A: There’s lots of talk about vitamin D levels in recalled pet food this year. However, homemade diets are much more likely than commercial formulas to have excessive or deficient levels of this important vitamin.

A study published in 2013 found that over 98% of homemade dog food recipes found in books, magazines, and web sites were dangerously out of balance in at least one important nutrient. When it came to vitamin D, over 60% of the recipes analyzed were deficient. In fact, nearly all of deficient diets had less than half the required amount of vitamin D. In addition, over 5% of the recipes had levels of vitamin D that were over the safe upper limit!

Nearly all high-quality commercial diets have perfectly balanced levels of vitamin D. The rare recall represents a small number of cans in literally billions of pounds of pet food manufactured every year. I would recommend that very, very low level of risk instead of choosing a feeding method that has been shown to provide too much vitamin D in one out of every twenty recipes – and an imbalanced diet in nearly all cases.

If you are considering using a homemade diet, there are ways to help ensure it will be balanced. One of my favorite services is a web site called BalanceIt.com. Another option is to have a customized diet recipe developed by a board-certified veterinary nutritionist, like the ones at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine in Blacksburg. Your veterinarian is the best person to help you sort through your options.