Types Of Food And Proportions

When feeding a homemade diet, it is essential that different types of foods be fed in appropriate proportions. Meat, eggs, dairy and other animal products should make up at least half of the diet, and preferably more. The diet needs to include organ meats as well as muscle meat.

Liver and kidney should make up 5 to 10 percent of the total diet. It’s best to feed small amounts daily or every other day, rather than large amounts at one time. Because these organs are so nutrient-dense, use the raw weight to determine the amount to feed.

For example, if you feed a total of 20 ounces of food daily, use 1 to 2 ounces of raw liver/kidney, even though the cooked weight will be less. If possible, make heart (nutritionally, more of a muscle meat) another 5 to 10 percent of the diet, or even more, though too much may lead to loose stools in some dogs.

Eggs are an excellent source of nutrition. They can be soft-boiled, hard-boiled, gently scrambled, etc., or fed raw, if your dog likes them that way. You can feed as many eggs as you want, as long as you still feed lots of variety.

Dairy products, such as yogurt, kefir and cottage cheese, are well tolerated by most dogs and offer good nutritional value. Yogurt and kefir have the added advantage of providing beneficial bacteria (probiotics). These products should be added after the food is cooked. Goat’s milk may be tolerated by dogs who have problems with cow’s milk.

Muscle meat from a variety of sources such as beef, lamb, pork, chicken and turkey should make up most of the rest of the diet. It can be fed ground or in chunks. You can also feed canned fish, such as jack mackerel, pink salmon, and sardines, one or two meals (out of 14) a week. (There is no need to add calcium to those meals, since the bones are included.)

Vegetables are optional, but provide many benefits. Leafy greens are among the healthiest veggies to feed; other good veggies include broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, bok choy, cabbage, turnips, rutabaga, celery, cucumber, bell peppers, zucchini and other summer squashes, carrots, and more. Spinach and swiss chard can be fed in limited amounts.

These veggies provide few calories, so I usually advise adding them on top of the amount of food you feed, rather than calculating them as a percentage of the diet.

Steaming is the best way to cook vegetables, as it removes fewer nutrients than boiling. You can add the water used to steam or boil veggies to the meal, as it will contain the minerals that were leached out during cooking (add leftover meat drippings, gravy, soups, sauces, etc., to make a savory broth). Some vegetables may cause gas if fed in large portions.

Grains, legumes (beans) and starchy vegetables (such as potatoes, sweet potatoes and winter squashes) are usually included in cooked diets, but remember that dogs do not require carbohydrates in their diet, and plants supply incomplete proteins for dogs. If you do feed them, it’s best if they’re a small percentage of the diet, around one quarter or less. At a maximum, carbohydrates should never make up more than half the diet, with the other half coming from animal sources.

Grains that can be fed to dogs include white rice, brown rice, oatmeal, barley, amaranth, quinoa, bulgur and more. Just as with other foods, feeding a variety of different grains and carbs is better than always feeding the same kind. Remember that grains contribute to weight gain and sometimes other health problems. If your dog is overweight or suffers from allergies, arthritis, seizures, urinary incontinence, chronic ear infections, IBD, or other digestive disorders, you may want to try feeding a diet without grains or starchy carbs to see if your dog improves.

Fruits can be added to the diet in small amounts. Overripe fruits are easier to digest. Don’t feed grapes or raisins, which cause kidney damage to some dogs if too many are eaten. Good fruits to feed include apples, bananas, papayas, mangoes, berries and melon.

Remember that you can also include healthy leftovers (foods you would eat yourself) from your own meals in the diet you feed your dog.


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