November 4, 2009

Done properly, a homemade diet can provide a healthy, nutritious and tasty alternative to many commercial pet foods on the market.

Many larger commercial pet food manufacturers caution against feeding table scraps or preparing your pet’s meals yourself – really there is no biological reason for this, more so to keep you feeding anything but THEIR food.

Common sense tells us that we can’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. 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.

There are lots of benefits to a varied diet – not least the fact that the wider selection of ingredients actually helps to provide ‘healthy stress’ to the body’s digestive system. This stimulates the production of different enzymes and ‘tones’ the GI tract as it responds and works to digest to the array of foods it’s presented with. Compare this with a non-stop regimen of something resembling processed breakfast cereal every day – the same enzymes are produced and since there are no unprocessed ingredients that require work to glean nutrients from, the system becomes ‘lazy’ and starts to function sub-optimally.

It 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.

There are challenges of preparing your pet’s food:

  • It takes some homework to prepare balanced meals, but when a broad array of foods is offered throughout the week, it’s not much trickier than providing our children.
  • Homemade meals can be time consuming to prepare, and messy as well.
  • Decisions need to be made about whether to use cooked or raw food, based on your pet’s age and state of health, as well as what you’re comfortable with.
  • This can involve research and consultation with your vet. Some vets advise against homemade meals, and if this causes a conflict, it may be necessary to locate an alternative vet who will support and assist you with your decision.
  • If you have larger animals or a multi-pet household, ingredient storage can become an issue. A dedicated chest freezer might be a wise investment, so you can store raw ingredients and finished meals.

Remember, always check with your veterinarian before making changes to your pet’s diet, especially when underlying health conditions exist.

Some Ingredients to Avoid in Your Pet’s Food
  • Chocolate
  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Onions
  • Cooked or Raw?

Actually participating in the preparation of your pet’s meals is a new concept for some people, but once you understand and witness the benefits of serving fresh, healthy, home prepared food that’s been created with your own hands – and infused with love and good intent – the habit will likely become a part of your routine. Even if it’s just a more occasional treat, the fun of making (and sometimes actually sharing) the food that your animal companion consumes, is novel and rewarding for everyone!

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