By April 24, 2012 Read More →

Canning Homemade Dog Food – Recipe and Instructions!

Our pup, dropping me a hint that he’d like more. All photos by Stephanie Dayle ©2013

When I make dog food, I make it using one type of meat per batch.  So we’ll make a batch of dog food using beef, and another for chicken parts (we save the less desirable parts from the chickens we butcher and turkeys we eat when we have enough of these random parts we grind them up and make a batch of dog food with them) but we don’t combine them.  So when we came across some extra meat this fall we didn’t want it to go to waste and made some dog food out of it.  It is fairly cost efficient and much more healthy than the stuff you by at the store.  As a nice side effect, it also boosts our stock of dog food we keep at the house in case of an emergency and if push comes to shove it’s completely safe for humans to eat too.

After a successful hunting season, we took the parts of our deer that weren’t used for steaks, sausage, or jerky and trimmed them up again.  This includes the liver and some other organ meats – we love to eat venison heart so the dogs didn’t get that.  We cut all the tendon out, any bone, and any abnormally large chunks of fat.  Anything eatable that was cut out of the dog food was fed to the dogs in small amounts as snacks, treats, or mixed in with their regular food.  They even got the bone marrow from the bigger bones.  The ONLY thing that was thrown out on this deer, was the rib cage, spine, and lower intestinal tact, all devoid of meat – everything else was used.

All photos by Stephanie Dayle ©2013

Since I wanted to can this batch of Dog Food, it was important to not have too much fat in the recipe – I know the dogs need fat as part of their diet, but too much and you run the risk of it going rancid even when canned.  So we included some fat but not too much.  I just eye balled this, as we tossed the meat into a large stock pot with some water.  We cooked all the meat with water for just over an hour in a giant canning/dog food making session.  This created a “meat stock” we used later. The venison meat made roughly 20 quart sized jars of dog food.

All photos by Stephanie Dayle ©2013

I also cooked up some veggies. Carrots and spinach (the next time it will be carrots and green beans, I have heard green beans are a better fiber for moving things along in their intestinal track) it is just stuff we had from the garden so it was all grown at home.  I added those in for vitamins and minerals.  Then added some hard boiled eggs from my chickens WITH the shells for calcium.


All photos by Stephanie Dayle ©2013


I also cooked up some rice (overcook the rice with more water than is needed so it can’t swell, if you are not planning on canning the dog food – please disregard this step) as this is usually very easy for dogs to process, and its dirt cheap.

Then we added some cider vinegar – to keep the acidity level up (this discourages bacteria growth when canned) and because I have read it is good for their joints.  Our older German Shepherd needs everything good for joints.  We also added a little bit of garlic – which in small amounts can improve palatability for the dogs and helps repeal insects.  I have heard garlic can be bad but after doing some reading on the subject and talking to my vet, I decided this small amount of garlic is harmless and may even be beneficial as there are people who say adding some garlic in their diet can help to discourage mosquitoes and ticks.

We mixed all that together.  Then we ran it all through a meat grinder – on medium – with a course grind blade.

Next we prepared the jars and pressure canner for canning.

We kept the ground up dog food warm – and then added back in some of the “meat stock” which was also being kept warm on the stove . This is what is commonly known as a hot pack in the world of canning. In retrospect – we found out the hard way, that too much liquid causes the seals to fail. So all the jars we’ve done since then have been a tad more on the dry side.

Leaving just about 2 inches of headspace in the jars, we filled them and processed them in our pressure canner at 15 lbs for 90 minutes following the recommendation in our canning book for ‘ground beef’. Don’t forget to adjust for your altitude!  UPDATE: Due to what I have learned on canning safety I have switched to canning this recipe at 15 lbs  90 minutes and using only pint jars, this adds a little bit more insurance for me that I am doing everything I can to produce a safe end product.  I love hearing that ping of a successfully sealed jar!

The finished product.
All photos by Stephanie Dayle ©2013

And just in case you are wondering homemade dog food doesn’t stink.  In fact it smells like a roast cooking in the oven.  It will make you hungry. Our dogs LOVE it – whenever we feed it every dish is licked perfectly clean when they are done.  We don’t prep this dog food exclusively but we do make it when we have scrap meat like I mentioned above and add it into a rotation.  It helps me know that I am doing everything I can as a responsible pet owner to provide for them in the event of a disaster.

Pet Food-What to Store and How” is another article I have written for American Preppers Network that also addresses all types of store bought dog and cat food, if making your own is not your thing.  I have covered how to store it to get the maximum amount of storage life out of it, techniques for usage, and even some new ideas for food – like freeze-dried dog food. Click Here!

Here is the recipe – I got the original one from The Canning Granny Blog  (blog for all things canning and preserving) and made a few modifications due to my preference for a higher meat ratio and needing less liquid.

This will do a single batch of 6 or so pint jars.

  • 3.5 Cups of Meat
  • 2 Cups of Rice
  • 2-3 Large Cooked Carrots
  • Half a bag of Cooked Spinach or a Handful of Cooked Green Beans
  • One Boiled Egg still in the shell
  • 2-3 TBS of Cider Vinegar
  • 1 TBS of Garlic Powder
  • 1 Cup of “Meat Stock”

If you want to forgo the pressure canning  you can partition out serving sizes, stick them into little freezer bags or FoodSaver bags, vacuum them and then freeze them. This recipe would even make good RAW meals for your dog if you aren’t canning it. Each morning simply get a bag of food out and it will be thawed and ready to serve in the evening. No wheat, no corn, no preservatives, or other goofy crap that Dog Food companies like to add.

According to The Canning Granny, one pint of this dog food will feed a 100lb dog for a day, fed half in the morning and half in the evening.  Of course, this will vary from dog to dog as they have different energy needs so like any dog food you will have to keep an eye on your dogs weight.

I would also like to add that I understand that USDA advises against canning rice.  They recommend this because rice swells, it also increases the density in the jar making it more difficult to come up to temperature.  Also this recipe is has not been scientifically tested for safety, so you are taking a risk by using it.  But I do know this, and now so do you .  I choose to can it anyways.  You will have to decide for yourself if you want to can with rice and with this unapproved recipe. One more thing you can do make the recipe safer is to use pint jars instead of quart jars.

About the Author:

Stephanie is a writer for the American Preppers Network, a small local paper and for her blog, The Home Front and was featured in Marie Claire UK in the October 2012 issue that featured women preppers. She is also the credited writer of "Emergency Bag Essentials (Swatchbook): Everything You Need to Bug Out" released in August 2014 and available on "I write articles based on my own experience with emergency preparedness, self-sufficiency, homesteading, food preservation and life around the farmstead. I grew up in a very rural area where I learned to garden, the art of canning, to hunt and fish, and to raise my own animals for food. I also spent 6 years volunteering for the local county Search and Rescue group where I learned a variety of survival skills and a little bit about law enforcement protocol. " "As a general rule of principle I do not write articles about information that I have only read - if I am writing about something it's because I have done it myself and gone to great lengths to provide you with the facts meshed with personal experience. My alter egos are as an full time mom, amateur photographer, and backpacker." Stephanie's past APN articles are featured below on several pages. To connect with her --> click on one of the many little square social media buttons below!

24 Comments on "Canning Homemade Dog Food – Recipe and Instructions!"

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  1. Kris Watson says:

    So glad to see your process. I have been canning dogfood for years, and my little Reagan loves it! She is partial to the addition of pureed pumpkin as well. I completely agree about the addition of over-cooked rice. It works perfectly.

  2. Thanks Kris. We can pumpkin in chunks separately – ironically – I ignore the advisory against canning with rice but the USDA advisory against canning pureed pumpkin I have always adhered to. Go figure. The chunks work good too though you just open a can and mash them up or I will hit them with a stick blender for a few seconds then mix it in with their food. I like to use pumpkin to settle their stomachs. It is just wonderful that way. Stops vomiting, slows diarrhea, and helps cure constipation, boosts beta-carotene levels – I can’t say enough good things about pumpkin for dogs. Love the name Reagan BTW – one of my friends has a collie named Reagan.

  3. Wow!! I am amazed by this. I had never even thought about canning dog food. That is genius! Thank you so much for this article, now i am ready to do this to lol. I do have a few questions. What sort of rice is best to use for this recipe? Also, is it ok to save scraps in the freezer until you have enough to start canning a big batch at one time? We don’t really eat a lot of meat, mostly turkey and fish. (although lately the family is really liking beef, i try not to make a lot of it for health reasons) With the meat, does it matter if the meat is left overs from a meal or should it be raw and then you cook it?

    • JpG – We save our raw meat scraps in the freezer until we have enough to make a batch of dog food then cook it all at once to help create that “meat stock”. Left over meat from our meals is fed directly to our dogs right after our meal so i don’t ever have ‘cooked’ meat to save. If its cooked I can’t see a good reason why you couldn’t use it, if it is cooked clear through – and has not been left out for too long it won’t hurt to refreeze it. I kinda wonder if it would lose some nutritional value going through a double freeze and double cooking though. 

      Use plain white rice, over cook it so there is no more swelling that it can do – brown rice is not good for long term storage, and we pass on it for canning dog food as well because of its short life span and longer cooking times.

  4. John says:

    Wild hog meat works great as well and isn’t very good to eat as a human. The taste is a little harsh but the dogs love it…..

  5. george says:

    just a question do you grind the egg shell up with the mix and if so why ?? calcium?


    • Exactly George – calcium, and yes I grind them up with everything else. If the little chunks of shell are unsightly you can also save your egg shells by washing them and setting them out to dry, when you have a small collection you can pulverize them in a food processor or Magic Bullet. This will turn them into a powder which you can that add to the mix. You can all add that powder directly to your garden when you till in the spring. Your garden will thank you!

  6. You all are very smart and resourceful. One thing you may think about doing is researching the health benefits of using bone broth. You can boil the bones of those deer etc. and extract all the wonderful glucosamine, chondroitin, minerals, and flavor from the bones and use to boil your meat scraps. This would increase flavor and well as utilize the carcass completely~

    • That is an excellent idea and great way to use the smaller bones that I would not feed the dogs – thanks for the suggestion.

      I just finished learning how to make my own bone meal for the garden – I think from the sounds of what you said when I was finished with the bone broth I could make bone meal out of the remaining bones, therefore using the entire carcass.  Thanks again Carrie!

  7. Jaye says:

    I love your site! I’ve made some batches of dog food using your recipe and my dogs prance around the canner when I make it! They love it! Plus, you’re right, they don’t seem to need as much. It feels good to know I can provide good healthy food for my pets – yard clean up proves that! :) Thank you for sharing your expertise!

  8. Conner Wolfe says:

    I have a pet bird. Anyone know of a way I can preserve food for her?

  9. Conner Wolfe says:

    Any idea how long it will last?

    • The general rule of thumb for storing canned meat is 5 years. A lot of home canners will tell you 10+ years when stored in ideal conditions of a cool, dry, dark place. If you want to put this in the freezer – it will last for a couple of years. And yes, if you want to store food for your bird buy the seed in bulk when its on sale and use a FoodSaver to vacuum seal the seeds up, or use a combination of oxygen absorber and mylar – then store them in a cool dark place. Bird seed is mostly millet – millet will store for 15+ years this way. 

  10. Mary Widner says:

    you do realize that garlic ( and onions) are very toxic to dogs. It may not make your pet sick right away but over time it will affect your pets long term health and as you are prepping for the worst you may want to take this into consideration for your pets well being as a Vet may not be available if your pet becomes ill. My son has a 130 lb chocolate lab for a service dog who I make dog stews for to supplement his dry rations. Even tho I have been around hunting dogs for over 60 years, and was involved in their feeding and care, I still worked with our vet and researched on line nutrition and toxins in making our dogs food because we depend on him daily and he is a valued member of our family I would never give him anything that in anyway might harm him or damage his health. Dropping the garlic out of your recipe will be un-noticed by your pet but his health will surely thank you.

    • Myth #1: Garlic is toxic to dogs.

      Lately many articles have been written that include ingredient warnings for people who are considering a homemade diet. These warnings are regarding foods that are supposedly toxic to dogs. And right there next to chocolate, is always garlic. The truth is, garlic is indeed toxic to dogs — IF YOU FEED 50 CLOVES OF GARLIC IN ONE SITTING! I would imagine garlic would be toxic to anyone if fed in that quantity. Heck, even water can be deadly if you drink too much of it. Obviously no one would ever feed that much garlic to their dog. Truth is, when fed in reasonable amounts, garlic is a fantastic ingredient to a homemade dog food diet. Not only is it a great natural flea repellent, but garlic is also a tremendous antioxident and detoxifying agent for dogs. For more information on the benefits of garlic, visit

  11. Here is research about dogs and garlic that I got from Mother Earth News – if anyone is interested in doing their own research.

    The TRUTH about garlic!!! What holistic Doctors, breeders, and herbalists say:

    From time to time the discussion arises: is garlic good or bad for your dog?
    What holistic Doctors, breeders, and herbalists say about garlic…
    Garlic contains at least 200 different compounds, many of which are said to be useful for dogs. Garlic lowers blood pressure, accelerates the breakdown of waste matter from cells, and may even act as a mild flea repellent.

    According to the Whole Dog Journal, “Garlic improves cholesterol balance, inhibits harmful platelet congregation and acts as an antioxidant. There is much debate about which type of garlic is best and every preparation (fresh, dried, cooked, raw or extract) has it’s proponents. Although side effects are rare, garlic does thin the blood and should not be used by dogs with bleeding disorders. Otherwise, it is usually safe to take in “courses” of five days on and two days off for four weeks, then discontinued for one week before resuming, with occasional breaks of a month or more”.

    For more info, check out Home-Prepared Dog & Cat Diets: the Healthful Alternative

    Garlic—antibiotic, good for E. coli, Klebsiella, Proteus, Staph
    Average clove of garlic has 100,000 Units of Penicillin
    VERY HIGH doses can cause Heinz body anemia in cats
    2-4 drops S-BID cats & small dogs
    4-10 drops S-BID medium dogs
    Garlitrin 1 tablet SID large dogs

    raw garlic is to provide garlic’s anti-inflammatory action and (since it is raw) to provide an antibiotic action. Raw garlic is antibacterial and anti-fungal. This action is lost when garlic is cooked or dried. Dry ginger is also a good anti-inflammatory. Together with garlic, dry ginger can replace the need for aspirin-like (NSAID) drugs. Fresh ginger or pickled ginger are also good anti-emetic compounds, calming the stomach.

    Garlic is very good for dogs. It helps repel fleas and worms. 1 teaspoon or clove in the “mush” meal is ample. Do not over feed garlic as it is part of the onion family and can be harmful in large doses.

    Natural Rearing Garlic Plus Herbal Mix

    Natural Rearing formulae by Juliette de Bairacli Levy. A natural tonic and conditioner for Dogs & Cats combining Garlic, Wormwood, Ginger, Cayenne and Sage to promote prime general health and resistance to infection. Particularly good as a daily aid to parasite control and to support a healthy respiratory system.

    Organic Green Alternative-Herbal Supplement
    A synergistic balance of nutritive herbs and spirulina in an easy to feed formula that is designed to compliment the natural diets of dogs and cats. Unlike high-potency vitamins that may provide more nutrients than can be used, this product will not place an added burden upon the liver, kidneys and digestvie system.

    Herbal Ingredients: Organic Flax Seed Meal, Organic Burdock Root, Organic Nettle Leaf, Organic Spirulina, Organic Pumpkin Seed, Organic Garlic 300 gms

    For dogs- 1 teaspoon per 20 pounds

    GARLIC CONCENTRATE: Boosts immune system. Fights parasites in intestinal tract. Repels fleas.

    Scientists from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel have decided that a clove of garlic a day may indeed have the power to ward off infections from the common cold to E Coli according to the editor of Canine Health Concern Catherine O’Driscoll.

    Researchers have found that fresh garlic disarms many poisons found in bacteria, viruses and fungi, which underpins claims that garlic keeps cholesterol levels down and acts as an anti oxidant.

    So while you’re preparing garlic for your cat or dogs dinner have a clove yourself! The editor mention that she has found if you chew a raw clove of garlic the moment you feel a cold starting, then the cold starting will not materialise.

    Another commonly used herb, Allium sativum, known as garlic, is a potent immunostimulant and antibacterial and has been given for centuries by the chinese and Egyptians for numerous conditions. Over 1,000 research papers have been published on the medicinal effects of garlic in just the past 20 years. The active ingredient, allicin is a potent antibiotic. However, the dose is quite variable depending upon the amount of active ingredient in the garlic. For appropriate dosing in people, Tyler states that one would need to eat between 5 to 20 cloves of garlic daily ! What an odor! You wouldn’t catch anything because no one would go near you! You want to be careful not to give too much to your pets. Besides the odor, it can give them heartburn, flatulence and gastrointestinal upset. There are many garlic preparations on the health food store counters that have more concentrated levels of allicin. It is important to use one that has research documenting efficacy. Kyolic is one of the more well known ones that is concentrated and that studies have been conducted on. Again, no documented studies have been conducted on indications for our pets. Anecdoctal reports of garlic being beneficial in gastrointestinal problems and diluted topical ointments for ear problems in dogs.

    Another immune booster and potent antimicrobial agent is garlic. You can mix raw minced garlic 1/2 to 3 cloves a day, depending upon the size of your animal) into the daily food ration. If your animal refuses raw garlic, says Anitra Frazier, a long-time vegetarian and author of The New Natural Cat (Plume, 1990), mix the minced clove with a small amount of equal parts water and soy sauce, let it stand for a few minutes, then strain out the garlic and mix the liquid with food. Other alternatives include “deodorized” garlic in capsules or liquid form.

    Oriental Diet
    Complements to:
    Dr. Iwan Basco
    Homeopathic Vet
    Kawai, HI

    Read more:

  12. Emily Swezey says:

    I am concerned that your canned meals are lacking in sufficient calcium ( phosphorous to calcium ratio should be about 1.5:1)I realize that you might be feeding bones fresh/frozen and just forgot to mention that. It is however a super important aspect of making homemade pet food that a newbie might not know about. Thanks for taking the time to feed your dogs so well!

    • In this recipe you are correct even with the addition of egg shells the calcium ratio is probably lacking – but fear not it’s not the ONLY food my doggies get. They also get LOTS of raw bones in their diets. You mention an important tidbit readers should keep in mind while storing dog food. Thanks for the comment!

  13. geni says:

    Rice (any grain) and eggs are NOT approved for home canned products. I would not want to risk making my dog sick! There’s no recommendation to add vinegar to make this safe either.

    • Geni-

      Bless your heart. You are absolutely correct – on the rice and egg part.
      ‘Whole’ eggs are not approved for canning. I am not canning whole eggs.

      Adding vinegar, ascorbic acid, or lemon juice to any canning recipe raises the acidity level of the food – this is chemistry, it happens regardless of whether its in a canning book or not. This is why many recipes call for the addition of one of those three ingredients……to raise the acidity level in the jar. Does adding vinegar make this particular recipe perfectly safe for canning? Nope – and I don’t make that claim either. Does it make it ‘safer’? Yes. That much is math.

      I very CLEARLY state that this recipe is not an approved recipe and that the USDA advises against canning with rice, in Bold. Red. Type. within the article. But thank you so much for pointing it out, again, in the comment section.

      For more reading on canning safety check out this APN article:

  14. Beth says:

    My dogs love this.
    I use all the scraps and organ meat from the deer my husband and I get, and the rest of the family is starting to donate too!
    When I ran out last year, my dogs were rather upset with me… getting onto the counters in what I believe was a search for where I was hiding it… have to make more this year! Will have to try using the bone stock idea, I like using every part of the deer possible!