Choosing the right diet is probably the most important question any pet owner asks. Often people have the idea that natural food for animals is food from the table. But this is not true. What is homemade pet food, who benefits from such a diet, and how to switch your pet to natural food?
Why should pets be fed with homemade food? There are several reasons why people feed pets home food. For example, some owners have pets with special dietary requirements who, for health reasons, cannot eat commercial foods because of allergies, etc., or because special ingredients need to be added to their food.
Some people feed pets with home-cooked food because they want to be assured of its quality and that it is free of chemical preservatives, harmful additives and other ingredients that are found in some commercial foods. Finally, a third group of home-fed animals are working dogs, who need a very high percentage of protein and fat that commercial foods cannot provide.
Types of homemade diets
There are three different kinds of homemade diets. The first type is a carefully balanced diet, completely homemade. It contains premium protein sources, a balanced ratio of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fiber, and contains a complex of vitamins and beneficial minerals to meet the animals’ needs. People who feed this type of diet really care about the health of their pets. This type of diet requires a great deal of time and material expense.
The second diet is what is known as a mixed diet, which consists of commercial food with the addition of natural food. Often waste from the human table is used as natural food. If this waste is more than 10% of the diet, it can become unbalanced.
The third type of homemade diet is entirely food from the host table, and unbalanced in protein, fats and carbohydrates. This is a bad diet for your pet. This is usually the diet of a finicky pet. To please your pet, the owner purposely prepares chicken breasts or other treats, forgetting that the pet will be deficient in carbohydrates and vitamins.
How to provide a balanced homemade diet for pets?
Making the right diet for your dog or cat on a natural diet is a complex and time-consuming process. It is almost impossible to put it together by yourself and balance it according to your pet’s needs. Therefore, if you decide to transfer your dog or cat to a natural diet, it is worth consulting a specialist.
Most people who own several kinds of pets often feed their pets the same foods. This is not the way to do it. Owners should know that cats need a lot of protein (they need 5 times as much protein as dogs), which inevitably means that dog food cannot be normal food for a cat. For each kind of animal (e.g. cat, dog, chinchilla), you have to cook separately. There are many simple and affordable recipes that can be used to provide a nutritious and balanced diet for your pet.
How do I switch my dog or cat from dry to homemade food?
It is worth transferring clinically healthy animals to natural food, so it is better to examine the dog or cat beforehand: do at least a biochemical blood test and an ultrasound of the abdomen.
The fact is that the transition from any food to another is a stress for the body, and in animals with latent diseases, it can cause a number of consequences.
With the correct transition of dogs and cats to homemade food, there are no difficulties and problems. If, however, the rules of switching from one diet to another are not followed, digestive disorders and even gastritis are possible. So it is better to stick to the rules of converting animals to natural food.
Be sure to take into account the age of the animal. Growing (young) animals, as well as older animals have very sensitive digestion, and care must be taken. In addition, switching to another diet may cause exacerbation of chronic diseases in older pets. So transferring the pet to another diet in this case should be supervised by a specialist, and the mood and well-being of the dog or cat should be carefully monitored.
Remember that the digestive tract of the pet needs to adjust to the new diet. The process of switching to a different diet takes about 14-21 days.
What are the advantages of a balanced natural diet for animals?
- High digestibility and digestibility of the food.
- Natural food for dogs and cats is the most natural, inherent in nature.
- Fluid intake is reduced because natural diets are themselves rich in moisture and it reduces the risk of dehydration.
Does a pet need additional vitamins and minerals when eating a natural diet?
If the natural diet is balanced, it does not need additional vitamins or minerals.
However, it is worth checking the cat’s health: do a blood chemistry test at least once a year. If the test results show that additional vitamin and mineral supplements are needed, of course they should be administered. But just like that, you should not give them casually.
What you should consider before preparing a home-cooked meal for your cat or dog
- Cooking a homemade meal takes quite a bit of time.
- Homemade food can be more expensive than commercial food.
- Note that new information about better nutrition for pets is coming out all the time. Those people who feed their pets with homemade food need to keep their finger on the pulse of new research. What was considered normal 5 years ago may already be hopelessly outdated today.
- If a homemade diet is not properly balanced, it can be detrimental to your pet’s health.
- Attention should also be paid to proper storage of homemade food.
- Keep in mind that if you have accustomed your pet to homemade food, it will be very difficult for you to transition him to dry food.
- You should also remember that homemade diets are often too bland and do not provide chewing, which is not good for the gums and teeth.
Who is not recommended to switch to a natural diet?
Veterinarians do not recommend switching to a natural diet:
- Very old animals;
- Animals with long-term, severe chronic illnesses (such as kidney failure, etc.) as any change in diet can exacerbate chronic conditions;
- If the pet requires a lower protein level for health reasons;
- Dogs and cats with already diagnosed urolithiasis.
And remember, even the best diet in the world will not improve your pet’s health if they are not provided daily with your love and care.