Homemade dog diets can help put your mind at ease about what's in your dog's food. Homemade foods aren't too difficult to prepare, either, so your pooch can have a healthy, gourmet meal every night. The domestic dog's digestive tract has evolved from those of wolves to more readily accept many of the foods humans eat, such as certain carbohydrates. Knowing what ingredients to use can mean the difference between a well-balanced meal or a snack that's not nutritionally complete.
Before switching your pup's diet, always consult with your veterinarian. If you're putting your pooch on a diet, your vet can let you know which foods to avoid and which ones to add to help keep his weight in check. Your vet can also recommend certain foods if your pet has any special health concerns or is showing symptoms of nutritional deficiencies.
Protein should make up a 18 percent of the adult dogs' diets. When you make the food yourself, you know a little bit more about the origins of the protein. Protein contains amino acids, the "building blocks of life." Dogs need to ingest certain amino acids their bodies don't make; these are known as essential amino acids. Lean, skinless chicken, turkey, fish, eggs and cottage cheese are common in homemade dog food recipes. Lean beef and lamb also are relatively common. If your pooch is on a diet, stick with leaner cuts of meat. Though raw diets have increased in popularity, thoroughly cooked meats are safer for your dog according to the American Veterinary Medicine Association. The AVMA recommends cooking the animal-based protein to eliminate pathogens such as E. coli, salmonella and listeria.
Carbs provide your pet with a quick source of energy, and many dogs love the taste of certain carbohydrates. Brown rice, cooked whole-wheat pasta or whole-wheat, whole-grain breads can serve as the carbohydrate source in his diet. Pumpkin, cooked potatoes, sweet potatoes or sweet peas are also fiber-rich carbohydrate sources for your pooch. Spinach, cooked carrots and green beans are readily accepted by most pooches and provide him with needed vitamins and minerals.
Fat is another requirement that provides energy to your dog. Adding a small amount of flax seed oil or chicken fat can supply your dog with his needed fat content, particularly if the protein ingredient is low in fat. Healthy fats include Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids such as EPA and DHA help with inflammation; Omega-6 fatty acids, such as linolenic acid, help with your dog's skin. Sunflower and safflower oil contain high amounts of linolenic acid, while fish oils contain high amounts of EPA and DHA. Certain minerals, particularly calcium, need to be in your pup's diet. Crushed egg shells and calcium-rich veggies will do the trick.
- Drs. Foster and Smith: Protein in Pet Food FAQs
- 2ndChance.info: Home Cooked Pet Diets, Home Made Recipes and Pet Nutrition
- National Academies: Your Dog's Nutritional Needs
- Founders Veterinary Clinic: Home Cooking: The Alternative to Pet Foods
- Science: Diet Shaped Dog Domestication
- AVMA: Raw or Undercooked Animal-Source Protein in Cat and Dog Diets
- Drs. Foster and Smith: Fatty Acids for Healthy Coats FAQs
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