Beagle Home Cooked Food: A Culinary Guide
Ever considering home-cooked food for your beagle? Well, there are tons of food options that are available for our beloved companions. But not all food is created equal.
Fortunately, the ever-evolving insight and knowledge into human diets have further validated the undeniable power of food on health, and that effect has positively cascaded onto our four-legged loved ones’ diets.
A caveat: Before considering home-cooking meals for your beagle, you will have to get a nutritionally-customized diet made for your beagle. Remember, simply because a meal is home-cooked, doesn’t mean that it is balanced and nutritionally sufficient for your dog. It must take into account their health conditions (if any), their body size, activity levels, and even life stage (puppy, adolescent, pregnancy, adult, senior).
You should always consult your veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist prior to any dietary changes for your 4-legged loved one.
After all, you want your beagle to only experience positive benefits from their homemade food, right?
Advantages Of Home Cooking
You’re A Control Freak
Do you really know what’s in your dog’s bowl of mystery bowl of kibble? I’m guessing not — cause I sure as hell didn’t. Meal this, rendered fat, blah de blah — WTF?!
Besides, think about a typical American diet full of processed foods, additives, preservatives, you name it. That barrage of garbage undoubtedly leads to feelings of sluggishness, becoming overweight, and any other potential health-related issues.
Many of those aforementioned alterations are generally meant to extend the shelf-life for a product or make it more attractive visually to humans who purchase it. After all, does your dog need food coloring in their foods? They can’t even see colors, so you tell me.
Oh, and here’s another kicker: Dog food typically is not even human-grade. The quality requirements are markedly lower across the board. Also, commercial dry dog food is cooked at such a high temperature, that most of its nutrition profile is destroyed during the process. Fortunately, with fresh food, you have absolute control over what your beagle does and does not consume, along with how it is prepared.
Do you really want to offer something that is comparably bad or worse? If you’re reading this, I already know your answer.
A healthy beagle is a happy beagle. By receiving a well-balanced human-grade nutrition profile, they will be more likely to have greater immunity and increased vitality of up to 20% longer. All beagles — from puppies to seniors — can garner benefits.
Your beagle’s digestive system wasn’t meant to consume most of the ingredients in commercial dry dog food. There are exceptions of course. But generally, they will suffer nutritionally for it.
Example: By-products, which are found very frequently in commercial dog food, are components of animals that are deemed unfit for human consumption.
Rendered meats is another rather disgusting dog food secret. Rendered meats are animals that have died during transportation, diseased animals, and expired supermarket meats. The meat from the animals is processed to displace bacteria and isolate the fat from the meat. The potentially tainted fat and meat are integrated into the food to satisfy fat or protein requirements. Scary, isn’t it?
Switching them to foods that are fresh and human-grade will help to ensure proper nutrient absorption.
If your beagle is dealing with a condition, have you considered it may be a food allergy? Itching, dry coats, rashes; all are usually chalked up to allergies. However, most people wouldn’t assume a food allergy as a possibility. We discuss this in more depth here: “Does My Beagle Have Allergies? Maybe.”
It Can Be Cheaper
You can make your beagle their homemade dog food using the same ingredients you and your family use.
Just like your meals that you prepare for yourself: If you take a minute you can save an hour — and a buck or two. Buy in bulk, create a large batch of food for them and freeze the extra for future consumption.
Who’s better than you?
Everyone’s A Critic
Your beagle will become more acclimated to the preparation and subsequent taste of the fresher ingredients. Their acceptance to consume commercial dog food will likely become much more limited, as now they’ve realized what they’ve been missing out on.
Put yourself in their shoes — I mean, paws. If you were offered a nicely cooked filet mignon (assuming you’re not vegetarian) would you not prefer that over a McDonald’s Cheeseburger? Just sayin’.
Disadvantages Of Home Cooking
Difficult Nutrition Balance
When preparing your own meals for your beagle, it can be difficult at times to ensure that you are providing them with a consistently balanced nutrition profile.
Raw Food Safety
Homemade dog food usually entails the use of raw ingredients which could increase the risk of food-borne illnesses.
Unlike its commercial dog food counterpart, dog food made fresh at home will have a shorter life span.
It Can Be More Expensive
If you’re used to buying your dog one of the cheaper commercial dog food brands available, you’re likely looking at an increased food dog for your beagle.
Cooking a recipe will take a concerted effort on your part. No issue though: Your beagle is worth the time.
Beagle Nutrition 101
All beagles have nutrition requirements of some sort. They generally consist of these 6 components:
Water is imperative in all living creatures. In beagles, water comprises about 70% of their body, therefore it is obviously critical.
Proteins are complex molecules that act as the building blocks of cell growth, maintenance, and repair. Generally, protein should consist of 18-25% of their nutritional intake.
Proteins consist of 20 amino acids. Fortunately, your beagle produces half of these amino acids internally. The other 10 that are commonly called “essential amino acids”, have to be supplied via their food and drink intake. The 10 essential amino acids are arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine.
If any of these essential amino acids are missing, their body cannot properly synthesize protein.
All of the aforementioned components must be in place.
Protein sources for beagles should be nutritionally dense and easy to digest. This directly correlates with a term called “biologic value”. Biologic value describes how readily your beagle can assimilate the available protein from that particular source into their body.
Most dairy, egg, meat by-products and meat-based proteins tend to be higher in biologic value.
Unlike most plant-based proteins that tend to have lower biologic value due to lowered bioavailability of specific amino acids and inferior digestibility.
Random fact: Beagles use up to 30% of their protein intake just for maintenance of their hair and fur. Can you believe that?
Carbohydrates act as the primary source of energy for your beagle. Generally, carbohydrates should consist of 30-70% of their nutritional intake.
The 3 types of carbohydrates are sugar, starch, and fiber.
Sugar is the simplest form of carbohydrate. Types of sugar are table sugar (sucrose), milk sugar (lactose) and fruit sugar (fructose).
Starch and fiber are forms of complex carbohydrates. This means they are made it is made of many simple sugars combined. Starch occurs naturally in vegetables, grains, and cooked dry beans and peas. Complex carbs like fiber also keep your beagle from being hungry, as it helps fill their stomach. Also, fiber is not a required nutrient for dogs. However, it can help with weight management, colon health, and controlling blood sugar levels.
Carbohydrates are assimilated in the small intestine into glucose. Glucose is the common energy form used by the majority of body cells. Glucose provides the required need for quick energy and is utilized to ensure normalized brain and nervous system function. Fortunately, glucose can be stored for release later in the form of glycogen. Unfortunately, stored glycogen can convert into fatty deposits in the body and cause obesity, if your beagle indulges too much and exercises too little.
Interestingly enough: Carbohydrates are not essential for beagles as they can synthesize glucose from sufficient levels of dietary protein and fat in their diet. Cool, huh?
However, healthy carbohydrates contain crucial vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and plant-based nutrients that dogs need to reach optimum health. Some great sources of carbs are:
Barley, brown rice, oats, potato, sweet potato, whole corn, and whole wheat.
Speaking of which: When you see an item with the word “whole” attached to it, typically it has been minimally adulterated by processing and offers maximal nutritional value.
Fats are responsible for healthy cell and nervous system maintenance, body temperature regulation, and protection of the internal organs. Generally, fats should consist of 10-15% of their nutritional intake.
Fats also directly affects the flavor of their food. That being said, try to omit any saturated or trans fats, which are detrimental to their health. Monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and omega fatty acids are all beneficial in moderation.
Speaking of omegas: omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are involved with allowing absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Beagles are unable to create these omega fatty acids internally, therefore they must receive these through their diet.
Some great sources of these are:
Omega-3 fatty acids:
Meat sources include salmon, tuna, and mackerel.
Vegetable sources include algae, flaxseed and wheat germ.
Omega-6 fatty acids:
Meat sources include chicken, eggs.
Vegetable sources include soybean, safflower and corn oils.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals must be provided to ensure balanced nutrition.
Vitamin A affects weight control, fights disease and addresses eye and skin health.
Found in: carrots, eggs, fish oil, spinach, sweet potatoes.
Vitamin B is involved with cellular growth and development.
Found in: beans, green vegetables, and whole grains.
Vitamin C boosts immunity.
Found in: green beans, potatoes, zucchini, and many fruits & vegetables.
Vitamin D strengthens bone and teeth.
Found in: beef, cottage cheese, egg yolks and fish oil.
Vitamin E acts as a powerful antioxidant.
Found in: leafy green vegetables, seeds, and whole grains.
Vitamin K affects blood coagulation and keeps bone strength.
Found in: cabbage & fish.
Calcium, phosphorus aids in blood coagulation, muscle growth and nervous system function.
Found in: broccoli, cauliflowers, tofu [calcium]. Eggs, fish and meats [phosphorus].
Chloride, sodium & potassium promotes cellular balance.
Found in: fruits, grains, and vegetables.
Magnesium aids bone and muscle development; help calcium absorption.
found in: leafy vegetables, nuts, and whole grains.
Ingredients That Are Generally Healthy For Your Beagle
Apples are a rich source of vitamins A, C, and fiber for your beagle.
Caveat: remove the core and any seeds before serving.
Bananas are high in potassium, vitamins, biotin, and fiber.
Caveat: they have high sugar content, so they should be given sparingly.
Blueberries are an antioxidant superfood express. Antioxidants prevent cellular damage.
Carrots are high in Vitamin-A and fiber, which produces vitamin A.
Cheese can be a great treat.
Caveat: most cheeses are high in fat, so be mindful of that. Mozzarella and other types of low-fat options are always great — as long as your dog is not lactose intolerant.
Coconut contains lauric which empowers immunity. It may minimize allergic skin conditions. And before you ask: coconut oil and coconut milk is safe too.
Caveat: don’t allow them to eat the outside of the shell. It can be a choking hazard for an overzealous beagle.
Corn is a very common ingredient in dog foods.
Caveat: only corn off-of-the-cob. Capiche?
Cucumbers are loaded with vitamins B1, C, and K, and are great energy boosters.
Eggs are an excellent source of protein — just be sure they are cooked completely.
Fish is chock full of protein, good fats, and amino acids.
Caveat: Ensure that no small bones remain in the fish as they can pose a choking hazard. Also, make sure it is cooked completely. Finally, due to potential mercury levels depending on the fish, restrict their intake to no more than 2 days per week.
Green beans are full of vitamins and minerals. Any form is fine: chopped, canned, steamed or raw. Be sure that they are plain. You don’t want to add unnecessary sodium to your beagle’s diet.
Ham is another one that is fine, but sodium and fat are 2 components to be mindful of. It should be more of an occasional treat at best.
Honey is another beagle superfood. It is fortified with tons of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. An immunity boost can potentially be provided by honey as it can introduce small amounts of pollen to their systems. Furthermore, topically it can be used on burns or superficial cuts.
Mango is teeming with vitamins A, B6, C, and E, potassium, alpha-carotene, and beta-carotene.
Caveat: Remove the pit first. It can be a choking hazard in addition, they can contain trace amounts of cyanide.
Milk is okay, but if your beagle is lactose-intolerant, this is a no-go.
Oranges contain plenty of fiber, potassium and vitamin C.
Caveat: They can have the whole orange, minus the seeds and the rind. They can cause them intestinal upset.
Peas are all good too. You name ’em: snow, sugar snap, garden or English peas are perfectly fins. They contain fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. They can come in many forms: fresh, frozen, thawed or canned.
Caveat: Be mindful of sodium content if they are canned.
Peanut butter is a fantastic source of protein for dogs.
They are full of heart-healthy fats, niacin, vitamins B and E.
Caveat: check any peanut butter you use, as you want to ensure it doesn’t contain xylitol, which is a sugar substitute that can be toxic to beagles.
Peanuts are chock full of good fats and proteins.
Caveat: Avoid salted peanuts.
Pears are a great snack because they’re high in copper, vitamins C and K, and fiber. It’s been suggested that eating the fruit can reduce the risk of having a stroke by 50 percent. Just be sure to cut pears into bite-size chunks and remove the pit and seeds first, as the seeds contain traces of cyanide.
Popcorn should be unbuttered, unsalted plain air-popped popcorn. It contains minerals such as riboflavin and thiamine, which both of which bolster eye health and digestion.
Caveat: Unpopped kernels can be a choking hazard.
Pork is packed with protein and amino acids.
Salmon that is fully cooked is excellent in terms of protein, good fats, and amino acids. It encourages brain and joint health, in addition to boosting immunity.
Caveat: Do not give your beagle raw or undercooked salmon as that can make them very sick or worse.
Shrimp is high in antioxidants, phosphorus, and vitamin B-12.
Caveat: Only serve fully cooked with the shell removed.
Tuna is a stellar source of omega-3 fatty acids, beneficial for heart and eye health.
Caveat: Mercury and sodium are two aspects to keep in mind in terms of consumption.
If going to feed your beagle canned tuna, make sure it’s only served in water, not oil.
Turkey is a great protein source.
Caveat: It must not be covered in garlic and seasonings, as they can be toxic for your beagle. BTW: Always remove bones as they can pose a choking risk or could cause intestinal issues.
Watermelon is a slam dunk of vitamins A, B-6, C; as well as potassium. As over 90% of watermelon is water, it’s excellent for keeping your beagle hydrated on hot summer days and nights.
Wheat/grains like wheat and corn are great sources of protein, essential fatty acids, and fiber.
Caveat: Be mindful if you believe your dog is allergic to grains.
Yogurt is fortified with probiotics that help sustain healthy levels of good bacteria in their gut.
Caveat: Yogurt with added sugar or artificial sweeteners should be avoided.
Can I Just Share My Meal With My Dog?
If the food is completely safe for them — sure. Once in a while can’t hurt.
But here’s why I wouldn’t make a habit out of it:
Avoid Creating A Habit
The more you enable this behavior, the more they will beg you for some of your food.
Is It Safe?
What’s good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander. Humans can consume ingredients that be downright dangerous to our beagles. Chocolate, raisins, grapes, caffeine, mushrooms, fruit cores, etc.
Can I Have Freshly Made Dog Food Delivered To My Home?
Absolutely! Fresh dog food delivery services like The Farmer’s Dog and Pet Plate in addition to others, exist to take over the responsibility of making your beagle’s customized meals from scratch. They freshly prepare their meals, package them up and ship them to your home. Any service that you order from, you’ll want to make sure that they meet or exceed AAFCO standards (Association of American Feed Control Officials) ensuring a complete nutrition profile.
But as I mentioned before, always be sure to take into account your individual beagle’s dietary recommendations from your veterinarian before proceeding to order. That is of course unless you are your dog’s veterinarian — that would be just downright convenient. =P
A Few Quick Tips
Before You Start Them On Their New Food
1. Take into account whether you will be feeding your dog an entirely fresh-food diet, or will it be supplementary.
2. You may be tempted to put your own spin on a recipe like you do for the rest of your family. However, improvising can have some unintended negative repercussions, as doing so can easily result in an unbalanced diet.
3. You’ll want to invest in an accurate food scale. It will help exact your food measurements.
4. Make sure you have enough space to hold a week’s worth of food in your refrigerator or freezer.
5. If you plan on having their food delivered from a service, ascertain what plan you should sign up with and how often you’ll need their food delivered.
After You Start Them On Their New Food
After your dog has been on their homemade food diet for a few weeks, ensure that their weight has stayed relatively stable if that is the goal of the specific diet. Be sure also look for any noticeable changes in their personality, skin, coat, etc; that may give you pause as to their condition.
If you’re looking to provide your beagle with smarter and healthier nutrition: fresh, home-cooked meals may check off all the right boxes.
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