At the time of writing this article, there has been a HUGE commercial dog and cat food poisoning scare in the USA - from contaminated dog food. Around 60 Million cans and pouches of prepared pet food were recalled.Some owners lost their dogs and cats, because a type of plastic called melamine had found its way into pet food! This was traced to a Chinese sourced wheat gluten contamination with melamine. Why pet food manufacturers use wheat gluten in pet food is a mystery - it is a VERY POOR source of protein!We make our own homemade dog food for a number of reasons - one of them being the unknown composition of commercial dog food!Why DOES canned or packet food look and smell so similar, no matter what brand you buy?I was always suspicious, the commercials show lovely piles of beef or even chicken breast fillet and vegetables etc. How COULD they put that in there, those cuts are so expensive?Well basic economics says they don't! But what makes me angry is their attempts at deception!We started making homemade dog food, some time after I got an Insiders look at what is called a "protein recovery unit".I nicknamed it the Beak Factory because this plant used leftovers from a chicken processor - heads (beak and all), feet, feathers and gizzards - and turned it into a foul smelling dirty brown powder destined to go into pet-food!It stank so bad and that smell got into my hair and on my clothes and I am not exaggerating when I say the smell hung around me for the entire day!This protein powder is often among the first ingredients listed on the pack or can - and goes by the name meat by-products or sometimes meat meal. It's part of the reason that commercial dry biscuits almost always smell the same! If you're game - try eating one of those biscuits yourself - see what your dog has been putting up with!But you see because this protein powder undergoes a high temperature process during manufacture, it's deemed to be safe for pets.But the huge dumpsters of heads, carcasses, feet, feathers etc I SAW were left at ambient temperature for who knows how long - so you can imagine the putrid condition they were in?I REFUSE to feed this refuse, which is what it really is - GARBAGE - to our dogs! Because while they MAY have killed the bacteria in this rubbish, what they may not destroy are some of the toxins that the bacteria produce as part of their action!In addition to the bacterial toxins; there may also be toxins produced by moulds and fungi; known as aflatoxins and mycotoxins and some of these are known to be heat tolerant!Now I don't want to bore you with a lot of technical info on toxins - but I do want you to see that I am not exaggerating!So here's just one article - on just one bacteria - Staphylococcus aureus. About 1/2 way down the page you'll see a comment about the toxin it produces and its resistance to heat in cooking:
http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/staphylococcus_food_g.htmAnd that is just one bacteria - there are lots more! Try Googling the words Aflatoxin, Mycotoxin or bacterial toxins for yourself!Plus there's potentially accumulated insecticide residues in the concentrated bird feathers.....AND I'm not even going to mention the stories we've read about euthanised animal carcasses from vets or abbatoir animals that were diseased - or road kill!In short - it HAS ALWAYS BEEN potentially contaminated dog food! But even if you totally ignore the contamination issue - it's STILL a very cheap and nasty source of protein!Because it's labelled as Pet Food Not For Human Consumption - there is far less scrutiny, concern and accountability! FACT IS : they HAVE to label it as UNFIT - ask yourself why would that be?Why would you feed this stuff to any pet that you care about? We love our dogs - so to avoid food based on rubbish, with added soy protein, colourings and other additives - we make our own homemade dog food exclusively!And here's the thing - Homemade dog food is not only BETTER FOR YOUR DOG it's also far cheaper than than commercial dog food - here in Australia, we can feed an adult Staffordshire Bull Terrier for about 45c per day!Now's when the Pet food companies and some veterinarians comment that the food that you make needs to be complete. It's like it's some sort of mystery; as if we are too stupid to do it ourselves! I take offense at their attempts to manipulate us into buying their products!Dogs have shared human lives for thousands of years (long before pet food companies) - and NEVER became extinct due to malnutrition!Let me state this - anyone who can read and can cook - can make their own high quality homemade dog food! All it takes is a bit of time and planning and since its easier to make in bulk - a bit of freezer space.Canine nutrition has also been very well researched and published and now that we live in an information age; this information can be freely distributed worldwide!Sure there are some basics - when making homemade dog food it's important to remember that dogs are meat eaters (carnivorous). Since meat is almost entirely made up of proteins - protein is therefore an essential component in dog diets!But did you know that many canned or dried foods are based on plant sources of protein (often Soy beans - and no wonder they fart so much); because vegetable proteins are MUCH cheaper than animal proteinsBut vegetable based proteins like those found in soy beans, chickpeas, lentils etc are not complete in all the amino acids found in animal proteins like meat, fish and dairy.To overcome this lack of complete proteins pet food manufacturers add the the horrible smelling powder I mentioned earlier!In his book Home Prepared Dog and Cat Diets, The Healthful Alternative, - when speaking about commercially prepared pet food, Donald Stromberg had this to say:"The cost of pet foods is lessened by using no more animal protein, than is necessary. Using sources of animal proteins not fit for human consumption also reduces the cost. For example, animal meat meals are unfit for human consumption. Some meat meal protein is from animals that died and were beginning to decompose." (pg. 35)Stromberg gives a figure of 13% protein for growing dogs and 19% for aging dogs. I always aim that homemade dog food falls into this higher protein range.Since dogs in the wild are predominantly meat eating, most of their dietary protein will come from animal or insect sources - I use animal proteins.However dogs also can and do eat fruit - foxes are known to eat blackberries and undoubtedly other fruit, for example grapes from a vineyard or fruit from an orchard. Our Staffords love all kinds of fruit - including banana!I also vary the protein content of my homemade dog food, according to the needs of my dogs.One of our girls (an Australian Terrier) is now 11 years old and diabetic, so her diet is quite high in protein and very low in fat. Pregnant bitches and growing puppies need considerably more protein and also need more total food quantity.However when using meat as your source of protein, you CAN cause problems for the dog if the food is not balanced with the correct minerals. Red meat alone; will supply good levels of protein and iron, but almost no calcium and phosphorus for example.Dogs in the wild forage on a variety of foods and would eat an entire rabbit for example - fur, bones gizzards and all! When they do this they are able to extract ALL of the minerals in the bones and intestines of the animal -- so their diet is more balanced!When making homemade dog food, it's important to aim for this balance between protein, vitamins and minerals! When you use my homemade dog food recipes you'll see that one of my principle protein sources is skinless chicken necks.I use these because of their high protein/low fat ratio and low price - PLUS - the added advantage of the minerals like calcium, phosphorus and potassium etc, available in the bone!AND skinless chicken necks are often available at low cost as human grade fresh meat in the deli departments of many supermarkets or poultry meat stores, which means they MUST be fit for human consumption!Right here and right now then; your homemade dog food is streets ahead of commercial pet food, because you are using quality, nutritious and balanced protein from clean, safe food sources!Try making your own Home-made Dog food I guarantee that your dog will love the REAL food that you are giving - instead of the pseudo food that he has been forced to accept until now!