Home-Prepared Diets Done Right - Kudos!
A fresh, whole foods (raw or cooked) diet is the best, most nutritious diet for our animals - a wholesome diet is the foundation for overall health. Without this critical foundation in place, optimal health and wellness is not fully achievable. A diet of fresh, wholesome "real" food (raw or cooked, not processed or denatured) provides the best opportunity for optimum health and wellness.
Whether you use a spreadsheet model to follow the NRC/AAFCO nutritional standards; follow one of the diet plans developed by one of the many natural diet gurus with a 'balance over time' meal plan or recipes; or feed a commercially prepared raw diet, there are certain universal basics that all good diets have in common.
Below we have a simple break-down of the essential elements of a balanced home-prepared raw or cooked diet. Percentages of these four elements will differ depending on the diet style you choose to follow, but the calcium and phosphorous ratio (Ca:P) must remain within a safe range of 1:1 to 2:1 for both dogs (ideal: 1.2:1 and 1.3:1) and cats (ideal: 1.1:1) when putting the total diet together. All foods and supplements being fed should be taken into consideration when determining this ratio.
Furthermore, feeding a balanced, home-prepared raw or cooked diet will not cause renal failure or any other health condition in dogs or cats. Feeding an unbalanced diet (particularly if the Ca:P ratio is outside the acceptable safe range, or if you feed too much/too little of certain elements or ingredients or use unnecessary or off-label supplementation) you can cause some very serious medical conditions.
If your animal is ever diagnosed with a serious health condition such as renal failure, cancer or pacreatitis, dietary changes may need to be considered. With the help of your veterinarian who has studied fresh foods diets and clinical animal nutrition, a qualified animal nutritionist, or by seeking out reliable advice from qualified sources, you can make the best dietary choices for an animal with a serious health problem and still feed a fresh foods diet.
You do not need to be concerned about the nutritional balance of your animal's diet if you are:
following a well-known published diet plan and/or recipes, as written
feeding one of the prepared "complete" commercial raw diets, as recommended by the manufacturer
using a pre-mix type product; if following the directions provided by the manufacturer on the package
If your animal has: perfectly normal and reliable elimination habits; a strong appetite; shiny/smooth, odor free, richly colored coat that does not shed excessively; clean teeth and ears; bright, clear eyes and good vision; excellent muscle tone; healthy nails; excellent energy; a balanced demeanor and sound temperament; good reports from your annual "Well Pet" exams with your veterinarian; and is parasite free, your diet is probably pretty fantastic (and you are very lucky to have a dog/cat that is so healthy!)
If your pet is not the ideal picture of health, then they need a wholesome diet more than anything! Please, just take the time to ensure what you are feeding is balanced and safe, and work closely with your veterinarian to make sure you are adequately addressing/treating any health imbalances.