A recent study tested 200 homemade dog food recipes with less than encouraging results. Only 9 met the nutritional standards of the Association of American Feed Control Officials or AAFCO, and only 5 met the standards of the National Research Council or NRC.
Nutritionally complete homemade dog food meets all of a dog’s nutritional requirements, giving them all the vitamins and nutrients they need. It takes preparation and research to make correctly.
Once you know what your dog’s nutritional needs are, it’s important to use a recipe that meets all of them. It’s also useful to add supplements to make up for any nutrients the food may lack. Work with a veterinarian or nutritionist to create the perfect mix.
Read our guide to nutritionally complete homemade dog food to find out how to make it, how much to give your dog, and why you may want to consider changing their diet.
Pros and Cons of Homemade Food
Homemade dog food is an increasingly popular option for owners concerned about what their pets are eating. There are various pros and cons to be aware of before you consider changing your dog’s diet.
When you make your own dog food, you have more control over what goes into it. This allows you to use more natural ingredients and tailor the recipe to your pet’s individual nutritional needs, allergies, and preferences.
DIY dog food is not difficult to make. You can use the same ingredients you buy for yourself at the grocery store such as eggs and meat.
Dogs also tend to enjoy nutritionally complete homemade dog food more. It’s closer to the natural food they would get in the wild and lacks unpalatable ingredients like preservatives and additives.
While there are many benefits to the fact that nutritionally complete homemade dog food is always fresh, this also lowers shelf life.
Making DIY dog food can be a time-consuming process and requires knowledge of your dog’s nutritional needs. It’s easier to create the proper mixture with the help of a vet or animal nutritionist.
Nutritionally complete homemade dog food can be more expensive than traditional dog food. At the same time, it can also be more cost-effective than other alternative diets like raw food.
Weigh the pros and cons and talk to a professional before switching to homemade dog food. It’s especially helpful for dogs with special nutritional needs such as food allergies or pre-existing health problems.
Making Nutritionally Complete Homemade Dog Food
Making your own dog-food is a complex, multi-step process. It’s important to understand every step to create nutritionally complete homemade dog food that meets all of your pets’ needs.
The first thing to do before you make your own dog food is to research your dog’s nutritional needs. Different breeds need different food, older dogs need different food than puppies, and active dogs need more calories.
The next important consideration is deciding on which dog food recipe you’ll use. Find one that meets as many of your dog’s nutritional needs as possible. It should also be one that isn’t too difficult or expensive for you to make regularly.
The best part of making your own dog food is that it allows you to regulate what goes in it, and choosing ingredients is an important step. Everything that goes in your nutritionally complete homemade dog food should be fresh, as this helps it maintain its nutritional value.
The best way to save yourself time and ensure that you always have nutritionally complete homemade dog food on hand is to prep ahead of time. Buy the ingredients in bulk, prepare a week’s worth of food, and store it for later.
Each dog has its own unique nutritional needs, and there is no single balanced diet for every single pet. There are general guidelines owners can consider when attempting to create nutritionally complete homemade dog food.
One important thing to know is which human foods your dog can safely eat and get nutritional benefits from. The list is fairly large, including fish, meats like chicken, turkey, and beef, whole grains, eggs, boiled pasta with no sauce, and most fruits and vegetables.
There are certain human foods it’s best to avoid feeding your pet. Grapes and melons can cause kidney failure, so try to use other fruits instead.
It’s also important to vary your dog’s diet. Just like humans, they require a variety of nutrients and shouldn’t be eating food made with the same recipe every day. In fact, no single ingredient should ever make up more than half of their diet.
Dogs need the right proportions of different nutrients in their food just as humans do.
Meat should make up at least half the diet, 1/3-1/2 of which can come from raw meaty bones. Grains and starchy vegetables are helpful and can save money, but they shouldn’t make up more than 1/2 of a dog’s diet.
Vegetables are healthy for dogs but only in the right amounts and when prepared correctly.
Limit the amount of starchy vegetables like potatoes for overweight dogs. Too many leafy greens can give your pet gas. Raw vegetables can suppress thyroid function in large amounts and should always be pureed to aid digestion.
Dog food recipes without the proper nutrients and ingredient proportions can lead to a host of health issues, such as obesity or vitamin deficiencies. That’s why it’s important to ensure your pet has a balanced diet when you make your own dog food.
Homemade Dog Food Supplements
There is a slightly higher risk of nutrient deficiencies from DIY dog food. It’s difficult to get the perfect mixture, but anything that’s lacking can be added in with the right homemade dog food supplements.
There are many different types of supplements to consider. Dogs need vitamins, such as calcium (one of the most important), vitamins D and E, and iodine. Oils from fish, cod liver, and/or plants can also help.
A multivitamin can help make up for any other nutrients your DIY dog food may still be lacking.
Certain pets may require different supplements or different amounts of certain nutrients. For example, larger and/or older dogs may require more calcium. Find out your pet’s individual nutritional needs to determine what supplements they need.
It’s essential to know exactly how much homemade dog food to feed your pet. Too much can lead to health problems from obesity or vitamin toxicity. Too little can lead to the opposite issues of malnourishment and vitamin deficiencies.
The exact serving size your pet needs depends on several factors such as their age, breed, and activity level.
The recommendation is to stick to approximately 1/2-3/4 cups of food for every 25 pounds of body weight. A 25-pound dog will need at least 1/2 cup, while a 50-pound dog will need at least 1 cup.
Nutritionally Complete Homemade Dog Food Recipes
It’s important to find nutritionally balanced, easy-to-use dog food recipes. Your dog doesn’t need to eat homemade food every day, but when they do, it should be made with the same care and attention you take for your own diet.
There are plenty of resources for nutritionally complete dog food recipes, from cookbooks to online recipe sites.
The most important thing when deciding on which recipe to use is to make sure it meets your dog’s nutritional requirements.
Many of the same foods that keep humans healthy can work for dogs. Try to include superfoods like sweet potatoes and kale in the recipe, as using these ingredients will create a healthier final product.
Working With Professionals
Creating nutritionally complete homemade dog food can be a difficult process. It’s best to work with professionals like veterinarians or pet nutritionists to ensure your pet has a balanced diet.
Although it often contains nasty ingredients like fillers and preservatives, packaged dog food is formulated to meet your dog’s nutritional needs. Creating a similar formula is difficult without help.
It’s also important to take your dog for checkups to ensure that the new diet has no adverse effects. The veterinarian should ensure that the nutritionally complete homemade dog food you’re using isn’t causing problems with things like weight gain or loss or skin issues.
A nutritionist and/or vet can also help you determine exactly how much homemade dog food to feed your pet. They know the exact requirements based on breed, age, activity level, and more.
Why You Should Choose Homemade
Nutritionally complete homemade dog food can be difficult to make and requires thorough knowledge of your dog’s nutritional needs. It can be worth the effort, as it makes it easier to regulate the ingredients your dog eats.
All dog food recipes should provide the necessary nutrients like calcium and protein, as this is what makes them nutritionally complete. It’s also helpful to add supplements to prevent deficiencies.
Even the best nutritionally complete homemade dog food won’t have the desired effect if the serving size is off. Work with professionals like veterinarians and nutritionists to create the best possible mixture.
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