As more and more pet parents realize the value of good nutrition for overall health, the amount spent on commercial dog food is soaring. In the U.S., owners spent $422 on pet food in 2020. The pet industry expenditure has increased over 500% since 1994, with the biggest share being pet food and treats. Dry dog food alone is worth $5.3 billion.
With prices going up and major brands issuing pet food recalls, some owners wonder if they could save with homemade food. However, while it depends on the commercial food that you buy, making your own dog food may not be cheaper, and it is much more work.
Price of Home-Cooked Dog Food
A properly balanced, home-cooked diet for a 30-pound dog will cost around $3.50 per day, or $5.50 if you choose organic ingredients1. This is two to four times the price of similar quantities of commercial dry foods but half of commercial wet foods.
If you’re feeding multiple dogs or cats and dogs, the price will go up, but so could the value. Buying ingredients in bulk could get you more bang for your buck, but you’re still spending a lot of cash on a regular basis. It’s also unlikely that you’ll reach the bulk sizes and pricing of a commercial dog food brand.
Furthermore, dogs need precise nutrition. Diets are prepared for dogs with rigorous standards, and high-quality brands often consult with veterinarians and veterinary nutritionists to develop their recipes.
Safety Concerns With Homemade Dog Food
Cooking your dog’s meals isn’t as simple as making an extra portion of your family dinner or throwing chicken and rice in a bowl. Your dog needs precise nutrition and an ideal balance of different nutrients—a feat difficult to achieve with your own recipes.
If you do want to provide homemade food for your dog, it’s vital that you speak to your veterinarian. Discuss what you’d like to do, get their advice on your decision, and consider your dog’s health and current medical conditions. You may also want to speak with a veterinary nutritionist.
Once you begin a homemade diet, be sure to consult with your vet regularly to make sure your dog isn’t suffering from malnutrition or nutrient deficiencies. For guidance, both the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition and the American College of Veterinary Nutrition recommend PetDiets.com and Balanceit.com to help you formulate recipes correctly.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you can’t guarantee safety in your own kitchen. While factory-produced foods can have contamination issues that lead to illness and recalls, the same could happen when you’re preparing foods yourself. There could be issues with the raw ingredients, or you could neglect food safety guidelines while you’re preparing your dog’s meals.
Should I Make My Dog’s Food?
The choice to cook for your dog is ultimately yours. It’s a lot of work and it may not be cheaper. Plus, you will need to source, manage, and balance the ingredients carefully to avoid putting your dog at risk of foodborne illness or nutrient deficiencies.
If you decide to try your hand at homemade meals, be sure to do so carefully and under the guidance of a vet or veterinary nutritionist, at least until you learn the dos and don’ts. Using a DIY supplement mix such as the one offered by The Farmer’s Dog is a great way to ensure that your meals are properly supplemented for complete and balanced nutrition.
If you want to give your dog wholesome food without the hassle, there are numerous dog food brands on the market that offer human-grade ingredients prepared with strict standards, such as Ollie, The Farmer’s Dog, and Nom Nom.
With these brands, you’re getting exceptional ingredients and practically homemade recipes without putting in the work yourself.
Cooking your dog’s meals is a great idea, but you must be prepared for a lot of research, time, and expense. It’s not as easy as it seems, and if you don’t do the work, you could subject your dog to illness or health problems. Be sure to consult with your vet before embarking on homemade diets.
Featured Image Credit by Sjale, Shutterstock