone-in minces or powdered products are also available for raw or homemade feeders who can’t or prefer not to feed bones. Tooth brushing and treats are our dental health supports.

Foods That Make Great Treats

Although some feeders like making doggone droolworthy beautiful variety bowls, many of the common add-ons are great on their own as treats. Humphrey loves eating, but we’re still conscious of maintaining his weight. We keep easily handled special extras, like rabbit ears, jerky, or dried fish, out of the meal bowl to enjoy as healthy treats. They’re still part of the overall daily intake and need moderation as extras for balance, just stretched out a little for extra enjoyment throughout his day. 

Mixed feeding raw, fresh, and ready-to-serve dog foods

Methods for Preparing Homemade Dog Foods in Bulk

Making Homemade Dog Foods and Meal Toppers

There’s no right or wrong way to prepare and store your foods, as long as you’re following sound food safety practices. But in our experience, some methods are definitely much more convenient than others. Preparing in bulk, whether small batches for short-term  refrigeration or in large batches for frozen storage is much easier than prepping foods fresh at every meal, especially if they require some form of cooking, cutting, or processing. Consolidating ingredient purchase cuts costs, consolidating prep cuts energy consumption and clean-up time, and having ready-use foods makes mealtime quick and convenient. 

If you’re making homemade dog food based on a complete and balanced recipe from a vet nutritionist, it’s probably already going to be a bulk recipe with instructions for frozen storage. For other types of foods, like extra meal toppers, you can customise the process to best suit your type of topper, how you feed, and how much room you have for storage. Most of us are constrained on freezer space.  My preferred method has evolved over the years from prepping everything at once and freezing ready-to-serve mixtures to prepping on an ad hoc basis and freezing seperately for more flexibility. Let’s take a look through our methods.

Spooning pureed vegetables into an ice cube tray for freezing

Preparation and Storage Options

The Early Days of the Breakfast of Champions

When we first started our low-level mixed feeding, we bulk prepped an all-in-one homemade dog food topper. It was frozen in daily portions and combined with their kibble breakfasts for serving each morning. Prepping took a few hours (mostly hands-off cooking time, with a little labour chopping, processing, and packing) roughly once a month. All of the ingredients were human grade from supermarkets, butchers, produce shops, or our garden. Cost varied with season and specials. The next day’s double-doggy bag was popped into the fridge each evening to defrost for a fresh and delicious topped breakfast of champions.

Our primary protein was usually chicken due to the purine profile, but sometimes also beef or lamb. Gotta keep things interesting for the doggy food critics, plus variety is good for nutrients, resilience, and general health. Any cooking liquid was strained, skimmed, and included with food or treats to maintain water soluble nutrients. The meat was combined with seasonal shredded dog-friendly fruits and vegetables. I didn’t add vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements to the topper mixtures. I preferred to give those fresh daily with their meals, and I also needed to keep things flexible for our two dogs’ very different ages, activity levels, and health. 

Switching to a New Mixed Feeding Strategy

Things stagnated a little during the weight-loss program. But when we changed Humphrey’s diet, we revisited our approach. Variety, rotation, and nutrient content were key considerations. Purine management will always be a factor, and trying to get the rest of his body fighting fit and healthy requires a careful balancing act. His specialist recommended a change in diet away from the brand and formulations that we had been feeding, but not a specific alternative. Keen to feed him as much heart-healthy goodness as possible, we were eager to look towards raw. His vet was hesitant, which I understand. Balancing a raw diet (or any home prepared diet) can be tricky, as noted above. Switching to a rich alternative, like air-dried from a vet-approved brand, also had downsides for Humphrey’s sensitive tummy and keen appetite. And for purine management. Could we trust a different brand and formulation of kibble?  What to do?  Slowly, navigating into a new rotational mixed feeding plan became the compromise. That’s where we are and evolving from today.

Bulk Preparing and Storing Meat for Dog Food

Humphrey often gets a little sizzle of gently seared meat with his breakfasts these days, indulgent yes, haha! But it is a slowdown step that helps widen the gap between prescribed supplements that are best given on an empty tummy and his breakfast. Sneaky momma. I don’t usually bulk prep meat anymore, but you can check out our post on making dog-friendly stock for the tips on freezing for free-flow storage. If you’re bulk buying and freezing your own chopped raw, the same technique works well. We have a local raw dog food supplier and that’s my go-to for Humphrey’s dark turkey and a few other products. Turkey is rather difficult to find here, but I also buy human-grade products online from a great grass-fed farm supplier. Extra packs are stored in our main freezer, and there’s a dedicated drawer in our small kitchen fridge freezer for Humphrey’s ready-access meats and treats. To keep things clean and convenient, I keep the raw foods in their packages and put those inside heavy duty ziplocs. They’re stored open end up for access, and I take out small quantities into jars to defrost for use.  

Bulk Preparing and Storing Fruits and Veggies for Dog Food 

I like to bulk prep fruits and veggies, then freeze them. This works well for consolidating the prep mess and for keeping a wider variety of different options on hand for quick and convenient small quantity ready-use. There’s a post in our pet chef help series on how to prepare fruits and vegetables for dog foods. The same techniques work great with ingredients for making dog treats, too. Or smoothies, if you’re keen to share! Other foods, like pumpkin, can be cooked and mashed before freezing, or cubed for free-flow. Some small foods, like blueberries, don’t need prep. I store all of these different frozen foods in bags and transfer them to small jars for defrosting, like the meats.

Other Dog Food Preparation and Storage

Other foods are prepared and stored on a case-by case basis. For example, oats are our preferred alternative to rice for any tummy troubles, fortunately they’re not often needed. They’re cooked, cooled, and then frozen as cubes. Alternatively, mixing with liquid and then freezing is a shortcut where the prep, freeze, and thaw gives a similar result to soaking overnight oats. Water works for bland, but I also like doing this with kefir or goat milk. Eggs are something that we occasionally raw feed, but prepping and freezing cooked eggs as little omelette bites also works great for small quantity use. See the note at the end of our post on dehydrating eggs. Other things, like cottage cheese, are usually one-of special case extras from cooking, but it also freezes nicely if you have too much or there’s a great sale. I make bone broth in bulk and freeze it for treats and toppers. It’s really easy and inexpensive, and is a great option for getting started with add-ons. Most other extras are ready-use foods or shareables. Humphrey also gets occasional add-ons, like berries, fresh from our garden, the fridge, or from frozen.  

Additional Dog Diet Reading and Resources

I hope the behind the scenes look at what we feed and why has been helpful, and wish you and your pup the best with your own feeding plan journey. We keep an active Pinterest board with content related to Dog Food + Nutrition. It’s full of links, ideas, and inspiration (and growing all the time). There’s a board for Purine Diets as well, if you’re diet planning for a Dalmatian.  I also encourage you to chat with your trusted vet and/or a qualified vet nutritionist to ensure that what you are feeding is suitable and balanced for your specific dog. You may need to make adjustments or include supplements, and you should reassess the feeding plan on a regular basis as age, activity, health, or other factors change with time. Woofs and best wishes, furfriends! We hope your meals are doggone delish, balanced, and keep you healthy.

Behind the scenes of making fresh and cooked foods for our dogs mixed feeding plan
Behind the scenes of our dog's rotational mixed feeding plan

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