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The complete diet for dogs

Many dog owners are intimidated by the idea of preparing home-made meals for their best friends. This is hardly rocket science and making your own dog food is easier than you think, and can be quite inexpensive!

In a nutshell

Domestic dogs’ diet should approximate the normal, natural diet that dogs would eat if they lived in the wild.

A domestic dogs’ diet should be approximately the same as the normal, natural diet that dogs would eat if they lived in the wild, therefore, a 'species appropriate' diet for dogs is based on animal protein source with a low grain, high vegetable carbohydrate ratio.

Another important factor is moisture content. Both dogs and cats were designed to eat a diet containing about 70% moisture - this is what live prey contains. When we feed them an entirely dry food diet – normally containing not more than 12% moisture, dogs live in a chronic state of mild dehydration that ultimately can cause organ stress.

So to sum it up 'species appropriateness' for our canine friends should be HIGH PROTEIN, HIGH MOISTURE with a suitable amount of unsaturated (animal) fat and NO STARCH.

Starch is found mostly in grains (wheat, corn, rice, soy) and also in some tubers like potatoes. These carbohydrates are not biologically necessary and can cause all sorts of health issues not only because of the gluten content of most grains but because they usually contain a whole host of other anti- nutrients. Today, most soy and corn coming from USA is genetically modified presenting yet another health challenge, so starchy foods should never be on a dogs’ menu.

Secondly, but equally important – all food should be fed RAW. 'Raw' means unprocessed. Raw food contains a whole range of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and micronutrients, which can be inactivated by even relatively low temperatures. Therefore feeding unprocessed, unadulterated food is of the utmost importance. I recommend giving your dog plenty of variety by rotating seasonal fruits and vegetables with whatever meats you are able to source.

How to calculate quantities and balance the meal

Whilst some dogs have faster metabolism, others are more active so it is very difficult to design a universal dog diet plan that would fit each and every type of dog.

Generally the amount of food needed for maintenance is about 2 - 3% of their body weight. Obviously this requirement is much higher depending on their expenditure of energy - for example, during pregnancy or lactation needs will go as high as 6%. For a moderately active dog 2.5 - 3% of its body weight in food intake would be optimal.

Once we have ascertained the weight of our dog, the next step is to balance the meal. There is a very simple formula for this on a daily basis:

75% should be comprised of raw meat. ‘Meat’ – collectively means meat cuts together with some fat, organ meat, fish, bones, tripe etc.

The remaining 25% should be comprised of fresh fruit and vegetables.

For example:

A dog that weighs 12kg and is moderately active (an average of 2h exercise per day) needs about 360g of food daily divided into 270g of meat and the remaining 90g should be fruits and vegetables.

If organ meat is fed daily then it shouldn’t exceed more than 1/4 of the total protein source. In our example this would be 90g. The meat shouldn’t be too lean, as they need animal fat as a source of energy. It can be mixed with finely chopped vegetables or fruits such as carrots, parsnips, marrows, pumpkin, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and green beans. These may be lightly cooked or steamed. and usually used as fillers.

These guidelines are the foundation but then every individual case is different. Very energetic, highly-strung and hyperactive dogs like border collies for example, or some smaller breeds may have a higher metabolic rate and may require more energy.

The best rule of thumb here is to experiment with different quantities and then feed the amount needed which maintains the optimum weight and the proper energy level.

 

The key is to offer  'species appropriate diet' The key is to offer 'species appropriate diet'

A check list

  • When feeding home-made meals to your dog, cultivate a good relationship with your butcher. Ideally he should prepare a mince with off cuts of good quality meat but normally not sold to people, organ meats such as liver, heart, lungs and kidneys. He should also be able to supply you with juicy bones that still have cartilage attached to them as well as chicken necks or other parts of the chicken from a reputable supplier. Never go for cheap frozen chicken originating and sourced from dubious far away countries.

  • Don't forget to add some water to your dogs meal - as discussed before, whole prey contains up to 70% moisture. A regular serving of bone broth is an excellent source of moisture and nourishment for your dog.

  • ONLY feed raw bones. Cooked bones can cause different issues and should be avoided at all costs.

  • Prefer pork bones because they are much softer than beef bones and will be easier on your dogs’ teeth. The cartilage attached to them and the marrow inside contains essential fatty acids as well as substances like glucosamine and chondroitin, which are vital for your canine friend’s health.

  • Bones are the best natural source of calcium so when feeding this diet there is no need for calcium supplementation.

  • Since most of the meat available these days has an unfavourable Omega -3/Omega-6/ Omega-9 ratio due to intensive farming practices it's very important to include a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Always read the label to make sure you supply your dog with at least 400mg of DHA and EPA on a daily basis. Even though some of these products are very expensive, they are still very poor in Omega3 acids so this is something to bear in mind.

  • Green Tripe should be a regular component of  canine menu and fed at least twice a week.
  • Raw egg is an excellent and inexpensive source of nutrients for your dog and can be fed several times a week.

  • Dairy products should generally be avoided. Most dogs are not capable of digesting lactose but this is not the only issue. Dairy products contain casein, a protein which is also dubbed as gluten’s evil twin which means that it can cause inflammation and allergic reactions. Butter is the safest of all dairy products as it contains minimal amounts of casein and it is packed with good fats. However, some dogs tolerate yogurt and sour cream well. Just make sure to always avoid ‘low fat’ labels or fruity varieties.

  • Last but not least probiotics are a very important supplement for any home made diet.

Keeping in mind the basic guidelines mentioned above, I encourage you to get creative with your dog’s meals. When it comes to quantities you should use common sense. The size of the meal should be appropriate for your dogs size.

The most important thing is to be perceptive of your companion’s reaction to the diet; adjust quantities according to weight loss and weight gain.

Just for illustration purpose, this is what I normally feed my dogs on regular basis:

Morning Meal:

3 times a week - Raw meat/organ mince mixed with vegetables of the season.

3 times a week – Green tripe.

3 times a week - add raw egg.

Evening Meal:

3 times a week - Raw bone with the attached joint surface

Twice a week - Chicken necks or wings – whole and raw

Once a week - canned sardines or mackerel mixed with some vegetables

Once a week - daily fast.

Pretty simple isn't it?

 

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