What’s Wrong with Homemade Dog Food?

I spend so much time nowadays talking to people who either fully understand what it takes to produce health in a dog, or are in the process of learning it, that I sometimes forget how confused the vast majority of the world is on this topic. The other day I happened to click on a video by a former vet tech calling himself “Earthling” with a recipe for homemade dog food, and was shocked at what he was telling several hundred thousand (and counting) viewers to feed their dog.  Ground meats, oatmeal, canned sardines, vegetables and other inappropriate ingredients, all boiled up in a big pot and frozen in individual servings. I couldn’t resist commenting, and Earthling actually took my criticism pretty well.  But he seems very unlikely to change what he’s doing because he says his 10-year-old Min-Pin is “doing just fine”.  Fair enough.  Unfortunately, many millions of dogs don’t do well on this kind of regimen.

Most dog owners who feed commercial dog food also say their dogs are doing just fine. The problem is, dog owners collectively have been brainwashed to think that the problems their dogs have are normal, inevitable, or have nothing to do with food. Even Earthling’s dog most likely has issues that, as a vet tech, he would regard as normal but are actually pathological.  Bile vomiting, shedding, ‘allergies’, fleas and other parasites (and the perceived necessity for toxic repellents) are some very common examples.  As a 10-year old, Earthling’s dog will very likely soon also be encountering issues that will be thought of as normal parts of aging.  

Even those dog owners who recognize symptoms as the problems they are won’t often connect them to food if they’re feeding these home made recipes because they’re convinced they’re feeding the best they can. From there, their only options are drugging and other forms of symptom suppression. And the veterinary profession is happy to be on hand to dispense these harmful agents.

More of these homemade dog food videos started appearing in my various feeds after I had clicked on the first one. So, I watched another one, this one by Rodney Habib and Karen Becker.  It is truly remarkable to me that well-meaning and intelligent people can peddle these oily, ill-conceived concoctions thinking they are doing dog owners a favor.  It’s like they bought a can of dog food and made it their mission to create something in their kitchens that looks exactly like it.  Like that’s the standard, instead of what dogs are still observed eating in the wild.  

No matter who’s providing the instruction, it seems there’s very little variation between the recipes.  Go do a search on the keywords “homemade dog food” in YouTube right now and watch the first 6 videos that come up.  They’ll all tell you to mix up some meat, rice/oatmeal, oils, and vegetables, and put it all in a crock pot.  Voila!  You’re a canine nutritionist.  (A label, btw, I wouldn’t wear if it was given to me on a solid platinum nametag.)

It’s only the dismal state of commercial pet food that ensures that these recipes represent an improvement over what dogs are typically fed.  When the bar is that low, you really can’t go wrong.  Dr. Becker says in the video that the recipe they shared can be cooked or fed raw and it doesn’t matter to the dog one way or the other.  Actually, she’s probably right.  Either way, it’s a digestive disaster.

To collect plenty of fodder for this article, I Googled “homemade dog food”, and got Wikihow’s take on the subject. Same recipe, with very little variation. While I was at Wikihow, I did a search for “how to make raw dog food” just to see if they even offered any info on the subject. There was a page of instruction. BUT, the first two panels were 1) KNOW THE DANGERS (microscopic, of course, as in bacterial), and 2) Consult your VET. I can only shake my head. Nobody’s going to get to the actual instruction after those two caveats, and I have to think that was the goal! Even if aspiring raw feeders can see their way around #1, consulting a vet almost always gets nothing but even more scare mongering and a firm veto. If an intrepid dog owner gets to the actual “how to” in this article, it’s equally off-putting with talk of balancing calcium and phosphorus, feeding unfamiliar body parts, adding harmful ingredients like fish oils, and other misguided or confusing advice.

To show you how enthusiastically supportive much of the veterinary establishment is of this mass confusion, I’m going to share with you the specific recipe that a recent client was given by a credentialed canine nutritionist at a prestigious university.  Here is the entire list of ingredients:  Baked 85/15 ground beef meatballs, nutritional yeast, psyllium, omega-3 oils, corn oil, and a specific nutritional supplement called “Carnivore Blend”.  Needless to say, the dog’s myriad health problems did not improve after a year on this meatball diet.  My client understandably felt he’d tried literally everything to get his dog well after consulting what might be considered the pinnacle of the veterinary establishment. It’s no wonder people are resorting to drugs and other harmful suppressive treatments to manage their dogs’ symptoms.  

Fortunately, my client is one of the lucky few who finally found the truth among the deluge of misinformation that exists on the topic of dog feeding.  It remains to be seen whether the dog can fully recover from his various ailments after such a long period of dietary abuse, but the dog is fairly young at 4.5 years, so the outlook is favorable. I look forward to hearing his progress and sharing it with you, provided the owner is willing.

What’s missing from all of these various diets is knowledge of a dog’s true needs and how our failure to fulfill them causes disease.  Everyone assumes that disease is pretty much unavoidable, and that diet is just a minor influencer.  The perception seems to be that the best you can hope for is that when disease happens, it will be less severe with a good diet.  NO. That’s not it at all.  Food is much more powerful than that.  It FULLY determines the quality of the inner terrain, and THAT is what determines whether an animal will be healthy or diseased.  

What ever made us think that dog food should look like this?

Instead of like this:      

Or this: 

And this:

The commercial dog food industry, that’s what, along with their sidekicks in veterinary medicine.  The canned slop and kibbled pellets that come out of the commercial dog food industry are not the gold standard to aspire to and imitate, they are something to walk away from.  Nature provides us with all the information we need.  All we have to do is observe, and replicate, with as few steps in between as possible.  THAT’S what produces HEALTHY DOGS.  

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