Tailored Nutrition
Susan G. Wynn, DVM, DACVN   
Veterinary Nutrition and Integrative Medicine
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Free homemade diets

Most pet owners will remember the catastrophic pet food contamination story from 2007, when products across many companies were found to cause kidney damage and, in some cases, death.  These products contained a common pet  food ingredient, and the  Chinese  producer  fraudulently increased the protein analysis by adding the chemical melamine. 

In 2007, I posted a simple homemade diet that was complete and balanced, using human vitamin, mineral and  other  nutritional supplements that were  easy to source from local pharmacies or grocery stores.  This recipe was apparently quite popular and I still talk to pet owners using this recipe - 10 years later.

Therein lies the problem.  

Since then, most human multivitamin/mineral supplements have  increased their  vitamin D contents based on the new, higher recommendations for  people  The problem is that these higher vitamin D concentrations, when the  supplement is used to balance a dog or cat diet, results in an overall Vitamin D content that is very close to the  safe upper  limit for Vitamin D in these  species.

We can't use those supplements to balance homemade diets anymore, which  is why I've reincarnated this 'free homemade diet recipe" link to educate you - if you are still using one of these human multis with a Vitamin D content of more  than 400 IU per tablet,
you may be poisoning your pet. 

What are the  alternatives?

First, please, please, please do NOT assume that it's ok to feed  a diet that isn't properly supplemented. You may have read  from some holistic veterinarians that it's not necessary to feed a balanced diet, holding up the example of the  human diet - If we eat a very healthy diet, our requirements are theoretically met over time, if not every day. There are many problems with this  idea -  not the least  of  which is that most of our deadliest chronic medical conditions in people are related to improper nutrition.  Most people simply do not know how to eat a diet that balances itself over time.  

Another problem is that  many assume that the natural ("paleolithic") diet for wolves or wild cats is the ideal diet for a domestic dog or cat,which is  patently untrue-  at least for dogs.

Nature has led wolves to seek a diet that is very high in protein and fat, which supports repeated reproduction in a wild animal that must expend a great deal of energy hunting down their diet. Once a wolf's reproductive usefulness is exhausted, that animal is expendable, and it doesn't live  much  longer.  Our dogs, on the  other  hand, generally do not get even moderate amounts  of exercise. We typically neuter them for our convenience  and to  prevent  cancer, and we aim to have them with us for 15 or more years.  The diet that supports this lifestyle is not the same as a wild wolf's diet.

So let's assume that we want to feed our dogs and cats a complete and balanced diet that is customized to their lifestyle. 

It is not  usually possible to use a multivitamin/mineral supplement designed for dogs or cats to balance homemade foods. This is because the supplements are designed with the  assumption that the pet will already be eating a commercial complete and balanced diet, so the supplement is formulated to prevent overdoses. If we can't use most human multis and we can't use animal multis what can we use and how do we construct a balanced diet?

Fortunately, there is a free option you can use for healthy dogs and cats and some sick ones. Balance It provides a semi-customized option, in that you can choose your ingredients, and in some cases modify your protein/carbohydrate/fat profile.  This  option is offered on the  Balance  It website, and the diets are balanced  with the company's vitamin/mineral supplements.  They are excellent supplements which I use frequently.   To get started, go to www.balanceit.com.

I  frequently find that a semi-customized diet is not optimal for some patients, and in this case, a more tailored option is best. For instance, some owners are drawn to the traditional Chinese philosophy of food therapy, where ingredients can 'treat molehills before they become mountains".  Other  owners  prefer a whole-foods based recipe in  which most of the nutrients are provided by food rather  than supplements. It's common in my practice to have combinations of disorders that are managed with food (such as kidney or liver disease, food allergy, pancreatitis, bladder stones, arthritis, obesity, epilepsy and  cancer), along with owners who have preferences for ingredient cost  or sourcing,  or organic designation, ability to cook or other limitations.  In these cases, a customized diet is the only option and this is where a nutritionist enters the picture.  Formulations such as these require knowledge about the pet's nutritional requirements, knowledge about food nutrient profiles, familiarity with herbs and nutraceuticals, and a lot of time on the computer using specialized balancing software.

If you are interested in a custom diet recommendation or a tailored recipe, you have 3 options:
1. The  best  is to make an appointment so that we can talk over your situation while I meet your  pet.  There is  nothing like eye-to-eye contact  for me to understand a cat or dog!  For an appointment, please call BluePearl Atlanta at 404.459.0903.
2. If a person-to-person appointment is not possible, your veterinarian may submit a consult request.  In this case where  I will not be able to meet your pet personally,  it is illegal for me to make recommendations directly to you.  For this situation, your veterinarian is my client, and all communications occur through your vet.  This is the best option if you cannot visit Georgia with your  pet.
3. Check the  website of the  American College of Veterinary Nutrition (www.acvn.org).  While there are  not many nutritionists in  private practice,  you might  find one within driving distance. 
Ten years after  the melamine disaster, the  pet food industry (and because of this crisis, the human food industry) has radically changed regulations to improve quality control and  ingredient tracking. But if you prefer a homemade diet, you have options.

I'm sorry there is no longer a free homemade diet option here, using easy-to-obtain human supplements.  If it were that easy, I would still have it posted.  I hope I've given you even better options, 10 years after our eyes were opened to the possibilities. 

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