When a bag, can, or other container of pet food says complete and balanced, what does that mean?
It simply means that the mix of ingredients in he pet food has enough of the nutrients needed in the diet to prevent most diseases due to deficiencies of proteins, fats, minerals, and vitamins. Diets are tested to ensure they won’t make your pets sick.
Most dogs and cats seem to thrive on commercial pet food. However, individual dogs and cats may need a different type of diet to stay healthy, prevent disease, or treat medical issues. Dry food is the most common food purchased for pets, but not all pets can tolerate dry food and some need to eat a different type of diet. Some dogs or cats may need more oils for a dry coat, less carbohydrates to lose weight, a different meat or gluten-free diet for allergies (skin, ear, or bowel issues), more moisture (canned, homemade or raw) for the prevention or treatment of urinary crystals or stones, or holistic, homemade, or raw pet food for severe allergies, bowel issues or seizures. Most commercial dry food is geared for the average pet without health issues. These mixes of ingredients may not be healthy for a pet with allergies to wheat, obese pets, or those with urinary problems. Even raw food aficionados forget that not all dogs do well on a raw diet if they are fed a raw diet with beef or chicken, and they are allergic to a certain meat. The type of meat, the presence of grain or glutens, the amount of oils, and the percentage of moisture all can affect the health of your pet.
Where do you turn for advice? Can you ask your vet? Most veterinarians are trained to advise a different prescription diet for each medical issue. These diets may work, but may not be readily eaten by some pets. Some of the dry medical diets aren’t really much better for the pet’s health than most commercial foods. One urinary diet may help with crystals, but has wheat in it, that may cause skin problems. Prescription diets may be too expensive for some people and the pet suffers because they are offered no alternatives.
What are you supposed to do? Can you ask your vet about other types of diets that may work? How about homemade or a raw diet? Feeding canned food versus a kibble diet for weight loss? Feeding raw, meaty, bones to keep teeth clean? Most vets won’t know practical nutritional advice, because most were not trained to give it. Millions of pets are thriving on different diets, but most veterinarians are only trained to give advice on commercially “complete and balanced” diets and their prescription diets. Don’t blame your vet for not giving you alternatives like a homemade or raw diet or even simply supplementing your pet’s diet with healthy “human food”. We just weren’t trained to do that.
10 years ago, I started questioning the way we feed our pets. I had to reeducate myself and learn nutritional principles. I read books on the diet of the wolf and 100’s of labels on commercial food and raw food. I read books on feeding raw food and home cooking, as well as many books on human nutrition. As a result, I started advising my clients to feed different ingredients depending on their pets needs. For example, many purebred dogs and some cats need to avoid wheat-filled treats and food. Avoiding glutens in sensitive pets may cure ear problems, skin problems, bowel issues, and even seizures. With the success of nutritional counseling, I saw that different types of ingredients and moister food (canned, homemade, or raw), helped with weight problems or helped control medical problems like preventing urinary crystals from forming in both dogs and cats. I came to realize that our pets are individuals, and that each may need more than the common commercial kibble for optimum health. Some pets may need different ingredients in the dry food. Other pets may need to eat moister canned food, raw food, or home cooked food to be healthier, leaner, or to help with medical problems.
After my research and success, I wrote “Dog Dish Diet: Sensible Nutrition for Your Dog’s Health” in 2009. I updated a couple sections and published the second edition in 2011. Many clients wanted more slow cooking recipes that were in the book, so I published an eBook. “Feed Your Pet to Avoid the Vet” with slow cooking recipes and nutritional advice for both dogs and cats. There isn’t a day that goes by when a client or reader tells or emails me that they changed the type of food or the ingredients in the diet to help with a medical problem. I am so happy to know that I have truly helped pet owners become part of the health care team to treat or prevent chronic medical problems. I’m convinced that the right mix of ingredients may often prevent those problems or the need for medication.
If you want to treat or prevent medical problems in your pet, check out my blogs, you tube videos (http://youtube.com/drgregdvm), and my books, Dog Dish Diet and Feed Your Pet to Avoid the Vet .
Here’s a you tube video on “ingredients” in pet food.