With the recent recall of many brands of pet food, pet owners are thinking twice about feeding their pets commercial pet foods.
Not only do we have to worry about what we are feeding our families; we now have the added worry about our cat or dog's diet.
What is a pet owner to do?
The first thing you don't do is "jump right in and start cooking."
Why. You ask?
Simply because there are many things to take into consideration. Feeding your pet means providing the proper nutrition in order to keep him/her healthy and fit.
The first suggestion is read a book or two on a proper diet for your pet be it cat or dog. I have listed a few titles at the end of this article that I feel will be beneficial to read.
Secondly, you need to find more than one recipe to feed your pet as variety is not only the spice of life, but necessary in order to get the right combination of nutrients into the pet's body.
Thirdly, you have to decide if you have the time and energy to devote to the task of cooking for one or two more members of your family.
What are the benefits?
The benefits are many, it has been proven that a homemade diet has helped many dogs with various conditions regain their health. Many pet foods are of poor quality, over processed, filled with artificial ingredients and many other chemicals, just read the labels.
Carbohydrates are often more than 50 percent of the main ingredient in most pet foods. For dogs, carbohydrates are harder to digest and can cause inflammation to the body. For cats, carbohydrates are not an essential ingredient for their diets, proteins are.
Thus a home cooked diet can provide less carbohydrates and more protein making the food easier to digest and keeps the body's immune system from becoming over reactive.
Feeding your pet, fresh or lightly cooked foods helps to supply nutrients in their natural form, which over processed pet foods does not.
There are several types of homemade diets, which include, raw and cooked foods, diets that contain little or no grains; diets mixed with commercial food, and diets that either include raw or cooked bones. There are many choices and variety is the important ingredient.
Dogs are known to eat most anything, whether it is good for them or not.
There is no "one" diet that is good for all dogs or cats.
Every pet is an individual and the diet is dependent on physical condition, size, activity level and age. What is perfect for one pet may not be good for another.
That is why variety is stressed so much. Constant feeding of one recipe may not supply all the necessary nutrients, but changing food groups and content can easily fulfill your entire pet's needs.
It is not known exactly what nutrients are needed in a dog's diet; the USDA Nutrient Database uses figures to determine only average nutritional values. Nutritional studies are going on all the time and there are still gaps in their determinations of proper nutritional values.
Even if you were to follow a diet determined by your vet or a pet nutritionist they would advise adding a vitamin/mineral supplement, as no one really knows exactly what your particular pet needs.
A homemade diet should provide the following: variety, balance over time, and calcium.
The variety can come from feeding such foods as chicken, turkey, beef, fish, eggs, cottage cheese, and some pork. Some vegetables, fruit (no grapes or raisins) and some grains can be added. Organ meats such as liver, kidneys or heart should be added at different times.
Raw meaty bones are very good for teeth and gums and provide calcium. When considering bones do not feed cooked chicken bones. Raw chicken backs and leg quarters are considered acceptable, those bones will not splinter, along with lamb necks and breast and pork riblets and necks.
Chicken necks and turkey necks are considered okay also, but large dogs tend to choke on the turkey necks and little dogs on the chicken necks, so I would be very careful offering those items unless you were close by.
You can cook bones and grind them, if feeding raw bones makes you feel uncomfortable. Large meaty beef bones are good too,
If bacteria from raw foods scare you, don't be, a dog's insides were meant to handle bacteria. Unless your dog is stressed or ill, bacteria from raw meat or chicken will have little if any effect on your dog. The same goes for raw eggs, though you can lightly scramble or soft boil them if it makes you feel better.
There is no danger in feeding your puppy or older dog a high protein diet, as protein is beneficial to the immune system, the central nervous system and helps the your dog have healthy skin and coat. Dogs that are fed a high protein diet seem calmer and less hyper than those fed a high carbohydrate diet.
If you do not have the time or desire to prepare completely homemade meals for your dog there is no problem in adding fresh food to your dog's dry or canned food. However, the percentage of fresh versus commercial should be kept down to about 25 percent in order not to upset the nutritional balance.
When adding food to your pet's commercial diet try to stay with more protein than carbohydrates as the commercial food is already high in grains, Best bets are eggs, meat, fish (canned with bones like salmon, sardines or mackerel), yogurt, cottage cheese and small amounts of vegetables.
There are companies that sell a pre-mixed dry food that
is ready for you to add fresh food to complete a balanced meal for your dog. Some companies such as http://www.thehonestkitchen.com and http://www.solidgoldhealth.com offer great products you can add to your pet's food or feed directly.
The following books are some available as recommended reading:
- Barker's Grub by Rudy Edalati
- Real Food for Dogs by Arden Moore
- Feeding Your Dog for Life by Diane Morgan
- The Whole Pet Diet by Andi Brown
Should you decide in the light of the current pet food situation to start home cooking for your pet, please do yourself a favor and your pet, read and learn before you make the attempt.
If you do not feed your pet the correct amount of nutrients it needs for survival you are only not only defeating your purpose for doing it, but you are affecting your pet's health and your pocketbook with extra vet bills.
Keeping our pets healthy is very beneficial not only to the pet, but to our pocketbooks. If the only time you need to visit the veterinarian is for yearly check ups and necessary shots you are saving money. Nutrition is very important in keeping a dog healthy, proper quality food that contains all the necessary vitamins and minerals is a good way to start.
Audrey has a fantastic blog at http://www.cats-and-dogs-on-the-web.com