Pet owners understandably want the best for their furry friends. A dog's nutritional needs are one of the most crucial factors in their wellbeing. The number of pet food recalls over the last decade and the concern over processed food makes many people wonder if commercial food is best. But while homemade dog food potentially may offer a safe alternative, concerns still exist.
Worry Over Recalls
Pet owners have a cause for concern over commercial dog food brands. Many top-name manufacturers faced recalls over the last few years. Some of the problems were due to potential contamination from potentially dangerous bacteria like salmonella and listeria. Discovery of the contaminants often occurred only after pets became ill.
Other companies removed their brands from store shelves before any incidents occurred. The concerns were often manufacturing issues that may have led to dangerously elevated levels of certain vitamins or a formula that was not nutritionally adequate.
One of the most concerning for many pet owners was the announcement in a news article of a group of well-known dog food brands testing positive for pentobarbital, a euthanasia drug. The law does not allow the use of euthanized animals as a food source, so how the food became contaminated is still a mystery.
Plans to Switch
A study by the American Pet Products Association showed that about 20 percent of the owners they questioned fed their pets with human food that was either cooked or raw diets of food intended for human consumption. Interested pet owners now have access to recipe books for homemade dog food as well as websites and blogs that share firsthand experiences and tips.
The question is if the average person can create meals that provide their dog with a nutritionally balanced, safe diet. A failure to meet the nutritional requirement of a pet could result in calcium deficiencies that lead to broken bones, kidney disease, bowel disorders, and many other health problems.
Methods for Safety
The best method for all dog owners is to meet one-on-one with a pet nutritionist. The meeting will help the owner understand the nutritional needs of their pet. Each dog is different, and food sensitivities, health issues like diabetes, and the dog size and breed all matter. Age and the activity level of the pet also play a role in what the diet should be.
Pet owners need to use caution when they buy food supplies. Salmonella and other contaminants do not only occur in factory-made food. The need for the healthiest possible ingredients is even more vital for those that wish to offer their pet a raw food diet. How the owner stores and handles the food will also determine the quality of the final product.
Get the pet a complete exam from a veterinarian first. An exam helps to identify any health issues or other special needs of the dog. A full exam is the only way to know if the pet is healthy enough for a complete change of diet. Continue with regular wellness checks after the dietary change takes place to ensure the adequacy of the meals.
Use of Alternatives
The cost of homemade diets, particularly those that include organic products, do not fit into all budgets. Some pet owners lack the time or energy to prepare meals for themselves and their pets every day. Luckily, many commercial brands have never had a recall and many offer organic, whole foods and even raw foods.
Consider a compromise that includes commercial food and the substitution of healthy, fresh alternatives for pre-made treats. Many dogs love foods like watermelon, carrots, and natural peanut butter. The change can help to boost nutrition and reduce the intake of processed foods.
Veterinarians understand the desire of pet owners to do whatever it takes to keep their dog safe. At Riverfront Animal Hospital, we strive to help you keep your pet healthy, happy, and at your side for years. Schedule an appointment with us to discuss your pet's nutritional needs, and we can help you to make the decision that is best for you and your dog.