Of course you want the best for your four-legged friend. Unfortunately, deciding what food is best may not be the easiest task. There are countless commercially prepared dog food brands available that profess to have your dog's health in mind. There is also the option to feed your dog a homemade diet of "raw" foods. Pros and cons exist in both diets, and you should consider them carefully before deciding which type to feed your dog.
You might feel sticker shock when you glance at the price tag on a 40-lb. bag of dog food. This is especially true if you purchase a higher quality brand with real meat protein and an appropriate balance of carbohydrates and other nutrients. If you think you can save money by switching your dog to a natural, homemade diet, you might want to look more closely. Feeding your dog a raw diet require you to purchase extra meat, as well as sources of carbohydrates (such as rice or potatoes) and fruits and vegetables for vitamins and minerals. This extra food can really add up.
Commercially prepared dog food is undoubtedly more convenient than a homemade diet. Open the bag, scoop and serve. A homemade diet takes extra time to prepare because you chop, grind, mix and store the ingredients. It can also take more time to shop for the ingredients you will need for a raw diet, as opposed to choosing a single bag off the shelf.
One of the most obvious advantages of a raw, homemade diet is that it allows you to control everything your dog consumes. Though commercially prepared dog foods are often adequate, they sometimes include extra fats or grains, or contain a less-pure source of protein such as animal "parts" rather than animal meat. You can fix this problem with a homemade diet, but you should always talk to your vet about maintaining a proper balance. Your dog will need protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals to stay healthy and your vet can help you determine what foods (and how much of each) to include in your dog's diet.
There are safety concerns to consider with both commercially prepared dog foods and homemade diets. First, it is impossible to know the conditions in which your dog's commercial food was made and packaged. Dog food recalls have illustrated that even dry dog food can contain harmful bacteria. This is a concern with homemade food as well. Prepare food in a clean kitchen to prevent contamination and wash your dog's dish after each meal. Meat should be kept in a freezer and served within 24 hours after thawing to reduce the risk of salmonella. Avoid using foods, such as grapes or avocados, that are known to harm dogs.
A homemade diet offers your dog a much wider variety of foods than commercially prepared dog food. This helps you feed it a more balanced diet and prevents your dog from becoming bored by its daily meals. Would you, after all, enjoy eating the same meal for breakfast and dinner every day? On top of it all, homemade food may also taste better to your furry friend than dry kibble, which will make meal times much more exciting. Homemade food pleases even the pickiest eater.