We believe fresh food is the best, but if you’re making even half of your pet’s food from scratch you MUST supplement!

You may have started with just a spoonful of stew on their regular meal, or been directed by your vet to feed chicken and rice after a bout of digestive problems. The trouble is that this can grow from a small topping or two-week temporary diet to a long-term, large portion of your pet’s food. Over time you won’t even see the malnutrition until it results in serious illness.

You may be thinking to yourself “Well, I feed myself without supplements, what’s the difference?”

Dogs and cats require much more calcium for their size than we do. This is by far the most neglected nutrient in home-cooked diets. The result of inadequate calcium can range from poor thyroid function and weak immune system to weak bones and teeth, as their body mines their skeleton for the much-needed mineral.

Most homemade diets are very narrow, with almost no variation over time. This means some nutrients are always out of whack, especially antioxidants and trace minerals (and of course the calcium we’ve already addressed).

What looks healthy to us may not be what’s best for a cat or dog. Many home-cooked meals are heavy with starches like rice. These aren’t useful for pets whose bodies are meant to eat meat. Overuse can lead to problems like diabetes, as well as taking up too much room in the dish so more nutritious ingredients are left out.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?

Keep feeding fresh, but get some guidance.

We have Pet Health Guides that provide the basic foundation you need to get started properly.

Start supplementing.

We have a section of our online store dedicated to balancing homemade diets. One of our favorite new supplements is Annamaet Enhance which includes everything you need to balance a basic adult dog diet, including the calcium. It doesn’t get easier than this, and is appropriate for the dog that needs chicken and rice, or a pet on a strict elimination allergy diet.

Use a good recipe or three.

Collecting a variety of well-balanced recipes can take the mystery out of what you’re cooking. Our Pet Health Guide on homecooking has several links to reputable sources, but one of our favorites is Planet Paws because the small fees for each recipe go to a foundation that’s supporting research on pet longevity. They offer a wide range of options with careful directions and are designed by a well-regarded specialist.