As 2022 is ushered in, you might be considering setting new routines for better eating habits in the new year. You may also be considering changing your pet’s diet, as well. This is a great time to include your pets in your resolution making!
Pet food contamination scares, along with the unpronounceable ingredients found in packaged pet foods, have caused pet owners to consider home-prepared options to keep their fur babies living long, healthy lives. It is also known that some ingredients in prepared foods cause joint inflammation, allergic reactions, and kidney and digestion problems. So, what can you do to help your cat or dog that won’t take up too much time in your already busy lives?
Making food at home may sound daunting, but preparing food for your pets can be satisfying and give you greater peace of mind. (Only cooked meals are addressed here; raw meals have different considerations.)
Things to Consider:
You can freeze it for weeks ahead. Thawing enough food for 3-4 days is a safe way to keep the food free from harmful bacteria.
Home-prepared food is less expensive than canned foods, but slightly more expensive than kibble or dried foods.
Planning an afternoon once a month to prepare food is the most time-efficient way to go about this endeavor.
Just like you, your pets may need supplements to keep them healthy.
Many recipes are available on the internet for your dogs and cats. Make sure they are balanced and nutritionally complete.
Feed your pet based on the calorie intake recommended for your pet’s size and breed. Ask your vet if you have any questions regarding this requirement.
One you’ve determined the right meal planning for your pet, use fresh ingredients and a food scale to measure portions out. Dogs require approximately 25% protein (meats), approximately 45% carbohydrates (brown rice, whole grain pasta, and yams are good choices), 2-5% fiber (vegetables such as carrots, green beans, chopped broccoli), and 25% fat for young adults (coconut or flaxseed oil are good sources of fat). Dogs that are overweight can have the fat content reduced.
Cats, as obligate carnivores on the other hand, need a higher content of protein than dogs. According to petmd.com, many recipes found on the internet do not meet standard nutritional guidelines for cats, so they highly recommended consulting a board-certified veterinary nutritionist before making food for your cat at home.
A dog food specialist recently advised that dogs and cats should be rotated through protein types in order to keep them from developing food sensitivities as they age. Beef, lamb, venison, buffalo, chicken, and turkey can be alternated every few days or every week to keep their digestive system adapting to a variety of meats.
As with any major dietary plan, it is a good idea to consult your pet’s vet before you make a major change in their lives. Especially if they have any underlying health issues such as allergies or anxieties, your vet may be able to guide you in the best decision for your pet’s new eating program. That being said, like human medical doctors, vets are not trained dieticians, so don’t be too surprised if their input is minimal. Still, it is better to proceed with caution when concerning your pet’s health. Additionally, some dog breeds need more or less of each food category.
As a reminder, switching up foods can be difficult for animals that have been served the same thing everyday. Changing over diets should be done incrementally. It is recommended that dogs and cats be transitioned as follows: Days 1-3 add 25% of the new diet to the old diet; days 3-5 make it 50/50; days 5-7 add 75% of the new diet to 25% of the old diet; Day 7 can be 100% new diet. Remember that pureed pumpkin can be added to their food if you see signs of digestive issues during the transfer.
Recommended Book on the Topic:
Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health For Dogs & Cats
"Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, PhD, was a teacher and researcher in veterinary medicine at the University of Washington; worked at Monterey, California SPCA clinic; and had a holistic small animal practice in Eugene, Oregon, for over 20 years, focusing on nutrition and homeopathy. He has trained more than 500 veterinarians, lectured widely, and cofounded the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy." (Bio provided by book.)
Dr. Pitcairn's book offers a complete and well-rounded approach to providing natural and holistic care for your pets' health and well-being. This book contains a variety of recipes for both cats and dogs, and some of which can crossover. Also included is an extensive list of herbs and homeopathic remedies for everyday health as well as certain ailments that may arise throughout your pets' lifetime. Pitcairn provides recommendations for other pet considerations such as how to chose a new pet and introduce them your household, how to provide a healthy lifestyle of balanced activities, and much more. For more information, you can visit Dr. Pitcairn's site at: https://www.drpitcairn.com/