Guide to Home Cooking for your Dog

More and More owners are turning to home cooking for their pets. When cooking for your pet on a regular basis it is important to be aware of how to provide complete nutrition in its more natural and complete form and ensuring the diet is balanced. It is surprisingly easy to miss some really important factors without doing some research. This leaflet is concerning itself regarding home cooking but a raw food diet may be suitable for your dog also.

Pros

  • Unlike processed dog food which may have lost a lot of its nutritional value during the course of processing, home-made dog food can be much better overall more fresh and wholesome
  • More control over ingredients and ability to tailor them to avoid food that which your dog may be allergic to
  • You can adjust the diet as needed based on your dog’s weight, lifestyle, activity level, health conditions and other particular needs
  • Home cooked dog diets are usually higher in protein which supports the skin and the immune system and are easier for dogs to digest. This in turn can improve the health of the digestive system.
  • Many dogs with health problems such as allergies, IBF, chronic ear infections, arthritis have seen their symptoms reduced or eliminated after they began eating a home cooked diet

Cons

  • Perhaps the most difficult part in making your own your own food is designing a diet that provides all the nutrients needed by your dog. It takes time and commitment
  • If you are time poor and in a rush, taking shortcuts can result in improper balances in vitamins and minerals. A super premium high-quality dog food such as Rockster will be a perfect stop-gap.
  • Getting high quality ingredients (especially organic ones) can be more costly depending on nutritional requirements of your dogs.
  • It is worse to do an unbalanced home diet than some store bought pet food

The Three Essentials

Variety

  • Home prepared food should include a variety of ingredients, not just one meat and grain so that over time the diet will be more balanced
  • Best to feed as many types of meat as possible (beef, chicken, pork, lamb, turkey, fish, etc.) as well as including some % as organs (heart, liver etc.) as well as eggs, cottage cheese and yoghurt
  • If fed one source of protein your dog may start to develop an allergy to the meat. By giving a varied diet it can also help prevent allergies forming

Balance over time

  • When you feed a wide variety of foods, there is less worry to make each meal ‘complete and balanced’. You just have to make sure that your dog gets everything they needs over a week or two, not at every meal.

Calcium

This is one of the most frequently missed so don’t forget…

  • When making your own dog food, you MUST add calcium if the dog diet does not include bones (never feed cooked bones)
  • Adult dogs require approx. 800 to 100mg of calcium per 500g of food fed. Balancing a ratio of 2:1 to 1:1 calcium-phosphorus ratio (Naturally Dogs)
  • VERY IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Meat given to your dog in the form of boneless muscle (such as minced meat or fillets) increases phosphorus compared to calcium ratio greatly. This means you must in turn increase calcium supplements to ensure the correct ratio.
  • One of the most popular methods is through adding ground eggshells and other calcium carbonate or calcium citrate supplements.
  • A product called Meal Mix can also be used as an additive to cover multiple vitamins and calcium
  • If embarking on a fully home cooked diet, we advise you to consult a pet nutritionist as calcium and other minerals can be under or over supplied which could be dangerous

 

Key Components in Home Cooked Dog Food

*Go organic as much as you can afford to so

Protein

  • Protein sources (e.g. meat, eggs, dairy) should make up at least 50% of their diet, preferably more
  • Try to choose meats with not more than 10% fat
  • Meat should include both muscle meat (such as lamb, beef, chicken, turkey, pork) as well as organ meats (e.g. kidney, liver, heart) Liver should never be more than 5% of their diet and organs in general should make up around 10%
  • If feed boneless meet must add calcium source
  • Canned Fish such as pink salmon, sardines, mackerel occasionally (check for low salt)
  • Dairy products such as yogurt, kefir or cottage cheese
  • Gentle scrambled or hard boil eggs

Grains

  • Whole grains such as oatmeal, white rice, brown rice, barley, bulgur, millet, etc. Just as with other foods, feeding a variety of different grains and carbs is better than always feeding the same kind.
  • If you opt to include grains, they should not be over 25% of the overall diet and be varied like the protein sources. Dogs aren’t biologically evolved to be able to digest grains so limiting their inclusion is important
  • Whole grains are key – oatmeal, rice, barley, bulgur
  • If feeding rice it should be slightly overcooked to soft texture so easy to digest

Vegetables and Fruits

  • Vegetables could be beneficial in small amounts
  • Healthiest are leafy greens but other good options include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages, carrots, courgettes
  • Best to steam them well and blend if possible.
  • Apples, bananas, berries and melon are good to include in small amounts.
  • remember NO grapes or raisins as TOXIC to dogs

Supplements

  • Calcium mentioned above is a component that is easily missed in home cooking
  • Other supplements required are fish oil (e.g. krill oil), green blend supplements (algae or phytoplankton)
  • Multi-vitamin supplements are available to cover Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Zinc, Choline, Cooper, B vitamins, Omega 6 and Selenium
  • Please see our other leaflet regarding specific supplement guide for further details

How much to feed?

  • It is dependent on various factors such as age, lifestyle, activity level and metabolism. We recommend speaking to an expert canine nutritionist.
  • Similar to humans more sedentary dogs will require less fat so leaner meats and low-fat dairy as well as reducing starchy carbs as well
  • If introducing a new food or supplement, make sure you do so slowly and test a small amount on the first introduction
  • Add one new item at a time and wait several days to a week or two before introducing another

Disclaimer

  • Whilst all attention has been taken to ensure accurate and clear information; please consult expert opinion before starting any major change to your dog’s diet. Each animal has their own independent nutritional and supplemental requirements and the information above is only to be used as a guide only
  • PetLondon is always on hand to point customers in the right direction for further information and advice

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