CHECK OUT WHY HOMEMADE PET FOOD IS SAFER FOR YOUR PET
Pets are some of the most precious companions in our life. They offer unconditional love and, in return, should be provided with daily care, proper nutrition, exercise, and lots of hugs and praise.
Recent research suggests that store-bought pet foods can detriment their health regarding nutrition.
Nowadays, more and more pet parents decide to make their pet food at home. But there are specific rules that need to be followed.
This article will discuss why homemade pet food is better than conventional processed food for your pet.
How to start
By preparing homemade pet food, you have more control over the ingredients. First, you must talk to your pet's vet about their diet. Your pet's nutritional needs depend on age, health, bread, size, etc.
Before you decide to prepare your pet's food at home, this is what you need to focus on:
- Find a balanced and complete recipe; it needs to have all the ingredients your pet needs.
- Make sure you can afford to buy the ingredients. Homemade pet food is usually more expensive than kibble.
- Think about your time; preparing food at home takes time, so you must ensure you have the time in your schedule.
- You need space in your freezer since most recipes are written for a large amount of food.
- Follow diet plans for your pet if it has special health issues and problems; health problems can worsen with an improper diet.
- Dog food should have 1/3 protein and 2/3 vegetables and grain.
- Cats need more proteins; at least half of their diet should be meat, eggs, and dairy products.
Once you decide to cook for your pet, there are a few basic things you need to learn and be aware of.
Always discuss with your pet's veterinarian all the changes you might notice are happening.
It is a good idea to weigh your pet to see if there are any unwanted changes in their weight.
Be aware of vomiting or diarrhea. They might be signs of hypersensitivity to some ingredients; watch closely for any problems that might occur.
Always try to find good quality ingredients that are fresh and nutritious.
What does a healthy pet diet look like?
Basic pet food should have the following ingredients:
Cats are carnivores, and their diet should have many proteins. Dogs are omnivores, and their diet does not have to be high-protein. Proteins that are good for both cats and dogs are poultry (chicken, turkey, duck), organ meats (liver, heart), bovid meat (lamb, beef), and fish.
Try to avoid tuna consumption as it is high in mercury. Pick low-mercury fish instead, like salmon, sardines, herring, anchovies, etc.
To prevent injuries, debone the fish since it has small and sharp bones that might hurt the intestinal organs of your pet.
Carbohydrates are a source of energy, and they regulate blood sugar levels. You can find carbs in rice, potatoes, pasta, oatmeal, quinoa, etc. Cats should be kept on low-carb diets, and only a small amount of carbs can be added to their food to boost their energy level.
Both dogs and cats need fiber to keep their gastrointestinal tract in good condition. Fiber can also prevent animals from becoming overweight. Good fiber sources include carrots, peas, green beans, apples, and flaxseed.
Fats are important for animals' overall health. They are essential for keeping coat and skin healthy, cell function, and enhancing food taste. Animal fats are important for cats, and dogs can get their fatty acids from other sources like plant-based oils and fish oil.
People often forget to drink water, but dehydration is a very dangerous condition and can be life-threatening. It is the same for animals. You need to ensure that your pet always has fresh water available.
Tips for Dog Owners
A dog's recommended daily allowance should include vitamins, minerals, protein, fat, carbohydrates, and water. Just as there are different species of dogs, each requires a certain diet regimen.
A balanced diet should be prepared according to the canine's size, breed, and special needs.
Foods that should not be given to dogs include chocolate, dairy products, and foods that contain sugar or yeast.
For instance, a pet owner, who raised beagles as a hobby, fed them homemade food: spaghetti and meatballs. The meat is full of protein, and the spaghetti is high in carbohydrates. Of course, this staple was not a daily occurrence; however, the beagles were always in good health, had gleaming coats, and adapted to this Italian family's cooking.
Most experts advise that you alternate between meat, chicken, and turkey, but do not use any pork or pork products in the meals. For young puppies, meat, fruits, and vegetables are recommended.
Dog owners also prefer to feed their dogs vegetarian diets, including carrots, apples, and brown rice. This, combined with vegetables, pasta, and meat, includes all the nutrients a dog may need.
However, remember that before preparing any homemade food for your pet, you should consult a vet to ensure you are offering a balanced meal for the type of dog you own. Since not all breeds are the same, some require more of one ingredient than others.
Micronutrients, minerals, and vitamins are important for maintaining a dog's good health.
The minerals and vitamins your dog needs are:
- Iron: for immune system support and red blood cells. Sources of iron are red meat and poultry
- Calcium and phosphorus: for healthy bones and teeth. These minerals are found in green beans and tofu
- Vitamins B: for the nervous system, red blood cell metabolism, preventing anemia, and skin. Vitamin B can be found in the liver, poultry, sardines, eggs, cereals, dairy, etc
- Vitamin A: for the reproductive system, healthy coat, eyes, and normal growth. It can be found in dairy products, eggs, fish oil, etc
- Magnesium and potassium: good for muscles and nerves. Good sources of these minerals are whole grains
- Vitamin C: helps the immune system, reduces inflammation, and protects against cell damage. Vitamin C sources are apples, cucumbers, pears, etc
- Zinc: for the immune system, skin, and coat. It can be found in the liver, eggs, lamb, etc
- Copper: for healthy bones. Copper sources are seeds and whole grains.
- Vitamin D: helps regulate calcium and phosphorus balance and good bone health. It also supports the immune system. Dogs can't produce vitamin D. Sources of this vitamin are fatty fish, dairy products, eggs, etc
- Vitamin E: for the immune system and good vision. It can be found in plant oils and green leafy vegetables
These are some foods dogs should not consume:
- Avocados could make dogs feel sick and vomit.
- Cherries contain cyanide which is toxic for dogs; it could cause cyanide poisoning.
- Eating grapes could cause kidney failure in dogs.
- Onions can cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and other gastrointestinal problems.
Tips for Cats
Preparing homemade food for cats can be a bit tricky. They don’t tolerate preservatives; therefore, you must consult a vet to ascertain what type of diet is best for them.
However, the consensus is that cats require the same nutrients as dogs: vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and fat. The one exception is that cats need more protein; therefore, you can use more ground chicken, ground turkey, and lean ground beef. In addition, add an occasional egg (either hard-boiled or scrambled).
While cats love fish, incorporating tuna or fresh fish into their diet may not be a good idea since it is now known to contain mercury. Experts advise that supplementing a cat's diet with flaxseed oil, vegetables, and salt in minute amounts should be a dietary consideration.
Making home-cooked food for cats is very challenging since their needs differ from those of dogs. They must get some vitamins and amino acids from their food, as their wild relatives get from the prey they eat. Some of these nutrients are found in the bones, skin, organs, and other prey parts that people usually don't prepare at home.
Also, nutrients that shouldn’t be missing from a cat's diet are iron, vitamin E, thiamine, calcium, vitamin A, taurine, and choline. Deficiencies can lead to serious health problems like anemia, heart disease, blindness, liver problems, gastrointestinal diseases, etc.
Certain ingredients you should never give to your cat:
- Dairy products
- Grapes, raisins
- Onion and garlic
- Raw egg whites
Since preserving all the nutrients when cooking food is very difficult, it is best to add supplements. The key is to add them after cooking. But make sure you don’t exaggerate, as adding too many supplements could also cause health problems. Ask your cat’s vet for advice.
The safest recipes are the ones your pet's nutritionist gave you since they consider your pet's age, health problems, breed, and weight. You can find one at the American college of veterinary nutrition. The key is to follow the recipes and not change any ingredients without discussing them with the vet first.
Here is one sample recipe for dogs, for the average adult dog with no health problems shared from the Spruce Pets.
Protein source: Chicken, dark meat cooked
net wt. Oz.
Carbohydrate source: Rice, white, cooked
1 1/3 cups
Fiber source: Mixed vegetables
Fat source: Vegetable oil
Supplements to be mixed in the food: Balance IT Canine
1.5 black scoops
If you prepare food for your pet in bulk, make sure to refrigerate it. When you freeze it, avoid giving it to your pet if it is more than six months frozen. Refrigerated food should be fed within three to five days.
When you first start to prepare food at home, do it in small quantities. That way, you will avoid throwing the food away if your pet does not like it or if it has any kind of unwanted reaction to the food.
The bottom line
Choosing homemade foods for your pet can be a healthy alternative to today's processed foods. Besides the fact that some of these canned foods are very low in quality, the widespread recall of commercial pet foods has generated newfound respect for holistic, vegetarian, and homemade preparations.