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With all the product recalls, unhealthy ingredients, and lack of oversight, you may be thinking that homemade dog food is the right course of action for your dog’s diet. However, as with any diet, there are both risks and benefits to switching your pet to a homemade dog food. We have compiled a list of the pros and cons of homemade dog food versus the pros and cons of commercial dog food so you can decide what is the best dog food for your dog.
Homemade Dog Food Pros
The biggest pro to homemade dog food is peace of mind. Since you make the food yourself, you know exactly what is going into your dog’s food. When you make dog food at home you can ensure that it is made with only the freshest quality ingredients and there are no unnecessary additives. Also when you make your food at home you will never have to worry about dangerous pet food recalls that can endanger your pet’s health.
Another pro to homemade dog food is you have more control over your dog’s nutrition. If you dog has a chronic illness, regular dog food may not meet all their nutritional needs. You can tailor your recipes to meet you dog’s health needs. You can also tailor your dog food based on your dog’s flavor preferences. Meals can also be made to include leftovers from your family’s meal, so that you are wasting less food and saving money. Homemade dog food also saves money because you can get a lot more nutrition from whole foods than the nutrition provided in manufactured dog food.
Homemade Dog Food Cons
The biggest con of homemade dog food is that unless you are following very specific guidelines you may not be making food that meets your dog’s dietary needs. You have to be very knowledgeable about pet nutrition to guarantee you are feeding your dog the best diet. Also if you are considering making homemade dog food you will need to consult a veterinarian and make regular check ups until you know the food you are making is the best for your dog. That can cost you time and money.
Another big con is the time it takes to prepare the food. Preparing dog food requires as much cooking and preparation as preparing human food. It also requires more shopping and planning than using prepared food. Also you have to learn a lot about dog nutrition and spend time keeping up on the latest scientific developments. So unless you can fully invest that time you should not look at making homemade dog food because it is very hard to transition your dog back to regular dog food once they’ve been on a homemade food diet.
Commercial Dog Food Pros
The biggest pro of buying commercial dog food is it is designed by veterinarians, nutritionists, and scientists. These professionals have a lot of expertise and know exactly how to formulate a food so it meets all the nutritional needs of your dog. Commercial dog foods are also often fortified with essential vitamins and minerals. Therefore, healthy dog foods may provide a lot more nutritional value than a homemade food. Your dog is less likely to experience a nutritional deficiency with prepared dog food.
Another big pro of prepared dog food is convenience. Prepared dog food is already made and easy to shop for, so it takes less time than homemade dog food. Also prepared dog food is made to be stored, so it will not go bad as quickly as homemade dog food so it can save you money. Also it is arguable that commercial dog food is cheaper than preparing dog food at home, so you may be saving money.
Commercial Dog Food Cons
The biggest con of prepared dog food is not knowing what is in it. Many manufacturers take shortcuts to meet nutritional requirements. They can use additives and fillers that provided no nutrition and may even be detrimental to the health of your dog. They may also be using low quality ingredients like animal byproducts. There is also safety concerns about manufacturing and distribution of food. Food contaminates easily, especially low grade food like the meats often used in dog food, so you could exposure your dog to preventable illness.
Another con of prepared dog food is that dogs may not be receiving all the nutrients they need. The nutritional content of commercial dog foods varies greatly by brand and you may have to go through a whole variety of different brands to find the right one for your dog. There are also concerns when it comes to labeling. Dog food brands can make unsubstantiated claims like “natural” or “healthy” without any oversight. Also their nutrition labels are not as thorough as the nutrition labels on human foods, so they may have an essential nutrient listed in the ingredients panel but it may not be the recommended daily allowance.
A Great Option
As you can see, there are many pros and cons to both homemade and commercial dog foods. However, there’s another option a dog owner can take that will help them get the benefits of both while avoiding the negatives. Instead of doing one or the other, a dog owner can feed their dog a regular routine of commercial dog food and can supplement the diet with homemade food. That way your dog gets the full nutritional value of both. You should consult with your vet and see if this option is right for your dog.
At the end of the day, whether you decide homemade food, commercial food, or a mix of both is right for your dog, what really matters is that you are feeding your the best dog food possible.