You are what you eat – What we feed our bodies is directly linked to our health and quality of life, and the same can be said for our furry friends. Pet food comes in many forms, including dry kibble, canned food, fresh food, and raw food. Among these options, serving freshly prepared meals to doggos and kitties is becoming increasingly more popular.
Fresh pet food generally refers to meals cooked with real ingredients, which can include meat, vegetables, fruit, and grains. They tend to be more varied, higher in water content, and free of artificial additives. So, should you start preparing meals for your furry one in the kitchen? Let’s look some of the benefits of homemade pet food and what factors you should consider before incorporating it in your pet’s diet.
Control over ingredients and portion size
With home-prepared meals, pet parents have full control over the process and the peace of mind that your furry friend is not consuming any artificial preservatives. Other benefits include being able to tailor meals to your pet’s nutritional needs, especially if they require special diets for allergies or other medical conditions. Pet food off the shelf can get quite repetitive and many kinds have higher carbohydrate content. Kibble, in particular, should be portion-controlled as eating too much of it can lead to unwanted weight gain.
More nutrients retained
Fresh meals made from whole foods are arguably more nutritious for pets, as they are less processed and easier to digest. Homemade food also have more moisture, which is a plus for furry friends that don’t love drinking water.
A chance to bond
As pet parents, it is immensely satisfying to see our pets enjoy meals we make from scratch and knowing that they are consuming nutritious food without any dubious add-ins. Your furry friend will also come to associate their deliciously fresh meals with the extra time you’re spending in the kitchen.
Things you should consider about a fresh food diet
There are many benefits to home-cooked pet food, but before you commit to a fresh food diet for your beloved furball, consider these following points:
Dishing up kibble or canned food requires but a moment of your time, while cooking daily meals for your pet is more time consuming. If you choose to give your pet a fresh food diet, be prepared to set aside the time to buy ingredients and cook.
Understand your pet’s nutritional needs
Is fresh always better? It depends. While commercially produced pet food can look uninspiring and processed, they are also made to meet the basic dietary requirements for furry friends and include the right balance of essential nutrients. Before looking up pet food recipes, it’s very important to first understand your dog or cat’s nutritional needs. Check with your vet to make sure you’re preparing well-balanced and nutritious meals.
The shelf life of fresh foods is of course much shorter than commercial pet food. If you choose to meal prep in bulk (for example, cook enough to last a week), be extra careful not to accidentally serve spoiled food to your pet.
Be prepared that it may take some time for your furry one to adjust to fresh food. Most kibble or canned food will have added flavoring to make them more appealing. For your pet, homemade meals may taste bland in comparison. Ease them into it by mixing in some of their usual pet food. This will help them get used to the taste of fresh food, as well as prevent any stomach upset resulting from a sudden switch in diet.
You can choose to shift completely to a fresh food diet or serve a homemade meal occasionally as a special treat. So, is fresh food right for your pet? They can’t tell you, but you can get some clues by observing their reaction to homemade meals, behavior, stools, and any weight change. It can be a lengthy process to find the right recipes, but if it can make your furry friend healthy and happy, then it is all worth it!