Animal Friends Blog
With so many different bags, boxes and brands of dog food available on the shelves of our local shops it’s hard to know which one is best for our dogs. Reading the ingredients is like reading the item list for a science experiment, far away from what we’re used to when reading recipes for our own food.
More and more owners are making homemade food for their dogs, but what is actually best for yours? Commercial or homemade?
Homemade dog food
When making your dog’s food at home you have complete control over what your dog eats. This is good news, especially if your dog has any food sensitives, allergies or other health problems.
On the other hand, making sure your dog has a balanced and nutritious diet is important so before getting the oven on and popping a saucepan on the hob a lot of research needs to be done.
Meeting your dog’s nutritional requirements
This is so important with both homemade and shop bought dog food.
When making your dog’s food no single ingredient, such as beef mince, should ever make up more than half the diet. A simple formula to follow is:
- 50% meat – fresh minced beef, fresh chicken breast, fresh minced lamb, ox heart or liver are all good sources of protein and vitamins.
- 50% vegetables – peas, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, sweet potato, carrots and green beans are all great additions to your dog’s food. Vegetables provide fibre that will support a healthy digestive system as well as those yummy antioxidants, too.
You might want to add an egg to your dog’s bowl if they have a dry coat or swapping the beef meat for fish if your dog is older or putting on the pounds.
Commercial dog food
If you want to buy your dog’s food from the pet shop or local supermarket you shouldn’t base your purchase on the brand. Just because it’s a name you recognise doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best food for your dog.
Here are a few things to remember when you look at the ingredients:
- Avoid animal by-products. These are basically all the things we wouldn’t eat ourselves. So, think fat, bones, and blood.
- You want a good-quality high protein content. You’ll want to look for meat products listed in the ingredients. Meat meals, sometimes listed on dog food packets, is simply dehydrated meats where the water and fat have been removed.
- If you see animal derivatives listed in dog food this might not necessarily be a bad thing. These can include things like an animal’s heart, lung or muscle meat and they could be very high-quality meat. On the other hand, the term can also be used for low-quality animal products and you just wouldn’t know.
- Wet dog food can also contain more animal derivatives than dry dog food and sometimes works out more expensive.
- Complete dog food simply means that it includes all the key nutrients and ingredients that your dog needs to stay healthy but make sure to still check the long list on the back.
Other things to consider
There are plenty of other things to consider when it comes to your dog’s food, too. If you prefer the idea of a homemade meal plan, then you need to consider the costs. It’s likely to work out more expensive than shop-bought food, and there will be times where you might not feel like cooking your dog’s meal and be tempted to feed them leftovers from that night’s dinner.
Commercial food can also work out expensive, especially when buying good-quality food, especially for bigger breeds. Do the sums and compare the costs of both and see which is likely to work out cheaper for you, while meeting your dog’s nutritional needs.
You’re the person who knows your dog best, you know what your dog likes as well as their likes and dislikes. If you are still unsure about what’s best, then have a quick chat with your vet and they can provide you with more information.
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