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  • Writer's pictureDr Meredith Wall

Meal completer supplements for homemade pet food

Updated: Dec 14, 2023

We’re really excited to have recently launched our two canine and feline meal completers, CompleteMe canine and CompleteMe feline, and so I wanted to go over some basics on how to use meal completers and what some of their interesting features are.



What is a meal completer supplement?


A meal completer is a vitamin, mineral and amino acid supplement that you add to your dog or cat’s homemade meals. The purpose of it is to ensure that the meals are complete and balanced, which means that they provide all the required nutrients, in the correct amounts. For example, if you feed your dog cooked chicken and rice, the diet will be deficient in calcium (as well as many other nutrients), so a meal completer supplement contains the calcium and other essential nutrients that your pet needs.


You might think that if you make delicious homemade meals for your pet with lots of tasty nutritious ingredients, then you won’t need to add any supplements. However, it’s actually quite hard to create a well-balanced and complete diet without supplements. You need to know what nutrients your pet needs, and how much of each, so that you can be certain that the diet doesn’t cause deficiencies or harmful toxicities. Too much vitamin D, for example, can cause kidney damage.


How do you know if a meal completer actually creates a balanced diet?


This can be tricky. The easiest way is to look at the website or the package and check that it states that food made with the meal completer meets the AAFCO nutrient profile for adult maintenance, growth and reproduction, or all life stages.


The manufacturer should also provide an ingredients list that names the included compounds (preferably copper sulfate, rather than just copper, for example), and also a guaranteed or typical analysis for the meal completer, showing how much of each vitamin, mineral and amino acid is in the product.



This should give you confidence that the product has been well-formulated, and that the manufacturer has nothing to hide! It is also nice to know that the person that has formulated the product has appropriate expertise, because things can go badly wrong if supplements are poorly formulated.


How can you use meal completers?


Some meal completer supplements are intended to be added to meat only, whereas some are formulated for use with specific recipes or ingredients. We formulated specific recipes to go with our meal completers, because we want to be certain that the overall diet is as nutritious and appropriate as possible - for example, that it contains adequate protein, essential fatty acids and fibre.


When don’t you use a meal completer?


This is important - you never add a meal completer to a commercial diet that is already complete and balanced. This is because the commercial diet already contains the correct amount of each vitamin and mineral - you don’t want to add more, because you might cause harmful toxicities.


Also check that the meal completer you want to use produces a diet that is appropriate for your pet’s lifestage - for example, our CompleteMe products are formulated for adult animals, and aren’t suitable for growing pets. Finally, most meal completers are suitable for healthy adult animals, so don’t use them if your pet has a medical condition, without checking with the manufacturer first.


What is the cost of feeding a homemade diet?


Let’s consider two examples, one of our recipes for a dog, and one for a cat.


So, for the dog, let’s look at our chicken thigh and sweet potato recipe, with cauliflower, apple and kale.


Let’s consider the cost of a 1-kilogram batch of diet. All prices I’ve given are retail prices from Coles, Harris Farm and Chemist Warehouse, and I’ve used a mix of fresh and frozen vegetables.





Chicken thigh and sweet potato with cauliflower, kale and apple:


420 grams chicken thigh $5.67

300 grams sweet potato $0.54

100 grams cauliflower $0.60

80 grams kale $0.39

70 grams apple $0.60

1 tablespoon olive oil $0.06

1 teaspoon chia seeds $0.03

4 Swisse fish oil 1000 mg capsules $0.19

10 grams CompleteMe canine $2.00


Total: $10.08 per kilogram


Let's compare this price with some Australian fresh-cooked and canned diets for dogs (all prices current as of 17/11/23; www.petcircle.com.au):

Name of diet

Price per kilogram

Kcal ME per kilogram

Price per 1000 kcal ME

Chicken and sweet potato homemade diet

$10.08

950 kcal ME

$10.61

Ziwi Peak canned chicken recipe

$28.91

1325 kcal ME

$21.81

The Nosh Project slow-cooked chicken

$27.98

1150 kcal ME

$24.33

Hill's Science Diet chicken and vegetable stew

$11.80

840 kcal ME

$14.04

Let’s look at one of our feline recipes next. Homemade feline diets (and also commercial feline diets) are generally more expensive than canine diets, because of the higher meat content.


Kangaroo mince (single protein diet):


950 grams 'Kroo' kangaroo mince $12.34

2 tablespoons duck fat $1.1

1 tablespoon spinach $0.05

1/2 teaspoon psyllium husk $0.06

2 'Wanderlust' algae oil capsules $1.21

15 grams CompleteMe feline $4.12


Total: $18.88 per kilogram


Compared with some premium fresh-cooked and canned commercial feline diets:

Name of diet

Price per kilogram

Kcal ME per kilogram

Price per 1000 kcal ME

Homemade kangaroo mince diet

$18.88

1100 kcal ME

$17.16

The Nosh Project cooked chicken diet

$33.30

1500 kcal ME

$22.20

Ziwi Peak canned chicken

$28.37

1325 kcal ME

$21.41

Royal Canin Indoor Adult Gravy pouches

$25.40

800 kcal ME

$31.75

Feline Natural chicken feast

$33.47

1013 kcal ME

$33.04

What you can see is that for both dogs and cats, home-preparing your pet’s diet using our meal completers compares very favourably to buying premium commercial canned or fresh-cooked diets. For dry diets, it is more expensive than kibble, but cheaper than feeding an air-dried or freeze-dried diet.


What’s interesting about CompleteMe feline?


The first feature that was really important to me as a cat owner was that it is palatable. We all know that cats can be a bit "particular" sometimes, and they are quite sensitive to additives in their food. We have added a large percentage of highly palatable ingredients, like chicken breast, salmon and certain amino acids, to try and ensure that most cats are happy with the aroma and flavour of the product.


We also really wanted the product to be as concentrated as possible, so only a small volume of powder per kilogram of food is required. Again, this generally helps the product to be accepted by most cats, because they don’t always love large volumes of powder being added to their food!


As nutritionists, another feature that we really like is that the product includes animal-derived fibre, mainly from the duck gizzards. Duck gizzards are rich in collagen, and it’s believed that collagenous parts of prey animals, like tendons and cartilage, can be fermented by bacteria in the cat’s gut. This may potentially have beneficial health effects. You will notice the fine, shredded fibres from the duck gizzards in the product; these soften immediately once mixed with the food ingredients.


Finally, we didn’t add any water-soluble phosphates like dipotassium phosphate to the product, given that kidney injury has occurred in cats fed experimental diets supplemented with certain doses of highly soluble phosphate salts, especially in diets with inverse calcium to phosphorus ratios.


What's interesting about CompleteMe canine?


For our dog product, we really wanted to pack in the superfoods. Superfoods are ingredients that are dense in nutrients and which are beneficial for both health and wellbeing. In our CompleteMe canine product, we have added Australian grown kale, broccoli, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. Not only are these ingredients rich in essential nutrients, but they also contain a group of compounds called phytonutrients. These are unique compounds because they are derived from plants alone and can provide health benefits. Some examples of phytonutrients are carotenoids, flavonoids and polyphenols. They most notably function as antioxidants, but there is a growing body of evidence about their other effects on cardiac, gut, musculoskeletal, and cognitive health.


CompleteMe canine also contains a mix of probiotics and prebiotics (more commonly known as fibres). The fibres in the supplement come from the leafy greens, green banana starch, and autolyzed yeast. As bacteria utilize fibres to produce many of their beneficial effects, we believe this is the perfect harmony of providing not only the bacteria directly but also giving the food that they eat.


If you would like to learn more about our canine and feline meal completers, please have a look at our website or get in touch with any questions!




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