Pet food trends are seeing a surge in popularity at the moment: paleo, raw food, and even homemade meals. The main reason that many pet owners are leaning towards homemade meals is because they can have the comfort of knowing exactly what their pet is eating. Some pet owners are happy and would much rather prepare the meals themselves instead of purchasing meals prepared by a pet food company.
Homemade meals are actually a great way to spoil your pets, and can be beneficial – but only if they are prepared correctly. These days, there are many amazing-sounding recipes that you can find online. However, most of them are not balanced and complete for your pet.
So, what does “balanced” and “complete” even mean? “Balanced” is when all the nutrients that a pet needs meet the correct levels. “Complete” means that the food contains all the required nutrients. Hence, it is very important to ensure that a homemade meal is both balanced and complete.
With this in mind, what are the real benefits of homemade meals?
- They provide variety to your pet’s daily diet/meals
- You can know exactly what your pet is eating
- They are great for fussy furbabies
- They can cater to pets with special dietary requirements
Homemade meals: raw meals vs cooked meals
There’s a lot of debate on what is best when it comes to homemade meals – namely, is raw better than cooked? We encourage cooked meals rather than raw due to health and safety reasons. However, if you are considering feeding your pet a raw food diet, there are a few things that you should consider.
Safe handling of raw meat to prevent cross contamination
It is absolutely vital to practice safe handling of raw meat to prevent any cross contamination with harmful bacteria. The NSW Food Authority has recommendations on safe handling of raw meat for setting the right standard.
Most online recipes and commercial diets are not complete or balanced
A lot of homemade recipes that you can find online are generally not balanced and complete. Many commercially sold pet food diets face the same problem. When a diet is not balanced and complete, it can be detrimental to your pet’s health.
Higher risk of bacteria and parasites in raw food
It has been proven through recent scientific studies that animals that are fed a raw food diet can shed bacteria in their faeces for up to seven days. While some of these bacteria may be completely harmless, others can cause serious issues. This is particularly a concern for young children, pregnant women, older people, and immunocompromised patients.
So what are the take home messages about homemade meals for your pets?
- We recommend cooked homemade meals over raw meals.
- Consult a board certified veterinary nutritionist to help formulate a balanced and complete diet that is specifically tailored to your pet’s needs.
- Regular blood testing and check ups with your vet are essential to ensure that your pet is healthy and doing well. This is because all homemade meals are tailored specifically to each furbaby. Moreover, unlike commercial kibbles, no clinical trials have been performed to determine if the diet formulation is suitable.
- Not all pets are suited to homemade food, just as some pets are not suited for commercial kibble diet.
Always remember to have a chat to your vet about what is best for your pet. Each pet is unique, and it is very important to have a tailored approach rather than a popular trend. Here at My Vet, we work closely with Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionists to formulate specific diets tailored to each of our patients on homemade meals.