If you'd like to cook for your dog, make sure you work from healthy, nutritionally complete recipes. Commercial dog foods must meet certain requirements for nutritional balance, and you must meet in homemade efforts. Your vet can steer you in the right direction for preparing homemade dog diets, or ask her about the suitability of particular veterinary-endorsed diets for your dog.
Your homemade meal must contain protein, fiber and carbohydrates. Puppies require about 25 percent protein in their meals, while 18 percent is sufficient for adults. However, protein needs change according to your dog's age and vary according to breed, so check out the right amount with your vet. You might have noticed that commercial dog foods often don't list the percentage of carbohydrates. That's because the proper percentage of carbs in the dog's diet is still not set in stone by the veterinary community and regulators. If you're making Fido's meals yourself, you have the freedom to purchase the freshest, highest-quality ingredients available. Make sure you weigh your dog frequently to verify he stays a healthy weight. Take your dog to the vet before starting the homemade diet so your vet can determine Fido's ideal weight.
Massachusetts' MSCPA-Angell Animal Medical Center provides sample recipes on its website for dogs weighing 15, 30 and 60 pounds. It recommends the same basic ingredients for all sizes, just at differing amounts. The primary protein source is dark chicken, but you can substitute with turkey, lamb, pork, beef or eggs in the same proportions. Carbohydrates might consist of pasta, white or brown rice, sweet potato, barley, peas, corn or oatmeal. Grains and meat should be cooked. Fiber comes from carrots, bell peppers, green beans, baby spinach, squash or broccoli but such fibrous matter should be no more than 10 percent of the dog's entire dietary intake. Vegetables can be cooked or uncooked. For a 15-pound dog, mix 3 ounces of the protein source, 1 1/3 cups of carbohydrates;,1 tablespoon of vegetables and 1 to 2 teaspoons of a fat source such as vegetable oil. For 30-pound dogs, use 4.5 ounces of the protein source, 2 cups of carbohydrates, 1.5 tablespoons of vegetables and 2 to 3 teaspoons of a fat source. For 60 pound dogs, mix 8 ounces of the protein source, 3.5 cups of carbohydrates; 3 tablespoons of vegetables and 3 to 5 teaspoons of a fat source. As a supplement, MSPCA-Angell AMC recommends Balance IT, available from veterinarians.
Founder's Veterinary Clinic of Brea, California, offers a sample recipe for 20-pound dogs that you can half for 10-pounders or doubled for 40-pound canines. It consists of 1/4 pound of cooked, skinless chicken; 1 cup of cooked brown rice; 1 cup of peas and carrots; 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil; and 1/4 teaspoon of a salt substitute. Substitutions for this recipe differ slightly from those allowed with the recipe from MSCPA-Angell Animal Medical Center in that FVC's allows boned fish as a protein source and potato as a carbohydrate. FVC suggests adding calcium citrate or bonemeal powder to ensure that your home cooking doesn't result in calcium deficiency. It also recommends a daily multiple vitamin designed for dogs.
Ask Your Vet
If your dog suffers from medical issues, you might need to adjust certain veterinary-endorsed diets. Ask your vet about your dog's special nutritional needs as well as for a recommendation for a certified veterinary nutritionist. The three of you can find a homemade diet that meets your pup's dietary requirements. Whether your dog has specific medical problems or not, you should always tell your vet that your dog eats a homemade diet. You should also add veterinarian-recommended supplements to the homemade diet's basic components.
You've probably heard of the raw diet, also known as the Biologically Appropriate Raw Food, or BARF, diet. The concept was developed by an Australian veterinarian, Dr. Ian Billinghurst. BARF's philosophy states that "the diet a dog evolved to eat -- over many millions of years of evolution -- is the best way to feed it." While you find might some veterinarians recommending raw foods for dogs, similar to what ancient canines ate, that's not the view of the American Veterinary Medical Association. The AVMA, along with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, don't recommend raw food diets because of the risk of bacterial contamination or possible public health risks.
- Founders Veterinary Clinic: Home Cooking -- The Alternative to Pet Foods
- WebMD: Homemade Dog Food
- American Veterinary Medical Association: Raw Pet Foods and the AVMA's Policy (FAQ)
- MSPCA Angell Animal Medical Center: Sample Recipes for Healthy Pets
- Dr. Ian Billinghurst: BARF Australia
- Whole Dog Journal: In the Dog 'Zone' - Best Canine Nutrition
- Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine: Nutrition for the Adult Dog
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