Thursday, April 29, 2010

Feeding your dog healthy, fresh food

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Home-made dog biscuits: Grain-free peanut butter chip drop cookies

If you want to start a heated debate among dog people, two controversial topics you can bring up are food and vaccinations. Even among vets, breeders and others who work day-to-day with dogs, there is no consensus. This posting is about food – I’ll do another one about vaccinations later.

The most common types of doggie diets are store-bought processed, raw, grain-free and combination diets. Some believe that only foods created using the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) standards are considered safe and nutritionally balanced. Others believe that dogs should be fed raw meat and bones with fresh fruits and vegetables. Yet others prefer grain-free diets. Some do a blend.

My views aren’t extreme. I believe that like people, no one diet works for every dog. Your dog’s lifestyle, genetics and overall health make their food requirements unique. An elite-athlete sled dog has different nutritional and caloric needs than a toothless, couch potato, geriatric miniature poodle. Likewise, dogs with food allergies or medical conditions need special diets. I also don’t believe that serving processed food is always best. My problem with processed foods is that you’re often paying for a low-quality ingredients, a high water volume and environmentally unfriendly packaging.

My personal preference is a raw diet supplemented with fresh foods. I put some caveats on that though. It’s essential to know what items are toxic to dogs. Everything should be fed in moderation. You wouldn’t live on one food item, nor should your dog. It's important to balance food types over time, rather than at each meal. And, watch to not include toxic ingredients.

Some people will argue that feeding people food makes dogs mooch or get fat. I disagree. Dogs mooch because of where you feed them, not what you feed them. If you feed your dog in the kitchen or at the dinner table, they’ll mooch. If you feed them in their spaces, they won’t. They mooch if they’re rewarded by doing it. And, unless there is a medical condition, they get fat when feed too much. It's that simple.

If you want to serve people food to your dog, it’s pretty easy to find lists of toxic foods for dogs, but what isn’t readily available is a list of generally healthy and safe foods. Here’s a starting point list of foods that I comfortably will and won’t feed to my own dogs:

Generally healthy and safe foods

Lean meat, fish and poultry, peanuts and unsweetened peanut butter, raw bones, offal (heart, liver, kidney, tongue, tripe), eggs, beans and lentils, apples, bananas, blueberries, saskatoon berries, cranberries, cherries, pineapple, dried fruits including dates, carrots, cabbage, spinach, green or yellow string beans, broccoli, ripe tomatoes, potatoes, yams, zucchini, beets, alfalfa sprouts, parsley, cod liver oil, salmon oil, canola oil, olive oil, flax or hemp seed, glucosomine, acidophilus, digestive enzymes, nutritional yeast, bone meal or egg shells, yogurt, kefir and cottage cheese.

Unhealthy and/or toxic foods

Ham, bacon or excessive poultry skin, macadamia nuts, walnuts, cooked bones, grapes, raisins and some currants including juices and trail mixes, rhubarb fruit and leaves, fruit seeds from apples, pears, plums, peaches and apricots, onions, garlic, avocado, green tomatoes and potatoes, potato peels, lumps of fat off meat, butter, corn, popped corn, yeast dough that’s rising, hops, xylitol, milk, nutmeg, caffeinated coffee and tea, salt, chocolate, cocoa powder and chocolate icings, alcoholic beverages, moldy foods and sugar.

I’m not a veterinarian or a small animal nutritionist so please consider this as one source of information. The pet food industry has done a very good job telling people that they’re incapable of feeding dogs. I don’t believe them. Read about the topic, talk with your vet and others in the pet care business, then make choices that are best for your dog. If you feed your dog something that doesn't increase their vitality or agree with them, check with your vet.

Recipe for home-made dog biscuits: Grain-free peanut butter chip drop cookies

2 cups black beans

1 cup peanut butter

2 eggs – include shells

½ cup dried fruit (16 apricots - NEVER use raisins)

Blend 1.5 cups of beans with the rest of the ingredients in a food processor.

Once fully blended, fold in ½ cup of black beans so they look like chocolate chips (NEVER use chocolate)

Drop by teaspoonful onto cookie sheets

Bake at 350’ for 15 minutes

If you want to eat these yourself as protein bars, omit the egg shells.
I prepare black beans in bulk by soaking, boiling, bagging and freezing them in advance.


  1. What I find sad that experts are not being any help with this. As many experts, as many opinions. But I guess that what makes them experts - having a different opinion than the rest.

    I think that the AAFCO guidelines make a lot of sense and after some studying I do believe that balanced diet is important.

    Can this be delivered through commercial food only? Not any more.

    Both our TCVM and holistic vets are able to calculate complete balanced recipes from human grade ingredients. That's what we feed. Balanced home-made diet.

  2. After going through every type of food there is, a balanced raw (BARF) diet is, I feel, definitely the way to go. What better way to feed your pet than as nature intended it.

    I agree Louise, commercial food can't be trusted and is the cause of so many complications and diseases found in dogs (and cats) today.

  3. my dog is allergic to outside grass to pet food, and human dander!.
    The vet said here is a shot- a pill- put her on daily benedryl. I omitted all foods-paid for a very expensive allergy test- started slow- no to beef- poultry- found out salmon , mackeral- green beans and mixed veggies have changed her weight- corrected her skin- no more paw bleeds or broken skin- however she must have a paw wash off each time she re- enters from going to do her business. Mold from leaves- dust- she is a rare mess- but now she is normal after 4 months of trial and error- and there is no food put in a bag or can good for a dog- I have not seen a dog munch on corn- wheat or rice! No vet teaches this- and I hate the fact I have to use cans with the BPA in there- over all she is so much better- and I wish a holistic vet would do an online business- and use face to face video- now the problem- is heartworm or other meds safe? I live near Florida- and heat worm is a common problem as ground yellow jackets- bees and bites- Tea tree and soap nut liquid by a USa company Naturoli- called extreme 18 is superb as it washes clothing to anything and a natural anti bacterial- dilute to wash her feet and now the yeast is 90% gone.I do agree that as silly as the look- her "shoes" allow for walking on toxic ground- and never on our property do we spray for bugs in grass- as birds have to eat- and encourage a natural spot in your place on the planet. OLD borax- put in areas where dogs and children will not go eliminate bugs- and we have to keep the areas near our home clear of mold producing straw to chips that hide more bugs.

  4. A few simple recipes for making your own homemade, all natural, organic pet food. These recipes are edible by both cats and dogs.

  5. Great Post. As my personal experience, Salmon (Fish) oil and salmon meal is nutrient-rich food product for both dogs and cats. These helps the pets to maintain a health, weight, strong teeth and nails, better brain development, lubricates the skin.

  6. Proto-col Slim-Fizz is a special appetite suppressant that contains the ground breaking fibre Glucomannan, which is a natural soluble fibre derived from high quality pure Konjac.