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  • Writer's pictureDr Matthew Kopke

Home-cooking 101

We’re all about home-prepared diets here at VNG. Why? Because, fresh is better! Yup - we said it! And this is why we recently introduced our CompleteMe meal completer supplements for healthy adult dogs and cats.

We want to give pet parents such as yourselves peace of mind, knowing that the delicious home-prepared meals you’re making are not only nutritious but also complete and balanced.

The purpose of this blog post is to go over some of the basics – or more specifically, the pros and cons – of home-preparing diets for your four-legged furry companions.

Let’s start with the pros.

If you haven’t tried feeding your pet some of your home-cooked titbits – well done!

Can’t say I’ve had success in that department – not surprising when you see what I have to deal with. Look at those puppy dog eyes!

But if you have given them at least something something small, no judgement, you won’t be surprised to hear that pets find home-prepared meals very, very palatable! More so than dry diets. So, palatability is a huge pro when deciding whether or not to switch to home-cooking, and this can make a huge difference to dogs and cats with more selective appetites.

Feeding a home-prepared diet also allows you to have complete control over what goes into your pet’s diet.

You can choose which proteins you’re comfortable with – you might prefer certain proteins for ethical reasons, for example.

You can also include organic fruits and vegetables, or choose imperfect produce to try and increase the sustainability of your pet’s diet and minimise food waste.

You can also be completely confident in terms of the quality of the diet, because you made it!

Another pro for home-prepared diets is that fresh fruit and vegetables are a rich source of compounds called phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are chemical compounds made from plants, like carotenoids and flavonoids. For example, you probably know of beta-carotene, found in orange and red fruits and vegetables like carrots or pumpkins. Diets rich in phytonutrients from whole foods are believed to confer long-term health benefits, and commercial diets are often lacking in these ingredients.

Okay, so last, but not least, there is the somewhat contentious issue of processing, or more specifically, the degree of processing, and the effects of such techniques on the inclusion of potentially harmful compounds in the finished product.

Home-prepared diets are free of compounds like acrylamide (the perfect example of a source of acrylamide is burnt toast (above) - even if you like it a bit crispy!), which is considered likely to be carcinogenic in humans. This cannot be said of many dry diets currently available due to high-temperature cooking processes.

Okay, so maybe by now I’ve convinced you that feeding a homemade diet is a good idea. Great! But…on that note – there are some potential cons to discuss.

The first one is cost. So, how expensive are we talking? Cutting back on maybe 1 takeaway coffee per week, or perhaps two? Well, this is quite variable, depending on the ingredients that you incorporate into the meals you’re preparing, with protein sources typically affecting the price the most.

On average, we’re probably looking at between 6 to 12 dollars per kilogram of diet.

But when you compare this to feeding premium canned diets, the price is often comparable, or even cheaper.

Yes, cheaper!

Use the link below to view one of our recent blog posts that provides practical examples and comparisons between feeding some of the more popular commercially available canned and dry diets with some of our free recipes available on our website used in conjunction with our CompleteMe products.

Meal completer supplements for homemade pet food

Home-prepared diets, in comparison to feeding ready-made commercial diets, can also be somewhat time-consuming – depending on what you decide to prepare, of course. Using a meal completer supplement, rather than multiple human supplements, can increase convenience and decrease prep time. Often 5-6 different human supplements are needed to help balance a meal - where this can all be provided by just a few grams of meal completers such as ours.

In some locations, it’s also much easier to include a meal completer, compared with sourcing specific types of offal.

Another potential con for home-prepared diets is that the diet needs to be well-formulated to ensure that it is appropriate and complete and balanced – if it’s not, it can be harmfully deficient in essential nutrients. Don’t get me wrong, like I mentioned before – using whole-food ingredients can provide a lot of nutritious compounds, but often, using these alone is not enough to meet the AAFCO minimum requirements for the life stage of your pet (growth and reproduction, or adult maintenance).

Adding a significant amount of offal, can help, but at the same time can cause problems like changes in stool consistency or even affect palatability for some animals.

If an unbalanced homemade diet results in nutrient deficiencies, these deficiencies can manifest in the form of various different clinical signs, however, these typically only become noticeable when the disease resulting from such deficiencies is very advanced or severe. As you can imagine, it’s difficult to appreciate such problems earlier in the disease course, which is why such feeding practices are generally considered fine because the consequences are very delayed.

So, these cons are not to put you off preparing homemade diets for your pets, rather, I mention them to stress the importance of doing home-prepared meals properly, to ensure that your pet is getting a complete and balanced meal that meets all their needs.

And with all the delicious recipes available on our website, it might even bring about a bit of food envy on your part. We’ve also got you covered with some more budget-friendly recipe options, and even ones that are more quick and easy to prepare.

If you haven’t looked at our CompleteMe products and complementary recipes, please head over now and have a browse.

If you have any questions, drop us a message via our Contact Us page, or put it in an email (, and we’ll get back to you ASAP!

Happy cooking!

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Great summary, thanks!

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