The number of dog owners preferring home-made diets over commercial dog food is
increasing. So far there were no scientific trials comparing the apparent digestibility (ad) of
nutritionally adequate raw and cooked self-prepared diets for dogs.
Material and methods:
Six adult Beagle dogs were fed four different diets (raw with and without cereals, cooked with
or without cereals) in a latin square design. Rations consisted of minced beef, rolled oats,
carrots, corn oil and a mineral & vitamin premix and were formulated to meet the
maintenance nutrient requirements. In rations without oats, the missing energy was provided
by addition of corn oil. After an adaptation period of one week, faeces were collected for five
days. Feed and faeces were subjected to Weende Analysis. The amount of faeces and
defecations/day were then evaluated. Faecal consistency was evaluated on a 1-5 scale by the
animal caretakers. Statistical analysis was performed using t-test or Mann-Whitney-U-test in
Dogs consumed all rations completely and tolerated them well. Apparent digestibility of
organic matter and crude energy was >90%, ad of crude fat was >95% in all rations. Apparent
digestibility of crude protein ranged from 88.1% (raw diet with carbs) to 92.9% (raw diet
without carbs); ad of NfE was 86% and 85% in the cooked and raw diet with oats,
respectively, while it was 66% (raw) and 60% (cooked) in the diets without oats. Statistically
significant differences were not found. Amount of faeces/dog/day, faecal dry matter and faecal
consistency did also not differ significantly. Faecal excretion ranged from 18.7% of ingested
DM (raw diet without carbs) to 36.8% of ingested DM (cooked diet without carbs). Faeces
were formed and slightly moist on all diets. Dogs defecated once per day.
Apparent digestibility of crude nutrients was high in all four diets and was comparable to high
quality commercial diets. The replacement of energy from carbohydrates by fat resulted in high fat diets (about 50% in DM), which was tolerated well by the dogs. Faecal quality was
optimal and dogs defecated mostly once a day, and no adverse reactions were noticed.
Since each dog was only fed for two weeks with each ration, no predictions can be made
about long-term feeding problems and intolerance reactions. In this experiment, only adult,
healthy beagle dogs were used. Therefore it can´t be concluded whether digestibility and
tolerability is similar in other ages and breeds.
This study could therefore serve as a pilot study for further, larger-scale trials with a larger
number of animals.
Highly digestible, nutritionally adequate rations can be formulated from raw and cooked
ingredients. If owners wish to feed no ingredients rich in starch, energy can be provided by
fat. Homemade rations should always be calculated by a professional nutritional consultant to
prevent nutrient deficiency.