Most likely your dog’s or cat’s body has been carefully conserving essential nutrients as much as
possible over the years, but there unfortunately may already be problems that have developed. Thinning
of the bones or osteopenia can occur and can be difficult to notice unless you see your veterinarian,
and they take an x-ray or radiograph or, worse, your dog or cat breaks a bone.
Other nutrient deficiencies are much harder to test for and typically won't show up on routine blood
work. The typical way potential deficiencies (and excesses) are evaluated is by analyzing the diet
using formulation software with a robust food database. Unfortunately, many diets that "seem" alright
can actually be grossly deficient in numerous essential minerals and vitamins. If you’re interested in
seeing what a recipe looks like without supplementation, make a recipe using ourfree custom recipe tool selecting the foods you feed and then click to see the
Nutrient Profile next to a passing recipe. Then you can check out the recipe with and without
supplementation. It can be quite surprising to see the many deficiencies that exist without
However surprising, it can make sense if one thinks above the natural prey that dogs and cats or
their ancestors consume in the wild versus how we often or prefer to feed them. Most commonly we feed
exsanguinated, eviscerated, and deboned muscle meats along with rich sources of starch. This approach
results in minerals from bones, electrolytes (other important minerals) from blood, and vitamins and
trace minerals from the liver at much lower concentrations than when whole prey is consumed.
Unfortunately, a whole prey method of feeding has its own disadvantages as well which can include
difficulty of preparation/sourcing, nutrient variability or uncertainty, foodborne pathogens,
increased consumption of natural toxins filtered and “sequestered” by the prey species, and a nutrient
profile more supportive of reproduction of a few litters than longevity. If you are considering a
whole prey or whole food approach to feeding, we strongly recommend consulting with a board certified
veterinary nutritionist® for specific guidance about the challenges, benefits, and risks.