Feeding your dog healthy and nutritious food the natural way

What is the best food to feed my dog? This is a question that I’m sure many dog owners ask. Especially when you find your dog turning its nose up at canned food or dried food that you have just spent a fortune on. Or your dog ends up with allergies, digestive problems, arthritis, or dental decay.

So what do you do and what is the easiest way to prepare natural and healthy food for your dog? This was a question that I asked when we had our little pooch. Our little dog was a fussy eater and turned its nose up at bought dried and canned food often. Our little pooch lived a ripe old age of 16 though and the only way to get him to eat well was to change his diet to a varied and natural as possible diet.

However, being a busy working mum, I would often reach for the bought commercial food - knowing he was not really enjoying the food, I would often end up feeding him our food, which of course he absolutely loved. However, I realised this was not always optimal food to feed my dog all the time, so I decided to do a bit of research into what food was the best and the most healthy and most natural food for a dog, and of course it had to be without a lot of fuss.

My research lead me to two authors, Dr Clare Middle and Susan Moss, who explains why we should be feeding our dogs (and cats) as close to a natural diet as you can.

Both point out that “Dogs are omnivores with a carnivorous past, and fresh raw meat composed of muscle, fat, bone and connective tissue should make up a major part of the diet, along with vegetables and extras.”

Lets take a look at what an ancestral dog diet use to be:

  • Mostly meat and bone

  • High in moisture

  • Low in carbohydrates

  • About 50% protein, 20% fat

  • Pre-digested vegetation from stomach of prey

Dogs were designed to digest animal flesh, and they do best on a meat-based diet, evolving “as scavengers and carrion eaters, consuming spoiled food and half-rotted carcasses containing millions of bacteria” they are able to eat this way because “dogs are able to neutralise harmful bacteria with their strong stomach acids and short digestive transit time.” However, if your dog is “severely immune-compromised, you can gently cook the meat portion of the food before mixing with the other ingredients.”

So what is wrong with commercial pet food?

“Tinned foods contain cooked meat and cooking destroys much of the useful nutrients in meat for carnivorous animals.” Commercial dried foods (including premium brands) “may contain 25% to 60% carbohydrate.” In the form of rice or corn meal. Many veterinary studies, tell us “… that dogs should have no more than 3% to 5% carbohydrate in their diet”

Keeping it cheap and easy

The most economical and easiest food you can give your dog is raw meaty bones, such as chicken wings, lamb necks, ox tails or Roo tails. As well as the occasional highly nutritious organ meat such as liver, kidney, heart, gizzards and tripe. They can be mixed in a meal once or twice a week. There would be no problem in lightly cooking these if your dog is not used to eating organ meat raw.

It is also okay to feed your dog vegetables and fruit, except onions, spring onions and raw white potato. Vegetables and fruit can be pulped raw or cooked lightly. Fruit such as strawberries, melon, bananas, apples or pears are a favourite, as well as raw garlic in small amounts. Some grains can be used and is “cost-effective source of calories and energy for large and medium size dogs.” Low gluten grains are best such as oats, rice, millet, barley or buckwheat, however they should be well cooked first.

Adding supplements to a dogs meal, such as, kelp or fish oil, as well as hemp and Flax oil have “healing, cancer-fighting and anti-inflammatory properties”.

I would often buy up raw meat and small bones, freeze them until needed. Mix these with some quickly cooked vegies (often what I was serving up for dinner) and any left overs would be kept in the fridge for the morning meal. Because he was a small dog, his portions were small. I would also squirt a little bit of fish oil from a capsule onto his evening meal and occasionally I mixed unsweetened natural yoghurt into his food.

I think what I got most out of my research is it is so important to give your dog a variety of food but also to make sure it is well-balanced and provides all the nutrients a canine needs. When you do your dog well be happier and healthier, just like our little dog, and quite possibly your vet bills will be lower too.

I have only touched on what the best diet is for a dog. If you want more information on quantities and other foods, as well as recipes, check out Dr Clare Middle’s website who wrote the book Natural Diet for Cats and Dogs”; and Susan Moss’ website, who owns All The Best Pet Care. You will find a wealth of information by these two ladies that is interesting and informative.

Disclaimer - please seek professional advice from your vet before changing your pets diet.

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