September 2015

The Inside Scoop On Homemade Pet Food

Girl thinking about what to cook

If you’re reading this, chances are it’s not the first time you’ve given some degree of thought to the concept of a homemade pet diet. Whether you regard this topic with interest or with repulsion, a series of pet food recalls combined with the ‘foodie’ movement have resulted in growing discussion among pet parents about the costs and benefits of becoming a personal chef for one’s pet kids. 

So, what are some of the reasons pet parents turn to making their own pet food? While motivations can be deeply personal, they commonly fall into these categories:

1. Your veterinarian prescribed food that your pet kid won’t eat
2. You have made specific dietary choices and want to extend them to your animal family members
3. You only trust food which comes out of your kitchen
4. You are hoping to alleviate the symptoms or severity of a medical diagnosis
5. You are ambivalent about commercial pet food and curious to see if you could get better results
6. A belief that you could save some money

While these questions provide some food for thought, motivation alone is not an assurance of health and wellbeing for pet kids. When deciding what to feed their companion animals, pet parent’s choices must be backed up by expertise and solid knowledge. So, what actually does go into the decision to take the plunge into homemade pet food?

Pet Parent Education: Intensive

In the era of Pinterest, there are loads of DIY pet food recipes and enthusiastic testimonials. Some of these recipes give the appearance of being well-balanced and reasonably easy, and may even have a cute name.

But chances are that the vast majority of these will not provide pets with the nutrition they need. In an independent 2013 study of 200 homemade adult dog food recipes gathered from the internet, cookbooks and veterinarians, only five (2.5%) of them were nutritionally balanced. All five balanced recipes had come from veterinarians with advanced training in nutrition.

The takeaway here is that it is critical to involve a holistic or integrative veterinarian and/or a veterinary nutritionist to ensure the nutritional needs of your furry kid are being met.

Cost Analysis: Moderate - Intensive

If the financial bottom line is a priority, time should be spent doing an analysis of the daily cost to feed pet kids a balanced diet. With a quality recipe in hand, pet parents can take to the internet and local grocery stores to estimate the cost of the homemade meal before ever investing in buying the ingredients. The cost of any special equipment, like a meat grinder or food processor, and food storage containers, should also be factored in.

Ingredient Sourcing: Intensive

A balanced recipe from a qualified Veterinary Nutritionist is sure to include proteins, carbohydrates and a list of added vitamins and other nutritional supplements. As with any consumable product, there is great variation in the quality of all of these ingredients as well as variation in what is appropriate for different species. What many fail to realize is that improperly balanced nutrients can actually lead to a host of disease states, essentially creating toxicity within the body. To ensure maximum benefit, be certain that your nutritionist is explicit about cuts of meat and which supplements to purchase, and ensure that all of these questions are addressed:

1. What form should each supplement be in; liquid or powder?
2. What source is okay for each supplement; synthetic, natural, purified, etc.?
3. Are there certain varieties of supplements that should be avoided; Cod Liver Oil or Krill Oil vs. Fish Oil?
4. Are your personal dietary requirements being met; grain-free or vegetarian?
5. Which cuts of meat are optimal, acceptable and should be avoided; white meat, dark meat, lean or fat?

Food Preparation & Storage: Moderate – Intensive

If you’ve ever done batch cooking for your human family, you’ll have an idea what it’s like to make your own pet food. This exercise takes advance planning, time management, practice and possibly endurance depending on how large a batch is being made.

This time commitment will vary by recipe, quality of equipment being used, size of the batch being prepared, and with fine tuning over time.

Food Serving: Minimal

Home prepared foods are refrigerated or frozen and may require warming to room temperature to serve. At issue here is the commitment to the frequency of this task more so than the amount of time required.

Given the level of difficulty in preparing home meals, and the expertise to get the formulas right every time, this probably isn’t a viable option for most pet parents. If you’re seeking holistic nutrition plus convenience and value, I urge you to consider the premium nutrition offered by any of our Life’s Abundance pet foods.

Thank you for all you do to make the world a better place for companion animals.

Dr Jane Bicks  Dr. Jane Bicks, DVM

Feline Food Fun

Who among us hasn't started munching on a bag of chips to suddenly and unexpectedly find the bag empty? Just like us guilty humans, cats will often overeat due to boredom or stress. In this month's episode of Pet Talk, Dr. Sarah provides fun and simple ways to tap into your cat's innate problem solving skills while helping avoid the behavioral and physical consequences of sedentary living.

These DIY toys will both keep kitty's body busy and let her use her predatory instincts to exercise her brain. So, get ready to dig into your recycling bin and replace some of those feline snack habits with fun and games!

Be sure to share this video with friends and family, especially if they are cat lovers. And, please leave your comments if this Pet Talk episode is helpful to you.

Our Foundation Awards Funds To Rescue Group

Cocker-Spaniel

It is our great pleasure to tell our readers about one of the latest recipients of financial aid from The Dr. Jane Foundation. This month’s featured beneficiary is a committed group of rescuers dedicated to improving the lives of abandoned, abused and neglected Cocker Spaniels in California.

The Second Chance Cocker Rescue is run by an all-volunteer staff which oversees more than 80 dedicated foster homes that care for their rescues. In continuous operation for over 13 years, this committed non-profit group has fought to improve the lives of Cocker Spaniels across the state of California. Without governmental financial assistance, they rely on fundraisers, adoption fees and the generous donations from their community of Cocker Spaniel aficionados to cover the costs of day-to-day operations.

This rescue has made a tremendous difference in the lives of hundreds of Cocker Spaniels. In any given year, they foster more than 150 dogs and locate forever homes for more than 200. Doing an excellent job of promoting their favorite breed, the average time a dog is in foster care is only 30 days before finding the perfect adoption match.

Their most innovative program is HALO, a service which provides a safety net for care should a pet parent enter Hospice care or pass away and no obvious caretaker remains for the pup. A modest fee ensures that these Cocker Spaniels will be fostered by caring pet parents until they are placed in a new adoptive family. In addition to HALO and their day-to-day rescue services, Second Chance also provides sanctuary homes for elder and chronically ill dogs with little hope of adoption.

Second Chance plans to use their financial award to help achieve their goal of increasing the number of rescued dogs by 30%. Because their work is so outstanding, and the need was so present, the Board’s decision to fund this application was a simple one.

Here are just a few of the sweet, loving Cocker Spaniels who are currently in foster care awaiting their chance to become someone’s new best friend …

Zoey
Zoey

This little girl is a gentle soul. Zoey loves everyone she meets, including other dogs, and is a delight with children. By all accounts, she is "an amazing dog" that will make a welcome new family member. Her current caretakers guess she's approximately nine years old. Right now, she's living in Encino with her foster family.

Harry
Harry

This handsome fellow is a purebred Cocker. Sweet and oh-so-mellow, Harry is happy to go along for whatever ride's in store. If you want to throw a ball, he's ready to fetch. If your speed is more Netflix and chips, he's your ready companion. Harry is easy going with other pups and loves to meet new people. Do you have the perfect quiet, mellow home to match his personality? He's in Romoland and needs a foster, or better yet, an adopter!

Nina
Nina

A petite and intelligent girl, Nina is the consummate "people dog". Plus, she's a bit of an attention hound, so she would prefer to be the prized only dog so she can monopolize all the attention and cuddles. Sweet, fun and playful, Nina's got the zest for life. Even though she's a bit shy with strangers, she's a true "velcro dog" with her caretakers. Like Harry above, she too is currently in Romoland looking for a foster home while awaiting her forever family.

If you or someone you know would be interested in adopting a Cocker Spaniel in California, we encourage you to stop by Second Chance Cocker Rescue (secondchancecockerrescue.org). You never know … you could end up finding your new best friend!

As the charitable arm of Life’s Abundance, The Dr. Jane Foundation provides financial support to small and medium-size rescue groups who work to prevent animal homelessness, abuse and chronic neglect. Every time someone purchases a Life's Abundance product, a portion of the profits are contributed to the Foundation’s operating fund.

To learn more about the organizations who’ve received funding from us in the past, visit our web page today. There, you’ll find summaries of our previous grant recipients.

And there’s more good news … we are still accepting applications for funding. If you know of an animal rescue organization that deserves special recognition and financial support, please encourage them to
fill out an application.

Check back next month for more good news from The Dr. Jane Foundation. Together, we’re making a difference!