In Part 1, I explained how to choose a quality dog food from the plethora of brands and flavors on the market. The alternative to commercial diets is creating and preparing your pet’s food at home. This option has gained popularity in recent years with the contamination scares and movements to improve our own diet and health.
Feeding Raw or Homemade Diets
Before the invention of dog food, household pets were fed “people food”. These types of diets worked because they were as varied and nutritious as their owner’s diets, and foods were not filled with preservatives and other impossible to pronounce ingredients. We are now starting to see more disease, allergies, and illness in our pets, and it could have something to do with the quality of the food we are feeding our animals. I like to imagine how I feel when I’ve eaten badly for a few days – say nothing but pizza, chips, & soda. I feel run down and sluggish, my immune system is craving vitamins and nutrients that junk foods don’t provide. A diet like that can be compared to feeding a low quality pet food. Imagine going your whole life on nothing but junk food and preservatives. Thankfully, the pet food industry is following suit and has steadily been improving their offerings.
Making homemade pet food is something I started just a few weeks ago. Before you plunge into making your own pet food, I strongly recommend that you do some research on the subject so that you know the nutritional requirements of your pets, as well as any additional supplements that you may need to provide. I started by doing some simple calculations to see how many calories my boys need to consume in one day. There are a lot of differences of opinion when it comes to how much protein/carbohydrate/vegetable content there needs to be in your pet’s diet. Using my own research and the help of my vet, I decided on a diet that complements my pets’ lifestyle and activity level. Look for more posts in the future on my experiments in dog and cat cuisine.
There is another re-emerging trend in pet food too – feeding raw food diets. Many proponents of this diet feel that feeding a raw diet is more natural, similar to the diet of your pet’s wild ancestors and that cooking the meat your pets eat depletes the nutrients it provides. There are also prepared raw foods made by Nature’s Variety available in patties or nuggets that you can feed your dog if you aren’t quite ready to feed them half a chicken!
The Importance of Supplements
No matter what kind of diet you decide to feed your pets, they are likely lacking some of the basic nutrients needed to keep them at their best. Our pets have a higher calcium requirement that we do, so calcium should be added to the food. A common source for adding calcium is bone meal, plain non-fat yogurt is another way to go. For a healthy, shiny coat, add Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to your pet’s diet with fish oil. A daily doggie multivitamin can help you provide the basic vitamins required for a healthy immune system.
I hope this article has helped put you on a path to better health for your pets. Having an awareness of what your pets are eating and making simple changes can reward you and your pet with a healthier, longer life.
Book: The Whole Pet Diet; 8 Weeks to great health for dogs and cats by Andi Brown
Book: Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats by Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, PhD