All information contained on this page is opinion only. It is not meant to replace your vet as a valuable resource for your dog’s health.
We include the information on this page because in many instances, what your dog eats can dramatically affect his behavior. As with humans, the safest way to avoid nutrition-related behavior problems is to feed the highest quality food that you can afford, in the most natural form that you can manage.
Nutritional education is an important part of dog parenting. Just as eating junk is not healthy for humans, the same applies to our canine friends. I feed my own dogs a homemade diet. In the past, I fed a raw diet until late 2018. I feel that a quality raw or home cooked diet is the best type of food that your dog can get for optimal health. It sets the stage for a healthy immune system and a healthy weight.
That doesn’t mean that kibble is a bad thing to feed. Each dog is an individual and diet is a very personal decision. I will never shame you for whatever you feed. I will simply supply resources for quality information on how to choose the best diet for your dog’s situation.
There are several different interpretations of raw diets. Many raw feeders feed just plain raw style, based on what is known as a prey model diet, but there is also what is called a BARF diet. BARF stands for Bones And Raw Food or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. My approach was somewhere in the middle.
The basic difference between the raw diet and the BARF diet is that the raw diet is founded on the fact that a dog is indeed a carnivore. The BARF diet is based on the notion that dogs are omnivores. The BARF diet also is often implemented with pre-packaged raw food mixes bought in a store or online. For the raw diet, just plain raw meat & organs are used. While feeding the veggies as called for in a raw diet is not nutritionally necessary, they will not hurt your dog provided you follow the guidelines about which ones to feed. Although I primarily followed the raw diet, I did feed ground raw veggies to my dogs a few days a week simply because they like them.
It is *VERY* important that one does the proper amount of research and reading before starting any new home prepared diet. Talk to others who are experienced. Get a mentor. Read everything you can. Join email discussion lists. Research, research, research. Don’t just jump in uninformed. Your dog depends on you to care for him well. Know your facts.
Another option to the various raw diets, are homemade cooked diets. This is what I now feed, simply because one of my current dogs doesn’t process fats well. It’s impossible to provide a low to no fat raw diet so now I cook. It’s actually more work than a raw diet but totally worth it to me. Again, research is a necessity in order to prepare the diet properly so that your dog will have all the nutrients that he should.
The easiest feeding option is one of the many premium quality kibbles now readily available. You really do get what you pay for! Yes, they are expensive but they are well worth the price in order to give your dog the best chance he can have. Keep in mind that just because a kibble is premium, does not mean that it is the right one for your dog. Digestive systems and tolerance levels vary.
If you choose a grain free kibble or even a gluten grain free kibble, my preference is sticking with a protein level under 30 grams. Most people are not exercising their dogs enough to warrant a higher protein level. If you feel that your dog is sensitive to wheat, then avoid barley as well. It has the same effect. Take care to choose an equal quality of ingredients in your treats as well. It makes no sense to feed organic meals while eating junk snacks throughout the day! If you are concerned about the whole grain free/DCM thing, please read this. It’s no reason to panic, despite the click-bait headlines you have seen.
Variety is key. There is no reason that your dog should eat the same thing day in and day out. Dogs get bored too! You can always add some good-for-you “people” food to their kibble a few days a week. Scrambled eggs, scraps of leftover healthy lean meat from dinner… what is healthy for you is generally healthy for them with a few exceptions. Make sure that you know what human foods are lethal to your pet! Chocolate, onions, macadamia nuts, grapes and raisins are but a few.
The publication Whole Dog Journal has a yearly review of dry and canned foods. You can read their list of top foods here. I heartily recommend subscribing to this amazing newsletter. It is well worth the price. They do not accept advertising dollars, so their reviews are never biased. They talk directly with the dog food manufacturers in most cases and give a great detailed account of what is right and wrong in many foods. Plus you will also get fabulous training tips as well as natural based dog care tips. They review many dog products and they tell you what you need to know about them.
For a great place to read about all things dog, nutritionally and healthwise, you can’t go wrong at DogAware.com.
Larry’s Laundromutt & Barktique – In addition to being able to bathe your pet and leave the mess for someone else to clean up, Larry’s has a great Barktique where all natural foods and treats can be found.
For a great local source for nutritious pet food, check out Healthy Pet Products.
A great place to purchase pre-made raw: Asgard Raw Dog Food (where I get my raw dog food from!)