With all the horrific pet food industry practices being exposed in recent years, more and more pet owners are starting to cook for their pets. With homemade dog food and cat food you at least know for certain what is in the food and can ensure your little darling is eating healthy.
The problems though with 95% of dog food recipes, according to a recent UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine study that analyzed 200 homemade dog food recipes collected from pet websites, veterinary textbooks and books on pet care was that they were deficient in at least one essential nutrient and 84% were deficient in several essential nutrients. Some of the homemade dog foods had so little of certain nutrients that they did not provide even half of the NRC’s recommended daily intake.
To read the nutrient guidelines established by the National Research Council CLICK HERE
Some of the most common missing nutrients were calcium, choline, copper, zinc, vitamins D and E and combinations of EPA and DHA omega 3’s.
Here are some foods you can include in your homemade dog food and cat food recipes that are listed by nutrient content:
Natural Sources of Calcium:
1 cup chopped cooked Turnip Greens 197 mg
½ cup canned Black Eyed Peas 185 mg
1 Tbsp. Black Strap Molasses 172 mg
1 cup raw Kelp 126 mg
1 cup raw chopped Kale 94 mg
Sardines & Salmon with bones in (along with calcium, they also provide a hefty dose of omega 3’s and vitamin D)
*Raw Eggs – While eggs aren’t considered a high source of calcium they help with improving the body’s ability to absorb calcium for other foods and are a perfect protein source for your dog.
Natural Sources Choline:
5 oz. raw liver 423 mg
4 oz. Shrimp 153 mg
1 egg 147 mg
4 oz. Scallops 125 mg
4 oz. Chicken 97 mg
4 oz. Turkey 95 mg
4 oz. Cod 90 mg
4 oz. Tuna 88 mg
4 oz. Salmon 82 mg
4 oz. Beef 74 mg
1 cup Collard Greens 73 mg
3.2 oz. Sardines 68 mg
Natural Sources of Copper:
6 oysters 2.4 mg
1/3 cup sesame seeds 1.7 mg
3 oz. beef livers 1.2 mg
1 cup chopped kale 1 mg
½ cup Chickpeas 0.29 mg
Natural Sources of Zinc
6 oysters 33 mg.
1 lean ribeye fillet of beef 14.2 mg
½ cup wheat germ 9.4 mg
3 oz. beef livers 4.5 mg
3 oz. of lean pork shoulder 4.3 mg
½ cup pumpkin or squash seeds 3.3 mg
Natural Sources of Vitamin D
1 Tblsp. Cod liver oil 1360IU
1 oz. Raw Herring 456IU
6 medium oysters 269IU
3.5 oz. Wild Salmon 988 IU
3.5 oz. Albacore Tuna 544
3.5 oz. Ahi Tuna 404 IU
3.5 oz. Farmed Trout 388 IU
3.5 oz. Farmed Salmon 245 IU
3.5 oz. Sardines 222 IU
Natural Sources of Vitamin E
½ cup sunflower seeds 24.5 mg
1 Tblsp. wheat germ oil 20.3 mg
½ cup almonds 18.75 mg
1 cup cooked spinach 3.7 mg
EPA and DHA Omega 3’s
1 tsp. Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil provides 1395 mg of total omega-3 fatty acids, including 558 mg of EPA and 651 mg of DHA
1 tsp. Wild Alaskan Fish Oil (Pollock) provides 929 mg of total omega-3 fatty acids, including 485 mg of EPA and 260 mg of DHA
Another source of omega 3 is flaxseed oil which contains a different form of omega 3 – alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) The healthy benefits of fish oil though come from EPA and DHA. The ALA in flaxseed oil must be converted into EPA and DHA to get the health benefits for your pet so in the end a tablespoon of flaxseed oil is worth only about 700 milligrams (mg) of EPA and DHA. But if you are concerned about mercury and radiation contamination in fish oil then flaxseed oil is an option that can work.
Grains you have to be very careful with. Any grain that contains gluten can cause a lot of problems for your pet including allergies, inflammation, seizures, yeast infections, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and a whole host of other issues. Rice and quinoa are two completely gluten free options.
With rice you need to be very careful though that it is truly organic and not from Asia. Even supposedly “organic” rice from China has recently been laboratory tested and alarming levels of lead were found. If you can find organic rice grown in the US that is ideal. An even better choice, though a bit more expensive, is quinoa. Quinoa is completely gluten free and it is a complete protein source, meaning it contains ALL of the essential amino acids and is a much healthier choice for a grain.
Dogs are omnivores. While most people think that wild dogs eat only meat, dogs actually require a wide range of foods. Including starchy vegetables in your homemade dog food recipes is a way to provide carbs, calories, nutrients and it is helpful as a filler to keep some of the food costs down. Some excellent starchy vegetables are potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squashes, pumpkins and beans. You need to cook starchy foods though in order for your dog to be able to digest them. Meat and protein still needs to make up at least half of the diet.
Cats, on the other hand, are obligate carnivores which means they require a very large percentage of proteins from animals and very little grains and veggies, if any.
Bones are excellent sources of nutrition but care should be used with giving your pet bones. Cooked bones can be very dangerous because they can splinter and lodge in your pet’s passageways and they can also cut and puncture the intestines. Raw bones are softer and not as dangerous and are what dogs and cats in the wild primarily eat but you should still exercise a little caution and keep an eye on your pet while it is eating raw bones.
Greens and Non-Starchy Vegetables
Greens and veggies are excellent to include. Dogs don’t chew their food as much as they gulp it down so raw greens and veggies need to be pureed first before you add them to the dog food mix in order to be digested properly. Powdered raw mixed greens are also a great way to include greens. A favorite is Garden of Life’s raw organic Super Greens Powder.
Foods to Avoid
Milk is not easily digested by most adult animals and can cause them to develop diarrhea. Raw milk would be more easily digested if you have access to raw milk.
Chocolate can be lethal and should be never be given to dogs under any circumstance.
Onions can destroy a dog’s red blood cells, leading to anemia. Large amounts of garlic can do the same although some say small amounts of garlic is actually healthy.
Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure and irreversible kidney damage within 24 hours of being eaten.
Avocados should also be avoided. The skin and seed are absolutely toxic to dogs and it is uncertain whether the avocado meat is too but to be on the safe side it should be avoided.
One last thing…It goes without saying that all the meats and eggs should be pasture raised, if possible, and absolutely raised without the use of growth hormones, antibiotics or factory farmed in small cages or spaces. The grains and veggies should be organic, without any toxic pesticides (poison) and definitely not genetically modified in any way.