Home Diet Homemade Dog Food 101: Everything You Need to Know

Homemade Dog Food 101: Everything You Need to Know

by Shatakshi Gupta

Are you among the dog owners who are thinking of feeding your canine friend a homemade diet? Many dog owners prefer to prepare their own dog food, as it can offer several benefits, such as more control over the nutritional requirements, customization to the dog’s needs, and improvement of the dog’s health and well-being. Self tailoring dog food, however, is not a simple task. It requires a thorough research and planning to ensure that your furry friend gets a complete and balanced diet that meets his/her nutritional requirements.

In this article, we will guide you through the process of creating a homemade dog diet. We will cover several dimensions related to homemade dog diet. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of what it takes to feed your lovely pet a homemade diet and how to do it right.

Things To Consider Before Switching to a Homemade Diet:

Also Read: Probiotics and Prebiotics 101: How to Balance Your Gut Microbiota with Supplements

There are a few crucial elements to take into account when making your own dog food:

  • Consult A Veterinarian:

Before switching to a homemade diet consider your dog’s age, size, health, and breed. A professional Veterinary nutritionist may assist you in determining the precise nutritional requirements for your pet. They will provide entire, well-balanced recipes and suggest reliable resources for homemade dog food recipes. It is important to note that many recipes available online have not been evaluated by experts and may give contrary results.

  • Be Ready To Commit Both Time And Money:

Heading to kitchen for yourself or your family is not the same as preparing homemade diet for your dog. You must use precise measurements as per the recipe, and handle and store food securely. Besides, you’ll need to procure quality ingredients, which might cost more expensive than commercial dog food.

  • Be Ready For Changes:

Your dog might not enjoy every recipe you try your hands on or he might be allergic to or sensitive to a certain ingredient. To determine the flavours and recipes your dog prefers, you may need to go by hit and trial method. Moreover, you might need to keep a track of your dog’s vitals like weight, energy level, and general health and adjust his diet as accordingly.

Balancing The Diet:

An adequate ratio of micro and macro nutrients should be present in a homemade dog food. Depending on your dog’s specific requirements, the precise ratios may change, however the following basic recommendations apply:

Protein: Diet must contain at least 10% protein, such as lean meat, fish, poultry, and turkey. Amino acids included in protein are necessary for cellular growth, maintenance, and the production of energy.

Carbohydrate: Carb content should be up to 50%, for this you can use rice, pasta, and potatoes. Glucose from carbohydrates is transformed into energy.

Fibers: Homemade food must include some fiber, which aids with digestion and weight control. Vegetables including peas, green beans, and carrots can have between 2.5 and 4.5% fiber. Fiber aids in GI system regulation and guards against diarrhoea and constipation.

Fat: A minimum of 5.5% fat, typically in the form of fish or vegetable oil should be present in self-prepared meal. Fat supplies fatty acids that promote cell structure and function, the health of the skin and coat, and food flavour.

Vitamins and minerals: Supplements with vitamins and minerals are available for dogs from trustworthy retailers. For many body processes and functions, vitamins and minerals are necessary. To make the handmade food complete and balanced, they must be added.

Cooking Techniques and Safety Measures:

To make sure the food you make for your dog is wholesome and safe, you need adhere to certain basic cooking procedures and safety precautions:

  • To kill any harmful bacteria or pathogens that might be present in raw meat, meat should be thorougly cooked. To monitor the internal temperature of the meat, use a meat thermometer; it must be at least 165°F for chicken and 145°F for other meats.
  • Try to avoid using bones in diet or at least slice them finely. Dogs may suffocate or sustain intestinal problems from broken bones.
  • Do not use ingredients that could be toxic or harmful to dog’s health, such as salt, garlic, onion, or spices. Use natural flavourings instead, such mint or parsley.
  • As far as possible, use fresh ingredients; stay away from canned or processed meals that could include additives or preservatives.
  • For storing the prepared food, use sealed containers and store the food in the freezer or refrigerator. If the food is frozen, use it within three days. Before serving, thaw frozen meals in the microwave or refrigerator.
  • Clean the utensils and surfaces that come into touch with the food, and wash your hands before and after handling any food.

Don’t Forget About Dietary Supplements:

Even if you use a well-balanced homemade dog food recipe, you may need to supplement your dog’s diet with additional vitamins and minerals to meet all of your dog’s nutritional needs. This is especially important if your dog is fed a raw or vegetarian diet.

Some of the most common supplements for homemade dog meals are as follows:

Calcium: Calcium is necessary for bone and tooth health, muscle contraction, and nerve function. Every day, your canine companion requires roughly 50 milligrams of calcium per pound of body weight. Use eggshells, bone meal, or calcium carbonate powder in your cooked dishes for calcium.

Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for healthy skin and coat, as well as the immune system and anti-inflammatory characteristics. Dogs require about 75 mg of EPA and DHA (the two principal types of omega-3 fatty acids) each day. To add omega-3 fatty acids to your homemade foods, use fish oil, flaxseed oil, or hemp seed oil.

Vitamin E: Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects cells from oxidative damage and aids in the correct functioning of the immune system. Every day, dogs require roughly 1 IU of vitamin E per pound of body weight. You can add vitamin E to your homemade diet by using wheat germ oil, sunflower oil, or vitamin E tablets.

Vitamin B complex: Vitamin B complex aids in energy metabolism, nervous system function, and the creation of blood cells. Per pound of body weight, dogs require approximately 0.1 mg of thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, biotin, and folic acid per day. Brewer’s yeast, liver, or vitamin B complex tablets can be used to fortify homemade foods with B complex.

Consult your veterinarian before beginning to supplement your dog’s diet to discover the right dosage and frequency for your dog. You should also monitor your dog’s health and behaviour for any signs of deficiency or toxicity.

Comparison: Homemade Dog Food vs. Commercial Dog Food

Homemade dog food has several advantages over commercial dog food, but it also has some disadvantages. Here are some benefits and drawbacks to consider before making the transition.:

Pros:

  • The ingredients are under your watch. You can select fresh, organic foods that are devoid of preservatives and additives. You can also avoid using items to which your dog is allergic or sensitive.
  • You can tailor the diet to your dog’s specific requirements. Amount and type of protein, carbs, fat, and fibre in your dog’s diet can be changed depending on his age, size, health, and activity level. You can also experiment with recipes to keep things interesting and avoid boredom.
  • You have direct control over your dog’s health and well-being. Your dog’s skin and coat condition, digestion, immune system, energy level and overall health may benefit from a self-tailored diet.

Cons:

  • You must conduct extensive research and planning before switching to homemade dog food. You need to gather information from reliable sources for complete and balanced recipes for your dog. You will be required to keep a track on the calories and nutrients in each recipe and supplement the diet as needed.
  •  From ingredients shopping on a regular basis to preparing the food with care, it is a cumbersome process. Besides, you will also need to purchase supplements, which may be costly or difficult to locate.
  • Above all, even if you meticulously follow a recipe, you may commit mistakes or overlook nutrients that your dog requires. If you don’t scale the portions accurately, you may overfeed or underfeed your dog.

Takeaway:

If you are committed so much to your canine friend, a homemade dog diet can be a satisfying way to feed your dog. It can supply your dog with fresh, nutritious, and tailored food, perhaps improving his health and well-being. However, careful research, planning, preparation, and supplementation are required to ensure that your dog receives all of the nutrients he requires.

Note: Before you begin preparing your own dog food, check with your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist.