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When it comes to dog food, a lot of people take advantage of how undiscerning a dog’s taste is. After all, a bag of whatever is being advertised on television and presented in abundance at national grocery stores seems to make your pup happy, right? Why think too much about it?

The problem is that a lot of the most popular dog food brands are actually pretty unhealthy for your furry friend. In fact, it’s basically junk food. Most of the stuff from P&G isn’t that good, and perennial food-business villains Nestlé have some pretty low-quality stuff that’s among the best-selling dog food in the country.

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So what’s a dog owner to do? Perhaps the best thing you can do is take matters into your own hands. Which, yes, means cooking your dog’s meals yourself! You may think this couldn’t possibly be simple – after all, there’s always a big line being drawn between “dog food” and “people food” – but it’s actually a very smart and realistic move. It’s not just about pampering your dog – it’s about keeping your dog healthy! Here are the things you need to keep in mind if you’re interested.

Speak with a vet

Vets have sometimes been known to tell you that home cooking for a pet is way too complex. This is usually for one of two reasons: it’s easier to dismiss the idea instead of actually outlining methods to the pet owner (vets often aren’t very trusting of the owners!), and the clinic wants to get you to buy the food they sell on-site! But, for the most part, vets will be very responsive and will help you figure out a food strategy.

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Preserving nutrients

When it comes to home cooking for your dog, the key is in making sure the food has all the nutrients that a dog needs in abundance. Magnesium, iron, calcium, phosphorus, copper are just a few of the minerals it needs. Carbs and fats are also essential, as is plenty of protein! That’s why you need to be pretty precise when you work with recipes. Those recipes are carefully constructed, from the ingredient choice to the cooking method and time. This helps preserve all the necessary nutrients!

Keeping it safe

Before you serve up a home-cooked meal with a side of dog tea, you need to make sure you’re using safe ingredients. Pasta, rice, meat, most vegetables, bread – there’s plenty of “people food” out there that dogs can handle (and love!). But you need to make sure there are no ingredients that are famously toxic to dogs, such as tomato, garlic, onions, caffeine, and artificial sweeteners. You should also ensure you’re weighing your dog so you’re not overfeeding or underfeeding it.

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A watchful eye

Most people who home cook for their dog usually do so four or five times a week, and this is perfectly fine. (Many do so pretty much exclusively, which can work!) However, you must make sure you’re keeping an eye on your dog’s health and weight over the first few weeks when you change up their diet in any way. This will help alert you to any potential problems as soon as they appear, so you can start making suitable tweaks to the diet.

 

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