We’ve all been tempted to slip a slice of fat, or a succulent piece of steak, to a dog waiting eagerly under the table. A dog is a special part of your family, and it’s natural to want it to enjoy food as much as possible. For this reason, a lot of pet owners opt to feed their pet home-cooked meals, or supplement their pet’s meals with leftovers from the family dinner.
However, according to experienced vet and Real Pet Food Company’s ambassador, Dr Lisa Chimes, feeding home-made meals can actually be quite detrimental to a dog’s overall nutrition.
“While home-made meals can certainly be quite healthy and delicious, studies have shown that they don’t typically offer the full range of balanced nutrition that’s available in specially-designed pet food,” she says.
“Even though your dog may seem healthy when you first introduce a home-cooked diet, there is a real risk of nutritional deficiencies and health problems developing weeks to years later.”
“A dog’s nutritional needs are very different to ours, and there are specific nutrients that they need in order to prevent serious health problems. Growing puppies, in particular, are at the greatest risk of nutritional deficiencies if they don’t receive a complete and balanced diet,” she adds.
So how can you ensure complete and balanced nutrition for your pet?
The good news is that you don’t have to slave over a hot stove, visit specialty stores, or do extensive research into canine nutrition, in order to feed your pet a complete and balanced diet.
In fact, you can simply follow these four key steps:
1. Choose a reputable pet food brand
When it comes to your pet’s diet, it’s wise to choose a reputable and trusted brand of pet food that’s been specifically designed for your dog’s nutritional needs. All meal options in the Nature’s Gift range, for instance, have been expertly crafted to provide for dogs’ optimal nutrition and wellbeing. This includes Natures’ Gift Dry Dog Food, Wet Dog Food and Chilled Dog Food.
Nature’s Gift only uses natural ingredients with added vitamin and minerals. This means you can rest easy knowing your four-legged friend is enjoying a well-rounded and balanced diet.
“When a dog is fed a good quality diet, their overall health will improve, which can help increase their life expectancy,” says Dr Chimes.
2. Always follow the instructions on the pack
Quality packaged pet food should also always have specific instructions for how much to feed your dog based on its size and age, and sometimes, its breed. Always follow these instructions to ensure you’re feeding your dog the right amount. Over-feeding can be a key cause of obesity in dogs.
3. Cut the home-cooked meals
While prepared with the best intentions, home-cooked meals don’t typically cater for a dog’s extensive nutritional needs. They’re also often prepared for human tastes and preferences, rather than a dog’s. As well as being time-consuming and expensive, home-cooked meals simply don’t give the peace of mind that you want as a pet owner.
“Home-cooked meals should only be fed with the supervision of a certified veterinary nutritionist,” says Dr Chimes.
4. Keep things interesting
Lots of pet owners believe that home-cooked meals are more delicious, and therefore more satisfying for their pet. However, thanks to brands like Nature’s Gift, feeding your dog pre-prepared meals certainly doesn’t have to mean compromising on flavour or texture.
In fact, all items in the Nature’s Gift range use Australian-sourced meat, and veggies and deliver them in a tasty combination that’s sure to please even the pickiest of eaters.
You can also keep meals interesting by mixing dry, wet and chilled meals – all of which are individually complete and balanced. Always be sure to stick to the correct overall portion, and take time to read our guide to mixed feeding here.
About Dr Lisa Chimes
Dr Lisa Chimes is one of Australia’s most well-known vets and a proud ambassador for Real Pet Foods Company.
She has a Bachelor of Veterinary Science and extensive experience working as an emergency and critical-care veterinarian at Sydney’s Small Animal Specialist Hospital.
A familiar face in many Australian homes, Lisa starred alongside Dr Chris Brown in Bondi Vet, and her own TV program, Dr Lisa to the Rescue, in which she helps find forever homes for rescue dogs. She has also made appearances on Ready Steady Cook, The Project, Ten News, The Nine Network’s Mornings, Studio 10, Today Extra, Kyle and Jackie O, and is a regular contributor to Houzz.com and Mamamia.
Lisa is an accomplished MC and speaker, a supporter of Guide Dogs Australia and a favourite on the pet expo circuit, where she shares her knowledge and animal know-how with fellow animal lovers and industry experts at events such as The Dog Lovers Show.
After the birth of her first child, Lisa saw a need to educate young children on looking after their pets and signed with Penguin Group to release two children’s books: My First Puppy and My First Kitten.
She lives in Sydney with her husband Brad, their four children Hudson, Darcie, Spencer and Lottie and their two cavalier cross poodles, Nelson and Lucas.