The pet food industry is fraught with controversy, conflicting information and constant recalls. It’s no surprise that many dog guardians want to prepare their pup’s diet in their own kitchen.
Unfortunately, the veterinary industry has made cooking a balanced diet seem like a complicated and unreachable goal. In this article, I want to give you a simple system to prepare home made diets that are safe and balanced.
What does a ‘balanced diet’ even mean?
The term balanced is open to interpretation and can vary amongst professionals in the dog care community. For most veterinarians, it is defined as a diet with adequate vitamin, mineral and other macronutrient content as outlined by AAFCO and/or the NRC.
If you research (aka Google) AAFCO or the NRC (National Research Council) you will see many professionals in the holistic dog community in opposition to their guidelines. Some complaints against these recommendations may be valid. We do need longer feeding trials and it would be ideal to have more studies. However, I think it is unwise to discount all the studies that have been done on canine nutrition to date. There are textbooks full of studies and data. Let’s not throw it all away!
How do I make sure my diet contains all the vitamins and minerals for my dog?
There are two ways you can create a balanced home cooked diet for your dog. The hard way and the easy way. Let’s start with the hard way. You could calculate the requirement for every vitamin and mineral based off of the number of calories you are feeding your dog. I have tried this using supplements I carry in my practice and it is very difficult. Most nutritional supplements are designed to be given with a balanced diet. As a result, you must give massive quantities to reach the minimum requirements. I have also tried the route of purchasing each vitamin and mineral separately and adding it to the food. Wow, that made food preparation time way too long!
Now for the easy way. There is a website called Balance It. I can’t say enough good things about this tool. I don’t have a relationship with this company. I am just a huge fan. It has made home cooking accessible for my own dog as well as many of my patients.
I am going to walk you through how I use their online calculator.
Step 1: Pick your ingredients.
This is a diet I use in my patients that are recovering from diarrhea or vomiting.
Step 2: Choose a protein and carbohydrate range.
When in doubt, start with the mid-range option.
Step 3: Choose ‘adjust to your dog for FREE’.
You can add how much your dog weighs and how many meals you want to batch cook together. I used my own dog’s weight of 14 lb. I like to cook for one week at a time.
Now you can select this diet based off of your dog’s weight.
Step 4: After you hit ‘View’ you can see the recipe it has generated for you.
It will also tell you how much of the Balance It powder you will need to add. I recommend that you order the supplement and try the recipe without the powder first. Feel free to make the first batch for your pup without any vitamins or minerals. Now you can head to the grocery store to get cooking!
Here are few tips and tricks.
- I recommend using a slow cooker. I usually add two cups of water for every cup of grain I add. This also allows you to add the oil after cooking so that it’s freshness is preserved. I cook for 8 hours on low. You can also cook for 4 hours on high.
- Don’t stress about weighing everything out the gram. For example I would use a little more than a pound of chicken for the above recipe.
- It’s ok if it is not exactly perfect. It’s your kitchen, not a lab. Relax and enjoy nourishing your pup!
Food is love!
I can’t wait to hear how it goes! Leave a comment below or find me on Facebook!
Thank you for taking such wonderful care of your pet.