Making homemade food and treats for your pets feels like a perfect way to show a little love. You’re doing something good for your babes with your hands and your heart. It’s fun. It’s rewarding. Plus, you get to know exactly how the ingredients are processed and exactly what ingredients are going into your pets’ bellies.
You peruse Pinterest. You see loads of yummy, nutritious recipes for treats that creative minds have cooked up. They’re flying across the boards of fellow pinners. They’re in the shapes of bones and paws and hearts. So good!
Not so fast. You should make your pets treats with your hands and your heart; I’m all for it. However, there are a few things you should consider first.
Many recipes I’ve come across have ingredients that range from stomach upsetting to highly toxic. Some are just scary to read. Pinterest doesn’t have a “This could kill someone’s dog” option under their “report pin” tab. Some of these dangerous recipes even appear on pet care websites! This is so deceiving.
Never assume online pet recipes are safe for pets.
There are many foods that pets can eat safely, in moderation. Some recipes don’t understand the moderation part. Many other foods can sicken or kill pets. Here are a few of the danger ingredients I’ve seen in recipes meant for your pets:
- Garlic and garlic powder
- Baby food (often made with garlic and onion)
- Salt (Really bad)
- Full sodium stock or broth (low-sodium varieties are okay)
- Coconut and coconut milk (tiny amounts okay, but NEVER use coconut water)
- Milk (cats and dogs cannot process it)
- Green tea (contains harmful caffeine)
- Onions and onion powder
- Bouillon (toxic amounts of sodium)
- Pumpkin pie filling (toxic spices)
Our pets may be parts of our human families, but they are not humans. Their systems cannot handle the same foods that ours can handle.
Caffeine, sodium, potassium, artificial sweeteners, certain herbs, and some fats are bad for our pets. Those that don’t kill can still cause stomach trouble and even pancreatitis. Yikes!
And just because something won’t kill your pet, doesn’t mean it’s okay. Vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, and grumbles don’t feel good. So we shouldn’t feed foods to our pets that could cause those symptoms.
Like humans, pets have allergies. Watch for reactions to soy, wheat, dairy, eggs, and even meats. Of course, this isn’t limited to homemade foods, but it’s still worth mentioning.
Another potential issue with homemade treats is unbalanced nutrition. Too much fat, or the wrong fats, can cause upset bellies and diarrhea. Homemade treat recipes don’t often include calorie amounts, which is also important.
Before you put on your apron and begin cooking for your pet, make sure you know all ingredients are safe. Check the ASPCA’s toxic food list.
Call your veterinarian. Print out a bunch of recipes that look appealing and take them with you to your next vet visit. Never assume recipes are safe, no matter how healthy they look.
Finally, whether you’re feeding your pets store-bought or homemade treats, they shouldn’t make up more than 10% of their diet. They also shouldn’t be in addition to your pet’s diet; they should be part of your pet’s diet.