Monday, Aug. 31st 2020

The Importance of a Balanced Diet

The Importance of a Balanced Diet

As a holistic vet, it’s not unusual to see patients who are eating a home-prepared diet.  This may be for medical reasons such as for food allergies, skin problems, or GI issues.  Sometimes, it is because the pet owner perceives that this is a healthier diet.

Unfortunately, the latter may not be the case.

While it is true that a minimally-processed whole-food-based diet is absolutely healthier than a store-bought kibble diet no matter who is eating it, this is only true if the diet provides all necessary nutrients and none are interfered with by other nutrients.  In people, this is easy to do because we eat different foods at every meal, and many foods we consume have been fortified with vitamins or minerals.  For example, you can buy Vitamin D fortified milk, orange juice with calcium added, and most breads and breakfast cereals contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals as well.  In pets, however, it is more common that we feed our pets the same food at every meal for long periods of time.  Sometimes, a pet will get more or less the same food for their entire life.  It is for this reason that we must make absolutely sure the food they are receiving provides all the nutrients they need, and in the correct balance with each other.  This principle may account for the current concerns about grain-free canine diets high in legume ingredients like peas as it is believed these ingredients may interfere with absorption of certain nutrients. Commercial foods that are balanced will contain a statement saying they meet NRC or AAFCO standards of nutrition.

Many nutrients work hand-in-hand with others for bodily functions.  For example, levels of sodium and potassium are closely related to each other and are important in cellular functions.  Calcium and phosphorous must be in the correct ratio to each other for bone health, with slightly more calcium than phosphorous.  Many vitamins and essential fatty acids act in cell membrane health, enzymatic function, and hormonal balance.  Iodine is critical for thyroid health. Too much of one nutrient may cause a relative deficiency in another due to binding of one by the other.  Lack of a particular nutrient may mean lack of an enzyme needed to absorb other nutrients.  The building blocks of proteins, amino acids, are also needed in exact proportions to each other for tissue healing, growth, an

d immune function.  Not only does a pet need ENOUGH of all these nutrients, TOO MUCH can be harmful as well. 

Studies and analysis have shown that 90% of pet diet recipes found online are not balanced. Even recipes in books written by some veterinarians that are not board-certified nutritionists are not balanced for long-term feeding.  Some are so badly balanced that bone fracture from lack of calcium, poor skin condition from lack of essential fatty acids, and ill health from poor immune function are likely to result. 

If you want to feed a home-prepared diet, we are certainly willing to work with you.  But you must commit to obtaining a balanced recipe, and follow it EXACTLY.  Even such a simple substitution as using coconut oil instead of a recommended canola oil in a recipe can mean a deficiency of vital nutrients.  Ingredients must be carefully measured, often by weight on a kitchen scale.  Fat percentages in listed meats must be followed (you can’t use 80/20 ground beef if 90/10 is called for).  Type of food must be adhered to—if chicken breast is the meat in the recipe, turkey legs cannot be substituted. One warning sign of a bad recipe is one where ingredients are not listed specifically.  “Beef” instead of “85/15 ground beef”, “oil” instead of “canola oil”, “powdered egg shell” instead of “5000 mg calcium citrate”,  etc are signs of a likely unbalanced recipe.  Dr Leonard can use a balancing program to come up with a recipe, or you can use online resources like Balance It or various board-certified veterinary nutritionists.  There is a Facebook group called Raw Fed and Nerdy that offers a wealth of resources and guidance while remaining insistent that a balanced recipe be prepared for your pet.  “Whole Prey model”, BARF (bones and raw food) or 80/10/10 type of diets are not adequately balanced recipes and should not be used. 

Dr Leonard will often counsel that you seek out a high-quality commercial diet instead of making your own food.  Only certain clients are dedicated enough to get a balanced recipe and be diligent in following it EXACTLY.  Many people find out that home-made foods are quite time-consuming to prepare, sometimes difficult to source ingredients, and usually more expensive than a commercial diet.  If you choose to have the doctor prepare a recipe, an examination of your pet, including a Chinese exam, and a complete questionnaire will need to be completed first.  There is a charge associated with these things, of course.  Then the recipe may take up to a week to complete and will be e-mailed to you when done.  Other online services will often take this long or longer. 

If you are currently feeding a home-made diet and you now have concerns that it may not be properly balanced, please schedule a checkup and nutritional consultation with the doctor.  Bloodwork may also be recommended.  We’ll determine the best course of action for your pet and make specific recommendations. 

Just a Word: We’d like to thank all our clients for their patience (and patients!) while we use curbside service to reduce risk to our staff and doctor during this pandemic.  Since we only have one doctor, we must do everything we can to prevent infection since if Dr Leonard gets sick we can’t see patients at all.  Since many of our patients get scheduled treatments that need to be on time, we’re trying our best to be able to stay open without interruption.  Now that school has started, we’ll be paying attention to infection rates in the bi-state region.  We are allowing ONE client wearing a mask inside with complex cases for consultation, but please bear with us using curbside service for most routine care for a while longer.  Trust us, we treat your pets as we would our own, and they’re still getting our liver treats and lots of love while they’re inside!

Posted in General | Comments Off on The Importance of a Balanced Diet

Comments are closed.

Whole Health Pet Center
18011 E St. Rte 58
Raymore, MO 64083

Facebook Google+ YouTube

In order to better serve our clients, we ask that you contact us to make an appointment.

Payment expected upon provision of service.

© Whole Health Pet Center. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy
Site Created by KC Web Specialists, LLC.