Dog and cat owners want what’s best for their pets. For some of them, that means cooking their pet’s meals. For others, it means feeding them raw food – including bones, veggies and raw meat - because that’s what their wild dog and cat ancestors ate. Most vets say the trend can do more harm than good for your pets.

For example, raw meat may be contaminated with salmonella, or E.coli, and home-cooked meals don’t always make for a well-balanced diet. Fans point out that pets that eat raw food have shinier coats, stronger teeth, fewer skin problems, fewer ear infections, and improved weight control. Of course, it’s not as easy as dropping a beef bone into Rex’s bowl. If you decide to make your pet’s meals – raw or otherwise – you need to follow a few guidelines:

  • Find a trustworthy recipe that provides all the nutrients your cat or dog needs. Check out the website GourmetSleuth.com – which has recipes and nutritional needs for specific breeds.
  • Then, talk to your vet before you change your pet’s diet. Depending on the animal’s age and health, you may need to adjust things gradually.     
  • Ask your vet, “This is what I plan to feed Fido. Is it a balanced diet?” If you need more information, ask them to recommend a good veterinary nutritionist.
  • Also, if you’re going to make homemade pet food, make sure your pet gets a variety of proteins. In other words, instead of always feeding them chicken, make sure they get beef, fish and liver, too.
  • Finally, if making food for your pet seems overwhelming or too time-consuming, you can buy commercial frozen raw diets at pet supply stores.