Why Homemade Dog Food Might Not Be Enough: The Importance of Complete Nutrition

As pet owners, we want to provide the best possible nutrition for our fur-family. You may be tempted to make your own homemade dog food or homemade cat food, believing that it's the best way to provide a nutritious diet for your pets. 

However, a study published in the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association found that from 200 homemade pet food recipes analyzed (sourced from veterinarians, recipe books, and websites), 95% were deficient in at least one essential nutrient. While homemade pet food can be an option, it can be challenging to ensure that the food is complete and balanced and contains all the essential nutrients your pet needs.

In this blog post, we'll explore why buying a complete and balanced pet food might be a better option than making food at home.

Complete and Balanced Nutrition for Dogs

Your pup needs energy, which comes from a combination of protein, fats, and carbohydrates. In addition, your pet needs essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. While ingredients are an important part of your pet’s diet, we need to make sure we are focusing on nutrients as well. 

pug eating dog food

You can read more about the importance of nutrients in our post: Nutrients vs Ingredients.

At Tom&Sawyer, we create complete and balanced dog and cat food by combining all the essential nutrients your pet needs into a single product. This means that the food contains the right balance of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals your pet needs to thrive.

For a pet food to be complete and balanced, it must meet or exceed the nutrient requirements for the animal for its lifestage. At Tom&Sawyer, we formulate using the requirements recommended by both the National Research Council and the American Association of Feed Control Officials. 

Our trained chefs and animal nutritionists carefully select the best quality ingredients and formulate a delicious meal to meet the nutritional needs of your pets for the correct life stages and with different health conditions.

Kangaroo meal for dogs

At Tom&Sawyer, we have meals that can serve as options for pets with food allergies by using novel proteins, and low-fat options for pups with pancreatitis (less than 25g fat per 1000kcal).

To learn more about food allergies and how we can help, read our article on Understanding Allergies in Dogs and How to Help.

For our senior pups, we also have our Fisherman’s Best Friend meal which has moderate protein and lowered phosphorus to support healthy kidneys with age. To learn more about the nutritional needs for senior pups, read our Senior Dog Food Guide to the Healthiest Food for your Senior Pup.

Homemade dog food may not be nutritionally complete and balanced, especially if you're not familiar with the specific nutritional requirements of your pet. Nutrient deficiencies or excesses can lead to a range of health problems, including poor growth and development, weakened immune system, obesity, and organ damage.

Food Safety

Another factor to consider is food safety. Homemade dog food can be more susceptible to bacterial contamination, which can cause illness in your pet. Improper handling, storage, and preparation of food increases the risk of bacteria, which can lead to food poisoning.

raw meat                                                                         Photo by Usman Yousaf

Not only is this a risk factor for your pet, but it can also increase the risk of you or your family members getting ill as well.

In contrast, we have strict quality control measures in place to ensure the safety of our products, including testing for bacterial contamination!

Nutrient Bioavailability

The bioavailability of nutrients in pet food is another important factor to consider. Bioavailability refers to the amount of nutrients that can be absorbed and utilized by the body. Different types of pet food can have different levels of bioavailability, which can affect your pet's overall health and wellbeing. 

Our animal nutritionists work with our food scientist to consider bioavailability when formulating our products. Specifically, we select ingredients that are easy to digest and absorb and consider the cooking method and degree of cooking to ensure optimal availability of nutrients for your pets. Our chefs then cook these ingredients just-so, never under- or over-cooking the ingredients, ensuring optimal nutrition!

Buddha Bowl for dogs

In contrast, homemade pet food may not be as bioavailable, and is more prone to under- or over- cooking of ingredients. This means that your pet may not be able to absorb and utilize all the nutrients in the food, thereby losing out on nutritional quality they deserve!


Buying complete and balanced pet food can be more convenient than making food at home. Our frozen meals are packaged to easily fit in your home freezer. We also provide a large menu for our Loyal Companions so that pups with specific needs have an easily accessible option, as well as to provide pups with variety!

This means that you can easily find a product that meets your pet's nutritional needs without having to spend time and effort preparing food at home.

At Tom&Sawyer, we carefully formulate our meals to ensure that they provide all the essential nutrients your pet needs in the right balance. We also have strict quality control measures in place to ensure the safety of our meals. Additionally, complete and balanced pet food can be more bioavailable and convenient than homemade pet food.

Other articles you might like:
Defining Energy Requirements for your Pets
Nutrients vs. Ingredients
Pancreatitis in Dogs

Written by: Hannah Godfrey
Animal Nutritionist
BSc.H. | MSc. Animal Nutrition