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Oct 2010

Top Five Myths About Homemade Dog Food

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Homemade dog food takes too much time to prepare.


This myth exists due to the fact that most people believe you have to follow a complex recipe that has to be prepared daily in order to give your dog a balanced diet. As outlined on our Home Cooking page, all you really have to do is prepare a variety of separate, healthy ingredients then simply mix them together at meal time. We cook for five dogs and spend only 20 minutes twice a week preparing food for them.

Homemade dog food is too expensive.


While it is possible to spend a fortune on organic meats, grains, vegetables, and supplements, purchasing ingredients for a home cooked diet does not have to be costly. Many of your ingredients can be purchased at wholesale warehouse stores. Grocery stores also have sales that can allow you to stock up on meat and other essentials. You may pay a few dollars more a month, but the peace of mind you get from knowing EXACTLY what your dog is eating is priceless.

Homemade dog food is not nutritionally balanced.


In some cases, this myth is even perpetuated by veterinarians because they believe people won’t feed a balanced diet every meal and don’t have the time to create complete recipes. This belief is a disservice to people in general because of the simple fact that, while they might not eat one, everyone knows what a balanced diet is. Parents do not feed their child a complete diet at every meal, but during the space of a week, a child gets enough of each of the basic food groups to grow and thrive. While a dog’s needs are different from a child, the concept is the same and, if you follow the basic concepts found on our Home Cooking page, your dog will receive all the nutrition he needs over the span of a week.

Homemade dog food is too complicated.


This myth is due to the misconception that you must follow a complex recipe in order to cook for your dog. This could not be further from the truth. Nutritionally, dogs require only two main ingredients; a meat based protein and a carbohydrate source (either vegetables or grain or a mixture of both). The only other requirement is to balance the calcium to phosphorus ratio as dogs need more calcium in their diet and meat has a lot of phosphorus. This is extremely easy to do and you can find out more on our Home Cooking page.

A diet of fresh cooked meat will create a “taste for blood” and cause your dog to kill other animals to satisfy this craving.


Predatory behavior is a natural instinct in dogs, but selective breeding over many years has curbed this behavior and has funneled it into such activities as chasing cats, squirrels and other small animals. Dogs that attack and kill prey have behavioral issues that require training. What a dog eats has no affect, either positive or negative, on predatory behavior.

Dogs With Allergies

Abby the Allergy Girl

I have been asked many times why Bingo’s Bounty goes to all the trouble of offering custom mixes of vegetables for dogs for homemade dog food and the answer is simply “because of Abby.”

This is Abigail Elizabeth. Looking at her, you would never know that she has multiple allergies. She came into our lives as a beautiful, healthy sheltie puppy and had no health issues until she reached the age of two. Then her symptoms seemed to appear overnight; incessant scratching, ear infections, hot spots, hair falling out, and licking and chewing her feet until they were bald. So began our journey into the realm of allergies...

We immediately looked at her diet. At the time we were still feeding kibble and, thinking she might be allergic to the chicken and rice formula we were feeding, we switched her to a lamb and rice. The symptoms persisted. We then tried a fish and potato variety and still no improvement. It seemed no matter which brand we tried, she still suffered. During this time my vet strongly urged me to put her on steroids, but I was afraid of what this would do to her health, and I knew that they would only mask her symptoms and not treat the cause. I opted instead to have the RAST test performed. This simple blood test will not only detect which substances your dog is allergic to, but how strongly they are allergic to them as well. Her results were disheartening.

In the food group, Abby was allergic to rice, corn, wheat, milk, soybean, white potato, fish, carrots and green peas. As the majority of dog foods contained rice or potato, we began making homemade dog food for her that included high quality meats, a Bingo’s Bounty Custom Mix, and plenty of omega fatty acids. I also discovered that an often overlooked oil that is one of the best for an allergy dog is coconut oil. Coconut oil is antiviral, antifungal (kills yeast too, a common problem with allergies), and antibacterial. All of our dogs absolutely love the taste. We also made sure that she had extra vitamin C to help boost her immune system. We also added the homeopathic tincture of stinging nettle to her diet and that helped her greatly. Changing what she ate was just the first step.

Abby was also allergic to almost all types of grass, 50% of the weeds and trees that they test for, several forms of fungus, house dust and mites, tobacco smoke, and wool (ironic isn’t it - for a sheep dog). As our goal was to eliminate or minimize her contact with these known allergens, our work was cut out for us.

Our dogs are allowed on the sofa and love seat, but to keep them clean, and minimize the potential mite issue, we use large cotton blankets as throws that are washed weekly. We try to keep the house dusted and vacuumed on a weekly basis.

Luckily we did not have on our property any of the trees she was allergic to, but the grass was another problem. Abby loves the outdoors, and with several other dogs living together, and a dog door allowing 24 hour access, it was going to be nearly impossible to keep her off of it. The winter months were not a problem as the yard was blanketed in a protective layer of snow, but the rest of the year was problematic. Careful observation on our part revealed that the fall seems to cause her the most difficulty. During this time we try to minimize her activity in the yard and substitute long walks through the neighborhood instead.

Abby’s Beauty Regime
People laugh at me when I tell them we have regular “spa days” for my dogs, but I strongly believe that they are vital to keeping a dog healthy and happy; even more so for a dog suffering from allergies. Because of her regime, Abby’s coat is so long and luxurious that I am constantly trimming and thinning it. How many dogs with multiple allergies can you say that about?

Brushing - 3x per week. In a world with no distractions this is the ideal, but often when she is doing well, I don’t follow a strict schedule as I don’t always have the time. Brushing not only stimulates the blood vessels in the skin and distributes the natural oils throughout the coat, but it also removes dead hair and skin that can lead to scratching.

Ear cleaning - 1x per week. I like to use a product called Oti-Soothe. It is non-greasy and has a pleasant fragrance.

Bath - 1x per week during mild weather, 1x per month during winter. The key to bathing an allergy dog is using the proper shampoo. I went through many brands until I found the ones that worked the best for Abby. Avoid any shampoos that have sodium lauryl sulfate (or laureth sulfate) as this chemical is VERY caustic and can irritate the skin. Also avoid products with tea tree oil as this oil can be toxic if ingested and actually irritates most dog’s skin. The two shampoos I use on Abby are Dermalyte (with coconut oil) and Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe.

Trimming - I keep the hair on Abby’s legs and feet trimmed to keep them from collecting irritants.

Even with all of this care, Abby still has a few days where her allergies just seem to be more aggressive. During these times I will give her a children’s Benadryl to help her through. Sometimes I will massage a mixture of chamomile and lavender essential oils mixed with coconut oil on her hot spots or paws. Rarely however, do I have to continue these treatments beyond a day.

If your dog is suffering from allergies, don’t give up hope. Don’t give in to using steroids either. Do your research and find out what your dog is allergic to and then, to the best of your abilities, do what you can to eliminate or minimize your dog’s contact.

I often wish that I had pictures of Abby when she looked her worst, but I couldn’t bear to take a picture of her when she looked so miserable. I think that if people could see the difference, they would know that caring for an allergy dog is really not as daunting as it feels. Believe me, that beautiful girl in the photo above was not that pretty once, and to have her now happy and sleeping through the night without near constant scratching... that to me is the true beauty of helping her.
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