What is it?
A home-prepared diet of fresh, cooked meat and/or meaty bones, organ meat, dairy, eggs, grains, vegetables, and fruits. As with raw food diets, many variations exist. Some include raw meat but cook most other ingredients; others cook everything. Some include bones; others worry about the risks of intestinal obstruction.
Better health through the use of quality, unprocessed ingredients. It’s the equivalent of good old-fashioned home cooking for humans.
If the ingredients are fresh and of a good quality, the nutritional value of a home-prepared diet can and should be superb. But this does depend on the diet being carefully balanced over time to make sure no essential nutrients are left out.
What to know
Complete and balanced. The number one concern when preparing a home-cooked diet is to ensure your dog’s complete nutritional needs are met. Educate yourself on the basics of canine food composition—read at least one good book—and include a variety of foods in the diet over time. Beef and potatoes aren’t enough, for example, you need a variety of meat sources, eggs, dairy, vegetables, and fruit. If you opt not to include bones in your dog’s diet, be sure to add calcium some other way.
Pre-mixed options. If you can cook for your dog most of the time but worry about hitting all the targets for a complete nutritional profile, one option is to add pre-mixed dog food. Pre-mixes include calcium and other essential nutrients and can supplement a diet of cooked meat, eggs, etc.
Safety. If you include raw meat in your dog’s cooked diet, observe the same precautions you would when handling raw chicken for your own dinner: Freeze food until you need it. Wash your hands and any dishes, utensils, countertops, etc. with hot water and soap after any contact with raw meat. Discard any leftovers from your dog’s bowl and immediately wash the bowl.
Want to stay on top of the latest knowledge about dog food? Check out Whole Dog Journal, a monthly guide to dog care and training.