Ingredients for Maestro’s Grain Free Burgers
The following whole foods form the foundation for this delicious dog food recipe. This can be easily customized to suit your dog’s preferences and nutritional needs, while providing balance through variety.
- 1 kg (2.2 pounds) of ground meat (e.g., veal, beef, pork, chicken, turkey, organ meat)
- 1 – 128 ml jar (4.5 oz.) of organic baby food vegetables (e.g., peas, carrots)
- 1 – 128 ml jar (4.5 oz.) of organic baby food vegetables (sweet potatoes)
- 2 tsp. vegetable oil
- ¼ tsp. rosemary
- ¼ tsp. basil
- 5 shakes of black pepper
- ground/crushed eggshells or bonemeal
Tips on Portion Control When Preparing Homemade Dog Food
Portion sizes should be calculated prior to making Maestro’s Grain Free Burgers. Raw4Dogs has an online calculator to determine portion sizes. The website also has recommended calculation adjustments for puppies, underweight and overweight dogs. The calcium requirements for a dog varies depending upon its weight.
According to David Bastin, Jennifer Ashton and Dr. Grant Nixon, D.V.M., authors of Better Food for Dogs (Toronto: Robert Rose, Inc. 2002), a 5 lb. dog requires a minimum of 274 mg of calcium daily and a 10 lb.dog needs 536 mg of calcium, while a 50 lb. dog requires at least 2,689 mg. The book, which contains numerous dog food recipes, also contains a comprehensive nutritional guide detailing the nutritional requirements of a dog from 5 lbs. up to 150.
First, calculate the amount of calcium required per meal. Better Food for Dogs does list recommended amounts per meal. Next, calculate the number of meal portions that the recipe will yield. This figure will give you the amount of calcium needed for this recipe.
Alternatively, you can add the calcium supplement just prior to feeding. Thoroughly mix the per meal amount with the dog food. Some recipes in Better Food for Dogs suggest adding a pinch of calcium supplement into the food. The balance of the daily required calcium would have to be administered another way (e.g.dog calcium pills, raw bones, milk, yogurt).
Preparing and Cooking Maestro’s Grain Free Burgers
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients.
- Thoroughly mix together all ingredients.
- Using a measuring scoop, spoon out a portion equivalent to one meal and shape it into a meatball or hamburger patty. Place on a plate for now.
- Repeat step #3 until all the ingredients are used up.
Lightly cook the burgers by searing them. You can use either a broiler or a pan-sear them at a high temperature until the outside is brown. According to Dr. Per Schonbeck in his Pet-Nutrition-Advice article, “How is Your Dog Food Damaged by Its Processing,” “lightly broiled meats and steamed vegetables retain most of their nutrients.”
Serving and Storing Maestro’s Grain Free Burgers
As this is a protein-rich dog food recipe, various sides of carbohydrates can be added to balance your dog's meal. According to Bastin, Ashton and Nixon, dogs require 40% protein, 45% carbohydrates and 15% supplemental fat. Examples of fruits and vegetables you can include are chopped carrots, apples and bananas.
For grains, you can add brown rice, cooked oatmeal or cooked pasta. Smaller dogs may need their burgers broken down into bite-sized chunks.
Freeze the remaining burgers for future use. Simply microwave a serving for 45 seconds – 1 minute to defrost and warm up the doggy burgers.
Dogs on a home-prepared diet should take dog supplements such as digestive enzymes, glucosamine for dogs or brewer’s yeast to obtain optimal pet health. They should also take multi-vitamins. However, as many dog vitamins on the market are geared towards dogs on commercial dog food diet, check to make sure the vitamins are sufficient for your dog’s needs.
Vary the Ingredients to Achieve Nutritional Balance Over Time
No single homemade dog food recipe will meet all of a dog’s nutritional requirements. According to Mary Straus in her April 2007 Whole Dog Journal article, "Introduction to Homemade Diets for Dogs", dog owners should strive for nutritional balance over time. Vary the vegetables used as well as type and cut of meat in this hamburger recipe for dogs. However, be sure not to include any foods that are harmful to dogs.
If you are just starting your dog on a home-prepared diet, read "What You Should Know Before You Cook for Your Dog". Explore other dog food recipes and dog food alternatives. You should also consult with a veterinarian to determine your dog’s specific nutritional requirements.