The crockpot is an underrated kitchen appliance, but in our household with two dogs, it's one of the best cooking tools. It allows me to create healthy homemade dog food crockpot recipes with low effort and for a low price.
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The reason most dog owners dislike homemade recipes is inconvenience. So if you're just getting into home cooked dog food routine, I would highly recommend you get yourself a good slow cooker, and try some of these homemade crockpot dog food recipes below.
Why Switch to Crockpot Dog Food?
Two years ago, I switched to making mostly homemade dog food crockpot recipes, and it's been a huge relief on my time and my finances. These are the two biggest complaints pet owners have about switching to homemade: “Who has the time?” and “Who has the money?” I have a busy household and we live on a budget, so this was true for me, too.
With slow cooker dog food cooking, all you need is about 10 minutes to cut and chop a bunch of ingredients, then toss them into the crockpot, and let it cook for anywhere between 2 to 8 hours until it's done, without the need to stand over the crockpot. This way, you can prepare at least a week's worth of homemade dog food meals in one go.
You can also use a crock pot to make dog treats or stuffing for dog toys. It's easy to store this food in a fridge or freezer for later feeding using Tupperware or a dog food container. I usually cook about 2 weeks' worth of meals for my dogs, and it's all done by the time I get home from work. Per Samantha's advice, I keep most slow cooker dog food meals in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days, and for up to 8-10 weeks in a freezer.
Note: After you've picked out homemade dog food crockpot recipes to try, consult with your veterinarian about them. Depending on your dog, some of them may need dog supplements to make them well-balanced.
My Two Favorite Slow Cookers for Homemade Dog Food
There are many very expensive slow cooker brands out there, but before getting myself one I did some research on best pressure cookers, and didn't find any reason why you shouldn't buy a cheap one (unless you're making very fancy meals).
Over the years, I've tried a few crockpots myself and found a few that are extremely affordable and long-lasting (you can also see Samantha reviewing one for homemade dog food in this video). Below are the two that are best in terms of price-for-value ratio.
Crock-Pot SCR300-SS (3 quart capacity)
This is the most basic, small size ceramic and stainless steel slow cooker, but it gets the job done perfectly well. 3 quart capacity is enough to make a large serving that you can split into about a week's worth of homemade dog food crockpot meals. It has three settings you need: high, low and warm. Dishwasher safe. Nothing else is really needed. It's also the cheapest and best rated on Amazon.
Crock-Pot SCCPVL600S (6 quart capacity)
For something a little bigger (or a standard slow cooker) you can't beat this option in price and quality. 6 quart capacity is the norm and it's plenty for making about two week's worth of homemade crock pot dog food. This one is also a little more powerful and has some extra features, like temperature control, defrosting, LCD screen and more. Personally, this is my favorite one, and it's only $3.50 more expensive than the above one.
There are several more great slow cookers (see Amazon Best Sellers) that you can buy and they will have more features and will be more expensive, but personally I don't see the reason for spending extra money, particularly when using it for making homemade crockpot dog food recipes.
Vet's Tips for Homemade Dog Food Crockpot Recipes
I've consulted with my own veterinarian about homemade slow cooker dog food recipes, and also read other people's experience about using slow cooker (particularly Samantha's recipes here) and how they switched to homemade dog food crockpot recipes. Here's most common advice given by most vets that you should consider before starting:
- Consult with a veterinarian first (every dog is different)
- Calculate each recipe's nutrition: calories and nutrients
- Consider adding pet supplements to make a well-balanced meal
- Watch the fat content (lean meats are often better)
- Mind the bones, and remove all of them (after cooking is done)
- Remove all seeds and pits if using fruits and vegetables
- Some crockpot dog food meals aren't a replacement for regular diet
With that in mind, for anybody looking to switch to home cooked dog food meals, I highly recommend you try a pressure cooker. Below are five of my favorite homemade crockpot dog food recipes you can try but you can also find some others.
For example, Samantha Randall (our homemade dog food expert) has published several of her own homemade dog food crockpot recipes with step-by-step videos. These are my top 10 favorite of hers: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.
Take a look at these above recipes for the exact step-by-step cooking process and tips on how to use a slow cooker for homemade dog food meals. In terms of homemade crockpot dog food serving sizes and how much to feed a dog, see her article right here.
5 Best Homemade Crockpot Dog Food Recipes
1. Beef Bonanza
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 6 hours
- 2 and a half pounds of ground beef
- 1 and a half cup of brown rice
- 1 15-ounce can of already drained and rinsed kidney beans
- 1 and a half cup of chopped butternut squash
- 1 and a half cup of chopped carrots
- Half a cup of frozen or canned peas
Stir the ground beef, brown rice, butternut squash and brown rice into a standard six-quart slow cooker. Add the carrots, the peas and four cups of water into it as well. Once everything is well mixed, cover the crockpot and cook the meal at low heat for about 6 hours.
Alternatively, you can cook at high heat for 2 or 3 hours, but you’ll need to stir regularly. Once the stew is ready, let it cool off completely. After that, it will be ready to serve or be put in the freezer.
Side note: Some owners may be worried that this homemade crockpot dog food recipe is not suitable for the pooch as some cuts of beef can be fatty. This is a valid concern for a lot of dogs that are prone to becoming overweight or otherwise need to stay on a low fat diet. If that's the case, you’d do well to opt for lean beef to lower the amount of fat in the meal.
Alternatively, you can also swap the beef altogether and replace it with chicken or with ground turkey. The latter two options will change the entire taste of the meal but your Fido is likely to enjoy it just as much. After consulting with a vet about homemade crockpot dog food recipes and if given a green light, remember to ask about supplements to use with this or other recipes recipes to make well-balanced meals.
2. The Meat Feast
- Prep time: 15 minutes
- Cook time: 4 hours (high); 7 hours (low)
- 1.5 cups water
- 1 cup brown rice
- 4 lbs. protein source (I used 1 lb. ground beef and 3 lbs. ground pork)
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- 1 large apple (cubed)
- 1 cup kale (chopped)
- 1 large sweet potato (cubed)
- 2 large carrots (cut into chunks)
This is Samantha's recipe from here, and it's a very simple one to make. It takes about 10 to 20 minutes to dice the veggies and fruits, which is the only time-consuming task.
When sliced and ready, put all your ingredients into the crock pot and stir the food occasionally as it cooks. You can cook for four hours on a high setting and seven hours on a low setting. With this slow cooker dog food recipe, you can easily substitute the ingredients that your Fido enjoys more or for health reasons (based on what your vet tells you).
You can use frozen meat in this slow cooker dog food recipe. It will save you the time of defrosting the meat, and it won’t change the taste or texture of the food at all (trust me, the dogs will still enjoy it).
All you have to change is add about 30 to 45 extra minutes to the cooking time to account for the frozen meat. Once the beef and pork are done, you can feed it to your pooch after it cools off. Store the rest in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days, or you can freeze it.
3. Doggie Stew
- Prep time: 15 minutes
- Cook time: 6 to 12 hours
- 3 pounds of boneless and skinless chicken thighs (this roughly equals 10 to 12 medium-sized thighs)
- A quarter of a cup of cup chicken livers
- 2 peeled and sliced medium-sized carrots
- 1 cup of frozen green beans
- 1 big apple or 2 medium-sized apples (remove the core and seeds and cut the apples into pieces)
- 2 to 3 cups of water
- 1 cup of frozen peas
- 1 handful of chopped, fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
Put the chicken thighs into the slow cooker. Add chicken livers, carrots, beans, apples, and water to it. The water needs to be just enough to cover the rest of the ingredients and not more. Cover the pot and cook on low heat for 8 hours (or on higher heat for 2-3 hours, but you’ll need to stir frequently; this depends on your slow cooker, too).
10 – 15 minutes before the meal is cooked, add the peas, parsley and olive oil. Once everything is cooked, let it cool off completely. After that, it’s ready to serve or be put in the freezer.
Side note: Remember that while apples are good for dogs, apple seeds are toxic, so it is crucial to remove the core and the seeds from the apple(s). This generally applies to all fruits and vegetables. Also, to prevent choking with any of these homemade crockpot dog food recipes, you are strongly advised to remove the bones from the thighs (or to remove deboned chicken altogether).
4. Veggie Protein Blast
- Prep time: 15 minutes
- Cook time: 12 hours
- 3 pounds of chicken thighs
- 3 pounds of ground turkey
- 2 small, diced potatoes
- 2 small, diced sweet potatoes
- 8 ounces of frozen peas
- 8 ounces of chopped carrots
- 1 cup of frozen blueberries
The ground turkey and the chicken thighs are to be placed first in the crockpot. Pour just enough water to cover them completely. After that, add the rest of the ingredients and cover the slow cooker. Cook your slow cooker dog food meal like this on a low heat for 12 hours. I do not recommended to cook on a higher heat because it will require constant stirring and it will still take several hours.
Once the crockpot dog food meal is ready, let it cool off. Remove the bones from the chicken in order to prevent choking (before or after). Once that’s done, the dish is ready to be served or to be frozen in portions for later use. Once again, remember that if you're not using any commercial dog foods then ask your veterinarian about this specific recipe and any supplements you must add.
5. Simple Chicken Breast & Rice
- 1 cup of brown rice
- 2 cups of water
- Half a pound of green beans, broken into segments
- 1 medium-sized, raw sweet potato (cut it into chunks, but leave the skin on)
- 3 sliced carrots
- 2 deboned chicken breasts with or without skin
Layer all the ingredients in a crockpot in the above listed order. Chicken breasts should be on top. Cover all of them with water and start cooking. On a low heat around 8 hours should be enough. With higher heat, you can cook for just 5 hours or possibly even less, but with frequent stirring.
Once your slow cooker dog food meal is cooked, mix and stir the ingredients once again. Break the chicken into small pieces and make sure that everything is soft. After that, let the dish cool off completely and it will be ready to serve or to be put in the freezer for later us.
Side note: You can substitute some of the ingredients (see Samantha's article/video for homemade dog food substitutions explanation). Broccoli florets, zucchini, spinach or squash can all work quite well in this slow cooker dog food recipe. You can also swap the chicken breasts with turkey, beef or lamb, but be careful not to increase the fat content of the dish too much.
As with all above mentioned homemade dog food crockpot recipes, remember to add the vitamins, minerals and calcium supplements recommended by your veterinarian if you plan on making this dish a major part of your dog’s diet. Otherwise, mix with commercial dog food for a well-balanced diet.
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