Many dog owners in recent years have turned to making their own home made dog food. A new study from researchers at the University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine found that making your own dog food might not be the best thing for your dog, as many homemade dog food recipes are nutritionally deficient.
Researchers analyzed 200 recipes from various sources including veterinary textbooks, pet care books and the internet. They evaluated the ingredients used and the instructions for creating each recipe.
Out of all 200 recipes only 9 provided all the essential nutrients in amounts that met the minimum standards established for adult dogs by the Association of American Feed Control and only 5 met the National Research Council’s Minimum Requirements for adult dogs.
“Some owners prefer to prepare their dogs’ food at home because they want to feel they have better control over the animals’ diet, want to provide a more natural food or simply don’t trust pet food companies,” said Jennifer Larsen, an assistant professor of clinical nutrition who was the lead author of the study. “The results of this study, however, indicate that most available recipes for healthy dogs, even those published in books by veterinarians, do not provide essential nutrients in the quantities required by the dog.”
The recipes written by veterinarians were less likely to have nutrient deficiencies, but most still had at least one. More than 83 percent of the recipes analyzed had multiple nutrient deficiencies. Those deficiencies could be dangerous to your dog.
“Some of the deficiencies, particularly those related to choline, vitamin D, zinc and vitamin E, could result in significant health problems such as immune dysfunction, accumulation of fat in the liver and musculoskeletal abnormalities,” said Larsen. “Also, since so many recipes share the same deficiencies, rotation of recipes and feeding of different food to achieve variety – known as the ‘balance over time concept’ – is not likely to correct these problems.”
Four of the recipes analyzed in the study were written by board-certified veterinary nutritionists, and all four of those met the minimum nutrient needs for adult dogs. The study recommends that owners who wish to provide homemade food for their dogs consult with a board-certified veterinary nutritionist.
“These specialists have advanced training in nutrition to help formulate customized and nutritionally appropriate recipes,” said Larsen.