Friday, November 1, 2013

Is Homemade Dog Food Dangerous?

The recent recall of commercial dog food manufactured by Menu Foods and other dog food companies continues to escalate as worried dog parents scurry for alternative, safe dog food choices.To date more than 100 brands of commercial dog food have been recalled after discovery of toxic contaminants that have produced kidney failure and death in dogs nationwide.Intent on protecting the health and safety of their dogs, many dog parents have opted to prepare dog food themselves at home. The question on many a dog nutritionist's mind these days is whether homemade dog food is a safe and nutritious alternative to commercial dog food.The American Veterinary Association indicates that the preparation of homemade dog food is not as easy as it seems at first blush. Dogs have specific needs for nutrients that are further impacted by the size, age and breed of dog.It is a long established fact that if commercial or homemade dog food is introduced or changed suddenly, your dog may experience gastrointestinal distress, manifesting symptoms such as diarrhea.The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, CVMA, concurs and states that dog owners should become familiar with the risks associated with preparing and serving homemade dog food.A major cause of concern is the risk associated with salmonella poisoning in homemade dog food diets that contain raw meat such as chicken. Raw dog food advocates of diets such as the Bones and Raw Food diet ( BARF), point out the natural and nutritious qualities of a diet that most closely resembles food that your dog would find in the wild. But opponents suggest that meat which has been sold through markets are not quite as fresh, and may expose your domesticated dog to unnecessary health risks.For those who make the decision to prepare homemade dog food for their best friend, the following list of foods deemed dangerous by the American Veterinary Medical Association, should be excluded from any dog food served.Alcoholic beveragesChocolate in any formCoffeeMoldy or spoiled foodsOnions and onion powderGarlic and garlic powderSaltYeast doughMacadamia nutsRaisins and grapesAvocadoHopsFatty foodsBonesMilkRaw eggsRaw or undercooked meatProducts containing the artificial sweetener xylitolObviously, a few items such as bones and raw meat are included intentionally in the BARF diet and this debate between the AVMA and some dog nutritionists continues unabated. If you have any question about a specific food product please consult with your veterinarian prior to feeding that food to your dog.Some veterinarians challenge the assertion that home made food, even table scraps are inappropriate and unhealthy food for your dog. For example, Dr. Strombeck, professor emeritus of veterinary nutrition at U.C. Davis feels that the commercial pet food industry simply opposes any competition for their marketplace.This is a revealing insight as the dog food industry was founded during the postwar years in the United States as a means for profiting from industrial and slaughterhouse refuse and waste. Many people believe that their dogs needs commercial dog food. This is utter nonsense. Your dog needs a healthy and nutritious diet, whatever the source.So, is homemade dog food safe for your dog?The definitive answer is maybe and maybe not. This is not a cop out on our part but a recognition that dog owners like dog food manufacturers are all different. In both cases the freshness and purity of the ingredients used, the methods of preparation, storage, transport and shelf life all play a factor.Many options abound including high grade holistic kibble found in specialty dog food retailers and preparing your own dog food at home. If you think that commercially prepared dog food is the best option for your dog, make sure you know exactly what is in your dogs' food by visiting you decide to make your own homemade dog food, check with your veterinarian to make sure that the ingredients and recipe include only healthy and safe foods for your dog.

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