The amount of commercial dog foods on the market can be overwhelming and the number of recalls publicized is scary.
Making homemade dog food sounds like a good idea, but can it provide the nutrients your dog needs? Read on to decide what is best for your dog.
What Do Veterinarians Recommend?
The majority of veterinarians have supported dogs eating commercial diets for a significant amount of time. However, times are changing and many veterinarians are now open to the idea of home made diets.
If you are interested in preparing home made meals for your Chihuahua, consult with your veterinarian to ensure that her nutritional needs will be met.
If your veterinarian does not recommend home made diets, consider contacting the American College of Veterinary Nutrition to find a veterinary nutritionist to work with. A veterinary nutritionist can help you create personalized recipes and meal plans specially for your pup.
Can I Make Healthy Home Made Dog Food At Home?
Yes, you can! But, it is important that you do not attempt to do this on your own without the guidance of a veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist.
First, you must remember that dogs cannot everything that we can. So while it might seem like a great idea to make your dog your healthy eating accountability partner by preparing a healthy meal for yourself and giving a portion to your dog, a meal that is healthy for us is not always healthy for them.
You need the guidance of a veterinarian to ensure that your dog is eating foods that are safe for him, and that the diet is well balanced with all the nutrients he needs. While you may believe that you are giving him a healthy meal, your veterinarian may want your dog to take a daily vitamin to ensure his nutritional needs are fully met.
What Are The Pros And Cons Of Commercial Diets?
Commercial diets have remained a popular choice for pets for a long time because of these pros:
- Commercial diets are easy to store and have lengthy expiration dates.
- They are easy to prepare.
- Some commercial diets are very inexpensive and many manufactures offer coupons regularly.
- Veterinarians often recommend them and often state that crunchy kibble is beneficial for the oral health of dogs.
However, commercial diets have some draw backs too:
- The lengthy expiration dates are achieved with preservatives and other undesirable ingredients.
- Recalls occur often, and sometimes result in the death of beloved pets.
- The source of the ingredients is often questionable.
- The standards for commercial pet food quality and safety are not as stringent as the requirements for human grade food.
- Eating the same dry kibble daily can be boring for your dog.
- Ingredients used for dog food are often the by products of meat used for human food production.
What Are The Pros And Cons Of Home Made Diets?
Home made diets offer benefits that commercial diets simply cannot:
- Dogs love home made diets! They are always excited to eat real meat, fruits and vegetables.
- Owners know exactly what is in their dog’s food.
- Owners can be confident in the quality of their dog’s food.
- Dogs who are finicky eaters or who have allergies can be catered to.
- Preparing meals for your dog is an act of love and a fun bonding experience.
While the benefits of home made diets cannot be denied, they are not perfect. The cons of home made diets are:
- You cannot save some of your dinner for your dog if the ingredients are not dog safe, which means you must prepare special meals just for your dog.
- The preparations are not convenient for busy schedules or people who do not enjoy cooking.
- You may need to provide your dog with a vitamin to ensure that she receives proper and complete nutrition.
- Dogs may be so excited to eat the food that they choke or vomit.
- Dog’s tummies may take weeks to acclimate to the change in their diet, and they may suffer from digestive upset during the transition period.
Tips For Chihuahua Parents Considering A Home Made Diet
If you are considering preparing home made meals for your Chihuahua, keep the following in mind:
Naturally, your Chihuahua will be very excited about the change in her diet.
Commercial kibble forces dogs to have to chew their food because of the texture, size, and shape. When your dog eats a home made meal, they may eat quickly because it requires less crunching and chewing.
Also, what if you were change your mind and take it away?!
If your Chihuahua is a voracious eater, purchase a slow feeder dog bowl to help slow her down and prevent her from choking. This is also good mental stimulation, as she has to think about the best way to get the food out of the grooves of the bowl.
Don’t be afraid to freeze
Due to their small stature, a batch of home made dog food would cover many more meals for a Chihuahua than a larger breed. Therefore, keeping a batch in the fridge may result in the food going bad before your Chihuahua is able to eat all of it.
If you prepare a meal in advance and freeze the remaining portions, you may heat it up daily for your Chihuahua to eat for weeks to come. This makes less daily work for you and saves money by preserving food for your Chihuahua to eat.
Check your sources
Although the internet is a wealth of knowledge, do not begin your home made diet journey by preparing meals for your dog you discovered online before discussing the recipe with your veterinarian.
Many well meaning pet parents publish recipes, but the ingredients may not be vet approved.
When you search for recipes to discuss with your veterinarian, always look for recipes published by trusted sources, such as veterinary websites or published in books. Here are some sources to get you started:
- BalanceIT.com allows pet parents to find recipes based upon their dog’s favorite ingredients. The website was created by a certified veterinary nutritionist.
- Feed Your Best Friend Better
- The Healthy Homemade Pet Cook Book
- The Whole Pet Diet
Transition slowly.If your dog has only eaten commercial diets for her whole life, switching to home made food quickly is not a good idea.
To prevent digestive upset, a very slow transition from commercial to home made must be implemented. Commercial diets often recommend switching over a period of 5-7 days.
When switching to home made, consider a period of 14 days or more. Adding a beneficial bacteria supplement such as fortiflora may assist your dog’s digestive system adjust to the new normal.
Make A Dental Date
Many veterinarians state that crunchy commercial kibble may contribute to dental health. Since Chihuahuas are prone to dental disease, be sure to discuss other ways to maintain your Chihuahua’s oral health with your veterinarian and schedule professional dental cleanings regularly.
Keep it Cooked
Raw diets are becomingly increasingly popular but they may not be the best option. If you are new to the home made diet game, keep it cooked.
Many people believe that dogs were designed to eat raw meat, so there is no food safety risk to them.
However, the risks of raw diets often outweigh the potential benefits. After your dog eats raw meat, if they lick your fingers and face, you are cross contaminated with raw meat germs, which could make you sick.
Households with young children are at a much higher risk, as children often like to assist with a dog’s meal preparation and may touch the bowl that contained raw meat, then return to playing with their toys.
Meal Subscription Services For Dogs
Some owners opt to have human grade food meals prepared for their dogs delivered to their homes to take the hassle out of preparing more meals.
Before you write off this idea, thinking that only the rich and famous can afford this, your Chihuahua would like you to visit these websites and browse their affordable meal plans:
- Ollie offers four yummy vet crafted recipes made with no by products or artificial flavors. You can get 50% off your first box going through my link.
- PetPlateformulated by a veterinary nutritionist. You can get 30% by getting it through my link.
- The Farmer’s Dog makes veterinarian approved meals in USDA standard kitchens and delivers the deliciousness to your door.
- Nom Nom Now offers meals (get $60 off 3 orders by going through my link) for all life stages of dogs (and cats too) that exceed AFFCO standards.
We have used Ollie, The Farmer’s Dog and Pet Plate with good results. The dogs loved it (even my picky Ziggy) and the cost wasn’t that bad considering the small amount chihuahuas need to eat.
Nutrition is an important part of your dog’s overall health and may contribute to a longer life. As one of the longest living breeds of dogs, good nutrition is especially important for the tiny and mighty Chihuahua.
Consult with your veterinarian and a veterinary nutritionist to determine what diet is right for your best furry friend and to ensure that your dog receives the best nutrition possible.
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