Deciding to give your dog homemade food is a big step in reducing your carbon foot-print and going green. Here’s a quick read-through to get you started. There’s been a big increase in the number of people who are choosing to give their dog homemade food, and not dry, commercially manufactured pet food. The main reason, among others, are the pet food recalls that have become so common. Also, some pet-parents find that store-bought food creates digestive problems in their pets that just don’t get resolved.
What’s Wrong With Regular Dog Food?
Regular dog food leaves a huge carbon footprint. The pet food that you decide to buy, may have been manufactured in some distant corner of the world. And to get to you, it would have involved huge amount of emissions in transportation, packaging, labeling etc. Then there are emissions to consider, from the factory where it got manufactured. Not to mention the meat that was raised and processed somewhere down the supply chain.
Are Organic Brands Any Good?
Buying 100% certified organic food reduces the environmental concerns that come with buying processed dog food. Also, these foods do not contain herbicides, pesticides, chemical fertilizers etc. The manufactures of these foods are also required to follow certain other best practices like cruelty-free treatment of animals. It’s definitely a good idea to buy organic products but making dog food at home is a greener option.
Problems With Homemade Dog Food
Switching from commercial pet food to homemade dog food is a very satisfying experience. You know exactly what is going into the food that your dog is having. But there are a few mistakes that you will need to avoid making. The most common one is, not consulting your pet nutritionist or veterinarian enough to make sure the food that you are making is nutritionally balanced.
This tends to happen when over a period of time, pet-parents omit ingredients that their pet may not like or cut back on the more expensive ingredients, rendering the diet nutritionally unbalanced. Also, most dog food recipes taken off the internet are unbalanced.
What Should Homemade Dog Food Contain?
The following are the proportions in which the various ingredients of dog food need to be:
1. 60-80% whole protein foods like chicken (without bones) or beef chunks. This includes the skin and fat. Other proteins like salmon can also be used.
2. 5%- 10% vegetables and fruit, chopped or blended.
3. 10% -20% carbs like rice, oatmeal etc.
4. A nutritional supplement
6. Other things like eggs with their shells for added protein and calcium.
These ingredients need to be put into a pot and cooked thoroughly. A little water can be added for moisture. You can decide if you want to chop the ingredients or puree them in a blender.
A Few Pointers
1. Buying organic meat in bulk is cheaper.
2. It’s a good idea to buy boneless meat and retaining the skin.
3. Your butcher could give you trimmings without any extra cost.
4. It helps to prepare the food in bulk for up to a month and freeze it in portioned amounts.
Making Dog Treats At Home
Apart from giving your dog homemade food, you can also make him yummy treats to replace his store-bought treats. And these are easier to make compared to the food that you make for him, as you aren’t required to keep in mind any nutritional requirements. Here’s a simple recipe to make meat jerky. Slice raw meat (chicken, beef or any other protein) into thin slices. Bake these slices in an oven preheated to 200 degrees, for about two hours. Allow the jerky
to cool and slice with scissors into bite sized chunks. You can store these for months in the freezer.
Check To See If You’ve Got It Right
Once you change your dog’s diet to homemade food, you will need to monitor your dog for any change in his energy levels, appetite and stools. There are several symptoms that can tell you that your dog is deficient in some or the other nutrient. These include, muscle loss, weakness etc.
It’s important to select the right nutritionally balanced recipe that meets all of your dog’s requirements. Proteins may be vital, but your dog also needs carbs, fats, vitamins and minerals in the right quantities. You may have to work with a pet nutritionist to see what kinds of supplements will be required to make sure your pooch isn’t deprived of these.