You may be anxious to flex your culinary muscles for your pup, which can be great for both of you. Duke probably will appreciate a tasty, healthy alternative to kibble and you may save some spare change. Keep in mind, it's not about ingredients, but more about nutrition.
Though it requires time and effort, cooking for Duke gives you ultimate control over his diet. During the past several years, there's been controversy surrounding pet foods, including the safety of manufactured pet food and the wisdom of feeding dogs and cats raw food. Homemade cooked food for pets has evolved into a satisfactory middle ground for many people, including veterinarians, provided the diet meets the animal's specific nutritional needs.
Dr. Ronald Hines recommends protein ingredients comprise 20 to 45 percent of a dog's diet. Options include ground beef, ground turkey, ground chicken, fish, eggs and dairy. If Duke loves beef, try a mixture of two-thirds to three-quarters of extra lean beef, with ground chuck filling out the balance; Duke will meet his dietary fat requirements without the benefit of supplements. Turkey that has 7 to 15 percent fat will work well in a homemade diet for a dog that isn't watching his weight. If your pup has a taste for seafood, salmon is a good choice, with high omega-3 fatty acids and low mercury. Dr. Hines recommends limiting fish to two meals per week. Whole cooked eggs and cottage cheese are good sources of protein, though some dogs may have a difficult time digesting the cow's milk in cottage cheese.
According to Dr. Hines, carbohydrates can comprise between 20 and 35 percent of Duke's diet. Rice is a solid choice because it contains protein, as well as important minerals, such as phosphorus. If your pooch enjoys macaroni, it can be added to the mix, as wheat products don't tend to cause dogs problems. Cooked potatoes are also fine and provide fiber and vitamin B-6. Dr. Hines recommends adding high fiber carbs such as oatmeal, canned pumpkin, cooked carrots and sweet peas gradually to the diet to avoid developing diarrhea.
Fat, Minerals and Vitamins
Fat is important to Duke and should comprise about 5 to 10 percent of his diet. Chicken fat, beef suet and flax seed oil are a few options for add-ins if your pup isn't getting sufficient fat from his protein. The basic ingredients for protein usually aren't quite enough to ensure your dog's proper nutrition because meat and fish are too low in calcium and vitamins. Calcium carbonate antacid tablets are a fine addition to the homemade mix. A professional supplement, such as Balance IT, may give you peace of mind that Duke's getting the minerals he needs. Too much of one vitamin can be as harmful as a deficiency, so it's not a good idea to add vitamin supplements just in case. If you're serving a well-balanced diet, you won't need to worry about supplements.
Research is Important
If you want to cook for Duke, do your research to be sure your recipes are balanced and nutritious. It's also a good idea to consult your vet to make sure your pup doesn't have any special needs or issues to consider. Your vet should be able to guide you on the potential need and use of supplements.