By Jean Hofve, DVM
Homemade diets are great for our cats and dogs. By making your pet’s food at home, you control the quality of the ingredients, and commercial food additives such as colorings and preservatives can be avoided. Once you get the hang of it, homemade food is both time and cost-efficient. It’s definitely worth the effort!
Before you put your companion animal on a home-prepared diet, please discuss your decision with your veterinarian, or a holistic veterinarian who understands nutrition and is comfortable with home-made diets. For a list of holistic veterinary practitioners by state, visit AHVMA.org.
We also suggest you obtain one or more of the following books, so that you have a more complete understanding of canine and/or feline nutritional needs. It is essential that you follow any diet’s recommendations closely, including all ingredients and supplements. Failure to do so may result in serious health consequences for your animal companion.
- The Complete Guide to Holistic Cat Care. Dr. Celeste Yarnall and Jean Hofve, DVM. Available from Amazon.com — or if you’d like an autographed copy, from Celestial Pets.
- It’s for the Animals! Natural Care & Resources. Helen L. McKinnon. C.S.A. Inc. Available from It’s for the Animals!; P.O. Box 1913; Fairview, NC. 28730; toll-free 1-888-339-IFTA (4382).
- Natural Dog Care. Celeste Yarnall. Available from Celestial Pets.
- Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet, Steve Brown. 2009, ISBN 1929242670.
Meat may be fed cooked or raw. Meat amounts are given in raw weight. (While many holistic veterinarians recommend feeding raw meat, there are potential risks to your companion animal’s health from bacterially contaminated meat. Please discuss this issue with your veterinarian before feeding raw meat.) If feeding raw, it is recommended that meat be frozen for 72 hours at -4 degrees F prior to use to kill encysted parasites. Most meats can be refrozen one time safely, so once you mix the meal, it can be put back in the freezer until thawed for feeding. Raw ground beef is not recommended; if used, it must be organic.
Please note that feeding bones presents many risks; even raw bones can and do splinter. Bones may cause teeth to fracture, and may also cause life-threatening perforations, impactions, and obstructions.
Dogs’ nutritional needs can be met using a vegetarian diet, although this is neither natural nor recommended. As carnivores, dogs’ ideal diet is a meat-based one. See Vegepet for recommendations, recipes and supplements.
Cats should NOT be fed a non-meat diet. There are many potential problems and unanswered questions on the issue of vegetarian cats. Evidence is clear that cats are obligate carnivores who do best on a meat-based diet.
FOR ALL ANIMALS: Please pay attention to your animal companion’s health: his weight, energy level, skin condition, odor, coat quality, stool consistency, and oral health. If these are not maintaining or improving, consult your veterinarian about changing elements of the diet.