Is fresh pet food better than kibble? Are homemade recipes safe?

Published: Sep. 28, 2023 at 3:33 PM MST|Updated: Sep. 28, 2023 at 3:38 PM MST

TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) – Fresh pet food is growing in popularity. Many brands promise to be preservative free, unlike kibble, and healthier for pets.

But is fresh pet food actually better?

Doctor Randy Aronson, who specializes in pet nutrition, says the advantage of fresh food is keeping carbohydrates to a minimum.

He says dogs have a zero requirement for carbs, but most kibble is full of it.

“Kibble is what we call ultra processed,” says Aronson, veterinarian and owner of PAWS Veterinary Center in Tucson.

Doctor Aronson says not all kibble is created equal.

”Most of the protein is sprayed on kibbles. So, most people don’t understand the kibble they’re feeding is probably the most processed food they can probably feed,” said Dr. Aronson. “A lot of this processed food is causing tremendous amounts of inflammation. Leading to gastrointestinal disease, skin disease, and even behavioral problems.”

Chloe Walker says she’s seen an improvement in her cat, Mango after switching her diet.

“When I had Mango on kibble, she was a little porker. Absolutely fatty fat, and getting her on freeze dried raw food, she’s lost a little weight,” said Walker.

Doctor Aronson says fresh pet food is the answer, but only if it’s balanced.

“For example, diarrhea is a big problem. Second is what’s called secondary hyperparathyroidism. What that means in layman terms is you’re not feeding enough calcium,” said Dr. Aronson.

Fresh pet food brands are often delivered to your home as part of a subscription service, and can also be found at pet stores and grocery stores.

Doctor Aronson’s top picks include: The Farmer’s DogOllie, and Raised Right Pets.

For the full list click here.

“They are great, they’re just very expensive. If you have a big dog, it really gets pricey,” said Dr. Aronson. “People can cook their own food but learn how to balance it properly.”

Online blogs and social media are full of homemade recipes, but Dr. Aronson has seen firsthand the harm it can sometimes cause.

“We had an owner with a beautiful boxer. She decided to listen to one of the social media influencers about a diet. Started preparing their own fresh food. I think they were partially cooking it. And they never balanced it properly. The dog came in because it had a pathological fracture in one of its bones,” said Dr. Aronson.

For Mango, Walker does a combination of freeze-dried raw pet food, and homemade food.

“And she has her own placemat that she sits and eats at. It’s totally worth it,” said Walker.

If you’d like to give homemade food a try, Dr. Aronson shared a list of veterinarian approved recipe sites, those include:

American Kennel Club

The Bark

Dogster Forums

Dog Food Chat

Fresh Food Consultants

He also recommends a book The Forever Dog that discusses new science to help pets live longer.

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