Personalized Diets vs Generic Recipes & Commercial Raw/Cooked Diets
Updated: Jun 20
What is the difference between a personalized diet, homemade generic batch recipe and cooked/raw commercial food, if they are all balanced to NRC?
There are two ways to formulate a diet that meets NRC requirements. If you don’t know what NRC means, you can read more here!
A diet can be formulated using requirements that are based on calories/energy requirements and you can formulate based on the individual dog’s ideal body weight. I primarily formulate based on body weight, but the CORE diet plans I collaborated on use the calorie method to determine nutrient requirements.
By formulating batch recipes based on calories, dog parents can make one bulk recipe and feed varying amounts to their dogs based on how many calories each dog needs to support their weight. This is how commercial foods are formulated (though dry foods and most raw/cooked foods use AAFCO not NRC guidelines). It’s convenient for multi dog homes and works well for healthy adult dogs. It’s a convenient way for dog parents to try making some meals at home before doing a custom one-on-one consultation.
Diets that are formulated by calorie/energy requirements (commercial, generic/bulk recipes) work best for dogs who tend to eat within the suggested guidelines for their body weight. For dogs who tend to be easy or hard keepers though, there is a chance of under or over nutrition depending on the parameters used in formulating. We even include in our CORE diet plans a statement that says, if your dog eats outside of the suggested range by 15% then we recommend a personalized approach.
Here’s an example- let’s say I have three client dogs- all eat 800 calories per day, but one weighs 35lbs, one weighs 50lbs and the other, 65lbs.
That’s a big difference but it’s very common!
The 50lb dog is eating closest to the average estimated caloric intake for their weight, so they would do fine on the generic batch recipe. The other two dogs may benefit from a personalized approach where we ensure the nutrients for their body weight are met without over or undernutrition.
To dive in a bit deeper, and show the difference in the body weight requirements, let’s look at calcium and magnesium.
35lb requirements for the week: Calcium 7238mg Magnesium 1097mg
50lb requirements for the week: Calcium 9457mg Magnesium 1433mg
65lb requirements for the week: Calcium 11514mg Magnesium 1745mg
If they are all eating 800 calories a day, you can see that the food choices in the diet are going to be impacted in order to meet these requirements.
Note that when I formulate a personalized diet for your dog, your recipe includes weighted amounts of each food to feed, whether you want it daily or weekly so you know exactly what to feed vs estimating calories to start.
In addition to the formulation approach, there are other factors that a personalized diet addresses!
A personalized approach is the ultimate proactive approach because it also takes into account the breed(s) of the dog. Is the breed predisposed to urinary stones? Cancer? Heart disease? We can include specific foods and supplements for extra support.
Is the dog now in the senior lifestage? We want to ensure that we are not providing excessive nutrients while focusing on anti cancer strategies, cognition and joint support. If the dog hasn’t been on a balanced diet, then nutrient storage may be low or depleted.
Lifestyle is also important. Does your dog need a lot of treats for training and competing? Then you can quickly end up feeding more calories from treats than from food. The vitamins and minerals are in their food so this is a serious issue. By including foods in a fresh food diet like liver and heart we can use those foods for treats and we aren’t adding extra calories, and the dog is getting high value, healthy rewards.
Batch recipes that use generic multivitamin/mineral mixes aren’t nearly as precise and the same principle of easy and hard keepers applies; it is even more important when your dog has health issues. If you’re using a generic cookbook recipe for kidney support, but your dog is a hard keeper, (ie needs a lot food/calories for their bodyweight) then is the recipe still kidney friendly if they need to eat twice as much as a dog of the same bodyweight and how does the multivitamin/mineral address this?
I use a targeted approach and the diets include individual supplements so that we can create a custom mix for your dog and their recipe. This allows for more precision and allows us to introduce one supplement at a time so we can note any potential reactions.
With the influx of free recipes on the internet and in various cookbooks as well as commercial raw that says it's balanced to NRC, I feel it’s important to know what the difference is between them and a personalized recipe. I hope this information helps!