Evaluation of owner experiences and adherence to home-cooked diet recipes for dogs

L N Johnson, D E Linder, C R Heinze, R L Kehs, L M Freeman
Journal of Small Animal Practice 2016, 57 (1): 23-7

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate owner experiences and adherence to home-cooked diet recipes for dogs.

METHODS: Clients of a veterinary teaching hospital clinical nutrition service who had a home-cooked diet recipe formulated for their dogs between March 2011 and December 2013 were given a survey by email, postal mail and telephone. Survey questions addressed motivations, positive and negative aspects of feeding home-cooked diets and current feeding practices. Responses were compared to animals' medical records to determine adherence.

RESULTS: Of the 93 owners who were contacted, 53 (57%) completed the survey. Of the 53 respondents, 43 owners (81%) reported that they were still feeding an home-cooked diet or had fed an home-cooked diet until the time of their dogs' deaths. The most common motivation for feeding a home-cooked diet was suitability for specific medical needs. Of the 30 surveys that included a complete diet history, only four (13%) demonstrated exact adherence to home-cooked diet recipes.

CLINICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Most respondents liked and continued to feed a home-cooked diet, but few owners adhered to prescribed recipes and many dogs required recipe modifications. It is important to counsel dog owners about benefits and drawbacks of feeding home-cooked diets, importance of recipe adherence and necessity for follow-up after diet formulation with a board-certified veterinary nutritionist.

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