This week might seem a bit strange for folks who know me well or deal with me frequently. I am typically not an advocate of many things that people might consider to be “alternative.” This is usually because in medicine the word alternative typically precedes something that is decidedly not medicine. Home cooked, balanced diets are not only good for pets but in many cases they are also excellent medicine.
If you’ve read a few of the posts I’ve put up about pet foods it might surprise you that I think home cooking is a good idea.
There are several foods on the market that are produced by companies that employ veterinariary nutritionists, actually perform digestion studies and are really setting the standards for pet foods. These are also the same companies that produce the diets we use to manage diseases that respond to nutritional management. I know that these foods are well balanced and nutritious and I choose to feed them to my own pets.
Whatever commercially prepared food you use, however, the ingredients are not going to be fresh by the time you feed them. They are properly preserved but surely nothing is better than a home cooked meal. The trick is balancing that meal. There are all kinds of websites that offer up home cooked recipes for dogs and cats. Over the six month period before writing this I have evaluated several dozen of them. Only two of them offer diets that I would consider to be balanced and healthy. Not surprisingly these two sites are managed by diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition. A board certified veterinary nutritionist is a fully trained veterinarian who has gone on to receive advanced training in animal nutrition. They then have to sit for a board exam and must maintain a certain number of hours of continuing education every year in nutrition to hold onto their diplomate status. You can learn more about veterinary nutritionists here: ACVN
These two websites are also pay sites. You are getting specific information from a highly trained specialist, it is going to cost money. The diet you pay for, however, is yours and will never go bad or out of style. In my eyes it is a sound investment.
I typically tell people to cook a week’s worth of food at a time, freeze it in individual meals and then heat it in the microwave when it is chow time. Not only will you be offering your pet a healthy well balanced alternative to kibble but you will also get the satisfaction that comes with helping your pet live a healthy life.
A quick word about raw diets. While it seems wonderful to feed your dog a “natural” or “wild” diet I think it is important to point out two things. One is that wolves supplement their diets in the wild with fruit and vegetables so a meat only diet is not only inappropriate it is not “natural.” The second thing I would point out is that “natural” canids live only long enough to pass on their genes and then they die. This typically takes about 8 years. In captivity they live 15 – 20 years. In captivity they also typically receive commercially prepared cooked diets. Dogs are also not wild animals, I’ve written about this. They have lived with humans for at least 15,000 years (probably a lot longer than that) and have evolved to eat with us and depend on us for survival. Comparing them to wolves is equivalent to comparing our children to chimpanzees. The ACVN addresses the idea of raw diets and many other subjects in their FAQ page. FAQ
Thanks for reading.