November 5, 2009

Here’s our take on preparing your pet’s food yourself: done properly, it can provide a healthy, nutritious and tasty alternative to many commercial pet foods on the market. Lots of manufacturers will caution you against feeding table scraps or preparing your pet’s meals yourself, and the real reason is that they want you to feed more of the stuff they make!

But – humans don’t expect to maintain optimal health on a diet that consists entirely of breakfast cereal or fast food — and we should not expect our pets to eat the same food day after day, either. The truth is, every other species on the planet besides those who have been domesticated, eats a varied diet consisting of different foods, to provide a broader spectrum of nutrition.

That’s why, at the Honest Kitchen, advocate the addition of healthy table scraps and other home made extras, right along with your companion’s Honest Kitchen meals. We can even help provide guidance on special needs diets if required. With the exception of Preference (which must have protein added, before serving), all our dehydrated foods can be fed as stand alone diets, so if you don’t have the time or interest, it’s fine to feed these foods alone with out additional ingredients mixed in. On the other hand, creating home prepared meals can be fun and rewarding and most pets thoroughly enjoy a little variety in their daily fare.

Many pet food companies and even some veterinarians caution pet owners not to feed home cooked or raw diets. For those who have been raising their animals to lead long, healthy lives by doing so for many years, this information is most irritating! And when you think about it, many of us are able to raise our human children on a varied home-made diet so there really isn’t any logical reason why we shouldn’t be able to do the same for our pets as well. The secret lies in dietary variety, and not feeding the exact same thing every day.

It certainly takes some homework to prepare balanced, nutritional meals (the Whole Dog Journal is an excellent resource) — but it’s not all that much trickier than providing our children with wholesome nutrition, when a broad array of foods is offered throughout the week:

  • Ground meat (beef and turkey are ready available from human food markets), as well as chicken, rabbit, buffalo, and lamb can be served raw or cooked depending on what you are comfortable with.
  • Raw meaty bones such as chicken necks or backs. We recommend grinding RMB’s or pre-grinding them to begin with to allow your pet to get used to them. Never feed cooked bones!
  • Raw (or lightly cooked) organs and other muscle meats as well as low sodium canned fish are also popular, once or twice a week. We suggest ½ to one cup of meats for each dry-measured cup of the food.
  • Raw or cooked fish such as cod, mackerel, sole, haddock (salmon should be cooked).
  • Plain yogurt,
  • Cottage cheese
  • Keffir
  • Fresh fruits such as melon, blueberries & peach (not grapes or raisins), as well as dried fruit such as cranberries or pitted dates.
  • Vegetables such as kale, yams, pumpkin, parsnips (root veggies should be lightly steamed or pulped to aid digestibility),
  • Fresh herbs such as parsley and dandelion
  • Ground nuts such as almonds also make an interesting add-in – although macadamia nuts should be avoided.
  • Recreational bones such as raw beef marrow (soup) bones should be offered once or twice a week to help maintain dental health and keep your keep your dog mentally stimulated.

Remember, always check with your veterinarian before making changes to your pet’s diet, especially when underlying health conditions exist. If necessary, find a holistic veterinarian who is familiar with the benefits of home prepared pet food

**Ingredients to Avoid**
  • Chocolate
  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Onions

If you feed our Honest Kitchen dehydrated human grade recipes as a base for your home prepared fare, you can really add as many or as few of our suggested ingredients as you wish, depending on time and convenience. As a general guide, we recommend 1/2 to 1 cup of extra ingredients for each dry-measured cup of the food.

Using Preference, where additional protein is mandatory to create a balanced meal, we suggest 1 to 2 cups of extras, for each dry-measured cup of Preference.