Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Myth of "Complete and Balanced"

In my research for the upcoming dog food class, I have learned there is a great mystique surrounding homemade dog food that is meant to discourage those of us who want to make our pets’ food.  We are lead to believe that it is virtually impossible to duplicate the formulation of commercial dog food.

Let’s think about this.  Dogs have been around probably as long as humans have.  It was only in the 1940’s that commercial dog food became available.  Products like Gravy Train, Ken-L Ration, and Purina Dog Chow revolutionized the way we fed our animals.  I would almost guarantee that your great grandfather’s dog did not die of malnutrition.  That same dog probably enjoyed table scraps as the main part of its diet and did just fine.  Here is an interesting article about the history of dog food.

Someone even suggested that those same big names in dog food are heavily ingrained in the minds of vet students, going so far as to buy their books and provide food for their family pets.  Vet students don’t take a lot of nutrition courses, but they are indoctrinated to recommend commercial food and to caution that anything made at home might not be “complete and balanced.”

I don’t recall my pediatrician ever being so concerned over the nutritional balance of my children’s food.  In fact, I seem to remember years when my daughter lived on chicken nuggets and seemed to thrive.  That being said, I did attempt to provide a balanced diet for my family, but it was not customized to each of them and I never lost any sleep over it.

So why should there be such a mystique around my dog’s diet?  Fortunately my vet was not so heavily influenced by the industry, and was willing to certify that Jake’s new diet is indeed complete and balanced.  He has never looked healthier in his life.  So I’m not worried.

I am convinced that the organic and biodynamic ingredients I use are far better for him than the animal bi-products and the artificial preservatives that are found in so many of today’s commercial dog foods.  It’s nice to know exactly what goes in and where it came from.

As for Saturday’s class, there are currently 5 students registered.  Yesterday I went around Capitol Hill putting up little signs about the class, hoping to fill the other 7 spaces.  If you are interested, send an e-mail to


Blogger Steve said...

Yeah, dogs have been in charge of their own nutrition for thousands of years -- it can't be THAT hard!

I would think providing a variety of healthy foods is a pretty sane approach, just as it is in human nutrition.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Angela said...

Hahahaa, my dog loves ANYTHING and has never been to a vet as far as I can remember. When he was young he once stole a half pound of butter from the table, another time a whole cooked chicken with ALL the bones, and once even all 16sausages which I had bought for our Easter Bonfire. Nothing of it has harmed him (well, I let him starve for some time after these excesses). Normally he is happy for potatoes (he even dígs out raw ones), melons, gooseberries which he bites off the bush, carrots, hard bread, hamburgers...shall I go on? Yes, I do buy him dog food, but he usually hopes for some extras. I think if he had to live on his own, he`d have no trouble to survive on what he`d find!
I read that they even put ashes in dog food. Is THAT healthy?

3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for making the point that we as consumers hand over our "power" and sense of competency to the dog food companies. You're right; of COURSE we can make our own dog food! As you point out, we've already been doing it for eons. Hope the class goes great!


4:46 PM  

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