Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Homemade Dog and Cat Food

Over the last year or two, I have periodically made a few batches of homemade dog and cat food, but my husband and I have fallen back into our old habit of commercially prepared pet food. But since the year is coming to an end, I'm trying to decide what my New Year's resolution will be. Committing myself to preparing more homemade dog and cat food is one of the largest contenders.

I suppose I've been thinking so much about this lately because of my strange little kitten. A few weeks ago I had roasted up some winter squash that I grew, and my kitten went bonkers, begging for bites of it. And then, the other day I roasted up some sweet potatoes and was curious to find out if the cat likes sweet potatoes. Once again, the cat went nuts for it. He devoured it like it was a slab of juicy turkey (which I also fed him on Thanksgiving).

Anyway, this cat's strange food habits got me thinking once again about pet food and whether or not I should try to make more of an effort. There's many reasons that I think it is a good a idea, but here is a few thoughts for you to ponder:

Expense: Have you stopped to consider the price of dog and cat food recently? Sheesh! Bagged dog and cat food averages around $1.00/pound. And canned pet food is similarly priced, but the price includes the cost of watery gravy.

Waste: if your cat or dog eats mainly wet food, you know how quickly those cans pile up! 

Ingredients: In her book Food Pets Die For, Ann Martin exposes what the ingredients truly are in pet food. I'm not sure I want to go in detail here, but I will tell you that what she uncovered was pretty disgusting. You are welcome to check out my book review for more information. 

Preparing homemade pet food seems so daunting and obscure. But its really not that difficult. There's tons of recipes all over the internet, but I'm not much of a recipe follower.

According to the above-mentioned book, dog recipes should consist of roughly 1/3 protein, 1/3 carbohydrates (rice, oats, bread, beans, etc.), 1/3 fruits and vegetables (finely chopped or ground), and a tablespoon or so of oil each day. For cats, she says the general guide is 2/3 meat and 1/3 grain, vegetables, or fruit. She adds vitamin E and C, which you can purchase in pet supply stores and follow directions on the label (or consult her book). She grinds her food up so that the cats and dogs don't pick out the good parts and leave the rest. She also has many recipes in her book.

She did mention that some dogs do have allergies to eggs. I have read elsewhere that salmon is also allergenic to some dogs. 

This is a great time for me to prepare some homemade dog and cat food, as I have so many leftovers still from Thanksgiving. I'm just going to freeze extra portions to use for later dates.

So what do you think? Have you ever prepared your own pet food? Do you follow any strict recipes or do you just wing it?

By the way, I am giving away a copy of Michael Pollan's Food Rules on my blog. Stop by and leave me a comment for a chance to win a copy.