Question of the Week – Why Bother?

You’re busy. You’re stressed. You’re distracted. You don’t know where to start.

These are all things caring dog parents may find themselves saying to themselves and others, when discussing the idea of making homemade dog food.

The Question of the Week is… Why Bother?

That is, why bother making homemade dog food when there are a million commercial options available?

There are many reasons!

And you think to yourself, all these commercial dog food options will make your life easier and keep your dog healthy.

Well… not necessarily…

Actually, making homemade dog food can make your life easier and happier, because you will be avoiding the numerous pitfalls of commercial pet food. As a result, you can keep your dog healthy short and long term.

Below are some excerpts from my research paper entitled, “Commercial vs. Homemade Diets for Dogs: Why Homemade Wins.”

This graduate research project collected results from numerous studies, findings and reports of problems with commercial dog food.

The verdict is clear: homemade diets are safer!

I think after you look through the findings below, and talk with me, you will know the answer to the Question of the Week: Why bother? Because you want the best for your dog.

Changes and improvements should be done slowly and with some planning. So contact me for help improving your dog’s diet. ~ Sarah

Below are some excerpts from my graduate school research project, “Commercial vs. Homemade Diets for Dogs: Why Homemade Wins.”  

History is on Homemade Food’s Side.  For centuries, dogs have co-evolved with humans as friends, protectors, co-workers and companions. The proverbial man’s best friend has an ancient history of working, lounging, and dining, alongside humans. They only began eating commercial pet foods around the beginning of the 20th century.

Before the pet food industry developed, canines ate meats, organs, bones, blood and plant matter from their prey. They scavenged for local food sources. These long-time human companions ate items local humans consumed, including different varieties of meats, vegetables and more.

Fake Food. Now, many kinds of commercial pet foods are artificial. Nutrients are often stripped off, and sprayed back on in artificial versions. Artificial colors and flavors are added to increase palatability, and often questionable ingredients are combined into a fully processed product. With this new industry comes a new set of risks.

Sometimes, recalls occur before illnesses arise, but sometimes they don’t. In many cases pets fall ill before problems are caught, and their illnesses and pet owners’ reports are the cause of subsequent recalls. The Food and Drug Administration has an entire webpage devoted to current and past recalls. Problems can occur in human-grade foods as well, however pet foods are currently not held to the same standards as human-grade foods.

Chemicals. Accidental incorporation of chemicals can occur. For example, in 2007, laboratories in New York found the drug aminopterin in their tested pet foods. That same year, a massive recall occurred when melamine, an industrial chemical, was incorporated into pet food, resulting in numerous deaths. More recently, in 2018, several items were recalled due to presence of the euthanasia drug pentobarbital. Similar instances have occurred over the years and around the world. For example, in 1993, researchers from the Koret School of Veterinary Medicine in Israel investigated the introduction of lasalocid, a drug produced by strains of the Streptomyces lasaliensis bacteria, into dog food. Researchers concluded lasalocid was the cause of neuromuscular toxicosis in 10 dogs, and toxicosis was confirmed in four other dogs.  Dogs who had ingested the drug experienced lower motor neuron deficit, and required close monitoring and supportive therapy in order to begin recovery.  

By-Products. Commercial pet foods also often contain ingredients rejected from the human food supply. An example includes “4D” meats – meats from dead, dying, diseased or disabled animals. Other items rejected from the human food supply but used in pet food include grain middlings, peanut shells, corn stalks and mill sweepings.

Cross-Contamination. Here, harmful substances work their way into food through manufacturing equipment or other means. After the 2007 melamine recall, for example, additional pet foods were recalled due to potential cross-contamination from equipment used during the melamine-contamination period.

“People food” is … wait for it…. Safer for your dog! The human food supply is far from perfect, but food accepted into the human food supply requires closer inspection, higher quality and stricter standards than pet food. It is up to pet owners to take control of their companion animals’ health, and one way to do this is by serving food with less risk of contamination and other problems.