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How To Feed Your Dog

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.

What to Feed Your Dog

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:

Animal products
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.

How Much to Feed Your Dog

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.

Example:

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
2.0% Non-Active
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)
4.0-8.0% Pregnant/Lactating

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:

Recommended Diets for Dogs

Raw Food Diets

Pros

  • Feature whole food nutrients, usually in the form of a biologically appropriate ratio for cats. We do not recommend those “complete” diets with added synthetic vitamins and minerals. If you like, add a high-quality, whole food vitamin supplement such as our Daily Multi Complete to provide your dog's daily needs of enzymes, probiotics, various nutrients and antioxidants.
  • Nutrients are in a form easily recognized and utilized by the body
  • Maintains healthy gastric hydrochloric acid levels for proper digestion
  • No high-glycemic carbohydrates so animals fed these diets usually maintain a healthy weight and avoid disease related to fluctuating blood sugar levels
  • Have appropriate moisture content so animals fed these diets avoid urinary and kidney diseases experienced by dogs fed dry kibble and high carbohydrate canned food diets

Cons

  • Some people have a concern with bacteria that may be present in raw pet food. With proper raw meat handling this fear is baseless. The following is my educated response:
    The natural pH level of a dog’s stomach is a pH of 2 or lower. Pathogenic bacteria need a pH above 4 to survive and multiply. So pathogenic bacteria will be killed by gastric secretions in a healthy dog's stomach. When fed a processed diet a dog’s stomach pH can rise to a pH of 4 and above. This makes pets fed kibble and canned foods much more susceptible to bacteria than raw fed dogs. This is shown in the number of animals that have been sickened by kibble and canned food diets and the resulting recalls. When you think back to the number of recalls and the thousands of animals that have died or become sickened, what was responsible? The answer is kibble and canned 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.

  • These diets can of course be more expensive for obvious reasons – they use real meat and other ingredients – a BIG difference in quality for sure!

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

Pros

  • Similar to those for raw food diets.
  • Nutrients may be more easily digested by older or debilitated animals because the cooking process does begin to break down some nutrients.

Cons

  • Proteins may be denatured which means they will be altered from their raw form to some degree. Since canines have evolved on a diet of raw food the effects of this are hotly debated.
  • Some nutrients are damaged in the cooking process such as certain vitamins, enzymes and beneficial bacteria.

Recommended Cooked Food Diets

Evermore Pet food (www.evermorepetfood.com) – superior sourcing of ingredients

Dehydrated Diets

Pros

  • A high-quality dehydrated diet is the next best alternative for those that absolutely will not feed a raw food diet.
  • Maintain a better, less processed nutrient content than kibble or canned diets.
  • Easier to digest than kibble pet foods.
  • Reconstitutes (absorbs water) better than freeze-dried foods.

Cons

  • They are still processed (the meat is heated to 170 degrees or more) although less so that kibble and canned diets. They are not “like raw” as some marketing has indicated.
  • Many use synthetic vitamins and isolated minerals.
  • One that we know of sources all ingredients from China (we do not sell this food), so research the company thoroughly beforehand.

Recommended Dehydrated Diets

ZiwiPeak (www.ziwipets.com)

The Honest Kitchen Kindly (base mix) (www.thehonestkitchen.com)

Sojos (www.sojos.com)

Kibble Diets

Pros

  • Convenience

Cons

  • Moisture content is very low - 5% compared to 75% for raw diets!
  • Usually low in protein and high in carbohydrates. The opposite of what dogs need to thrive.
  • Often use proteins with a low Biological Value (meaning they are poorly utilized by the body)
  • The vast majorities don’t use human quality ingredients and are made with Four-D animals.
  • Processed food diets no longer contain digestive enzymes and naturally occurring beneficial bacteria and other important nutrients because of the high heat used.
  • Supermarket quality foods are high in grains and other fillers. Many grain free diets must use starches, such as potato, as a binder, that is a high glycemic carbohydrate and some animals may have difficulty digesting it properly.

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.

Canned Diets

Pros

  • Convenience
  • High-quality, meat-based, canned diets are an alternative for consumers that don’t wish to feed a raw food diet because of the higher moisture content found in canned diets compared to kibble.

Cons

  • Most commercial brands are grain-based and low in meat content.
  • Many metal can liners contain hormone-disruptor bisphenol A (BPA).
  • The vast majorities don’t use human quality ingredients and are made with Four-D animals.
  • Processed food diets no longer contain digestive enzymes and naturally occurring beneficial bacteria and other important nutrients because of the high heat used.
  • Many contain fillers and soy based palatability enhancers (MSG).
  • Many are going to contain synthetic vitamins.

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)

ZiwiPeak (www.ziwipets.com)

Freeze Dried Diets

Pros

  • Freeze drying can retain important nutrients close to their original nutritional state and offer storage convenience since they do not need to be kept in the freezer.

Cons

  • Because the freeze-drying process draws so much water out of cells these diets are extremely dry, much more so than even kibble or dehydrated diets. They also do not rehydrate well so even if you mix in water the food will fail to thoroughly absorb the moisture all the way through. This can lead to a chronic low level of dehydration (because the added water more quickly leaves the body as it remains separate from the food) which can contribute to kidney damage and nutrient malabsorption. If you choose to feed these diets we recommend that you put it through the blender or food processor with water to insure thorough rehydrating prior to feeding.