Saint Bernard

We often get questions from clients about feeding their pets homemade diets so I wanted to touch on this subject.  An article was recently published in Clinician’s Brief about an 8 month old Saint Bernard puppy who was diagnosed with osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) of both shoulders, seizures and hyperthermia.  From 11 weeks of age, the dog received a homemade diet of cooked hamburger, rice, apple, broccoli, commercial dry food, raw egg and vitamin/mineral supplements.

Biochemistry analysis revealed severe electrolyte disturbances and vitamin D deficiency.  Radiographs showed diffuse osteopenia of the mandible and long bones.  Dietary analysis revealed significant deficiencies in AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials)  standards for growing puppies.  The dog was transitioned to oral calcium carbonate, calcitriol and taurine supplementation, as well as a commercial canine growth diet.  Within 4 weeks, laboratory values normalized and lameness resolved.  It was concluded that homemade diets, unless very carefully formulated, can be extremely nutritionally imbalanced and present a risk for growing puppies.

AAFCO, a nongovernmental advisory body that includes representatives from all states, provides detailed model feed laws that have been adopted by many states in full or as part of individual state feed control laws.

Ideally, diets are formulated to satisfy nutritional profiles and are subjected to feeding trials.  Pet owners should ensure they are using a food with a nutritional adequacy statement matching the life stage of their pet.