Making food at home is as popular for dog food as it is for human food, but is it the best way to feed your dog? Probably not — here’s why.
Making food homemade has become one of the most popular ways to feed your family and your children healthy, organic foods. Part of the reason for this is how confusing the labeling process has become.
Some labels may say similar things but mean different things altogether. For instance, while one food may be labeled as all-natural, it can still contain low-quality ingredients, fillers, artificial ingredients, preservatives, a number of harmful chemicals, or natural ingredients that just aren’t very nutritious.
Homemade dog food has become a popular way to navigate the confusion of labeling and trying to understand what’s really in your dog food.
If you’re fed up with your dog food and are considering making homemade dog food yourself, here are a few things you should know before you bust out the apron and mixing bowl.
Pros of Homemade Dog Food
If you’re considering making homemade dog food, here’s a closer look at some of the benefits.
One of the benefits of making your dog’s food at home is that you can easily manage their diet and what’s going into their bodies without having to dissect an ingredient list.
For instance, if your dog has an allergy to chicken, soy, corn, or wheat, you will be able to easily avoid these products when making your own food instead of having to look for them on dog food labels.
You will also be able to put your dog on whatever diet you’d like when making homemade dog food, as you decide what goes into the food and what doesn’t. So, if you want to try using raw meat in your dog’s food, making food homemade is one option for doing so.
Another benefit of making dog food from the comfort of your own home is that you can guarantee freshness every time.
Instead of navigating the different freshness claims of dog food companies, you can buy your own fresh ingredients and make them whenever your dog needs to eat, instead of having to preserve them.
Easy To Eliminate Harmful Ingredients
Lastly, making homemade dog food is an easy way to eliminate harmful ingredients. Many companies have vague food labels on dog food that can mean a lot more than what’s on the surface.
For instance, some dog foods may have “meat meal” listed as a main ingredient, but this can include all the leftover parts of the animal like feathers, feet, bones, and beak. In addition, wheat and corn are often used in unnecessary amounts as filler ingredients to get your dog full faster instead of providing them with the nutrition they need.
When you make your dog food from home, you can ensure the ingredients you use are fresh, organic, and don’t include any unnecessary additives or harmful ingredients.
If your dog has a health condition or is overweight, homemade dog food is an easier way to carefully monitor what they're eating and ensure they’re not getting an overabundance of corn or wheat.
Cons of Homemade Dog Food
While the pros of homemade dog food seem promising, it’s important to be aware of some of the cons of homemade dog food too.
Lack of Micronutrients
Your dog needs a complex variety of macronutrients and micronutrients in different quantities and from different sources.
When you make dog food from home, it’s much more difficult to ensure your dog is getting each nutrient they need, especially in terms of getting what they need consistently.
Balance is one of the most important aspects of a diet that determines its effectiveness. You’ve probably been told the importance of “eating the rainbow” and getting a variety of different foods to ensure you’re getting the right nutrients.
The same is true for your dog. They need a balance of all sorts of different foods, nutrients, and vitamins in order to stay happy and healthy.
One of the biggest mistakes when making dog food at home is creating an imbalance in your dog’s diet, even if you don’t mean to.
You may end up giving your dog too much of one type of nutrient, which can lead to deficiencies in others and eventually result in health issues.
For example, if you were to give your dog an excessive amount of vitamin D in their diet, this could result in renal problems or urinary issues, and even serious health issues such as hypercalcemia. This could throw your dog’s health off and result in a lack of one sort of vitamin due to an excess of another.
Doing so much as giving them the same breakfast every day can throw them off their A-game.
Not Knowing What Ingredients Are Truly Best
Another reason why homemade dog food isn’t recommended is that you may not completely understand which ingredients are best for your dog.
There is a long list of foods that are toxic or poisonous to dogs, as well as ones that can cause irritation and sensitivity. For example, grapes, raisins, garlic, onions, chives, chocolate, caffeine, and certain vegetables are toxic to dogs; don’t even get us started on the wide range of food allergies and sensitivities dogs can have, too.
Not only do you have to avoid these, but you have to understand which ingredients are the richest source of the nutrients your dog needs, and how much to give them.
While these are easy enough to learn with the right resources and effort, it can be time-consuming and difficult to keep track of as you make homemade dog food.
Things To Know About Making Homemade Dog Food
At the end of the day, how you feed your dog is your choice as a pup parent. So, if you decide to put your dog on a completely homemade dog food diet, or incorporate homemade food into their regular feeding schedule, here are some things you should know.
Know Which Ingredients To Use
Knowing which ingredients to avoid and which to use in your dog’s food is vital to cultivate the right diet for your dog.
It’s critical to avoid filler ingredients, any allergies your dog may have, and all toxic ingredients that could be poisonous to your dog, such as grapes and garlic.
For more information on which ingredients your dog can and can’t have, check out our vet-written pieces about it here. If you’ve ever wondered if apples, watermelon, carrots, or bananas are okay for your dog’s food, you can find these answers and more!
Know Where To Get Your Ingredients
Even if you follow a recipe perfectly, you can still use ingredients that aren’t the best for your canine companion. It’s important to stay away from any canned fruits or vegetables, as these have preservatives like salt and sugar that aren’t ideal for your dog’s GI tract.
Instead, get your ingredients fresh, organic if possible, and always from high-quality sellers. Head to your local farmer’s market and find your fruits and veggies there for guaranteed freshness!
Be Prepared for Dietary Changes
Dietary changes can have a big impact on your dog. If your dog is sensitive or allergic to a new food you’re putting in their diet, they may have a reaction or show symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea.
In addition, dogs need a while to slowly adjust to a new diet. Be sure to carefully observe your dog’s behavior and stool to track any changes after beginning a homemade dog food diet.
Human-Grade: The Alternative to Homemade
While making dog food from home is a great way to avoid disappointing dog food that contains more filler than actual nutrients, there are many potential risks and mistakes as well.
Overall, homemade dog food is not recommended because of the difficulty of creating a balanced, nutritious diet for your loyal friend with the correct amount of micronutrients, macronutrients, and everything in between.
There’s a reason food science is a thing, you know.
If you feel fed up with most dog food brands for including harmful chemicals, preservatives, synthetic ingredients, additives, while advertising to be “all-natural and balanced,” we do, too.
Luckily, there’s an alternative to homemade dog food.
Human-grade dog food is dog food made with the same standards you’d apply to your own food, and the best dog foods like Sundays for Dogs produce just this type of dog food. Human-grade dog food is an excellent way to ditch filler ingredients and harmful chemicals without the danger of imbalance in your dog’s diet.
Making dog food from home isn’t for everyone. Be sure to carefully consider the pros and cons of homemade dog food before making your decision, and be aware of the alternatives you have to homemade dog food that will ensure your dog’s nutrition with every bite.
So, can you make your own dog food? The answer is technically yes, but homemade dog food is just not recommended due to the possibility of imbalance, lack of micronutrients, and improper ingredients.
Sundays for Dogs is an excellent alternative to homemade dog food because it holds food to the same standard you do, while doing all the work to make sure it includes the nutrients your pup needs.