Although dogs are in the classification of carnivore they are not obligate carnivores like cats. What this means is they can utilize nutrients from varied sources to stay alive. Although our domestic dog has descended from wolves they have been living with humans for thousands of years and have adapted to a more varied diet than their wild cousins.
We recommend a whole food diet over processed food. Generally, a biologically appropriate raw food diet is our first choice however there are times, and individual dogs, for whom a home cooked diet may be the better option. In an attempt to make it easier for people who wish to home prepare a diet for their dogs I have boiled down the basics to a percentage formula:
50%-65% - animal products (meat, fish, dairy, eggs, raw bones)
10%-15% - organ meats
25%-40% - vegetables and other plants
This is the basic breakdown the following goes into a bit more detail on each:
Meat – beef, lamb, venison, rabbit, turkey, chicken etc.
Fish – try to stay mostly low on the food chain like sardines, anchovies and mackerel. Avoid salmon – Pacific and Atlantic as well as tuna and shark due to high levels of contamination in these fish.
Dairy – cottage cheese, yogurt (goat milk yogurt is more digestible), raw milk Organ meats: Kidney and liver are the most readily available. Our Multiglandular supplement
Vegetables and other plants: Try to rotate various vegetables so your dog has a variety and not just the same sweet potato and green beans (although these are good choices for many). You can also add berries cranberries, blueberries etc. in small quantities.
Grains: I did not add grains to this plan because they can be pro-inflammatory, feed yeast and people tend to lean to heavily on them at the expense of other ingredients in the diet.If you need to add grain then Quinoa (which is actually a seed not a grain, is a good choice)
Calcium – this is a critical nutrient that should be added to a home prepared diet to insure balancing out the phosphorous in the meat. If feeding raw then raw bones will do the trick. If you are cooking the diet (or are a raw feeder uncomfortable with bones) then our Seaweed calcium is an easy, inexpensive way to add highly bioavailable calcium to the diet.
Daily Multi Plus – Our whole food multi vitamin includes our digestive enzyme & Probiotic blend along with New Zealand glandulars and multi-nutrients from USDA Certified organic plants.
Omega fatty acids supplement – We recommend either Nordic Naturals Omega 3 Pet or Organic Chia seed Oil.
To determine how much to feed your dog a day the basic rule for a dog who is ideal weight is 2.5% of their body weight per day. If you are feeding your dog twice a day then divide this amount between both meals. You must use a kitchen scale to properly determine the proper amount of food. Break your dog's weight down to ounces and use ounces to determine the amount of food.
Your dog weighs 25 lbs and you want a maintenance diet of 2.5% of his body weight. His weight in ounces is 400 ounces (25 x 16 (ounces in a pound)). 2.5% of 400 equals 10 ounces (400 x .025). Meaning your dog would get 5 ounces of food twice per day.
Here is a percent feeding calculator used by Primal Pet Foods:
1.5% Weight Loss
2.5% Maintain Weight
3.0% Slight Weight Gain
3.5% Significant Weight Gain
4.0% Kittens/Puppies (8 weeks-1 year)
4.5-8.0% Kittens/Puppies (4-8 weeks)
The above are guidelines, keep in mind that everyone is an individual so start with the percentage that seems right for your dog but don’t be afraid to make adjustments if you think it is too much or too little for your dog.
For those who home preparing is not an option (although in severe illnesses it might be a good idea even if just for the short term) the following are some companies that make prepared diets in various categories that do an above average job:
Raw Food Diets
We have been feeding raw food diets to my dogs and cats for 25 years now, and have neither had animals become ill nor have we had clients whose animals have become ill from a raw food diet. Yet, I have personally spoken with dozens of pet parents who have lost animals or are currently struggling with an animal poisoned by a kibble pet food.
Raw, whole food diets can change a dog’s life, I have personally witnessed this numerous times, so the next time you hear the fear mongering from your veterinarian or a friend or neighbor, realize one thing. Their fear of raw food diets for dogs and cats is based in ignorance.
Recommended Raw Food Diets
Small Batch Pet Foods (www.smallbatchpets.com)
Dr. B’s Longevity (www.drbslongevity.com)
Aunt Jeni’s Homemade (www.auntjeni.com)
Primal Pet foods (www.primalpetfoods.com)
Any other raw food diet you may find locally made with high-quality, human-grade ingredients in a biologically appropriate ratio for dogs that does not use synthetic vitamins or other additives.
Cooked Whole Food Diets
Recommended Cooked Food Diets
Evermore Pet food (www.evermorepetfood.com) – superior sourcing of ingredients
Recommended Dehydrated Diets
The Honest Kitchen Kindly (base mix) (www.thehonestkitchen.com)
Recommended Kibble Diets
The only kibble diets we recommend are Orijen and Acana (non-fish varieties only), both manufactured by Champion Pet Foods (www.championpetfoods.com). These foods have the highest meat content and freshest regional ingredients of any kibble diet. When compared to Orijen Adult, there just is no close second when it comes to kibble pet food.
Recommended Canned Diets
There are so many out there. Select the canned foods with the highest meat content, least amount of fillers, no synthetic vitamins (when possible) and all, or the majority of, the nutrition comes from whole food sources. If they are packaged in BPA-free cans then all the better.
K9 Naturals (www.k9natural.co.nz)
Freeze Dried Diets