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By Jennifer Coates, DVM
Homemade dog food is an increasingly popular option for dedicated pet parents. However, you need to supply many different nutrients in just the right amounts if your dog’s homemade food is to meet all of his dietary needs. Read on to learn the benefits of making your pup’s meals as well as how to make your own dog food safely and properly.
The Benefits of Homemade Dog Food
It seems like every day brings a new dog food recall, so it’s understandable to want to do everything possible to ensure that your dog’s diet is as safe and nutritious as possible.
Whether your dog has specific dietary restrictions or you are worried about poor-quality ingredients or possible contaminants, having greater control over which ingredients are included in your dog’s diet can bring peace of mind.
It seems to make sense that a homemade dog food prepared with fresh, high-quality ingredients would be superior to any dog food that is commercially available, but is that really the case?
The Risks of Homemade Dog Food
Unfortunately, research has shown that many homemade dog food recipes are anything but nutritionally complete and balanced. For example, a study of home-prepared maintenance diets for dogs published in 2013 reveals that out of 200 dog food recipes that were pulled from websites, pet care books, and veterinary textbooks, only 5 percent contained adequate levels of all essential nutrients. Some of the recipes also produced foods with dangerously high levels of certain nutrients.
Some fans of homemade dog food will argue that “slight” nutritional errors are not that important as long as you regularly rotate through several different recipes. After all, every meal we eat doesn’t provide for all of our nutritional needs (donuts for breakfast, anyone?). Their reasoning is that the important thing is that over time, we do get everything we need.
The same reasoning doesn’t seem to apply to homemade dog food, however. Researchers evaluated several groups of homemade dog food recipes and found that “many recipes had similar deﬁciencies, with 14 nutrients provided at inadequate concentrations in at least 50 recipes. Thus, even the use of a strategy for rotation among several recipes from multiple sources would be unlikely to provide a balanced diet.”