Should you make your own pet food at home?

The scientific study of pet nutrition by veterinary nutrition specialists and experts.
Cooking
Cailin R. Heinze, VMD, MS, DACVN
by Cailin R. Heinze, VMD, MS, DACVN
JULY 14, 2016
IN ALL ABOUT PET FOODFINDING THE BEST FOOD FOR YOUR PETPETFOODOLOGY BLOGTRENDING TOPICS IN PET NUTRITION

You’re chopping and sautéing, working on your favorite dish, while your dog or cat sits at your feet, looking up at you with those pleading eyes. You know that they would enjoy it if you cooked for them as well, but should you really toss out the kibble and cans and pick up your knives and skillet instead?

Cooking for our pets can be very appealing for those of us who have time to do it; however, there is no evidence to support claims that home-prepared diets are healthier than commercial diets. Despite what you may have read, very few pets actually need to be fed a home-cooked diet because of health reasons and an improperly prepared home-cooked diet can seriously harm your pet’s health, especially for a growing kitten or puppy.

Many pet owners are surprised to find out that cooking for a pet isn’t necessarily as simple as cooking for their human family. Whereas all commercial pet foods must legally meet or exceed certain amounts of nutrients to be marketed as “complete and balanced foods”, studies have shown that the vast majority of recipes that pet owners design for their pets, or obtain from magazines, books, or the internet are deficient in one or more essential nutrients. A big problem is that these inadequate levels of nutrients may not be evident for weeks or even years in adult animals, until the pet has a serious health problem that may not be easily reversed.

Unfortunately, as veterinary nutritionists, we often see the sad stories – the puppies that are brought to our hospital emergency room with broken bones and seizures due to inadequate nutrients and the adult cats with severe heart disease and blindness because of taurine deficiency. While occasional home-cooked meals for adult pets on special occasions (holidays, birthdays) in healthy pets are unlikely to cause any health issues other than potentially an upset stomach (as long as foods toxic to dogs and cats are avoided), more care is needed to make a diet that a pet will be eating on a daily basis if these kind of tragedies are to be prevented.

There are literally hundreds of sources of recipes for home-made pet food on websites and in magazines and books and some of these sources are much more reputable than others. The best pet food recipes will include very precise amounts of specific ingredients (e.g. 100 grams of boneless, skinless, baked chicken breast and 45 grams of baked, mashed sweet potato vs “1 cup of chicken or fish or pork and 1 cup of cooked vegetables”), and will include added sources of vitamins and minerals such as calcium, B vitamins, iron, zinc, and essential fatty acids. While a “whole foods” approach where every nutrient comes from food, not supplements is appealing, it is nearly impossible to meet all of a pet’s nutrient needs without adding concentrated supplements. Supplementing a pet diet is not as simple as taking a trip to the local pet supply store, though.

Most vitamin and mineral supplements marketed for pets are not sufficient to bring the nutrients in a home-cooked diet up to the levels to meet pet requirements, so specific veterinary supplements or multiple human supplements (potentially as many as 7-9 different products, depending on the diet ingredients) are typically needed to ensure that all essential nutrients are included in appropriate amounts. The amount of each nutrient needed depends on both the diet ingredients and also on the specific pet.

If you’d like to try cooking for your pet, the best way to ensure that your pet’s diet is meeting all of his nutritional needs is to obtain your recipe from the pet equivalent of a registered dietician – a veterinarian with board certification in veterinary nutrition (www.acvn.org) or with a PhD in animal nutrition and experience formulating pet diets.  These individuals will use computer software to put together the right mix of ingredients and supplements to produce a diet that will provide for a pet’s nutritional needs. If your pet has health problems, it is even more important that you seek qualified assistance from a board-certified veterinary nutritionist.

Once you get a good recipe, it’s your job to follow it exactly – seemingly benign substitutions such as swapping one meat for another can dramatically alter the nutrients and calories provided by the diet. Not making changes to a recipe may be harder than it seems – we recently surveyed our clients who had purchased home-cooked diet recipes from us over the past few years. Greater than 80% of pet owners had made changes to their recipes, either minor or major, without consulting us and many of these changes had the potential to lead to inadequate or excessive nutrients in the diet.

In summary, home-cooked diets can be healthy, if time-consuming, options for feeding our pets, but they should not be undertaken lightly. They should not be fed to growing kittens or puppies or pregnant or nursing animals. The best way to ensure that your pet’s home-cooked diet is healthy is to obtain a recipe from a veterinary nutritionist and follow it to-the-letter.

Cailin R Heinze, VMD, MS, DACVN
References:

Larsen JA, Parks EM, Heinze CR, et al. Evaluation of recipes for home-prepared diets for dogs and cats with chronic kidney disease. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2012;240:532-538.

Heinze CR, Gomez FC, Freeman LM. Assessment of commercial diets and recipes for home-prepared diets recommended for dogs with cancer. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2012;241:1453-1460.

Stockman J, Fascetti AJ, Kass PH, et al. Evaluation of recipes of home-prepared maintenance diets for dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2013;242:1500-1505.

Johnson LN, Linder DEHeinze CRFreeman LM. Evaluation of owner experiences and adherence to home-cooked diet recipes for dogs. J Small Anim Pract 2016;57:23-27.

“Stay safe and make the most of this opportunity to grow” Mark Laker

“Stay safe and make the most of this opportunity to grow” Mark Laker

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May Agility blog

By Mark Laker

We’re still in lockdown, the world is still coming to terms with covid-19, and life still goes on as people adjust to the situation.

Coping strategies

Over the last month or so I’ve been asked to share coping strategies that might help people while they’re working remotely, feeling isolated and are concerned about what our new normal might look like. I thought I’d share a few with the CSJ readers.

My sports psychology research and learning has led me down some interesting paths over the years. One common thread I hear from many experts is ‘turn obstacles into opportunities’. And even though this phrase was around long before the coronavirus, it still applies.

For me this means, I could mope around at home longing to get out, socialise, travel and be free to wander. Or I could accept that the situation is the right one for everyone and turn this into an opportunity to get stuck into projects and activities that I never normally get a chance to do. There are lots of new opportunities out there at the moment, we just have to look for them.

Control the controllables

‘Control the controllables’ is another well-used tip. There is little point worrying and wasting precious energy on things we cannot control e.g. when is lockdown going to be eased, when are canine competitions going to restart. We can be mindful of these things, but we cannot control them. We’re better off putting energy into things we can control. Like:

  • What can I do to maintain my physical and mental health and fitness;?
  • How can I offer support to family, the community and friends?
  • Controlling how much/little news and social media I absorb

Focusing on contrallables helps to build resilience, confidence and self-esteem, which are good traits to have in these times.

Don’t let the external affect the internal

My third ‘top tip’ this month is ‘don’t let the external affect the internal’. Start by writing down your key values and beliefs (if you haven’t already). Revisit them and think about how they influence your life and your decisions. Don’t let external influences distract you away from these values and try not to let external pressures sway you. Maintain a growth mind set and live to your values.

Stay safe and make the most of this opportunity to grow.

British musher Vickie Pullin and dream sled dog team close to fetching world glory Yahoo Sport UK

British musher Vickie Pullin and dream sled dog team close to fetching world glory Yahoo Sport UK

Sportsbeat Yahoo Sport UK

Read the full article: https://uk.sports.yahoo.com/news/british-musher-vickie-pullin-and-dream-sled-dog-team-close-to-fetching-world-glory-055040941.html?guccounter=1

By Rachel Steinberg

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Vickie Pullin’s four-dog team Rio, Maverick Luka and Luna, at the 2018 Italian snow championships (Massimo Mazzasogni)

A log cabin sits at the heart of the idyllic Gloucestershire property where 12 of Britain’s top sprinters live. There is a hydrotherapy tank next door for resistance training and rehabilitation, and the on-site menu offers performance-ready, protein-packed meals for its clientele.

Most of the elite athletes who live there are huskies, but greysters and hounds are among the 34 dogs who call the place home.

The lone human in the mix, Vickie Pullin, 35, might be the most successful British athlete whose name you’ve never heard.

Pullin was once touted as a potential Team GB snowboarder for the Vancouver Olympics in 2010. A decade later, she’s donning the Union Jack in an entirely different sport: sled dog racing.

The Tewkesbury native is the country’s best female musher. This year, Pullin became the first athlete to claim four British Sleddog Sports Federation (BSSF) championship titles in a single season. She’s staged a meteoric international rise since her first race in 2013 and finally believes she has the experience—and her ‘dream team’ of canine competitors—to become a world champion.

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Pullin once seemed destined for the Olympic slopes

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Bikejoring is one of Pullin’s best events—she finished eighth in the world with Maverick in 2019. (Jackie Burrell)

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Adopting Willow, Pullin’s first dog, marked the beginning of her new dream

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Pullin’s 34 dogs go through a 15kg bag of food every day

Meet Rob Bunning’s dogs – Drake and Rio

Meet Rob Bunning’s dogs – Drake and Rio

By Rob Bunnings

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Rio the black Labrador is 2 years old… He’s done well in tests and has started to take part in trials.

Drake is a 4 year old labrador, who I bought when he was 17 months old. He has won a great number of prizes over the 3 years of competing in gundog scurries. Through the shooting season he also picks up with my other 3 labradors,  sometimes doing 5-6 days a week.

Both dogs are fed on CP30 and Adult Champ.

Achievements

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Rio – Kennel Club Puppy Test First – 2019

Rio – Kennel Club Puppy Test First - 2019

Rio – Kennel Club Puppy Test First – 2019

Drake – Chatsworth Challenge - 2019

Drake – Chatsworth Challenge – 2019

The amazing story of Cupar the rescue dog…

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By Colin Spalding of Suco Sled Dogs

Cupar, the German Short Haired Pointer was re-homed with us 7 years ago at the age of 5

He was in a racing kennel with approx 20 other dogs, the majority of them were huskies. He was kept outside all year round and had never been inside the house and at first he struggled being in the house with us, but he settled in after a few weeks. He had been training and racing in his previous home and we got him on the Sunday and raced him in a bikejor race the following week and we won our first race together.

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Cupar shows how it’s done

We had 5 huskies, all young dogs when Cupar came to us and through training with him the teams improved their commands, turns and focus and now runs past deer, people and dogs, off-lead with no issues.

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Love him to bits

It is down to working with Cupar that our teams have had and continue to have success on the racing circuit. He has also helped trained countless other peoples dogs, as well. If people are having issues with their dogs running or commands etc. we bring them along and run them with Cupar. He shows them how it should be done. They follow him and a few runs later, the issues are usually rectified. We’re currently running him with 2 other dogs – one a young rescue. to get them on the right track. He has taught me so much.

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“We have used CSJ CP30 and Hike On since 2014 – the dogs love the food and always empty their bowls at every feed.   The dogs train and race hard and CSJ provides them with the energy goodness and stamina to achieve top level results season after season”

Contact Colin and Suzy Spalding on: 07877739590 or email: suzy15@hotmail.co.uk

The world has changed massively…

ML1

April 2020

By Mark Laker

Wow, the world has changed massively since my last blog. Who would have thought nearly half the world’s population would be in a lockdown situation under the threat of a nasty virus back in February.

I hope all the CSJ readers are keeping safe in these difficult times

It’s a huge challenge to the world. I have been home based for the last six years, so I’m lucky that I’m used to this way of working. We also have space to get out for daily exercise and living in a rural area means social distancing isn’t a problem either. However, I do understand the challenges, the worry and uncertainly other people are experiencing and readily offer my support where I can.

I’m confident we’ll pull through this and move on to a stronger future

In March I announced my retirement as the Team Manager for Agility Team GB. I had always planned to review my position in 2020, and after seven years in the role I decided that the time was right to hand over the reigns.

My time as Team Manager has been immensely rewarding. Of course there were challenging times and some incredible highlights too. In a role like that you grow broad shoulders and learn a lot about people; I’m sure there’s a future book in my journal somewhere.

I thought I’d have a lot of time on my hands now with no agility shows and no team manager responsibilities. However I’m finding myself busy with other projects and interests that have been on hold… a subject for future blogs.

I hope all our readers keep safe in these difficult times. And if anyone wants any hints and tips about working from home I’m more than happy to share.

Mark Laker

Agility Team GB Manager

Follow Mark Laker’s blog: http://marklaker.blogspot.com

 

Madison Wells is enjoying her new found freedom from school. It means she can spend every waking minute with the dogs…

Madison Wells is enjoying her new found freedom from school. It means she can spend every waking minute with the dogs…

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By Danielle Card

Here’s a little update on Maddi and the dogs.

Maddi is enjoying her new found freedom from school, it means she can spend every waking minute with the dogs. I’m sure they are looking at me asking when will she return to school!!!!

All races may be cancelled but Maddi has been out training daily, 1/2 times a week a short 2km canicross run with her training dog Bella the spaniel. She even tried 100m sprint with the Pup (11 months) and managed to stay on her feet!

Daily scent work and games with the dogs in the garden. Lots of off lead walks and free running. Most importantly daily trampolining!! 

Stay safe everyone.

Lots of love Maddi, Bronte, Lilly and Bella.

 

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