Arthritis, hip dysplasia, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, psoriasis, kidney failure, gum disease, low immunity, dementia and a shortened lifespan in pets can all be linked to chronic inflammation. An animal’s body uses inflammation for healing, but excessive, chronic inflammation wears the body down from head to toe.

We hear a lot about anti-inflammatory foods, but there are also foods that can cause inflammation. Pro-inflammatory foods don’t necessarily have to be avoided all together in homemade pet diets, we just have to balance them with anti-inflammatory foods. To provide that balance, we have to know both the anti-inflammatory and pro-inflammatory ratings of food and nutrients. For example, a diet that is high in omega-6 and very low in omega-3 promotes inflammation.

An excellent reference regarding the ‘inflammation factor’ (IF) of foods, both inflammatory and anti-inflammatory, is the book The Inflammation-Free Diet Plan by noted nutritional researcher, Monica Reinagel. It contains the inflammation factor ratings for more than 1500 common foods, based on the inflammatory and anti-inflammatory effects of 20 nutrients. Ms. Reinagel also shares years of scientific research and data in an easily understood manner. This book has improved my entire family’s health, including our companion animals… even the fish!

Virtually all pets can be negatively impacted by inflammation, including dogs, cats, horses, birds, fish and farm animals. However, some species of pets may be less impacted by what is classed as pro-inflammatory foods than others. How we apply nutritional information that is based on human research, must be influenced by what we know about the natural diet of the animal species in question.

Highly-inflammatory foods that some may consider for homemade pet food or treats are:

  • Processed meat, including hotdogs (chicken and turkey hotdogs too), sausage, bologna, ham and bacon.
  • Feedlot meat comes from animals raised in typical commercial conditions, which results in meat that is high in saturated fat and Omega 6, while being very low in Omega 3. Organic, grass-fed meat is much better.
  • Egg yolk
  • Most hard cheese (excluding Romano, Parmesan and Feta)
  • Refined grains such as white flour & rice
  • Potatoes
  • Polyunsaturated vegetable oils, such as sunflower, soybean, and corn oil.
  • Margarine & shortening
  • Pasta

It is very difficult to offset the inflammatory effects of highly inflammatory foods, so it’s important to eliminate or limit their inclusion in homemade pet diets. This becomes critical if your pet already has (or is prone to) an inflammatory condition, such as arthritis.  Mild to moderately inflammatory foods, such as honey, are more easily offset with anti-inflammatory foods, and the benefits make their inclusion worthwhile.

✔ You may also be interested in reading:
Pet Arthritis: Holistic Prevention and Natural Treatment
Muscular Sprains, Strains and Spasms: Natural Treatment for Pets
Sea Cucumber for Dogs, Cats, Horses, Fish and Invertebrates

Self Nutrition Data
Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide
Reinagel, Monica. The Inflammation-Free Diet Plan
Halpern, Georges M. The Inflammation Revolution: A Natural Solution for Arthritis, Asthma, & Other Inflammatory Disorders
Messonnier, Shawn DVM. Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats: Your A-Z Guide to Over 200 Conditions, Herbs, Vitamins, and Supplements 2001.


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17 thoughts on “Foods in Homemade Pet Diets That Cause Inflammation

  1. I got a couple of books from the library about inflammatory foods after I read this post and boy was I in for a surprise. Thanks for writing about it!

  2. Thank you! It’ll make homemade dog food more expensive to make but I’d rather she be healthy than save a dime.

  3. I read in the news this morning that all red meat is inflammatory, and especially processed red meat. I guess that would go for pets too.

  4. It’s really easy to make and freeze stew for dogs and it’s so much better for them. Thanks for alerting us to inflammatory factors so we can balance it all better.

  5. We make homemade dog food, cat food and bird food. It’s fabulous to find another good resource.

  6. I have several friends who show their dogs and they turned me on to raw feeding my own dogs. I sent them the link to this post and they were very happy to find out about the inflammatory factor. Thank you from all of us and our beloved dogs!

  7. This week I received my copy of the Inflammation Free Diet Plan and WOW! I’m changing my family’s diet drastically too. Thank you!

  8. This inflammatory article is very helpful too. YOur site is quickly becoming one of the few pet blogs I (and my PETS) can’t live without.

  9. I believe in homemade pet diets but details like this inflammatory food are lacking. Thanks for filling in some blank.

  10. I’m another one who is new at homemade dog food and it has made such a HUGE DIFFERENCE! I didn’t know about the inflammatory food either. SO MUCH TO LEARN!

  11. Just when you think you’re doing the best thing for your dog someone tells you otherwise 🙁 but it’s good to know anyway.

  12. I’ve only been making home made dog food for a few months so this is good to know. I was using hot dogs for treats.

  13. I had no idea that inflammation was a consideration and I hadn’t even heard of an inflammation rating. Thanks for the headsup!

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