Homemade vs. Store Bought Pet Food

Dog and cat eat from bowls

Pet owners have more choices than ever when it comes to feeding their pets. Commercially made products are readily available on grocery store shelves, the Internet, and in veterinary offices, while homemade food offers another feeding option. If you're having a little trouble deciding whether homemade or store-bought food is best, you'll want to read our take on the subject.

What Benefits Do Each Type of Food Offer?

Commercially made food offers the ultimate convenience. The food is available where you shop for your own food, and preparation is as easy as opening the bag, box or can and placing the food into your pet's dish.

Commercial foods are specially formulated to ensure that your pet's nutritional needs are met. They contain vitamins, minerals, and proteins necessary for your animal's good health. In addition to general pet food, many brands also offer specialty foods for young, old, and overweight pets, or those with certain health conditions, such as allergies or kidney disease.

Pet food recalls were in the news again this past November when multiple brands of dog food were recalled due to toxic levels of Vitamin D. The news certainly wasn't reassuring to pet owners who rely on pet food manufacturers to produce safe, nutritious products. At high levels, the vitamin can cause kidney failure or even death.

Worries about food safety often prompt pet owners to choose homemade food, although concerns about allergies and health issues may also prompt the switch. When you prepare your pet's foods, you control the ingredients. Preparing home-made food definitely takes longer than opening a can, but ensures that meals are made with the freshest ingredients.

Is One Type of Food Better Than the Other?

As long as your pet's nutritional needs are met, it doesn't really matter if he or she eats store-bought or homemade food. Unfortunately, too often, homemade food lacks key nutrients. When researchers from the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine performed a nutritional evaluation of 200 homemade dog food recipes, they discovered that most were missing key nutrients. The team evaluated recipes from websites, pet care books, and veterinary textbooks.

They reported that 95 percent of the recipes lacked one essential nutrient. Multiple deficiencies were found in 83 percent of the recipes. A 2017 Portuguese study also found nutritional deficiencies in home-prepared diets. Diets often didn't have enough vitamins E and B12, iron, riboflavin, choline, thiamine, or calcium.

Pets that don't receive the appropriate mixture of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals are more likely to be underweight, have dull coats, dandruff, allergies, or suffer from heart conditions in extreme cases.

Commercially made products, whether you buy them in a store or at your veterinarian's office, are specially formulated to contain the nutrients your pet needs. Recipes are developed by a team of nutritionists to ensure that they meet your pet's dietary needs based on age and breed. If your pet's food contains the words "complete and balanced" on the label, it meets the nutritional standards established by the American Association of Feed Control Officials.

Not all pet food companies have the same high standards. Before you choose a brand, take a look at the "Withdrawals & Recalls" page on the U.S.D.A. website. If a company's name appears there often, you may want to choose another product for your pet.

If you prefer to make your pet's food, it's a good idea to ask your pet's veterinarian or an animal nutritionist to review the recipes you choose. Unfortunately, you can't assume that the recipe contains needed nutrients just because it appears in a pet publication or website.

Do you have questions or concerns about your pet's diet? Contact us to make an appointment to discuss your pet's nutritional needs and the best foods for him or her.

Sources:

UC Davis: Homemade Dog Food Recipes Can Be Risky Business, Study Finds, 7/15/13

https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/homemade-dog-food-recipes-can-be-risky-business-study-finds/

U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Withdrawals & Recalls

https://www.fda.gov/animalveterinary/safetyhealth/recallswithdrawals/default.htm

Journal of Nutritional Science: Analysis of recipes of home-prepared diets for dogs and cats published in Portuguese, 7/3/17

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-nutritional-science/article/analysis-of-recipes-of-homeprepared-diets-for-dogs-and-cats-published-in-portuguese/2EAE9E097FE78EF0C0B3D6B045147C82

American Kennel Club: Best Dog Food: Choosing What’s Right for Your Dog, 7/20/16

https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/best-dog-food-choosing-whats-right-for-your-dog/

U.S. Food and Drug Administration: FDA Alerts Pet Owners about Potentially Toxic Levels of Vitamin D in Several Dry Pet Foods, 12/3/18

https://www.fda.gov/animalveterinary/newsevents/ucm627485.htm

Location

Find us on the map

Office Hours

Our Regular Schedule

Monday:

9:00 AM-6:00 pm

Tuesday:

9:00 AM-6:00 pm

Wednesday:

9:00 AM-5:00 PM

Thursday:

9:00 AM-7:00 pm

Friday:

9:00 AM-5:00 PM

Saturday:

9:00 am-1:00 pm

Sunday:

Closed

Testimonials

Feedback from our clients

  • "Thanks for everything you did for Ready !
    Obviously he loved you all !"
    Bart V.
  • "I will continue to bring my furkids to Buck Road. They are absolutely wonderful with my dog and have been a great resource for my cat who suffers from allergies and kidney problems. They really care about their patients and their humans, and listen to me when I have concerns. They are never, ever overcrowded. Usually there is maybe one other dog in the waiting room. That is a relief and keeps everyone's stress levels down! The facility is clean and staff is always friendly and willing to walk you through, step by step, the treatment plan ahead. I never leave feeling confused. I love this place - and we keep coming back despite moving pretty far away!"
    Courtny S.
  • "Awesome staff ~ great veterinary care ~ Dutch is lucky to have such wonderful professionals looking after him!"
    Beverly B.
  • "A top notch practice. Highly recommend."
    Jason D.
  • "I've been bringing my pets to Buck Road Animal Hospital almost from the time they started and I have never had anything but positive experiences there. The staff feel like friends to me and they always make you feel like they're happy to see you and your pets. The vets take their time with you and your pets and they go out of their way to give you any information you might need about a pet's condition or treatment. I have A LOT of pets and some of my dogs have aggression issues but you'd never know it to see them there. They understand how to make any animal feel at ease and even my most difficult dog is welcomed there. I'd never go anywhere else. Best veterinary practice anywhere."
    Mary K.
  • "I have been a client of Buck Road Animal Hospital for 30 years..and they are the all the greatest caring friendly kind people..I would not go anywhere else..They go out of there way to accommodate you..They are Number 1..Hats off to Caroline Renee Leanne Donna Lindie and to the best vets Dr Steve and Dr Mary Pat."
    Carole M.
  • "Probably the greatest animal hospital of all-time. The staff is superb, and the Doctors are as kind and knowledgeable as they come. Can't wait for our next visit!"
    Andrew S.