November 17, 2021 Diet

Why Cooking For Your Pet May Not Be As Healthy As You Think

A cat eating from a cheese board

Why Cooking For Your Pet May Not Be As Healthy As You Think

To me, nothing sounds better than a home cooked meal, and many of our pets can’t wait to get their paws on some table scraps, yet most pet owners feed their pet commercially-prepared foods with more than half of them relying on dry pet food. There’s good reason for this: store-bought pet food is formulated by professional veterinary nutritionists to ensure your pet gets all of the macro- and micronutrients they need to live long, healthy lives. However, if you have the time and inclination to treat your pet to a home-cooked meal, keep reading for tips, suggestions, and potential hazards below.

Canine and Feline Dietary Requirements

Dogs and cats are not just little furry people; their dietary requirements vary considerably from those of a human. For instance, cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that meat is a requirement in their diet, so a home-cooked vegan meal plan can leave them dangerously under-nourished. On the other hand, dogs have a greater need for calcium in their diet than humans. Despite many pet owners’ best intentions, scientific research confirms that home-cooked dog and cat foods lack adequate levels certain nutrients. Therefore, we recommend that no more than 10% of your pet’s calories come from home-cooked meals and treats.

Dietary Hazards for Pets

There are some common food items which are absolute no-no’s in pets. The foods to avoid include: onions, garlic, grapes and raisins. All this means you need to find the right recipe to safely cook for your pet.

Finding a Pet-Friendly Recipe

Pet-friendly recipes for home-cooked foods are widely available from Dr. Google and in books or magazines. However, an analysis of diets selected by owners of dogs with cancer found that none of the diets met the nutritional requirements of dogs. Similar issues were found when home-prepared diets for pets with kidney disease were studied.

If you decide to cook meals for your pet, the nutritionally best diet will be formulated by a board-certified veterinary nutritionist and will take into account your pet’s age, weight, body condition score and any medical conditions.

Diet Drift

One other issue with home-cooked diets for dogs is “diet drift.” Over time, very few owners are able to adhere to the prescribed diet for their dog, a phenomenon known as diet drift. Diet drift runs the risk of leaving your pet deficient in one or more vital nutrients.

Homemade Treats for Pets

Due to all of the potential pitfalls with home-cooked diets, I prefer to limit my pet-friendly cuisine to homemade treats. I have a dog biscuit cookbook by Bubba Rose that I use to make biscuits as gifts for my favorite dogs. The book also has some salmon-based recipes which I keep meaning to bake for by favorite cats. One recipe I have saved from the internet is for homemade medication pockets. Note: I do not support giving any raw meat to pets as suggested in the first points in the article. The recipe for homemade medication pockets is at the bottom of the article.

Pet-Safe Food for the Holidays

Thanksgiving is nearly here and many of us will want to share Thanksgiving dinner with our pets. For tips on pet safe foods for the holiday, read a previous blogpost on sharing turkey day dinner with your pets.

Tags: cooking for your pet, diet, home-cooked meals for pets, pet poisons,

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