I’ve always thought I walk a reasonable line when it comes to homemade dog food. For most owners, myself included, the convenience of having a reputable company design and manufacture a diet that meets all of my dog’s nutritional needs simply can’t be beat. But for those owners who are willing to go the extra mile for their pets, home cooked meals made according to recipes designed by veterinary nutritionists can be a nutritious and delicious option.
I’ve just run across an article that is making me question this line of thought, however.
Fifty-nine owners and their dogs who were prescribed homemade diets by the Clinical Nutrition Service, Teaching Veterinary Hospital of the College of Agrarian and Veterinarian Sciences, São Paulo State University were included in the study. The dogs were thoroughly evaluated and then…
…a nutritionally complete and balanced homemade diet was prescribed. The ingredients used in the recipes included cooked rice, potato, beef, chicken, bovine or chicken liver, carrots, green beans, fish oil supplements, salt, soyabean oil, dicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate and dried yeast, as well as commercially available vitamin, mineral and amino acid supplements to fulfil minor nutrient requirements. Not all ingredients were used in all diets…
All owners received a written recipe that included the daily amounts of each one of the prescribed ingredients. The veterinary nutritionist carefully explained to owners the importance of following the recipe, the reasons for not changing the type or amount of each ingredient, the nutritional importance of each ingredient used, and details on how to prepare and feed the diet.
What could possibly go wrong?
Well… the scientists surveyed the owners about their experiences with the homemade diets. Some did not end up feeding the prescribed diets, but for the 46 who completed the study:
30.4% admitted they had changed the recipe.
40% did not adequately control the amount of provided ingredients.
73.9% did not use the recommended amounts of soyabean oil and salt.
28.3% did not use the vitamin, mineral, or amino acid supplements.
I find this last point the most shocking. Almost 30% of these owners who received in depth explanations as to the importance of following their recipes did not use their vitamin, mineral, or amino acid supplements AT ALL! Given enough time, these dogs could develop serious nutritional deficiencies.
So before you consider feeding your dog a homemade diet, have a heart-to-heart with yourself and honestly answer these two questions:
Are you willing to take on the extra effort and expense needed to prepare your dog’s food from a recipe designed specifically to meet his or her particular needs (age, health status, etc.)?
Will you follow that recipe and not make any changes to it unless you first consult with your dog’s nutritionist?
Dr. Jennifer Coates
Evaluation of the owner's perception in the use of homemade diets for the nutritional management of dogs. Oliveira MC, Brunetto MA, da Silva FL, Jeremias JT, Tortola L, Gomes MO, Carciofi AC. J Nutr Sci. 2014 Sep 25;3:e23.
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