Any meal is only as good as the ingredients that it's made from, and that's just as true for home-cooked pet food as it is for our own meals.
One of the great advantages of home-cooking over commercial foods is that you have complete control over the quality of ingredients that go into every meal. This means you can ensure your pet only eats ingredients that you are 100% happy with and that meet your own personal preferences, such as organic, seasonal or great value.
The VetChef recipes are individually created for each individual pet by Dr Joe Inglis using a comprehensive database of ingredients and their nutritional profiles. This approach allows Dr Inglis to create recipes that are perfectly aligned with each pet's individual needs, and their owners personal preferences.
As well as everyday ingredients found in most kitchens and supermarkets such as meat, vegetables, grains and pulses, there are a few other key ingredients found in many of the recipes that are essential for providing nutritional balance:
Cod liver oil
Although this supplement made from mashed up fish livers might not sound (or smell) too appealing to us, pets love the flavour and it's packed with essential vitamins A and D as well as healthy omega 3 fatty acids.
This simple, antural supplement is made from ground up limestone, and provides a concentrated dose of calcium. The VetChef Calcium supplement is made from high-purity calcium carbonate, and is available in 400g and 750g packs.
A by-product of the brewing process, Brewer's yeast is a rich source of B vitamins, protein and the trace elements potassium, selenium and chromium. It also adds a rich meaty taste which many pets love.
...and what's not
As well as the focus on healthy ingredients to include in your pet's food, it's also very important to understand which ingredients to avoid. There are a few foodstuffs that are generally fine for people, but which can lead to serious health problems for cats and dogs:
Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine which is related to caffeine. Some dogs will react badly to this and show symptoms such as an raised heart rate, vomiting and diarrhoea, and it can even be fatal in rare cases. Dark chocolate contains more theobromine than milk chocolate and even a relatively small amount can be potentially fatal. A single bar of cooking chocolate has enough theobromine to kill a 30kg dog, so be ultra careful not to let your pets have any access to chocolate.
Onions and garlic
These staples of human cuisine should not be used in any food for dogs as they can cause digestive upsets and damage to red blood cells, potentially leading to anaemia.
Signs of toxicity usually take a few days to develop.
Avocados can cause vomiting and diarrhoea in dogs due to a substance called persin which is found in its leaves, fruit and seed.
Grapes and raisins
Although the exact mechanism is unknown, grapes and raisins have been shown to cause severe liver and kidney problems in cats and dogs, so they should be avoided in all home-cooked recipes.
Raw bones are a healthy addition to any dog's diet, but cooked bones present real dangers as they can splinter and cause damage to the stomach and intestine.
Xylitol (artifical sweetener)
This sweetener, which is found in many human foods, can cause dangerously low blood sugar levels in dogs which can then cause liver damage.
Macadamia nuts contain a toxin that can affect your dog’s muscles and nervous system resulting in weakness, swollen limbs and panting.
Corn on the cob
While sweetcorn kernels are perfectly fine for dogs, the hard cob can be very dangerous if swallowed as it is a common cause of life-threatening intestinal obstructions.