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Healthy Dogs

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Make Homemade Dog Food

By Marianne Wait
WebMD Pet Health Feature
Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM

Your dog is part of your family, and you may be willing to do most anything for him. That could include making his meals from scratch. If so, get out the apron -- but get ready to teach yourself a few new tricks. There are things you need to know to keep your pet healthy and strong.

Making dog food that meets Fido’s nutrition needs isn't as simple as you might think, says pet nutritionist Cailin Heinze, VMD. “It can be done, it just takes a lot of dedication, a lot of work, and for some pets and some ingredients, quite a bit of expense,” Heinze says.

1. Start With a Good Recipe

Many dog food recipes fall short in certain nutrients, especially iron, copper, calcium, and zinc. Even some recipes created by veterinarians don't measure up. The University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine tested 200 recipes, many written by vets. The researchers found most of the recipes were short on some essential nutrients.

The best way to make sure a recipe has what it takes is to choose one created by an expert with training in dog nutrition, says Jennifer Larsen, DVM, PhD. That might be a certified pet nutritionist or a PhD-trained animal nutritionist with experience making pet food. Your vet should be able to point you in the right direction.

Your pet needs protein (animal meat, seafood, dairy, or eggs), fat (from meat or oil) and carbohydrates (grains or vegetables). He also needs calcium (from dairy or an ingredient such as egg shells), and essential fatty acids (from certain plant oils, egg yolks, oatmeal, and other foods).

And if that's not enough to consider, if your dog has a health problem, he may need a special diet. You may need a pet nutrition expert to create custom recipes.

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