Home Cooking For Your Pet

By Lynn Whittaker
Owner of Bow Wow U

On March 16 of this year, the pet food industry’s world was rocked. Menu Foods, (a company manufacturing canned and foil packed dog and cat food) announced its pet food recall, bringing the pet food industry to a screeching halt. As the months progressed, more and more companies started recalling their brands of pet food. A sad reality is that a number of pets have fallen victim to the toxins in these foods. This included both dogs and cats. While we are still feeling the aftershocks, and recalls are continuing to occur, more owners feel they have been betrayed by the pet food industry for placing their trust in them. Unfortunately, it had to come to this for consumers, veterinarians, and other pet professionals to realize the truth about the pet food industry.

We have all been duped by these companies to believe that the only way to keep our pets healthy was to feed food sold by massive manufacturing plants. I am hopeful, that as a result of this, pet professionals and concerned pet owners will pick up their bags of food and start looking at the ingredients more closely. One of the most eye opening realities of this recall for many was discovering that manufacturer’s out-source canning plants and mills that play a part in the manufacturing process. Additionally, some of these plants make several different kinds of pet foods, sold under various company names. These foods range from premium to much lesser quality brands, so they may mass market to the consumers of their choice.

Why be concerned? After all, they use words like “complete”, “nutritionally sound”, “wholesome”, “holistic”, “all natural” and “organics” giving the consumer the impression that these foods are the best for their pets. The commercials depict vegetables falling from the sky, big chunks of meat, and an abundance of wholesome grains from wheat fields. One cannot rely on the images that are seen nor the verbiage, which is carefully chosen to market their products. If these companies can make such claims, they must be good, right? Wrong! There is no doubt that over the years pet food companies have done some homework in producing better nutritional foods, but this is where we have solely placed our trusts in perception that these companies must know what they are doing. The marketing doesn’t just stop at the consumer, but flows over to the veterinary population as well. Almost all of the nutritional research in small animals is financed by these large corporations. It’s no secret any longer that most of the nutritional departments at veterinary schools are funded by organizations like Hills and Purina. There is no doubt that some of these diets are a necessity, due to certain medical conditions, but there are many alternatives for feeding healthful diets.

After this recall my phone rang off the hook, and I was inundated with emails asking questions like, “What should I feed my dog now?”, ” Is this food safe?”, “Do you recommend this or that brand, and should I cook for my dog?” As a pet professional and one who takes pet nutrition seriously I think it is important to share an alternative with our readers called “Home Cooking”.

Home cooked? What exactly is this, and where do I go to get more information?

There are a multitude of web sites, online support groups, books and other publications that have been in circulation for years on this topic. At the end of this article, you will see some books and web sites I recommend for further reading.

The benefits to home cooked meals in your pet’s diet can offer a lot to their health. You can tailor a diet to suit the age or breed of your animal, or to treat specific ailments, such as diabetes, heart conditions, kidney failure and even cancer. Though it is more work and attention to ingredients is necessary, there is a multitude of help out there to provide valuable information and tips to creating these diets.

When examining such advice, however, be watchful of the grain content as some of these diets were formulated to follow the nutritional requirements of the larger pet food industries. These grains most often only provide additional calories rather than proteins, which can be better supplied with meats. Grains also can be an underlying cause of allergies, gas, dull coats, and obesity. Though some grains are useful in the diet, I prefer that if feeding home cooked meals an abundance of grain is not needed. Having three Boxers and a Boston Terrier who are genetically prone to cancers, I worry about them getting it. Studies have shown that cancer loves carbohydrates (found in grains) so I try to limit grains as much as possible. It is, however, vital that you supplement with the proper minerals, oils and vitamins to balance out the diet. If you feed only specific foods without supplements, your pet may show a dull coat, or other physical symptoms as a result of lacking important nutrients.

The following are merely guidelines to get you started. As we all know our pets have preferences of food items just as we do, and it may take some trial and error to find what works best. Always be certain to monitor your pet’s health and physical appearance as you make your changes to their diet.

You want to use a variety of protein sources and its important to note that although cats usually love canned tuna, it is high in mercury and sodium. I would advise not using it as a source of protein. There are many other types of fish that you may choose such as sardines in water, mackerel, bluefish, and salmon. If you eat fish, you can put some aside to feed your cat!
The formulations to the right are based on healthy, average sized cats and dogs. N

A Daily Ration for a Cat May Include:

  • PROTEINS: 5-6 oz. (may include beef, lamb, cottage cheese, fish, eggs, chicken, and turkey)
  • LIVER: 1 oz. (this should be certified organic beef or chicken)
  • (carrots, greens: like broccoli, string beans, and squashes, all fully cooked, finely chopped or mashed)
  • OILS: 1 tsp (safflower oil)
  • Cod Liver Oil: 1/4 tsp.
  • Bone Meal: 1/2 tsp.
  • Taurine: 100 mg
  • Vitamin E: 100 IU
  • *Healthy Powder (see recipe): 1-2 tsp.

A Daily Ration For a Dog May Include:

As with the cats, you want to be certain you have a veterinary professional rule out any other medical conditions that may need additional nutritional support and always be certain to monitor your pet’s health and physical appearance as you make your changes to home cooking.

(This dog diet is based on an average dog weighing approx. 40-60lbs.)

  • PROTEINS: 8-12 oz (may include beef, chicken, fish, venison, lamb or turkey)
  • Eggs: 3-4 per week
  • Organ meats: 4 oz. twice a week (liver, hearts, kidneys which should be organic beef or chicken)
  • VEGETABLES: 1/2 to 1 cup (Broccoli, green beans, squash, carrots can be served raw if chopped finely, cooked by boiling or steaming)
  • OILS: 2 tsp. (safflower oil)
  • Bone Meal: 1/2 tsp
  • Vitamin E
  • *Healthy Powder (see recipe): 1-2 tsp.
  • Garlic freshly chopped: 1/4 tsp
  • (this is optional)

*Healthy Powder:

• 2 cups nutritional (torula) yeast
• 1 cup lecithin granules
• 1/4 cup kelp powder
• 1/4 cup bone meal
(or 9.000 milligrams calcium or
5 teaspoons eggshell powder)
• 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C (ground)
or 1/4 teaspoon sodium ascorbate

Mix all ingredients together in a 1-quart container and refrigerate. Add to each recipe as instructed. You may also add this mixture to commercial food as follows: 1 to 2 teaspoons per day for cats and 2 tsp. for dogs.
*From Dr. Pitcairn’s book
Natural Health For Dogs And Cats

Tip: The safest way to cook the meat is to boil it in small chunks in a small amount of water for a few minutes, and chop the cooked meats once again. Be sure you fully cook the fish as well. You may prepare these diets in large batches and then freeze individual servings.

There are many benefits to home cooking and seeking alternative diets for our pets. Making the choice to better educate ourselves on manufactured foods, and where the ingredients come from, will allow us to live a more fulfilled and healthful life with our animals.

Please note that these recipes are merely the tip of the dietary iceberg, and meant only as a basic suggestion. There are many more supplements, minerals, and additives that can be used to suit the needs of your dogs. There are also pet professionals qualified to assist you in preparing such diets to best suit the needs of your pets.

Other publications and websites:

• www.menufoods.com

• www.drpitcairn.com

• Food Your Pets Die For:
Shocking Facts About Pet Food,
by Ann N. Martin

• Holistic Guide For A Healthy Dog, By
Wendy Volhard and Kerry Brown, DVM

• The Holistic Dog Book,
By Denise Flaim

• Natural Health For Dogs and Cats,
By Dr. Pitcairn

• Home Prepared Dog and Cat Diets,
By Donald Strombeck, DVM, PhD

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