Food and Nutrition

The basis for good health in our pets is diet and the key to good health is prevention.  The more natural and fresh the diet, the more nutrients are available for our pet’s bodies to use in building a good immune system.

For dogs, the three main options for feeding are:

There are pros and cons to each diet that you, as your dog’s caregiver, should know about.

Commercially packaged dog food

Should you choose to feed your dog a commercially packaged dog food, be aware of the ingredients.  For example, dogs do not digest grains well since they are carnivores.

For more information about pet food, visit the pet food report.

Home-Cooked Diets

There is a wide variety of recipes and ways to do this.  Many people combine pureed vegetables, meat and eggs, and then bake the entire mixture.  Or you can just choose to focus on meat and bones.  Because dogs have short intestines designed for carnivores, bacteria don’t have time to incubate inside them like they do in humans.  So, you won’t need to cook the food very long.  Many people who prepare cooked diets for their dogs will prepare enough for a week at a time, and then freeze the food.

One of the downsides to this diet is that many of the good enzymes and probiotics found in food are killed off during the cooking process.  Therefore, you’ll want to supplement your dog’s diet with a daily whole food supplement.

The American Veterinary Medical Association does not recommend home-cooked diets.  Dr. Tony Buffington, DVM, Ph.D., an Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine professor of clinical sciences and a member of the AVMA agrees but he recommends Home-Prepared Dog & Cat Diets: the Healthful Alternative by Dr. Donald Strombeck as a good cookbook for pets. Dr. Buffington also recommends as one the best Web sites on home-cooked pet diets.

Raw Diet

A raw diet is commonly known as a BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food), which includes meats, bones, and even some vegetables, eggs, yogurt and nuts, or SARF (Species Appropriate Raw Food), which excludes vegetables, eggs, and nuts.

A raw food diet consists of a variety of meats and raw bone.  Some of the benefits associated with a raw food diet include clean, white teeth, small, dry stools, shiny coat, no bad body odor or breath.  As with the other diets discussed above, it’s important to thoroughly research the benefits and pitfalls.  For more information, go to

Cats have much higher protein and fat requirements than people, dogs and many other mammals.  As true carnivores, their diet should consist of about 30 percent protein.  Cats also require taurine, an amino acid found in meat.

Commercially packaged cat food

Like with commercially packaged dog foods, it’s important to read the labels carefully.

For more information about pet food, visit the pet food report.

Homemade Cat Foods

Homemade diets for cats can include cooked meats, vegetables, fruits and grains. Others focus on raw ingredients including meaty chicken and turkey bones, organ meat (liver, kidney, heart, brain, tongue and tripe) and eggs.  Leafy vegetables can be added after running them through a food processor. Vegetable oils, brewer’s yeast, kelp, apple cider vinegar, raw honey, dairy products (such as raw goat milk, cottage cheese and plain yogurt) and grain can be added.  Note that cooked bones can kill your cat. They splinter when they break, and the sharp ends can perforate her esophagus, stomach or intestines.