Cook's Corner: Variety Is Best
Flexible yet balanced meals increase your dog’s vitality.
Many people who feed their dogs a homemade diet rely on a recipe developed using a spreadsheet, which calculates the individual nutrient values for all the ingredients in the recipe. But even recipes created by veterinary nutritionists might not provide everything your dog needs. Feeding a variety of different foods in appropriate proportions is a better guarantee of nutritional adequacy than following a spreadsheet or giving a multivitamin.
Most “pet nutritionists” (a title that is not regulated) use a spreadsheet to calculate the nutrients in a recipe and compare them to the guidelines established by the National Research Council or the American Association of Feed Control Officials, to make sure the recipe is complete and balanced. This approach has a number of problems, including:
• Nutrition values used in spreadsheets might not match the food you are feeding. A food’s nutrient content varies depending on where it was grown or raised, how it was transported and stored, and how it is prepared.
• A dog’s nutritional needs vary based on such factors as age and activity level.
• Nutritional guidelines are estimates that change over time as we learn more about nutrient requirements and interactions. A recipe that provides minimum amounts of some nutrients could be deemed deficient by later research.
In addition, recipes often rely heavily on supplements to meet your dog’s needs. Whether that’s the nebulous “complete vitamin-and-mineral supplement,” or one that contains specific ingredients and dosages, we don’t know for sure that supplements can replace nutrients derived from foods.
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