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Ask A Vet: What Are The Benefits Of Homemade Dog Food?

Photo via cutigerash on Flickr.com

Welcome to our weekly 'Ask a Vet from the SF SPCA' feature on 7x7.com. They've enlisted their Co-President, Dr. Jennifer Scarlett, to answer your questions every week. Got a question for Dr. Scarlett? Ask away in the comments!

Q: I've been hearing a lot about homemade dog food. Are there benefits to making my pooches food from scratch? What are the best ingredients for dog food?
A: There are some wonderful benefits to preparing home cooked meals for your dog and, of course, some precautions. I’ve mentioned in an earlier column that dogs are selective omnivores which makes cooking for them a little easier than cooking for cats who are true carnivores, but we still have to keep in mind that dogs have different nutritional requirements than we do.  There are some common human foods that should be avoided: grapes, raisins, onions, fatty stuff like avocados and chocolate. For a more extensive list of dangerous foods, click here.
 
For my dog, Huri, I cook up a pot of fresh, local grass-fed beef or free range chicken with rice and vegetables which I supplement with high quality dry food. I’ve found that I just don’t have time to prepare a fully balanced diet from scratch.  I know, shame on me…but, do I get credit for supporting sustainable local farms?  Actually, there are some local CSAs that cater to pet owners who want to feed high quality, humanely raised meat to their pets, like Marin Sun Farms, Clark Summit Farm, Soul Food Farm, and Prather Ranch.
 
 If you plan to exclusively feed a homemade diet, I strongly urge you to consult the UC Davis Veterinary Clinical Nutrition Program. Unfortunately, nutritional illness is not uncommon in pets fed an unbalanced diet over time.  An occasional unbalanced meal, like my lunch of cheese puffs today, won’t kill me. But I’ll have to get back on track tomorrow.

While we can’t answer all of the questions here, please feel free to ask us during our Friday Twitter Ask the Vet Chat.  If your animal’s problem is of an immediate nature, please call your vet or you can reach the SF SPCA at 415-554-3030 to make an appointment.