Providing a balanced diet for your pet is one of the best things you can do for their health. Food balance and nutritional consistency mean an adequate amount of protein, whole grains, vegetables, and more must be contained within the diet. Buying a quality dog food is an essential part of pet ownership, and you should speak to your vet to get a recommendation.
Home-cooked meals for dogs are becoming increasingly popular among all types of pet-parents. We’ve got the lowdown on this healthy trend that can have big benefits for your pet. Remember though, a home-made diet must contain the same nutritional ingredients as a carefully engineered commercial dog food.
What goes into home-cooked dog food?
According to Merck Vet Manual, nutrients can be classified as water, protein, carbohydrates, fat, minerals and vitamins. It is important to note that energy is delivered by protein, carbs, and fat but not by the water, minerals, or vitamins. The importance of having these ingredients in your home-cooked dog food recipe is described below:
- Protein - Protein can be measured by biological value. The presence of amino acids, the digestibility, and the metabolizability will decide the value. For example, eggs and organ meats have a higher value than plant proteins. Sufficient protein leads to higher energy production.
- Carbohydrates - Certain carbs convert to glucose molecules, which in turn, feed the brain and red blood cells. Some carbs provide fiber, essential to digestion and the workings of the intestines and colon.
- Fat - Dietary fats are a piece of the puzzle when it comes to vitamin transportation, absorption, and storage in the body. Fats like omega 3's contribute to a lustrous coat.
- Water - Taking in enough water prevents gastrointestinal, urinary and respiratory issues. Not only is water a good component in home-made dog food, but it must also be provided in adequate quantities for drinking.
- Minerals - Getting the mineral content of a home-cooked dog food can be tricky. Calcium, magnesium, and iron are just three of the minerals that are crucial to a healthy diet. Too many minerals can be a problem in that they can prohibit intestinal absorption of some of the other added minerals.
- Vitamins - In the same way that minerals can be overconsumed, so can vitamins. Vitamins needed in the diet are A, D, and E among others. Knowledge of the requirements is a must so that you do not add too much to your home-made food recipe.
To simplify this information, good home-cooked dog food will have proteins like fish, turkey, chicken, beef (which also provides iron), or eggs. Carbohydrates include sweet potatoes, pumpkin, apples, quinoa, and brown rice. To add fat, use olive or safflower oil. Vitamin E is found in the safflower oil, Vitamin D, magnesium, and calcium come in salmon, and Vitamin A is brought to the mix through the sweet potato.
Coming up with a home-cooked dog food recipe that ticks all of the boxes is best done in consultation with your veterinarian or canine nutritionist. Once you have a few meal plans set in place, you are good to go.
Pre-Packaged Meal Options
If preparing customized meals seems a bit daunting or time-consuming but you still want to treat your dog to the best in freshly made nutrition, pre-packaged meals for your canine may be the option for you. In response to common complaints surrounding kibble and canine health, many smaller manufacturers and pet food stores are coming out with fresh, frozen, or freeze-dried meal options. These precisely measured, portioned and labeled fresh food alternatives for your dog can help bridge the gap for owners just getting started with home-cooked meals.
Prepared doggie dinners also are handy items to have while traveling with your furry companion or to leave with a sitter while you’re away. Whether frozen or fresh, pre-packaged meals will cost a little more than if you were making the recipe up from scratch, which takes into account the time and effort it takes to prep the fresh ingredients. If you have a very large dog, these types of meals may be a bit cost-prohibitive for your family but for smaller pups, you may find this the perfect solution for ease and convenience meets quality ingredients.
Make the Move
If you decide to jump on the home-cooked dog food bandwagon, talk to your vet. Discuss your dog's current health status, their weight, and their age. These are factors that will contribute to designing a top-notch recipe. Your vet may point you to a qualified pet nutritionist who can help you come up with several recipes so that your dog is sure to have the required ingredients in every meal.