More pet owners begin to question commercial dog food brands, and wonder whether homemade dog food diets are better for their pets. There is no simple answer to that, and it will depend on many different factors.
There are many advantages to feeding your dog a homemade diet, but those are not exclusive to improving your dog's health. Some dog owners will benefit far more from cooking for their dogs than others, and in this podcast episode, I'm discussing specifically who can gain the most from choosing a homemade dog food diet.
Listen to the episode in the video above and find the full podcast transcript below. For more, visit this episode’s post on the official Theory of Pets website.
- Episode link: TOP 026 – Who Can Benefit From Feeding Homemade Dog Food
- Subscribe on iTunes: http://apple.co/2bCksWl
- Subscribe on Google Play: https://goo.gl/Ok7AOw
- Subscribe on YouTube: http://bit.ly/2cdfmzO
Who Benefits from Homemade Dog Food the Most?
(raw podcast transcript)
Today I want to talk about something that is being brought up a lot right now in the pet industry and that's homemade pet food diets. It's something that some people look at as a little bit controversial. Other people look at as something that doesn't give your pet all the nutrition that they need and still there are people out there who think that that's the only way to feed your pet the number one healthiest choice.
So which of these theories is correct?
As with any pet food it's going to depend on your dog and his individual needs. For some pets, a commercial diet's absolutely fine it can give them 100% of the nutrition that they need, and it's actually the best option for the pet owner as well. Take for example somebody who works outside the home for many hours a day and it's just not feasible for them to prepare a homemade diet for their dog. This particular person has a dog that's healthy, of an average age, weight, height, all of that stuff and a commercial diet is absolutely going to 100% meet their dogs needs. That's definitely something that's doable. It's something that's going to be healthy for the pet. It's going to be the best option for the owner. So, a commercial diet in this case is gonna be the number one choice.
For other dogs, let's say for example your dog is in kidney failure, he has renal disease and he's in the late stages of it. In this case there aren't going to be commercial diets available on the market that are going to meet every nutritional need that he has and yet can still be easy enough for his body to digest, so that it doesn't do more damage to his kidneys. Your kidneys are part of the system that flushes out all of the unnecessary things that come into your body.
So, with commercial diets there's going to be nutritional elements, there's going to be extra vitamins, minerals, things like that that your body can filter out. There's going to be artificial ingredients that your body can filter out. The water out of some canned foods and things like that. That stuff's going to get processed out of your body, all the things that your dog's body doesn't need at that time are going to get filtered out. And did you know that as a dog digests protein, there's actually nitrogen left behind from that digestion process and the kidneys work to filter out the nitrogen. That's why you'll hear a lot of vets talk or if you're doing any reading on renal diseases in dogs, low protein food is typically recommended. The other thing you want to look for is high-quality proteins that won't leave behind as much nitrogen so it's easier on the kidneys.
These kinds of things can be controlled very easily with a homemade diet. There are conditions, there are heart conditions that can be helped with a homemade diet, liver conditions that can be helped with a homemade diet. There are holistic veterinarians and canine nutritionists that believe that switching your dog's nutrition and going to a homemade diet can do wonders for his entire overall heath and well-being. And that can be from his just his day to day health and boosting his immune system, to fighting major diseases like cancer.
They're not saying that they can cure major diseases like cancer, but they are saying that it can help with the treatment of these diseases. So, it's certainly something to look into if it's something that you have the time to do.
What I want to talk to you guys today is “Who can make a homemade diet for your dog?” This is the question that I get from people all the time is, “What type of dog can eat a homemade diet? What type of pet owner? Is this only a diet that's going to work for a pet owner that's home all the time, that works from home?” No. The simple answer is “no.” A homemade diet can actually work for any dog and any pet owner when done in the right ways. That's the key to homemade dog food and that's something that made me get on a soapbox for a minute and just explain how important it is for you, as a pet owner, to work with a veterinarian or a canine and feline nutritionist before you switch to a homemade diet. It's not something that you just want to wake up one day and say, “You know what? I want the healthiest things for my dog, so I'm going to start making homemade food.”
The issue with this is that every dog, every cat, every animal, every person has different nutritional needs. While some people's body makes the necessary amount of iron, some people are anemic, they need to take iron supplements, they need to eat foods rich in iron.
It's the same way with our pets. There are cats and dogs that their bodies make enough of every nutrient that they need. Every mineral, every vitamin, all that stuff they can get from a commercial diet, it's not an issue. There are some dogs that can't. There are some cats that can't. There are some animals whose body produces too much of these things, so you really need to work with a trained specialist. Not just anybody that says that they know about the canine or feline body, not just every veterinarian. Not every veterinarian is trained in nutrition.
So it's key to work with somebody that's trained in nutrition. They're going to look at your pet. They're going to look at his size and that is going to factor in things like his breed, his weight, his height. Certain other things about their body are going to be taken into consideration too: overall health condition — if you're dog has certain health conditions, if he seems to be relatively healthy. They're going to be looking all all of these different factors and helping you decide, what the best home made diet for your dog is going to be. And they'll help you create some recipes, which is what everybody's looking for.
But the major thing that they're going to help you do is figure out how much of each necessary dietary requirement that your dog needs. So how many grams of protein does your dog need to eat in a day. How many carbs should your dog be eating in a day, certain nutrients that are absolutely vital to a dog's health and well being. Things like calcium. Is your dog getting enough calcium, getting enough fiber, all of these things are going to be looking at the diet that he's eating right now. Like I said all of those variables like age, weight, they're going to look at his activity levels. Dogs that are working dogs that exert more energy during the day that need more protein to build muscle, they're going to need a much different diet than a senior dog that lives a very sedentary lifestyle and only goes out for a walk half an hour every day. You can see the major differences in those lifestyles and they need to be fed in that way as well.
So I will get off my soapbox now. It's absolutely crucial if you are thinking about switching to a homemade diet to consult a veterinarian first. Don't try it out and see how it goes — consult your vet.
There is a right way and a wrong way to do homemade dog food, and I am here preaching to you about the right way to do it, and that’s starts with a consultation from your veterinarian or a nutritionist for a pet.
So, now that I am off that soapbox, let’s talk about those benefits and why you would want to feed your dog a homemade diet.
Now again the title of this podcast and really the major theme of it is, who can benefit from a homemade diet, what pets, what parents? Everybody can and that’s the real short answer. The short answer is that all pet parents, all pets can benefit from a homemade diet if it’s done in the right way.
The reason that I say this is twofold, one for your pet, a homemade diet when done correctly, no matter what your pet, whether it’s a cat or a dog, not matter what their age is, what their nutritional needs are, if done correctly, your pet will benefit greatly from a homemade diet.
He’s going to be eating a much higher quality diet, and that’s going to benefit his overall health and well being, everything from his weight, his muscle development, his growth. It has been shown that homemade diets can help improve brain function. It will boost energy. It can have benefits for skin and coat taking those dull lifeless coats and making them nice and shiny and moisturized.
So the benefits for you pet is just kind of never ending. A homemade diet is going to affect every single aspect of your dog’s health and well-being.
On the other hand, it’s also very beneficial for you as a pet owner. It gives you that peace of mind in knowing that your dog is eating a high quality diet every single day. You don’t have to worry about where the ingredients are coming from, if there’s any dog food recalls, anything like that. You have that peace of mind in knowing that your dog has a healthy diet every single day, and you don’t ever have to think twice about it. No reading food labels looking for any misleading things that companies write on food packaging. No searching for ingredients, no having to Google ingredients because you are not sure what they are, or trying to read between the lines to see exactly what a food or a treat is made out of.
So it gives you that peace of mind. It can also be cheaper. A lot of people say that it’s more expensive and it can be, but again when done correctly, when done the right way it can actually be cheaper. If you’re buying your dog food ingredients in bulk, especially protein, protein you can save sometimes up to 50, 60, 75 cents a pound for protein if you're buying it in bulk. So that’s a way to save quite a bit of money right there. You can buy local ingredients that cost cheaper. You can buy ingredients, shop around and look for coupons and sales and things like that. You can use fruits and vegetables that are in season. You don’t necessarily have to buy what the recipe calls for. For example, if the recipe is going to call for blueberries for your dog food, but blueberries aren’t in season right now so they are a little bit more expensive, substitute it with something else, apples or bananas, another fruit that’s healthy for canines.
There are ways to do it and go about it so that it’s not outrageously expensive. You just have to know what you’re doing and you have to plan ahead. It’s similar to making a meal plan for your family. You’re going to need to make a meal plan for your dog.
Who benefits from this? You both do. Your dog does and you do, and that’s the biggest reason for me for wanting to feed my dogs a homemade diet, it benefits both sides.
As pet owners we’re always focused on what’s best for our dog. They are members of our family. We want to do what’s best for them. But you also have to take a step back and think about what’s best for you.
Again, there are those people that I get it, you travel a lot for work or you’re outside the home all the time. You don’t have the time to make a homemade diet, and that may be the case for a very few people just don’t have the time in their schedule, but for most of us we have time if not daily, if not weekly. You have a day or two a month that you can set aside one day, a few hours to make homemade dog food in bulk.
You don’t need to spend time, a half an hour every few days, or one hour every week meal prepping for your dog. You can set aside one day a month where you block off three or four hours in the afternoon, and you’re just going to make a bunch of dog food and freeze it for your dog, for anywhere from two to three months, you can freeze dog food. Essentially, all you really need is about a half a day every three months, four times a year, I don't know, about five or six hours you could make enough dog food for your pet to last three months.
And again, if you plan ahead if you do it properly, your can portion the food so that it’s already portioned in whatever, a zip lock bag, some kind of an air tight container. If you want to stock up on some Glad ware, disposable containers or something like that, you can make enough dog food for three months, portion it, and all you literally have to do everyday would be to take two containers out of your freezer and let them thaw and then you can feed your dog for that day. So it really wouldn’t take any time at all other than that one prep day.
Another benefit for both pets and pet owners, and this kind of goes hand-in-hand with what I was talking about when I was saying that you get that peace of mind from knowing the ingredients and things like that. Commercial pet food is actually very loosely regulated. There aren’t a lot of strict guidelines, and the guidelines that are there are very broad.
So there are a lot of loop holes in the pet food industry that a lot of pet owners don’t know about. One of the big ones that comes to mind for me is that companies, the way that things are worded on packaging can be very misleadingly written for pet owners. For people like you and me that aren’t in the know as far as every little detail of the pet industry and all the rules and regulations, it can be very misleading to look at dog food packaging.
One of the best examples of this is when a label states that it is vet recommended. Now the AAFCO is the leading controlling group for what can be on pet food labels, and that’s the Association of American Feed Control Officials — AAFCO — and they have made a rule, I guess you could call it, that states that a personal or commercial endorsement is permitted on a pet food or some kind of a specialty pet food label as long as the endorsement is not false or misleading. So if the endorsement says “vet recommended,” what does that mean? How do you tell if it’s false or misleading?
Now what they have determined is that in order to be a fact and be able to be put on the label it needs to be a statistically sound survey of veterinarians in order to support that claim of being vet recommended.
So, what does that mean? This survey, can you just do one or two veterinarians? No, that's not going to be statistically sound, however, it could be 50 veterinarians, it could be 100 veterinarians, you don't know how many veterinarians it is, you don't know which veterinarian they're asking. Are they asking veterinarian that are all associated with the company. You know, every person that works with the company works with a veterinarian for their dogs, is that the ones that they're asking? What is the actual credibility of this survey? There's no rules and regulations on that.
How do you know what the survey questions were? If you just simply ask, “Does this pet food offer complete and balanced nutrition?” or, “Would you recommend this as a dog food that offers complete and balanced nutrition?” Well, it can offer complete and balanced nutrition while also including harmful ingredients, artificial ingredients, ingredients that may cause allergies. So the wording of the questions, the survey itself, this is such a broad statement and a broad rule that there's so many loopholes around it.
So when you see “Vet Recommended” on a packaging along with a lot of other things on the packaging, it could just be marketing ploys to get people to purchase these products and uneducated pet parents don't know the difference. So that's really something that homemade dog foods brings to the table — is that you don't have to worry about any of those loose recommendations, you don't have to worry about getting sucked into any marketing ploys that may make a food look good when its actually not the best quality.
Now, again, we get to the ingredients in the food — I keep coming back to that — and it's the biggest advantage, I think, to homemade dog food for a number of reasons. And another one of those reasons is that it's going to be human grade. Products can say, again with that false marketing, they can say that its made with human grade ingredients. Well, let's take for example beef, OK, so they've got a bunch of ground beef that was for human consumption, it's gone bad, it's spoiled, so now they've passed it down to a pet food manufacturer.
So that food at one point was human grade food; however, at the time that it was used to make dog food it had expired past the point of being okay for human consumption. So it is, yes, being made with human grade food, but it's up to the standards that it would be served to a human. So a lot of pet parents jump on that human grade food band wagon, well if I can it, my dog can eat it, well that's not always the case. Again it comes down to that misleading advertising.
What you get when you made homemade food is that you know 100% it's food grade. You can go to your local grocer or you can go to the farmer's market, you can grow the food in your back yard and you know 100% certain that the food that's going into your dog's body is food that you would put in your body as well.
Another great benefit for homemade dog food, and this is for both humans and pets again, is that you can get rid of any ingredients that have adverse affects on your dog. So whether it's something like grains that are causing allergies, whether it's certain protein sources that cause an upset stomach or diarrhea — you can rid of those things.
So you can give your dog or your cat the food that best meets their needs and also the food that's best for their body. So you don't have to worry about, let's say for example that your dog's allergic to wheat, so you don't have to worry about finding a commercial food that's wheat free. You don't have to worry about finding a food that's made with chicken instead of beef or purchasing food that's made with venison or bison instead of some of the more common proteins that maybe your dog has a hard time processing. So that's another great benefit that's beneficial to your dog, it's beneficial for you. Again this ties back into the money issue — this is going to save you money in the long run. If you're not having to treat your dog for allergies, if you're not having to go to the vet for any kind of food allergies or food issues, gastrointestinal upset — that's going to save you money in the long run as well.
So there are some huge huge benefits to homemade dog food for both the pets and the owners and not just homemade dog food, but homemade cat food as well. Homemade food for your pets. I think it's talked about a lot specifically with dogs, but it can be a real benefit for cats as well.
I love it personally for all of the reasons that I've listed for you today, but my number one reason for listing is that I know that we work with our holistic veterinarian, and we've come up with a combination of different recipes that our dogs love, and that provide the balanced nutrition that they need. So I know my dogs are getting fresh, healthy food. I know they're getting the balanced nutrition that they need. I never have to worry when I'm scrolling through social media or I'm watching the news and up pops another dog food recall. I don't have to worry about “Is that the parent company that my dogs' food is made from? Is this something, these ingredients that are coming from China or other countries that aren't healthy ingredients, they're poisoning our pets? Is this stuff in my dog food?” I never have to worry about that.
Since switching to homemade dog food, I've had 100% peace of mind always. I put the ingredients in that my girls need. I put the ingredients in that my girls like, so they're getting something that they enjoy, something that's healthy for them.
Another great thing about homemade dog food is that it's really easy to add supplements in to the recipes, so I'm not fighting with our Labrador retriever, who I give a glucosamine and chondroitin supplement to and i always have since she was a puppy. Hip and joint issues are very common in Labradors, so we've been very proactive about that. Our vet recommended that from a young age and we started doing that, trying to give her pills all the time. I always had to give her extra calories and extra snacks. I'd always have to wrap it in cheese, put it in peanut butter, put it in a treat pocket, something like that.
It's so easy to buy supplements in powder form and add them to homemade dog food. The homemade dog food Kibble is enticing and it certainly has an aroma, but homemade dog food is so much more enticing and has so much more of a stronger aroma that your dog's much less apt to notice added supplements or whatever you're putting in the food: medicine, medication, whatever it might be, it's much easier.
So there are just so many benefits of homemade food. These are some of the ones that I personally like and the reasons that I personally feed my dogs. If you guys feed homemade food, if you have any pros and cons, if you fed the diet and you're not comfortable feeding it to your dog any more, let me know. I'd love to hear from you. You can jump on theoryofpets.com. Leave your comments — either you can leave a voice recorded comment that I may use on a future podcast, or you could also just type out your comment and leave it there. If you have any questions you can leave it there and I'd be happy to answer those as well.
I'd love to hear the feedback from you guys. Obviously I work in the pet industry, so I hear from pet owners all the time. I hear positive things about homemade food all the time. The two biggest drawbacks, and I address both of these in this episode, are the cost and the time — that it's time-consuming — but again, if done right, you really can get away from both of those drawbacks and just reap the benefits of a homemade diet for your dog.
PREVIOUS PODCAST: TOP #25 – Debunking 8 Common Homemade Dog Food Diet Myths