Bloomington / Normal, IL

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Should You Make Your Own Dog Food?


Submitted by Nilla’s Tub DIY Dog Wash & Health Food Store


Most people consider their pets to be part of the family. And as “pet parents” have realized the importance of making healthier food choices for themselves, they are wanting fresher, healthier, less processed food for their “furbabies” too. This is one reason why people might choose to prepare their own dog food at home. Home-cooked dog food allows complete control over every ingredient, doesn’t need any preservatives, and can be customized for your individual pet.

But making your own dog food is not the same as cooking a meal for yourself or your human family. Dogs have different nutritional needs that won’t be met if you just throw some human food into a bowl. Feeding an incomplete or unbalanced diet is one of the biggest pitfalls of homemade food and can lead to significant health problems. It’s crucial to follow recipes from trusted, reliable sources. Generic recipes found online may be inadequate and often provide only vague instructions for preparation. In fact, a recent study of 200 popular recipes found that 95 percent were missing necessary levels of at least one essential nutrient. Homemade diets for dogs can provide tremendous benefits, but they must be done right, or not at all.

If you like the idea of home cooking for your dog, but you don’t have time for the prep work and you want to be certain that they are getting all the essential nutrients they need, using a base mix is a good option. Honest Kitchen has a base mix that uses the same whole foods you would find in your own kitchen. You just add water, your own protein—either raw or cooked—and voila!  A “homemade” meal that most pets love using 100 percent high-quality human-grade ingredients.

One big drawback to home cooking is that it takes time. This desire for fresh alternatives to traditional dog food that are also convenient and easy-to-use has given rise to a completely new category of commercially prepared pet food. Called fresh cooked, gently cooked, lightly cooked, or fresh frozen—these all use a low-heat cooking process that is just enough to destroy bacteria, but still retain most of the natural enzymes, vitamins, amino acids, and antioxidants found in raw meat and fresh produce. Think of it as home-style cooking for your pet without the hassle!

FreshPet, found in the fridge at many big box stores and regular grocery stores, was one of the first brands that commercialized fresh options for pet owners. However, FreshPet does include some added carbohydrates like rice bran and soy flour along with some controversial additives like carrageenan and cassia gum. Direct-to-consumer brands, such as Ollie and Farmer’s Dog, were the next to enter the market. These are online subscription-based and the food is shipped right to your house. More recently, established pet food companies such as Pup Above, Primal, and Open Farm have introduced fresh-cooked options that are available at specialty pet stores.

The fresh-cooked category continues to grow and can be especially good for dogs that are picky eaters or have digestive issues. They generally provide extremely high-quality food; however, they are expensive. But these gently cooked foods also work well as a topper or a mix-in with dry food to reap some of the benefits, yet keep the cost down. One negative of online brands is that they don’t support your local community and have a hefty environmental impact due to the packaging. Brands for retail purchase are generally a bit less expensive.

Every pet owner’s situation is different and every dog is different. You have to work within your budget, your family situation, and your lifestyle to determine what type of food is best for your pet. But one of the best things that everyone can do for their pet’s overall health is to minimize the amount of highly processed food and increase the amount of fresh food.


If you’re confused about what to feed your dog or cat, stop into Nilla’s Tub and let them help. They are located at 211 Landmark Dr., Ste B-1 in Normal and have a large selection of the highest quality dog and cat food, including fresh cooked, frozen, and freeze dried. They’ve done the research and everything they carry—food, treats, CBD Oil, and supplements—meets their own high standards. They also have everything you need to bathe and groom your furry friend in a fun, relaxing environment. No appointment necessary. Call 309-451-9274 or visit them online at