Do you ever think about your dog or cat when you are preparing a home cooked meal for your family? Do they let you forget about them? I know my three dogs sit and wait expectantly anytime I’m in the kitchen, hoping to get a piece of whatever I am preparing. If we take the time to prepare healthy and fresh meals for our children and spouses, then why don’t we do it for our pets? Are we worried that it will be too time-consuming or too difficult? This is not the case! As you will see when you read on, there are many ways to prepare meals at home for our pets, so consider cooking for your pet today, on National Cook For Your Pets Day-November 1st!
Home-Preparation of a Complete Diet
The main thing to remember when we are preparing meals for our pets, especially if the meals we prepare are the only thing they are eating, is to make sure we are feeding them a whole diet with all of the vitamins and nutrients they need to be healthy and happy.
If you decide to start preparing all of your pet’s meals, you MUST consider nutrition! Here is an easy to understand article by The Whole Dog Journal about your dog’s nutritional needs. The main thing to take away from this is that we should feed our pets a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, proteins, dairy and grains, which are full of vitamins and nutrients, and not just chicken and rice forever! Just like with humans, not every meal needs to contain everything your pet needs in his diet. You must just make sure that your pet gets a variety of meals, which when combined add up to a balanced and complete diet. You will want to be especially careful about this with growing puppies and kittens. Also, pets with certain health concerns may need a more specific diet. You may also need to add some supplements to your home-prepared diet.
If you want to cook meals for your pet at home, I recommend preparing a big batch in advance and then freezing portions to make your life easier. There are some cookbooks available for purchase if you plan to start cooking your pet’s meals regularly: Dr. Becker’s Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats and K9 Kitchen are two good ones with which to start.
Remember when cooking for cats: Make sure your recipes include taurine, very important for cats, through heart and liver meat or through supplements. You must include taurine in your cat’s homemade diet!
Home-Preparation of a Partial Diet
If preparing your dog’s meals from scratch sounds like a little too much, I do understand! There is a way to partially prepare food at home to supplement packaged pet food. The Honest Kitchen has several different base mixes for dogs, which only need the protein added to make a complete diet. That’s something everyone can do, no matter how little time we like to spend in the kitchen.
A good option for the protein you can mix with Honest Kitchen’s bases, is Answers Straight chicken, beef or pork, which are raw! Answers makes many great raw products for our pets, including a complete diet called Answers Detailed. However, Answers Straight is a great option if you want to be a little more involved in mixing your dog’s meal at home.
Scraps From the Kitchen
If cooking for your pet just isn’t your thing, don’t worry-I have an idea! It is completely okay to toss scraps from the kitchen to our dogs (and cats if they will eat it) when we are preparing meals for ourselves. My dogs love to eat carrot tops, celery ends, potato and cucumber peel, slices of pear and apple, and pretty much anything else that I was going to throw away or of which I have a little too much for my recipe. I know that some people may have picky dogs who turn their nose up at anything that isn’t meat scraps, but if you teach your dog that veggies are good from a young age, then they will be able to enjoy them all their lives-and you won’t have to waste any food!
So let’s all make a little time today to make some dog tails wag and some cats meow with delicious and healthy home-prepared foods-no matter if we cook a full meal or just toss them a few scraps. Your furry friends will definitely thank you!