If you are like us, you believe that your dog deserves the best. You love to give your dog the best food and high-quality treats, but sometimes even that won’t do, and you just want to do a little extra. Instead of slipping them some scraps under the table from your meal, some pet owners have taken to full-on cooking for their dogs. While we think this is a great way to show your dog some extra TLC, it can be a fine line to walk, especially if it is not something you do often. It is important to make sure that what you are serving is a balanced and nutritious meal and not just a little bit of what you are having. After all, a dog’s nutrition needs are very different from ours, and are not one size fits all. To get you started, here is a list we have compiled of the biggest dos and don’ts to consider before you start cooking for your dog.
Do Your Research
At first, you might be tempted to throw them some of whatever you are having. In moderation, table food is usually fine, but it is important to know what table foods are safe for dogs and which are not. If you are cooking for your dog, it is important to not only avoid these ingredients that they don’t need, and focus more on the ingredients that they do need to meet their everyday dietary needs. You may find recipes available online that may look tempting. Make sure that these recipes are backed by veterinarians and nutrition experts that have the proper training. The fact of the matter is that these recipes may not be sufficient for your dog’s nutrition, and can even be downright dangerous. Make sure that when you are planning out your dog’s recipes, you are taking into account their size, age, and dietary needs.
Don’t Forget to Customize
We don’t have to tell you that your dog is unique. Of course, you want to provide them a diet that is as unique as they are, and making sure you are providing them a balanced meal to suit their growth and development are a staple. While you are researching, make sure you are taking into account the size and weight of your dog and balance out your portions from there. Remember, one size does not fit all, especially when it comes to your dog’s health. Too much or too little nutrients in your dog’s food can quickly lead to malnutrition, or the opposite, obesity. Pay close attention to the right amount of nutrients, the volume of food, and amount of calories that your dog needs to be healthy while you are crafting a balanced and consistent diet for them.
Do Consult with Your Vet
If you are unsure of what these specific nutrients are, it is important to consult with your dog’s veterinarian. They will be able to properly advise you on what you will need to support your dog’s healthy growth and development. Chances are, they may have already recommended you a dog food brand already that is ideal for these efforts. Your vet will know inside and out what your dog will need for their age and their breed. They may even recommend that you start by supporting the pet food you already give them by simply adding in eggs, salmon, and other nutrition boosters to their food. The internet is a great place to start, but it is always best to consult with a professional that knows your dog specifically.
After doing your research, you may feel a bit overwhelmed making sure that your dog is still getting the proper nutrition they need when you are cooking for them. You may be tempted to add too much, or over-complicate their dish. You may want to serve them a wide variety to explore different flavors and textures for your dog, and to make sure you are covering all of your bases when it comes to their nutrition. When crafting your dog’s meals, try to stick to a simple blend of proteins, carbohydrates, and vegetables. Once you find something that works, try to keep the formula consistent, only deviating in a controlled fashion over time.
Do Make the Switch Gradually
What do we mean by a controlled fashion? When it comes to your dog’s diet, it is not as simple as putting something new on a plate every night, especially when you are making the switch from commercial dog food to your home-cooked food. If you plan on making a major switch in your dog’s diet, try starting gradually. On the first day, try feeding them the majority of their older food, with only about 20% being their new food. For the following days, try gradually introducing more and more of the new food roughly twenty percent at a time until you have fully transitioned into their new diet. This will give you an idea of your dog’s tolerance of these new ingredients by giving you time to notice any change in digestion or appetite. Be sure to contact your veterinarian with any major concerns.
When you are cooking for your dog, the last thing you want to do is go in with what you have in the kitchen. There are some ingredients that we’ve all heard are bad for dogs, like chocolate, but there are plenty of others that most people do not know about. Try to also avoid nuts, avocados, grapes, raisins, onions, and spices like cinnamon just to name a few. It is best to avoid these ingredients all together, and limit ingredients like butter, dairy, oil, and salt. These things are typically bad for humans in excess and dogs are no different!
Does all of this sound exhausting? You want your dog to experience kitchen quality, human-grade food, but simply may not have the time to make it happen yourself. That’s where some of our favorite pet food delivery brands come in! Some of our favorites include Holi Chow, Spot and Tango and Nom Nom. Both brands will let you personalize your dog’s food based on your answers to their questions about your dog’s age, weight, and lifestyle. Once you have a meal picked out, they will deliver it right to your door in pre-portioned servings! Now that’s something to bark about!
After a long day of researching and cooking up the best of the best, you’re exhausted and your dog has a full, happy belly. If you are cooking fully for your dog, try meal prepping to save some much needed time and effort. Once you find something that works, your pup won’t mind it again and again. After their meal, don’t forget to top it off with a tasty all-natural Bonne et Filou macaron, and some delectable human macarons for yourself -- you deserve them!