STRAIGHT TO THE POINT: A recent study published by the University of California Davis evaluated over 100 different cat food recipes available online to the public and NOT ONE was nutritionally complete. In addition to missing various nutrients, many actually contained substances considered toxic to cats. If you are interested in cooking a homemade diet for your pet, it is important to ask your Veterinarian for a referral to a local Veterinary Nutritionist. Alternately, you can pursue an online nutrition consult with a boarded veterinary nutritionist.
The Importance of Animal Nutrition
I would argue that you cannot maintain health without first considering nutrition. In fact, I strongly believe that proper nutrition is one of the most important components of preventative medicine. Considering that commercial pet food makes up a $30 billion industry annually, I must not be alone in this belief.
What I have noticed in my practice is that making home cooked pet food meals is more popular than ever. It makes sense, when you think about it. Commercial pet kibble could not be further in appearance from the whole foods we consume ourselves. If we love our pets as members of the family, why not feed them like members of the family?
A Few Problems with Home Cooked Pet Food
Let me start by saying that I am an avid home cook. I have spent countless hours preparing home cooked meals for my families, baby food for the littles, and even medically appropriate home cooked diets for my pets. I am a huge proponent of the power of healthy means prepared from fresh, local ingredients. However, there are common problems encountered when preparing homemade pet diets.
1. Some Common Ingredients are Toxic to Pets
You probably know that you shouldn’t put chocolate in your homemade pet food. But I bet you would be surprised by other toxic ingredients. What about Avocados? Grapes and raisins? Onions? Garlic? Those are all potentially toxic to animals. What about peanut butter? Well, the good stuff is just fine to give. But, did you know that some peanut butter contains artificial sweeteners? It is those sweeteners that can actually be toxic. My point is, before you start feeding your pets from the kitchen, it is important to understand what foods are toxic to pets.
2. A Good Diet Must Be Nutritionally Complete
In order to support good health, a homemade diet must be formulated to provide the macro and micronutrients required by the individual consuming it. This is often where homemade diets simply fall short. Even if an owner includes a variety of fresh and healthy ingredients in their homemade diet, it likely falls short in meeting one or more of their nutritional needs. This is why it is so important that, if you plan on making pet food at home, you consult with a veterinary nutritionist experienced in homemade diets.
A Recent Study Shows Online Pet Food Recipes Not Complete
With that said, I finally find myself at the inspiration for this blog – a recent study by the veterinary nutritionists at University of California at Davis. This study evaluated 114 different cat food diet recipes found online. The goal was to evaluate those nutritional resources readily available from “Dr. Google” in order to determine whether these readily available resources provided a healthy alternative to commercial cat food diets.
Shockingly enough, not a single one of the 114 cat food recipes evaluated provided adequate nutrition. In fact, many were severely deficient in multiple nutrients and even contained toxins. This is pretty scary, as I can think of specific clients that have asked me specifically about diet recipes they have found online. I can only imagine that, for every pet owner that asks their vet, there are many many more that do not.
How to Safely Cook Food For Your Pet
Fortunately, there are resources available to pet owners hoping to prepare petfood from scratch. Veterinary nutritionists are veterinarians that have completed additional training in the area of nutrition. Many go on to provide consulting services to individual clients or other vets. In addition, there are many reputable services available online, which I will expand upon in the following post: How to Make a Healthy Petfood from Scratch.