There is much debate between veterinarians, owners, scientists, and nutritionists as to what the actual diet of our modern-day dog’s ancestors was. What can be agreed upon is that the diets of wild canids did not resemble what most dogs are eating today. Diets of our dogs’ ancestors varied tremendously by location, time of year, sex, health status, availability of prey and other foods, and many other factors. Today, most owners just open a bag and dump the food in the bowl. This is not to say that there aren’t foods available to the public that can promote health but public awareness about them and economics can become limiting factors for pet parents. For those that are willing to improve the nutritive value and follow a specialized nutritional balancing program, home prepared recipes can be an option.
Steve Brown, diet formulator for Steve’s Real Food® for Pets, nutrition consultant for Darwin’s Natural Pet Products, has spent many years researching and educating veterinary professionals and pet parents on the benefits of feeding whole foods to dogs. His book Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet ©2010 Steve Brown, highlights the three weaknesses of many modern dog foods.
According to Brown, most dog foods come up short in comparison to the canine ancestral diet in three major ways:
- Not enough protein
- Unbalanced and incomplete fats
- Can’t be nutritionally balanced without some fresh foods
A quick comparison of natural nutrient selection vs AAFCO vs a popular brand of dry dog food will show us how far away from the ancestral diet we have come.
|Protein %||Fat %||Carbohydrate %|
|Typical Dry Food||25||32||43|
|High Protein Dry Food||37||43||20|
|Typical Premium-Brand canned food||29||50||21|
|95% meat canned food||31||68||1|
|Typical frozen commercial raw||36||59||5|
|Typical homemade raw||36||59||5|
Looking at this you can see that processed dry dog food has a way to go to be nutritionally sound for the dog or cat to optimally survive. Since 2005 the introduction to the veterinary market of other food types has grown dramatically. These include commercially prepared raw diets, dehydrated, freeze dried, air dried, baked, improved quality of canned formulas and minimally processed products.
LASTLY, I want to leave you with a list of food ingredients from which you can select when creating a home-cooked recipe. Variety is key. Don’t get stuck in one menu plan. That is where nutrient deficiencies will arise. If your dog is not allergen sensitive to the food items, then you have more latitude. But if not, select from ones that do work and go from there. Have two or three recipes that you rotate between. Changing the protein and vegetable ingredients. Follow some of the above suggestions for seasonal and breed feeding as well. For cats, being carnivores, they are all about the meat! They need meat and bones to gnaw on. Raw and real food is the way to go. Adding a vitamin/mineral supplement that is appropriate for your feline friend. A weekend project in the kitchen will go a long way to achieve Healthy, Happy, and Naturally Rejuvenated Animals.
CARBOHYDRATE RESTRICTED DIET for DOGS
50% to 70% of diet should be protein: It is fine to leave meat in large chunks. This allows it to stay in stomach longer and get properly treated by enzymes and acids before moving into the short gut.
MEATS: Beef, chicken, turkey, fish, venison, rabbit, duck, lamb, pork, buffalo, goat, goose. Cooked and kept with the grease. They need the fats for energy source.
This should be at least half of the protein total.
ORGAN MEATS: Liver, kidney, heart.
These can be substituted for ¼ of the protein portion.
OTHER PROTEIN SOURCES: Lentils, navy or kidney beans, Mung beans, eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt.
These can be used in a quantity up to ¼ th of the total protein base.
30 to 50% of diet should be veggies: Steam lightly, run through blender, mix with meat, or can be blended all together so that it appears like canned dog food.
VEGGIES/FRUITS: Broccoli, zucchini, green beans, carrots, celery, cucumber, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, beets, tomatoes, apples, blueberries, banana, pears, swiss chard, kale, spinach, okra, mustard greens, eggplant.
STARCHES: Choose one of: sweet potato, white potato, pumpkin, squash, peas, couscous, quinoa, tapioca
SPICES: Garlic powder, rosemary, parsley, oregano, fennel, ginger, celery seed, dill, turmeric, thyme
Oils: walnut oil ½ tsp. / 30 # per meal
Oils: walnut oil ½ tsp. / 30 # per meal
Mix meat and steamed veggies and starches, add spices and oil. If your dog does not pick out parts you can feed it that way. Otherwise run it all through a blender so it is impossible to find an unpalatable texture. Then feed in portions similar to what would be on canned food labels. The moisture content will require a larger volume than what you would be feeding with kibble in order to keep the caloric content high enough. Unless your pup needs to lose some weight, then reduce the volume and watch the pounds gradually disappear, forever!