As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That is why many pet parents are reaching to natural supplements hoping to prevent common ailments in their dogs. Many commercial dog food products have supplements already included, but dog supplements for homemade dog food can be a bit more tricky.
If you follow my video posts, you know that I share homemade dog food recipes every week. After posting these recipes I'm often inundated with emails asking me which pet supplements should be added to the recipe for optimum canine health.
Unfortunately, there is no simple answer. This highly depends on your dog and the recipe itself. Some homemade dog food recipes will provide all of the vitamins and minerals that your pooch needs. But most of them will not, and it's not easy to tell which is which.
Instead of posting a homemade dog food recipe this week, I decided to share this video guide about dog supplements for homemade dog food. It explains which supplements should be added to homemade dog food recipes, how these supplements may change over time and the best resources to use when trying to figure all of this out.
Dog Supplements for Homemade Dog Food
Why You Need Supplements for Homemade Dog Food
Even the best dog food recipes that are recommended by veterinarians and canine experts (such as those in our free eBook) do not always supply enough of all required vitamins and minerals your dog needs. Every homemade dog food recipe provides different vitamins and minerals, depending on the ingredients used.
The necessary dog supplements for homemade dog food vary depending on the nutrients missing from the recipe you're using.
In a study done in 2013 by the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis, 200 homemade dog food recipes were evaluated. The recipes came from 34 different sources, including pet care books, websites and even veterinary textbooks.
Researchers evaluated the ingredients used in the recipes and the instructions for preparing the food. They found that only 9 of the recipes provided all of the essential nutrients in adequate concentrations to meet the minimum standards set for adult dogs by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Of the 9 recipes that met AAFCO minimum standards, only 5 provided the essential nutrients in adequate concentrations set for adult dogs by the National Research Council.
That means only 2.5% of the recipes evaluated provided adequate nutrients for adult dogs according to the AAFCO and the NRC.
As you can see, it doesn't matter where you get your dog food recipes. Even if they come recommended by your veterinarian, they may not be 100% nutritionally balanced. However, the ingredients in the recipe will provide some vitamins and minerals.
For this reason, multivitamin supplements can be tricky. For example, let's say that you are feeding a recipe that meets your dog's needs for calcium. If you give him a multivitamin supplement that contains extra calcium, he could suffer from calcium toxicity over time (or hypercalcemia, which is common in dogs who take supplements).
But, if you are feeding your pooch a meal from a homemade dog food recipe that isn't 100% nutritionally balanced and you choose not to add any dog supplements at all for that homemade dog food, your pet could end up nutritionally deficient. Do you see why it is so difficult to figure out what supplements are right for your dog?
The bottom line is this: you need to figure out which dog supplements for homemade dog food recipe to use based on that specific recipe and your pet's requirements. This means you must know what nutrients and their percentage of dog's daily requirement the recipe provides. As long as you're aware of these numbers, there are common vitamins for dogs and probiotic supplements that you can choose from.
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Before Using Dog Supplements for Homemade Dog Food
The best thing to do is to speak with a canine nutritionist or veterinarian that's well-versed in canine nutrition about the correct dog supplements for homemade dog food and their required dosage. They can help you evaluate what vitamins and minerals will be provided by the ingredients in the recipe, and guide you on which supplements you should be adding. They will also help you determine the proper amount of each supplement to add to your dog's food.
Common supplements recommended to add to homemade dog food recipes include:
- multivitamin supplements
- hip and joint supplements
- fatty acids
- Vitamin A & E
- protein supplements
There are many variables that affect the nutrients that your dog's body needs each day and what you should be adding to your homemade dog food meals.
Most commonly, it depends on your dog's age, weight, breed, activity level and current health condition. Along with the ingredients used, the preparation and storage of your homemade dog food meals will also affect the nutrients included in the recipe. For example, heating or freezing certain foods can destroy some nutrients.
Now you can see why it would be difficult for me (or anyone else posting recipes on the internet) to tell you specifically which supplements to add to ensure it is a 100% nutritionally balanced meal for your dog. If you want to do the research on your own, you'll need to figure out what nutrients your dog needs each day and how much of these nutrients are included in each homemade dog food recipe you're providing.
By doing the math, you'll be able to figure out the dog supplements for homemade dog food that will be required. Even if you have the time to do all of this research on your own, I highly recommend consulting a canine nutritionist about your pet's homemade diet. It's the only way to be completely sure that your dog is getting the nutrition that he needs.
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