After the pet food recalls, many people asked what should they feed their pet and what is good and what is not good? Pet Food Nation, written by Joan Weiskopf, gives a perspective on what is the easy and healthy way to feed your pet.
Weiskopf is a veterinary clinical nutritionist, dog breeder and show handler. She attended Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine.
In Pet Food Nation, Weiskopf says the best and healthiest way to feed your pet is to home cook.
For those who question if home cooking for pets is advantageous, Weiskopf answers back against the cons of homemade pet meals. The major arguments against cooking for pets at home are economic, dietetic, and pragmatic. She says that homemade pet food is not more expensive than buying commercial food. Ingredients to prepare pet food can be purchased at a cheap price. She feeds six of her adult pedigreed dogs for six weeks on about $300.
With the dietetic argument, Weiskopf states that not only do pet food companies say that home cooking is not nutritionally sound for pets, but also the American Veterinary Medical Association agrees. AVMA President Roger Mahr says that table scraps should not be a part of your pet’s diet. He adds that gravies, meat fats, and poultry skin can upset a pet’s stomach and can lead to pancreatitis in dogs. He also warns against bones and chocolate. In response, Weiskopf states to just be intelligent and not feed pets chicken skin, fat drippings, cooked bones, and chocolate.
The AVMA also states that pet nutrition is so complicated and “implies that the commercial pet food industry is so on top of these complicated issues that an intelligent person cooking at home can’t possibly match what’s in the can, pouch, or bag from the supermarket.” Weiskopf disagrees and says that a pet owner can be educated on what healthy pet cooking is and can prepare adequate and tasty meals for their pet.
Pet Food Nation offers some tips on feeding a homemade diet: grains and meat should be cooked, vegetables should be steamed or served raw, oils should be refrigerated and fruit should be chopped.
Weiskopf also lists some human foods that should be avoided in pet food: chocolate, onions (can cause hemolytic anemia), garlic (it is not particularly harmful, but since it is in the onion family, it should not be used in excess), grapes and raisins, cooked bones (only raw bones should be given to pets), certain dairy products, soy products (pets can’t utilize the amino acid complex from soy), bacon, citrus fruit (too acidic), white potatoes (they are not harmful, but they have little or no nutritional value for your pet), and sugar.
Weiskopf does understand that not every pet owner can cook homemade food for their pet. She says that if one has to buy commercial pet food, owners should educate themselves on how to read a label and understand what the ingredients mean for your pet. She advises to look for meats that are human grade, natural preservatives, whole grains (no “hulls”), and avoid “beet pulp” which is an artificial stool hardener and high in sugar.
Weiskopf also advises against raw food diets. She says that cooked grains and vegetables are an essential part of a pet’s diet. She also states that a consistent diet of raw meat and bones can possibly increase a pet’s risk to salmonella or trichinosis.
In Pet Food Nation, Weiskopf also shares some of her own recipes for homemade dog and cat food and explains the different minerals and vitamins that are important for your pet’s health.