2001-Sat Jan 21 20:37:18 MST 2017
Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
I often hear from pet owners who want to start preparing homemade food for their pets. Their motivations vary; in some cases, they have been spooked by news stories about pet food recalls and want more control over the ingredients in their pets' food. Other times, they are concerned because their
animal won’t eat the special diet prescribed for a medical condition, and they want to know if there’s something tastier they can make themselves.
People have been
dogs table scraps (or sometimes the best from their own larders) for centuries. Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, was known to feed his
Greyhound, Eos, a diet that included regular servings of pâté de foie gras. Talk about rich!
We know much more now than we did a century ago about the dietary needs of our pets. There’s a multitude of commercial pet diets that are complete and balanced for
different life stages or made to
help treat certain health conditions, such as kidney disease, urinary stones or food allergies, to name just a few, as well as foods that contain organic ingredients.
Nonetheless, you may be thinking about feeding a homemade diet. I’ve always said that if you can make food for a human infant, you can make food for a dog or
cat. That said, pets, especially cats, do have
specific nutritional requirements — it’s not just a matter of mixing up some hamburger meat, rice and veggies and plopping the blend into your pet's bowl. I talked to my friend and colleague,
Dr. Tony Buffington, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist, about the pros and cons of a homemade diet and some common-sense guidelines if that’s what you want to feed.
A homemade diet can be suitable for a healthy adult dog, but it’s
riskier for a puppy. Growing pups are still developing bone and muscle, and nutritional excesses of certain minerals can cause serious orthopedic problems. Until your veterinarian tells you it’s time to transition your
dog off puppy food, stick to a commercial food formulated for puppy growth or for all life stages.
A homemade diet can also be riskier for a
pet with a health problem, especially if diet is an integral part of management or treatment. Sometimes, however, those animals turn up their noses at commercially available veterinary foods. If that happens, especially if the animal is
very old or very sick, Dr. Buffington says that having him eat anything is better than nothing.
Before you start your pet on a homemade diet, start with a trip to the veterinarian to rule out any
hidden health issues. Your pet should have a thorough exam, a
blood panel and possibly other diagnostic tests to make sure he’s in sparkling good health. Once you make the switch to homemade food, the physical exam and test results can serve as a baseline against which you and your veterinarian can judge how well your pet is doing on the diet.
While you're in the office, be sure to talk to your veterinarian about why you want to feed a homemade diet. She may be able to draw on her experience with other clients — or even her own pets — to advise you about the best way to proceed.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Get all the best pet news and information sent right to your inbox!
Thank you for subscribing!
Want to choose the best food for your
pet? Here's why you shouldn't fear
preservatives or fall for marketing…
Electronic cigarettes may be growing in
popularity, but their higher concentrations
of nicotine can poison cats and…
Are you handling your pet the right way?
Our vet shares five things your pup wishes
you knew about picking him up.
We combed through 505,270 kitten
names to determine the hottest male
and female monikers of the year.
We scoured our database of 1.1 million
dogs to find out which male and female
monikers reigned supreme this past…
The laid-back American Wirehair’s crimped, coarse coat requires almost no brushing or combing.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.