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If you’re a dog owner, you’ve probably thought about making your own homemade dog food at some point. After all, homemade anything is usually better for you than store bought, right? Well, when it comes to homemade dog food vs store-bought, there are pros and cons to both. Let’s take a closer look:
Homemade Dog Food
- You know exactly what ingredients are going into your dog’s food, so you can be sure that they’re eating healthy and nutritious meals.
- Prepare fresh dog food according to the dietary needs of your dog. You can swap out ingredients or cultivate your own ingredients with home prepared diet.
- You can completely avoid filler ingredients and guarantee the quality of your dogs meal.
- Even picky eaters love freshly made dog food at home! If you have a pooch who needs convincing to eat, you’ll find that making their food in your own kitchen actually motivates their diet.
- When prepared properly to meet the nutritional needs of dogs, homemade food can actually promote weight loss and make it easy for your pet to maintain healthy mass.
- Preparing your own food gives you total control over the ingredients. This expands the diet of the dog and exposes them to other minerals that they ordinarily wouldn’t get through your typical commercial meals. See our fresh dog food vs dry kibble comparison to know more.
- With proper planning, homemade foods can actually complement your grocery list. The food you buy for yourself can be used for the pets, allowing you to save money by buying in bulk.
- Homemade pet foods are almost always wet. This means that there’s more water involved in each meal, ensuring that your pets are hydrated even when they eat. The added moisture also makes them feel fuller faster. This is why wet feed are usually great for weight maintenance.
- Issues during transition from commercial to homemade or fresh meals for dogs are always a possibility. However, once the pooch gets used to the new meals, you’ll find that homemade typically allows for better and firmer poops.
- It can be time consuming to make homemade dog food plus the cost of buying fresh food to cook may be more expensive in the long run. There are dog food delivery service platforms, however, that offers healthy homemade meals.
- Pathogens  are a real risk when cooking for your dog. An improperly prepared meal may contain bacteria due to wrongful handling of the food.
- Homemade dog food tends to have a shorter shelf life.
- Figuring out what ingredients or how much food to serve can be difficult during the first few servings.
Store-Bought Dog Food:
- It’s quick and easy to feed your dog store-bought food, and you can be sure that it contains all the nutrients they need.
- Store bought dog food has a long shelf life so you can stock up a month’s worth without worrying about anything.
- Some, not all, pet food meet the nutritional value standards set by AAFCO. Some manufacturers actually formulate their food in line with veterinary advice so that there’s little chance of nutrient deficiencies .
- There are several options of store-bought pet foods that dog owners can choose from. They can take their pick from different protein sources, ingredients, brands, or other factors.
- Store bought are packed with filler ingredients such as grain and wheat. These are potential allergy triggers for some dogs and may not contribute to their nutritional needs.
- Pet food recalls have been known to happen in the pet food industry so there’s still the risk of subpar pet food. It’s important for pet owners to always keep an ear out for commercial dog food news to guarantee safety.
- Commercial dry food is less appetizing than their wet counterpart. This means that if you serve your dog dry kibbles, you might encounter some appetite issues with your dog.
- When it comes to wet feed, the commercial meals are usually more expensive.
Which Pet Food is Better?
So, which is better? Ultimately, the decision comes down to what you’re looking for and what works best for you and your dog. If you have the time and energy to make homemade dog food, great! If not, store bought food is perfectly fine. As long as you’re feeding your pup a balanced diet, they’ll be happy and healthy.
The keywords here are “complete and balanced diet”.
A “balanced” meal should be nutritionally complete in that it meets all the demands of your dog’s body. Generally, this means meeting the AAFCO or American Feed Control Officials standards when it comes to dog nutrition. The AAFCO sets the gold standard for animal feed in the United States and is the goal that many commercial food producers claim to meet. Whether you’re feeding store-bought dog food or homemade foods—AAFCO standards should always be kept in mind.
Note though that AAFCO standards are made to deliver the needs of a happy and healthy pet. For dogs with health issues such as kidney disease, skin allergies, or other nutritional deficiencies—additional work needs to be done for them to stay healthy. The input of a veterinary nutritionist is usually invaluable at this point since an expert can customize the food to match the health concerns of the dog. You have a dog that’s allergic to grain? They can create a grain free meal still packed with high quality protein. Does the dog have diabetes? The dog food recipes can be altered to reduce carbohydrates.
When pursuing homemade meals for your pet, dog owners are strongly advised to first seek veterinary guidance. These professionals should be able to provide more detailed information on what, how often, and how much fresh food to feed a dog based on your pet’s unique situation.
Homemade Dog Food Recipes
You will find that the internet is littered with dog food recipes you can follow as part of your dog’s diet. The typical homemade meals are composed of meat, grain, eggs, vegetables, herbs, and oil. The meat source can be beef, chicken, pork, or the less common lamb and venison. Vegetables are also added into the mix as another protein source.
Favorite vegetables include carrots while carbohydrates sources are either brown rice or sweet potatoes. Olive oil and sunflower oil are added in as an essential nutrient for a balanced nutrition. You will find that there are credible source of homemade food for dogs today, but it still needs to be vetted by a licensed veterinary nutrition expert. This is especially true if you have a pet who has special dietary needs or have an allergy to certain pet food.
Today, many owners who want to give their pet dog the best of nutrition choose to offer homemade diets done by licensed professionals. Brands like Farmer’s Dog and Nom Nom create fresh meals that are pre-packaged and then shipped directly to pet owners. This way, the dog eats something that has the touch of homemade while still being available commercially.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is homemade dog food healthier than store-bought?
A homemade dog food diet is generally seen as healthier compared to store bought. However, both could actually offer equal health benefits to dogs. The real distinction is in the content of the food. For example, a homemade dog food that contains poor protein sources could be inferior to store-bought food that carries the AAFCO seal. At the end of the day, you want to compare the ingredients and not just the preparation.
Is it better to feed dogs homemade food?
Assuming that the food is made following nutritional science for dogs, home prepared diets are definitely better. They undergo few processing, have less preservatives, and offer the essential nutrients in their natural form.
Why are vets against homemade dog food?
The reason for this is because home prepared meals may undergo poor preparation before being served. Food safety is an issue if the food is prepared improperly. The meat may come from an unreliable source, the food may have contaminants, or maybe its already past its prime. When prepared correctly and done with nutritional advice however, homemade food is better than pet store food.
Is it cost effective to make your own dog food?
Commercial foods are generally less expensive because they’re made in large batches. However, it really depends on the kind of food your offer. Dry dog food is significantly cheaper than making a homemade diet. However, commercial wet food is actually more expensive than homemade.
How much homemade dog food should I feed my dog?
Ideally, the amount of dog food should be 2 or 3 percent of the body mass of the pooch. However, this varies depending on whether you have a sedentary dog, an active breed, or if you have a pooch who is trying to lose or gain weight. Changes in the calculation of calories is necessary to prevent nutrient excesses or deficiency.
Do dogs live longer on homemade food?
Dogs fed on a traditional kibble diet live around 10 years or so while those who are fed homemade meals can live up to 13 years. Of course, you have to take into account the breed of the dog which can also dictate life span.