Pet Wellness: Homemade pet food – is it really what’s best for your pets?

Image credit: Flickr: davidchief

Pet food.

Possibly the most controversial animal-related topic I will ever write about. And while I am by no means an expert on the tricky topic of pet nutrition, like you and fellow pet parents concerned with keeping our pets healthy and happy, it’s undeniably a subject I’m curious about.

Even more so when I stumbled across this study from the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine that revealed that homemade pet food (which personally, I’d always thought might be the ‘best’ option in terms of pet nutrition) has the potential to be nutritionally deficient.

Homemade pet food … not the best option?

“In what is thought to be the largest ever nutritional evaluation of recipes for home-prepared dog foods, the researchers found that very few of 200 recipes analyzed provided all of the essential nutrients in amounts adequate for meeting established canine health standards.” Reported UC Davis on their blog.

But what is ‘very few’?

” … 95 percent of the 200 recipes examined resulted in food that was lacking in the necessary levels of at least one essential nutrient, and more than 83 percent of the recipes had multiple nutrient deficiencies.”

Okay. Wow. But then … what should we feed our pets?

To get some insight, I asked Dr. Joanna Paul of Creature Clinic (creatureclinic.com) to shed some light on the whole feeding-our-pets-properly thing.

An expert weighs in on the homemade pet food debate

“Some people believe domestic dogs are carnivores, but in truth they are omnivores. Cats are obligate carnivores.” Dr. Jo explains.

She continues,

“Most dogs don’t need a low carbohydrate diet. Most dogs don’t need a grain-free diet (in fact allergies to grains are very uncommon in dogs). There are a lot of fads in diets for pets just as there are in diets for people, and there are a lot of people with something to sell. It can be really difficult for pet owners to work out what’s good and what’s just hype.”

So, what’s a mindful pet parent to do?

“To me it makes sense that, like for people, the less processed food is the better. I think homemade diets are great, and I’m not against raw diets either. I don’t think they are for everybody though, and if you’re not committed to doing it right mistakes can be made.”

But what about commercial pet food?

“Commercial pet food isn’t evil, and I would never judge someone for feeding it to their pet.” Dr. Jo reassures me.  “It’s not necessarily the best option for every pet, but a good quality commercial food is nutritionally complete and balanced, and I’ve seen many pets live long healthy lives on these diets. There are commercial foods specifically designed for dogs with kidney failure, diabetes, obesity, and other problems, that improve quality and length of life.

I see my job as supporting the decision owners make for feeding their pets, whether it be commercial, home-cooked, or raw, and helping to ensure whichever it is, it is balanced and the right number of calories are given.  Obesity is the most common health problem in dogs, so whatever they are eating, we need to ensure they aren’t having too much.”

Great advice, Dr. Jo.

But what do you think? What are you feeding your pets? And how do you feel about homemade pet vs. commercial food?

And don’t forget to check out Creature Clinic for lots of pet-related goodness!

Disclaimer: Please consult your trusted vet or holistic animal health expert before making any changes to your pet’s diet or lifestyle. While I aim to offer well-researched and balanced articles, I am by no means as well-informed as your trusted veterinarian. Please use your own inner guidance and the wisdom of the pro’s when making decisions regarding your pet’s wellbeing.

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