Healthy Eating for Dogs: Does Cooking My Dog’s Food Make Sense?


By Katie Hamm

In your quest to give your dog the best of everything, have you ever considered whether it makes sense to cook your pup’s food from scratch? If so, there’s nutritional information you need to know in order to keep your pet healthy and strong. In addition, you must also chew over whether cooking your own dog food is really worth it, considering all of the quality pet food that’s on the market today.

Your pup requires protein, fat, calcium and essential fatty acids in its homemade dog food. In addition, there are certain guidelines and precautions you must take when preparing a recipe for your pup. It may be necessary to consult a pet nutrition expert, especially if your dog has a health problem.

“There are certain circumstances when cooking your dog’s food becomes nearly unavoidable,” says Leslie Kessinger, co-owner of Three Dog Bakery in Franklin. “Several years ago, my dog, Teddy, developed terrible colitis. After attempting to treat the condition with medication, it became clear to me that I needed to change his diet. At that time, I really didn’t know much about dog nutrition. He was on a grain free, chicken free kibble produced by a large commercial dog food brand marketed as the healthiest option.”

Kessinger says she cooked whole chickens, roasted sweet potatoes or pumpkin and brown rice for Teddy for an entire month. “The colitis subsided and he got well again. I firmly believe that the food he was on previously caused the onset of his condition, and I’m grateful that it wasn’t a permanent issue,” she says. “Cooking my dog’s food, while wonderfully healing at that time, was incredibly inconvenient and expensive. I also didn’t know at the time that he should have been on supplements as well to make sure he got the vitamins and minerals he required.”

Fast forward to 2016, Kessinger says she now has a wealth of knowledge and research to draw from that would direct her to make different choices for Teddy if he got sick again. “There are so many wonderful dog food products in so many different forms that I wouldn’t feel compelled to cook his food again: limited ingredient diets from brands like Acana or Zignature, canned food with high quality protein and nutritious vegetables, or raw foods that have incredibly pure, easy to digest ingredients,” she says. “It is possible these days to put your dog on a healing diet regimen without breaking your budget, all you have to do is be willing to look for the brands you probably won’t see on TV or in a magazine.”

Kessinger recommends leaving the chore of cooking your own dog food as a last resort. “Unless you have very good guidance from your vet regarding the supplements and the portion sizes your dog needs for his weight, age, and lifestyle, cooking your dog’s food is a pretty tricky business,” notes Kessinger. “Work with your vet or with an educated dog food retailer to find available alternatives. There are more options out there than you think!”

You can always find great dog food choices at Three Dog Bakery, located on West McEwen Drive, adjacent to Whole Foods in the McEwen Shopping Center in Franklin.

Three Dog Bakery has two locations in Middle Tennessee: 1556 W McEwen Dr #112, Franklin, TN 37067 & 1982 Providence Pkwy #102, Mt Juliet, TN 37122.

Click here to follow Three Dog Bakery on Facebook.

If you have health concerns about your dog, consult your veterinarian. This article is not meant to substitute or act as medical advice for pets.