Researchers Find Most Homemade Dog Food is Unhealthy

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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.

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    • 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!

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    • 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.

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  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.

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  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.

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

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