I want to start cooking for my dog and get him off commercial diets. Any advice?

Companion Animals April 18, 2016 Print Friendly and PDF

Preparing a diet at home for your dog can be a rewarding task, but caution must be taken to do so correctly. Home-prepared diets tend to be highly digestible and can provide high-quality nutrition. However, home-prepared diets can be more expensive, can provide variable nutrition, and take considerable time and care to ensure they are adequate for your dog's health.

 

Dogs are omnivores and require a diet that consists of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water in correct proportions. Complete and balanced commercial pet foods are formulated to meet all of the nutritional needs of the animal. Such foods are regulated by state agencies such as the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and require manufacturers to list ingredients in order of predominance of weight, and include a nutritional adequacy statement that indicates the food is complete and balanced for a specific life stage.

However, if you opt for a home-prepared diet, you need to make sure that you include all the nutrients, in the correct proportions, required by your dog. Consult with your veterinarian before starting any home-prepared diet to ensure the recipe you have chosen will be adequate for your dog. You should choose a recipe for a home-prepared diet that is well-established by an experienced nutritionist. Websites are available (e.g., balanceit.com) that can provide good quality recipes, and proper vitamin and mineral supplements that help avoid nutritional deficiency in the diet.

When changing from a commercial to a home-prepared diet, do so gradually as a rapid change in diet can cause gastrointestinal distress leading to diarrhea, bloating, cramping, and stress. Make sure to consult with your veterinarian before making any changes.

Read the following articles to learn more about the nutritional needs of dogs at particular life stages:

Feeding the Growing Puppy

Feeding Senior Dogs

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.