Researchers Find Most Homemade Dog Food is Unhealthy

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.

ucdavisfoodMany 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.

28 thoughts on “Researchers Find Most Homemade Dog Food is Unhealthy

  1. I have been cooking my dogs food since he was a seven-month-old puppy. My dog is now six years old. Every week I make a huge pot of ground chicken, brown rice, peas and carrots. He gets a bowl for breakfast and one at night. I leave him dry food to graze all day, but he never touches it. My vet is amazed at how healthy he is when he gets vet visits not to mention his dental health is out standing. I would venture a guess that the study was funded by purina or some other company donating a grant to the school. Follow the money people.

    1. Sounds like my recipe! But I switch it up every week with beef and offal. Good to know that your dog only eats the homemade stuff and is nice and healthy!

    2. Shaun, that is good! Variety is very important – I feed my dogs raw meat that is ground with chicken bones, & organs. Beef, Elk, Chicken, Turkey, Cornish Hens, Rabbit, Deer… after many years of cooking for my dogs I finally switched to raw/prey feeding and I am so happy that I have done that. Carbs feed tumors… dogs are carnivores and don’t really need grains. They need meat and the more variety the better. Always learning more about it and I follow raw feeding groups and chat with people all over the world. It is very interesting. They don’t need dental work if they are eating proper bones. Bones to avoid… any that are cooked or are raw weight bearing for that animal. They are extremely strong and can break teeth. I bet more animals have died from commercial food than die from raw feeding.

  2. The study didn’t say that manufactured dog food is better, it just said that homemade doesn’t meet the minimum standards. It’s a call for dog owners to reevaluate their recipes — doesn’t say stop giving them homemade dog food or go buy Purina.

  3. Starts out with an important message but FAILS on content! What ones are best? which to avoid? What to include to capture these missing elements? Seriously,this article could have been very helpful but was basically a waste of time and like an advertisement to hire a nutritionist. I REALLY hate this kind of lazy journalism -even with google you should be able to do basic research w/o too much effort. geez.

  4. good article, but it would be nice if you linked to the nutritionists that have the appropriate recipes.

  5. I make my own (wet) dog food. I know it probably lacks nutrients. I’m not an idiot. That’s why I mix it with Royal Canin dry. Most people I know only make their homemade wet food to supplement the dry, or in my dog’s case, because she’s gotten to be kind of a little brat and will only eat the dry with wet mixed in. Plus, for some reason, though it’s a pain in the butt, I like making her food. It’s great because you know they’re always gonna appreciate it.

  6. I have fed raw meat and bones for ten years now. That’s all I feed, no added supplements. I have bred/whelped puppies on this diet. My dogs are performance dogs who are in top shape and look stunning. They are never sick. All living things are better off eating real food-even humans!! 🙂

  7. I have been making food for our 5 dogs for years now. They eat a holistic dry food and I supplement with homemade wet food. We also do ground turkey, brown rice, peas, carrots, pumpkin. They also get bones for cleaning their teeth. None have ever been sick.

  8. Well, humans are frequently nutrient deficient also. I cook for my greyhounds regularly (actually, more than I cook for me). They also get kibble. Chances are home made diets for your dog are no better or worse than anything else. Do what makes you feel comfortable and don’t rely on anyone to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. When I eat cereal or ice cream for dinner I don’t drop over dead and when I eat a balanced meal I don’t suddenly feel energized. Your dog will be ok EVEN if EVERY meal isn’t perfectly balanced. Dogs live longer now than ever before in our history with them!! My dogs are healthy and live nice long lives…..the current 2 are 10 and 13.

  9. We had two Bichons and cooked for them for some 14years. Never had a single health problem until they passed. One from an auto-immune disease, which was caused by too many shots at one time, the other simply of age at 14. When we got our cock-a-poo, I asked our vet about his diet (home cooking). She said that she would suggest vitamins, which we are now giving him.

    1. YEP I agree, my shepherd is 12 and if i had not given so many shots, she would be doing great. She has never been fed kibble and never will. GROSS

  10. We have been feeding a home prepared diet to our hounds for 13 years. While it may be true that some home prepared diets are not adequately balanced, I think if you do your homework and learn the logistics, its not that hard to accomplish. We do add vitamins and other supplements. Our dogs are in good health and have soft silky coats that everyone raves about when they pet them. Not a coincidence, its because they eat good food. Their coats were not as soft on commercial food, and their eyes and ears had build up. We didn’t see that since we switched to home prepared. Do your homework, and then if you try a home prepared diet and your dog does well, kudos to you.

  11. Me thinks that the pet food industry is feeling the heat from a loss of sales!

    It’s no wonder. They outsource ingredients from China that don’t have to pass rigorous inspections and their piss poor dog food contains dangerous ingredients that are making dogs sick or worse as evidenced by the constant recalls. So they enlist their “paid and bought” veterinarians to promote their overly processed, questionable dog food, suggesting that the public is too stupid to feed fresh ingredients and properly manage their dog’d diet. I can only guess who paid for this study.

  12. The article didn’t mention a food company nor did it tell you to buy manufactured food. I happen to feed my greys good ole Purina in the green bag. I don’t have the time nor desire to home cook for my oldsters. Don’t discount Purina… My boy, Gate, was dying of IBS when he was 2 yrs old. We tried a ton of dog food brands for him. To this day, Purina in the green bag is the ONLY one he can eat without getting horribly sick.

  13. I have never done anything but kibble with 5 other dogs, including 4 Rotties and 1 ACD mix, but with my new Rottie puppy (11 weeks old), I started him on a raw diet immediately. Partly because I’m worried about SO many dog food recalls with biological and chemical contamination, and partly because Rotties do so well on a raw diet. The youngster gets a bit under 2 lbs a day of raw chicken neck, leg, thigh, gizzards/hearts and a bit of beef liver (nothing ground, though, unless it’s an organic source), plus cottage cheese, pumpkin, plain yogurt, ground flaxseed, vit E and occasionally coconut oil. As he gets older, I’ll introduce turkey, beef, peas and carrots. Other than adjusting his fiber intake to offset his occasional constipation, he’s doing very well and enthusiastically looks forward to meal time 3x/day.

  14. What are the odds of my recipe getting recalled. This is happening to commercial foods on a regular basis. I have six dogs that I cook for. Chicken, brown rice, sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans, peas, okra, spinach, all in differing amounts. They chew on Nylabones for dental health. They also enjoy bananas, PLAIN yogurt, and blueberries for treats. If everyone stopped feeding commercial diets, there would not be the food allergies, ear problems, need I go on. My Vet respects my decision, in fact he will only use science diet in his practice and he does not believe in the over vaccination programs of many vets. I too believe this “research” on diets is sponsored by a major dog food company.

  15. ANY home cooked meal is far better than that rendered meat or crap they tell us is healthier. No one can ever convince me that rancid oil and deceased cascaras are nutritional and my home cooked is not, hog wash!! And since when do humans eat perfect? such crap and who paid for this study? Purina????

  16. If you want to determine what diet is best for your pet, check out “The Royal Treatment: A Natural Approach to Wildly Healthy Pets by Dr. Barbara Royal. What an eye opener this book is as to the ingredients of some commercial pet food. Ground chicken feathers as protein, cranberries pictured when there are only 2 or 3 actually in the entire bag of extruded dry nuggets … and it goes on and on. We need to become educated pet owners and learn how to read & decipher the ingredients listed on commercial pet food. I am a firm believer in raw and have seen its benefits in the health of our dogs. They love it too!

    I too wonder who sponsored this ‘nutritional analysis’. If the researchers REALLY cared, they would have most certainly included healthy home-made recipes.

  17. This is complete BS. We have fed our dogs a raw diet for a few years now, and they are much healthier now than when they were on processed foods.

  18. Can anyone explain why the trend in human nutrition is to avoid processed foods. You know, if it doesn’t rot, don’t eat it, etc. But in canine nutrition, they are going the opposite direction, feed the dry that your vet will more than happy to sell you! I have a 15 year old terrier mix who has eaten real food and bones all of her life, no supplements. She was just at the vet for 3 year jabs and vet said her heart is great, muscle tone excellent, all systems go. I think it’s all a bit crazy. I don’t need an academic, who probably doesn’t own a dog and is financed by a pet food company, to tell me what is good for my dogs.

  19. While I feel the article has its fair share of “scare tactics” dogs do need a balanced diet. Home cookers have two HUGE advantage over what is currently on the market, they know what their dogs are eating and where its coming from. If you do some research and see what dogs need as far as minerals and vitamins, you can have a great diet for your dog.

  20. Just like humans, the key is to find balance over time. You dont see humans balancing every single meal they eat. If anyone is wondering about a good ‘recipe’ just search ‘Prey model raw’. Its biologically appropriate and very easy to follow once you get into the swing of things. 🙂

  21. Breakfast is, undoubtedly, the most essential meal of the day. Those of us who are fortunate enough to afford a yearly full service checkup might have the cancer detected at its infancy.

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