Updated: May 27
As a dog parent, you’re likely always looking for a way to spoil your dog -- whether it’s buying them a peanut butter filled bone, treating them to a spa day at the groomer, or stopping by Starbucks after the vet to treat them to a puppacino.
It’s the same thing when it comes to caring for their basic needs. Your top priority as a dog mom or dad is to ensure that your pup is not only happy, but healthy.
Feeding dogs homemade dog food is not a new idea. But, over the past several years, there has been a rising popularity in pet owners ditching the convenient store-bought kibble, and going Gordon Ramsay in their own kitchen to make their own pet food.
You may have seen people you know doing this, and it’s left you wondering: “Should I be making homemade food for my pet?”
Why do people switch to homemade dog food?
Back in early 2007, the FDA learned that certain pet foods were sickening, and in fact, killing both dogs and cats. Further, there were contaminants found in vegetable proteins imported into the United States from China and used as ingredients in pet food.
As a result of FDA and USDA's comprehensive investigation, the FDA announced that two Chinese nationals and the businesses they operate, along with a U.S. company and its president and chief executive officer, were indicted by a federal grand jury for their roles in a scheme to import products purported to be wheat gluten into the United States that were contaminated with melamine.
Since the Melamine Pet Food Recall of 2007, pet owners found themselves inflicted with a certain level of fear and mistrust towards the pet food industry. It left people asking the eternal question, “What am I really feeding my dog?”
Things to consider with homemade pet food
Despite the recall, many pet owners remain unconvinced -- and rightfully so, as there is a lot of information out there.
What homemade dog food recipe should I follow?
Is my dog getting enough nutrients in this food?
Which multivitamin should I use in my dog’s food?
Is a raw or cooked food diet better for my dog?
Is my homemade pet food “balanced”?
Here are some things to consider when it comes to switching your dog to a homemade food diet:
1. Many homemade dog food recipes come up short in various vitamins & minerals, which can lead to nutrient deficiency.
2. Multivitamins are not a one-stop shop & fix to filling the gaps.
3. Feeding your dogs fruits & vegetables can be great...but, there are certain fruits & vegetables that should be avoided.
Every dog is different -- and it can take a lot of trial and error when it comes to finding out the best diet for your dog. Make sure to consult a vet, nutritionist, or other pet specialist.
Homemade Dog Food Pros & Cons
So, does homemade dog food really have the upper hand?
1. You know exactly what your dog is consuming.
No sneaky ingredients to be found over here! You know exactly what you put in that bad boy. Recall? No problem.
2. There are zero filler ingredients.
Piggybacking off of our last point...many commercial pet foods unfortunately contain filler ingredients that add nothing, in terms of nutritional value. Many of these fillers have been found to cause allergies.
3. Fresh ingredients all the way!
I think we can all agree...fresher is better. By making homemade dog food, you avoid the artificial preservatives that are pumped into kibble in order to remain fresh.
1. There’s a potential for nutrient deficiency.
Like we said before, a big issue that comes up when switching to homemade dog food is ensuring that you are providing the correct & vital supplements, vitamins, and minerals for your dog. By neglecting to do so, your dog runs the risk of health concerns.
2. There is an inconvenience factor.
Cooking for your dogs not only takes a good chunk of time & money, but it is certainly not the most convenient option for a traveling dog owner. If you are traveling with your dog, it is not easy to prepare or pack and if you are traveling without your dog, many boarding kennels do not provide accommodation.
3. There are many unsafe foods that your dog cannot consume.
If you’re making this switch, make sure you familiarize yourself with foods that are toxic to dogs. This is a big issue that can cause unnecessary health issues for your pet.
Commercial Pet Food Pros & Cons
So...what’s the deal with commercial pet food anyways?
1. Ahhhh, convenience!!
Of course, commercial pet food is fighting for your convenience. Traveling is made easy, and you don’t have to think twice at meal time.
2. You’ve got lots of options.
There are many different brands out there that cater to dietary needs, health problems, and even age. Having a wide variety of options is helpful when it comes to finding the best option for your pet.
3. It provides balanced nutrition.
Commercial dog food contains the vital ingredients that dogs need to stay healthy.
1. Dogs are more likely to develop allergies.
It’s common for dogs to develop dry & itchy skin from commercial dog food -- especially dry food. This is caused by dehydration due to low moisture content, allergies to soy, corn, wheat, or grains, or reactions to preservatives.
2. Lower quality food is sometimes inevitable.
Some of the lower quality foods out there may contain meat by-product rather than wholesome meat.
3. It likely contains fillers.
These fillers can also cause allergies and be damaging to a dog’s digestive tract.
As you can see, there is lots to consider when it comes to choosing the type of diet you put your dog on and whether you opt for the homemade food dog route, or stick to commercial dog food.
What works well for one dog may not necessarily work great for another dog. At the end of the day, each dog is different, so make sure to consult a vet, nutritionist, or other pet specialist before switching your dog’s diet.
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