Feeding Your Dog a Homemade Diet:
This post is the start of a series of posts that will be devoted to offering tips on how to feed your dog a homemade diet. First, we will take a look at books that either have sections on how to prepare your pet’s food at home or are entirely devoted to the subject. I am only going to discuss books that I have read myself.
Note: Another website that has several excellent reviews of canine nutrition books is www.dogaware.com. This website in general has excellent information on many dog care topics, and I would recommend the site to any dog owner that wants to learn about dog care.
What to look for in a book on homemade diets for dogs?
There are several aspects that should be covered in a book on dog nutrition. Sadly, many important components to a homemade diet are utterly ignored. Two things that are imperative in a homemade diet book are that the recipes contain animal products and that there are recommendations on supplementing calcium.
It is often debated whether or not dogs are carnivores or omnivores. One thing that is certain is that they are not herbivores. Dogs jaws and digestive tracts are those of an animal that is designed to handle meat. If a book recommends vegan diets, don’t use it to feed your dog. While some dogs have lived long lives on vegan diets, since the beginning of time dogs have been meant to eat meat. A book on dog nutrition should use animal products as the backbone of its recommendations.
This is extremely important. So many books, articles, and websites that talk about feeding your dog fresh food completely ignore how much calcium to add to the diet. If the homemade diet doesn’t include raw meaty bones, calcium must be added, because there is not enough calcium in any other food to provide the dog with how much they need.
Some people prefer to feed a diet that is free of grains. Grains can help keep the cost of a homemade diet down, but they can be problematic for certain pets. Out of the three books that are recommended below, one used quite a bit of grains, whereas the other two do not recommend grains for dogs.
Fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. In addition to this, salmon and sardines in particular are rich in vitamin D. If the fish includes soft bones, it is also a wonderful source of calcium in the diet. Books that do not use fish in the recipes should have instructions on how to supplement vitamin D.
If you are feeding a puppy a homemade diet, assure that the book you choose either contains instructions on how to feed a puppy specifically, or that the recipes are designed for all life stages. Puppies require more protein, fat, calcium, phosphorus etc. than adult dogs do.
Raw Meaty Bones:
If you want to feed a diet that contains raw meaty bones, look for books that use RMBs to make up 30% – 50% of the diet.
Dog Nutrition Books that Stand Out:
The three books listed below are really good compared to many of the books available on dog nutrition. All of these books rely on animal products as the backbone of their recipes, and each also contain accurate information on supplementing calcium.
Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats
I don’t like all of the information provided in this book (non-nutrition related), but the diet section gives clear guidelines on how to prepare a homemade diet that is complete and balanced. The recipes do contain grains, which may make this book more budget friendly than other dog nutrition books. Nutritional analysis of each recipe is provided. Instructions are given on creating a supplement to add to the diet to assure all vitamins and minerals are provided.
(Note: The only tricky part is the information on providing vitamin D. This information is slightly vague. It is briefly included in the section on vitamin A.)
Dr. Becker’s Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats
This book provides instructions on how to prepare a meat-based diet for your pet. No grains are included. Nutritional analysis of the recipes can also be found in the book. The instructions for this diet are very detailed but can be a little confusing. Despite this, the book is excellent. When fed as instructed, the diet is complete and balanced for all life stages. Instructions are given on creating a supplement to add to the diet to assure all vitamins and minerals are provided.
Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs
Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs by Lew Olson gives more guidelines than actual recipes. While sample recipes are given, the reader is encouraged to rotate through many different meats. Grains are not recommended. Unlike the other two books mentioned here, this book does not contain instructions on creating a supplement, but it does contain two chapters dedicated to vitamins and minerals, and which foods are naturally rich in them. It also provides guidelines on supplementing certain vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D. There is information on how to feed a diet containing raw meaty bones and how to feed one without. Nutritional analysis are not available for recipes. For this reason, a person new to homemade feeding may be more comfortable strictly following one of the other books mentioned above.
The only thing I don’t like about this book is that several of the raw meaty bones recommended are much to big for many dogs. Even if the dog is able to handle chewing and eating some of the bones recommended, such as pork necks, they may still become constipated from the high bone content.
It is good to read a variety of books on dog nutrition, but any one of the above recommended ones will give you a firm footing when getting started in home cooking. Always remember to consult your veterinarian before making changes to your pet’s diet.