Is Homemade Dog Food & Cat Food Better? [Ask a Vet]

A dog eating homemade dog food recipe

When it comes to choosing the right diet for dogs and cats, pet owners are faced with the dilemma of homemade dog food or cat food versus commercial pet food. On one hand, there are plenty of homemade dog food recipes to try, some containing delicious, healthy, and fresh ingredients. On the other hand, AAFCO-compliant commercial pet food is backed by years of scientific research and contains a dog’s or cat’s daily requirements. 

This article will explore the advantages of both options, weighing the considerations when opting for commercial pet food or trying out homemade dog food recipes or cat food recipes.

What’s in This Guide?

The Advantages of Homemade Dog Food Recipes & Cat Food Recipes

A home-cooked meal for your dog or cat carries some advantages, such as the following:

1. Tailor-Fit Ingredients

Homemade dog food recipes and cat food recipes allow pet owners to exercise full control over the ingredients. The right homemade dog food recipes or cat food recipes (with safe ingredients) can be a great option for pets with food sensitivities or pet food allergies

Food allergies to certain proteins (e.g. chicken, turkey, beef, or fish) are common in dogs and cats. Because many commercial pet foods have a mixture of protein sources, it might be challenging to find the right one for your fur baby. In such a scenario, homemade pet food can be appealing. 

2. Freshness and Taste

Homemade meals are typically fresher and more appealing to some dogs and cats due to their taste and quality. Freshly prepared food can stimulate your furry friend’s appetite. This can be beneficial for pets with reduced appetite or selective eating habits.

→ Wondering how to best feed a picky eater dog or cat? Check out our guide: Expert Tips on Feeding a Picky Eater Dog or Cat

3. A Personal Touch

Food is a love language. Some pet parents opt for homemade dog food recipes and cat food recipes for the rewarding experience of preparing a meal for their furry friend — and along the way, pet parents can find patterns of what cat-friendly ingredients or dog-friendly ingredients resonate the most with their furry family member.

A cat tasting homemade cat food

The Advantages of AAFCO-Compliant Pet Food

Selecting the right commercial pet food/s for your fur baby carries its own set of advantages, compared to homemade pet food. These advantages include:

1. Nutritional Balance

While homemade pet food offers the potential for tailored ingredients, achieving a balanced diet can be challenging when cooking homemade dog food or cat food. Without the proper guidance, homemade pet food may lead to nutrient deficiencies or excesses that could negatively impact your pets' health. 

This is why AAFCO-compliant pet food is more generally recommended to dog parents and cat parents. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) sets standards for pet food, backed by years of scientific research. AAFCO-compliant commercial pet food allows your dog or cat to get the daily nutrients they need. 

2. Convenience

Preparing homemade pet food demands time and effort. It involves research, planning, shopping for ingredients, and cooking. This can be a significant commitment, especially for pet owners with busy lifestyles. Commercial pet foods offer a convenient and time-saving alternative.

3. Reduced Risk of Contamination

Handling raw ingredients and preparing homemade pet food carries the risk of bacterial contamination and/or improper storage, which can pose a health risk to dogs and cats. On the other hand, opting for commercial pet food does not require handling or storing raw ingredients, thereby reducing the risk of pet food contamination. 

Note: Looking for vet-preferred dog food, cat food, and treats? Check out SplootRX today, an online pet store and pharmacy that you can count on for healthy, vet-preferred options!
A dog and cat eating AAFCO-compliant pet food instead of homemade pet food

Finding The Best Diet for Your Pet: Helpful Tips for Each Option

Are you thinking of making a shift to homemade pet food?  Or maybe stick to commercial pet food? You may also be thinking of simply combining the two. Whichever option you’re leaning toward, here are some helpful tips! 

1. Tips for Choosing the Best Commercially Prepared Pet Food

We highly recommend opting for AAFCO-compliant pet food. This ensures that the dog food or cat food you choose for your fur baby follows guidelines and standards that are backed by years of pet nutrition research.

However, not all AAFCO-compliant pet foods are equal, especially when considering each pet as an individual. Some pet foods may be better for specific health needs. Furthermore, some types of pet food might contain proteins (e.g. chicken, beef, fish) that are allergens for certain dogs and cats. 

Note: Some of the biggest hints that your dog or cat is suffering from food allergies and food intolerance are diarrhea, vomiting, itchy skin, and ear infections.

Whether or not a dog or cat has any known food allergy or a specific health need that requires a special diet, it is always best to consult a veterinarian. A veterinary wellness exam is a great opportunity for discussing dietary concerns!

2. Tips for Making Homemade Dog Food or Cat Food

As we mentioned earlier, opting for homemade pet food requires some research, especially if the homemade dog food or cat food will comprise a majority of your pet’s diet. Though there are plenty of homemade dog food recipes and cat food recipes that one can follow, many of these do not take into account the daily nutritional needs of dogs and cats. 

If you choose to make a shift to homemade pet food, we recommend getting a pet wellness exam first; this will help establish individual health needs or dietary sensitivities. After that, our veterinarians can recommend a nutritional specialist that you can work with to formulate a homemade diet for your furry friend.

3. Mixing Homemade and Commercial Food

Combining homemade and commercial pet food can be a practical compromise —  it will also make meal times interesting for your pet. You can use commercial food as a base and supplement it with home-cooked pet food toppers. This provides the benefits of both options.

When using pet food toppers, make sure that the AAFCO-compliant pet food comprises 90 percent of your dog’s or cat’s daily intake. The home-cooked food topper should only be within the remaining 10 percent) along with any treats given throughout the day). 

Furthermore, pet food toppers should NOT be cooked with any seasoning, sugar, or artificial sweetener. 

Final Thoughts on Homemade Dog Food Recipes & Cat Food Recipes

We hope you found this guide helpful. Whether you choose to feed your pets homemade pet food, commercial pet food, or a combination of both, it's crucial to ensure that your furry friend’s diet is nutritionally balanced, safe, and meets their specific needs.

If you have questions or concerns regarding your dog or cat’s nutrition, we are here to help. Sploot Veterinary Care is a primary & urgent care veterinary clinic with numerous convenient clinic locations.  

We’re open 365 days a year, for extended hours. You can easily book a visit online or through the Sploot Vets app. 

Till next time, we’re with you every pounce of the way!