With the huge pet food recall involving melamine in 2007 and the numerous smaller recalls for issues such as Salmonella contamination since, it is not surprising that pet owners are increasingly considering home-cooking meals for their dogs and cats in their own kitchen. However, like any other option, there are advantages and disadvantages to this decision.
Advantages of Preparing Homemade Food for Your Dog or Cat
Obviously, one of the biggest advantages is the ability to provide fresh meats, vegetables and other foodstuffs for your pet. Needless to say, this is one of the major appeals to cooking for your pet.
In addition to providing fresh foods, you also have the option of choosing what ingredients go into your pet’s food. This is another huge advantage of preparing home cooked meals for your pet.
Disadvantages of Preparing Home Cooked Meals for Your Pet
Cooking for your pet is a time-consuming project. Not only do you need to take time to locate and purchase all the ingredients that go into your pet’s diet, you’ll also need to prepare and cook the food.
In addition, a great deal of knowledge goes into preparing a well-balanced diet for a dog or cat. The risks of providing your pet with a diet that lacks in certain nutrients is high. For instance, cats need taurine in their diets. Without it, they can develop a life-threatening heart disease known as a cardiomyopathy as well as potentially going blind.
Suffice it to say that preparing a balanced meal for your pet is much more complicated than throwing a few hastily chosen ingredients in a pan and cooking them. Each ingredient that goes into the food adds certain nutrients to the diet. The ingredients must be formulated to produce the right balance of nutrients for your pet.
Seek Advice from an Expert in Nutrition
If you do elect to rely on a home cooked diet for your pet, seek professional advice in formulating the diet and stick with the plan. Once formulated, don’t vary the recipes. This will change the nutrient balance of your pet’s food.
Your veterinarian is a good source of information. Your veterinarian may be be able to help you formulate a proper diet or she may refer you to a veterinary nutritionist. There are online services provided by veterinary nutrition experts that can help you balance your pet’s food. PetDiets.com and BalanceIt are both online services devoted to helping you formulate a healthy homemade diet for your dog or cat.
The Middle Ground
Many people like the idea of cooking for their pets but simply do not have the time daily to devote to doing so. Homemade diets can be prepared in bulk in advance and frozen in smaller portions, to be thawed and fed at a later date for those people who have time sporadically.
Another reasonable middle of the road approach to home cooking when time is limited is to feed part of the diet as home cooked and part as a commercially prepared diet. This approach can provide the best of both worlds to your pet – a lovingly prepared homemade diet and a top-quality commercial diet.