edit: Note about this book mislabeling baking soda as calcium: Caution should be noted in the first part of the book (1-267) there are 2 instances of baking soda written to be the same as calcium carbonate; both in chapter one: page 8 (one occurrence) & page 12 (one occurrence), and in the recipe/diets portion (269-505) there were 21 instances found in the following... dog recipe section: 416-420 & 422-424 (recipes for dogs with renal disease), 425 (recipe for dogs with struvite urinary stones) & cat recipe section: 457-459 (recipes for senior cats), 473 (recipe for cats with cancer), 497-501 (recipes for cats with renal disease), 502-504 (recipes for cats with oxalate urinary stones)...these all label "Baking Soda" (which is also known as sodium bicarbonate, sodium hydrogen carbonate or NaHCO3) mislabeled as "Calcium Carbonate" (which is also known as CaCO3, and often used medicinally as an antacid/calcium source supplement). Do not give your pet Baking Soda as a Calcium supplement. There may be other reasons to use baking soda in a recipe, but it is not addressed in this book, and baking soda is wrongfully identified as calcium carbonate.
*I originally gave 4 stars, before seeing for myself this baking soda error...an error too easily overlooked, since it's listed as "calcium carbonate (baking soda)" and "baking soda (calcium carbonate)" & the eye/mind can correct (as one or the other) while reading, without realizing...not good if someone reads as "baking soda".
"HOME-PREPARED Dog & Cat DIETS 2nd Ed." (Schenck) is one of the most informative books on this subject I have found; that is available to the non-professional (but has the baking soda mistake...you will need to correct the pages mislabeling baking soda as a calcium carbonate supplement); on figuring out (calculating) and understanding recommended analysis on pet's nutritional needs...this is very hard to find in the books available today.
Although this is available to the non-professional (and in an easy to read format for the average person), it's not something I'd recommend if you are not use to preparing diets, or have no clue about the time and efforts required...this book may appear quite overwhelming. This is not a "first book", but more of a tool/resource for those wanting to be more precise with their pet's nutritional needs. If you choose to get this book, try to find it used and at a less expensive price (especially with having an error on baking soda/calcium) and make sure you correct the pages with this mislabeling.
For a great book on getting started, I'd recommend "Better Food for Dogs: A Complete Cookbook and Nutrition Guide" (Bastin, Ashton, Dixon, DVM) and/or "Raw & Natural Nutrition for Dogs: The Definitive Guide to Homemade Meals" (Olson, PhD) as an informative beginner's tool, before reading this one, and/or to use along with this book. (sorry, I don't have any cats)
What to expect getting out of this book:
-Learn how to make precise calculations for your pet's feeding requirements (daily Caloric needs/kcal), based on your pet's weight, age & activity levels by using easy mathematical formulas. [example: RER = 70x(body weight in kilograms)^0.75 & DER = 1.6 x RER] (RER = resting energy requirement; DER = daily energy requirement)
-Learn importance of vitamins, minerals & other nutrients and the appropriate *ratio for your pet's weight, age and specific needs (depending on health issues or diseases that may or may not be present). *This is given in percentages (%) and if you do not wish to give a full spectrum multi-vitamin/mineral supplement (and/or desire to give minimal supplement necessary w/ complete diet), it will require some mathematical background in working with percentages (having an ability to do so; without needing a tutorial, since the book doesn't give a "lesson" on this). --If this is too hard for you (or you don't feel confident), then you'd want a veterinarian (that specializes in nutrition and diet for pets) to help work it out for you. *remember NOT to use baking soda as a calcium source!
-Read information about several of the most common diseases (and health concerns), how they reflect your pet's nutritional needs and what should be added/subtracted from your pet's diet; to help create a more nutritional specific diet for your pet.
-Find very useful information on safe food handling, ways to monitor your pet's health/nutritional needs, along with useful resources and suggestions.
How to use this book:
It's best to use this book as part of a teaching tool, to help enhance the way you balance (and help monitor) your pet's nutritional needs...mainly with calculating. The recipes should be looked at as a baseline, and in my opinion, should be altered by concerns; in order to make complete. Note: Recipes will need altered, especially for those wanting higher protein and lower (to no) grain diets (& those with baking soda labeled as calcium). The recipes provided are made in a way this can be easily achieved; with common sense knowledge using basic mathematics skills on calculating measurements & working out percentages.
What this book isn't:
This is not an "easy breezy" "no thought needed" cookbook! The recipes included generally include a meat (or protein source), a grain (or starchy vegetable source like potato or legume), a fat and added supplements (like bone meal, multi-vitamin, mineral). *Most do not have fruits or vegetables included in the carbohydrate portion of the recipe. When adding these, you will need to alter the grains (calculating proper total kcal from carbs to include both grain & fruit/veg).
Overall, HOME-PREPARED Dog & Cat DIETS 2nd Ed, is well written (outside of the mistake on baking soda) and a good educational tool for calculating. At worst, this book should help with understanding how to read pet food labels correctly and how to calculate these recommendations. This is still a useful tool as long as used with caution.
My gripes about this book:
-The nutritional analysis recommendations calculate proteins and fats in the form of DM (dry matter) and not in their natural matter (whole), while carbs (grains/vegetation) and fiber are calculated as unspecified or DM (more DM in health condition specific diets)...this can make it too convenient for the prepackaged 'science type diets' to be enforced. Most people who prepare foods at home for their pets won't use DM measurements on (especially) meats and fats, since we are working with whole-foods. *The author does explain how dry matter is calculated, so you will be able to work out the whole matter (with the mathematical formulas provided and explained), but this does add more work and does make these analysis recommendations more convenient for "dry kibble", prepackaged and manufactured foods.
-Mislabeling baking soda as calcium carbonate can be dangerous to your pet. No one should use baking soda as a source of calcium! Hopefully, the author will correct this error, because this book could be a great resource for many. If baking soda was meant to be in the recipe, it should be given the appropriate name AND explained as to why the baking soda would be beneficial. If it's a misprint, then TUMS would be a better "familiar name" for calcium carbonate.