The idea of home-cooked pet food sounds appealing-after all, who doesn’t prefer home-cooked food to something out of a can or packet? However, it does have its pros and cons.
After the unforgettable food recall, some pet owners decided to assume a more direct role in the nourishment of their pets by making their own pet foods from scratch. Certainly, there are legitimate concerns over the safety and quality of some commercial pet foods. But most veterinarians still don’t approve of homemade food even though it can be safe and nutritious.
Think Twice, Then Ask for Advice
Going the home-cooked route involves a substantial investment of time, money, and attention. Ask yourself if you’re really ready to make the leap. It’s a big decision with potentially serious consequences if not done correctly. Always be sure to include your veterinarian in the process for help and guidance.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) doesn’t recommend the DIY approach since “pet nutrition is very complicated and unique to species and individual animals.”
An article in the March 1, 2008 issue of the AVMA’s Journal highlighted certain studies that found some disturbing trends:
- Dogs fed home-prepared diets had a greater prevalence of health problems.
- Many home-prepared diets are not nutritionally balanced and can result in such complications as thiamine deficiency, thyroid disease, loss of bone density, and neurological deficits.
- Cats fed homemade diets are at high risk for an inflammatory condition called pansteatitis.
- Homemade raw meat diets present a significant risk of bacterial contamination.
Proceed With Caution
That’s not to say you can’t create healthy homemade pet food. If you are committed to home-cooking your pet’s food, there are a number of steps you can take to assure that the product that comes out of your kitchen is wholesome and provides complete, balanced nutrition for your pet.
- Do your research; pet nutrition is a complex subject. Learn all you can about it before taking the plunge.
- If possible, talk to other pet owners who have made the switch to homemade; you can learn from their mistakes.
- Make sure your give your pets a supplement containing the micronutrients that are essential for maintaining pet health and that are almost certainly missing from your ingredient list.
- Don’t start making substitutions because of convenience or personal preference; if you find a nutritionally balanced recipe, stick with it.
- Remember that pets are not people; don’t let currently popular human nutritional guidelines for such things as cholesterol, sodium, and fat affect your nutritional decisions for your pet.
Make frequent visits to your vet a part of your new pet nutrition regimen. Your vet will be able to spot any nutritional deficiencies before they have done serious damage. Read more about organic pet food and the raw meat diets.