A new study has been published adding to the evidence, which I have discussed before(see articles listed below), that homemade diets are frequently nutritionally inappropriate and less consistent or reliable than commercial diets.
Larsen, JA. Parks, EM. Heinze, CR. Fascetti, AJ. Evaluation of recipes for home-prepared diets for dogs and cats with chronic kidney disease. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 2012;240(5):532-8.
The authors looked at 39 recipes from websites and published books for both veterinarians and pet owners (most written by veterinarians) and identified as intended for dogs with kidney disease and 28 such recipes intended for cats. Though the optimal amount and proportion of every possible nutrient is certainly not known for pets with kidney disease, there are some nutrients for which it is fairly clear that animals with kidney disease have different requirements from healthy animals. And the minimal amount of most nutrients needed to avoid deficiency (though not necessarily the optimal amount) is known for most nutrients. The authors systematically compared the nutrient profile of the recipes they examined with known minimal nutrient requirements and with the established special needs of cats and dogs with kidney disease.
Almost all recipes were vague about key ingredients, requiring the owner to guess about exactly what ingredient to use. Similarly, almost all recipes recommended some sort of nutritional supplement but did not offer specific guidance as to type, quantity, or nutrients. Some recipes offered clearly incorrect information, such as suggesting baking soda as a calcium source even though it contains no calcium.
The authors conclusions were:
None of the recipes assessed in the study reported here provided adequate concentrations of all essential nutrients…Furthermore, many recipes did not accommodate currently accepted nutritional strategies for managing [chronic kidney disease].
There is no doubt that homemade diets can be healthy and appropriate for dogs and cats, both those that are well and those with diseases requiring special nutrition. However, the case has not been made that home-prepared diets are superior to commercial diets, as is often claimed. And while commercial diets may not be optimal nutritionally for many individuals, they are at least consistent and monitored for minimal nutritional adequacy. Any benefits home-prepared diets might have won’t matter if they are grossly deficient or inappropriate in terms of essential nutrients.
For my own clients who wish to feed home-prepared diets, I always recommend consulting with a board-certified veterinary nutritionist (try the local veterinary medical school, or PetDiets.com) to ensure the diet is nutritionally appropriate for the individual pet. Recipes have been repeatedly shown not to be reliable, even when created by veterinarians, and relying on them is likely to lead to feeding a nutritionally inappropriate diet.
Rod, 9 months ago | Flag
You write: "For my own clients who wish to feed home-prepa
red diets, I always recommend consulting with a board-cert ified veterinary nutritioni st (try the local veterinary medical school, or PetDiets.c om) to ensure the diet is nutritiona lly appropriat e for the individual pet."
I never recommend board certified veterinary
nutritioni sts. Far too often they have proven themselves to be biased in favor of junk-food kibble with proteic sources primarily from corn starch and "by-produc ts", and biased against raw meat diets. I recommend consulting DVMs who practice holistic veterinary care. Any vet who tells me that Science Diet is better than my pets' raw food diets, they lose all credibilit y.
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