What does “Complete & Balanced” really mean?

It’s a term you only hear for pet food, so what makes pet food different from our food? Our food doesn’t need to be “Complete & Balanced”, does it?

It’s because of this -> People feed their pets the same thing every morning, every evening, day after day after week after year.

Why do we do that? -> Because we’ve been told to… by the pet food industry.

We know some stuff about pet nutrition but it’s far from perfect. We know a bit more this year than we did last year, and we know a lot more than we did a decade ago. We still know far less about pet nutrition than we do human nutrition, and our knowledge isn’t perfect on that either.

Every kilo of pet food must contain ALL THE NUTRITION your pet requires BASED ON WHAT THE PET FOOD INDUSTRY CURRENTLY BELIEVES IS REQUIRED. That’s a very significant challenge with several inherent issues. It’s not the only challenge either, as the bigger challenge for manufacturers is to meet all those requirements AND MAKE A PROFIT (the real reason most pet foods are full of grains, potato skins, ear tags, or whatever).

Many pets get sick from eating the same thing all the time, even if it is complete & balanced. Thiamine deficiency is a great example (vitamin B1). The boffins say “pets need thiamine in their diet”, so it becomes a requirement. Thiamine is added, but then other stuff (like sulphite preservatives/220) are included which inhibit thiamine absorption. Ugh, that’s a problem. Over time it can lead to your dog getting sick, or worse… dying. Yes, this kind of thing happens, but most of the time it’s attributed to “oh no, your dog’s got sick for some reason or other, but here’s some expensive medication and prescription food to make them better. Here’s the bill.”.

When stuff like this happens the complete & balanced requirements are adjusted. The solution should probably be “cut down on synthetic preservatives”, but usually boils down to “add more thiamine just to make sure”.

Toxins, intolerances, organ failure, arthritis, diabetes, and a whole host of other conditions could occur if the complete & balanced product doesn’t give your pet the nutrition they really need.

Taurine deficiency is another example, in dogs as well as cats, even when fed complete & balanced diets. Taurine is an essential amino acid which naturally occurs in meat, fish, and dairy. So how can taurine deficiency occur with complete and balanced diets? It’s because they rarely contain much meat, fish, or dairy. What should the solution to that be? I’d say “add more meat”, but the requirements would be “add taurine, even synthetic, to counteract the lack of meat”.

You’ll see a list of vitamins and minerals included in your pet food near the bottom of the ingredients list. Most of those would otherwise be sourced from animal meats and fats – real ingredients – but because pet food manufacturers keep that stuff to a minimum it means the vitamins and minerals must be added as supplements, probably synthetic, from the cheapest source (quite often China).

Can you imagine if we ate the same thing every single meal? It would need to contain absolutely all the nutrition we needed to be fit, healthy, have a strong immune system, fight viruses, have good skin, glossy hair, and live a long and healthy life. I don’t know about you, but that sounds a little bit radical…