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Note for Pet Owners

This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.

You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.

Many owners feed home-made rations to their pets, or add a lot of supplements to commercially available pet food. Both practices are recipes for disaster ! Why ? Here are 10 good reasons !

  1. The daily intake of a ration must contain enough of all the essential nutrients that the pet needs. For cats and dogs this means it must contain the correct amount of essential amino acids (in protein), essential fatty acids (in fat/oils), minerals (macrominerals such as calcium, and trace elements such as cobalt) and vitamins. 
  2. The relative amount of some ingredients to each other is very important and can cause serious problems if it is wrong. For example, a balanced ration for cats and dogs should contain slightly more calcium than phosphorus per gram of food. If a ration contains considerably more phosphorus than calcium skeletal problems may occur ...even if both minerals exceed the amount needed  to meet the nutritional requirement of the animal.
  3. It is well accepted that some nutrients cause problems if too much is given. For example, excess fat in a ration will increase the risk of obesity because fat is extremely high in energy content, and high fat diets exceed the energy needs of the animal, so the excess energy is deposited as fat.
  4. Some ingredients interfere with the availability of other nutrients in the food. For example, some types of fibre can reduce the digestibility of some nutrients, such as minerals. As a result, the animal may not be able to digest and absorb the nutrient in sufficient quantities to meet it's needs , even though it is present in the food. 
  5. Different raw ingredients have different nutritional content. For example, the same crop grown under different conditions (eg soil, rainfall, pesticide treatment) or harvested at different stages of growth can have very variable nutrient content, and nutrient digestibility and so the availability to an animal can vary.
  6. Home-made rations are often based upon unqualified peoples opinions of what is good or bad and as a result some real fads are, sadly, still advised. Some of the worst advice -still being given is :

    a) It is good to feed an all-meat ration (CLICK HERE to find out why it isn't !)

    b) It is good to feed a lot of raw liver (liver can be regarded as "meat" but it also contains masses of vitamin A...which can cause serious skeletal problems due to toxic effects. CLICK HERE to find out more about Vitamin A

    c) It is ok to feed a vegetarian diet to cats ...DEFINITELY NOT - cats are obligate carnivores (CLICK HERE to find out why it isn't)

  7. If you feed a complete and properly balanced pet food (the word COMPLETE is your guarantee that the food contains all the nutrients to meet your pets requirements) and you add any supplement you are effectively increasing the daily intake of some nutrients and possibly upsetting the correct balance of nutrients in the food. This probably doesn't matter for small amounts of supplement, but sometimes far too many vitamins, minerals or fatty acids are given ....and veterinarians all over the world see the results as illness !
  8. The only way to be sure that a home-made ration contains every nutrient that a pet needs, in the correct amounts, and in the correct proportions to each other  is to have a detailed chemical analysis performed ..and of course pet owners do not do this
  9. The only way to be sure that the ration is bioavailable digestible, and absorbable by the pet is to perform detailed feeding trials looking for evidence of deficiencies or excesses.
  10. Owners and breeders often think their pet's ration is good because it's coat, behaviour and other external signs of "health" appear to be normal. However this is not necessarily true. Most veterinarians will have seen pets that develop multiple fractures of the bones because they have been weakened by an "all-meat" ration. Otherwise these animals can appear to be very healthy.

Provet's advice is : Ask your veterinarian for his/her advice about the most appropriate ration for your pet. Feed commercially available "COMPLETE" pet foods produced by reputable manufacturers who perform controlled feeding trials on every batch of food that they produce.


Updated October 2013