In the cycle of finding the best type of food for our canines, we will meet lots and lots of information that typically will leave us puzzled at the end of the road and can’t decide on what is the best diet to our dog. Can you differentiate between good homemade food and balanced homemade dog food?
Homemade dog food is a great choice, isn’t that what our grandmas always said? but how to know if the kind of dog food you choose is considered ‘balanced’ homemade dog food and will meet the nutritional requirements of your pooch? For a dog diet to be considered as balanced homemade dog food, it should contain a suitable amount of Protein, Fibers, Carbohydrates, water, Vitamins, Fats and Water.
In order to call a diet balanced, it should contain these nutrients with a sufficient quantity to make your dog live healthily, safe and satisfied!
Balanced Homemade Dog Food; Importance of Essential Nutrition For Dogs
All living organisms need a diversity of nutrients to live and survive. Some components are found to supply organisms with energy, others are there to enable their bodies to move and function. Organisms need food to make anything with their lives— to survive.
Putting essential nutrients under the microscope will make each and every one of us understand the importance of every nutrient and knowing what it does to our pooches bodies and how vital they are and can’t be left out of every meal for our canines.
Let’s inspect each of the six essential nutrients that make balanced homemade dog food or any other type of food balanced;
protein is considered to be one of the macronutrients that the body needs to grow and function well, macronutrients are energy suppliers for the body protein is not the only one of them, along with protein there are fats and carbohydrates that both are considered s macronutrients as well.
Why Proteins? Protein is the source of amino acids which is the building blocks of our lives, it provides the dog’s body with essential and non-essential amino acids. Our dog’s body will need protein to have healthy skin, nails, thick hair, strong muscles, and bones.
Proteins are also important for producing neurotransmitters, hormones, enzymes, and antibodies.
Dogs need protein with certain proportions to be able to produce all of these things that are crucial for living, could you imagine living without any of these things? If yes, you are wrong!
Where to Find Proteins: The most common source of protein is meat, any type of meat; turkey, chicken, beef, pork or fish. There are other resources for it like eggs and some plants.
Exceptional Considerations: Pregnant doggo and puppies would need twice the amount of proteins than a regular adult dog to maintain his healthy state.
It is macronutrients that are fabricated of fatty acids, dietary fats are divided into three divisions; saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated.
Why Fats? As fats are macronutrients like protein, it contains twice the amount of calories that are found on protein or even carbohydrates.
Fats are one of the sources of having Omega 3 and Omega 6 that helps in promoting the health of the nervous system, regulating the body temperature, protects the internal organs, and enabling the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
Where to Find It:
- Fish oil, flaxseed oil, sunflower oil ( polyunsaturated )
- Butter, cheese meat ( saturated )
- Olive oil ( monounsaturated )
Exceptional Considerations: Coconut oil is not a source of fatty acids, it could be used for teeth brushing but not as a source for fatty acids. Also, excessive fatty acids may lead to gastrointestinal issues or pancreatitis.
Vitamins are organic substances which means that they contain carbon. Vitamins are not needed in large quantities, in fact, our dog’s bodies would need only small quantities for metabolic functions.
Vitamins like A, D, E and K, which is stored in the liver and fatty tissues, are soluble in fats, as for Vitamin C and B, which are not stored anywhere in the body, are soluble in water, because of our dog’s bodies are incapable of producing vitamins, it is needed to be found in their diets.
Why Vitamins? Vitamins play more than one vital role; For Vitamin C and E, they provide antioxidants, as for Vitamin A, it boosts the immune system, Vitamin D helps in maintaining the sufficient levels of calcium and phosphorus.
Vitamin K helps in the blood clotting when the dog is injured. All of these are not even all what vitamins do, there are other things that vitamins help in maintaining and promoting, stunning isn’t it?
Where to Find It: They are found in green plants(dog-friendly), organs and muscle meat.
Exceptional Considerations: All homemade dog food doesn’t contain all the needed vitamins, so to make a balanced homemade dog food you will need supplements to get the vitamins that our dogs’ bodies need.
If you are feeding your dog commercial food don’t add any of fat-soluble vitamins as excessive amounts could be toxic, as, for water-soluble, the excess will be discharged in eliminating.
Minerals are inorganic components, inorganic means that it is not consisting a living material or it doesn’t contain carbon(sometimes very small amounts exist) in it. Minerals function is to keep the metabolism process runs properly, our dogs’ bodies can’t manufacture minerals so they have to get it within their diet from many sources.
There are two kinds of minerals; macro minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, and chloride, the other kind is microminerals like iron, copper, zinc, manganese, selenium, and iodine. Our dog’s bodies would need more macrominerals than micromineral, but both of them are very important to our canine bodies.
Why Minerals? Just like Vitamins, minerals play more than just one role in our pooches bodies. Calcium and phosphorus help in constituting a large quantity of the bones, iron carries oxygen around the whole body, Zinc, on the other hand, helps in healing the body wounds, sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium help in nerve transmission.
Where to Find It: Minerals could be found in many kinds of food; phosphorous is found to be high in meat, calcium in bones, shellfish has a high level of zinc and organs meat are rich with copper and iron, and oysters that are rich with vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, also with copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, and zinc.
Exceptional Considerations: Puppies while growing need doubles the amount of calcium than adult dogs for maintenance. Monitoring the level of calcium and phosphorus in large dog breeds to avoid getting orthopedic diseases.
Carbohydrates are macronutrients, just like protein and fats, but it is made of units or blocks of sugar, starch, and indigestible fibers. As dogs can make glucose from fats and proteins, carbohydrates are considered as not being essential for doggo(that’s why it is listed the last one) as the kind of components it provides (glucose)could be supplemented by other foods.
Why Carbohydrates: While carbohydrates are a source of the ‘fuel’ that the body runs on, it also provides important plant-based nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that will ensure that the body is getting closer and closer to the optimum health level.
Exceptional Considerations: Consuming healthy carbohydrates will spare the proteins for other more important functions. Stay away from the junk that has a high level of unhealthy carbohydrates that will raise the level of sugar in the dog’s blood while providing almost zero beneficial nutrients.
Where to Find It: Dog-Friendly vegetables, fruits, and grains (free of gluten)
So, to call a meal or a diet you make for your dog ‘balanced homemade dog food’, it will have to get all the essential nutrients with accurate percentages to ensure that your doggo is getting all the nutrients he needs.
Balanced Homemade Dog Food; Right nutrients, Right Portions
Knowing the essential nutrients to make the perfect balanced homemade dog food alone won’t make the diet you craft for your dog right, you will need to know the right serving quantity of each one of these nutrients to get our canine to the needed.
There is a minimal diet requirement that has been set up for many nutrients out there, also maximum and toxic levels of these nutrients have been published too so pet owners could look for them and know the highest and lowest portion of every component for their pets. Check the AAFCO nutrient food profile to know more about that matter.
Balanced Homemade Dog Food; Benefits of Homemade food
It appears now that with every passing day we would have a new food recall, so as caring pet owners, we want to make sure that our dog’s diet is safe and rich with nutrients as possible to get the optimum health for our canines.
Choosing the ingredients of your dog makes your mind in peace even if your dog doesn’t have any diet restrictions, it isn’t about the ingredients that you can’t give to your dog, it is about the quality of the food that is served.
If you give your dog a homemade meal that contains 20% of protein and another pet owner gives his/her dog a commercial dog food with the same percentage of protein both the dogs should get the same nutritional value right?
Actually no, the quality of the food has its own vital role in this equation, high-quality food compared with a lower quality one with the same percentage of a certain essential nutrient won’t be the same for the canines’ stomachs.
The high-quality food and lower one will differ in the mean of digestibility.
Whether you chose to stick to balanced homemade dog food or commercial food, you will have to get the highest quality food you could effort for your dog, it doesn’t depend on the weight or the percentage labeled on the food that makes it of high quality.
It may seem to you that homemade dog food is the right choice as you are choosing the ingredients and can control the quality of the ingredients used, but let’s think for a minute, when you get a recipe for homemade dog food, do you make 100% like it was listed on the website or the recipe book?
Did you ever rule out an ingredient or two because you ran out of them or your dog just doesn’t like the taste of these ingredients? From this perspective, we could start to see that homemade dog food, even if it was balanced, it may have risks and problems.
Risks That Might Lies Behind ‘Balanced’ Homemade Dog Food Recipes
As shocking it may seem some studies showed that homemade dog food sometimes has many risks among dogs. Like this study that was published in 2013. 200 homemade dog food recipes were taken from many recipe books, sites, and even veterinary textbooks, the results were shocking, almost the whole list recipes weren’t complete and balanced as it is promoted to be!
Out of the 200 recipes that were included in the study, only 5% of them were meeting the nutritional levels that should be found on a dog’s meal. Some of the recipes even showed a high level of some nutrients that were so close to toxicity levels!
What is more shocking is that some of the people that go for taking the homemade food route saw these results and though it is just a ‘minor’ nutritional errors and it is not important because it won’t hurt the pets as they rotate through more than one recipe and it is reasonable for if a recipe doesn’t get all the nutritional requirements, as no one will get all that he needs from a single meal.
Their claim was proven to be wrong with another study that stated that many of those recipes have the same deficiency of the same exact nutrients, so even the rotating through the recipe strategy is not going to work as they may give the dog another meal but with the same shortage of nutrients.
This doesn’t mean you can’t find the right balanced homemade dog food for your dog, it is just an alert that most of the recipes will need careful examining to know whether they are fulfilling the dog’s nutrients needs or it still needs some additions to meet the requirement.
Balanced Homemade Dog Food; Finding the Best Recipes
Don’t make the study results scare you away from taking the path that you think will be more beneficial for your dog, the results should make you realize that you will need to put more effort in finding the right recipes for your dog so you don’t end up doing more harm than good.
The road for balanced homemade dog food is not so easy, you will have to know what your dog can eat and the quantity he/she will need.
The best balanced homemade dog food recipes would be found at certified veterinary nutritionists. Nutritionists will know what your dog needs from every essential nutrient and will recommend the ideal ingredients to make the perfect balanced meal for your pooch.
They will keep in mind your dog’s age, weight, and any health problems if exists. Also, they will craft the suitable recipes for your doggo and you won’t have to worry about any nutrient deficiency anymore.
How to Make Your Balanced Homemade Dog Food Recipe The Right Way
It is important to follow the recipe you have got with zero% of changes. Don’t add more or less of the amount of the ingredients to the recipes, add the right amount of oil and salt and don’t ignore any ingredients on the list. The only thing you can do is adding supplements to get enough vitamins and minerals to the food.
A study was made in 2014 on 43 pet owners, they were given dog food recipes and was asked to stick to the recipe and never to change anything on it, but the results showed that they didn’t stick to the recipe in different ways.
Some of them added more portion od oil and salt, others ignored some of the ingredients on the list and some of them failed to keep the amount of every ingredient to the perfect scale.
It is very important to stick to the recipe 100% to get your dog all the nutrition he/she needs. Up to challenges? Check our 13 Homemade Dog Food Recipes Anyone Can Cook article, choose a recipe and make it, then tell us from a scale from 1 to 10 how close were you from keeping all the ingredients with the right amounts. Waiting for your results!