The pros and cons of homemade pet food

Find out whether homemade pet food is better for your pet

The pros and cons of homemade pet food

Source: Best Health Magazine, September 2010

Making your own pet food is a hot trend. ‘But there are pitfalls to that,’ says Dr. Paul Boutet, chair of the Canad­ian Veterinary Medical Association’s Pet Food Task Force and past president of the CVMA. Food-borne illness from bacteria, such as salmonella, is one problem that could outweigh any nutritional benefit.

Creating a balanced home-cooked meal plan for your cat or dog requires supplements so they get all the essential nutrients, says Hilary Watson, author of the dog food recipe book Complete & Balanced and a pet nutritionist in Guelph, Ont. Commercial food manufacturers supplement their products with vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

Pets need a balanced meal specific to their age, breed/species and size. If you make your own, consult a vet or accredited pet nutritionist to discuss what’s needed for your cat or dog. ‘It’s not just about throwing together a bit of chicken and rice,’ says Tracy Martin, owner of Montreal-based, a whole-food pet food company for cats and dogs that adds supplements to its ‘homemade’ pet meals.

Martin believes whole foods are better for pets than processed foods (although pets should not eat chocolate, onions or grapes). ‘We know of the negative effects on humans of eating too much processed food.’

If food allergies or intolerance are a problem, becoming a pet chef could help. Once your vet diagnoses your pet, he or she will guide you to find the most appropriate recipes for your cat or dog. But if your pet doesn’t have special dietary needs, a big consideration is whether making its food is worth the time and trouble. ‘From a health point of view, most animals do very well on commercial diets,’ says Boutet. ‘Quality commercial pet food seems to do what we need it to. And it fits in with people’s lifestyle much better.’

This article was originally titled "Picky pet?" in the September 2010 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today to get the full Best Health experience’and never miss an issue!’and make sure to check out what’s new in the latest issue of Best Health.