The guide to clean eating: Dog edition
Before the mid-1800s, dogs primarily lived outside and ate raw meat and table scraps. It was in 1870 that a man invented dog biscuits for the higher class made of absolutely awful ingredients, as he was in it for the money and not for the betterment of the dog. His target audience? Health-conscious pet owners and dog show participants. He went as far as to buy the entire front cover of the first American Kennel Club journal in January 1889!
Later in 1922, canned pet food became popular in the USA, but by 1941, the metal used to make cans for dog food was no longer available because of the industrial revolution. So the dry kibble we know today was introduced. During every era and every change came ingredients worse than their former competition. Today it's nearly impossible to find dog food that will not eventually bring your pet some ailment or sickness that has short or long-term repercussions.
So what can you do about it? After months of research, we have come down to four options. You can either take the time to make your dog's food from scratch, or you can spend the money and buy a 100% clean freeze-dried pebble. The options are Dr. Marty's Premium Freeze-Dried Dog Food, Unkibble, which contains folic acid instead of folate, or a slightly more affordable but not as clean product like Orijen, which includes thiamine mononitrate preservative. So let's break it down!
Let's start with no no's that shouldn't be in your dog's food:
Butylated Hydroxytoluene "BHT"
Butylated Hydroxyanisole "BHA"
Artificial colors (i.e., red 40)
White Rice or rice bran
Meat and bone meal
Any nitrates such a thiamine mononitrate
The yes's that should be in your dog's food:
Raw meat proteins that are nutrient-rich organ meats such as kidney, beef liver, turkey heart
Omega-3 fatty acids like Native pet
Prebiotic like Flax or a product like Native Pet
Fruits like blueberries, apples, cranberries, and more
Vegetables like sweet potato, kale, spinach, and more
Ginger for gastric dilatation and joint health
Polyphenols like carrots
Mixed tocopherols as a preservative, which is derived from vitamin E)
Now that we have that out of the way, let's break down a RAW made-from-scratch diet.
We use the diet called the Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or B.A.R.F. The principle behind this diet is to feed dogs the diet they evolved to eat, which includes meats and greens that are fresh, uncooked, and wild.
Let's break down what needs to be in this diet into percentages.
35 - 50% muscle meat (pork shoulder, chicken breast, lamb leg, beef, etc...)
50 - 65% bone (chicken feet/wings, turkey neck, veal ribs or tails, beef neck bones, a great chew that won't break teeth, etc...)
15% organ (liver, kidney, spleen, etc... with 5% of the organs being liver)
5% vegetables (pumpkin, spinach, kale, etc...)
Supplements (phytoplankton, probiotics/digestive enzymes, Omega 3's) we love ours here
You will want to feed your dog around 3% of its ideal weight. 2% to drop weight or 4% to gain weight.
Balanced foods (feed these often)
Eggs with shell
Whole animals (rabbit, quail, etc.)
A side note on bacteria, this question always comes up often.
Raw meat is unsafe for humans because of bacteria like e-Coli and Salmonella. A carnivore's digestive systems have a natural immunity to bacteria and can handle the bacteria in meat without issue when in good overall health. Bacteria is everywhere. Take a sample of kibble and have it analyzed sometime; you will be amazed! Dogs eat poop, road kill, and lick their behinds every day. Their system is 100% different from ours. If we ate the stuff they did, we would be sick. Dogs have a short digestive system made to handle raw meat and bones. The bacteria that is present isn't a problem for a healthy dog.
Can puppies eat a RAW diet?
Yes, puppies can eat raw! Start puppies off at 2% - 3% of their expected adult body weight which for our Bostons is about 21 - 26 pounds. But if you're unsure what their adult weight will be, feed about 10% of their current weight. Then watch to see if they get too fat or too thin and adjust accordingly.
Puppies up to six months should be fed three meals per day when eating a RAW diet. Six months - one-year-old, two meals a day. Over 1-year-old, 1 meal a day.
Follow the link below for more information on starting your puppy on a raw diet
Ultimately, whether you choose to go with a raw diet or use kibble, a dog, like humans, will always thrive and have little to no health issues throughout its life when they have a healthy microbiome and gut flora. That begins and ends with their food and supplements.
Have questions? Meet us in the comments!