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Why Mary Berry has got me thinking about homemade dog food…

I happened to be sitting at home on Saturday night (like the party animal that I am) when I noticed that Mary Berry was being interviewed on ITV. I’m a huge fan of the Great British Bake Off (again, part animal coming at you) and I especially love that the Queen of cakes herself is getting people interesting in cooking at home.

What I didn’t expect was for the interview to get me thinking about making homemade dog food. In case you didn’t catch it (watch it online at ITV Player), the country’s most-famous baker recounted an incident when her mother-in-law gave her 4 year old daughter dog food, believing it to be meatloaf.

She went on to explain that back in the day, nobody bought dog food in tins or packets. Dog food was purchased from the local butcher in blocks, made from the leftover meat and offal that, while safe to be eaten by people, weren’t desirable cuts.  It got me thinking; would we better off making our dog food using leftover bits of meat? I did a little digging online and here’s what I came up with.

Homemade My digging brought me into contact with a plethora of sites, all run by people who swear by homemade – take a look at HomeMadeDogFood.com for just one example. Most recipes revolve around raw meat and cooked white rice, with these authors highlighting that our dogs are carnivores and that their natural diet should largely be made up of meat.

At first, the idea of homemade food had a massive appeal to me. You can relax in the knowledge that there are no dangerous chemicals or preservatives, and that the meat is high quality.

I think a lot of people naturally assume that because it’s homemade, it’s got to contain more nutrients and generally be better. However, while that may apply to our own meals, there is the concern that homemade dog food could lack the essential vitamins and minerals animals need to thrive.

My research also led me to the results of a 2013 study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA), which found that of 200 dog food recipes, obtained from veterinary textbooks, pet care books and online sources, only three provided nutrients that met the guide lines set by the National Research Council which dog food manufacturers must adhere to. Read more about the study here.

Which got me thinking that perhaps homemade isn’t necessarily the best way forward.

Commercial pet food I think that the biggest worry people have about buying dog food, is that they have no assurance of what it is they’re actually giving their pet.

Common sense should tell you that when you’re paying pennies for a tin of dog food, the ingredient’s that go into it aren’t going to be top quality. I decided to see what some brands put into their foods and whether they would be a better alternative to homemade.

One name I repeatedly came across in my Google searches for “natural dog food” was Orijen, which makes pet food based on the assumption that a dog is natural carnivore, with little need for carbohydrates or vegetables. Their official website states that they use fresh, free-range ingredients in their food, made using recipes formulated by animal nutritionists. You can buy Orijen dog food online at Feedem Pet Supermarket.

Knowing that a team of scientists is behind the product would certainly instil me with more confidence when I’m worrying that my dog wasn’t receiving everything it needed to stay healthy.

What’s more, when you consider how much it would cost you to buy all the meat, not to the mention the time it would take to cook it if you’re reluctant to feed a dog raw meat, this option isn’t that expensive.

Well Mary, I might swear by whipping up my own Victoria Sandwich over popping out to the shop to buy one – but I’m still very much undecided on the argument of homemade versus shop bought dog food. What do you think? 
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