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Customer Review

on January 5, 2011
A DANGEROUS error appears, several times, in "Home Prepared Dog & Cat Diets (Second Edition)." The error is alarming enough to cast doubt on the book's entire contents and credibility. I have a copy of the book in front of me as I'm writing this review, so I'm not mistaken.

In Chapter One, on page 8, under the subtitle, "Assessing a Homemade Diet Recipe," author Patricia Schenck discusses what a homemade diet recipe should include. After mentioning carbohydrates, proteins, fat, calcium and calcium/phosphorus supplements; Schenck claims, "Calcium carbonate (baking soda) or bone meal (source of calcium and phosphorus) should also be present."

Calcium carbonate IS NOT baking soda. Yet Schenck claims it is, on page 8 and throughout the book.

Calcium carbonate (CaCO3) is often used as a dietary calcium supplement.
Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3). Baking soda IS NOT useful as a calcium supplement. It's often used as a leavening agent in baking.
Calcium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate are chemically different and will affect a dog's body differently when ingested.

Many of the recipes for dog and cat diets in "Home-Prepared Dog & Cat Diets (Second Edition)" use baking soda as an ingredient (For example, dog diet recipes on pages 416, 417, 424, and 425; and cat diets on pages 473, 498, 499 and 504). Each time "baking soda" appears in the ingredient list it's defined in parentheses as, "calcium carbonate." Schenck did not just make a one-time flub in Chapter One. The author mistakenly defines baking soda as calcium carbonate throughout the book.

Schenck includes baking soda in dog and cat diet recipes specifically formulated for animals with renal disease, each time indicating the baking soda is, "calcium carbonate."
According to the Merck Veterinary Manual online, animals with acute kidney disease may indeed be treated by restricting their dietary phosphate intake and feeding them sodium bicarbonate (baking soda); to counter high levels of blood acidity. This might explain why Schenck includes baking soda in her recipes for renal disease. However, it doesn't explain why she refers to it as calcium carbonate. Nor does it explain why she claimed, in Chapter One, that either baking soda or bone meal should be present in every homemade diet recipe. She probably meant either calcium carbonate or bone meal should be present in every homemade diet recipe, yet she said "baking soda" and that's a serious error.

I started researching canine health and nutrition in 2002. I've fed my vibrantly healthy, 11-year-old dog homemade meals for almost eight years. I've blogged about it for two years to show other dog owners how healthy a home-fed dog can be and how easy it is to be a Doggie Chef. I'm not a doctor of veterinary medicine, so I rely on books like Schenck's for advice and guidance.

Perhaps the error in this book was an editor's mistake. Even so, the author should have caught it when proof reading the book. I realize even the most qualified people can make big mistakes sometimes, and I'm sorry for Schenck if that's what happened. I appreciate Schenck's good intentions to write a book to help pet owners prepare nutritious homemade meals. Yet something should be done to get the word out to the public about this error. Perhaps the author can explain/correct it on her website and that website could be linked to this book's Amazon listing. Well-intentioned pet owners may read part or all of this book, completely trust the author's expertise as a doctor of veterinary medicine, and inadvertently create homemade diet recipes that could harm their pet's health.

Such a dangerous error (calling baking soda calcium carbonate and suggesting baking soda should be added to homemade diet recipes for healthy dogs) leads me to question all the information contained in "Home-Prepared Dog & Cat Diets (Second Edition)."
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