I‘m often asked about possible substitutions for homemade dog food recipes. Owners want to cater meals based on their dog's allergy issues and food preferences. Oftentimes, dog owners also want to make recipe substitutions for financial reasons or to use up ingredients that they already have at home.
Whatever the reason, there are many substitutions that you can make when it comes to homemade dog food. Whether you'd like to use a different protein source or different fruits and vegetables, as long as the new ingredients are canine-friendly they can probably be added to the recipe.
The thing that you will need to keep in mind is your dog's nutrition. Commercial dog foods are nutritionally balanced to provide the nourishment that your dog requires. If you decide to make homemade dog food, creating complete and balanced meals becomes your responsibility.
One of the most well-known studies on homemade dog food recipes was performed by researchers at the University of California , Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine. They analyzed more than 200 homemade dog food recipes from 34 different sources including pet care books, veterinary textbooks and internet websites.
The scary results of this study “found that only nine of the 200 recipes —including eight of the nine written by veterinarians — provided all essential nutrients in concentrations that met the minimum standards established for adult dogs by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, while only five recipes — all written by veterinarians — provided essential nutrients in concentrations that met the National Research Council’s Minimum Requirements for adult dogs.”
When you're making substitutions for homemade dog food recipes, it is crucial that you talk to your veterinarian or a trained canine nutritionist to ensure that the substitutions you are making will provide the adequate nutrition that your dog needs. An expert will be able to walk you through your dog's nutritional needs and guide you on how much protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and fats your dog's diet should include each day.
Substitutions for Homemade Dog Food Recipes
I cannot recommend the best ingredients to feed your dog, because I am not a canine nutritionist. However, I can give you guidance on some of the healthiest ingredients that you may be able to use as substitutions for homemade dog food recipes.
Canines, like humans, cannot survive without a diet rich in healthy protein sources. It is a necessary source of dietary energy, and protein also aids in a healthy immune system. The best protein sources are meat-based, even though it is possible to feed your dog a vegetarian diet.
Common protein sources include beef, chicken and turkey. However, some dogs have food allergies or sensitivities to these more common protein sources. Some substitutions for homemade dog food recipes protein sources include:
Carbohydrates typically make up a large part of most commercial dog food products. Their most important function is to provide energy for the body. A canine's body is able to change some carbohydrate sources into simple sugars, which can be absorbed easily by the body. The more complex carbohydrate sources have to be broken down much more before they can be absorbed.
In the small intestine, carbs are broken down into molecules of glucose. Glucose is a common source of energy that can be used by most of the cells in the body. It is needed by the nervous system and the brain, and glucose is also a source of quick energy.
The most common carbohydrates sources usually come from the category of grains known as “cereal grains.” Carbohydrate sources that can be used as substitutions for homemade dog food recipes include:
- brown rice
- whole wheat
- white potato
- sweet potato
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Fruits and Vegetables
As with humans, fruits and vegetables supply many necessary vitamins and minerals that your dog needs to eat each day. With that being said, there are some fruits and vegetables that are beneficial for the human diet but can be toxic to your canine companion.
When making substitutions for homemade dog food recipes, be sure to do your research to ensure that the fruits and veggies you're using are safe and healthy for your pup. Some fruits and vegetables that are good for dogs include:
- bell peppers
- green beans
Most of us think of added fat as a bad thing to add to recipes, but the truth is that your dog needs a certain amount of healthy fats in their diet. Most experts will recommend a diet with about 10-15% fat for the average pooch.
If the fat level in your dog's food is too low, you may notice dry/itchy skin or a dull coat. If your dog's diet is too high in fat content, then you will see him gaining unnecessary weight. But, the right amount of healthy fats will provide a concentrated form of energy that is twice as potent as carbohydrates.
So, what types of fats and oils are best for dogs? If you're looking for substitutions for homemade dog recipes, try some of these fat sources:
- flaxseed oil
- canola oil
- fish oils
- poultry fat
- sunflower oil
- corn oil
- coconut oil
- soybean oil
Remember, when you're making substitutions for homemade dog food recipes, it is crucial that you talk to your veterinarian or a trained canine nutritionist to ensure that the substitutions you are making will provide the adequate nutrition that your dog needs. Every ingredient offers different nutritional benefits, and you need to make sure that the recipe you're providing is complete and balanced for your dog's nutritional needs.
Your dog's unique nutritional needs are based on his age, weight, activity level, breed, health condition and other variables. It's important to discuss these needs with an expert that will be able to walk you through them and guide you on how much protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and fats your dog's diet should include each day.
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