The five main reasons I choose to make my own dog food

Following on from last weeks blog all about the changing landscape of the pet food aisle.  I wanted to write about my own personal reasons why the I choose to cook home made meals for Willow – and no, It’s not because I have too much time on my hands!! 

There are lots of reasons. But after giving it some thought, I’ve narrowed it down to these top 5 – which are in no particular order.

Full disclaimer – I am not a vet or animal nutritionist.  I can only give my point of view based on my personal experience with my dog

1. I believe anything closer to nature is better

Using fresh ingredients gives me the reassurance that I know EXACTLY what she is eating.  If you can translate a Bakers complete ingredient list and know exactly what each ingredient is and what it does, then great, but I can’t.  My own view to eating is to eat fresh, unprocessed food as much as you can. Food as near as possible to its natural state HAS to be better for you, this is also the case for our dogs .

2. Variety

For the first 18 months of Willows life, I referred to her as a fussy dog. She never seemed that excited about food and would often sometimes leave food. Some branded  kibble, she wouldn’t even touch. In the end, it meant that I only gave her one flavor of Lily’s kitchen (Chicken and Duck) as that was the only one she seemed to get on OK with. I mean, can you imagine having the same meal every meal?

Fast forward to when I first started home cooking for her and she has a real lust for food now. Me and the husband were like, oh right she was just bored it seemed. She often now has Lily’s kitchen for her brekkie still (and home cooked for tea) and now she eats it all up with gusto. I can only assume it’s because she knows its now not for every meal!

3. Reassurance on quality of ingredients

 As  mentioned, Willow will often have Lily’s kitchen kibble still for breakfast. This is one of the more premium brands in the market, yet when you look at how much a portion costs it equates to 50p. Factoring in profits for the brand and the supermarkets selling and each potion will likely cost about 15-20p. What quality of ingredients can you expect to get for that?  Food manufacturers are under constant pressure to cost engineer their products. I would personally prefer to pay more to know that the meat is of high quality and has come from an ethical source that I trust. I procure as many of the produce for my recipes as possible from the local butchers and greengrocers, yet still most of my recipes cost less than £1 per serving. 


4. Positive differences – both physically and behaviorally

There is a huge link between food and behavior. We know this more so for humans, but I also know my dog. Willow suffers from anxiety and is also quite the hyperactive dog. I have found though that since she has been on fresh home made dog food in the evening, she has been so much calmer. It was actually the dog trainer we worked with several years ago that made me really think about her diet.  She was an advocate of a raw diet for her dogs. Raw or cooked the principal is the same, commercial dog food can contain a high level of carbs – mainly used to reduce the cost down.  Our dogs only need a low level of carbs, so any excess is going to leave them trying to burn if off by tearing round the living room all evening. 

Its also not just behavior where I’ve noticed differences. Willow seems to scratch less. She was prone to itchy ears and the odd ear infection previously. Her coat is also better in the fact that she doesn’t seem to matt as much.  Another difference I’ve noticed (and sorry if this is TMI) is that she’s at the vets less often for her anal glands!


5. Doing my bit for the planet

Really? I’m saving the planet with this? Well no, not single handedly. However,  home cooking for Willow has opened up some avenues for me that I feel if we did on mass, would help make a positive difference.

The first one of these being food waste. There are some really scary statistics out there on this. As a nation, we are getting WORSE rather than better at this. If you do want to find out more you should check out this podcast. 

I’ve made a few of my own pacts on this, but likewise Willow helps too. All those veggies lurking at the back of the cupboard looking sorry for themselves, If I have no use for them in meals i’m planning on making, I will centre a meal for Willow around them. 

The second thing is that we are all too dependent on meat, making it a sustainability issue for the future. Whilst I’ll never make Willow become a vegan, I do like to only give her plant based snacks rather than meat derivative based ones.  Quite regularly her snacks will be a simple as a carrot or sweet potato, or sometimes some of my own snacks from our range,  where again, I know where the ingredients have come from


So there you have it with my five reasons.  I could have gone on but these are the most motivating for me, those and the fact that I love cooking so am quite happy doing it for the entire family! I’d love to hear from you if you’ve seen benefits since moving your dog to a fresh food diet.