So, here you are researching reasons to start making dog food at home. That means you've at least thought about the idea, and you're probably leaning towards cooking homemade meals for your pup. I've been cooking for my dogs for years, and I'm sharing my top 5 reasons to start making dog food at home.
I'm sure you've heard about the research that has uncovered the dark side of commercial pet food products. Dangerous ingredients found in some of these products have been linked to health issues as serious as cancer! Unfortunately, pet food regulations in the United States are very lax, and some companies take advantage of that.
Homemade dog food can be a healthier alternative, but only when it's done properly. The first thing you need to know about switching to a homemade diet is that it will NOT be easy. There's a lot research to be done, and it's best to work with an expert trained in canine nutrition who can guide you in creating properly balanced recipes.
One famous study from the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine proves that recipes created for canines are not usually nutritionally balanced. They selected 200 recipes from 34 different sources, including dog care books, veterinary textbooks and dependable online resources.
Of the 200 recipes that they looked at, only nine dog food recipes provided balanced nutrition in concentrations meeting the minimum standards established for adult canines by the AAFCO. Of those nine recipes, only five provided adult dogs with essential nutrients in concentrations that met the NRC's Minimum Requirements.
All of the beneficial reasons to start making dog food at home will be outweighed if you're not providing your pet with the balanced nutrition that his body needs.
5 Reasons To Start Making Dog Food At Home
1. Know the ingredients
Knowing exactly what goes into your dog’s food bowl is incredibly important. It is especially helpful if your dog needs a specialized diet or has very specific nutritional requirements.
When you prepare all of Fido’s food from scratch, you know exactly what is going into his mouth and passing through his digestive system. This allows you to better monitor your dog's overall health and respond appropriately to adverse reactions to food.
Commercial dog food companies have to list the ingredients they use, but do you have any idea what the quality of the ingredients are? Where they're sourced? How they've been processed? When you make dog food at home, you are in charge of the ingredients.
I recommend buying the best quality ingredients that you can afford. If possible, get all-natural and organic ingredients. The better the quality of the ingredients, the better nutrition they will provide.
2. Provide the BEST nutrition
Like humans, dogs are a very diverse species. Each dog has their own unique nutritional needs based on factors such as:
- activity level
- health condition
Every dog has unique needs when it comes to how much protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins and minerals their bodies need in a day. Likewise, a dog's nutritional needs change over time. For example, puppies have different nutritional needs than adult dogs. A dog's nutritional needs will change if they are diagnosed with a health condition or undergo a sudden lifestyle change.
Do you think a commercial dog food product that is created for “dogs of all life stages” or “adult dogs” will meet all of your pet's needs? Of course not! These dog food products use a “blanket” approach to nutrition that will meet the needs of the “average” dog.
One of the best reasons to start making dog food at home is that you can cater the recipes to meet your dog's exact needs. A good homemade dog food must contain the right proportion of ingredients that your canine requires based on his age, size, breed, activity and health.
Skipping one component or going overboard with another can have a negative effect on your dog’s health, especially if he's eating an unbalanced diet on a regular basis. For this reason, it's imperative that you work with an expert in canine nutrition before switching your dog to a homemade diet.
3. No fillers or artificial ingredients
Most commercial dog food products contain artificial additives and preservatives to create a longer shelf life. Homemade foods do not require the use of preservatives. While preservatives may not be your first concern when thinking about commercial products, they should be high on your list.
BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are common preservatives in pet food. Both are currently labeled by the World Health Organization as carcinogens. Ethoxyquin is another common preservative found in commercial pet food products. It is a pesticide and could be toxic to dogs over time.
Fillers are another concerning ingredient in commercial dog food. Many commercial pet foods contain high amounts of grains like soy, corn, wheat and rice. While there are some nutritional benefits to these ingredients, studies have shown that dogs have issues digesting certain grains.
Glutenous ingredients can also be harmful to dogs in other ways. They can cause inflammation and allergic reactions. This is not the case with all grains or for all dogs, but it's still worth taking into consideration when considering a switch to a homemade diet.
4. Add variety
Would you like to eat the same meal everyday for weeks at a time? Of course not! So, what makes you think your dog wants to? One of the best reasons to start making dog food at home is because you can provide unlimited options of variety to tempt your pooch's palate.
Providing your dog a variety of homemade foods can also improve his nutrition and prevent allergies. By making homemade dog food, you can ensure that Fido gets variety in his diet so he can get the best balance in nutrients and vitamins.
5. It's NOT more expensive
It's a common misconception that homemade dog food is more expensive than commercial dog food. If you compare the cost of homemade meals to the price of a commercial product that is of similar quality, you will see that homemade food is actually much cheaper.
The average cost of feeding a medium-sized dog two appropriately sized meals per day with high quality commercial kibble will likely amount to around $5+ daily. On the other hand, feeding 2 homemade meals of the same quality would likely cost you about half that (about $3 per day).
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