Objective of Presentation
To know about sources of dietary nutrients from human foods
Learn how to find them and use them
Learn how to make a complete and balance homemade diet by yourself
Learn whether it is possible to make it
Learn how to use the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet program to make a homemade diet with necessary functions
What Is a Complete and Balance Diet?
The complete diet is consisted of essential nutrients at the adequate levels for dog or cat requirements. The balance diet is the diet that has all required nutrients in the suitable proportion when compared to each other. For example, calcium (Ca) will be proportionate to phosphorus (P) in the ratio of 1.5–2 times of Ca to 1 of P. In this case, calcium to zinc and calcium to magnesium are needed to be in the proper ratio. Therefore, a complete and balance diet made from human foods only is quite difficult to reach dog and cat requirements without adding some nutrients.
What Will Be Needed to Make Complete and Balance Diet?
Basic knowledge of nutrition of dogs and cats is required.1,2 The nutrient requirements of dogs and cats by National Research Council (2006) are needed.3 Also, the requirements from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) nutrient profiles for dogs and cats are essential. Therefore, these requirements that are proven as necessity of canine and feline nutrient formulation need to keep in mind during homemade dietary formulation.
Database for Dietary Compositions
The necessary database of human foods can be assessed from the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) at http://fnic.nal.usda.gov/food-composition/usda-nutrient-data-laboratory. The USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference 27 can be found at www.ars.usda.gov/Services/docs.htm?docid=8964. Each nutrient can be searched individually at www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/. The Microsoft Excel, Access, and ASCII files can be downloaded from the USDA website with free of charge. Unfortunately, the dietary compositions are only evaluated from the foods in the United State market. Therefore, some kinds of foods are limited. The number of food identification of each food is needed for the next step of formulation. Also, the details of AAFCO requirements can be reviewed at www.aafco.org/. However, that information from AAFCO is needed to be purchased from the website. The major and minor nutrients will be downloaded and kept in the form of spreadsheet. The measurement of food size is calculated as per cup or per 100 grams. This information is needed to calculate amount of diet used.
Knowledge of Small Animal Clinical Nutrition
Understanding of clinical nutrition is critical. The importance and function of each nutrient is needed. The calculation and conversion of diet in the perspective of dry matter, as fed, and energy based is required. The energy requirement and each nutrient minimum requirement are demanded for dogs or cats in various stage of life or various disease conditions.
Knowledge of Spreadsheet Program
The knowledge of spreadsheet, such as Microsoft Excel, is needed for dietary formulation. The database structure of all nutrients is planned in advance. The understanding of spreadsheet functions, such as sum(), vlookup(), or if(), is also required. The target of nutrient requirements of dog or cat is set up. Then, trial and error method is improvised and kept modifying the amount of diets or types of diets until the requirement goal is reached. It is so very difficult to reach all levels of all nutrients. Therefore, some nutrients may be less or more and various types of diets are needed to formulate in order to make it complete and balance when feeding dogs or cats in a week. Some medications, such as calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, or some vitamins, are added to make them reach the goal.
An Example of Diet for a Renal Failure Patient
The specific diet for the specific disease is a common problem for small animal clinical nutrition. The sick dogs or cats given human food before and felt unwell tend to refuse the commercial diet for the specific disease due to unfamiliar taste and texture. Also, these diets are expensive for long term use. Many veterinarians are asked to help owners to make cheaper and more palatable diet for their pets. The cook books are also found from the bookstores and from many websites. However, the recipes cannot guarantee the requirements for that specific disease. For example, the diet of dog with chronic renal failure is decreased in protein, phosphorus, and sodium. Likewise, that diet is increased in energy and fiber. The protein requirement is set between 3 to 4 grams per 100 kilocalories. The level of phosphorus is set at 50 to 60 mg per 100 kilocalories. The sodium level is set at 50 to 60 mg per 100 kilocalories. The amount of diet fed in one day is needed to meet the daily energy requirement (1.4 x 70 x bodyweight0.75). The fiber level is set at 0.3 to 0.5 gram per 100 kilocalories.
In conclusion, making a balance and complete diet for dogs or cats is not easy, but possible with level of advanced knowledge in small animal clinical nutrition, database management, and spreadsheet program. The idea of making it is demonstrated and can be modified to satisfy the owner and their pets. However, routine monitor for animal health is still required and needed to plan and evaluate. The short term use of that kind of diet will not depict any health hazard, however, the deteriorated health will be displayed when long term using the incomplete and unbalance diet. This point always needs to keep in mind. The finish diet should be stored in the refrigerator for only 3–5 days or frozen and thawed with low heat before using.
1. Steiff EL, Bauer JE. Nutritional adequacy of diets formulated for companion animals. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2001;219:601–604.
2. Hand M, et al., eds. Small Animal Clinical Nutrition. 5th edition. Topeka, KS: Mark Morris Institute; 2010.
3. Subcommittee on dog and cat nutrition and committee on animal nutrition. Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats (Nutrient Requirements of Domestic Animals). Washington, DC: National Research Council; 2006.