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  • I've read through a lot of the questions/answers here and it seems like your biggest concern with every homemade diet is that they are (or in most cases are not) "complete and balanced".

    My question is, why is this so important for dogs but not for humans? HHS and USDA publish dietary guidelines for humans, but I don't know any humans that actually stick to that. Most that would be considered healthy just do their best to eat their veggies, not too many carbs/fats and get a moderate amount of protein, and seem to do just fine, even though they aren't getting an EXACT complete and balanced diet.

    For dogs, if you are giving quality homemade ingredients + a complete vitamin/mineral supplement, why isn't this good enough?

    I give my dogs (70lb active doberman, and german shepherd) approx 1lb 73x27 (slow and low cooked) ground beef, 2 ounces steamed and mashed veggies (broccoli, peas, apples, spinach, kale etc), table spoon salmon oil, 2 ounces rice or sweet potato, lightly scrambled eggs, 1000mg bone meal supplement, 1000mg taurine supplement, and "Rx Vitamins for pets, Rx essentials for dogs, high potency multiple vitamin and mineral mix". Occasional add ins include (sardines, canned salmon, organ meats).

    I plan on having blood work done, since they've now been eating this a few months, but I just have a hard time understanding the emphasis on doing and EXACTLY "balanced and complete", and how kibble cooked at a high temp lacking nutrients (but then they are added back in after the fact), is considered superior to you, then feeding real ingredients, and adding in supplements.

    Additionally, what about people who feed kibble, but then add in additional foods like an egg or cooked meat, or a multivitamin? Now their diet is no longer balanced and complete? Are they harming their dogs as well?
  • The key to understanding the wisdom behind "complete and balanced" lies in understanding cellular and intermediary metabolism. But let’s use a simpler example: the engine in your car: it needs gas, oil, water and oxygen to run. All those items must be present (it cannot run with even one of those missing) - this is the definition of ‘complete’ nutrition for your engine - all that is needed is present. But all those inputs are not needed in the same ratio or at the same time, so there has to be a finely tuned ‘balance’ of these inputs to get the engine to run efficiently. And the demand on that balance driving at 20 mph is different than driving at 120 mph – this would be analogous to the nutrition required by a maintenance dog vs. a growing dog.
    "why is this so important for dogs but not for humans? 
    It is important for people. Just b/c some people do not follow those guidelines does not mean the guidelines are not important. As it is recommended that you wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle, but some people opt out of wearing one.

    "HHS and USDA publish dietary guidelines for humans, but I don't know any humans that actually stick to that"
    There are guidelines cited for good nutrition for people. Agreed some people do not follow them and do suffer the consequences ultimately for diminished nutrition.

    "For dogs, if you are giving quality homemade ingredients + a complete vitamin/mineral supplement, why isn't this good enough?"
    Quality is the standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind. So it is a relative measure and I assume you mean a high vs low quality diet. To a nutritionist that is the combination of ingredients that meet or exceed the recommended daily nutrient intake of that animal or person. Most pet owners have no idea what they mean when they say "high quality dog food" b/c they do not know how to evaluate a pet food. The label regulations were never intended to be used as a measure of quality. Yet some pet owners use what they read in the ingredient list to “evaluate a pet food”. That is like using a wrench when you should be using a screwdriver to get a job done. It is very rare that a pet owner even ask or look at the nutrient profile which is the sole reason for feeding a pet food. And yes some ingredients provide a better array of nutrients than others but that information is not available on the label. All those pet food evaluation web site are simply a mirage.

    "I plan on having blood work done, since they've now been eating this a few months" 
    That will be a waste of time and money on your part because routine blood test done by vets does reflect diet's nutritional balance or adequacy ........

    "Additionally, what about people who feed kibble, but then add in additional foods like an egg or cooked meat, or a multivitamin? Now their diet is no longer balanced and complete? Are they harming their dogs as well?"
    Yes they have paid for a balance product and then unbalanced it when they feed at home.  It makes no sense to me either.  I presume it is b/c they do not understand the concept of “complete and balanced” as a defined legally binding term for the pet food industry.

  • I have been feeding my three Boston’s the attached homemade food recipe. The vet approved this recipe and says their weight is perfect. My older dog who is 11 and about 20 pounds seems to be fine on it my other (2) are closer to 30 pounds and 2 years old. I am feeding the (2) of them 2 cups a day plus a small snack at bedtime (pumpkin and oatmeal or a raw egg). About a month ago we were mixing it with dry Fromm and have since removed the dry kibble. They seem like they are starving and have lost some weight. I am wondering what I could add to fill them up or do I just need to feed them more???? I really don’t want to add the kibble back in.
  • I am not surprised dogs would lose weight on that recipe. There is NO claim of nutritional adequacy and in reviewing the ingredients I doubt the recipe meets 2019 AAFCO Canine Recommendations.
    Please also know that "Vets" have no official capacity to "approve" any diet. They can recommend one but cannot "approve". I strongly suggest for the long term health of your dogs, that you either:
    1. Get a recipe formulated by a canine or veterinary nutritionist.
    2. Get that recipe corrected by a canine or veterinary nutritionist.

  • I have a 3.5 year old spayed German shorthaired pointer who recently tested very low serum phosphorus, everything else in her blood work has checked out perfectly (kidney, liver etc). Tested negative for heart worm, pro BNP tested normal, phosphorus was run on two separate machines in two different labs and came back with the same result (same blood sample, did not do a separate draw).
    After discussing with my primary vet, no medical reason has been identified and she is asymptomatic. I am wondering if the deworming medication she received 5 days prior to the blood draw could have produced this result.
    Dog is currently being fed a home prepared raw diet balanced to NRC standards, calcium:phos, copper:zinc, vit A and vit D levels have been considered in the formulation.
    Do you offer a recipe review service?
    The only potentially plausible explanation would be a vitamin D deficiency but I do not understand how that would occur when sufficient levels are being fed.
  • Yes we do offer a HMD diet review (with corrections if needed) through our Nutrition Consult Service. You may begin at: at any time.
    NRC is not actually the guideline we recommend for healthy dogs. NRC actually has 3 different categories and it is not clear which category has been used in OTC pet foods. We use NRC bare minimum values for some nutrients in some medical conditions, e.g., phosphorous, copper. We use the AAFCO guidelines for healthy dogs b/c those contain a hefty margin of safety due to known and unknown interactions between ingredients which may decrease the absorption of any nutrient.
    Another consideration: One reason for cooking the food is to destroy anti-nutrients. Anti-Nutrients are compounds in raw ingredients that inhibit or compete or destroy essential nutrients. Avidin in raw egg whites bind Biotin is one example. The avidin is destroyed during cooking and the biotin is then made available to the animal. This web site lists 10 of the more common anti-nutrients.
    This is another reason Nutritionists recommend feeding a cooked diet that rarely gets mentioned or explained.
    Vit D is a good example of a nutrient that may appear to be adequate on paper but then not adequate in the dog, and the Vit D requirement is also a nutrient for which there is considerable variation between animals, as well as people. So there is some validity for your suspicions.
  • I am using a different supplement than what you recommend, it’s called Holistic Pet Organics, Canine Complete made by a cherry Brook Farms. My vet is concerned that it doesn’t provide taurine to prevent cardiomyopathy. I have several of your diets for both of my dogs, so I am a customer. I have tried all of the diets and they like some and won’t touch others, like the green pea diet. I use mainly brown rice and switch between ground turkey and ground beef. I use mostly fresh veggies, zucchini, yellow squash, and carrots, and add spinach or green peas. I would appreciate an answer regarding taurine and do they get enough just from their food? Thank you.
  • Holistic Pet Organics, Canine Complete cannot be used in our recipes to make a nutritionally complete diet. The "all in one" statement is misleading concerning nutritional adequacy. There is much more than just taurine missing in the diet. Simply compare the essential 10 vitamins and 13 minerals on the Chef's Canine Complete label with the two vitamins and two minerals listed on your product.

  • My friend is telling me she feeds her Maltese a tablespoon of boiled cut up beef liver 3 times a week and it has cleared up her tear stains. She says the beef liver changes the dogs ph. My question is does chicken liver clear up the tear stains too?
  • There are several causes of tear staining but dog's pH is not one of them.
    Please see a veterinarian first as the most common cause is a blocked tear ducts.

  • Could you please recommend a dry dog food in light of the DCM and diet issue? I have a 2.5 year old male Cavalier King Charles who is active but does trend to put weight on if we are not careful. He also does quite a bit of obedience reward-based training which complicates the weight issue. So far he is healthy. He gets 2 wellness checks/year as well as occasional weight checks, etc..
  • Understandably the current issue in the pet food industry with grain-free diets and DCM is both confusing and frustrating.
    We have composed a statement for inquiries such as yours to help navigate the many different sources of information.
    We hope you find this helpful. Please go to: 
  • I belong to a FB group for dog owners who deal w/pancreatitis issues in their pets.
    Food allergies appear to be part of the conundrum of dealing with GI/Pancreatitis issues.

    Is there is way beside an elemination diet to determine if a dog has an allergy to specific protein or sensitivity to other things they might eat? Some people swear by tests done for their dogs that indicate allergies or sensitivities to certain food/products. A dermatologist told us that saliva testing or other forms are pretty much hit/miss w/dogs.

    My dog recently has gone to RC Gastro Low Fat canned food (pork) and has been on it for about a month.
    She seems to be tolerating it well—stools are good, no vomiting or itching. But she has started licking her paws more frequently which can be indication of pain/discomfort. And sometimes she does not eat as much at a meal. She gets Sucralfate in suspension an hour before meals and takes Ursidiol for elevated liver enzymes. She takes Gabapentin for arthritis and also has been on a Folic Acid supplement once daily for deficiency found when they did an EPI test. Her B12 was normal. I have read that Gabapentin can cause Folate deficiency. My dog has taken Gabapentin for almost two years — no idea how long her Folate has been low.

    I am wondering if she is now starting to develop issues with the pork in the RC.
    She has not eaten pork in her 15 yrs because it is usually in food too high in fat.
    She has allergy to poultry—

    If she has allergy to the RC a home cooked diet w/fish is likely to be her best option. I don’t know that I can source Rabbit with any consistency at a reasonable price.

    My vet has no contact for a pet nutritionist—I asked when we started the RC...
    Is it possible to be developing an allergy after being on the RC for a month w/o substantial issues?

  • A food trial is the gold standard. All other tests, blood, hair, saliva have not been independently validated and unnecessarily complicate the situation for the O and Nutritionist. To put it bluntly - they are a waste of money. There are several very good published scientific studies demonstrating these test are known for their high rate of false positives. Unfortunately, O comes to nutritionist with a long list false foods to be avoided. Clinical experience as taught that is highly unlikely and that there are likely one or two proteins to which the pet is reacting. Nutritionists should differentiate between a food allergy vs. a food intolerance … as for certain one can be intolerant to particular foods (onions, garlic or certain vegetables) this is not an allergic reaction. A dog with GI may be intolerant of certain ingredients, and not actually allergic to a food. Derm (skin) signs related to a food protein is always then a food allergy. A food trial will differentiate the source of the offending protein between food or environment. Unlike food allergy tests, environmental blood tests have been shown to be more accurate and worth the money.


    Just because we can measure something and they charge $300 for it, does not mean the test results actually relate to something meaningful in the pet. As for food allergic test that 'appear' to accurate … yes even a broken clock is correct twice a day but I should still know better not to rely on it to give me the accurate time of day.


    Is your dog developing a food allergic to pork …

    If the dog is truly allergic to pork, then she always has been and you are only now seeing the signs because you are feeding the offending agent. Food allergy is not a problem with the food, but an abnormality in the dog where for some reason the immune system is making a mistake and over reacting to what is a harmless, innocuous protein.


    You also changed the food product, so in fact you changes many protein containing ingredients at one time. You cannot identify the offending protein from the ingredient list. Yes a reaction to food can be immediate or delayed and based on exposure dose and rate. It could be a pollen blowing in the wind at this time.

  • Is a dog really going to get a enough taurine from eating taurinekibbles that’s cooked at high temperatures isn’t that going to diminish its effectiveness. Grains don’t contain taurine so why switch to a grain food for dogs grain foods I looked at have a lot of the same ingredients that the grain free has in it the peas the Pea protein lentils salmon? Also some websites are saying that dogs with the disease had blood levels of taurine that were normal i’ve been told by my vet even if he they tested my dog and taurine levels were low he hasn’t been told how to figure How much taurine to supplement him with
  • There are some concerns that the increased fiber intake with feeding lentils and peas decreases taurine absorption, changes the microflora and increases taurine losses.
    At this point, it appears to have nothing to do with the heat used to cooked kibble.
    True some dogs with DCM on grain free diets did have normal blood taurine levels.

    The recommendation is that if a dog tests low to supplement. Whole blood taurine should be determined as it is more reliable in determining of long-term levels than plasma taurine.  

    From Plumb's Pharm:
    For dilated cardiomyopathy (extra-label):  The suggested taurine dose for dogs with dilated cardiomyopathy is 500 – 1000 mg PO q8-12h for dogs weighing <25 kg and 1 – 2 grams PO q8-12h for dogs weighing >25 kg. (Smith 2009)
    Supplements: NOW Taurine powder source 1/4th teaspoons = 1 gram = 1000mg

  • I have a 3.5 year old cardigan who has had two episodes of acute pancreatitis. He is currently on Royal Canin’s low fat gastrointestinal food.
    I have seen in some of my canine pancreatitis support groups that people are feeding or supplementing with goat milk. My first thought is that it is too high in fat for my dog, but there is a dog food company advertising that fermented goats milk does not involve the pancreas and thus it is safe.
    Similarly fermented raw is being discussed on the group, but also seems too high fat for my dog. (It is over 25% fat on the carton).
    My question is is there any benefit or harm to giving these foods to a pancreatitis dog? Does the food being fermented make it safer? Thanks!
  • The exact relationship between eating dietary fat and pancreatitis is not known but there a strong association. If your dog has had more than 1 episode requiring hospitalization and the last episode was within 6 months, I would not feed any additional food items beyond a low fat diet. Pancreatitis can be vague and mild to fulminating and fatal. 

    All ruminant milk contains 4-6% fat as an as fed basis and so on a dry matter basis the % is above that recommended for dogs with pancreatitis. If the product is fermented which reduces the sugar content, then the fat content will be inadvertently increased (more concentrated). All dietary protein, fats and complex carbs require pancreatic function, so I do not see how fermenting changes that fact.

    I would advise against feeding milk.

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