In the early 2000's I taught many homemade dog and cat food "cooking" classes at Whole Foods and other places around Colorado and New Mexico. I even produced two videos on how to prepare them, including explaining the importance of understanding the unique needs of cats versus dogs. Since then, all sorts of frozen raw meals have become available, making feeding raw diets that much easier.
However, lately a lot more attention has been given to the vitamin/mineral ratios and micro-managing of homemade diets. Is that necessary?
Do we need to measure every last thing when creating homemade raw or lightly cooked meals for our animals?
What are the pros and cons of making your own food?
1) You know exactly what's in the food because you shop for and choose the ingredients.
2) You can easily substitute different meats and alternate veggies, changing nutrients and adding necessary variety to your companion's meals.
3) The food is fresher and more nutrient dense, especially if you buy local, organic, pasture-raised, etc.
4) Price. You can shop around for the best prices, freeze meats and organic veggies on sale and use later.
1) The challenge of supplementing and balancing. Actually, I think it's easier than many will lead you to believe. There's a fabulous supplement designed for the homemade diet for cats AND dogs at FelineInstincts.com Add an omega 3. (My favorite is the clean, sustainably grown Moxxor, green lipped mussel.) Then add any specific extras your animal needs (joint support, organ support, allergy or extra immune support... that you're adding anyway to the other food you were feeding.)
2) Time. Yes, it takes time to prepare homemade meals. However, it's easier if you set aside an evening a month or weekend day, depending on how many animals and meals you want to make, then refrigerate or freeze enough for the month. (That's what I did).
3) Storage. It depends on the number and size of your companions if this is an issue or not.
4) Price. It can be more expensive to buy fresh meats, vegetables and supplements unless you shop around and take advantage of sales. However, balanced homemade meals may save you a great deal of money in the long run as your animal does not develop expensive to treat conditions and diseases from poor quality processed pet food ingredients and unknown additives.
It's important to do your research and choose what's best for your animals, your budget and time. Here's a great article by Dr. Karen Becker, "The Three Biggest Mistakes Owners Make with Homemade Dog Food."
You don't even need to switch entirely to homemade meals to make a positive difference in your companion's health. Here are two of my favorite books with recipes and other excellent info: Paleo Dog, by Jean Hofve DVM, and Celeste Yarnall, PhD. and What Cats Should Eat, by Dr. Jean Hofve
For input from your dog or cats on what they specifically need included in their meals, and/or to fine tune what you're already doing, please contact me for a session.
With Love, Your Voice of Animals,