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As a pet parent, you want the best for your furry family members. A dog’s diet is essential to their health and happiness. Naturally, that starts with feeding them healthy dog food. There are a number of ways to ensure a healthy diet, homemade dog food included. But is homemade food for you and your dog? Let’s dive in.
You can absolutely make your own dog food. Homemade food is one of the many options pet owners have to meet their dog’s needs. There is no evidence that fresh dog food is better than commercial dry food, but according to the Merck Veterinary Manual, dogs can thrive on appropriately formulated home-cooked foods.3
Homemade food can be a balanced diet for your dog, but you have to do it right. That’s why it’s essential to seek out a vet-approved recipe. An imbalanced homemade diet will often lead to nutritional problems.4
Recipes from the internet — including some written by veterinarians — are extremely unlikely to be balanced and nutritionally sufficient.5 Additionally, each dog’s nutritional requirements will depend on their age, size, health, and breed.4
It’s also important to know that not all dogs should have a homemade diet. According to the American Kennel Club’s chief veterinarian, puppies, pregnant dogs, and lactating dogs have specific dietary needs that may not be as easily addressed by homemade foods.6
To meet official feed standards set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), homemade recipes should have all of the essential nutrients your dog needs. According to the AAFCO nutrient requirements for dogs, your dog’s diet needs:7
Water is another essential — if not the most important — part of a balanced diet.4 While a homemade dog food may have more moisture than kibble, you’ll still need to keep fresh, clean water out at all times.
Do-it-yourself dog food can be a great option for some pet parents. It’s often a popular choice for those who focus on pet holistic health practices. Just keep in mind that there is no evidence that homemade food is nutritionally better than kibble.
Some advantages of home-cooked foods may include:
If you’re considering homemade-prepared foods over prescription food due to the cost, a MetLife Pet Insurance1 policy may be able to help cover your food expenses.2 Learn more about our dog insurance coverage.
Is homemade dog food better than the rest? Not always. It comes with its fair share of disadvantages, including:
There are a few general steps to making your own dog food:
If you’re considering fresh dog food, here are a few helpful resources:
Don’t forget that your regular vet is an important resource in this process. They will understand your dog’s specific needs and will give the best recommendations. They may even have a veterinary nutritionist on staff or a professional referral.
Whether or not homemade dog food is the right choice is between you, your dog, and your vet. Some dogs can thrive on homemade diets, while others should avoid them.
Take the time to carefully weigh your needs and expectations before switching from kibble. And remember that commercially prepared, fresh dog food is also an option.
1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.
2 Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.
3 “Overview of Nutrition: Small Animals,” Merck Veterinary Manual
4 “Nutritional Requirements and Related Diseases of Small Animals,” Merck Veterinary Manual
5 “Cooking Up Trouble: Common Home Cooking Mistakes,” Cummins School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University
6 “Homemade Dog Food Recipes: Choosing Balanced Ingredients,” American Kennel Club
7 “AAFCO Methods For Substantiating Nutritional Adequacy of Dog and Cat Foods,” Association of American Feed Control Officials