Nutritional therapies for diseases is a growing field that continues to provide a multitude of treatment and disease preventing options. Nutrition must be an integral part of any type of health care plan since it is one of the basis for an individual’s ability to prevent, fight off, and to recover from existing diseases. Nutraceuticals is the common name for nutrients being given at a supra-physiologic level to treat a specific disease. In many cases with nutritional therapies the margin of safety has not been well established, so the risk of toxicity should be considered. One example is Vitamin-A, which has a very low therapeutic index (a very small range of safety vs. toxicity). The efficacy of many types of nutritional therapies being used today have not been scientifically established. In many instances the doses and philosophy behind nutritional therapies is based on a relative insufficiency causing disease and assuming that excess will help fight the disease. This is not to say, in any way, that nutritional therapies are ineffective, just that there is not always sound scientific data supporting their efficacy.
Controversy exists over feeding cooked or non-cooked diets to dogs and cats. Home cooked meals can be very beneficial for animals because they can be prepared specifically for each animals’ specific needs with out the preservatives and processing that are involved with commercial diets. Cooking food can decrease the bioavailability of certain proteins when it undergoes reactions such as the Maillard reaction. Other nutrients, such as fish oils (especially omega-3 fatty acids) are decreased and are susceptible to oxidation with cooking which can form damaging free radicals. Some nutrients, such as folic acid, become more bioavailable with cooking. Drawbacks to feeding raw foods exist, especially feeding raw meats. Parasitic worms and dangerous bacteria can exist in un or undercooked meats that are extremely dangerous. We do not feel that raw foods should be fed to companion animals due to the serious health risks involved. We do feel that homemade diets are very beneficial and recommend feeding a homemade diet if possible. We have proven formulas and recipes for many different homemade diets in dogs and cats.
Homemade Diets for Dogs and Cats
Homemade diets for dogs and cats can have significant health benefits. Homemade diets can be adjusted to your particular pet’s nutritional needs. They also have significantly less potentially harmful preservatives and additives. Homemade diets take a significant amount of time and work on the part of the pet owner, but can be very rewarding and advantageous.
Homemade diets can be risky if they are not prepared or stored in the proper manner. Commercial diets add preservatives to help decrease the chance of contamination with harmful bacteria or other agents.
Homemade diets can be done safely and effectively with the correct ingredients and storage techniques.
We provide proven homemade diet recipes to our clients for their pet’s specific dietary needs. You can prepare food that is for all stages of life (Puppy/Kitten, Adult, Senior), as well as diets for specific illnesses such as: renal (kidney) disease, liver disease, urinary tract diseases, cancer, gastrointestinal diseases, and others.
We are always happy to help develop a dietary plan for our patients that will take into account the patient’s specific needs.
Nutritional Needs of Dogs and Cats
|Functions||Essential Amino Acids||Non-Essential Amino Acids||Requirement Factors|
-Energy, 4 Kcal/gram
-Amino Acid Composition
|-Energy, 4 Kcal/gram
-Structural with proteins or lipids
|-Simple carbos are mono- and disaccharide (sugars)
-Polysaccharides include starch and cellulose
- Lipids: Fats and fatty acids in the form of simple lipids, compound lipids, and derived lipids.
|Functions||Types||Essential Fatty Acids (FA)|
|–Energy, approximately 10 Kcal/gram
-Required for absorption of fat-soluble
vitamins A, D, E and K
-Structural (cell membranes)
-Protective, i. e. on skin
-Form bile salts
-Arachidonic acid products = prostglandins, leukotrienes, and thromboxanes
|-Simple lipids= triglycerides and into
fatty acids (FA)
-Compound lipids= FA with non-lipid
molecule, i. e. phospholipid
-Derived lipids= sterols such as
|-Long-chain polyunsaturated FA
-Arachidonic acid in cats
-Possibly a-linoleic acid
Minerals: Comprises approximately 4% of body weight. Inorganic minerals are necessary for normal mammalian metabolic functioning and coenzyme functions.
Vitamins: Vitamins are organic compounds that are necessary for normal mammalian metabolic, enzyme, and coenzyme functions.
Partial list of Vitamins
The following table comprises a list of specific vitamins with the source, effects of surplus and deficiencies, as well as, doses when available.
Fat soluble vitamins can have antagonistic effects leading to a surplus in one fat soluble vitamin causing a relative deficiency in another fat soluble vitamin even if the intake is adequate.
|Fat Soluble Vitamins||Water Soluble Vitamins|
|-A, D, E, and K||-B complex, Biotin, C, Folic Acid, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid|
Cats unique nutritional needs:
Cats have unique metabolic and dietary needs that are different than dogs and include the following:
- Taurine in diet.
- Arachidonic acid in diet
- Vitamin-A preformed (not b-carotene) in diet.
- Higher protein in diet.
- Arginine deficiency more likely in cats than dogs.
- Niacin in diet since cannot produce enough from tryptophan.
- Cysteine requirement increased with illness to decrease Heinz-body anemia .
- Vitamin-B6 deficiency can cause convulsions.
- Cats usually eat for bulk, not energy density.
|Maintenance||Normal, adult||Obese-prone||Geriatric||Weight loss||Lactation†||Physical work||Growth|
|Dog (X RER)||1. 2-8. 0||1. 6||1. 4||1. 4||1. 0||4. 0-8. 0||2 to 4-8||‡|
|Cat (X RER)||1. 0-1. 4||1. 2||1. 0||0. 8||2. 0-6. 0||2. 5†|
* Resting Energy Requirement (RER) (Kcal/day) = [70 X Wt (kg)]0. 75 or [(30 X Wt (kg)) + 70] if animal >2 kg and <45 kg body weight
† Or can feed ad libitum
‡ Small or Medium breed = 3 X RER
Large or Giant breed = 3 X RER until 4 months then 2 X RER until adult size
Common Supplements Positive Aspects Negative Aspects
|Milk||Cats can consume up to 5% in diet||Dogs cannot digest lactose|
|Eggs (raw)||Good source essential fatty acids and protein||-Coliform bacteria infection
-Avidin-induced biotin deficiency
|Meat||Good source essential fatty acids and protein||-Do not use as sole food source in diet
-High intake contraindicated with specific disease
|Cod liver oil||Vitamin-D and E source||-Vitamin-D excess can be toxic
-Oxidative vitamin damage if oil is rancid
|Minerals||Needed for growth, lactation, or disease||-Excess Ca can cause skeletal anomalies
-Excess P can cause 20 nutritional hyperparathyroidism
-GI absorption competition causing ¯ in trace elements
|Vitamins||Needed for growth, lactation, or disease||Vitamins-A and D (fat soluble) can be toxic at high levels|
|Table scraps||10% of daily caloric intake is okay||-Not balanced diet and can cause nutrient imbalances
-Onions cause Heinz body hemolytic anemia from n-
propyl disulfide toxicity which can be fatal
Herbal therapy in animals has a limited reference base at this time. The majority of the information available for safety and uses is anecdotal (based on experience, not based on scientific studies). Unfortunately, very little scientific data on the safety, dose, and efficacy of many herbs in animals is presently available. In India and Europe, herbal medicines have been tested more extensively for their use in humans. Many of the scientific studies have been done with humans, and some veterinary doses and uses have been extrapolated to animals.
As with pharmaceuticals, a correct diagnosis is necessary in order for the herbs to be beneficial. An herbal formula may become ineffective when stored improperly or for too long. Like vitamins, herbs maintain their quality best when stored in a dark, air-tight glass container. Verifying the manufacture dates when pharmaceutical herbal products are purchased is also very important. With the use of herbs and vitamins becoming more popular, many companies are manufacturing products that are of questionable quality; it is very important to make sure that the herbs you buy are manufactured or packaged by a reputable company or individual, so that you know you are getting quality herbs with the correct ingredients.
Shelf-Life (Years) Type of Preparation
|3-3.5||Alcohol Tincture (Liquid extract)|
|1.5-2||Extract (powdered in capsule)|
|2-3||Extract (powdered and freeze dried)|
|1-2||Herb (powdered in capsule)|
|0.5-1||Leaf (whole and dried)|
|1||Root (cut and sifted)|
Preparation of herbal medicinals: Common methods of preparing herbal formulas
1) Infusion: Prepare tea or tisane by adding boiling water to the herb and letting them steep together for the period of time specified for the specific herbal formula.
2) Decoction: Boil the herb and water together, strain the liquid out, and utilize.
3) Tincture: Extract the herb using a hydro-alcoholic mixture as the solvent and then press out the fluid and utilized. Note: Tinctures contain alcohol that can cause side effects in cats.
4) Fluid Extract: Extract the herb using a hydro-alcoholic mixture solvent with additional solvents, such as vinegar, and distill the alcohol off the solution. Usually it is stronger than tinctures.
5) Solid Extract: Prepared as a fluid extract, except the solvent is totally removed. It is much stronger than the others.
6) Lotion: Extracts of the herb are put into a water-based lotion which is applied topically.