What about dog food? Nutrition?

Sample Below … What would you put here?

How Dogs Eat

Did you know that dogs (and all pets) should always have fresh foods to eat, not just dry/canned commercial food? Many enzymes & nutrients can only be obtained through whole, fresh food.  Through years of “pet food” marketing, we have been taught to believe that commercial dog food is the only way to feed our dogs.

Young Colby chewing on a carrot treat

 Carnivores have a short & simple digestive tract for digesting animal protein and fat. Dogs have sharp, blade-shaped molars, designed for slicing, rather than flat molars for grinding.  They need animal protein for a complete amino acid profile and don’t have the ability to break down cellulose, so plant materials are not digested well, if at all. Dogs can easily digest raw meat and have the ability to destroy bacteria in the digestive tract.

Most people born in the last 50 years don’t have memory of feeding dogs anything besides commercial foods. The term ‘dog food’ has become so entrenched in the vocabulary that most people state they would never feed their dog ‘people food’. Until commercial food, dogs ate whatever food was available, like raw meat, milk, eggs or scraps from the table.

In the 1980’s, consumers were becoming educated on nutrition. This led to marketing dog foods that are labeled as natural, organic, or with new meats, like venison or rabbit. But all brands continue to heavily process ingredients, and are still about 65% grains, fibers and by-products.

To understand the whole story of why dogs should really be eating “People Food”, read the History of Dog Food.

Real food for thought!


Baby Kenai enjoying a raw knuckle bone – other raw meals she likes include ground turkey, raw eggs, chicken liver, fish, and sheep hearts from my aunt’s farm

What to Feed

Best foods for dogs:

1. Raw diet – prepared at home (please learn how to prepare properly) or purchased premade/frozen, such as Nature’s Logic or Instinct

2. Homemade food – cooked meats, vegetables and fruit made as you cook for your family (please learn how to prepare properly)

3. Premium high-quality commercial canned and dry food

Some Good commercial foods:

Acana, Blue Buffalo, Canidae, California Natural, Evo, Hi-Tek, Innova, Merrick, Newman’s, Orijen, Taste of the Wild, Wellness

Healthy Vegetables and Fruits:

apples (no seeds), berries, carrots, cantaloupe, celery, green beans, pears, peas, pumpkin, spinach & other leafy greens, zucchini. Small amounts of cooked broccoli/crucifers. Often vegetables need to be cooked for dogs to digest well.

Worst Ratings for dog foods:

Alpo, Beneful, Kibbles & Bits, ‘Ol Roy, Purina Dog Chow, Pedigree, Purina, Science Diet

Poor quality food can cause improper growth and result in health problems. Ingredients like corn and wheat can cause chronic allergies in Goldens.

Foods toxic to dogs:

chocolate, coffee, caffiene, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, mushrooms, avocados, fruit pits, macadamia nuts, walnuts, cooked bones, sugar, yeasted dough, spoiled food, alcohol, xylitol (ingredient in sugarless gum/mints)

For reviews of dog foods:

See The Dog Food Advisor for food ratings

Some additional reading:

More information on homemade dog food plus recipes

Watch the videos to learn about healthy foods for pets!

Part 1 – What to look for

Part 2 – What to avoid

Chinook & her kitty friend sharing a bowl of homemade food: cooked chicken, rice, sweet potatoes & green beans

Dog Food Myths & Facts


Myth: It’s easy to scoop out dry dog food.  Fact: Do we live on dry granola bars & potato chips?  Of course not – we take the time to prepare healthy, fresh meals for our families, and can do the same for our dog.


Myth: Prepackaged dog food is a  balanced diet.  Fact: Processed foods are never as nutritious as fresh foods. People stay well by eating an overall healthy diet and our dogs also need a  variety of fresh foods on a regular basis


Myth: You’ll get an argument from your vet or others if you try a different way of feeding your dog.  Fact: We don’t feed our kids white processed bread, no matter what the TV ads say, because it’s not nutritious.  Learn more and step up for dogs!

I don’t know how

Myth: It’s too complex and difficult to learn how to feed a dog.  Fact: It’s easy to feed your dog every day in a healthy way and you can do it 🙂

P.S. – Kitties are also BIG fans of raw and homemade diets! Learn how

Kinnikinnick during a “garden raid”, where she loved munching cucumbers, lettuce & tomatoes (but don’t let dogs eat toxic tomato plant leaves)

 How much to Feed

For Raw or Homemade Diet:

Calculate by your dog or puppy’s body weight here

For dry food – Puppies:

Depending on type of food, around 3/4 – 1 cup for each of the 3 meals per day (for an 8 week old pup). Increase amounts some every week as puppy grows. About 6 months of age he can transition to 2 meals. Always add water to dry food.

For dry food – Adult Dogs:

Depending on type of food, around 2 – 3 cups total per day, and LESS when they are spayed or neutered.

Common Sense:

If your dog has had extra exercise on some days, feed a little more food. If he starts to look heavy, feed a bit less.


Tips and Strategies

Add a good supplement to your dog’s homemade or raw diet (probiotics, enzymes, omega-3’s)

Feed homemade or raw diet plus give your dog premium dry kibbles as a treat so if life gets busy you can easily substitue a dry food meal if needed.

Another option is to feed homemade or raw diet for one daily meal & premium dry/wet food for the other meal.

If feeding primarily dry commercial food, make sure to add some fresh fruit or vegetables daily.

Start puppies on a more bland diet – sometimes they can’t tolerate rich/fatty foods until about 6 months of age.

Slimming Down

……. We’ve thought about feeding her less or putting her on a weight control dog food.  How can she get back to looking fit?

Dear _________, It’s easy for our snack-loving ______ to pack on the pounds, especially once they are spayed/neutered and don’t need as many calories.  Here are the steps to keeping your dog slim and healthy:

1. Continue feeding a normal, high quality dog food, homemade diet or raw diet.

2. Use a correctly sized measuring utensil for portioning each meal (not too large) so everyone involved in feeding your dog can easily give the proper amount.

3. Reduce the amount of food given by only 10-20%.  After 2 weeks if your dog is still looking heavy, cut back by another 10%.

4. Cut out all snacks except for one small treat twice a day.

5. Sensibly increase your dog’s exercise time to keep burning calories. (A dog in proper body weight will need slightly more calories after extended periods of exercise)

Evaluate your dog using the Body Condition Chart above!