Terrior looking at bowls of fresh vegetables and kibble

Can I Feed My Dog Homemade Food and Kibble?

As loving dog owners, we think of our dogs as part of our family. So, naturally, we want to make sure that they are well cared for and receive wholesome, tasty meals. As a result, many people want to prepare homemade food for their furry pals just as they would for themselves.

However, in today’s busy world, many of us do not have time to cook for ourselves let alone for our dogs! Yet, we may manage to cook limited amounts of food to add to their daily bowl of kibble. But is this a good idea?

The short answer is, yes! It is perfectly fine to combine homemade cooked food with kibble. Some will argue otherwise, but it is actually a myth that adding homemade food to kibble will stall or create digestive problems for your dog.

The key, however, is in how the food is prepared and the ratio of the combined food. Keep reading to find out more about how to combine food properly.

Guidelines for Combining Homemade Food and Kibble

Follow these basic guidelines for combining human food with kibble to ensure you are giving your pooch a canine-appropriate meal:

  1. Buy quality kibble
  2. Cook only human food that dogs can safely eat
  3. Store all food properly
  4. Create the right ratio of cooked food and kibble

Buy Quality Kibble

First of all, make sure you start with high-quality kibble dog food that follows AAFCO (American Association of Food Control Officials) guidelines for a balanced, age-appropriate diet. You should also check with your vet or reliable resources such as dogfoodadvisor.com to view ratings and whether or not the brand has had recalls. One of the biggest issues with dog food companies has been poor quality control and improper storage which can lead to dangerous mold toxicity.

Additionally, poor quality brands do not use healthy sourced ingredients and may include rendered meat or byproducts from diseased animals. You should also check the label for dog food that has toxic preservatives such as BHA and BHT. Preservatives such as Sorbic Acid, however, are safe and are also used in human food. See this great article about safe and toxic food additives at mosaicfoods.com.

Feed Only Safe Foods

Not all human food is good for dogs. For example, onions and garlic can upset your dog’s tummy and foods such as avocados and raisins can actually be toxic. Other foods, however, such as rice, sweet potatoes, and peas are highly recommended for a dog’s diet.

There has been a lot of controversy over whether or not grains are good for dogs, but most vets recommend the inclusion of wholesome grains. Recent scientific research has pointed to cardiac issues in dogs who did not receive grains in their daily food. However, it may be wise to avoid wheat, corn, and GMO products due to allergies. Healthy grains such as oats, quinoa, and rice are good options. A good post about grains and designer diets can be found at VCAHospitals.com.

Be sure to see my post, Is it Ok to Feed Your Brand New Rescue Dog Dry Kibble? for more information about quality kibble and human food that dogs can and cannot eat. Also, do not season your dog’s food with salt, pepper, or any type of spice. Plain food is best or you may upset your dog’s stomach. Dogs are used to bland diets and are very sensitive to rich, spicy, or fatty foods.

Safe Food Storage

Store cooked food in tight containers in your refrigerator for no more than 3-4 days. You can also freeze portions of large batches. Keep kibble in its original bag and place it inside an airtight container. See more about food storage in my post, How Long Does Dry Kibble Last? Even though it is dry, kibble can become rancid within 2-3 weeks once the bag is opened. So be sure to buy only the amount of food you will use in that period of time.

The Ratio of Homemade Food to Kibble

Unless you plan to cook fully balanced, vet-approved foods for your dog, then I suggest you keep the ratio of homemade food to kibble low. If you add food daily, then consider a 20/80 % ratio of homemade food to kibble. This will help ensure that your dog is getting a balanced meal with the appropriate nutrients. Be sure to see my post, When You Should Cook for Your Dog and When It is a Bad Idea! for more information about home-cooked meals.

The Myth that Mixing Homemade Food with Kibble is Bad

Some people have claimed that kibble lowers the PH levels in a dog’s stomach making it hard to digest homemade food. According to Alex Writz at houndgames.com this is a myth and is not supported by science. In fact, scientific research suggests just the opposite. Another argument is that kibble takes longer to digest than raw or cooked meat. Again, studies demonstrated that was not accurate either and kibble was actually digested quicker.

Dogs are Not People!

“If you have a tasty people recipe, it’s not so great for your dog. If you have tasty dog food, it’s not so good for people.”

Rick Woodford, author of Feed Your Best Friend Better, 

Just remember that what is good for us is not necessarily good for our canine friends. And, like us, dogs love junk food! But that doesn’t mean that either one of us should eat it! Be sure to see my post, Is an Apple a Day Good for Your Dog?

Each time I take my dogs to the local park for their daily walk, one of them always walks in the street next to the sidewalk with her nose in the gutter. She has figured out this is a good place to find bits of fast food and candy bars that people drop as they get out of their parked cars. She is very fast, so I have to keep a close eye on her!

We may be tempted to give them a bite of our taco or fried chicken, as they sit next to us drooling. But we will cause havoc on their canine stomachs if we do. Therefore, do not feed your dog table scraps!

When I was growing up in Iowa, our family dog, Skipper, was frequently given leftover table scraps which he eagerly lapped up. But Skipper eventually turned into a fat little dog. I can’t imagine that was good for his health and his strident running turned into a slower waddle as he grew older.

In an article by Tove Danvowich at Eater.com, he discusses how people frequently feed their dogs what they eat. He highlights Rich Woodford’s recent book with this excerpt: “The stuff that provides the flavor we’re looking for isn’t good for dogs,” says Rick Woodford, author of Feed Your Best Friend Better, possibly the most popular cookbook in the canine genre. “If you have a tasty people recipe, it’s not so great for your dog. If you have tasty dog food, it’s not so good for people.”

Best Practices

What to Cook

For dog owners who simply want to supplement their dog’s kibble with some tasty homemade food, then I suggest you give them a small topper of unseasoned cooked chicken or beef. You can also add a little rice, green peas, or sweet potato which are all good foods for them and often included in commercial dog food. But keep it to a minimum–just enough to give them as a topper if you do this daily.

You can also give them an entire meal that is home-cooked in place of the kibble on special occasions as a nice treat. When I make a big pot of stew or a roasted chicken, I will cook a small separate batch for my dogs with no salt or other seasoning. I may add some carrots, peas, sweet potatoes, or green beans to a beef stew and serve them a large portion with just a small amount of kibble.

It just seems unfair to be cooking something on the stove all day that smells great without giving them some as well! And, It is good for them even if not fully balanced. I just make sure that it is bland and lean enough so they do not get an upset tummy.

For dogs, the smell of food is probably much more enticing than the actual taste. Dogs sense of smell is 100’s times better than humans. Yet, their sense of taste is less as they have only about 1/12 of the tastebuds that humans have. If you watch dogs eat, you will notice that they don’t really chew as much as they gulp and swallow big chunks of food. My dogs usually gobble up their dinner in less than 5 minutes.

Therefore it is more about the smelling and less about the tasting! So, a little bit of delicious-smelling home-cooked food goes a long way as a topper or partial meal.

Raw Foods

You can give your dog a few raw vegetables as well. My dogs love to crunch on a small carrot for lunch, and it is good for them!

In general, I am not a raw dog food fan when it comes to meat or a totally raw diet. Raw diets require extremely careful handling due to bacteria, and I am not convinced that a 100% raw food diet is that good for a dog’s digestive system. See my post, Thinking About a Raw Food Diet for Your Dog? Pros, Cons, and Warnings.

Final Thoughts

One of the hardest things for me is ignoring my dog’s big brown eyes as they stare at each bite I take during my dinner. But I often have to remind myself that dogs are scavengers by nature. In the wild, canines spend a good part of each day searching for food to survive.

So, it is not surprising that our furry family members almost always drool over our food and want more to eat, even if they are not hungry. It’s just what dogs do!