Let’s spend a minute talking about dogs and their diets.
It’s far harder to feed your dog in a healthy manner than you might expect. Not only are many of the dog foods on the market more concerned with keeping dogs full than with keeping them healthy, but even those who make dog foods on their own run into some fairly serious problems. Dogs have very different digestive systems than those of humans, and that means that not every food that’s healthy for you will be healthy for your dog. You’ll need to not only make sure that any dog food you cook is healthy for your dog but that it meets all of his or her nutritional requirements.
Making things even harder is the fact that it’s fairly tough to get information about how to make proper food at home for your dog. It’s not that the dog food companies are keeping secrets, it’s just that the entire process of making the best dog food can be a lot harder than most people think. It’s no wonder, then, that so many people choose to go with the types of healthy dog foods that you can easily buy from the store rather than doing the work themselves.
That does not, however, mean that you need to give up on the idea of making your dog his or her own food at home. Instead, it means that you’ll need to carefully weigh the pros and cons of making home-made dog food against the more common methods of feeding your dog. If you’re willing to do a little digging, though, you should be able to figure out if learning how to make your own dog food is worth the effort.
Is It Really Better to Make Homemade Dog Food?
Perhaps the best place to start is with the simple question of whether it’s actually healthier for you to make dog food for your dog. After all, plenty of people will tell you that you should absolutely be making dog food from scratch, but it’s hard to know where they’re getting their information. In fact, there really isn’t any data out there that supports the idea that home-made dog food is somehow better than what you could buy online.
This may, of course, be a tough pill to swallow for many dog owners. There are plenty of bloggers out there who make their livings telling people how important that it is that dog owners make their own food, but the truth of the matter is that there’s a scientific basis for these claims.
What there is, though, is an awful lot of misinformation about the wider world of pet food. There are plenty of people – some of whom might even be writing marketing materials for specific pet food companies – that talk quite a bit about how you can’t trust the ingredients in dog foods and dog treats. These individuals definitely push the home-made diets from a place of alarmism, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any benefits to making dog food for your pet.
The truth is that you really can improve your dog’s health if you are able to find a good, whole-ingredient-based diet for your dog. Whether that means making the food yourself or buying it from a store is immaterial – it’s what is in the food that matters. Most commercial dog foods really are made to ensure that your dog stays as healthy as possible, though the ingredient list never looks all that intriguing and your dog might not be all that excited by eating food that comes out of a bag.
The reasons that you should, however, consider making dog food on your own have nothing to do with saving your dog from the evils of pet foods and much more with the things that a diet you make yourself can do for your dog. First and foremost, making the food yourself gives your dog access to more foods and more flavors – something that will almost certainly help to improve your dog’s mood. Making dog food yourself is also a good way to make sure that you are able to avoid ingredients that can upset your dog’s stomach, avoid the possibility of buying unsafe food, or even get a picky dog to eat more.
Don’t overlook the fact that making dog food can actually be fun. It’s a unique skill that not many have, so it’s worth a try. The worst that can happen, after all, is that you decide that you don’t want to do it again.
Mistakes to Avoid When You Make Your Own Dog Food
Let’s be honest – cooking is almost always a process that involves at least a few mistakes. While that’s not a big deal if you are cooking for yourself, it is something for which you should be on the lookout if you are cooking for your dog. Here are a few common mistakes that need to avoid if you are going to make dog food for your pet.
Using Bad Information
One of the most dangerous things you can do when cooking dog food is getting your information from the wrong source. There are plenty of sources out there that absolutely have no business posting dog food recipes, sources that are more interested in drumming up business or selling ads than actually helping you to feed your dog. In fact, following these sources can actually get your dog sick.
It’s important to remember that not all of these sources mean to be bad sources. Some simply don’t understand nutrition well enough to make recommendations about what you should feed your dog. One of the big problems that dog owners who cook their own food find are that the recipes online often end up giving their dogs an unbalanced diet.
It’s always a good idea to make sure that the recipe you follow is something that comes from a source that has a fair bit of experience in feeding dogs. Vets and licensed nutritionists are always good sources, as are websites that are run by those who are actually in the pet food industry. You will want to make sure that the food you cook your dog doesn’t have too many of those ingredients that could cause him or her long-term problems while also ensuring that you have enough of the things that he or she needs to stay healthy.
Making dog food is hard enough, so make sure that you’re getting your recipes from sources you can trust.
Making Unbalanced Meals
One of the reasons that it can be tough to trust generic recipes is that they don’t take the individual needs of dogs into account. It’s vital that you find a way to cook something that keeps everything in proper balance, ensuring that your dog gets everything he or she needs to avoid problems like obesity and malnutrition. It can be hard to walk this tightrope, but it’s something you must-do if you want to make your own dog food.
There’s a reason that most dog foods have a long ingredient list. There are around forty different essential nutrients that your dog needs, and not all of them are found in as many foods as you might hope. If you aren’t able to find the ingredients that your dog needs, your dog is going to end up getting sick. Likewise, putting too much of any of these ingredients can have an awful long-term impact on your dog.
At the end of the day, the best thing you can do is to seek out expert advice in crafting a diet for your dog. Though it’s going to be more labor-intensive (and expensive) to get everything your dog needs, it’s more than worth the time and effort you’ll put in to keep your dog well-fed and healthy.
Using the Wrong Ingredients
Dogs might love to try almost any food, but there are plenty of ingredients that are toxic to dogs (1). Unfortunately, many of these ingredients are also staples in human food. You might know that your dog can’t have chocolate, for example, but did you know that grapes are at least as dangerous? What about garlic or onions? You can’t start cooking for your dog until you’re aware of all of the things that he or she cannot eat.
Unfortunately, you’ll also need to remember that even the right ingredients can be bad if they aren’t given in moderation. There are already reports of heart disease in dogs that have grain-free diets, for example, with the possibility that the legume-heavy nature of such diets can do the damage. If you’re going to cook for your dog, then, you’ll need to keep up with exactly what he or she needs.
Trying to Improvise Recipes
Another huge problem with dog foods is that they tend to be very vague in terms of what you need to do with the food. They’ll call for pork, as an example, but they won’t be very clear whether they’re talking about pork loin or ham. Some recipes also call for supplements without specifying a brand or dosage. This can lead to dog owners making educated guesses, which in turn can lead to very sick dogs.
As a rule, you should never improvise when you’re making a meal. If you don’t know exactly what to give your dog, you need to ask a professional. If you can’t get a clear answer, you should move on to a different recipe.
Failure to Monitor Health
Finally, it’s important to remember that switching over to dog food that you make yourself is something that can be a huge change for your dog. In a perfect world, you’re only going to do this under the supervision of your vet and a nutritionist. If you can’t do that, though, you need to keep careful on your dog to see if there are any obvious health or behavior changes that happen after you start making his or her food.
Making the Right Choice With Homemade Dog Food Recipes
Should you cook your dog’s food yourself? If you have the time and energy, it can be a great way to ensure that your dog is getting exactly what you want out of his or her meals. There are plenty of rules to follow, though, and you’ll need to be careful when you try a new ingredient. If you’re willing to be very precise, you might be able to find a great solution to your dog’s eating problems.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the best homemade food for dogs?
The best homemade dog food is definitely one that is made under the supervision of a licensed pet nutritionist. You’ll have to be very careful to ensure not only that the food is free of ingredients that could hurt your dog, but that you balance all of his or her unique nutritional needs properly. The best foods are always going to be those that are made with the health of the individual dog in mind.
2. Is homemade food better for dogs?
It’s not necessarily better, but there are advantages to making dog food yourself. Though there’s no guarantee that homemade dog food is going to be healthier, making the food yourself does give you more control over the ingredients that go into the food as well as the ability to ensure that your dog won’t get anything that could make him or her sick.
3. Is it cheaper to make your own dog food?
It depends on what you’re comparing this to. There are a number of great, cheap dog foods that are always going to be cheaper than making the food on your own. With that said, making your own dog food is probably going to be cheaper than buying boutique brands or getting specialized foods. You may be surprised, though, by how much it will cost you to make good, healthy dog food.
4. Is it safe to make your own dog food?
It is safe to make your own dog food as long as you follow some basic rules. Make sure that you trust the recipe that you are following, that you’re careful about the ingredients that go into the food, and that you pay careful attention to any health changes in your dog after he or she eats the food. Generally speaking, you will want to consult with your vet and/or a nutritionist if you are going to make your own dog food.