Have you ever wondered whether homemade dog food is better than the stuff they sell in stores? Contrary to what is being advertised, your healthiest dog food option does not come from a single bag on a shelf. In fact, more and more dogs are becoming obese and diseased despite the so-called “advancements” in pet food technology. However, with proper planning and some variety, cooking healthy DIY dog food is the best thing that you can do for your four-legged buddy.
4 Reasons Why You Should Switch to Homemade Dog Food
Do you have an idea of what goes into a bag of commercial pet food? Once you remove all the flashy labels and hype, you will see that these packages are filled mostly with fluff and other scary stuff. Here’s the rundown:
Loose Pet Food Regulations
Dog food composition and nutrition is not as regulated as human food. Every state decides on their pet food regulations. Some manufacturers’ protein sources are a bit sketchy as this rule is not under the control of the USDA, FDA or even the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials). Since government authorities see less need to control what goes into your kibble and feeds, quality (or lack thereof) is entirely in the hands of pet food manufacturers.
Pet Food Preservatives and Additives
Your commercial pet food can last for months and even years because it has preservatives. Likewise, artificial colors, additives, extra fats and flavor enhancers make them yummy. While your dog might devour a bowl in one sitting, it doesn’t mean that the food is healthy. Some high-quality and high-priced pet food follow specific safety and quality standards. But sadly, not all pet food brands are created equal. With that said, even the best synthetic vitamins and flavorings can’t compare to a bowl of fresh, home-cooked dog food.
Cheap commercial dog food is made with inexpensive ingredients. You cannot rely on these types of feeds as they are usually made of food scraps, low-grade, ground grains, unnamed fillers and low-quality protein. There is also a chance that your dog food has some mix of 4-D meat, meat scraps from dying, dead, disabled or diseased animals. Be wary also of crude protein as this could be anything from rendered horse meat, euthanized dogs/cats or ground chicken complete with beaks and feathers. You can never know!
Pet Food Recalls
Commercial dog food brands are recalled all the time. Often, it’s due to chemical contamination, the presence of toxic molds, traces of pharmaceutical drugs, and excess levels of certain vitamins. Traces of harmful bacteria that can cause pet diarrhea, infections and even death are also found on some recalled brands.
Major Components of a Well-Balanced Dog Diet
Dogs are omnivores and most of the time, can eat the same natural, whole foods that humans eat. Some dogs are prone to common diseases and illnesses primarily because they were not given a balanced diet of meat and plant foods. An all-meat or a purely commercial dog food diet is unbalanced and incomplete. This practice should be avoided as this diet do more harm than good.
Vets and pet nutritionists recommend that a healthy dog food must contain a mixture of the following components:
Must comprise at least 1/4 – 1/3 of your homemade puppy food/doggie meal. Protein source can be animal meats, beans or a combination of these. Low-protein diets make your dog susceptible to musculoskeletal problems such as achy joints, wasted muscles, low energy and decline of mental abilities.
Complex carbs such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, and other root crops go well with most homemade dog food recipes. Your pooch needs carbs every meal as this is his energy source. Take note not to give simple carbs in excess amounts as this can lead to weight gain and diarrhea. Some dogs are also allergic to certain grains, especially to genetically modified corn, soy or wheat so watch out.
Adding vegetables to your pet’s diet is a good move. Veggies can supply your furry buddy with essential minerals and vitamins not found elsewhere. It can also provide them with fiber which helps in improving digestion and tummy health. You can experiment by adding eggplants, beans, carrots, squash, cabbage, zucchini, celery, broccoli, parsley and some herbs into your homemade
dog food recipes.
Fats and Oils
You can use coconut, canola or olive oil to sauté your homemade dog food. Healthy fats keep your dog’s skin healthy and his coat shiny.
Supplements – Supplements can help, but they can’t replace a healthy and well-balanced doggie diet. Nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, trace minerals and vitamins can improve your dog’s resistance to common canine diseases and illnesses. Take note to use these supplements in moderation. Too much supplement intake can endanger your pet’s health. If your dog is already eating a well-balanced diet, there is not much need for supplements. As a general rule, seek your vet’s advice before you give your pooch any dietary supplement or vitamins.
Homemade Dog Food: Potential Risks and Cons
- Some human foods are poisonous to dogs- As a pet owner, be warned that certain foods such as chocolate, raisins, grapes, apple seeds, cherry pits, gum, garlic, mustard seeds, potato leaves and stem, rhubarb leaves, nuts, yeast dough, and deli meats are potentially dangerous to your pet dog.
- Inadequate or too many calories- You might be overfeeding or underfeeding your dog with your home-cooked meals. Observe your dog and adjust his food volume as necessary. You can also ask your vet or pet nutritionist for some doggie diet advice, particularly for feed amount and frequency.
- Homemade dog food can be time-consuming and expensive – You can easily predict your monthly budget for your dog by buying commercial food packs. This is not the case for DIY dog food. The best way to stick to a budget while you make your dog food is to buy seasonal ingredients in bulk. Store them in a vacuum sealer and keep in your fridge or freezer. You can also cook your homemade dog food using ingredients readily available for dinner. Preparing and cooking can also take some time. Instead, it is best to make food in batches and freeze them in small portions.
Best Homemade Dog Food Recipe
It takes a bit of planning to stick with homemade dog food; however, rest assured, the routine will become easier as time goes on. To get started, you must use fresh ingredients. As for portion amount, take note of your dog’s size and physical activity. You can adjust the volume and composition as needed.
Here’s a homemade dog food recipe to get you started:
Doggie’s Favorite Beef Stew
- ½ kilo beef stew meat
- one medium-sized potato
- ½ cup chopped carrots
- one medium-sized sweet potato
- ½ cup white flour
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- ¾ cup water
How to cook:
- Peel the potato and sweet potato and cut in small chunks.
- Heat the pan and put in the oil. Sauté the beef stew pieces.
- Add the potato and sweet potato chunks. Stir until cooked.
- Add the flour to the water and mix.
- Pour the flour and water mixture slowly into the pan and mix with the beef and potatoes.
- Add the chopped carrots to the pan.
- Cover for about ten minutes. Simmer until the gravy gets thick.
- Remove from fire and cool to room temperature.
- Serve to your salivating four-legged-buddy.
For this recipe, you can also substitute beef with chopped chicken breast or ground pork.