According to the blogsphere and online pet community, making your dog and cat's pet food at home with your own ingredients is the latest trend. But many animal nutritionists, veterinarians and pet food producers argue that the average pet parent doesn't know just what their pet needs in their bowls.
In a recent pet advice column by veterinarian Suzy Hochgesang, a pet owner asked whether she should feed her cats and dogs homemade pet food. Hochgesang was clear in her response, saying, "Most veterinary nutritionists agree that it is best to feed our pets a commercial food." She listed lower costs, more convenience and a better nutritional balance as the top reasons to choose commercial pet food over homemade pet food. Hochgesang also recommended pet owners buy brands that are AAFCO approved.
A recent article from www.examiner.com , (an often radical, commercial pet food condemning website) outlined several reasons why pets should not be fed food intended for humans. Among the reasons included:
As the status of pets continues to rise, many pet owners seem willing to put more time into preparing meals for their pets. Their motivations might include, according to Tim Phillips, DVM:
Mixers, dehydrated and fresh pet foods provide the opportunity for pet parents to prepare their pet's food at home, but still buy the balanced ingredients and nutritionally-approved recipes from the local pet food aisle.
Several companies are catering to these pet owners who want to get more involved with feeding their pets.
Nature's Variety offers several products for implementing its "rotation diet" concept. Pet owners can feed various protein types (beef, chicken and salmon) and forms (raw, dry and wet).
In May 2008 Vitakraft , the German feed and pet food company, introduced "Mix It" dog and cat foods throughout Europe. The idea is to provide variety without having to change the main food.
Wild Kitty sells a "Homemade Cat Food Kit." With the kit, cat owners can make raw or cooked cat food using boneless poultry.
Sojourner Farms offers three "natural pet food mixes." Pet owners add meat and water to one of the mixes for "fresh, homemade petfood in minutes."
Developed by a group of veterinary nutritionists, Balance IT is a web-based veterinary nutrition software that is used by veterinarians along with a line of Balance IT supplements. It enables veterinarians to try new concepts in nutritional therapies with homemade petfood recipes.
The Honest Kitchen is a family owned pet food company, based in San Diego, California, USA. It sells freeze-dried petfoods containing a combination of raw and cooked ingredients. Pet owners add water and their pet's choice of vegetables, fruits and raw or cooked meats.
Synergy Dehydrated Vegetable Mix from Canine Caviar contains no dyes, preservatives or chemicals. The mix can be blended with frozen protein or canned foods. Ingredients include peas, carrots, pumpkin and red pepper.
The Missing Link Wellness Blend from Designing Health contains omegas 3, 6 and 9, phyto nutrients and probiotics. The product can be added to the dog's or cat's food daily, by simply sprinkling the powder over their regular diet.
What's next? If the market continues to develop, which seems likely, we can expect to see more major marketers of traditional commercial diets adding high-involvement petfoods to their product lines.
By Lindsay Beaton
This country is straddling the line between developing and developed as more of its citizens see the value in pet ownership.
By Lindsay Beaton