All dogs deserve a good life, lots of fun walks and lots of playtime. Also, let’s not forget the food. After all, a well-fed dog looks healthy and happy which is what every dog owner wants.
First, let’s talk about the amount of food. Not all dogs eat the same, obviously, and larger canines need more food than smaller breeds.
Feeding the right amount is important. You don’t want to feed your pooch too little as they will not get enough nutrition and also not too much since you don’t want them to become obese. In fact, the dog is exposed to some serious health concerns when they are fed too much including certain types of cancers, heart complications, skin problems, and Cushing’s disease.
As a rule of thumb, it is recommended to feed your pooch 2 to 3 percent of their body weight each day. This means, therefore, that a 40lb dog should eat roughly 2 or 3lbs of food a day.
What your dog should eat
Let’s not forget where we got our dogs from…wolves!! We may have bred them into all manner of shapes and sizes. However, all dogs share up to 98.8 of their DNA with wolves.
Simply put, dogs are carnivores that require a high protein diet.
Some owners like the idea of feeding their dog raw meat. There is nothing wrong with this and can be very beneficial to your dog. However, if you choose to go this route, there are a few things that you need to keep in check.
First is that the meat you choose should be human grade. After all, pet meat can have preservatives and additives which can cause problems for your dog in the future.
While you can always cook the meat, ensure that you avoid adding anything that could be toxic to your dog such as raw onions.
Carnivores they may be, but it doesn’t hurt to include a few veggies such as carrots and pumpkin in the dog’s diet. In fact, many vets agree that most dogs don’t receive enough fiber in their diet.
If you prefer canned meats and fish such as tuna and salmon, ensure that you check for fish bones before giving it to the dog. Also, it is important that you understand the best seafood for dogs and which ones to avoid.
Foodborne bacteria and parasites can affect both you and the dog causing serious illness or worse. So, always make sure that you uphold the highest standards of hygiene with the meat.
Raw meat diet
Many advocate for a raw food diet. Plenty of dog owners will agree that it is the best way to meet the nutritional requirements of your dog. But, the question then becomes is it much better to make your own homemade dog food or is it better to go for store brands?
A report made for congress by the Oxford University epidemiologists in 1981 laid out the findings as to the causes of cancer in humans. In the report, it was stated that up to 1/3 of all cancer issues were due to diet with carcinogens being the main cause.
While there is no such report on the effect of diet in dogs, there are carcinogens in store brands. Also, some studies have linked cancer in dogs with consuming food that has carcinogens.
Carcinogens are something that every dog owner should be aware of. The most common type of carcinogen is aflatoxins. They are a type of fungus that grows on poorly stored grains such as corn and rice. That said, many types of store brands contain corn and brown rice.
The strange thing is that aflatoxins are not destroyed by the high temperatures used when preparing store brands of dog food. And with poor storage, the aflatoxins grow. As your pooch ingests these aflatoxins over time, they can combine with the DNA causing cell mutations. This can lead to cancer.
Homemade meals are, therefore, a much safer alternative.
Flatulence in dogs
While a certain level of gas in the intestines and colon is a normal occurrence from the bacteria breaking down the food, it can become an issue if it gets out of hand.
If store-branded dog food contains ingredients that are not digestible by your pooch, then it may cause gas and bloat. Since you have complete control of what your dog eats with a homemade meal, you can avoid flatulence.
Homemade dog food vs Store brands—cost
You can expect store-bought brands to be more expensive than homemade dog food. After all, the companies will do the sourcing, grinding, forming and packaging. All these processes are at a cost that will be included in the final price of the dog food.
Let’s compare the prices of different types of meats and veggies from Walmart. This is as per the time of writing this post.
- Bone-in chicken thighs—$1.3/lb.
- Chicken wings—$2.6/lb.
- Canned pumpkin—10.67cents/OZ.
Let’s now take a look at the prices of different Blue Buffalo brands.
- Wilderness chicken recipe—$1.91/lb.
- Wilderness salmon recipe—$2/lb.
- Rocky mountain recipe with red meat—$2.5/lb.
Now I know what you are thinking—store brands are cheaper, right? Wrong! Assuming you have a 40lb dog that needs to eat 3lbs of food each day, while a store brand might cost you up to $7.5 each day, a home-made meal made from chicken thighs, pumpkin and carrots will cost you around $4.
Granted, there may not be much difference in the prices when you calculate the cost per meal. However, your dog is healthier which means fewer visits to the vet. Considering that the average vet visit might end up costing $50 or more, it is well worth considering how to minimize the visit.
Benefits of homemade dog foods
As a concerned dog owner and one that wants the best for his pooch, making homemade dog food gives you complete control over what your dog ingests. So, for people who have a dog that has allergies or certain types of ailments, making their own dog food can help reduce trips to the vet.
Dogs may love meat, but to be healthy they need more than this. They require plenty of calcium, organ meats together with muscle meats such as steak and chicken breasts. You will also need to incorporate veggies and fatty acids.
You can also create a menu for your dog by incorporating different types of meats and veggies. This provides your pooch with a wide range of nutrients for a healthy all-rounded happy dog. When choosing your meat make sure it is high quality, organically sourced and non-GMO.
Avoid synthetic ingredients
Most store brand dog foods have synthetic ingredients that will not be absorbed by the dog’s body quite as easily as the natural vitamins. Things like hydrochloride, proteinate, and sulfate are all synthetics that are not as healthy to the pooch as the natural meats.
Natural meats and veggies have whole food ingredients that are much better for the dog’s overall health.
Here are a few tips on choosing the best dog food.
Avoiding high-pressure pasteurization
Many store-bought dog foods undergo high-pressure pasteurization. This is meant to destroy the bacteria that may be contained in the raw food. However, it does have its drawbacks.
When the food is undergoing the process, it is usually in its packaging which means that there is a chance that some toxic substances can get inside the meats. An example is phthalates.
It is much better to cook your dog’s food. Granted you will lose some nutrients but the food is safer. Keep in mind that the risks involved in handling raw dog meat that is unpasteurized is the same as handling meat for human consumption. You can mitigate the health risks by maintaining hygiene.