Social media has made it ever more obvious to the public just how often pet food and treats are recalled. Recalls can occur for many different reason; as minor as expired ingredients to as major as salmonella contamination which can be a health risk for both humans and animals. Fortunately there are many measures in place to detect these problems so for the most part our pets really are protected.
However, there are more difficult issues to pinpoint. For example all the problems that were occurring with jerky treats over the last several years. While the FDA never found incontrovertible proof, most of us are sure that the antibiotic residues caused allergic reactions in enough animals to cause their deaths. The scary part is that it took thousands of dogs dying from jerky treats before the products were finally recalled off the shelves. And, they are back.
All of these things leave pet owners very confused about safety of pet food. Regulatory agencies know to look for certain dangerous contaminants in pet food, but there are new adulterants every day and without knowing what those dangerous items are it takes many deaths and much time before the food will be recalled. Remember the 2006 melamine recall? It was a year and a half and thousands of dogs and cats dead before they figured out what happened There are many pet owners who have been cooking for their pets ever since the melamine contamination of 2006. These people lost pets and just can’t bring themselves to buy commercial food again. Fortunately, there are many high quality foods available, including what we can make for our dogs and cats in her kitchen.
The great thing about cooking at home is that you personally handle the ingredients and know what is going into their food. As long as we use fresh ingredients from the grocery store to our refrigerator, we are feeding our pets safely.
There are a few foods dangerous to dogs and cats. These foods are grapes, raisins, onions, chocolate, and xylitol, a sugar-free sweetener found most commonly in sugar-free gum. If you look online, you will find other foods listed. Avocado meat is not poisonous to dogs, it is the pits, the skin, and the leaves that are poisonous. Macadamia nuts are also listed. It is most likely that macadamia causes an allergic reaction in some dogs, an awful lot like peanuts cause an allergic reaction in some humans. In fact, peanuts can cause an allergic reaction in the occasional dog, too. So if your dog has an allergic reaction to macadamia, never feed it again. Caffeine is listed as poisonous to dogs. This is caffeine in the form of the caffeine tablets and it takes a lot more than one tablet to make a dog sick. So if you share a taste of your coffee or a bite of your tiramisu, it is not going to make your dog or cat sick from the caffeine. Salt is poisonous only if eaten in gigantic quantities like homemade play dough.
It really is that simple. Feed your dog approximately 50% meat and 50% fruits or vegetables and it will be a well balanced healthy and nutritious meal – rotate your foods to achieve more natural balance, just as we do for ourselves. Your cat needs more like 90% meat and just a taste of seeds and vegetables to finish balancing the meal.
We share many more details of how to home prepare pet food in the upcoming addition of Dinner PAWsible due to be published on May 5, 2015.
Dr. Cathy Alinovi DVM
As a practicing veterinarian, Dr. Cathy treated 80% of what walked in the door — not with expensive prescriptions — but with adequate nutrition. Now retired from private practice, her commitment to pets hasn’t waned and she looks forward to impacting many more pet parents through her books, research, speaking and consulting work. Learn more at drcathyvet.com