Complete and Balanced
It’s important that the
diet you feed your dog is “complete and balanced,” meaning it meets all
of your dog’s nutritional needs. It is not important, however, that
every meal be complete and balanced, unless you feed the same meal every
day with little or no variation.
Home-prepared diets that include a wide variety of foods fed at
different meals rely on balance over time, not at every meal. Similar to
the way humans eat, as long as your dog gets everything he needs spread
out over each week or two, his diet will be complete and balanced.
A human nutritionist would never expect someone to follow a single
recipe with no variation, as veterinary nutritionists routinely do.
Instead, a human would be given guidelines in terms of food groups and
*Keep in mind that puppies are more susceptible to problems caused by
nutritional deficiencies than adult dogs and make sure they have 3 meals a day (2 when they are older) and access to fresh water
Following are guidelines for feeding a
raw or cooked homemade diet to healthy dogs. No single type of food,
such as chicken, should ever make up more than half the diet.
Except where specified, foods can be fed either raw or cooked.
Leftovers from your table can be included as long as they’re foods you
would eat yourself, not fatty scraps.
Meat and Other Animal Products: Should always make
up at least half of the diet. Many raw diets are excessively high in
fat, which can lead to obesity. Another potential hazard of diets
containing too much fat: If an owner restricts the amount fed (in order
to control the dog’s weight) too much, the dog may suffer deficiencies
of other required nutrients.
Unless your dog gets regular, intense exercise or lives outdoors, use lean meats with not too much fat.
Raw Meat Bones: If you choose to feed
them, RMBs should make up one third to one half of the total diet. When
giving bones never leave dog unattended and never give bones mixed with
food but separately.
Boneless Meat: Include both poultry and red meat. Heart is a good choice, as it is lean and often less expensive than other muscle meats.
Fish: Provides vitamin D, which otherwise should be
supplemented. Canned fish with bones, such as sardines (packed in water,
not oil), jack mackerel, and pink salmon, are good choices. Remove
bones from fish you cook and grind them. You can feed small amounts of fish daily, or
larger amounts once or twice a week. The total amount should be about
one ounce of fish per pound of other meats (including RMBs).
Organs: Liver should make up roughly 5 percent of
this category, or about one ounce of liver per pound of other animal
products. Beef liver is especially nutritious, but include chicken or
other types of liver at least occasionally as well. Feeding small
amounts of liver, heart, daily or every other day is preferable to feeding
larger amounts less often. Grains:
Controversial, as they may contribute to
inflammation caused by allergies, arthritis, or inflammatory bowel
disease (IBD); as well as seizures and other problems (it’s not clear
whether starchy vegetables do the same). Some grains contain gluten that
may cause digestive problems for certain dogs. Many dogs do not
digest grains, corn or soy, therefore rice, brown rice, buckwheat,
barly, oatmeal, quinoa, can be used instead. Grains and starchy veggies
should make up no more than half the diet. Eggs:
Highly nutritious addition to any diet. Cook the whites and give fresh yolk. SavDogs
weighing about 20 pounds can have a whole egg every day, but give less
to smaller dogs.
Dairy: Plain yogurt and kefir are well tolerated by
most dogs (try goat’s milk products if you see problems). Cottage and
ricotta cheese are also good options or other fermented products like row pickle juice.
Fruits and Vegetables:While not a significant part
of the evolutionary diet of the dog and wolf, fruits and vegetables
provide fiber that supports digestive health, as well as antioxidants
and other beneficial nutrients that contribute to health and longevity.
Deeply colored vegetables and fruits are the most nutritious.
Starchy Vegetables: Veggies such as potatoes, sweet
potatoes, and winter squashes (including pumpkin), as well as legumes
(beans), provide carbohydrate calories that can be helpful in reducing
food costs but they add weight.
Leafy Green and Other Non-Starchy Vegetables: These
are low in calories and can be fed in any quantity desired. Too much can
cause gas, and raw, cruciferous veggies such as broccoli and
cauliflower can suppress thyroid function (cook them if you feed large
amounts). Raw vegetables must be pureed in a food processor, blender, or
juicer in order to be digested properly by dogs, though whole raw
veggies are not harmful and can be used as treats. Avoid onions which are toxic for dogs.
Fruits:Bananas, apples, berries, melon, and papaya are good choices. Avoid grapes and raisins, which can cause kidney failure in dogs.
Some supplements are required. Others
may be needed if you are not able to feed a variety of foods, or if you
leave out one or more of the food groups above. In addition, the longer
food is cooked or frozen, the more nutrients are lost. Here are some
supplements to consider:
Calcium: Unless you feed RMBs, all homemade diets
must be supplemented with calcium. The amount found in multivitamin and
mineral supplements is not enough. Give 800 to 1,000 mg calcium per
pound of food (excluding non-starchy vegetables). You can use any form
of plain calcium, including eggshells ground to powder in a clean coffee
grinder (1/2 teaspoon eggshell powder provides about 1,000 mg calcium).
Animal Essentials’ Seaweed Calcium provides additional minerals, as
Oils: Most homemade diets require added oils for
fat, calories, and to supply particular nutrients. It’s important to use
the right types of oils, as each supplies different nutrients.
Fish Oil: Provides EPA and DHA, omega-3 fatty acids
that help to regulate the immune system and reduce inflammation. Give an
amount that provides about 300 mg EPA and DHA combined per 20 to 30
pounds of body weight on days you don’t feed fish. Note that liquid fish
oil supplements often tell you to give much more than this, which can
result in too many calories from fat.
Cod Liver Oil: Provides vitamins A and D as well as
EPA and DHA. If you don’t feed much fish, give cod liver oil in an
amount that provides about 400 IUs vitamin D daily for a 100-pound dog
(proportionately less for smaller dogs). Can be combined with other fish
oil to increase the amount of EPA and DHA if desired.
Coconut Oil: Treats
yeast infection like candida, which is the reason why dogs scratch or
lick, improves overall skin health, prevents diabetes by regulating
insulin, prevents infections and speeds up healing of wound and cuts. Coconut oil promotes weight reduction and increase energy, which promotes mobility in dogs.
Plant Oils: If you don’t feed much poultry fat,
found in dark meat and skin, linoleic acid, an essential omega-6 fatty
acid, may be insufficient. You can use flax, walnut, hempseed, or high-linoleic safflower oil to supply linoleic acid if
needed. Add about one teaspoon of oil per pound of meat and other animal
oil and high-oleic safflower oil are low in omega-6 and cannot be used
as a substitute, although small amounts can be added to supply fat if
needed. Coconut oil provides mostly saturated fats, and can be used in
addition to but not as a replacement for other oils.
Other Vitamins and Minerals: In addition to vitamin D
discussed above, certain vitamins and minerals may be short in some
homemade diets, particularly those that don’t include organ meats or
vegetables. The more limited the diet that you feed, the more important
supplements become, but even highly varied diets are likely to be light
in a few areas.
Vitamin E:All homemade diets I’ve analyzed have
been short on vitamin E, and the need for vitamin E increases when you
supplement with oils. Too much vitamin E, however, may be
counterproductive. Give 1 to 2 IUs per pound of body weight daily.
Vitamin C: Prevents hip dysplasia, by helping with collagen production and reduces stress level especially when separated from mother.
Too much or too little iodine can suppress
thyroid function, and it’s hard to know how much is in the diet. A
50-pound dog needs about 300 mcg (micrograms) of iodine daily. Kelp is
high in iodine or sea salt though the amount varies considerably among supplements.
Multivitamin and mineral supplements: Will help to meet most requirements, including iodine and
vitamins D, E and C, but it’s important not to oversupplement minerals. If
using the one-a-day type of human supplements, such as Centrum for
Adults under 50, give one per 40 to 50 pounds of body weight daily. Note
that most supplements made for dogs provide a reasonable amount of
vitamins but are low in minerals, and so won’t make up for deficiencies
in the diet. Best supplement is NuVet, which consists of precise amounts of vitamins, minerals
and high-potency antioxidants that when combined, create a powerful boost to the immune system.
skin, hair and nail growth, good for joints and bones, great source of
dietary collagen, source of protein found in bones, tissues and organs
growth, excellent anti-inflammatory agent, source of amino acids for
function, weight regulation and proper growth!