Most homemade dog food recipes do not meet all of a pet's nutritional requirements, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine. Researchers caution that, unlike commercial petfood, homemade petfood is not usually nutritionally complete.
The study, published in the June issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, analyzed 200 homemade dog food recipes, but found that just nine contained enough of the nutrients required by dogs.
"Some of the deficiencies, particularly those related to choline, vitamin D, zinc and vitamin E, could result in significant health problems such as immune dysfunction, accumulation of fat in the liver and musculoskeletal abnormalities," said Jennifer Larsen, an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at UC Davis and lead author on the study.
Additionally, researchers found that 92 percent of the recipes contained instructions that were too vague and required pet owners to make assumptions about ingredients, or they failed to include calorie information or account for the size of the dog being fed.
"It is extremely difficult for the average pet owner - or even veterinarians - to come up with balanced recipes to create appropriate meals that are safe for long-term use," Larsen said. "Homemade food is a great option for many pets, but we recommend that owners avoid general recipes from books and the Internet and instead consult with a board-certified veterinary nutritionist. These specialists have advanced training in nutrition to help formulate customized and nutritionally appropriate recipes."