Home-cooking for your dog can be a fresh and nutritious option, as well as a great way to have total control over the ingredients that go into their meals. The most important step to take when cooking at home for your dog is to ensure that each meal is complete and balanced. The best way to ensure a balanced meal each time is to use a supplement. Below are some key nutrients that might be missing from or unbalanced in a homemade dog food diet if un-supplemented.
Calcium: Calcium is an important nutrient for all dogs to consume on a daily basis. Dogs store excess calcium in their bones and when their body needs more calcium, it draws it from the bones. When dogs don’t get enough calcium over time, it can cause the body to produce excess hormones that can draw needed calcium from their bones. This can result in issues like elevated levels of phosphorus in the blood or demineralization of the bones. An imbalance of calcium in the diet can lead to serious bone, movement, teeth or neurological issues.
Choline: Choline is an amino acid and essential nutrient found in many different types of food. Choline promotes healthy nervous system and liver function in dogs. A dog’s body only naturally produces a small amount of choline, so it must come mostly from their diet or supplements.
Vitamin B12: B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is crucial to supporting the immune system and the manufacturing of red blood cells. B12 is important to supplement on a plant-based diet. The reason B12 is available in meat-based diets is because animals slaughtered for consumption are fed B12 supplements. For plant-based diets, B12 can easily be obtained directly via a supplement.
Magnesium: Magnesium is a key nutrient involved with energy production at the cellular level. Sodium, potassium, and calcium are all dependent on your dog getting the right amount of magnesium to ensure proper heart function, muscle movement and nervous system signaling. Flax seeds, black beans and quinoa are all excellent sources of magnesium.
Niacin: Vitamin B3, also called niacin, is an essential water-soluble vitamin that participates as a cofactor in glucose, fatty acid and amino acid metabolism. Dietary niacin is typically found in the form of nicotinic acid in plant based materials. Niacin is also sensitive to degradation with heating and additional supplementation is required with commercial pet foods. Whole-food sources of niacin for dogs include green peas, brown rice and sweet potatoes.
In order to ensure your dog is getting the right balance of nutrients in their homemade meals, be sure to add a supplement that's specially formulated for homemade dog food into their recipes for optimal long-term health.