Homemade Dog Food: What You Need to Know
Most dog (and cat) owners are seriously concerned about the safety of the commercial pet food that they are using. With the pet food scares and recalls that are all over the news recently, more and more dog owners want to prepare their own nutritious dog food for their loving companions. However, a balanced diet for you or I is not the same as the one required by our furry friends. Their nutritional requirements are slightly different and these differences need to be taken into consideration for them to have a healthy balanced diet. The 3 major ingredients are discussed below.
Dogs require a significant quantity of protein in their diet, whether from a concentrated meat source or some other vegetable protein source. This is the first and foremost ingredient in a dog's diet. Examples of good protein sources would be chicken, beef, lamb (including organ meat) as well as fish, eggs and cheese.
Essential fatty Acids
The second most important requirement is fatty acids. Of these, Linoleic Acid (Omega 6) is the most important as it is the only one that dogs can't make themselves. Examples of good Omega 6 sources would be vegetables, vegetable oils, grains and fruits.
Calcium is another important requirement for dogs. They actually need significantly more than their human companions. Examples of good sources of calcium for dogs would be animal bones which they can chew and calcium supplements obtained from vegetable sources. The disadvantages of calcium from bones are that they may contain disease ("mad cow" disease), have a high amount of phosphorous and contain toxic elements like arsenic, lead, mercury, & radioactive strontium.
Foods to Avoid
There are several foods that you should avoid when making meals for your pet dog.
· Onions and garlic - the thiosulfates in these foods are actually very toxic to animals and can potentially cause the red blood cells to burst resulting in haemolytic anaemia.
· Chocolate and cocoa products - chocolate contains theobromine which can be poisonous to dogs when eaten in large quantities
· Raisins and grapes - large quantities of these can cause liver failure
· Macadamia nuts - small quantities can cause temporary paralysis
· Avocados- the plant and the fruit are toxic to dogs
· Raw meat - the book is out on this one as many people advocate giving raw meat to their dogs. However, there is a chance that your dog (and you) will get sick from food-born parasites. Remember, if you do feed your dog raw meat, to practice safe food handling procedures. Also practice safe handling of your dog's waste as, although salmonella rarely affects dogs, they can pass it in their feces.
· Cooked poultry bones - these bones can splinter and kill your dog.
If you are thinking of changing your dog's diet to a home made one, you should consult with your dog's veterinarian, just like humans consult a physician for major changes in their diet. He/she is your best source of information on pet nutrition and can advise you on creating a balanced home diet. Dietary changes should be made gradually as rapid changes in diet can cause stomach upset or discourage your dog from eating. Just remember that to stay fit, healthy and active your dog needs a nutritious and well balanced diet.