Pet Food Recalls and Food Safety
The massive pet food recalls of 2007 and more recently the pet food recalls of October 2009 have created new interest in the subject of pet food. Is it safe? How can we be sure?
Many people decided to feed raw foods (commonly called BARF - Bones and Raw Foods or Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods). Others decided to feed their pets home-cooked meals.
Read full introduction to this interview series and making your own pet foods.
Disclaimer: I do not have any affiliation with the companies interviewed. The interviews a a way to get an in-depth look at the company and what they offer. As always, for specific questions about your pet, please speak to your veterinarian.
Balance IT Web Site
BalanceIT.com is a pet nutrition web site operated by a team of veterinary nutritionists. The site is divided into two sites; one for pet lovers and one for veterinarians. On each site, recipes are created after the viewer has entered pet information and made some dietary choices about type of protein, carbohydrate, etc. that the person prefers to work with.
The pet lover's site is for healthy pets, the veterinarian's site has the option of creating diets based on various health conditions, such as calcium oxalate stones, heart disease, kidney failure and so on.
Recipes are paid for upon checkout, and the site offers Balance IT® Supplements for dogs and cats. From the pet lover site: the supplements "are a line of all-in-one patent pending supplements specifically designed to make the preparation of foods for dogs and cats easier and less expensive."
My interview with Balance IT veterinarian Sally Perea, DVM, MS, DACVN
Question: Balance IT was launched in June of 2007. Was Balance IT started as a "response" to the massive pet food recalls in earlier that year? Or in other words, have commercial pet food recalls generated more interest in home-cooked meals for pets?
Dr. Perea: Balance IT was actually first launched in 2004. We started with what is now called "Balance IT Professional," which is our professional software for veterinarians to formulate home-cooked recipes for dogs and cats. This site also has other features to design feeding and weight loss plans using commercial pet foods.
At that time, we also had our full line of Balance IT supplements that can be used to balance home-cooked diet for dogs and cats. The Balance IT for Pet Lover’s site was launched at the end of 2006, so shortly before the pet food recall.
Finally, in response to veterinarians requesting a more "quick and simple" software program, we developed our "Vet Express" site in June 2007. So, Balance IT software and supplements have been evolving over the years. We did get a surge of interest after the recall, but we saw a need even before that time.
Question: Do you provide custom diets for other pets besides dogs and cats? (birds, guinea pigs, etc.)
Dr. Perea: No, our Professional software can be used for other species, but it is currently focused on dogs and cats.
Question: Who more commonly uses your site, veterinarians or pet owners?
We currently have more general pet owners with accounts than veterinarians, but we still have a large number or veterinarians either using or referring their clients to our site. On a day to day basis approximately 25-30% of our users are veterinarians.
Question: Are dog recipes or cat recipes more commonly formulated using your site?
Dr. Perea: Dog recipes are more common. I had our programmer pull the numbers, and of our total recipe sales, 86% of our recipes sold have been canine recipes, with the other 14% being feline recipes.
Question: Does Balance IT provide consultations for people who wish to use cooking along with commercial kibble? (to save time/money?)
Dr. Perea: The home-cooked recipes can be used with commercial food. For example you could feed half of one of our daily recipes, and then feed the other half of your pet’s daily diet from commercial food. However, we don’t currently have any recipes that actually use a commercial food as one of the ingredients in our recipes.
Question: I watched your video. Problem is, I hate to cook. Do you provide any sample recipes to see if they are "do-able" for those less-skilled in the kitchen, hate cooking, or worried about not having enough time?
Dr. Perea: You can read a little more about each recipe by clicking on the “Details” link under the name of the recipe. This will list the full ingredient list, which gives you a little insight on the preparation. We don’t have any "sample" recipes, but we provide a free recipe with the promotional code "homemade," which can be used at check out. (At the time of this interview, October 2009.)
To learn more: please visit the Balance IT web site.
Thank you, Dr. Perea. I appreciate your time answering my interview questions.
All photos courtesy of BalanceIT and used with permission
Related: PetDiets.com Interview