The recent recalls and safety concerns in the pet food industry have led many dog owners to consider changing their pet’s diet. There have been many new commercial diets for dogs hitting the market recently including paleo inspired dog food, vegetarian and vegan dog food and all-natural and organic food too. Dog owners want to feed their pet the healthiest food they can afford, which is encouraging many to turn to homemade dog food.
Two things typically come to mind you think of homemade dog food: health and price. Both of these are common misconceptions about this diet. Just because you make your own dog food does not necessarily make it healthy. The health of the food depends upon the ingredients that you select. Similarly, homemade dog food doesn’t have to be outrageously expensive. The price will depend on the ingredients that you select as well.
Before you begin making homemade dog food, you need to have an understanding of the nutrition that your dog’s body requires. You should consult your veterinarian or a canine nutritionist to learn about your dog’s individual nutritional needs.
Homemade dog food is only as good for your pet as you make it – without an understanding of the nutrients your dog requires, how can you make a food that will meet his needs?
Understanding your pet’s needs is just the beginning. You’ll need to find recipes that will entice your pet, which could take some trial and error. Learning how to select the healthiest ingredients is also imperative. What about preparation and storage procedures?
There is a lot to learn when it comes to making homemade dog food, but it’s not as complicated as you may think. Once you get the basic knowledge down, it’s all about creating recipes that your dog will enjoy and that will provide him with the nourishment that he needs. You’ll be amazed at the change in your pet’s overall health and well-being when he’s fed the proper diet!
Let’s Talk: Homemade Dog Food
Before dogs were domesticated, they lived on an omnivorous diet of carbohydrates, lots of protein and multiple fat sources. Proportionate to humans, dogs need more protein, calcium and other nutrients than we do. Their bodies process nutrients and digest food differently than ours do.
Assuming that your dog needs the same type of diet that you do is a HUGE mistake.
What may be a healthy choice for us, may not be such a great choice for your dog. The best way to find out your dog’s exact nutritional needs is to work with a specialist. Your veterinarian or a canine nutritionist will be an invaluable asset when creating a menu of homemade dog food.
Your dog’s nutritional needs vary based on his age, weight, breed and health condition. This means that his diet will need to change throughout his life when necessary adjustments need to be made.
Commercial dog food is available in different formulations for puppies, senior dogs, diabetic dogs, etc… Likewise, you’ll need to cater your homemade dog food to meet your pet’s needs too.
Supplies required to make homemade dog food
Most of the supplies that you’re going to need are probably already in your kitchen. Some pet owners decide to buy a separate set of knives and utensils to make homemade dog food. This is up to you, but it certainly isn’t necessary.
You should also invest in a food scale. It is much more accurate to measure your ingredients by weight than with measuring cups. This is especially important when measuring the protein source you’re using. A food scale isn’t a necessity, but making homemade dog food would be easier if you had one.
Where to find homemade dog food recipes
I know I’ve already said it, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to work with a trained professional when creating your homemade dog food menu. It’s likely that your veterinarian or a canine nutritionist will tell you what how many calories your pet needs and the percentage of his diet that should be made up by each major nutrient including:
One of the highest rated canine cookbooks is Feed Your Best Friend Better: Easy, Nutritious Meals and Treats for Dogs.
You can find tons of resources online, but be careful and make sure they are reliable. The recipes you find for homemade dog food should meet the nutritional needs of your pet, and it would be best if they were created by experts in the canine nutrition field.
RELATED ARTICLE: Top 5 Best Vegetarian & Best Vegan Dog Food
Some excellent websites for homemade dog food recipes include:
The importance of additional supplements
All homemade dog food diets will need to have additional supplements added to them in order to meet your pet’s nutritional needs. For example, unless the diet that you’re making includes ground raw bones you’re going to need to add a calcium supplement. Vitamin E is another common supplement that is needed in homemade dog food.
This is when working with a veterinarian, canine nutritionist or other trained professional becomes extremely important. They will be able to explain the nutrients that are the ingredients of your homemade dog food and which nutrients your dog’s diet is missing.
They’ll also be able to tell you how much of each supplement should be added. Your homemade dog food may be providing some of a certain vitamin or mineral, but not a sufficient amount.
A veterinarian or dog nutritional expert will also be able to help you monitor your pet to tell if the new diet is working. Of course, you’ll have to gradually transition your dog from his current diet to your homemade dog food. Once he’s been fully transitioned to the new diet you should be able to tell if it is having a positive or negative effects on his health within the first two weeks.
Your vet can run simple tests to be sure that your dog is getting the proper nutrients, but if you do your research homemade dog food should be a much healthier alternative to commercial diets. It may be a bit more expensive, but that will depend on the quality of ingredients that you buy.
Just like commercial dog food, the higher the quality of the ingredients, the more expensive the food will be. If you choose to buy all-natural, organic ingredients then you’re going to have to pay more for them.
Simply put, if you don’t want to spend the money on top quality ingredients, then why bother making homemade dog food?