Customizable meals popular with pet owners

Recent pet food recalls have consumers wary of canned and dry food options

By Lisa Bell - Anchor

ORLANDO, Fla. - Your pet is a beloved member of your family, right? That's why many pet owners are now trying to treat their four-legged friends as well as the rest of the family by cooking for them.

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For dog lover Allison Lynch mealtime means concocting a customized home-cooked meal for her pooch.

"Baking, boiling, broiling, washing, and all of the above," said Lynch.

That's because she, like many other pet owners, began to fear store bought food in the wake of recent recalls.

But now, there's a growing trend in customizable pet meals similar to the "mix it up - heat it up meals" for humans.

It can be as intricate as a customer wants or as simple as adding water, your pet's favorite meat or even the vegetables of your choice.

Bob Vetere of the American Pet Products Association says the mix-it-yourself options often tout all-natural ingredients, grain-free even human-grade.

"As people have tended to humanize their pets more and more, and as they tend to look at their pets as extended family members, it's what's good for me is going to be good for my pet," said Vetere.

But is using a mix any healthier than more traditional dry or canned pet fare?

Veterinarian Dr. Steven Whittle says not necessarily and warns not to throw your pet's diet out of balance when you add your own ingredients.

"If you read the papers and the magazines and the Internet everyday there's some new study that says something that we should eat or we shouldn't eat and I think the same thing is happening with our dogs. you need to be very careful about jumping on the latest trend," said Whittle.

Whittle also suggested working with your vet any time you plan to change your dog's diet.

As for Lynch, she says the mix products save her time and make her pooches who gather around at mixing time very happy.

Some of the customizable meals do include raw meat. The Food and Drug Administration cautions against raw diets, especially for dogs, since raw meat is more likely to be contaminated with microorganism that can lead to illness.

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