We understand that there are circumstances where commercial diets are unable to meet the needs of your pet. Perhaps there is no existing diet that successfully addresses your pet’s multiple conditions. Perhaps there is a “perfect” diet, but your pet says “No. No thank you”. We understand that many of you simply prefer to produce home made diets for your dogs and cats, However, there are pitfalls to be aware of. Cooking at home can be costly and it is very difficult to know the correct way to balance essential nutrients meaning it can become harmful. We strongly advocate arranging a consultation with a veterinary nutritionist who is qualified to formulate an appropriate home-prepared diet.
Many (most?) of the diets you find on the internet or in books and magazines lack any proven research to show their efficacy and are not supported by qualified nutritionists. A 2013 study (JAVMA) analysed 200 dog food recipes for nutritional adequacy. Few of the recipes that were evaluated provided all essential nutrients in concentrations meeting the nutrient profiles for canine maintenance diets. A later study evaluated home-cooked diets for cats. Problems with nutritional adequacy were identified in all 114 diets evaluated.
Further some diets include ingredients that are actively toxic to pets (eg: garlic). Those recipes without toxic ingredients may be suitable for an odd treat but should not replace primary meals.
Finally, after identifying an appropriate diet that suits the needs of you and your pet it is important to remember that nutritional adequacy depends on the quality of your ingredients and strict following of the recipe. Leaving out or substituting ingredients will change the nutrient profile of the food.
If you do decide that home-made diets are the right solution for your pet, there are sites we recommend you visit: