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Nutrition

Nutrition is a passionate topic of mine, as I have seen first hand what bad nutrition can do to a dog. With that said, I want to forewarn you of the length at which I will discuss canine nutrition on this page. 

 

 

Ive broken this page down into tabs, below, for easier access to certain information you may be searching for. 

This allows users to gain specific information without having to read everything. (Although you can if you wish!!)

 

 

It will benefit you beyond words if you take time to read it all. If you care deeply about learning and improving your dog’s life and health, I recommend setting out a little time to read and learn from this page. I know there’s a LOT of information here, but it is very very beneficial to you and your four legged companion. While I recommend reading it all, I wouldn’t expect -nor recommend – you read it all in one sitting! Read the main part, then come back and read the tabs as you find time and want to learn more! n

Growing up, I never really understood just how important nutrition was until my beloved heart dog, Missy, developed liver disease and ultimately liver failure, from a poor diet. Our dogs were never fed the high end brands, we fed them whatever was thought to be decent but affordable; Never spending a great deal of money on foods. My dad did do some studies on the foods and tests and stuff, but the older I got, the more i dove deeper into the topic of canine nutrition and the more I learned. The more I truly believed nutrition was the one to blame for her health demise [I am also sure there were other factors to blame but a diet, as i came to find out, is of utmost importance.]`

I don’t think people really understand the importance of nutrition, I know I didn’t for quite some time! Not until I started to dive deeper and really put my mind to learning about the topic. I think, like me, a lot of pet owners (not purposely) just take for granted the importance of a properly formulated and a truly well balanced diet. We like to go with “familiar.” Maybe we don’t like all the choices, or maybe we just get confused, overwhelmed, or worried, and then we just choose what is familiar to us. “Well, my family has fed this brand for years and years and our dogs have been just fine.” But I think it’s important to say: Every Dog Is Different, and it’s important to keep that in mind when feeding the dog in front of you. This current dog may have different needs, health issues, etc than your “past” dogs. Of course, you don’t have to engulf yourself in nutrition if you do not wish to, but a healthy bit of knowledge on the topic is definitely beneficial. It really will do wonders for your new puppy, especially as it grows into adulthood and its golden years.

 

 

Since I’ve learned so much in canine nutrition, and I’m still very much learning, I’d like to share some of the ins and outs of what I’ve come to learn about the topic. My hope is that my buyers use this information to be able to better provide a healthier, more natural nutritional profile for our puppies that they call family. The main thing to realize is, that one size does not fit all, when it comes to nutrition. Dogs vary in sizes, health concerns, struggles, issues, age, requirements, etc. 

While I personally feel that a truly balanced raw diet is optimal , I realize it is not for everyone. When you pair a balanced diet with the NRC guidelines of nutrient requirements and properly formulate it, your dog can have an outstanding life with the best nutrition possible! PLEASE DO NOT USE 80-10-10 or BARF DIETS – – THESE ARE NOT BALANCED and can be very dangerous, ESPECIALLY to growing puppies!!!!

 

I do realize that this is not for everyone, and that’s ok! I will not FORCE you to feed something, but i do hope that you will be open minded and listen to what I have to say about this because I do feel, through experience, that it truly does make a different. I also have seen the science to back it up.  I like to focus on nutrients within the diet and not *just* ingredients that compose it.  

 

So whether it’s DIY, Commercial raw, or dry/wet kibble brands, I can help everyone of my buyers find the optimal diet for each individual puppy and or dog they bring home! <3 

 

 

Now, I will begin with just a few main factors on why you should care about their diet and how to enhance their diet optimally. Then go onto our recommendations. After that I will show you how to establish much needed “values” and how to use them. Then I’ll end with my VERY EXTENSIVE nutrition article that I wrote for the general public!

Health is the number one reason for making sure your dog is fed with an optimally balanced, species appropriate diet. Dogs have certain nutrient requirements that are needed to thrive and prosper. (See National Research Council [NRC] Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats.) When those nutrient requirements are not met, the effects manifest until it eventually catches up with the dog. Some may be minor issues that may not ever be detected by the owner, for the life of the dog. While others might be major issues which severely affect the dogs ability to lead a normal life; such as skeletal defects (esp in puppies being fed a rapid growth diet [kibble or raw]), eye issues, higher risk hip Dysplasia, etc.

 

With a diet that lacks in certain nutrients, the body is affected. Contrary to what most people believe, itching, redness, saliva stains, dandruff, dry fur, coarse and straw like fur, energy loss, soreness, vision impairments, bone deformities, etc are NOT normal. These dogs are also NOT detoxing, which is a common word thrown around in the raw feeding world. No, they actually just lack certain nutrients in their body which are creating these issues. Fix the deficiency, and 99% of the time, they heal and repair and come out a completely different dog! Of course its always wise to consult a veterinarian when new issues arise so that you can ensure its not an underlying cause.

When you feed your dog a diet that meets all the nutrient requirements needed for thriving, you give your dog the best chance at the longest life possible. I’m talking not only internal needs that help the body systems “fire” efficiently, but also after the body meets its requirements on inside, the body can then start to work on the outside appearance, such as skin and coat repair, etc.

Of course, you can do everything right and sometimes it’s just destined to be the way it is. Your dog will live as long as your dog is meant to live for, but I guess- me personally- having a huge devotion to my dogs because they are my family, I always try to go above and beyond in hopes of those few extra years in the end! 

You can’t get them back after they go. You also cant undo the past. So if you start early, and prepare a healthy, optimal diet, your dog will have the utmost possibilities of the longest life possible. Of course, nutrition is just one of the many factors that influence a healthy life. In addition, things like exercise to have healthy functioning organs, keeping the dog at an ideal weight from puppyhood into the senior years [obesity can cause a lot of health issues in and of itself], proper nail trimming protocols for correct structure growth, proper socialization protocols for a healthy mind, proper vaccination protocols to ensure a safe preventable life, just to name a few!

Many things affect our dogs lives but if we do everything we can, it will help keep them with us as long as possible. and we all know that they just never quite live long enough.

One amazing thing about providing proper nutrition, is that you know your dog is receiving all of the nutrients it’s body needs to thrive and prosper. Sometimes, going above and beyond for our dogs can be a little overwhelming and often times we wonder, is it really worth it? I guess for me, I always try to do the best I can and to always put them first. 

 

Having had my first heart dog suffer from health issues, and a lot of them being preventable, I feel it’s my new found responsibility to try to feed my dog’s to the best of my ability. If that means doing a little extra math before I buy a dog food, I will.  Or if I have to spend all day prepping my dog’s meals so they have a batch that lasts a few weeks or so, you can bet your last dollar that I’m going to do it. 

 

Especially if that means that they have the possibility of living longer and spending more time with me and if my extra work up front allows me to enjoy them for a few years longer, I dont see why anyone wouldn’t want to do that. 

1. Ultimately, we recommend a professionally formulated home prepared growth diet specific to your puppy’s needs! (We have recommendations for nutritionists (under nutritionists tab) that can help you accomplish this correctly! 

With the help of a professional nutritionist, you can have a growth diet formulated to meet the exact needs of your specific puppy which adjusts as the puppy grows. This is the MOST OPTIMAL way to feed a puppy for their entire lifetime and it is HIGHLY recommended. This ensures that the puppy will be fed a properly formulated diet and will not result in future health/growth defects from the lack thereof.

PLEASE DO NOT TRY TO FORMULATE A DIET FOR YOUR PUPPY BY YOURSELF. 

THIS IS INCREDIBLY DANGEROUS due to the critical growth periods and the specific needs of the puppy as it ages and its nutritional requirements evolve.

Contrary to popular raw diet suggestions, Puppies NEED a BALANCED diet IMMEDIATELY from the START as their bodies are less forgiving than their adult counterparts! It’s also important to note that a puppy CANNOT regulate its own nutrients until 6 months of age at the earliest!  Adults are a lot more forgiving, but puppies can have irreversible damage done by a poorly formulated diet. Especially once the growth plates close, these “fixable” problems turn into permanent problems and you and your puppy must live with the consequences of these decisions for the rest of the puppy’s life. 


2. Alternatively, Stick with a commercial diet that is AAFCO Formulated. If you cannot or do not wish to consult a professional nutritionist, we recommend an AAFCO formulated diet. (We will help you pick the right food for your puppy further down this page).  While we prefer a raw/cooked diet for our puppies, we understand that a DIY diet is not for everyone. Kibble varies widely across the board, and many are offered at many different price ranges. One thing I think is worth noting, “You get what you pay for.” We understand not everyone can afford nor wants to spend the money to feed an expensive diet. However prices directly correlate with the quality of food and so keeping in mind price will reflect the quality of the food being purchased can help you pick a higher quality food. That being said, we do not force our buyers to feed a raw/cooked diet nor any specific kibble brand, per sey. But we do require that the puppy is put on an AAFCO formulated diet, especially while growing. It’s very important that when you purchase ANY FOOD, that is it listed on the bag as an AAFCO formulated diet (dry, etc, etc) to ensure your dogs nutrient requirements are being met. AAFCO is regulated and is “balanced and complete” in essential nutrients required by dogs.  I think it’s important to note that some brands will say “balanced and complete” on the bag, but lack the AAFCO seal of approval. Unless they have the AAFCO seal, they are NOT guaranteed to be balanced or complete and you are taking a gamble by feeding that food to your dog, let alone your growing puppy! Ultimately the “choice” is yours on what you feed your puppy, but please note that if you choose not to follow our guidance in nutrition, our health guarantee will be VOID as your puppy will run a higher risk of developing health issues. We stand behind our Health Guarantee when things are done according to how we expect them to be done.   

3. Feed to promote a Lean body weight! This is oh so very important. Contrary to what most people believe, that a “rolly polly olly puppy” (and adult!) is cute and desired… this is FAR from the truth and is NOT something we want. IT IS VITAL that you choose and feed a food that promotes MODERATE/LEAN body weight which will provide a healthy growth rate! I cannot emphasize this enough! Feeding at maximum growth rate (which is the result of a fat puppy) will cause the risk of skeletal growth issues to be at a higher occurrence, especially during the rapid growth period (which ALL puppies experience) *typically* around 3-5 months. Though keep in mind, it can vary slightly between different sizes of dogs and different breeds. Further below, I go into detail and show you how to (esp with a kibble) ensure you find a proper range of calories to feed puppies and to help eliminate “maximum rate of growth” possibilities.  !Also! If you feed a puppy to be overweight, as its growing, there is quite a bit of evidence that you predispose a puppy to overweight conditions as an adult, meaning it will be harder to maintain a nice lean body condition as an adult if the puppy is overweight growing up. 

 

Quick Summary for Puppies:

 

– Hire a professional to create a growth formula for your puppy

– Feed an AAFCO formulated diet (dry, wet, etc) if you don’t wish to do raw/cooked

– Keep puppies at a healthy LEAN weight and feed for LEAN/MODERATE growth to limit structural defects in growth patterns for puppies

– DO NOT attempt to formulate a raw/cooked/DIY diet for your puppy, it is INCREDIBLY DANGEROUS as their nutritional needs are critical during growth

– Especially while growing, spending the extra money on a high quality dog food (or paying a professional for a balanced DIY) is the best investment you will make for your puppy. You can always switch to a “cheaper” diet once all the critical growth stages have been met and nutrients have fulfilled the puppy’s growth needs

– Feed puppies 3 times a day for the first min 6 months, then you can reduce to 2 times a day. Once a day is not recommended 

`We actually recommend the same as above, with a few exceptions. For adults only, you can actually learn to formulate a diet yourself, IF you wish to learn and educate yourself on how to do so properly!!  We will help all owners who wish to dive in and learn how to feed a raw (OR COOKED!!) diet, the RIGHT way and help formulate diets for them!!

 

For affordable diet formulations for your adult dog, you can contact:

Savannah Welna- Feed thy Dog [ www.feedthydog.com]

Chelsea McGinnis – 

 

We recommend the website RAW FED AND NERDY and you can also follow the RFN group on facebook for more topics, discussions, and personal help!! https://www.facebook.com/groups/rawfedandnerdy/] This group is far and above any other group I’ve ever been apart of. The admin team are incredibly sweet and always going out of their way to help people learn and improve their dog’s diet. All of them are currently enrolled in canine nutrition courses to continue to improve their knowledge on the topic and many of them are actual graduates of CASI (Companion Animal Science Institute), a university which specializes in nutrition! 

 

Here at Amore, while we are also enrolled in several different nutrition courses, we also utilize a program called “Pet Diet Designer” Soon to be “PetDiet365” (being newly released sometime in 2019 as its updated/improved version). This is based on the NRC values and actually helps to ensure all nutrients are being met!  Right now, in its Beta version, it is only $20!!! But I’m sure once it gets released, the price will drastically sky rocket, so purchasing it now would be in your best interest (even if you don’t know how to use it yet!) Also- anyone who purchases the beta version is supposedly given a free year of the new version for free!! One thing to note, there is a “hefty” learning curve to the program (and supposedly it’s going to be doing a HUGE revamp of the whole thing with raw feeder’s input and new updates!) It’s hard to understand at first but eventually it’s a very tolerated program, once you get used to it 🙂 I am very excited for the new release of PetDiet365 as I hear they have done a lot of improvements on the hard userface and allows more options with bone in values included!

 

PLEASE NOTE: For adults (and of course puppies) YOU DO need to have a basic canine nutrition knowledge and want to learn how to formulate properly a diet if you wish to create them for your adult dogs! I also offer one on one help with creating a diet for adult Basenjis, especially dogs from our kennel. [I’m sorry, I cannot offer help on puppy formulations YET due to the critical needs of a growing puppy.  I am just not at the level at which I need to be to feel comfortable with formulating growth diets yet. There is A LOT that goes into them and they change as the puppy grows (not just one recipe like an adult dog could use- though I personally prefer to have 3-5 min recipes that I alternate between for dogs to have variety and not to lose interest.) …However, that being said, I AM still studying and learning and I do hope to be able to do that in the future for my own puppies that I whelp, purchase, and for their humans that love/buy them!]

 

The ultimate thing to keep in mind is that  when you purchase ANY food, that it is listed as an AAFCO formulated diet (Dry, wet, etc,) to ensure your dog’s nutrient requirements are met. AAFCO is regulated and is “balanced and complete.” It’s important to note that some brands say “balanced and complete” on the bag but lack the AAFCO seal of approval…and unless they have the AAFCO seal, they are not guaranteed to be balanced and complete.

 

Quick Summary for Adults:

– Hire a professional for care free worries on a formuated diet

– Educated and learn for yourself on how to formulate diets for adult dogs

– Feed an AAFCO formulated diet (dry, wet, etc) if you do not wish to do       raw/cooked or DIY 

– Keep adults at a healthy adult weight and feed for LEAN body type

– Feed adults 2x a day as once a day can be hard on their GI tract

– Keep your own dog in mind and feed the dog in front of you

– Every dog is different. Dont rely on what works for others, treak feeding protocols and recipes until they meet YOUR dog’s specific needs <3

YOU CAN FIND PROFESSIONAL NUTRITIONIST HELP HERE:

https://rawfedandnerdy.com/professional-directory

 

Savannah Welna, Cert. ACN | Feed Thy Dog

Savannah Welna, Cert. ACN | Feed Thy Dog

https://feedthydog.com/

  • Proactive single dog formulations
  • Proactive pack formulations
  • Recipe analysis
  • Some Therapeutic Conditions
  • Healthy Puppy Formulations

Savannah founded Raw Fed & Nerdy and has been dedicated to providing educational tools and one on one help to dog owners feeding homemade raw and cooked diets. She has studied advanced nutrition (Cert. ACN) at the Companion Animal Sciences Institute and nutrition and formulation at The Possible Canine. She is currently studying advanced nutrition as well as anatomy & physiology at etraining for dogs. Savannah believes that traditional whole foods provide the foundation of healthy bodies. Using a science-based, holistic approach, Savannah utilizes fresh foods tailored specifically for both the needs of the dog and the owner.   

 

Victoria Koay, Cert. ACN

Victoria Koay, Cert. ACN

victoria.koay@gmail.com

  • Proactive single dog formulations
  • Proactive pack formulations
  • Recipe analysis
  • Some Therapeutic Conditions
  • Healthy Puppy Formulations

Victoria and Oreo live in sunny Singapore. She is a certified aromatherapist from Aromahead Institute and has attained a Cert. CN from Companion Animal Sciences Institute (CASI) and completed the Diet Formulation course through The Possible Canine. She is currently pursuing certification in animal aromatherapy with Kelly Holland Azzaro, founder and director of the Holistic Animal Aromatherapy Association and past president of the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, and is looking to start the Advanced Canine Nutrition Certificate (Cert. ACN) by July 2019.

 

 

Bonnie Edkin, CNC

Bonnie Edkin, CNC

b.edkin@comcast.net

  • Proactive adult cat formulations
  • Proactive kitten formulations
  • Weightloss cat formulations
  • Therapeutic Formulations (Inquire for specifics)
  • Adult cat recipe analysis

My educational background and professional work experience are in two fields – chemistry and nutrition. I have had my own wellness business since the 1980s. I got my diploma in nutrition at the American Academy of Nutrition in 2000 which is now known as the Huntington University of Health Sciences. My husband and I have 7 cats and a flock of organic laying hens. I’ve been raw feeding our cats for over 10 years. 

 

 

 

Dr. Charley Gray | The RAW Vet

Dr. Charley Gray | The RAW Vet

Home

  • Proactive single dog formulations
  • Proactive pack formulations
  • Therapeutics
  • Puppy Formulations (Therapeutic and Healthy)
  • Gestation and Lactation Formulations
  • Recipe analysis

I (Charley) am dedicated to education and nutrition in RAW feeding. With so many benefits to a well balanced raw diet, and as a member of the Raw Feeding Veterinary Society (RFVS), I am committed to keeping abreast of and contributing to continued research into RAW feeding.

 
 
 

 

Alicia | Alicia's Holistic Pet Wellness

Alicia | Alicia’s Holistic Pet Wellness

Home

  • Proactive single dog formulations
  • Recipe analysis
  • Formulations for Diabetic Dogs

II’m Alicia, a holistic canine nutrition professional, Canine Massage & Kinesiology Therapist, and dog mom. I’m very passionate about nutrition and complimentary holistic dog care including massage, aromatherapy, and herbs. My goal is to give dog parents tools and resources to be proactive and feel reassured in their dog’s health journey.

 

 

 

 

Pierre-Oliver Champagne

 

Pierre-Oliver Champagne

pochampagne@gmail.com

  • Proactive single dog formulations
  • Proactive pack formulations
  • Recipe analysis
  • Some Therapeutic Conditions
  • Healthy Puppy Formulations

Pierre-Olivier is firstly, a passionate owner of multiple dogs that grew a huge interest in nutrition. While trying to better understand the fundamentals of canine nutrition, he stumbled upon and joined Raw Fed & Nerdy in spring 2018. His thirst for scientific knowledge got him to make many friends and acquaintances in this field of expertise.

Pierre-Olivier lives with his wife Sophie (veterinarian) in Trois-Rivières, Quebec. They run (part time) a foster home / shelter for rescued animals with health problems. They share their daily life with 6 dogs and even more (!) cats. Pierre-Olivier has an academic background in psychology & education (college degree) and is actually completing Canine Nutrition Certification from Companion Animal Science Institute (CASI). He works as a sports educator and owns a distribution company (frozen meat & raw meaty bones) which also offers pro-active diet formulation for adult dogs. One of Pierre-Olivier mains goal is to make canine scientific nutrition more available to the general French Canadian community.

 

 

 

Jenny | Better Cells Nutrition

 

Jenny | Better Cells Nutrition

Home

  • RFN Spreadsheet private consultations
  • Proactive single dog formulations
  • Proactive pack formulations
  • Recipe analysis
  • Proactive Adult Cat Formulations
  • Proactive Adult Cat Recipe Analysis

Jenny is the creator of the RFN Formulation Spreadsheet (2019) and a passionate advocate for nutritional wellness. She focuses on formulations that meet the ideal nutritional needs of the pet while maintaining practical and easy preparations for the owner. In addition to proactive recipes for adult dogs, she also offers one-on-one consultations for any RFN spreadsheet users who want individual help.

Jenny has a bachelor’s degree in Pscyhology from Washington Universtiy in St. Louis and works as a behavioral trainer in the US. Jenny and a passionate student of canine and feline nutrition. She is currently working on her certificate course from Canine Animal Services Institure.

 

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YOU CAN FIND PROFESSIONAL NUTRITIONIST HELP HERE:

https://rawfedandnerdy.com/professional-directory

 

Savannah Welna, Cert. ACN | Feed Thy Dog

Savannah Welna, Cert. ACN | Feed Thy Dog

https://feedthydog.com/

  • Proactive single dog formulations
  • Proactive pack formulations
  • Recipe analysis
  • Some Therapeutic Conditions
  • Healthy Puppy Formulations

Savannah founded Raw Fed & Nerdy and has been dedicated to providing educational tools and one on one help to dog owners feeding homemade raw and cooked diets. She has studied advanced nutrition (Cert. ACN) at the Companion Animal Sciences Institute and nutrition and formulation at The Possible Canine. She is currently studying advanced nutrition as well as anatomy & physiology at etraining for dogs. Savannah believes that traditional whole foods provide the foundation of healthy bodies. Using a science-based, holistic approach, Savannah utilizes fresh foods tailored specifically for both the needs of the dog and the owner.  

 

Victoria Koay, Cert. ACN

Victoria Koay, Cert. ACN

victoria.koay@gmail.com

  • Proactive single dog formulations
  • Proactive pack formulations
  • Recipe analysis
  • Some Therapeutic Conditions
  • Healthy Puppy Formulations

Victoria and Oreo live in sunny Singapore. She is a certified aromatherapist from Aromahead Institute and has attained a Cert. CN from Companion Animal Sciences Institute (CASI) and completed the Diet Formulation course through The Possible Canine. She is currently pursuing certification in animal aromatherapy with Kelly Holland Azzaro, founder and director of the Holistic Animal Aromatherapy Association and past president of the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, and is looking to start the Advanced Canine Nutrition Certificate (Cert. ACN) by July 2019.

 

 

Bonnie Edkin, CNC

Bonnie Edkin, CNC

b.edkin@comcast.net

  • Proactive adult cat formulations
  • Proactive kitten formulations
  • Weightloss cat formulations
  • Therapeutic Formulations (Inquire for specifics)
  • Adult cat recipe analysis

My educational background and professional work experience are in two fields – chemistry and nutrition. I have had my own wellness business since the 1980s. I got my diploma in nutrition at the American Academy of Nutrition in 2000 which is now known as the Huntington University of Health Sciences. My husband and I have 7 cats and a flock of organic laying hens. I’ve been raw feeding our cats for over 10 years. 

Dr. Charley Gray | The RAW Vet

Dr. Charley Gray | The RAW Vet

Home

  • Proactive single dog formulations
  • Proactive pack formulations
  • Therapeutics
  • Puppy Formulations (Therapeutic and Healthy)
  • Gestation and Lactation Formulations
  • Recipe analysis

I (Charley) am dedicated to education and nutrition in RAW feeding. With so many benefits to a well balanced raw diet, and as a member of the Raw Feeding Veterinary Society (RFVS), I am committed to keeping abreast of and contributing to continued research into RAW feeding.

 

 

Alicia | Alicia's Holistic Pet Wellness

Alicia | Alicia’s Holistic Pet Wellness

Home

  • Proactive single dog formulations
  • Recipe analysis
  • Formulations for Diabetic Dogs

II’m Alicia, a holistic canine nutrition professional, Canine Massage & Kinesiology Therapist, and dog mom. I’m very passionate about nutrition and complimentary holistic dog care including massage, aromatherapy, and herbs. My goal is to give dog parents tools and resources to be proactive and feel reassured in their dog’s health journey.

 

 

Pierre-Oliver Champagne

 

Pierre-Oliver Champagne

pochampagne@gmail.com

  • Proactive single dog formulations
  • Proactive pack formulations
  • Recipe analysis
  • Some Therapeutic Conditions
  • Healthy Puppy Formulations

Pierre-Olivier is firstly, a passionate owner of multiple dogs that grew a huge interest in nutrition. While trying to better understand the fundamentals of canine nutrition, he stumbled upon and joined Raw Fed & Nerdy in spring 2018. His thirst for scientific knowledge got him to make many friends and acquaintances in this field of expertise.

Pierre-Olivier lives with his wife Sophie (veterinarian) in Trois-Rivières, Quebec. They run (part time) a foster home / shelter for rescued animals with health problems. They share their daily life with 6 dogs and even more (!) cats. Pierre-Olivier has an academic background in psychology & education (college degree) and is actually completing Canine Nutrition Certification from Companion Animal Science Institute (CASI). He works as a sports educator and owns a distribution company (frozen meat & raw meaty bones) which also offers pro-active diet formulation for adult dogs. One of Pierre-Olivier mains goal is to make canine scientific nutrition more available to the general French Canadian community.

 

 

Jenny | Better Cells Nutrition

 

Jenny | Better Cells Nutrition

Home

  • RFN Spreadsheet private consultations
  • Proactive single dog formulations
  • Proactive pack formulations
  • Recipe analysis
  • Proactive Adult Cat Formulations
  • Proactive Adult Cat Recipe Analysis

Jenny is the creator of the RFN Formulation Spreadsheet (2019) and a passionate advocate for nutritional wellness. She focuses on formulations that meet the ideal nutritional needs of the pet while maintaining practical and easy preparations for the owner. In addition to proactive recipes for adult dogs, she also offers one-on-one consultations for any RFN spreadsheet users who want individual help.

Jenny has a bachelor’s degree in Pscyhology from Washington Universtiy in St. Louis and works as a behavioral trainer in the US. Jenny and a passionate student of canine and feline nutrition. She is currently working on her certificate course from Canine Animal Services Institur

 

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*Liability Waiver* THESE ARE JUST SOME SUGGESTIONS THAT HAVE WORKED WELL FOR OUR BASENJIS in the past, Please use them as a guideline for starting when looking for the best food to meet your best friend’s needs. ALL DOGS ARE DIFFERENT. Some may do great on these, others may benefit from other choices. Also, We can help with diet formulations if you choose to feed your beloved family member a raw or cooked, home prepared diet!

 

Below are our top 5 picks of some commercial foods that we recommend. Ultimately we prefer a balanced DIY but if you prefer not to go with a properly formulated raw/cooked, these are some great starter choices: [I’ve divided into wet and dry formulas]

 

DRY/DEHYDRATED:

1.  ZIWI PEAK [Air Dryed/Dehydrated]. All Formulas! 

2. SPOT FARMS [Dehydrated:] All Formulas!

3. EARTH BORN [Dry]: 

4. SOLID GOLD [Dry]

5. FROMM [Dry]

 

CANNED:

1.  ZIWI PEAK [wet]

2. WELLNESS 95%.[Wet]:

3. EARTHBORN K95 [Wet]

4. SOLID GOLD [Wet]

5. FROMM [wet]

 

EXTRAS RECOMMENDED TO ADD TO KIBBLE!!! 

Please be sure not to add more than 15% of “extras” to kibble as we dont want to offset the balance of the kibble by adding too much. 

 

1. Fish Oil, Bonnie and Clyde with Vitamin E (comes in 8oz, and for $10 more you can get the 16oz) This includes vitamin E which is great! Alternatively you can buy a fish oil AND a Vitamin E capsule but this fish oil is one of the best on the market and we highly recommend it.

https://bncpet.com/products/wild-omega-3-fish-oil-supplement-for-dogs-with-natural-vitamin-e-16oz

2. Egg, soft boiled. These are a great way to add a little extra fat and skin health to your doggie! Generally I find one a day or one every few days is ideal for a Basenji.

3. Fish. Canned or fresh fish, cooked ideally. Adding Omega 3&6 will be very beneficial for skin health! Fish oil will work well but you can also use a canned fish (or fresh fish) like sardines or salmon if you dont want to buy the fish oil! Be sure you get a Vitamin E supplement to help with antioxidants and help preserve the omegas in the fish! 50-100iu is a great starting point for a Basenji 20-25 lbs

4. Cooked Beef Liver. Helps boosts certain nutrients and also helps with a healthy coat. LIMIT quantities. Nemo, my 25# dog eats only .5 oz a day! More than that and it messes with his copper and Vitamin A values. Keep this in mind for dogs with less weights, etc. 

5. Veggies/Fruits. Contrary to some beliefs, veggies and fruits are actually VERY beneficial to dogs. They help create a good gut biome, offer fiber, Vitamin K, among other nutrients and digestive support. Be sure to blend or pure or cook veggies as dogs cannot benefit from whole veggies.

6. Bone broth. This is a great addition as it adds some nutrient content in along with adding moisture to a very dry, high heated diet. 

7. Meat. In small portions, this is a great addition to any diet! Alternating between different meat sources will also add different nutrients to the diet! Start slow and do one at a time to ensure there are no intolerances. Then you can alternate as needed. 

8. Tripe and Goats milk. These two are also a nice addition to any kibble. Of course, with ALL additions, please use small amounts to start with and reduce or eliminate if issues occur. Start with small amounts and don’t overdo them.

 

USEFUL LINKS on why to add the above:

https://www.thepossiblecanine.com/enhancing-a-kibble-diet

https://therawfeedingcommunity.com/2017/02/12/simple-ways-to-improve-your-dogs-kibble/

 

EXTRAS RECOMMENDED TO ADD TO KIBBLE!!! 

Please be sure not to add more than 15% of “extras” to kibble as we dont want to offset the balance of the kibble by adding too much. 

1. Fish Oil, Bonnie and Clyde with Vitamin E (comes in 8oz, and for $10 more you can get the 16oz) This includes vitamin E which is great! Alternatively you can buy a fish oil AND a Vitamin E capsule but this fish oil is one of the best on the market and we highly recommend it.

https://bncpet.com/products/wild-omega-3-fish-oil-supplement-for-dogs-with-natural-vitamin-e-16oz

2. Egg, soft boiled. These are a great way to add a little extra fat and skin health to your doggie! Generally I find one a day or one every few days is ideal for a Basenji.

3. Fish. Canned or fresh fish, cooked ideally. Adding Omega 3&6 will be very beneficial for skin health! Fish oil will work well but you can also use a canned fish (or fresh fish) like sardines or salmon if you dont want to buy the fish oil! Be sure you get a Vitamin E supplement to help with antioxidants and help preserve the omegas in the fish! 50-100iu is a great starting point for a Basenji 20-25 lbs

4. Cooked Beef Liver. Helps boosts certain nutrients and also helps with a healthy coat. LIMIT quantities. Nemo, my 25# dog eats only .5 oz a day! More than that and it messes with his copper and Vitamin A values. Keep this in mind for dogs with less weights, etc. 

5. Veggies/Fruits. Contrary to some beliefs, veggies and fruits are actually VERY beneficial to dogs. They help create a good gut biome, offer fiber, Vitamin K, among other nutrients and digestive support. Be sure to blend or pure or cook veggies as dogs cannot benefit from whole veggies.

6. Bone broth. This is a great addition as it adds some nutrient content in along with adding moisture to a very dry, high heated diet. 

7. Meat. In small portions, this is a great addition to any diet! Alternating between different meat sources will also add different nutrients to the diet! Start slow and do one at a time to ensure there are no intolerances. Then you can alternate as needed. 

8. Tripe and Goats milk. These two are also a nice addition to any kibble. Of course, with ALL additions, please use small amounts to start with and reduce or eliminate if issues occur. Start with small amounts and don’t overdo them.

 

USEFUL LINKS on why to add the above:

https://www.thepossiblecanine.com/enhancing-a-kibble-diet

https://therawfeedingcommunity.com/2017/02/12/simple-ways-to-improve-your-dogs-kibble/

 

The first step in a balanced home prepared diet it learning what your particular dog needs to thrive and function optimally. In order to do this, you need to know what your dog’s Metabolic Weight (MW) is. 

 

Below is a step by step in configuring the MW and your start to learning your dog’s needs for nutrient requirements. These values are needed for feeding your dog optimally and other factors that effect their nutrition.

FINDING METABOLIC WEIGHT

While it’s important to first establish some “basics,” I now want to dive a little deeper into the topic of nutrition!  Now that we’ve found a food for you dog, we need to next find the values which will help us feed our best friends optimally! 

 

 

There is a little math, but i promise you it will take no mathematician to solve it! Just copy and paste into google, what I tell you to do and it’ll go smoothly!! Easy, Pease, Lemon Squeezy!  

 

 

First you start by converting your dog’s weight into kilograms.  

(In google put “what is [insert your dogs weight in lbs] X lbs in KG)  Now jot this number down.

 

 

Next, take that number and apply it to the equation below. This will convert it into your dog’s Metabolic weight! 

 

listen carefully, SIMPLY INPUT THIS EQUATION into google, exactly as you see it! (but with your dog’s weight in KG, the number you jotted down)

The equation is:  Wt KG^.7
That means (Weight in KG) ^ (to the power of .75)  

 

 

Example:

26lb dog, quick google search tells you 25lbs = 11.34g. Taking this number, we add it to the equation noted above, in place of the Wt KG portion of the equation, like so:

11.34^.75  (NO SPACES!!!)  

11.34 [SHIFT ]+[#6 key]+.75 (keyboard Shortcut!)

THE ANSWER FOR MY 26 LB DOG IS 6.179.

 

That means my 26lb dog’s MW is 6.179. Now compare it to make sure your dog’s MW is correct.

 

 

THIS NUMBER IS OF GREATEST IMPORTANCE. You will use this number for ALL HOME PREPARED diets and for calculating caloric needs for your dog! Memorize it, it’ll make life easier 🙂

 

 

CONGRATS YOU FOUND YOUR DOG’S METABOLIC WEIGHT!!!

 

Now, onto the next step:

Caloric needs

 

*NOTE*

It is always nice to know how to do it yourself. however, now that you have an idea of how to do it, if you wish to have an easier option, or have multiple dogs that you need to do and you dont like math, here is a link to one that will do it for you AND will give you the nutrient requirements based on your animal’s size and MW.  :D.  CLICK HERE 

DETERMINING CALORIES and ENERGY NEEDS

In order to feed your beloved pet optimally, we need to next make sure that the food you are feeding is meeting your dog’s caloric needs. Calories!

 

As seen in the book Nutrition and Disease Management for Veterinary Technicians and Nurses, Second Edition, “A Calorie is defined as the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 ml of water 1°C. Because this amount of energy is actually very small, what we use in nutrition to express energy content is actually a kilocalorie, or 1000 calories.” (Wortinger 42) 

Calories are often expressed by Kcals for smaller, average animals like dogs and cats, or Mcals for large animals, which is equivalent to 1000 Kcals)

 

Calories = Energy. 

 

In order to thrive and have enough energy, your dog needs it’s caloric needs to be met! Don’t worry, I will walk you through how to do this one also!! Here is how you can determine the caloric needs of your dog. 

 

We want to find the HIGH and LOW range of these values so we know which “range” we should be feeding them when it comes to “cups” of dog food. Once we find this “range” we will monitor the dog and will of course adjust higher or lower until the dog maintains an ideal weight consistently. 

 

Dogs that are very active and require a lot of energy will need to be fed on the HIGH range of the scale, because they are needing more nutrients to suffice their energy requirements for being so active. (a marathon runner will need more calories consumed than a person who sits at a desk job all day, the same is true with our pets.)

 

Dogs that are lazy, sedentary, or senior dogs will typically need less energy and need to be fed on the LOW range of the scale, because they dont use many calories so they dont need to be fed a lot. Feeding a LOW energy dog a HIGH energy diet will cause it to be overweight, and being overweight is NOT healthy for a dog (or any animal) to be! 

 

However, dogs that are active to a degree but aren’t out running marathons, will be fed somewhere in the middle, depending on how active or how lazy they are within a day. I typically will start with a 110 as a “medium” number for dogs that are not super active but are not couch potatoes either

 

 

Again, there is a little math, but i promise you it will take no mathematician to solve it! Just copy and paste into google. See photos to the right for quick views. Do exactly what I tell you to do and it’ll be Easy, Pease, Lemon Squeezy!

 

First there is a HIGH range, generally noted as 130 (but if your dog is extremely athletic and hard to keep weight on, you can increase this number.)  Also there is a LOW range, generally noted as 95 (again, if your dog never leaves the couch, this number can be slightly reduced).  I generally like to start with the High Scale and Low Scale, as shown. 130 and 95. I will adjust the diet if they start to gain or lose weight and redo the math accordingly. 

 

Let’s start. the original equation to this is shown as ME = 130xWkg^.75 but we’ve already established the last part.. (this is our 6.179 number)

 

The HIGH range is to multiply by 130. 

The LOW range is to multiply by 95.

 

So all you simply have to do is:

1. Multiply 130 x MW  

(6.179 (the number we established above as MW) x 130= 803 

     -so 803 Kcals is MAX needs for a 26lb dog

 

2. Multiply 95 x MW. 

(6.179×95= 587 kcals 

     – so 587 Kcals is MIN needs for a 26 lb dog.

 

So no we’ve established that Nemo’s (26lb dog) needs are MAX 803 Kcals to MIN 587 Kcals. 

 

REMEMBER THESE ARE BASELINE NUMBERS. YOU WILL ADJUST AS 

PER THE NEEDS OF     Y O U R   O W N    DOG!

 

Again, you’ll need to adjust this as needed for your dog and as you trial and error it, you may raise or lower the Kcal needed. For a raw diet, I actually find Nemo (who is very high energy) to be more around 850-900 calories (which actually means i multiply his values by 138 and up to 146.) But on a kibble, I recommend sticking closer to the main values TO START WITH and then increase and decrease as needed.

 

Great Work! You’ve established the caloric 

HIGH and LOW range for your dog! Let’s move on!

High end of the Calorie scale is 130 (for athletic, active, high metabolism dogs)

Low end of the calorie scale is 95 (for sedentary/senior dogs)

Adjustments can be made if your dog is extra active/hard to keep weight on

The opposite is true of dogs that are super old and lazy and don’t move all day.

 

Finding a High and Low Range is important because it helps you find the max calories for high energy needed and the minimum calories for low energy needed, and allows you to find a happy medium based on your dog’s individual needs.
NOT ALL dog foods are created equal!

Now that we know what our dog’s caloric needs are for the day, we need to look at dog food brands, what they offer your dog, and how to help put these values to use!

 

 

We first use the Kcals listed on the bag (AAFCO requires the Kcals to be listed on the bag!) So, look on the back of the bag and you will find something along the lines of: 

Calorie Content: 

Metabolizable Energy (M.E. Calc) 3,780 Kkal/kg. 400Kcal Per Cup  

***Ignore the first one, we ONLY want to use the “Kcals PER CUP.***

 

So we have our caloric range for our *example* 25 lb dog as: 

HIGH: 803 kcal 

LOW: 587 kcal

 

Of course the bag will give you guidelines as to X lbs gets X -X cups per day, but we can figure out a more accurate amount needed by the ranges we have found! 

 

HIGH: High is 803. 

So we divide 803/400 Kcals (first number is your dog’s Calorie needs, second number is the Kcals per cup on the bag

Nemo’s high range is 2.007 ( basically 2 cups needed daily for max end)

 

Low: is 587. So we divide 587/400 kcals

Nemo’s Low range is 1.468 (rounding up 1.5 cups daily on min end)

 

So for Earthborn Holistics Coastal Catch (which is the values 400kcals per cup that I used), Nemo, my 25 lb dog needs approx 1.5-2 cups daily.

Which falls within the suggested cup feeding per day, but we know that 1.25 is too little, and he can have MORE than the max end of the 1.75 amount posted. So he should have 1/4 cup more than the suggested range for a dog his size based on his nutrient requirements. 

 

I can now go on the bag and look. the bag suggests that a dog 20-30 lbs needs 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups daily. So we know that he can have up to 2 cups daily, which will meet the MAX value of his caloric needs. But it still shows that he can have 1.5c which is higher than the low scale of the bag. Ultimately we are very close. They don’t always come out this closely but its always nice to double check these values. Especially when using a new brand and new food. So many dog foods differ that it can vary a lot.

 

Important Note: Not only are calories important but also the volume that is fed, especially to a growing puppy. This is especially true when feeding dry foods. If this food amount is excessive, the food travels through the GI tract faster thus causing the digestibility to increase thus resulting in more undigested food which moves into the large intestine and can GI (gastrointestinal) upset such as the result of diarrhea. So it’s important to be very careful that you limit the volume of food per meal. But also important to note that feeding BELOW the recommended value on a bag (or below the caloric needs you’ve established that your dog needs) you are thus reducing the nutrient requirements that the dog is receiving and thus can cause health issues down the road. 

 

So, by doing this quick mathematical equation (you can do it on each bag of food you are interested in feeding), you can see if there are high volumes of food needed to be fed to meet the nutrient requirements of dog/puppy and or caloric needs. If they are high volumes, it generally means it’s a less quality food and needs more to provide the same dietary needs as a food with more quality ingredients (hence less food needed) and its best to find a different food so that the dog in question does not have any GI upset AND that the nutrient requirements are still being met!

HOW TO FIND CARB CONTENT OF DOG FOOD:

 

Although dogs are omnivores (they eat both meat and plants in their diets), sometimes it is nice to know how many carbs (plant based) are within a dog food.

 

We showed you how to look at high and low values for your dog to calculate how much you should be feeding, now we will use the dog food label to determine carb content. 

  

This is quite simple, just look at the back of the bag where it lists the “Guaranteed Analysis” Now find and add up:

                              Protein% + Fat% + Fiber% + Moisture% + Ash% (if given)  = X

                              and simply subtract that number by 100.                           -100 = Carb Content of food 

 

So this particular food would be: 32+18+4+10+ (guess ash is 5-7% normally) well put 6 but this isnt guaranteed= 70. 

100-70= approx 30%-34% carbs. 

Which is the near lowest amount you can get in a dry good. 

Carbs are needed for “binding” of kibble balls (the form you see them shaped into. Without some type of binding, it would just crumble when touched.) 

Most dog foods on the market have 40-60% carbs. 

 

The lower the better, but carbs are still an important part in a dog’s diet. While I try to aim for Low carbs in dry kibbles, in the past I have fed and still do feed foods that have higher carb content as well. While I prefer to feed the least amount of carbs I can within a dry food, I understand that they are needed to create the little “ball” shapes that kibble is formed into. I also include carbs in my NRC balanced Home prepared diets (raw/cooked).

NOTE: The Following is an IN DEPTH nutrition article that I wrote about understanding canine nutrition and the misunderstood aspects that often pollute today’s internet. I put it into an easy “question and answer” format for my readers. Please note that is IS VERY LONG and really goes into ALOT of detail but it would be a great addition to learning about nutrition if one has the interest and intent on learning, so ive included it here. I do want to also note, I’ve been taking multiple canine nutrition courses (I don’t know everything but I am constantly working on furthering my education and helping others feed their best friends the best way possible!  I also help admin an immensely amazing group (which I found after struggling with a raw diet for many years)( i recommend this group to my puppy buyers) RAW FED AND NERDY which has really helped increase my canine nutrition knowledge. All of the admins are currently enrolled in canine courses and some of them have even graduated/got certificates in CASI (a well known nutrition college) and now offer diet formulations for those who dont wish to gain the knowledge to do it themselves but still want to provide a healthy diet to their best friends!

 

Understanding the Misunderstood Aspects of Canine Nutrition

The Science of Pet Nutrition / Amore Basenjis / Whitney Suarez

 

In a world of too many choices, it’s often easy and common to find yourself confused or even frustrated by the thought of what is truly the best food to feed your beloved canine(s). There are constant contradictions spanning all across the internet. It’s no wonder so many pet owners struggle with basic dietary choices. You read different versions of the same story, yet nothing ever seem to match, leaving you feeling hopeless and lost.

 

How does one truly know what is good for their dog and how do they decipher the facts from opinions that currently engulf today’s internet. It can be hard, I won’t sugar coat it. Everyone struggles with deciphering what is “good” information, and what is “repeated” (inaccurate) information. Even the professionals sometimes get it wrong, but thankfully we have science on our side. So, with the help of science, I’m going to try to help ease your frustrated mind. I’ve decided to do a Q&A style article to make it easier in order to answer some of the more commonly asked questions, some commonly misunderstood ideas, and to hopefully shed light on canine diets as best I can:

 

In terms of raw or kibble, which is best for our dogs? Or is it even that simple?

Unfortunately, it’s just not that simple. Certainly, a fresh home prepared diet –be it raw or cooked- is typically better than a dry kibble, in most cases. However, “Raw” is not necessarily always the best case. It is all very circumstantial and with that said, we must first look at the dog before us, to determine what is best for it. Some dogs do not tolerate raw well, for instance dogs that may have IBD or other GI (Gastrointestinal) upsets. Sometimes, eating raw is simply unappealing and it takes everything in a person’s ability just to get the dog to consume any of it, let alone all of it. Other times, the portion sizes for raw are simply too large for a dog to consume thus a home cooked diet may be more appropriate.

 

Let me lead with my own example, my heart and soul Nemo, my 3 year old Basenji. I started Nemo on a raw diet several different times. We originally started out with the ratio diets (80-10-10[5-5]). Partly because it was the “hype” of the internet then, and partly because when I first started raw feeding my dogs back in 2013, that’s what I learned most about. Like many of my past dogs, Nemo was transitioned between Raw and kibble, quite frequently, on and off throughout his life. Due to the fact that I never felt truly confident in the aspects of the whole “ratio diet”, I couldn’t in good consciousness keep him on it long term. I always felt that a raw diet was better for him, but could never fully convince myself of it because I was always seeing contradictory evidence. Besides not understanding how a ratio could ensure a balanced diet, I also physically saw evidence of such. For a couple weeks up to a couple months, he would appear to flourish and thrive and really sparkle like he was living the life. However, just when I would think we were on the right track, he’d resort back to some of the same issues that he had while on kibble. This never made any sense to me and when he would react, I would ultimately switch him back to a kibble diet doubting my own ability to provide him a balanced raw diet. I always secretly hoped that I’d somehow manage to stumble upon “the kibble” that would miraculously do amazing things and ultimately end my wondering and worrying… Needless to say, that never happened. Since I always questioned my ability to feed him a truly balanced home prepared diet, I never really felt confident with the Ratio Diets and so I moved on to higher education.

 

It wasn’t until learning about the NRC (National Research Council) and a group called Raw Fed and Nerdy that my life really changed for the better. I speak more about this group on and off during this article because I truly don’t know where I would be without it!!

THE KEY IS, it’s NOT JUST about INGREDIENTS that compose the diet, but it’s ALSO about the NUTRIENTS! What’s important to know is that nutrients will interact with each other within the body. This is crucial because one can feed many different “ingredients,” but if they do not meet the nutritional “nutrient” needs of the dog, the dog will never thrive. Each nutrient works with or against one another and the basic knowledge of canine nutrition is a MUST in being able to understand the factors that go into creating a truly balanced canine diet. This was one major “aha!” moment for me that really turned my life around in the aspects of a good homemade diet.

Let’s start with some interactions. Did you know that Calcium and Phosphorus have a needed ratio in the body of (ideally) 1.3:1? Did you also know that Zinc and Copper also have a relationship with each other of (ideally) 10:1? What about the fact that Iron too works with and against Cu and Zn? What about Sodium to Potassium? ALA to LA? Vitamins? etc.? … There are so many interactions within the body which need to work together efficiently to make the “whole machine” run smoothly. It’s important to be mindful of them, especially when formulating a canine diet of your own. If just one of them is off, it can cause a domino effect with all of the other nutrients, ultimately affecting the absorption and rate. You see, this is why it’s so important to not just look at ingredients, but to look at the nutrients within the ingredients. “What is my diet providing to my dog in regards to nutrients?” or “Why am I including this type of ingredient into this diet?” These are much better questions to be asking than “What percentage should I be feeding” and “What additions, like golden paste and coconut oil, can I be adding.” As stated before (and will continue to be repeated many times throughout) EVERY DOG IS DIFFERENT!!! So for some dogs, they will need certain variations to help with their particular ailments, etc. Always cater to your dog’s needs and nobody else’s. It doesn’t matter if something works for someone else’s dog, if it doesn’t help your dog, it won’t be of any value to learn it or know it.

 

So, let’s continue. The reason behind Nemo’s struggle with raw, and our constant battle therein, was actually the mineral interactions taking place within his body. It seemed that most times I was feeding him something that the previous diet had perhaps lacked. He would glow and shine and look glorious! Then slowly, the minerals depleted their stores within his body, and he went back to looking dull and itching frequently.  Again, I would switch things up, and he would look vibrant and shine, but eventually he would begin to decline again. It wasn’t until I learned of and started using Precision Raw Feeding, which is a feeding style based on the NRC (National Research Council) guidelines that things really turned around for us. Precision Raw Feeding uses the NRC book “Nutrient Requirements for Dogs and Cats” to establish actual nutrient requirements and guidelines in which all dogs and cats need to survive and thrive. It was only after I implemented a recipe which was formulated specifically for my dog’s nutritional needs that I “consistently” got the results I wanted.

This paragraph may go over many of your heads. Not say you are not smart, but it went over mine as well when I first learned this so please don’t be discouraged if what I say next sounds like gibberish. 😉 There is a lot of “initial” calculations to get started but it’s typically no more work than one would do for a ratio diet but the kicker is it’s generally just a one-time thing (vs ratios which you do continuously) which then carries on through the dog’s life. [The exceptions are growing puppies, lactating mothers, diseased, etc dogs which will have varying needs that adjust with age.] Because there is a bit more to this, I won’t go into detail on everything nor the in depth specifics, but just emphasize on a few major points that are geared towards ADULT HEALTHY DOGS. First, you want to establish your dog’s metabolic weight. You do this by taking your dog’s weight in Kilograms (just google lbs to kg) and then multiplying it to the power of .75. (again, google is amazing) As a quick example, Nemo’s weight is 25#, that converted in Google is 11.34kg. Now take 11.34^.75 (type this exactly as shown, into google- but of course use your own dog’s weight.) For a dog of 25 lbs, you get 6.179 as a Metabolic Weight (MW). Now you take this value (6.179) and multiply it by EACH of the NRC values for each nutrient [Fats, Protein, Carbs, Vitamins, Minerals, etc.] I keep this paper in a binder/notebook (and an extra copy on my computer for safe keeping) and that way I have it for referencing when needed. I will note, Pet Diet Designer (releasing as PetDiet365) does all this work for you if you want to pay for the subscription and skip this step. However there are some down sides to PDD that many users are hoping will get fixed with the new release. I won’t go into detail but it’s always nice to have this information done so you can double-cross check values to make sure it’s being correctly analyzed. Ok, Now you have the MW for your dog, now you need to find calories. You simply take that number again and multiple it by your dog’s energy level (95 being senior, no energy to 130 being high energy hunting dog etc. You can go higher or lower if truly needed, these are the general ranges recommended.) Then you start compiling ingredients into a recipe that meet these nutrient requirements and thus you will have truly formulated a diet that is optimal for your dog. THAT BEING SAID, PLEASE NOTE that this is a rough guideline and there is a lot more to it than that. It CAN be difficult to understand and figure out. Along with mineral interactions, important do’s and do not’s in creating a diet, etc. This is why a professional is your best bet in starting out, and it’s always best to get a firm grasp and gain more knowledge on the basics of canine nutrition to ultimately “thrive” with this type of feeding style and understand what I just said. There are some great courses offered through CASI (Companion Animal Science Institution) and The Possible Canine for canine nutrition courses that are highly recommended to get you started in the right direction. But, let return to Nemo

.

There was yet one more obstacle that we had to overcome before I could truly perfect my dog’s diet, and that was portion sizes. For Nemo, who is a 25 lb Basenji, he needed approximately 850-950 calories a day (not emphasizing on how much of each nutrient), in order to maintain weight and look sharp. Due to the size of portions needed to feed raw, Nemo was never able to consume a full days’ worth within the actual day. Thus, after a while of meals lapsing into the next day, he eventually started to still experience those pesky issues we struggled with prior. Again, I hit the books and started researching and figuring out what else I could do. Cooking for your dog? Was this actually a thing? Here I thought I rarely cook for myself, how could I possibly manage to cook for my dog? I really have never been the “cooking type”, but my special guy’s eyes pierced my soul and there was nothing I wouldn’t do for him. So I began cooking his food. Why, you may ask? The reason behind cooking is twofold. Nemo is, by nature, a picky dog. He just doesn’t really have a food motivation that so many dogs have. If he doesn’t enjoy it, a lot, he won’t eat it. So, by cooking his food, it made it both more delicious and palatable to the mouth, but also it reduced water weight thus creating a more energy dense food.  What I found was that by reducing food bulk, the food was more nutrient dense per 100 grams. The reason is because when you cook food, it reduces in size (water weight) making the original “100g shrink.” Thus, when it shrinks, it leaves the requirement of more food to be added to reach the original 100g that a recipe calls for which in turn causes you to have more nutrient dense food.

 

 

This solved the bulk limiting issue because the nutrients were more concentrated per 100g so the total food volume needed to complete his nutritional requirements was reduced. The smaller portions sizes were consumed entirely, providing all of his daily nutrient needs. Once I started cooking for him, he quickly became shiny again with a super soft coat, clean teeth, no itching, no redness, no saliva stains, and he even enjoyed his meals! And, what’s great about the Precision Raw Feeding Style (NRC based raw) is that YOU DON’T HAVE TO FORCE dogs to eat! With Precision raw, you simply just formulate their meals with what they enjoy in mind! We have ALL heard the “tough love” rule. You know, the “Oh just wait it out, when he gets hungry enough, he’ll eat it.” While this may work with some dogs, it really never worked for Nemo. Besides hating to watch him lose (any) weight and feel like I’m making him suffer, I just couldn’t bring myself to do “tough love.” With his picky nature and carefree attitude, he’d far rather LITERALLY starve than to eat something he doesn’t like. Have you never eaten something and just hated it? I know there are many things that I personally don’t like to eat, and I don’t expect my dog to have to eat something he doesn’t like either just because I WANT him to. Especially when I can formulate to his desires with foods that are naturally appealing to him! I think that is one of the biggest perks of this feeding style and I have loved every minute of it!!

So for us, Cooking is the only way that works. But you see, it REALLY depends on the dog in front of you. Some dogs do very well with an enhanced kibble diet (where you add bits of fresh foods to the kibble.) Some do well on all raw, some do well on all cooked, and some do well with a mix of both. For example, Nemo gets his bone-in portions fully raw- which is normally in the form of rabbit- his absolute favorite of favorites.) When I do not have access to rabbit, I simply use a calcium carbonate supplement, and that works well for us. However, it doesn’t matter what works for my dog because what works for my dog may not work for your dog. The KEY is TO CATER THE DOG IN FRONT OF YOU. Don’t look for “this” and “that” on the internet. Just learn the basics of nutrition, feed your dog the way he does best, and keep tweaking and adjusting until you find the optimal feeding style for him, and then feed that! My dog just turned 3 years old and we have finally found that cooked food truly is his optimal nutrition method. It took forever. I tried raw, I tried kibble (A LOT of them, in fact, multiple brands coursed over the span of like a year and a half-just trying to find one that worked for him). I tried commercial raw, I tried mixing and matching, etc. I kept trying and trying and never letting the failures before me keep me from finding what’s ideal for my best buddy.  Now I know and I don’t have to struggle anymore! Just keep Swimming- as Dory would say.

 

 

What are the different types of Raw and how do they differ from each other? Is there one you would recommend more over the other?

The internet is slammed with many different styles of raw feeding. I’ll try to give the jist of them and how they differ but going too much into detail would be out of the scope of this article.

 

 

First you have Whole Prey. As the name so blatantly explains, you literally take an animal (such as a rabbit, chicken, etc.) and you hand the whole “dead” animal right to the dog. Pretty self-explanatory. The plus is, if you have a dog that enjoys eating whole prey, you don’t have to do any prepping- for the most part. You simply toss and supervise. Downside is that whole prey alone is not actually balanced, contrary to what many may think. One reason is that the body is more so composed of more bone than meat ratios. Also, a lot of dogs will not eat the whole animal, often leaving bits and pieces of things left unconsumed. Whole prey diets often lack in Vitamin E, Manganese, Vitamin D, and Fatty acids. Though this is not necessarily true of all whole prey and I want to note that this is also not to exclude other possible missing nutrients from different forms of whole prey. Also, it’s important to keep in mind that different prey animals make up different compositions of what creates the animal whole. And going even further, every animal has different Fatty Acid profiles and very rarely will you find one animal to have sufficient ALA (or EPA/DHA) and LA together. Just to name a few common deficiencies.

 

 

Next we have PMR, which stands for Prey Model Raw. This is also typically known as a Ratio Diet. This is where you compile a meal of 80% meat, 10% bone, and 10% organ (5% of which is liver). PMR generally does not recommend veggies and fruits to be added. While this can be a great baseline for a great balanced diet, alone it rarely stands up. One major reason behind this is because that you only need 80% “meat” and it’s not specific. Well, someone who has a staple of chicken and turkey will have a vastly different diet than someone who has a staple of beef and lamb. The diet does emphasize that you need “variety,” however still, this has been debunked and is still not normally enough. There have been multiple break downs of Ratio meals that fall short of one or more important nutrients. A major deficiency is Vitamin E. And, of course based on the protein sources chosen, can range from zinc, magnesium, Vitamin D, and/or manganese. So, it’s always important to analyze your recipes to ensure they are actually providing a complete diet. You can check out the files (in the group [RFN] Raw Fed and Nerdy) as there is a detailed list of numerous amounts of analyzed ratio diets that show proof of the shortage of nutritional needs for dogs in the average PMR diet. It’s also important to understand that certain nutrients, such as Vitamins, need to be fed daily because the body cannot store them and also can only absorb so much. Unlike most minerals which the body has the ability to store, excess water soluble nutrients are peed out through the urine. Though still I do think that it is important to note, they can be overdosed in certain cases as well. Water Soluble nutrients, without a daily supply, can cause upsets within the body and trigger external discomfort.

 

 

Lastly I would like to touch on without putting too much detail in due to space constraints is yet another “ratio diet.” This one is known as the BARF diet, which stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. This is a slightly tailored, alternate version of the PMR diet. This one consists of 70% muscle meat (again, not specific which runs the same downsides as PMR), 10% bone, 10% Organ (5% liver, 5% other secreting organ) and includes fruits and vegetables in the 10% range. For ratio feeders, you have the “YES, ADD veggies” and the “DO NOT add veggies” sides. While this is a personal choice of the feeder itself, I do agree with the addition of fruits and vegetables (ask me that a year ago and I would have told you the later.) *See question below for more details*

 

 

If raw doesn’t work for someone, is there something they can add to their kibble? Also, let’s touch a little bit on fruits and vegetables and finally get down to the bottom of it: are they beneficial or aren’t they?

 

 

Let’s start with the first part of this question. YES!! In many cases, an enhanced kibble diet is just the ticket! If for any reason your dog cannot or does not do well on raw or cooked alone, don’t despair! This includes those of you who simply cannot put in the time it takes to prep meals or those who have no time for cooking. Or, maybe you just don’t have the will power to devote. Lastly, it’s also for those of you who simply cannot afford it! Depending on your geographical location, DIY feeding can be expensive so don’t be hard on yourself! Even if you cannot do a full DIY, there still are ways to improve your dog’s dietary needs without the absolute need of a fully prepared DIY diet.

First, I want to make this clear- because I feel like social media has made this a cloudy thought:

 

IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO FEED YOUR DOG A HIGH QUALITY KIBBLE THAT IS ALREADY PRE BALANCED THAN IT IS TO FEED THEM A BADLY PREPARED/UNBALANCED DIY RAW OR COOKED DIET!!!!!

 

I truly cannot emphasize this enough. So many people believe “It’s the raw way, or no way” and that feeding raw is literally is the only way to feed your dog. This just simply isn’t true. ESPECIALLY with puppies, but also with adults, feeding a diet that is just a “throw it together” diet and is not purposefully formulated can be one of the most dangerous diets to feed. It most definitely is not as good as a kibble diet, no matter what some raw feeders may push. It may take time for the effects of a badly formulated diet to come to the surface, but I can almost promise you that eventually they will. So please, I ask that you take this to heart: Learn how to properly formulate a diet yourself, pay a professional to do it for you, OR just simply feed an enhanced commercial diet. These are the best ways to provide your dog with a healthy and adequate diet.

 

 

Now, as described above in detail, a truly balanced DIY can and does tend to offer the most benefits to dogs and satisfaction to their humans; HOWEVER, this is NOT the only way to feed so please know there are other options for you! Do not feel bad if a DIY diet is not possible for you, sometimes it’s just not a good fit for one reason or another.

 

 

First, know your dog! Know the allergies or intolerances your dog has, know past reactions that your dog has expressed to certain foods, and know possible outcomes, if you can, ahead of time. If for whatever reason you cannot, one great way to do this is to keep a log when first starting out so it’s easier to eliminate bad reactions right away and avoid having to do an elimination diet later on. Also, understand that while adding certain things may be beneficial- if your dog doesn’t tolerate them and or cause harm, what exactly is the point? That being said, most dogs will thrive on a high quality kibble (I personally saw great success with a high quality kibble enhanced with fresh foods. I’ll refrain from suggesting certain brands because, again, it will vary drastically on the dog in front of you. I also saw great improvement on one brand for Nemo, though unfortunately this brand is not really an affordable option (roughing around $30 a lb!!!) to the average pet owner- myself included!

 

 

As far an enhancements go, even something as simple as adding water to a diet greatly improves the overall effects it has on the dog’s system. But there are always some other basics that you can add to a kibble diet to offer greater improvement areas. Granted you must always keep in mind, so I’ll repeat this once again: ALL DOGS ARE DIFFERENT SO CATER TO THE DOG IN FRONT OF YOU. For my own dogs, I add warm water (or goats milk to add extra fat when needed), a soft boiled egg (the best way to serve an egg for it to be utilized at max capacity), Omega 3 Fatty Acids (like Fish Oils or canned fish), Antioxidants like Vitamin E (dosing appropriate to the dog and the diet) and of course freshly cooked or pureed veggies. On the topics of veggies, Yes or No, I really can’t emphasize too much but I will leave you with: Yes, they are very beneficial to our dogs (cats, no, not really.) But due to time and space limitations, I can’t go into major detail because that in and of itself would be an article alone. In fact, if you are looking for some more in depth reads on adding veggies to your dog’s diet, please go ahead and check out these exceptional articles on veggies!

 

The wonderful Cat Lane -of The Possible Canine – See the article here: https://www.thepossiblecanine.com/veggies-dog and also her “recommended” list of veggies here: https://www.thepossiblecanine.com/1793-2 and

The Lovely Plear Littlefield – of The Raw Feeding Community- See her article here: https://therawfeedingcommunity.com/2017/05/09/i-started-adding-veggies-to-my-raw-dog-food-heres-why/

 

 

Ultimately and more often, with kibble enhancements, the recommendations given within this article are just the baselines in which you can start with enhancing a diet. A few things I think are important to note: You want to start slowly and introduce new dietary additions, one at a time. This helps to ensure there are no reactions or “overstimulation” to the body systems prior to moving on to the next “enhancement.” Also, not every dog will do well on these additions, so again, formulate with your own dog in mind. Again, due to time constraints, I will just link these great articles (the same authors as above) I very much look up to and respect these women, both of which have gone far and above expectations in trying to improve their knowledge and educate themselves on the topic of nutrition and I think what they have to say is very valuable information:

https://therawfeedingcommunity.com/2017/02/12/simple-ways-to-improve-your-dogs-kibble/

https://www.thepossiblecanine.com/enhancing-a-kibble-diet

 

 

One final note is that, with any kibble enhancement, you want to ENSURE that whatever you are adding to the diet is balanced- with the exception of feeding 15% or less of the current total diet being fed. In other words, if you have a diet consisting of 33 oz, you would want to feed no more than 5 oz as unbalanced additions. In this case, it is not enough of an addition to affect the total balance and thus you do not have to have the additions be fully balanced- similar to adding a small snack here or there. However, if you provide more than 15%, such as those who do a 50% Kibble/50% raw diet, please take time to ensure that the 50% raw portion is truly balanced. If you fail to do so, it can and most often will result in offsetting the balanced kibble and ultimately throwing the whole diet out of wack.

Does it harm our dogs to feed one type of food (such as raw) over the other?

 

 

No. As I stated before, it all comes down to our dogs’ right there in front of us. ALL DOGS ARE DIFFERENT, and this is VERY important for us to always keep in mind. There are large dogs, small dogs, picky dogs, diseased dogs, fat dogs, skinny dogs, nutrient deprived dogs, growing puppy dogs, fast growing dogs, slow growing dogs, nursing dogs, etc. Each dog will require a different modification of nutritional needs and each dog will offer different struggles.

 

 

Sure, some dogs may have similar needs as one or more of its house mates, but taking into consideration each dog’s individuality will help you achieve the most optimal diet for all of your household dogs- in the quickest way possible.

 

 

One thing I do think that is important to add, is that, so long as a diet is truly formulated (whether that be a professional or someone who has done the studying and research it takes in order to gain the knowledge to do it themselves,) you don’t HAVE to vary the diet. This is one major requirement for a PMR and BARF diets. Because the Precision Raw Diets are truly balanced, you can feed one or two professionally formulated diets for the dog’s lifetime without worrying about missing nutritional needs. You cannot do this with a PMR diet alone because you would ultimately result in deficiencies here and there, more than likely. However, it never hurts to offer variety for the pure fact that most dogs enjoy a little mix up of flavors every now and then! I personally have about 3-5 recipes on average, with up to 10 that I circulate through sometimes. I alternate between them to help keep Nemo interested and just for the pure enjoyment of different flavors every now and then for him to experience.

 

 

How do puppies differ from adults in regards to nutrition? Should we change anything from puppy to adult?

 

 

I think it’s important to first know and understand that creating a diet for your dog (at any age) but especially puppies, should not be something taken with a grain of salt. Let me go ahead and explain myself. Most dogs live for an average of 7-14 years. This age varies depending upon many factors including breed, health, genetics, untimely death, disease, nutrition, etc. 7-14 years. That is really not that long. Many of us know this and we feel that their time spent here with us is never long enough. That being said, a dog grows far faster in a far shorter span of time, than say, a human does. I see the whole rebuttal “well I don’t mess around with my own diet, why should I do it with my dogs’ diet”… Well, let’s think about this logically for a moment. What takes us 25 years to reach full growth and to develop into full maturity, a dog does in a mere 1-2 years on average. This means, they have to grow quickly to achieve full development within this short time span, than we do. This also means that during this growth period vital nutrients are needed to develop the body properly. These nutrients are essential to a long and healthy life. Simply put, lacking the required nutrients especially during this critical growing time would be detrimental to their health and wreak havoc later on in life. This is why it’s so important to understand and accept that growing puppies will have a much higher and more specific needs than an adult will. Adult dogs have a higher flexibility and tolerance to gaps in nutrition, but puppies do not. Of course, adult dogs still greatly benefit from an optimal diet; Puppies tend to be less forgiving.

 

That being said, it’s vital that you have puppies on a fully balanced diet right from the get go. Either a premade commercial raw/high quality kibble diet that is AAFCO or FEDIAF specifically formulated “for growing puppies” / “All Life Stages” or through booking a professional consult with a nutritionist that will formulate for the growth of the puppy and adjust it to the puppy as it grows and its needs changes. I personally recommend Plear Littlefield of Raw Feeding Community as she has many years in puppy growth formulations and she has invested many many hours to learning their special needs during growth. In fact, when I get my new puppy in the next 3 years, I plan to have her do a puppy formula for me too!

 

It’s also VERY important to keep in mind that puppies go through a major, rapid growth periods (between 3-5 mos. of age) and are constantly changing until adulthood. Therefore, major irreversible damage can happen on a poorly formulated DIY diet.  In addition, puppies cannot regulate nutrients or synthesize their own nutrients until they are mature. This is why its super important puppies are put on a balanced diet right from the start! Whether on a DIY raw, a commercial raw, or commercial kibble, please invest time in learning about puppy diets and growth and understand when the warning signs appear so that you can help avoid problems that will result later on from a poor diet.

 

Ensuring your kibble (which should be AAFCO formulated for Puppies/All Life Stages) is met with high quality nutrients, the “portion size” isn’t too large that it will cause gastric upset and diarrhea, for instance, and that you are feeding your puppy for a LEAN/MODERATE (not Maximum) growth rate. Puppies should be LEAN (not fat!!) while growing because this sets them up for the healthiest future possible! By growing puppies up lean, you limit potential risks of bone disorders and abnormal bone growths, you limit the risks of them being overweight as an adult (there’s strong evidence to believe that a puppy who grows up overeating and more plump than a lean puppy, will continue to want to overeat and be plump as an adult.) So you set them up for success AND limit potential for health issues later on! Plus all that extra weight on joints and their feet can cause structural issues as well, that, if they were lean or of moderate growth weight, they may have been more correct! This is especially true for show breeders who want to have perfect structure to keep back for breeding! You improve your odds of a healthier puppy and future show dog/breeding potential when you feed an optimal diet!

 

What supplements are good? Are they effective? Do they work?

 

Short answer: Yes, supplements are great, effective, and do work. Long answer: Of course, I always recommend meeting nutritional requirements with whole foods, whenever possible, however sometimes, it is just more appropriate to add a supplement. I wrote a blog about this here: https://www.facebook.com/thescienceofpetnutrition/posts/364711334074775:0?__tn__=K-R  

It is important to recognize that adding in many foods (just to boost nutrients) can upset the nutrient balance within the diet. Another important factor to remember is that you need to know WHERE your diet lacks in order to meet nutritional needs. The “add this and that” because it might help mentality is not useful. It is important to ask yourself, “Why am I adding coconut oil?” or “Why am I adding golden paste, goat milk, chia seeds, etc.?” Sure, these things may be “beneficial” to some dogs and add certain lacking nutrients within the body; but adding them in “just because celebrity #1 says so” is not a valid reason.

 

It’s important to understand your dog’s nutritional needs and to add foods that add up to meet them. Say your dog has overly itchy, dry skin. Perhaps a Vitamin E and Fish oil may be beneficial. Perhaps your dog is skinny with weight gain needs, then maybe some goat’s milk may do the trick. The key is to not read how “X is beneficial to dogs because…” but rather “why is this ingredient needed in the first place?” Just because it’s on the internet, or better yet, repeated a million times, does not make it true.

 

My best advice for you is to do your own due diligent research and at least try to gain a basic understanding of canine nutrition. I understand that not everyone wants to gain insight on the topic or to put in the work, and that’s ok. In those cases, I really do recommend you either 1. Stick to a premade/commercial diet that is already pre-formulated for your dog, OR 2. You enlist the help of a professional nutritionist who can do the work for you!  For those of you who do wish to dive in and educate yourself, The Raw Fed and Nerdy group is always my first go to in suggestive groups on Facebook. It is an exceptional place to start, as it’s a group “For the Nerds!” Nerd out and never worry about being too “nerdy” there because that’s what it’s there for. Dive as deep and indulge as much as you want! You can visit their website to start your education even before being accepted into the group! I recommend this page to begin learning how to raw feed correctly: https://rawfedandnerdy.com/learn-to-raw-feed-correctly.  You can also take the ~*!!FREE!!*~ Fall nutrition course which will help educate you on the basics of nutrition and help you understand what you need to know in order to feed your pet in the most optimal way. The fall course is located here: https://rawfedandnerdy.com/course/a-nutritional-approach-to-raw-feeding

 

If someone wants to start feeding raw – how do they go about it? There are a lot of different views on this! 

 

We all know that there are hundreds of different “opinions” on the internet on what constitutes as the “right” way to raw feed your dog. It can be daunting just differentiating between the “good” information …and the “repeated” information. Just because you see something written 100 different times in 50 different places, doesn’t make it true. So it’s important to keep that in mind, to research, and to understand this before investing in any “one right” way of feeding. I personally choose the science based version because it makes me feel better knowing there are studies, research, and information to back it up; however it will be up to you, as your dog’s owner, to choose what you feel is best for them.

So let us dig a little deeper. I think it is important that you first ask yourself “Am I wanting to feed commercial raw or do a DIY diet (raw, cooked, etc.)”  There are pros and cons to each so let’s discuss both commercial and DIY raw diets:

 

Let’s start with a commercial raw diet. This might be more appropriate for someone who can afford it. Commercial diets tend to be more expensive than a DIY. But the advantage to a commercial raw is that they are pre-formulated and more appropriate than a badly prepared DIY diet in which the owner doesn’t have the prior experience in canine nutrition, which really is needed. Commercial diets are also great for those who do not have the time or desire to prep homemade raw dog food. It can be very time consuming to get all the ingredients and combine them into meals for your dog. Buying a bag of raw and measuring and serving, similar to what we do with kibble, is a lot easier and more convenient.  Lastly, not everyone is educated enough (nor has the time to commit to said education) to learn or know how to properly formulate a DIY diet. It’s not just about throwing some raw ingredients together and “balancing over time,” or hoping it balances- it’s a little more complicated than that. Samples include Mineral interactions within the body, too much of one and not enough of another, etc. So not knowing how to formulate nor having the time to do so properly is another reason a lot of people enjoy commercial raw. 

But for a lot of us, DIY raw tends to be the answer. In today’s society, many households just cannot afford the prices of commercial raw foods and thus we must create our own.  DIY raw tends to be cheaper. This is because we can find sales/deals, friends or family give us leftover freezer meat or we can advertise and sometimes get free “freezer clean outs.” Hunters also often times will give their excess scraps away as well, but more importantly, we’re cutting out the middle man which drops costs dramatically.  When the prices are not inflated for profit, you don’t have to pay as much. Another HUGE beneficial part of a properly formulated DIY raw is that you can formulate for your dog specifically. With the education you’ve learned from improving your canine nutrition knowledge, you can formulate exactly what your best friend needs.  There are many dogs that have specific health restrictions, allergies, intolerances, diseases, etc. that seem to be intensified by commercial products. (Ok, maybe not necessarily intensified but more so, they seem to disappear more with a properly formulated DIY diet). With a DIY raw, you can adjust the diet specifically for your own dog and thus create a diet that is more optimal for him (or her) than the “generic” meal plan you get with commercial diets; Which have to be formulated for multiple dogs in mind, instead of just one. Having a more individualized meal plan for your dog can benefit them greatly- I know it does for Nemo!  So, for a lot of you, a DIY raw has improved your dog’s life (symptoms, issues, etc) and that’s why you chose to do a DIY in the first place! Lastly, it may be more time consuming but knowing that you have a diet formulated specifically for your dog’s nutritional needs, is worth it for a lot of us; especially the nerdy ones.

Besides, there are ways to create a less time consuming DIY. I’d like to go into more detail on that now:

 

1. Do bulk batches instead of daily meal preps. For most, trying to create a balanced diet every day for a dog can be both time consuming and energy draining not to mention maddening. Instead, formulate a “daily” diet and then multiply it. Ideally, you would either hire a professional OR use a program such as Pet Diet Designer (releasing as PetDiet365) or Chronometer, or even something as simple as an excel sheet or a good old pen and paper. [Note: You’ll need the help of a professional if you don’t have the knowledge to do it yourself. Knowing about the NRC and how to formulate using the nutrient requirements of dogs (and cats) is vital in a properly formulated diet!] So pay a professional to make you a recipe (or a few) and meanwhile, you can educate yourself so that you can create one in the future and not have to worry about it! [The Possible Canine has courses that are extremely valuable in this aspect.  BASICS OF CANINE NUTRITION and CANINE DIET FORMULATION would be exceptional courses to sign up for in order to establish the education to start successfully formulating your own diets.] I am currently enrolled on both, among others. But in the beginning of my own journey, even I had a professional formulate my dog’s diet so that I could focus on learning and educating myself before I dove into the diet formulations. …Now that you have a diet formulated, simply multiply that daily diet by a time frame in which you feel you will have time to meal prep again! I normally recommend 1, 2 or 3 week intervals. I personally use 3-5+ different recipes and I will alternate between them. My “magic” number seems to be about 16 days per recipe batch. My formulations seem to create “even” numbers in the supplements needed, etc. and 16 days gives me over 2 weeks to prepare for another batch prep. Another cool thing is, if you have the freezer space, (and are an advanced batch prepper) you can actually do multiple recipe batches in one day. All you have to do is make sure you keep each recipe separate (so I advise only doing one at a time) and freeze the extras. This can create several months’ worth of food in smaller batch sizes. [You wouldn’t want to do several months of one recipe for many reasons, one big one being that it’s just too much of a mineral/vitamin distribution for that long.] In 1, 2 and 3 week batch preps, the nutrients are all distributed between those days. It’s best to keep smaller time frame batches for optimal absorption. Another reason being that if your dog doesn’t do well on a particular recipe OR if your dog is picky, you only have to get through 1, 2 or 3 weeks and then can adjust to a new one to reignite interests or to remove completely and start a new one! Once you have a “Batch” prepped (being sure you keep the “must feed daily’s” separate, simply divide the batch total by the number of days and divide that amount into small daily portion sized baggies. (I usually use sandwich baggies for Nemo) and I place about 4 of them into a gallon storage baggie.  Then I simply pull one bag, feed for 4 days and pull another one. I empty the contents of the one “daily” baggy into the food dish, and add my daily requirements (vitamins (E, D, B, etc.), (fish, etc.) oils, eggs/fish if in the recipe, etc. Then I place it down and let them eat!

 

2. Write things down and learn where your time consumption is spent and try to “problem solve” on ways to reduce time. If you know where the delays are, you can possibly save more time as you learn and evolve with your meal preps!

 

3. For those of you who have to do cooked diets (like myself) instead of raw, try Bulk Cooking! This works great because you can cook “all” of one protein, for instance, and then just freeze the rest! What I actually do is use those “not for resale” individual 1lb ground beef baggies. I’ll cook, say my beef liver, the WHOLE beef liver, and save what I don’t use. To give you an idea, nemo eats half an oz. a day of beef liver. A whole beef liver weighs probably 15-20 lbs.! So I cut it into little bite size chunks, boil or pan fry it, and then I normally just freeze the pre-cooked liver in said baggies. Lastly, I will measure out the needed portion sizes for certain recipes (which I plan to feed next) and store them, pre measured and pre-cooked in the freezer. When I take time to do this, I simply have to pull a pre-done baggie from the freezer, thaw and throw into my batch because it’s already pre measured out for my recipe. I make sure to write the amount, the ingredients, and how many days the amount provides for before popping them into the freezer. So the upfront time it takes me to individually cook and bag it is saved for later on when I maybe am running low on time and food and I need to prep again! This helps save me from unthawing too much or not enough and wasting even more time! It’s extra work right away but in the long run, I find it most time saving!

 

4. Talk with other raw feeders who can give ideas and tips on how to improve time spent prepping. We nerds really enjoy talking about meal preps, so join us in RFN and learn some possible new ways on how to cut meal prepping time! We all have those “well, I know what NOT to do” moments and those help also! LOL

 

Now, Due to my intricate detailing and lack of time and space, I have to finish up this question quickly with one last suggestion. In addition to determining whether to feed commercial or DIY, I lastly recommend building a strong foundation in your understanding of canine nutrition and the dog’s nutritional needs. Formulation is a whole other step that can be time consuming at first. The difference with using a nutritional approach in raw feeding is that you fully understand what your dog needs and what your dog is getting in the diet. After learning about nutrition and formulation, you can move on to transitioning to raw. Transitioning will be different depending on the dog. Some dogs benefit from longer transition periods while others can make the switch quicker. In general, a cold turkey transition (even though popular) will result in digestive upset. What the dog was eating before will also determine how the transition will go. For a more comprehensive guide, I recommend checking out this one from Raw Fed and Nerdy. 

 

Previously you spoke about going into depth with my dog’s diet. I don’t track my own diet, why should I do it with my dogs?

This is commonly tossed around the internet, but we definitely see it a lot in the RFN group when *new* or *long time* raw feeders come over to the land of the nerds. Let’s face it, we ARE nerds. In RFN, as the NAME IMPLIES, Raw Fed and NERDY, we like to go more into detail than others might. While you may not want to go AS far in depth as some of us nerds, I still think it’s immensely important to at least just see where you are. What does it really hurt? Some common phrases that people use to rebuttal this question are below, along with some explanations as to why they really don’t make any sense.

 

For starters, “Wolves don’t have calculators, so my dog doesn’t need to have me do this either,” … Yes, while it is true, wolves do NOT have calculators and they do not go into depth on what they eat, they eat what they eat when they can. However, this rebuttal really has no validity. Wolves live on average, like maybe 5 years if they are lucky. They are often riddled with diseases and live short, unhealthy lives. They don’t have someone watching over what they eat and thus eat what they can find until they pass away. Sometimes they don’t get to eat at all and suffer immensely from this. This, again, doesn’t relate to our companions because, first of all, they are not wild. They are not expected to survive on poor dietary choices or suffer from the lacking ability to find food. PLEASE do not make your dog fast for a day or more just because wolves do… Wolves are NOT healthy. Your companion that lives with you and relies on you to provide them a healthy, balanced diet where they actually get to eat daily is why they are not the same. Your 2 lb Chihuahua is not and never will be a wolf, it a Chihuahua. They may have descended from them, but they are NOT wolves. So please just stop using this excuse, it doesn’t even relate. 😉

 

“Well, I don’t look at my own nutrients, I sure am not going to do it for my dog!” That’s your choice, but please bare this in mind. IT is YOUR choice NOT to do that for yourself, it is not their choice. Also, without going too much into detail, Americans are some of the unhealthiest people in the world. We struggle with health issue after health issue because its just the “new common thing.” Regardless, another reason “you” and your dog are not the same is this. A human will live on average 70-100 years. What it takes a human 25 years to mature, it takes a mere 2-3 years for a dog whose average lifespan is maybe 10-15 years. Now let’s think about this for a moment. The FIRST YEAR especially, in a dog’s life, is the most critical. That dog is growing at a rapid rate to reach maturity in just a couple years’ time. Their bones, their tissues, muscles, organs, etc all grow at rapid rates to reach maturity. The effects of a badly prepared diet during their critical growth stages, especially the “rapid growth” stages (around 3-5 months of age) are critical to have proper nutrition at its finest. This is why, in RFN, the admins are so adamant about the diet being formulated by an NRC/Precision Raw feeding Nutritionist.

 

There may not be anything wrong right now. Your dog may be looking amazing and doing great, but I am telling you, IT CAN and most likely WILL end up in devastation down the road (ESPECIALLY FOR PUPPIES) if you do not at least attempt to provide a formulated diet. This is why dogs survive and do fine on kibble diets, because at least there is a STANDARD in which the food has to be up to. Sure, there is A LOT of riff raff on kibble and some foods…YIKES… I wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole. But the higher quality kibbles AND some of the Raw commercial products which are AAFCO formulated (or FEDIAF) are made to meet the dog’s nutritional requirements and, if you do not want to dive in deeper to formulating a diet, a quality commercial diet would be optimal for your companion. I WILL REPEAT THIS: A GOOD QUALITY KIBBLE/COMMERCIAL RAW IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN A BADLY PREPARED DIY RAW DIET. Not everyone will agree with me, but this is factual.

 

“I never hear of dogs having health issues, and mine are fine and have been fine for years and years and years. I’ve fed this way for the past 40 years and ive never had any issues…” While you may have been the exception to the rule or perhaps you’re just super lucky and your past dogs have not experienced any issues; alternatively, perhaps you just maybe never noticed them and they were mild- it matters not. They happen, and they happen every day. Maybe not to your dog or dogs around you per say, but to dogs around the world, it happens. I think this is important to also mention: MOST PEOPLE TEND NOT PUBLICALLY ADMIT THAT THEIR DOG HAS HEALTH RELATED ISSUES FROM a DIY RAW FEEDING MISHAP. I am not sure why, entirely, that people do this. I assume that perhaps they are ashamed, or afraid of backlash. Admitting you fed a dog wrong and forced them into a diseases that was preventable is not an easy pill to swallow or easy to admit. Nor is it easy to hear people attack you when you already feel bad enough. I do feel for those of you who have followed the advice of “pop culture raw feeders,” where you were only trying to do what was best for your dog, and ultimately ended up with irreparable health effects resulting. My heart is truly with you and I for one will not shame you. You love your dog, and you wanted what was best for them and I am truly sorry that something bad happened, but you can learn from this mistake and make the lives of your future dogs better. Don’t let this lesson be in vein. Perhaps the “fear” or “attacks” hide you from sharing it publically and this is probably why so many people can say that they haven’t heard of or seen any raw related issues come up. But just because you don’t see them, doesn’t mean they are not there! But I am going to tell you right now, A LOT OF DOGS HAVE SUFFERED FROM A BADLY FORMULATED RAW DIET, not just yours. Growth issues, eye issues, bone/hip issues, joint issues, stomach issues, diseases, etc have ALL been PROVEN to be a direct effect of lacking proper nutrition. Maybe not always solely on nutrition but it definitely affects it. So, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE take my warnings on this to heart. Be better safe than sorry. Due to the importance of a properly prepared diet, I recommend that you either hire a professional, study while learning in depth canine nutrition to do it yourself, OR choose a high quality commercial product which is pre formulated with AAFCO/FEDIAF. A raw or high quality kibble diet that is commercially prepared will be better than your “balance over time,” “throw it together and feed” theory diet, any day. 

 

I’m interested in buying some books and other reading materials, to further get educated on Canine Nutrition. Which one(s) would you recommend?

 

For beginners, I actually very much enjoyed the book “K9 Kitchen” by Monica Segal. This was the first nutrition book I read and I have to say, it was very well written and easy to understand. A great “in the door” book for beginners.

 

For those who have read the prior, or who have a minor introduction to canine nutrition, I am in love with the books “Canine and Feline Nutrition” and “Dog Food Logic,” both by Linda P Case (The Science Dog). These books go into such great depth about nutrition and are so educational on many different levels. You cannot go wrong with these books, they are WELL WORTH the investment!

 

For the advanced reader, who really wants a deep understanding of nutrient requirements for dogs and cats, the expensive (roughing around $150-$300) but very very informative book “Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats” by the NRC (National Research Council) would be a highly recommended book as well. 

 

All over the internet, the commonly expressed phrase in raw feeding is “Balance over time.” What is your opinion on this?

 

Absolutely, I think that balancing [some] things over time is a great concept! It helps keep things easier on people who maybe don’t have enough time to prep meals daily. It also puts less stress on making things right ‘every meal’ or simply just ‘”making” every meal in general, easier. I personally do it with great success but one has to be mindful of the nutrients that can be balanced and those that need to be met daily. This is where most tend to fail in this realization and thus where issues start to arise. It’s very important to understand what can and cannot be balanced. I don’t make Nemo’s meals balanced daily, per say, but I do create batch preps which cause the “batch” to be balanced and distributed over so many days. ALL of the “balanceable” nutrients needed daily are added into this batch and divided between the batch prep amount (normally around 2 weeks.) There are nutrients that can be included in the “batch” (balanced over time) and other nutrients that must be fed daily and should NOT be included. Some of the common nutrients that should NOT be balanced overtime and should be fed DAILY are: Fatty Acids (fresh/canned fish, fish oil, etc,) Antioxidants (like vitamin E,) and Vitamins (B vitamins, for example, should be given daily as they are water soluble and excess B will be peed out thus they can’t “balance over time” because it doesn’t stay in the body and get stored like other minerals do.) I also always recommend feeding eggs fresh daily partly due to ease of the “crack and serve” style but also because of possible health issues (egg white trypsin and biotin deficiencies- Please See Canine Feline Nutrition page 283 for more details). Other extras like Goats milk, Fruits, and veggies (cooked or pureed for best benefit), etc can be added to the batch or served fresh daily depending on your own preference. I tend to serve these fresh as well but some choose to include them in the batch prep.

Another thing to consider is Calcium. While I do understand that it’s not always possible to make every meal balanced perfectly, I want to STRONGLY DISCOURAGE the whole “Bone Inclusive one day and Non bone inclusive the next” mentality that some of your more “typical” raw feeders tend to be following. This is actually very dangerous ESPECIALLY TO A GROWING PUPPY (!!!!) but also to adult dogs as calcium has such a major impact on the body. I highly advise against non-inclusive calcium (no bone inclusive) meals. If your dog cannot tolerate bones (gulper, choker, etc) I suggest using an alternative like a Calcium Carbonate supplement to meet calcium needs or using a grinder that is able to grind bones with ease. These are the best ways to provide calcium with some obstacles that stand in the way.

I will note that Calcium is included in my batch mix because I normally shoot for the 2 week range with my batches. This way it’s not really being “balanced over time” because it is actually being given daily, just in varying degrees. The key is that it’s just “distributed” over the course of 2 weeks in at least some degree. This is why the average/new raw feeder fails. The KEY problem with raw feeding today is that you cannot possibly know what is being balanced over time if you have no idea the foods in which you are providing are actually offering which nutrients your dog needs. Not knowing what, for example, 5oz of beef offers nutrient wise will keep you from knowing what is actually truly balanced. This is why it’s so important to have that basics of canine nutrition education. Think of food as nutrients, not as ingredients. Every food you provide will offer some degree of the nutrients needed for the dog to survive. By knowing which foods offer which nutrients, you can meet the daily needs much easier and feel much more confident about feeding your dog than a raw feeder who doesn’t know these things.

 

A professional, canine nutrition student, or just educating yourself (truly diving in, reading, learning, taking courses, etc) and using programs such as [the beta version] Pet Diet Designer (Officially releasing as PetDiet365-Paid Subscription) or Chronometer (free) are the best ways to ensure your dog’s diet is truly and optimally balanced. These allow you to track the actual nutrients within your dog’s diet and thus hit target nutrient ranges. Please do keep in mind that these all have a learning curve and to try not to get discouraged when things don’t work out the way you want, right away. It will happen. These programs definitely come in handy, once you get used to them! It will especially benefit your companion unlike some raw feeders who are not following the NRC based Precision Raw who do end up with lacking diets in one area or another. By learning how to do it correctly, both you and your dog will be so much happier! I don’t recommend doing meat only meals one day and high bone content meals the other for many reasons. I know I touched on this prior but I want to emphasize this. One of which being that the body can only absorb so much at a time so offering large bone meals will only provide so much calcium and the excess calcium will not be benefitted from. Another reason being that it causes painful, hard white stools and constipation which is very uncomfortable for our friends. These among other reasons are why we should balance meals and/or at least balance batches that are spread over the course of so many days. Keep in mind, normally these high bone or no bone meals do cause issues within the body, whether physically noticeable or not. That being said, we all do what we feel is best and I’m not here to tell you what to do. Only you can make the “right” choice based on the information provided to you. I will also go ahead and link an article on the importance of calcium balance within the body and what too much bone can do (or not enough) on your dog’s body. You can check that article out here: https://www.facebook.com/thescienceofpetnutrition/photos/a.302560056956570/337227566823152?type=3&sfns=mo

 

Lastly, I just want to say this. Those of you who are reading this, I have no doubt that you are feeding (or wanting to feed) a raw diet because you want what is best for your dog. Not everyone cares enough to nerd out as much as some of us, and that’s ok. Not everyone wants to switch to a raw diet and provide themselves a lot more work, that’s ok too, but some of us do. I just want you to know, though, that it does NOT have to be as hard as some people make it. Also- things will get better and easier as you trial and error ways of doing things. In the beginning it will be challenging and can cause a lot of headaches and frustration but PLEASE know that there is a land of nerds waiting to help! I struggled for months using PDD (Pet Diet Designer) but now I am so much more confident with it! I can formulate quite quickly, in most cases, a diet for my dog. It helps when I need to mix things up for his pickiness or whatever other reason may come about as to why. But I just want to say that it DOES get better! Have faith, stay strong, and carry on! You got it! Here is a post I wrote on my Instagram (thescienceofpetnutrition) about the struggles of newness, and how perseverance and encouragement can affect a person in a positive way. https://www.facebook.com/299106163968626/posts/347232982489277?sfns=mo As they say, “The beginning is always the hardest,” because we don’t “know” it so we have to learn it. It’s always difficult learning a new language, how to ride a bike, drive a car, etc. I hope that this post will give you some extra confidence and you can carry on loving and providing the best diet possible for your beloved canine! 

If you had to choose one last thing to say here that could educate people, what would it be?

 

First, I would want to quote 2 famous sayings here that I think are really relevant. The first is “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” If you don’t help others learn, they’ll never thrive and never truly appreciate something like you do. This is true in all aspects of life but nutrition is definitely a part of that as well. There’s a difference between telling someone something that will help them one time, and telling them something that will teach them “lifetime lessons.” There’s also a difference in being selfish and not wanting to help others open their minds too. Someone taught you, shouldn’t you return the favor? (Think of your family/friends who taught you how to walk, talk, etc.)… Personally, I love educating people. It gives me such a feeling of accomplishment, of pride and positivity that I could say something or do something and in turn, somebody else’s life is enriched. I also am a deep passionate person that cares on a truly emotional level, about all dogs, not just my own. I genuinely enjoy helping people because I help their beloved 4 legged friends to also find happiness, even when there is no “gain” in it for me. It’s just who I am. I have devoted all of my life to dogs. I train, I groomed, I breed, I show, I rescued, etc. But most importantly, I always try to educate myself on topics that deeply interest me, to the best of my ability, so that I can share accurate knowledge with others to help enrich their lives. I have always been a giver, and I don’t plan to change that anytime soon. I will always offer help and advice (when I can) if someone comes forth to ask me for it. That being said, I can now come to my second quote: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.” I always try to find scientific basis for everything I learn, in regards to nutrition and dogs in general. But sometimes, people are just stubbornly stuck in their ways and there’s no changing their minds. No amount of facts or education can convince them, and unfortunately this is just life. This quote is perfect because although “one” can lead you to the scientific answers (water), only you can make the choice to listen (drink). Now I’m definitely not saying that I know everything. HEAVENS NO!! I DO NOT, FAR FROM IT!!! I don’t know everything, and I’ll definitely be the first to admit it! But I do invest a lot of time in research and I do invest a lot of time reading and taking courses to improve my knowledge. Although I am still learning and educating myself, that doesn’t mean I won’t make a mistake. I’m sure I may say something that later on I find out needs adjusting (isn’t that science though?) I still strive to be an open minded individual who is willing to change and evolve my mind with the current times. After all, how can we ever learn and educate ourselves if we never believe a thing that’s presented to us.

 

Ultimately I’d just like to sum up that nutrition is an ever changing topic, as are a lot of life’s joys. The best thing we can do is live in the now, educate ourselves, learn and evolve with science and research, and do the best we can. For our dogs, we need to focus on what’s best for them. Something may work for So and So down the street but for our dog, it may wreak havoc. Adjust. Experiment. Persevere. Every dog is different and you owe it to your own dog to find out what works best for them, and do that. If your dog is doing well, perhaps making minor improvements for the sake adding value to their life and keeping them healthy will benefit them. Start by looking into what their dietary needs are and how to create a truly balanced diet. If you cannot do raw or simply want to educate yourself more before diving in (that’s great!) perhaps an enhanced kibble diet would be best for now. Or if you don’t feel like a kibble diet is good enough, use a commercial raw or hire a professional to get you that personal, one on one meal plan set up, even if its ust to get you through the learning phase to do it yourself! If your dog is sick or has special needs, or is a puppy, I STRONGLY recommend you consult a professional before moving forward with a DIY home prepared diet due to their special needs. Be sure to do your research on nutritionists as not all are created equal. You want to find one who FOCUSES on NRC guidelines and can give you a detailed breakdown of this. But ultimately, keep in mind, that for an adult healthy dog recipe, it is realistic to learn how to formulate yourself (and can be learned fairly quickly), it just takes time to learn the material and become acquainted with the knowledge you need to properly formulate. For those of you who are willing and want to educate yourself in nutrition and be ABLE to feed your dog the best, You can start by going through the wonderful Raw Fed and Nerdy website (listed above but ill post again) https://rawfedandnerdy.com/learn-to-raw-feed-correctly which will give you some wonderfully useful information about nutrition. You can try to join raw feeding group such as RFN (raw Fed and Nerdy) or RFC (Raw Feeding Community) or even sign up for a course! (FREE course is given by RFN: https://rawfedandnerdy.com/course/a-nutritional-approach-to-raw-feeding) or you can do in depth paid courses like the ones The Possible Canine provides (personally am addicted to them, I’ve signed up for – I believe about 6 or 7 now!!) A Course listing is found here: https://www.thepossiblecanine.com/courses. Lastly you could begin with a diet audit on your own or hire a professional to help get the ball rolling. The Admin staff in RFN are all currently enrolled in Canine Nutrition courses and a few are actually CASI (Companion Animal Science Institute) graduates [http://www.casinstitute.com/nutritiondep.html]. 

 

But regardless of everything else- whether you feed a balanced DIY Raw or Cooked meal, a pre-balanced premade commercial raw, or an enhanced kibble diet- you are still taking big steps in the right direction in order to provide a great nutritional foundation for your cherished companion. Whatever you may choose, the most important thing to remember is that whatever works best for you and your dog IS and ALWAYS WILL BE what is the best to feed them!