With the recent pet food recalls, many pet owners are concerned about the contents, quality and regulation of cat and dog foods. Many are considering natural or organic pet foods, or even homemade meals for their four-legged companions.
Two authoritative books about pet food — particularly the problems with conventional foods and how to find healthier alternatives — are Food Pets Die for: Shocking Facts about Pet Food and Protect Your Pet: More Shocking Facts, both by Ann N. Martin.
Over the course of more than 15 years of research and work with federal agencies, veterinarians, pet food companies and animal-rights groups, Martin discovered a disturbing reality of conventional pet foods that included chemicals, dyes and by-products, and sometimes a near dearth of nutritional value.
While the books' titles focus on the worrisome nature of the information found within them, the books also enable pet owners to make better choices with a wealth of helpful, positive information, such as:
- the real diet and nutritional needs of your cat or dog, including necessary minerals, vitamins and nutrients
- information on pet food companies that use ingredients closer in quality to that we'd expect for our food
- questions to ask about pet foods in order to evaluate your options
- vitamin and mineral supplements for your pets
Martin also discusses homemade pet food and offers recipes for feeding cats and dogs, including many from veterinarians and other experts. The recipes can be tailored for pets that have allergies, are picky eaters, or need to lose a few pounds. Here are two samples:
Doggie Dinner: Spaghettiwith Meat Sauce
8 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti, cooked and drained
1 pound hamburger, fried
4 medium mushrooms, cut into pieces
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 cup tomato juice
Mix hamburger with mushrooms, celery and chopped tomato. Stir in tomato juice. Pour over spaghetti and serve warm.
1 tbsp nonfat dry milk
3 medium eggs
3 tbsp cottage cheese
2 tbsp grated veggies or sprouts
Mix the milk powder with a little water and beat with the eggs. Cook in a hot pan. When mixture is cooked, turn it over, and put the cottage cheese and veggies or sprouts on top. When this is firm, fold it over like an omelet. Cut into bite-size pieces.
If you're considering changing your pet's diet, be sure to consult a veterinarian first. Homemade pet foods can provide peace of mind in these confusing times, but some experts caution against them (especially for cats) as a long-term solution, especially without guidance from a veterinarian nutritionist.
To learn more about pet nutrition and how you can provide your pets with safe, healthy food, check out Food Pets Die for: Shocking Facts about Pet Food and Protect Your Pet: More Shocking Facts. For additional information, click here to read an interview with expert veterinarian Phil Brown, who helped develop a line of organic cat and dog foods.
Do you feed your pet homemade meals or have a favorite organic or natural pet food? Share your experiences in the comments section below.