Discussing pet diets and food preferences with pet parents can be a very emotional subject! Some people feel very strongly about certain types of diets. It's really a matter of personal preference. You will have to do your research to find which method is best for you and to be sure you are helping and not hurting your pet by providing unbalanced meals.
Most pets are fed typical commercial foods. Most come in forms of dry (kibble) and moist (canned).
Kibble is very convenient because it does not require refrigeration, can be bought in large quantity bags, is not very messy and can be left out for the pet to eat at any time. The argument against kibble is that it has lots of fillers, not enough quality meat sources and feeding dry does not provide enough fluids in a pet's diet. Your pet may not consume enough water on his own to compensate for a dry, kibble based diet. Why is that a problem? Animals need sufficient fluids for good kidney function and health. This is especially important for older pets and pets with various health issues, including renal (kidney) dysfunction.
Canned wet foods are a bit less convenient. It is packaged in smaller quantities (cans). Messy, empty cans must be disposed of. Canned food can look unappealing to humans, is messier to handle compared to kibble and cannot be left out for any length of time. The benefit is that canned foods have a very high moisture content, which automatically provides fluid intake. Canned foods usually have less "filler" materials, but as always, you have to read labels.
Protein Content: It is important to know that proteins are not the same and some proteins listed on an ingredient list may not be easily absorbed and utilized by your pet's digestive system. Some proteins are more "bioavailable" than others. Bioavailable means the degree and rate at which a substance is absorbed into a living system or is made available at the site of physiological activity. An advertised high protein content does not always mean your pet will access all that protein. It all depends on what quality the protein source is. The pet food label provides an estimate of a food’s crude protein content on its guaranteed analysis panel. This measure reflects only the total amount of protein and does not indicate differences in protein digestibility between high and low quality protein. There can be a big difference between protein quality available in commercial pet foods.
A great variety of products are available from economy foods to super premium foods. There are reports that more expensive foods tend to use higher cost quality protein sources vs. the economy brands. There are foods with NO grains and some with. Foods can have a variety of other ingredients including fruits and vegetables. There is great debate about whether grains, fruits and vegetables are appropriate to feed cats or dogs.
There is also debate about dry kibble being better for dental health because it "cleans" the teeth. There is also concern with dry foods, as evidenced by recalls due to recalls due to deadly fungus/mold contamination. Some think that feeding a wet, canned diet will make dental health worse. Things I've read insist that good dental health ultimately relies on brushing your pet's teeth and providing adequate chewing/gnawing opportunities (raw bones, chew toys). Particular breeds are more prone to tartar development. I should know. I have 3 smaller dogs, and their jaw/muzzle configuration is conducive to tartar build up. I had one that needed dentals almost yearly (unfortunately she would not tolerate tooth brushing).
For various reasons, more pet owner's are turning to feeding their pets a home prepared diet. I am one that has decided to feed a cooked, home prepared diet.. I have/had two dogs that had health issues requiring a special, prescription diet. I opted to home cook for those dogs, and still do so for one pet. There are also diets that promote feeding raw. I have chosen not to feed raw, but there are lots of excellent resources online if you want to explore that option.
Feeding a home cooked diet is not that difficult. It does require some time commitment for educating yourself on what to do and to take the time to prep the recipes. Fortunately, I have small dogs, so the volume of food I must prepare is not an intimidating amount. There are pet parents with very large dogs and multiple dog households that have committed to some serious volume food prep. They have become very good at streamlining the process and becoming very efficient, so it is not a burden to them. It is important to educate yourself so that what you feed is properly balanced and does not have foods that are harmful or contraindicated by your pet's health needs. For one dog, I had to keep phosphorus levels minimized (which is a challenge and eliminates many foods). My other dog needs a low oxalate diet because of calcium oxalate stone formation. She had 12 stones removed from her bladder. In her case, she cannot have high oxalate foods such as sweet potatoes, spinach or brown rice,....ingredients that are popular and found in commercial foods. My third dog has no immediate health concerns at this time, so I've chosen to feed her a premium organic canned food for now, though that could change when my canned food stock is depleted.
I like feeding home cooked because I know what is in my pet's food. I prep large amounts at one time and freeze serving size portions. I've fed home cooked to my dogs for over 5 years, and they have thrived. For my pet with kidney failure, she probably lived longer and more comfortably because her food was specifically prepared to meet her needs and above all, it "tasted good". Many pets (especially kidney dogs) do not like prescription diets because they just don't taste that appealing. Getting kidney dogs to eat is challenging enough (nausea suppresses appetites), so presenting a "blah" tasting food doesn't help matters.
If you are thinking about feeding your pet a home prepared diet, don't be intimidated! You will find alot of discouragement and arguments against doing this, coming from some sources online and from vets that have not embraced the home prepared diet concept. You may be able to work with your pet's current vet (mine is receptive and was impressed with how well my kidney dog did), and maybe even make a believer out of a skeptic. Please be sure to become fully educated before you begin this endeavor. Proper ingredients, balance and providing needed supplements is important. For example, too much phosphorus compared to calcium in a recipe can cause the body to draw calcium from the animal's own bones. This can be very serious and cause "rubber jaw". If you have a proper calcium/phosphorus ratio by adding additional calcium carbonate or calcium citrate, this will not be a concern.
Below are some links to get you started on researching home prepared diets for your pet.
this is an excellent website that covers many subjects besides home prepared diets. It will provide additional links to help with doing your research.
This is a recipe/food analysis website that will allow you to research foods and their nutrition content. You can build recipes online, analyze them for nutrition percentages and even save them to file. You will be able to adjust the calcium/phosphorus ratio and also adjust for calories and protein content. This site is essential for making home prepared pet food AND it's great for analyzing human recipes, especially if you have unique dietary concerns.
This is a source that was originally a published book that is now out of print. It was the go-to book for home prepared diets. It has been made available on-line for free by the author. This site may have some dated information, but it still is a valuable resource to help you understand pet digestion and nutritional needs for pets with and without health concerns. I would not use it as a main or sole reference source. The information on this site combined with other sites above and related links will help you in your research.