The advantages and downsides of cooking for your dog are discussed by Jennifer A. Larsen, DVM, MS, Ph.D., and Joe Bartges, DVM, Ph.D., both board-certified veterinary nutritionists and diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition.
Is It Necessary to Cook Your Dog’s Food?
Is it true that making dog food at home is better for your pet? While such assertions have been made, there is no clear scientific data to back them up. “Many sources tell owners that homemade food is better than store-bought food and meals. However, there is no evidence to back up this assertion,” Dr. Larsen explains.
Larsen warns dog owners to be wary of the pet food industry’s scare mongering. Myths regarding ingredient quality are frequently to blame. While there are no scientifically proven benefits of homemade diets, whole-food-based diets are healthier in the long run. Dr. Bartges adds that commercial foods are designed to be comprehensive and balanced, but not the most thrilling of meals.
“Imagine eating the same highly processed food every meal, day in and day out, for years,” he says.
When it comes to cooking for your dog, there are a few common blunders to avoid:
Not Relying on Reliable Sources
“There are a lot of ineffective, and sometimes hazardous, recipes out there,” says Dr. Larsen. “Many recent studies have shown that the majority of these recipes are unbalanced.”
Some of these might create vitamin shortages in your dog’s diet, while others can cause an overabundance of specific nutrients. Dr. Larsen and Dr. Bartges advise avoiding generic recipes from books or internet sources to avoid finding harmful or risky alternatives. Some self-proclaimed “nutrition experts” are untrained and may cause more harm than good.
To design a semi-individualized diet, Larsen and Bartges recommend contacting BalanceIT.com, a website maintained by a board-certified veterinary nutritionist.
Not preparing a well-balanced diet
It might be costly if you do not make balanced meals that are tailored to your pet’s specific needs. Nutritional deficiencies or excesses can cause illnesses including malnutrition and obesity, which can be deadly.
Dietary Changes’ Impact Is Underestimated
It’s best if you work with a board-certified veterinary nutritionist when designing a new food formula for your dog. Consider things like your dog’s feeding history, weight, and overall health. You’ll want to keep an eye on your pet’s health to see if the food you’re giving him is having the desired effect.
An Alternative to Cooking at Home
“Cooking for your pet is a time-consuming, labor-intensive, space-consuming and financially draining procedure,” explains Dr. Larsen. Cooking at home isn’t for everyone, and it doesn’t have to be. Another alternative for providing healthy whole foods to your dog is to purchase properly prepared ready-made meals. “You can buy commercial meals that contain whole ingredients that have already been prepared. “It’s quite close to home cooking,” Dr. Bartges observes.
While you may believe that cooking for your dog is better for their health, pre-prepared food cooked according to the same principles can be just as healthy. Whatever technique you use, make sure you’re always catering to your dog’s specific health and nutritional requirements.