According to the blogsphere and online pet community, making your dog and cat's petfood at home with your own ingredients is the latest trend. But many animal nutritionists, veterinarians and petfood 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 petfood. 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 petfood over homemade petfood. Hochgesang also recommended pet owners buy brands that are AAFCO approved.
A recent article from www.examiner.com , (an often radical, commercial petfood condemning website) outlined several reasons why pets should not be fed food intended for humans. Among the reasons included:
- Petfood is specially formulated for pets, so people food may cause them to miss out on nutrition;
- Table scraps are additional empty calories, leading to pet obesity and other health problems; and
- Some foods that are consumable by humans are toxic for cats and dogs, such as dairy products.
- The best way to ensure animals get adequate nutrition is to find a quality petfood pets enjoy and stay consistent, the article recommended, much like Dr. Hochgesang suggests.
Benefits for pets and people
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:
- Giving their pets more pleasure at mealtime;
- Using variety to prevent boredom;
- Adding variety in hopes of providing a more diverse and complete nutrient intake;
- Being convinced properly formulated raw diets supply all the essential nutrients we know about and do not know about;
- Believing fresh is better;
- Strengthening the bond with their pet; and
- Enjoying the satisfaction of home preparation.
Mixers, dehydrated and fresh petfoods 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 petfood 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
, the German feed and petfood 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 petfood 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 petfood 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.
Peruse more mixers and other high-involvement petfoods.