Homemade Dog Food, Gluten Free




High quality commercial dog food is expensive.  A 35 pound bag of Science Diet, for example, is close to $50.  And for your money you get such tasty ingredients as Chicken By-Product Meal, Powdered Cellulose, Corn Gluten Meal, Soybean Meal, Chicken Liver Flavor, and Caramel Color.  Yum Yum.  It tastes so good that the dogs will almost eat it....sometimes. And we get the added benefit of  that pleasant odor emitted by the dogs as they digest this concoction. Um....yeah.

This Instructable will show you how to make your own shelf-stable, high quality, wet dog food that is good enough to eat! Plus, it's gluten free, so no more itchy skin and ear infections for our Labrador. 

Note: This is an all-day project and requires a pressure canner.  Using the hot water bath canning method WILL NOT result in a shelf stable product.  If you ignore this warning, you will kill your dog and feel guilty for the rest of your life.  Why put yourself through that?  Follow the directions and use a pressure canner.

Step 1: Ingredients and Equipment

I have big dogs so I make a lot of food.  This recipe will feed my three dogs (corgi, lab, and shepard: combined weight of 230 pounds) for about 5 weeks.  Total food weight is about 50 pounds and it makes about 30 quarts of food.  Scale your recipe to suit your needs.   


• 25 pounds cheap meat (I used a beef brisket or chuck with fat removed: $2.29 per pound)
• 8 cups brown rice
• 5 pounds Sweet potatoes
• 5 pounds Carrots
• 3 bunches Celery
• #10 can (6 pounds) Green beans

Basically, the ratio is 5 meat: 5 vegetable: 1 rice.  But let's face it: this is for the dogs, and they are perfectly happy eating cat poop!  They probably aren't going to be too particular about the ratios!


• large pressure canner: I use two sixteen quart canners.
• at least 2 large stock pots: one for the rice and the other for the meat.  A third will help facilitate mixing.
• sauce pan to heat lids and bands
• Mason jars, lids, and bands.  I needed 30 for my recipe.
• funnel to help with filling jars
• heavy duty stirring device.  You will be moving a lot of food around and a wimpy spoon ain't gonna' cut it.
• various kitchen utensils to help prepare and process food.
• jar lifter to move the hot jars around
• time and patience

I forgot to take a picture of all the equipment and I have no desire to drag it all back out so you're just going to have to trust me on this one.

Step 2: Prepare the Ingredients

  • Meat:  Trim fat from meat.  All of it!  Really well!  Seriously, Very little fat should remain.  Cook meat thoroughly.  When the meat is finished cooking, only the smallest layer of fat should be present.  Skim this off.  We are trying to make this food as lean as possible!
    • Our inherited Corgi went from a plump 28 pounds to just under 20 pounds on this diet in about 6 months! 
    • We use beef brisket or chuck and cook it in a stock pot for about 6 hours. We have an older dog that chokes on chunky food so we cook it until stringy.  You may not need to cook as long. 
    • We render the trimmed fat and use the resulting tallow for cooking and candles. 
  • Vegetables: chop celery; coarsely chop or shred remaining vegetables. We use our KitchenAid mixer with the shredder attachment.  Easy-peasy.
  • Rice: cook rice. It should be firm, not mushy. Cut back on normal water usage by about 25%. The rice will absorb additional water during the canning process.

Step 3: Prepare Jars

When your ingredients are prepared and you are about ready to move forward, it's time to prepare your jars. 

To prevent the jars from breaking when they are filled and processed, they must be preheated.  This can be done in one of three  ways.

    Place in dishwasher on the sanitize setting.
    Place in oven heated to 200 degrees.
    Place in water and .....surprise, surprise.....boil the water.

I use option number 3.

Put the jars in the pressure canner (without lid) and fill with water to about 2 inches deep.  Place on the stove and bring to a boil.  This will take a long time because of the large volume of water.

Place the lids and bands in a separate sauce pan and cover with water.  Place on stove and heat water, but do not boil.  Somewhere around 180 degrees F is perfect.

Step 4: Combine

Remove about 4 cups of liquid from the meat. This will be added, as needed, to the jars. 

I have two pressure canners that can handle seven 1-quart jars each. Based on experience, I know that the amount of food I am preparing can fill about 30 1-quart jars.  Therefore, I separate the ingredients into two equal batches and process 14 jars for the first batch and whatever is leftover for the second batch. Your setup may differ.  Adjust accordingly. 

Measure out the ingredients to make one batch according to your setup.  I separated out half of each of the ingredients for the first batch.  Combine into a large stock pot and mix thoroughly.  Heat mixture until hot. Add water as necessary to prevent scalding.

Step 5: Fill Jars

Fill each of the jars leaving about 1 inch of headspace.  Make sure you pack the food tightly, eliminating as much air space as possible.

Add a small amount of meat-juice to each jar for flavor and to facilitate packing.  

Step 6: Place Lids

Wipe lip of jar to provide a clean surface for lid.

Remove lid from hot water and place on jar. 

Remove band from hot water.  Place on jar and tighten snugly. 

Step 7: Process Jars

Place jars in pressure canner.  Process at 10 psi for 90 minutes following directions provided with your pressure canner.

I have a Presto canner and I use the following steps. Your directions will likely be similar.
  • Fill empty canner with approximately 2 inches of water. 
  • Heat to boiling
  • Add filled jars
  • Secure canner lid but do NOT put weight on vent.
  • Heat until steam consistently emanates from vent. About 10 minutes.
  • Place weight on vent and pressurize to 10 psi.
  • Once pressure reaches 10 psi, process for 90 minutes at 10 psi.
Once 90 minutes has expired, turn off heat and allow pressure canner to cool.  Once pressure has decreased to zero, remove weighted gauge.  Wait 5 minutes and remove canner lid.  Remove jars and allow to cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours. 

Step 8: Lather. Rince. Repeat.

Repeat steps 4 through 7 until all of your food is processed.

Keep in mind that If you have a few jars left over, instead of pressure canning them, they can be stored in the refrigerator for about one week. Just use these jars first. 

Step 9: Conclusion

As stated previously, this recipe will feed my three dogs for about 5 weeks, though admittedly, we also give them a small amount of kibble to help keep their teeth clean. To ensure they have all the necessary vitamins, we add a generic multi-vitamin to their bowls once a day along with a pro-biotic.  Mix it in with the rest of the food and they don't even know it is there. 

Prior to switching to this gluten free diet, our Labrador had a very severe skin problem and constant ear infections.  This diet has eliminated those problems completely. As an extra benefit, the dogs are much less "gassy" and the consistency of their poop makes cleaning up after them much easier. 

I joke with my kids that, in an emergency, this is safe for human consumption.  In fact, our finished jars are labeled "beef stew" instead of "dog food."

As for cost, each batch costs about $90.  This is on par with the monthly cost of high quality commercial dog food.  However, this food has eliminated the health problems in our Labrador and the associate medication and vet bills.  Overall, it saves us money and the dogs look forward to dinner instead of simply tolerating it! 

This food, properly processed, is shelf stable and needs no refrigeration if unopened.  If stored at room temperature or below, it should maintain its quality for at least one year.  Refrigerate the unused portion of any opened jars and use within one week. 

I hope your dogs enjoy this recipe. 



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    27 Discussions


    This is great for puppies too. Only modification we had to make was to grind the meat (hamburger style) so that it was soft enough and not in big chunks.


    2 years ago

    I haven't ever cooked a real meal for my dogs but I'd love to. We have a pug and a jack russel mix. Plus since my daughter and 3 grandkids moved in we also have their chocolate lab.
    We use a high priced dog kibble sold in pet stores.
    I love your recipe. I would have to cook it and freeze it because I don't have the equipment to can it.
    One of the reasons that we changed to the expensive kibble is because of the cheaper food having
    "animal digest" in it. If you look that up it is from euthanized pets and also roadkill. It's disgusting!!
    There is a web site that has to do with the * FDA four*. It has the list of 4 things in pet food that are terribl ingredient. Animal digest is among them if I remember correctly.
    Thank you for your tecipe. I"m going to make some and see how they like it. ?


    2 years ago

    when ever your pet suffers from kidney failure give him home made low protein dog food. Here are some benefits of this http://patmypet.net/low-protein-dog-food-are-they-useful/


    2 years ago

    I have been cooking my raw veggies and freeze the dog food. Wondering if I really need to cook the vegs. What do you think?


    3 years ago

    I want to make this for our dogs tomorrow but how much water / liquid do I use when cooking the meat? Can I drain the juice from the green beans (salt free) and use when cooking the beef? Also, can I add canned tomatoes? We can our own with no salt. Our 12 year old female English Bull dog food. She has wheat gluten allergies. We have narrowed it down to that because every time we feed her food commercially made foods with grains she breaks out. SO we changed up her food to grain free but added canned about 1 teaspoon of Alpo dog food not thinking about it and she was breaking out again. Reading the can..wheat gluten... argggggg. and now she gets just dry no grain food. The bulldog gets fed 2/3 cup dog food 3x's a day and the other 2 get fed 2/3 cup of feed each 3x's a day. I would like to make their food at home with all the pet food being recalled. Also.. can it also be something I can feed our female English Cocker and male Pom.. We will be waiting to hear from you soon.


    3 years ago

    Awesome recipe! Do you by chance know if you could substitute oatmeal for the rice? Also what is the reasoning behind cooking the meat beforehand? I thought that was the purpose of pressure canning, because it cooks everything while processing. I am new to canning so this could be of help for me :-)


    3 years ago on Introduction

    nice recipe i never try to add rice to my dogs food , i use meat or chicken and seasonal vegetables , i will try to add rice next time .

    thanks for the recipe :)


    4 years ago

    firstly science diet is not that good for your dog a lot of vets have lost there license for taking money to say it is. but that's beside the point the best meal you can give your carnivore dog is a carnivore diet so just use meat that's all they need and want meat in meat sauce aka water you cooked the meat in. they will love it and be a lot healthier since after all they can't digest items like corn or rice.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    Neither domesticated dogs nor wolves are carnivores. Felines are carnivores, dogs are omnivores. Although they belong to the order carnivora, that does not mean they strictly eat meat. Bears also belong to the order carnivora, and their diet is nearly half vegetable matter. A dog's natural diet is primarily meat, but also includes plant matter and insects. A diet of just chopped meat, like stew meat or hamburger, will not give a dog all the nutrients it needs, since its natural diet, even excluding the various plant matter and insects that they eat, would also include animal byproducts that pure meat doesn't have.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    We have 3 dogs, 2 that weigh 90 lbs each and 1 that is 45 lbs. We feed twice a day and feed 2 cups dry dog food in the a.m. and 1 cup dry and 1 cup home made in the evening. Did I understand that you feed your big dogs just 1/2 cup of each twice a day? My dogs aren't fat, just get exercise a big yard. Am surprised that is all that they have to eat. My guys would be howling for more food. Perhaps we need to add more rice. I haven't been using nearly that much rice.

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    You are correct. I thought our scooper was 1/2 cup but it is actually 1 cup. If I tried to give my dogs 1/2 cup per meal, it would likely not be long before they would conspire to make me their between meal snack. Sorry for the error.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I would love to try this recipe but without the rice. How would you adapt the recipe?

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    If I were going to eliminate the rice (and at times, I have), I would increase the sweet potato content. It may not be a 1:1 substitution, but then again, it might. It's dog food, not rocket science.


    4 years ago

    What a beautiful dog!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I may be trying this to mix with my dog's food. My dog normally gets people food mixed in with dog food some nights more than others. It took forever for us to find a dog food he could stomach. Strange thing is he does not have issues with the main ingredients in the food. I can feed him all of the items in the food fresh and he has no issues. It is something in the items that preserve the food he has issues with. I finally found a dog food that agrees with him but still mix real food in so he stays use to it in case they ever discontinue the one kind he can eat.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    An alternative to canning would be to produce dry kibble. You could use the same ingredients, but only cook the rice (or substitute rice flour)....everything else would get processed raw with a meat grinder. (I would also suggest adding a few eggs to help the ground food stick together.) Form "sticks" and dry in a food dehydrator at about 155F. When dry, the "sticks" can be broken into kibble.

    I make 'treats' for my dogs this way, and they LOVE it. The food isn't 'cooked to death', and (as long as you dry it very well) it can be stored at room temperature.

    But I love the idea of producing food for our fur-kids, and your recipe & canning instructions sound great! You've got my vote!

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    This is a fantastic idea.
    I recently made another batch of food and dried some of it as you suggested. I made "doggie cookies" instead of kibble, but same difference. The dogs love it! It's now their treat of choice (after beef jerky!).

    Thanks for the suggestion.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for this recipe. I have made a batch. I do not have a pressure canner so I chose to cook the vegetables then mix everything together. Everything is being stored in gallon size freezer bags in my chest freezer.

    I have three dogs that total 134 pounds and I and trying to figure out how much to feed them. The reason for this venture is because my lab-mix has allergies (78 lbs.). My two puggles (28 lbs each) are benefiting from this new diet. Can you suggest how much they should be getting in one day and how much kibble do you provide in addition to the wet food?

    Thanks so much again for this posting.

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the comments.

    I, too, have a lab. He is 5 years old and about 90 pounds. We give him about 1/2 cup of kibble and 1/2 cup homemade food at each feeding, more or less, depending on which kid does the feeding. We feed morning and evening. I would start there and adjust up or down depending on your dog's needs.

    By the way, I have since found out that dogs require quite a bit of calcium, so you may want to add a supplement. I have chickens and use oyster shells as their calcium supplement, so I used the blender to powder about 1/2 cup of oyster shells and added it to the mix. Egg shells or calcium tablets would also work.

    I would be interested to hear back as to whether your lab's allergies improve while on this diet.

    Again, thanks.