Home-cooked versus commercial pet food
The saying goes, “you are what you eat”. The same applies to dogs. It’s natural to want to feed our dogs the healthiest diet to improve the quality of their lives. One of the common questions asked is “should I give my dog home-cooked food or commercial pet food?”. There is no simple answer, but by making informed choices, you can look after your pet’s nutrition effectively.
Making your own dog food has the advantage of giving you complete control over what your dog eats. This makes home-cooked food a great option for dogs with food sensitivities or health concerns. Having said that, the two most important issues to consider with a home-cooked diet is food safety and nutritional integrity.
Focusing on nutritional integrity, a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science, 25 September 2014, titled “Evaluation of the owner’s perception in the use of homemade diets for the nutritional management of dog” found that most homemade diets lack essential nutrients. There are two reasons for this:
A home-cooked diet requires an understanding of your pet’s nutritional requirements, the composition of food substances, the formulation process and much more. For instance, a puppy requires a higher amount of energy, protein, calcium, and phosphorus for growth compared to a senior dog. Many times humans may not fully understand these nutritional needs when providing a homemade diet. Even diets based on wholesome, fresh ingredients can still come up low in various vitamins and minerals.
2. The nutritional adequacy of home-cooked diets also depends on the owner’s ability to strictly follow a recommended nutrition plan/recipe. Lack of adequately controlling the ingredient proportions and alterations in the ingredients used may change the nutritional composition of the diet, exposing the animals to nutritional imbalances.
Commercial pet food
Commercial dog food brands (and their ingredients) are regulated by various administrative bodies. The food must meet nutritional guidelines and if the food doesn’t meet the guidelines, then the food is to be used as a supplement. As such, store-bought food offers optimal nutrition, palatability, and digestibility for your pet. Many pet owners use these dog foods because they are simple, relativity inexpensive, less time consuming and convenient in the long term.
So what’s the conclusion?
Opting for a solely homemade diet may not be the best choice for your dog’s nutritional needs. Whilst the common thought may be that homemade food is fresh and “less processed”, it may not always constitute complete food for dogs. But that does not mean that homemade food is not good for your pet. As with everything, a fine balance is needed. If you are considering opting for a homemade diet then seek advice from a pet nutritionist and follow the diet plan and recipe exactly. Remember, feeding homemade food to your dog requires considerable time and planning.