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:

What form should each supplement be in; liquid or powder?
What source is okay for each supplement; synthetic, natural, purified, etc.?
Are there certain varieties of supplements that should be avoided; Cod Liver Oil or Krill Oil vs. Fish Oil?
Are your personal dietary requirements being met; grain free or vegetarian?
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

Comments (18) -

  • Le Ann Frost

    9/29/2015 8:49:13 AM |

    Thank you for this timely article.  I know many educated pet parents who are home cooking these days.  Most are working with a local holisic veterinarian, fortunately.  But, I know this is not the case for all.  I  look forward to sharing this article!
    Le Ann Frost

  • Karin Wadsworth

    9/29/2015 12:39:15 PM |

    We have been making our own wet food for several years, it is fast and very affordable and we have it down to a science.  This is used as an accompaniment to our commercial dog kibble (Kirkland from Costco-would love to feed Life's Abundance dog kibble, but it's cost prohibitive). The wet food we make is not our dogs' main source of nutrition, but rather a replacement for commercial canned food that would be added to their kibble twice daily. We use whole chickens, organic brown rice, sweet potato and organic carrots, dried unsweetened organic blueberries and cranberries are added along with some simple herbs, e.g., rosemary, thyme.  Everyone who sees our 3 dogs (2 black labs and a Sheltie) can't say enough about how shiny and gorgeous their coats are. Our vet says that our oldest lab, who is 13 years old has the bloodwork of a 2 year old.  I do not advocate making all of your dog or cat food from scratch as I can tell you that trying to incorporate all the nutritional stuff they require would not be cost effective. However, I do 100% recommend making your own wet food mash to add to their kibble with some hot water to make a delicious gravy for their breakfast and dinner.

  • Amelia Johnson

    9/29/2015 6:10:07 PM |

    Excellent points!  I have known pet parents to buy meats that were close to being removed from the shelves in order to save money.  Rarely is a pet parent committed to making their own pet food all of the time.  For those times that they can't, they definitely should keep Life's Abundance products on hand to feed.

    My dog has thrived on Life's Abundance products for 12  years now.

  • Ruth

    9/30/2015 1:27:46 AM |

    Thanks for this article.  I have always wondered about homemade dog food, but never really delved into it.

  • Rebecca Forrest

    9/30/2015 5:21:27 AM |

    Dr Jane, great article! Thanks for writing about this topic.

    Virgil and I have some suggestions for new blog articles:

    - Pet first aid kit
    - Your new kitten
    - Your new puppy
    - Your pregnant dog
    - Your pregnant cat

    Rebecca Forrest

  • kim gardner

    9/30/2015 7:05:13 AM |

    I personally dont want to take the time to make my own pet food and with a great product line from Life's Abundance I dont feel the need.  My pets are doing great on LA and its simple and cost effective.  When I was a kid my dad raced greyhounds and I remember them mixing and feeding raw.  At one time he started getting these red lines up his arms and it was an infection from the raw food. Fortunately it was caught before any damage but it is one more reason to stay away from raw feeding unless you know exactly what you are doing.  Thank you Dr Jane for the care, quality and time you put into making a safe and healthy pet food for our pet family!!

  • Regina Saunders

    10/2/2015 8:22:20 AM |

    I just had this conversation with someone recently.  I asked them, “what nutritional expertise do you have in making pet products?” then I added, “Unless you have the 40+ years of expertise that Dr. Jane has, please don’t take a chance on your pets by making them your science project.”  There is too much bad information out there and people do not take the time to validate sources or make sure it is legitimate before jumping in.

    In regards to the above comment that says they feed Kirkland because Life’s Abundance is “cost prohibitive”  I would say, you are not looking at this correctly.  You are shopping by the bag and not by the content.  For example, based on a 30# dog, the difference to feed Life’s Abundance is about $7 per month.  Slightly more.  When you factor in that Life’s Abundance has never had a recall, is not mass produced and has a holistic veterinarian formulation, isn’t that worth and extra few cents a day?

    I am so thankful for these products and the confidence I have in recommending them to my family, friends, clients and colleagues. Thank you for the timely article Dr. Jane and for all you do for our pets!

  • Rich and Lisa Jelinek

    10/9/2015 11:33:07 AM |

    Another wonderful article! For the past 12 1/2 years we've only trusted the expert - Dr Jane Bicks! We don't have the time or knowledge regarding pet food formulations so we don't leave it up to chance with our furbabies.

  • tRACI

    3/9/2016 12:18:26 PM |

    good info

  • Hillary

    3/10/2016 7:22:55 AM |

    Interesting article, I have never thought to feed my dogs homemade but I know some who do and this is good knowledgeable information to pass on.

  • Joanna Darling

    3/10/2016 8:06:17 AM |

    Great article, makes a lot of sense have to think of a lot of things to make your own food, and the expense!  Why when we have a well balance food in Life's Abundance!

  • Jennifer Gaskin

    3/10/2016 2:04:21 PM |

    Great info! There is no food company I trust more than Life's Abundance! I don't have the time for the research and cooking to make sure cooking for pets provides the correct nutrition.

  • BEVERLY Chang

    3/13/2016 4:58:05 PM |

    Excellent article. I have friends that have chosen this option and will be sharing this blog.

  • Elisabeth Putney

    3/16/2016 2:23:00 PM |

    Good info, thanks

  • Megan Smith

    3/18/2016 7:33:07 AM |

    Very good information about homemade dog food and canine nutrition.  Thanks again, Dr. Jane!

  • Shelly Windsor

    3/18/2016 10:37:12 AM |

    Thank you for the great article. Many seem to be leaning towards home made foods and treats for their pets, as well as the raw diets. Although some may get close to a good nutrition, I feel most fall short. The time and cost do not always equal proper nutrition. I'm not a vet, or am I educated in animal nutrition. I will leave all of that to Dr. Jane and the LA company I trust! Great info in the article for me to share with others!

  • Arlene

    3/19/2016 12:20:45 PM |

    Great points.  i have friends who only feed their cats food they made - mostly ground up chicken with spices.... will be sharing this !

  • Robin

    3/22/2016 8:22:30 AM |

    Great information!
    Feeding raw isn't as easy as some people think.
    Knowing what to put in your dog's diet is key to his well being.
    Thanks!

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