Have you ever wondered what goes into that can of wet dog food or that bag of kibbles? You have probably tried to read those small letters on the back of the label to figure out what goes into the food of your furry baby. Probably your dog also wonders what goes into that dog food. You may have often thought if all these stuff are really good for your dog or it is making him fat or even worse, sick.
Much like preferring something which is home cooked rather eating some frozen TV dinners, our dogs would much be delighted to eat food that has been lovingly prepared for them. Of course it takes time, knowledge and some effort to do but it does go a long, long way to help our pooches attain wellness. By preparing home cooked meals for them, we can ensure that what goes into their bodies. Moreover, we can customize the meal to suit their nutritional needs.
What Kind of Food Should I Put Into the Mix?
Dogs have specific nutritional needs similar to any specie. He has specific dietary requirements that needs to be met in order to live a healthy life. There are many conflicting articles on the internet regarding what our canine friends truly need. Some say they can eat raw meat while some say not to give them raw meat. Other articles point out giving food with carbs while others say that these cause sicknesses and obesity.
Protein – In the wild, before dogs became domesticated, they were natural hunters. You can see this just by looking at their facial structure. They have elongated snouts and mouth areas which makes eating meat easier. They have long canine teeth that helps tear down carcasses easier. Essentially dogs need about 50% to 60% protein in their daily food intake. Research shows that dogs can consume raw meat because unlike humans, they have shorter intestinal tracts and this prevents bacterial issues such as salmonella and e-coli. They also have strong gastric juices that can digest meat easily as well as teeth that can tear it apart with ease.
Protein helps them to build muscle and gives them strength. Raw meat has enzymes such as iron and zinc which are naturally occurring as well. Some amino acids break down due to cooking so feeding raw meat is good to ensure optimal protein intake. On the other hand, introducing cooked chicken breast meat or cooked fish is also good to help keep variety and avoid fur shedding since some dogs may have fish and poultry allergies and can cause their fur to fall. Consulting your vet before preparing your own food is important.
Vegetables and fruits – Contrary to popular belief that dogs and vegetables are not friends, well they are. Your dogs can benefit from eating vegetables such as squash and carrots. It can provide them essential vitamins and minerals as well as fibre. Fibre in a dog’s diet can help fight constipation. Mixing an amount of 25% of veggies and fruits into the homemade food can help him achieve good nutrition. Apples, bananas and oranges (with no seeds) can be given to dogs.
Carbohydrates – Some people say that dogs should not consume carbs but they can benefit from eating a little from this food group. Gluten free options are good for dogs such as potatoes, barley and rice. Some dogs have intolerances to gluten and hard to digest fibrous carbohydrate sources. Fibre is good for them but not too much. Since dogs have a short intestinal tracts, eating too much fibre can cause them stomach irritations and diarrhoea. Only about 15% to 20% of a dog’s diet should come from carbohydrates.
Calcium and Omega-3 – Dogs do need many nutrients and minerals but they would benefit the most from calcium and omega-3. Calcium helps keep their bones and teeth strong. Dogs need a lot of calcium since they have long teeth. This helps keep them sharp and strong. It also helps them fight osteoarthritis and bone degradation. Omega-3, on the other hand helps them have beautiful and shiny coat. It also helps fight heart problems and keeps their cholesterol levels low. Adding ground egg shells or calcium supplements can help your dog get his calcium needs. You can also give him yogurt as long has he has no problems with dairy. Yogurt also has probiotics that can help him stay away from sicknesses. Omega-3 is normally available in fish such as mackerel. Try to avoid feeding your dog raw salmon as it is high in mercury can cause poisoning and also skin irritations.
Food That My Dogs Should Never Have
When preparing your own dog food, you must stay away from food that can cause your dog to get sick. Many human food that are not poisonous to us can cause irritations, seizures and other illnesses in our dogs. Common food that your dog should avoid are chocolates and chips of course. Chocolates are poisonous for dogs and cats and cause their hearts to stop. Chips contain MSG or monosodium glutamate that may cause seizures, lethargy as well as allergies in your dog.
- Garlic, onions and leeks – All vegetables that come from a bulb such as garlic, chives, onions, and leeks should be avoided by your dog. Dogs can suffer from a sudden drop of blood pressure if he or she eats these vegetables. This can cause heart failure as well as a coma. On a less serious note, this bulbs can give the dog anaemia which if unnoticed can eventually be harmful.
- Avocado – Avocado contain high amounts of fatty acids and fibre. This combination can cause him severe diarrhoea. Avocados contain persin which can be a problematic substance to birds, horses, cats and dogs. This can cause difficulty breathing in smaller dogs and indigestion in larger dogs.
- Grapes and Raisins – Grapes and raisins are very harmful to dogs. Studies have not yet revealed the reason why these fruits are deadly to dogs but a lot of cases have shown kidney problems. This can affect a dog’s urinary tract and even cause instant death. It may also cause dehydration, vomiting and gastric distress.
- Macadamia Nuts – Although not totally fatal, macadamia nuts should never be given to dogs because they cause a rise in body temperature such as a fever. It also shows effects that are similar to gout or arthritis. Dogs who have eaten this nut seem to be in pain in their hind legs and some even experience shaking.
The most important step in making your own dog food is to first consult your vet. Some dogs may have allergies and irritations to certain food. You may also consult an animal nutritionist so that he can help you create a meal plan for your pooch. He or she can help you create the recipes. Unlike humans, dogs do not need to have their food seasoned by salt or pepper. Natural flavours are best for our pets. Actually commercial food are loaded with sodium to enhance the flavour but natural food which is truly meaty does not need added salt.
If you plan to cook the food try to cook the vegetables well since dogs cannot digest them well or puree them before mixing them to the meat. Try to make sure that the container you used is washed to avoid contamination. If you plan to cook the meat, beef, lamb, pork and game should not be cooked over medium rare to maintain the amino acids. Chicken or fish can be cooked well to avoid allergies. Remove excess skin or fat from the meat since dogs only need 10% of fat in their daily diet can get cardiovascular diseases if fed too much.
Remember the food that should be avoided by your dog. If you plan to keep the food in batches, remember to store them properly. Freezing is the best method of storage since it keeps the freshness of the food. This also makes home cooked dog food more accessible and less time consuming.
Preparing your own dog food can really help your dog achieve good health. Senior dogs and puppies will feel better with carefully planned food. This can also ensure that irritants and allergens are removed from his diet. Making your own dog food can solve many problems brought about by commercially bought dog food.