On November 1, a little-known holiday came and went: National Cook for Your Pets Day. The holiday was created as a means to highlight proper pet nutrition. Beyond the value of reminding pet owners how essential a fresh, balanced, nutritional diet is for their pet’s health and quality of life, National Cook for Your Pets Day is popular because it speaks to an impulse so many pet owners have.

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That impulse: to find a way to thank our cats and dogs for the unconditional love and affection they show us. While we may not be able to articulate how important they are to us with our words, the language of love that our pets are sure to understand is food.

When done right, cooking for your pet provides delicious and nutritious meals your dog or cat will savor (though probably not slowly). Done wrong, it can result in dangerous short- and long-term health risks. Which is why understanding those benefits and risks, as well as alternatives, is crucial.

The Benefits of Cooking for Your Pets

There’s been a substantial recent uptick in pet owners’ concern about the ingredients being used in pet foods and treats. That’s not surprising, considering the recent revelations about the quality and composition of the ingredients in many commercial pet foods and treats. And even more disturbing for pet owners, contaminations that have sickened—and in some cases even killed—thousands of pets.

The shift to more natural food for pets is based on the sound principle that fresh, human-grade food is both better-tasting and better for domestic animals than a daily ration of questionable kibble. Many of those kibbles containing carbohydrate-heavy fillers, rendered meat and animal by-products (the less you know about these, the better), low-quality proteins, low moisture, etc.

So there’s little question that feeding a pet healthy dog food or healthy cat food makes for happy and hearty dogs and pussycats. However, as mentioned earlier, when homemade pet food isn’t prepared properly, it can be dangerous.

The Risks of Cooking for Your Pets and Safe Alternatives

One of the movements that emerged from the fresh pet food trend was the raw food diet. Intuitively it seems like a good idea, as the wild relatives of dogs and cats were eating raw food. But, the thing is, the life expectancy of the wild relatives of dogs and cats was generally a fraction of what it is for pets.

One of the reasons for that is that raw food can contain dangerous pathogens capable of causing illness and even death. As such, raw diets have, appropriately, become far less popular. That’s given some of those cooking up human grade dog food or cat food the impression that cooking renders those foods safe, which unfortunately isn’t the case.

There are dozens of human-friendly foods that are really bad for dogs and cats, cooked or raw. Grapes and raisins, avocado, citrus, coconut products, dairy products, many nuts, and allium foods like garlic, chives, and onions are just a few that can sicken or poison pets. And some products well-meaning owners cook, even when trying to avoid unsafe ingredients, may still contain them.

But by far the biggest risk of creating meals for your pet isn’t that you’ll accidentally mix in something they shouldn’t eat—it’s that the meals you cook will very likely be nutritionally unbalanced. In fact, research involving 200 home-prepared dog food recipes found that a staggering 95% of them were nutritionally unbalanced. This is due to a mix of people adjusting the recipes they get from vet nutritionists and being unaware that pets have very specific nutritional needs. Unfortunately, feeding your dog or cat unbalanced meals with nutrient deficiencies can lead to major, even fatal issues. The damages from this are gradual and can’t be reversed, so by the time pet owners find out what’s happened, it’s typically too late to fix.

There are, of course, safe alternatives. One of them is, well, practicing safety. Be vigilant about your ingredients and their sourcing and, if possible, cook everything sous-vide to preserve nutrition and moisture. Research has found that vegetables cooked via sous-vide retain nutrients better than when cooked using other methods. And if you’re going to cook meals at home, be sure to use recipes developed by board-certified veterinary nutritionists in order to help avoid serving your cat or dog unbalanced meals.

Or, if that all seems a little daunting, consider finding a reputable company that delivers high-quality, human grade dog food that’s cooked sous-vide, and you’ll make your hairy housemate happy indeed. Grocery Pup offers fresh dog food delivery that beyond being delicious is also nutritionally balanced as the company works with a veterinarian nutritionist to make sure their recipes are both safe and delicious.

About Grocery Pup

If your furry best friend could start a dog food company, it’d be Grocery Pup. They are a by dog-lovers, for dog-lovers operation that specializes in the convenient home delivery of delicious, nutritious, safe, and well-balanced human grade dog food. Every bit of their canine cuisine, including sensitive stomach dog food, is overseen and approved by a veterinarian nutritionist, and it’s all cooked to safety and succulence with sous-vide technology in a human-grade kitchen.

Fetch the healthy, delicious dog food your pup will thank you for, at Grocerypup.com