It has been more than a decade since the infamous pet food recall in the year 2007. Several cases of renal failure in dogs and cats that led to numerous deaths resulted in a thorough investigation of some of the most well known international pet food brands. The result showed a high level of melamine which was caused due to contaminated wheat gluten which was sourced from a Chinese manufacturing firm. Wheat Gluten makes up a large part of the commercial pet food.
The investigation, report and the consequent recall was an eye opener for many pet parents who started taking a closer look at the pet food labels and started questioning the authenticity of each ingredient.
This case of contamination and several other reports in the following years of low-quality ingredients being used in the manufacturing of commercial pet food has made pet parents wary of dishing out the commercial pet food to their beloved four-legged furriend.
More and more per parents are now shifting to safer pet food options and the foremost in the list is Home Cooked Pet Food.
With Home Cooked Pet Food, pet parents have the assurance of identifying the ingredients that go into each meal – something that is hard to decipher in a commercial pet food.
However, there is still a debate on whether home cooked pet food is really self-sustaining and can give our pets the optimum health that we want from every food choice that we make?
Many veterinary have analyzed different home-cooked pet food made by pet parents and have come to the conclusion that not all home cooked pet food diet can be approved to be served to pets. Many of the home cooked meal plans are not nutritionally balanced.
However, if a homemade diet is nutritionally balanced taking into account the pet’s weight, age, breed, activity levels, living conditions, health conditions, and overall physiology – then it is way better than commercial pet food.
What differentiates a good home cooked pet food diet from an insufficient one is the knowledge and understanding of canine nutrition.
Here are some common misconceptions about homemade pet food diets that are resulting in pet parents making the wrong food choices for their pets.
Myth: If I use a variety of fresh, wholesome, human grade food then my dog will get enough nutrition!
Although this point has some merit because fresh, wholesome and human grade food is the best for your furry as it is more bioavailable than the processed food but balancing the nutrients is very important for your furry’s overall health.
Even home cooked food that is prepared with proper care by the pet parents themselves can come up lacking in some of the basic nutrients. Your pet’s nutritional needs are different from yours and so the proportion of ingredients in the diet should also be different.
Canine nutrition is not a simple science that can be mastered with some Google searches. If you plan to prepare the meals for your furry- make sure that you have complete and comprehensive knowledge of canine nutrition. Read extensively, talk to vets and nutritionists and start thinking of ingredients in terms of their nutritional value.
Once you have the complete understanding of the subject, then sit down to draw a recipe chart for your furry that would include different food groups. Make sure that you provide complete nutrition through species appropriate, bioavailable ingredients.
It might sound too daunting and too much of a work, but it is important to follow through carefully when preparing the meal plan – after all, it is about the health and long life of your fur baby.
Myth: My furry loves yogurt and has it every day so I am sure her calcium needs are met!
Sadly it is not true. Your dog’s calcium needs are much higher and yogurt will not be able to give enough.
Calcium is a very integral part of your furry’s nutritional needs and is important for their bone health. Calcium is a part of a lot of other ingredients that you will be adding in the diet but it may still not be enough!
A low calcium diet over a period of time can result in poor bone health, arthritis and other health issues that can adversely affect the quality of life of your furry -, especially senior pets.
Every home cooked diet will have to be supplemented with additional calcium to make it completely balanced. Unless you are feeding raw bones, a calcium supplement is always necessary.
You can either use a commercial calcium supplement or an excellent natural calcium supplement of eggshell powder.
A healthy adult dog needs 50mg of calcium per kg of body weight. So a 25kg furry has an RDA of 1250mg of calcium. A tsp of eggshell powder contains 2200mg of calcium carbonate, so half a tsp will be enough for a 25kg furry.
How to make eggshell powder?
- Clean 12 egg shells and boil it in water for 10 minutes to remove all microbes on the surface of the eggshell.
- Drain and dry on a kitchen towel.
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
- Spread the eggshells evenly on a baking dish or sheet and bake for 7 minutes.
- Spread the baked egg shells to cool to room temperature.
- Grind the eggshells in a mixer grinder to a fine powder.
- Check with fingers to make sure that there are no sharp-edged parts remaining.
- Store in an airtight container and use within 2 months.
Each egg will yield about 1tsp of eggshell powder. You can keep making fresh batched every 15 days to have a continuous supply of eggshell powder to augment the homemade diet of your furry.
Myth: If my recipe has any nutritional gaps from my homemade food, a multivitamin pill will cover it up!
Well, it might but which vitamin and in how much proportion? Any homemade diet that has been prepared without a thorough understanding of your pet’s nutritional needs will be lacking in some of the other nutrients but how will you know which one and by how much!
Multivitamins vary greatly in their formulation and proportion, so how will you know which one is best suited for your furry?
Choosing an all-purpose multi-vitamin will not serve the purpose of balancing out the deficient diet. This is because most commercial, all-purpose, multivitamins have low levels of nutrients as they are supposed to augment the commercial food and not balance homemade diets.
So even if you supplement a homemade diet with multivitamins, you may still not be able to balance the meals unless you have designed the meals keeping in mind the nutritional needs of your pet and the bioavailability of each ingredient.
Myth: If I make sure that I feed my pet healthy food then that is enough to fulfill the nutritional requirements!
Many of us assume that what we eat is good for our fur babies as well. If we eat healthy food and give the same to our furry, it may not necessarily be equally healthy and balanced for them.
We are physiologically different from dogs. The nutritional guidelines that work for humans do not work for canines. Humans are omnivorous and can thrive on vegetarian diets which is rich in carbohydrates. Dogs, on the other hand, need a higher percentage of protein in their diet that is ideally obtained from an animal source.
To have an active, healthy pet at home, we should ideally work out a diet plan for them independently and cook their meals separately. In all cases avoid the recipes that you make for human consumption that is rich in spices and fats.
Myth: A diet made up of only chicken or meat is enough for my dog because dogs don’t really need carbohydrates, grains, and vegetables!
It is true that our furry companion needs more protein. Protein is an integral part of their diet and should cover at least 40% of their calorie needs.
In the wild, dogs would generally feed on animal protein. Their teeth and intestine are also made to tear meat and digest it. So, it is preferred to fulfill their protein needs through animal proteins.
However, protein is not the only nutrients needed by your dog.
It is a common misconception that dogs do not require carbohydrate and grains are especially bad for them. But that is far from true!
Although your dog can metabolize adequate amount of glucose from a diet that consists solely of protein and fat and a diet that completely lacks in carbohydrate will not lead to any deficiency but that does not mean that carbs are bad for your furry.
Complex carbohydrates do provide a healthy dose of energy and aids in healthy gastrointestinal function.
When making a homemade diet for your furry, make sure that some portion of the diet does consist of complex carbohydrate in the form of rice, legumes, quinoa or starchy vegetables. Do keep in mind not to go overboard with carbohydrates as it may lead to weight gain. Always follow the AAFCO guidelines when designing the meal plan for your furry.
A moderate amount of vegetables adds vitamins and minerals to your furry’s bowl. Although your furry is getting an adequate amount of vitamins and minerals from the animal protein source also but the phytochemicals in the fruits and vegetables also helps build immunity.
However, it is important to use the veggies judiciously. Some vegetables have chemicals that may hamper the absorption of minerals and these should be avoided – like tomatoes, eggplants, peppers etc. These veggies contain an alkaloid, Solanine, that aggravates inflammation. Also, limit the dose of dark green leafy vegetables as they contain a high level of oxalate that may result in bladder stones.
Some vegetables like carrots, green beans, pumpkin, sweet potatoes are quite safe. These vegetables can be used as treats or as a low-calorie natural filler in the bowls of overweight ferries.
A homemade diet is a very healthy alternative to even the most premium commercial pet food that is out there in the market. However, it is important to do proper research and planning when designing the meals.
Although many veterinarians acknowledge that the commercial pet food is not the best but they may also be concerned about recommending a 100% homemade diet. This is because most pet parents make their own homemade diet plans for pets without proper knowledge and experience of canine nutrition.
If you want to shift your furry to homemade food that you prepare on your own then make sure you research multiple sources, talk to canine nutritionists and talk to vets. Make sure that the meal is nutritionally balanced as per AAFCO guidelines.
It is important to exercise caution and start slowly. Make a gradual shift when changing the diet of a furry. Also if your pet is a puppy, a senior or has some pre-existing health condition, every change in diet should be made after a thorough consultation with the vet.
Ideally, a homemade diet should be designed by an experienced veterinary nutritionist. A homecooked pet food that is exclusively designed for your furry is always the best.
However, it needs a lot of effort and time to prepare meals that are completely balanced and nutritionally appropriate for your furry.
Instead, let the experts handle it for you!
FurrMeals Home Cooked Pet Food is the best choice for complete, wholesome and balanced home-cooked meals. Recipes that are designed by experienced and practicing canine nutritionist, each meal is packed as per the individual needs of your pet. Frozen and vacuum packed in meal size packs – FurrMeals is most tasty, convenient and healthy way to feed your furry.