Do You Need a Commercial Kitchen to Make Pet Foods?by Valerie A. Modreski
Some pet parents are making the switch to homemade foods.
The pet food industry often reflects the lengths pet parents are willing go for their furry friends, and the trend for homemade pet food is a prime example. Pet parents might think an industrial sized commercial kitchen is necessary to prepare pet foods at home, but that's just not true.
Home Appliances Will Suffice
Meeting your pets nutritional requirements by cooking from scratch might seem like a daunting task, but the production of pet food companies can be duplicated in an average home kitchen. Pet food companies use many of the same cooking techniques as we do, albeit on a much larger scale, and utilize similar materials and appliances. For homemade dry food, a dough mixture is blended with the use of a food processor, then baked in a conventional oven. A wire rack is used for cooling, and the finished product is a half inch sheet of dense, crumbly material, ready to serve at mealtime. For wet pet foods, meat products are pressed through a meat grinder, boiled, drained in a colander, cooled and mixed in a food processor with cooked or raw vegetables, and grains.
Canning in a Home Kitchen
One difference between commercially prepared pet food and pet food made in a home kitchen is that commercial foods offer an advantage when it comes to storage. However, the canning process can be duplicated at home and allows pet parents to store foods for a time when fresh is unavailable or inconvenient. According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, food canned in a home-based kitchen is safe to eat for one year. Commercially canned foods contain preservatives and can be stored for longer periods of time, while veterinarian research shows homemade canned foods will lose nutritional value over time. To can pet foods in a home-based kitchen, you'll need a pressure canner, a canning essentials kit and mason jars with rubber gasket reinforced lids.
Meeting a Pet's Nutritional Needs with Homemade Food
Commercially produced pet food kitchens incorporate vitamins and mineral supplements into their food ingredients, and meals made at home must do the same. In order to meet the nutritional requirements of your pet, make certain his daily diet contains a protein source, carbohydrates, sufficient vitamins and minerals and a little fat. Check with your dog's veterinarian prior to giving him supplements, as even the most benign supplements can be dangerous if the dosage is not right. Many of the common supplementation for pets can be purchased locally and stored in your kitchen's refrigerator or pantry. You can purchase ingredients at health food and holistic establishments, but the local grocery store might also suffice.
Safe Storage and Sustainability
Although the cooking process kills bacteria in homemade pet food, your culinary compilation can be exposed to more bacteria during the cooling, drying and packing process. Commercial pet food companies take special care to avoid spoilage and so should you. Never let dry food get wet once it's finished and stored, as this allows bacteria on the food surface to multiply. Do not add water, canned food, milk or other liquids prior to feeding. Always check with your veterinarian prior to making any changes concerning your pet's diet. Most homemade pet food is made in batch portioned meals for a week. Do not keep stored pet food for longer than a week and promptly freeze any overage.
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