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Home > Dogs > Is Homemade Dog Food Better than Store Bought? Vet Approved Advice

Is Homemade Dog Food Better than Store Bought? Vet Approved Advice

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Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg

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The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you enjoy a good home cooked meal, you might be wondering if Fido can enjoy the same culinary delights as you do instead of his run-of-the-mill kibble. While your dog would probably find your cooking more appealing than their traditional fare, the question of whether you should feed your dog homemade or a commercial diet isn’t as obvious. Likely, the answer will depend on factors such as time and budget. While homemade recipes may benefit from having natural ingredients, they can be dangerous if the meals aren’t balanced, lack certain nutrients, or are prepared in unsafes ways.

divider-pawWhat All Dogs Need In Their Diet

No matter what diet you choose for your dog, their food should include a good amount of protein, a moderate amount of fat, and a low amount of carbs. Finding minimally processed, non-GMO food without artificial ingredients and with real meat as the first ingredient should be the basic goal. You might want to expand the list as you research more, such as avoiding grain-free diets unless medically necessary. Some popular commercial foods brand a grain-free diet as being holistic and healthy, but recent studies show a correlation with this diet and dogs who have a heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy, leading many nutrition experts to advise not skipping out on the oats.

All dogs need a core group of vitamins and minerals. Severe health problems can occur if they are deficient or if they intake these nutrients in excess. The specific needs for your dog will depend on their individual health condition, as well as their age and size, so be sure to ask your vet what to consider when planning their meals.

homemade dog food
Image Credit: ThamKC, Shutterstock

Why It Might Be Better to Cook for Your Dog

There are some definite benefits of cooking instead of buying commercial food. Just like for humans, cooking for your dog will give you the peace of mind about what exactly is in your dog’s meals. You may cut out questionable preservatives, and you will escape the dreaded periodic pet food recalls. You should seek a veterinarian’s advice for how to concoct a well-balanced homemade recipe (to ensure that Fido is getting the requisite nutrients), confirm that is okay for them to be on such a diet, and feed appropriate portions.

While homemade meals won’t be cheaper than supermarket brands of dog food, they could be less expensive than human-grade formulas such as The Farmer’s Dog. This company cooks your dog’s food for you and ships it to your door. Fresh and convenient, it combines the wholesome rewards of homemade cooking with the simplicity of pre-made meals. However, the biggest pitfall with this concept is the price. The meals are customized according to your dog’s age, weight, and health condition, so the price varies, but the subscription plans start at $2.50 per meal and can go up to $12 a day!

If you cooked for your dog yourself, you could buy ingredients such as meat, vegetables, and brown rice in bulk, which could save money down the road. However, this option isn’t for everyone because it will cost you time and will require some planning ahead, such as when you go on trips. You’ll also need ample room in your refrigerator and freezer unless you’re cooking for them daily. And, you’ll need to have knowledge as to what foods, seasonings, and spices are safe for dogs so that you don’t accidentally feed your dog something that is bad for them.

woman is cooking food in the kitchen
Image Credit: Joe L, Pexels

Wholesome Commercial Food Saves You Time, But Will Cost You Money

Highly processed, supermarket dog food will probably not be as tasty for your dog as a home-cooked meal. However, there are healthy formulas on the market for a price comparable to what you’d pay at the grocery store. And most importantly, there are well-balanced diets available to meet your dog’s specific dietary needs depending on the life stage.

Whether or not commercial food may be better for you might depend on:

  • Time and budget. Do you live a busy lifestyle with little time to prepare meals? Or can you afford the time but not the money to spend on high-quality, commercial diets?
  • Storage space. Do you have room in your refrigerator or freezer for pre-made meals?
  • Lifestyle. Do you like to plan spontaneous trips with your pet? Or do you have a frequent pet sitter to step in while you’re at work or out of town? If you and your pet don’t like to have a super consistent schedule, then cooking isn’t probably the right choice for you.
  • What to do in case of emergency. Do you live in an area prone to natural disasters, such as hurricanes or snowstorms where the power might go out for days or weeks? If you decide to cook for your dog in these situations, you’ll either need a generator to back-up the lost electricity or have some alternative food on hand for when disaster strikes.

divider-pawFinal Thoughts

The question of whether homemade is better depends on what’s for dinner. While homemade recipes may steer clear of preservatives and other unwanted ingredients, they can be dangerous if the meals aren’t balanced, skip vital nutrients, or are prepared in an unsafe manner.

Cooking for your canine could save you money if you’re going to give them wholesome food like what the Farmer’s Dog or other companies offer, but it will take consistent effort and won’t be more affordable than the cheaper brands. If you decide to cook for your dog, find recipes developed by a vet or a canine nutritionist rather than random internet recipes so that you can feel confident you’re giving Fido what they need.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to try something new. There’s a bit of fear in both choices, whether you’re skeptical of the ingredients in commercial food or unsure if you can provide our canine with the proper nutrition. With the right tools and guidance, either way you choose can work for you and your dog.

Featured Image Credit: stockcreations, Shutterstock

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