Common Health Problems affecting Dogs and Cats

Veterinary advice from John Burns BVMS MRCVS

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Veterinary surgeons and pet food manufacturers often warn against feeding home-made diets. This is because of the assumed difficulty of ensuring adequate levels of all nutrients especially minerals and vitamins. My experience is that it is perfectly feasible to feed a natural homemade diet even without adding vitamin and mineral supplements. But the key to achieving this is VARIETY!

It may be necessary to distinguish between using diet to maintain healthy condition and using diet as a means of treating an existing health problem (Clinical Nutrition). For example, a severe or chronic skin condition may be caused by an underlying dietary intolerance but the offending ingredients have not been identified. In that case it may be necessary to keep to a restricted, fixed diet with only a few ingredients to avoid the risk of introducing an ingredient which could trigger a reaction.

The following suggestions are based on my own recommendations to avoid health problems and ensure an excellent level of general health. Treatment of specific health conditions may require specialist advice and careful attention to detail.

For the dog
1/3 rd by volume boiled brown rice
1/3 rd by volume meat (this should be varied regularly using chicken, fish, lamb, beef)
1/3 rd by volume vegetable, again varied using roots and greens and to include some seaweed (dried or fresh)

I have less experience in the use of home made food for cats but in general cats need a higher level of protein and less carbohydrate.

This could be achieved by increasing the meat portion to 50% with the rice and vegetable portions of 25% each. Again, some seaweed should be included to provide trace minerals.

Donald Strombeck, has written a book on homemade diets for the treatment of disease of the dog and cat. (Strombeck, Donald R. 1999. Home Prepared Dog and Cat Diets – The Healthful Alternative. Iowa: Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 0-8138-2149-5)


Common pet health problems
John Burns Pet Health Management Programme




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