What Is Gently Cooked Dog Food?

Kibble is still the leading diet for most dogs today. Naturally, it is more convenient to pour dry pellets out of a bag in the cupboard than to source for alternatives or to feed lightly cooked dog food. 

Marketed extensively to be wholesome and nutrient-dense, kibble offers an all-around simple, straightforward way to provide a safe, balanced meal for dogs.

However, the recent rise of awareness for raw feeding and gently cooked dog food has changed the mindset of pet owners. 

The common questions that arise now include:

Can I feed my dog human food instead of dog food? 

What is the healthiest food to feed my dog? 

What can I feed my dog instead of dog food?

Well, as a pet parent, you deserve to know how your pet’s food is made. Just like humans, our furry friends benefit similarly from whole foods with no preservatives or additives. Besides, lightly cooked food will retain most naturally occurring vitamins and minerals.

What does gently cooked mean?

In this method of cooking, food is heated or cooked to the requirement recommended to kill pathogens such as salmonella and e-coli. 

This process ensures that the bacteria present in raw ingredients are killed but still preserves the nutritional integrity of the ingredients.

In addition, the protein levels remain high due to lower temperature cooking. Pet owners had reported substantial health improvements in their pets after switching to this diet. Reports include a healthier, shinier coat, softer skin, cleaner teeth and less odours.

In contrast, kibbles are highly processed food.

Have you ever asked yourself how dog kibbles are made? 

There are currently two main ways to produce dry dog food, which is via baking or extruding. 

Baking is self-explanatory but what does extruded mean in dog food?

The extrusion process in kibble-making works by combining the wet and dry ingredients in the recipe to make a doughy mixture. This mixture is then cooked using pressurised steam or hot water.   

Once cooked, the dough is then forced (or extruded) through specially sized and shaped holes which shapes the kibbles. This shaping part of the process is done while the dough is still compacted from the high pressure because the dough pieces start to puff up as it cools. 

The end result of extrusion is the dry biscuits that we know as kibbles. 

Extrusion is a more efficient method of preparing kibbles compared to baking, but it changes the molecular structure of some ingredients, especially animal protein and destroys the nutritional content of others. 

So, is baked kibble better? 

Not much, as the recipe for the kibble remains high in carbohydrates. 

10 Benefits of Lightly Cooked Food for Dogs 

The benefits really show in the overall health of the animals that are fed an unprocessed diet.

If you are still on the fence, check out the benefits as below.

  1. If you are easing your pet into a raw diet, gently cooked foods are a great way to get your pup used to this change.   
  2. Foods prepared in this manner do not destroy healthy proteins from prolonged or extreme heat and hence are easier to break down and digest. As a dog’s digestive tract is much shorter than a human’s, it is important that the nutrients in their food are easy to digest so that they are absorbed before completely passing through the intestinal tract.
  3. This diet is also a great option for dogs with compromised immune systems as a blend of fresh produce can provide a boost of nutritional benefits.
  4. Food cooked gently is more biologically appropriate for your pet. The meal is wholesome and consists of fresh ingredients with less or none of the common synthetic proteins and amino acids that may cause allergies in pets.
  5. Gently cooked foods do not use added fillers and carbohydrates. This lean diet will keep your pet within the ideal weight and healthy.
  6. Gnawing on raw bones helps remove tartar buildup that causes plaque. However, avoid cooked bones as these are brittle and may splinter into shards that can cause choking and serious damage to your dog's mouth, throat, or intestines
  7. Despite common fears, gently cooked foods are safe. The meats are cooked to FDA recommended temperatures in order to destroy common pathogens such as salmonella.
  8. Improved digestion also results in firmer stools and more regular bowel movements.
  9. This way of feeding is lower in carbohydrates compared to kibbles so it is kinder for sensitive stomachs besides keeping your pet lean.
  10. In the long run, it is cost-saving due to fewer trips to the vet! As the health of your dog improves, vet visits may be reduced to only general check-ups. 

    How much cooked meat should a dog eat per day?

    “How many cups of homemade dog food should I feed my dog?” is a common query among pet owners.  Every dog is an individual just like people are. The age of the dog plays a role as well. 

    While it is hard to determine exactly how much food to give each dog, there is a general guide that is widely accepted by many. But when in doubt, it is best to get your vet's advice.

    Adult dogs should be given 2%- 3% of their ideal weight in raw food each day. So if you have a 35lb dog you would give roughly 3/4lb to just over 1lb.

    Puppies are growing and hence they require additional sustenance to help them continue to grow into healthy adult dogs. You can give them 2%- 3% of their ideal adult weight. 

    Can you mix raw and cooked dog food?

    This is not encouraged as generally speaking, kibble and raw food digest differently. The enzymes and the acids in a dog’s digestive tract responsible for breaking down both foods are different. 

    For example, most kibbles have 30-60% starch while most raw foods contain only 0 to 15% carbohydrates. So dog owners are advised to separate the meals as mixing raw and kibble puts dogs at increased risk for several health issues.  

    A good rule of thumb to follow is to mix in a very small amount of new food on day one and gradually alter from day to day basis. This would allow their digestion systems to adjust to the new diet. 

    How do you balance homemade dog food?

    A common misconception is that kibble is needed for teeth and gum health. 

    However, since kibble is primarily formed from refined carbohydrates, it increases plaque and tartar buildup on the dog's teeth. This is why bone is best. You should be looking for food and treats with natural hormone and antibiotic-free bone sources such as bone meal.

    Home-prepared dog diets that include a wide variety of foods fed at different meals rely on balance over time, not at every meal. As long as your dog gets everything it needs spread out over each week or two and his diet will be complete and balanced. 

    So can you feed your dog chicken or ground beef and rice every day? 

    No, it is not advisable to do so as no single type of food, such as chicken, should ever make up more than half the diet.

    Following are guidelines to creating balanced homemade dog food recipes:

    1. Meat and other animal products: This should always make up at least half of the diet. Unless your dog gets regular, intense exercise, use lean meats which has no more than 10 percent fat. 
    2. Raw meaty bones (optional): This should make up one third to one half of the total diet. Do not feed cooked bones.  
    3. Boneless meat: It is good to include both poultry and red meat.
    4. Fish: Fish provides vitamin D. Otherwise you can add it as a supplement. You can feed small amounts of fish daily, or larger amounts once or twice a week. Canned fish with bones, such as sardines, mackerel and salmon are good choices. Remember to remove the bones from cooked fish. 
    5. Organs: Liver should make up roughly 5 percent of this category.
    6. Eggs: This is a highly nutritious addition. Dogs weighing about 20 pounds can have a whole egg daily. Smaller dogs should be fed eggs less frequently.
    7. Fruits and vegetables: This is not a significant part of a dog’s inclusion of both food groups can provide fiber that supports digestive health.  Greens and fruits supply antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients that contribute to health and longevity.
    8. Grains: Grains are controversial, as they may contribute to inflammation caused by allergies, arthritis, or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) as well as seizures and other problems. If you do feed grains, all grains must be well cooked.

    5 Easy home cooked dog food recipes

    What can I cook for my dog? 
    Can I feed my dog chicken and rice everyday?
    Now, a homemade dog food diet isn't hard to design but it does require planning. Here are some examples on how to make dog food at home that is complete and balanced.

    1. Dog burgers 
    These patties have plenty of fruits and veggies for vitamins for your fur pet. It can be the best frozen raw dog food in terms of taste, texture and nutrition. This freezes well too, so make more and keep frozen for busy days.  

    1 pound ground beef or lamb
    1 ounce of peas
    1-2 chopped apple/s
    8 ounces of chopped pumpkin or 1 cup pumpkin puree.
    2 whole eggs

    Mix together well and form your patties to the size appropriate for your dog. Use 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and gently cook on low heat.

    2. The fish meal
    Keep in mind fish should be served once a week. The vitamins and omega fatty acids fish can deliver is fantastic for your dog. Some dog owners wondered if they could feed their dog canned tuna if they do not have the time to cook. Yes, you can. When choosing tinned fish, look for fish packed in water without added salt.

    60% fish
    10% –15% beef kidneys or chicken hearts
    12% – 15%
    5% – 10% cucumber and carrots
    Gently poach the fish and remove all bones before feeding.

    3. Standard beef meal
    Ground beef is cheap and easy to mix with just about anything. Be sure to get the

    95% lean type. Some fat is good for your dog but never too much.
    50% – 60% Ground beef or any cut of beef you choose (95% lean)
    10% – 15% Beef heart or liver (10% if liver)
    12% – 15% whole or ground beef neck bone
    5% – 10% Spinach or other leafy dark green veggies.

    Cook using low heat until all meats are no longer pink. 

    4. The chicken diet

    50% – 60% Meat/bone: Chicken meat
    10% – 15% of organs: Chicken heart/liver
    5% whole eggs: Raw or gently boiled (shells included)
    5% – 10% fruits/veggies: Carrots or peas

    Mix well and cook using low heat until all ingredients are cooked. 


    Rice and meat combo
    If you would like to add rice to your dog’s diet, this recipe is healthy, easy to make and inexpensive.

    1 1/2 cups brown rice
    2 carrots, shredded
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 zucchini, shredded
    3 pounds ground turkey
    1/2 cup peas, canned or frozen
    3 cups baby spinach, chopped

    Cook the rice following the instruction package. Set aside to cool. Cook the meat and vegetables lightly using olive oil. Blend the cooked mixture and rice before serving it to your dog.

    On days that you’re unable to cook a meal for your dog, there is readily available gently cooked dog food that is fresh and wholesome, packed with essential vegetables and high quality supplements. No further preparation needed, just thaw and serve!