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Lew Olson's newly revised edition is filled with an abundance of new topics and information. Whether you are new to home feeding or a seasoned raw feeder, have a senior dog or a new puppy, a pregnant mom or a toy breed, this book presents all the information you need to make the best nutritional decisions for your dog.
Lew Olson's newly revised edition is filled with an abundance of new topics and information. Whether you are new to home feeding or a seasoned raw feeder, have a senior dog or a new puppy, a pregnant mom or a toy breed, this book presents all the information you need to make the best nutritional decisions for your dog. 



Let’s start by talking about Kidney Disease. We will discuss what it is and what it isn’t. Recently I have had several people sending me questions about their dogs that were recently diagnosed with having kidney disease. They are scared, searching frantically for what to do next, what diet will help, and the best plan of action.

Want to Feed the Best Diet for Your Dog, But Don’t Know How?

Now there is a fast and easy way to learn! Check out Lew Olson’s easy-to-follow, on-line course videos! Read on to learn about Canine Nutrition and preparing Raw and Home Cooked Diets! Click for Video

There are two types of kidney disease. Acute and Chronic. Chronic disease can’t be reversed and are most often caused by genetic or congenital causes. It can also be caused by poisoning or other serious trauma or injury.

Acute Kidney disease has a cause or source and is most often treatable. Old age DOES NOT CAUSE KIDNEY DISEASE. Common causes of increased kidney values such as creatinine, BUN and phosphorus will be discussed below. I always recommend that if your dog is diagnosed with kidney disease, proceed with these tests to rule these potential causes out. I would hate to see any dog owner miss something treatable.

In a Kidney Disease diagnosis, BUN and Creatinine will be above normal, but in true renal disease, these can climb rapidly. Slower moving of these numbers can mean a lot of things.


  1. Urinary tract infection (UTI): A UTI causes elevated BUN and Creatinine. If you suspect a UTI, get a Sterile Urine Culture done at your veterinarian’s office. The test will be sent to a lab to either rule out a UTI or determine which bacteria are present causing the infection. The results take a few days, but UTI’s are very treatable with the RIGHT antibiotic given for at least 2 – 4 weeks.
  2. Leptospirosis titer: There are 7 strains of leptospirosis, however, the current vaccine only covers 3 or 4 of these strains and the vaccine is only good for 3 or 4 months. Penicillin given for two weeks cures leptospirosis if discovered early in the bacteria infection.
  3. Tick Borne Disease: This issue can cause elevated renal numbers (BUN and Creatinine), so a Tick-Borne test should be run to rule it out. Doxycycline is used most often for tick borne diseases.
  4. Cushing’s and Addison’s Disease: These two diseases can cause elevated liver and/or kidney levels. An ACTH stimulation test can be done at your veterinarian’s office to determine if your dog has either of these diseases. Addison’s is more easily treated with low dose steroids and there are now newer medications available for Cushing’s disease.
  5. Medications: Medications such as anti-inflammatories, steroids and some antibiotics, to mention a few, can cause elevated renal values. Sometimes long term use of steroids and anti-inflammatories can cause permanent renal damage. However, if caught early, they can be stopped and renal function can return to normal.

If you suspect your dog may have kidney disease and you are waiting for a firm diagnosis and treatment plan, a good interim treatment is administering IV Fluids and/or Subcutaneous fluids. These are the most helpful in supporting the kidneys and it gives you the time needed to continue pursuing the cause and correct treatment.

I am also asked about kidney diets. It is important to know that kidney diets are useful for pain when the phosphorus level rises and the dog can’t process phosphorus well anymore. This generally occurs at the end stage of renal disease. Reducing phosphorus removes most of the pain the dog experiences to process this mineral. However, no diet truly stops, slows down, or reverses kidney disease with true kidney damage. But one of the above causes is more likely if it isn’t a puppy with a genetic or congenital issue.

Now let’s talk about Struvite Crystals and Stones. Crystals develop and turn into stones. For some reason, most veterinarians will recommend a prescription diet. Unfortunately, diet does nothing to combat struvite crystals or stones. Struvite crystals form when a bacterial infection is present or urinary tract infection (UTI). Bacteria waste is what makes the urine become alkaline, which is a perfect environment for struvite crystals to form. If left untreated the crystals eventually form into stones. Please note, blood work can show some of the same blood levels you might see with early renal issues. UTI’s can cause increased protein in the urine and low specific gravity, along with an increased BUN level. If the infection becomes severe the creatinine level can increase as well. SO, if you see these values, increased drinking and urination, PLEASE get a Sterile Urine Culture done at your veterinarian’s office. The urine is collected in a sterile manner and sent out to a lab to CULTURE. This shows WHAT bacteria is present, and the RIGHT antibiotic to kill it. UTI’s are VERY antibiotic specific. Use for at LEAST 3 weeks to cure it. Diet does not CURE it or STOP it.  Only the right antibiotics will stop struvite’s from developing and turning into bladder stones.

A main cause of dogs being prone to UTI’s is not having enough chances to urinate during the day and eating a dry diet. Dogs, like people, need to urinate often during the day, have water available around the clock AND a moist diet to be able to flush, flush, flush so bacteria and struvites cannot form and grow in the bladder. So remember, get your dogs out often during the day and feed a moist diet (raw, home cooked, fresh with kibble). Feeding probiotics and yogurt are also helpful!

If you have further questions, please join K9Nutrition Facebook page. I also do individua

l Nutritional Consults, so if you need more help with diets and feeding your dog the best diet possible, you can contact me directly at lewolson@earthlink.net.


Filed Under (Dog Nutrition) by B-Naturals.com on 07-01-2020
Lew Olson's newly revised edition is filled with an abundance of new topics and information. Whether you are new to home feeding or a seasoned raw feeder, have a senior dog or a new puppy, a pregnant mom or a toy breed, this book presents all the information you need to make the best nutritional decisions for your dog. 

People love their dogs, but as our companions begin to age, we begin to worry. I get asked a lot of questions on what is the best nutrition for dogs as they enter into their senior years. Most people want to make sure their companions are comfortable and getting everything they need. In this month’s newsletter we take a look at an overview of diet considerations, common senior health problems, and suggested supplements for seniors.



Want to Feed the Best Diet for Your Dog, But Don’t Know How?

Now there is a fast and easy way to learn! Check out Lew Olson’s easy-to-follow, on-line course videos! Read on to learn about Canine Nutrition and preparing Raw and Home Cooked Diets! Click for Video

Some of the most common questions I get on senior dogs pertain to diet. Many people believe they need to feed a senior dog a diet that is lower in protein and fat. Many commercial dog food companies make senior diets that do just that – lower the protein and fat. However, the truth is, senior dogs need high amounts of quality protein in their diet and a moderate amount of fat.


High quality animal-based protein is essential to canine organ health, muscle tone and healthy skin and coat. High quality protein is even more important for older dogs. As dogs age, their ability to maintain good muscle tone and a strong immune system lessens. This is due partly from inactivity and partly from metabolism changes that occur as dogs get older. Senior dogs that don’t get enough quality animal-based protein have less body mass and are more prone to illness and disease.

  • Older dogs need more protein than young adults (50% more to maintain protein reserves and lean body mass
  • Prepares body for stress and challenges
  • Good quality protein essential!

So don’t skimp on the protein! Don’t feed your senior dog a reduced protein diet. Be sure to feed a good raw or home-cooked diet with plenty of quality animal-based protein!

“This research is contrary to conventional opinion that senior dog foods should contain lower protein levels than adult maintenance formulas in order to avoid progressive decrease in kidney function. However, senior dogs that were fed a high-protein diet had stable renal function and a lower death rate than those dogs fed a lower-protein diet”. https://www.iams.com/pet-health/dog-life-stages/nutrition-and-your-senior-dogs-body

You can read more about the importance of quality protein in the links below.


http://web.archive.org/web/20030826140629/http://speedyvet.com:80/NIP/olddogs/default.htm –



Fat is also important for seniors. Fat is what makes food taste good and when fat is reduced, dogs tend to crave more food. This is because they are usually looking for more fat. If you have a senior dog that needs to lose weight, do not substitute fat with carbohydrates (vegetables, grains, starches) thinking you are doing your dog a favor by simply cutting calories. Carbohydrates can be fattening because they cause increased your dogs hunger. This is because your dog needs and craves fat! Feeding carbohydrates also increases stool size and gas. Generally, it is recommended to keep the animal protein amounts high and the animal fat at moderate levels – not low levels – and simply reduce the total amount of food you feed your dog by 10%. The following article was written by Christie Keith and gives specific instructions on weight reduction:


Additionally, dogs do not have the ability to break down sugars like we do as they have no amylase in their saliva. Therefore, the sugars remain on the teeth and gums and cause decay. If your dog has chronic dental problems or bad breath odor, it may be a good idea to switch it over to a homemade diet with no grains or starches. You can find some great low glycemic diets listed in the link below.


One health consideration with weight gain in seniors is hypothyroidism. If you have a dog that won’t lose weight by food reduction or increased appetite, it is probably a good idea to have a full thyroid panel on your dog. Hypothyroidism can cause weight gain and other health problems.



Health Issues for Seniors:

Arthritis and Joint Pain

Arthritis is probably the most common complaint for dogs as they age. Joint inflammation and pain can affect dogs in many ways. They may become less active; they may show pain upon rising or after activity, and it can even affect their appetite. Any time you have a dog that shows pain in a joint or the spine, it is important to see a veterinarian and get a full blood panel, urinalysis and radiographs. Many things can cause pain and lameness, including arthritis, pinched nerves and muscle or tendon sprains, renal issues, pancreatitis and Addison’s disease (rear end weakness and muscle loss). In order to treat your dog effectively, a diagnosis is paramount. Please don’t try and guess or diagnose the problem yourself. If the problem is arthritis, there are several approaches to try. EPA fish oil capsules are very effective as the omega 3 fatty acids found in this animal-based oil helps reduce inflammation. Additional benefits from omega 3 fatty acids is that it is renal, heart and liver protective and it improves skin and coat.

White Willow Bark Liquid, derived from white willow bark, is a natural pain reliever. This comes in a liquid tincture and can be dosed in the gum line or mixed with food. Do *NOT* give Willow Bark if you are already giving a NSAID (Rimadyl, Metacam, Deramaxx, etc.). I have used this for my senior dogs during seasonal arthritic pain commonly caused by weather changes. Yucca Intensive is another good herbal product that helps relieve inflammation. It is given at one drop per ten pounds of body weight once or twice daily. This needs to be given with food to avoid stomach upset. Lastly, try to reduce the amounts of grains and starches in the diet as these can aggravate inflammation and pain.

A good homemade diet to help with arthritis pain and inflammation is the low glycemic diet. You can find information on this diet by following this link! http://www.b-naturals.com/newsletter/low-glycemic/. You can also add quality animal protein and fat to a high quality grainless kibble food, which will help reduce the carbohydrates found in dry kibble diets. Follow this link and it will help you learn how to mix fresh food with your kibble diet! https://www.b-naturals.com/newsletter/how-to-add-fresh-food-to-dry-dog-food-for-better-health-and-taurine-needs/.

Urinary Incontinence

An issue that may affect senior dogs is leaking urine. This may be due to a weakening of the urinary tract muscles, however, be sure to contact your veterinarian first to test for a urinary tract infection. This would be determined by a sterile urine culture and sensitivity test. This is done in house at your veterinarian clinic to capture sterile urine. This sample is sent off to a laboratory to see if any bacteria should result. This test will not only identify the bacteria, but will also determine the correct antibiotic needed if there is an infection. If there is an infection, generally a four week course of antibiotics is needed. Then ten days after completing the antibiotics, another urine culture should be done to ensure the infection is gone. A UTI (urinary tract infections) can cause incontinence.



Diet changes can help with incontinence problems. Often diets high in grains or starches, which include dry dog food or homemade diets where grains, potatoes, carrots, etc., make up more than 25% of the total diet, may make incontinence worse. Removing the high amounts of sugar and fiber can help in many cases!


I would suggest trying both of these methods before pursuing prescription incontinence medications. They may be needed, but I would rule these out first. Often a dog with a urinary tract infection is thought to have renal problems. Whenever an older dog is found to have elevated BUN, creatinine and phosphorus levels, be sure to check for a UTI, have a leptospirosis blood titer done, ACTH Stimulation test (Cushing’s and Addison’s disease) and a tick borne disease blood panel. Old age does not cause renal problems. It is wise to run these tests to either find the source of the problem or rule these other health conditions out. With Cushing’s disease, Addison’s disease and leptospirosis, liver enzyme values may be high as well. More information on diets for dogs with renal issues can be found here:


Skin Problems and/or Odor

Some senior dogs may develop dry or itching skin and dry hair coat. Sometimes these issues can be taken care of by changing the diet. Increasing the quality and quantity of animal protein in the diet may help. If you are using a senior dog commercial diet, change to an adult diet (higher fat) commercial food or a home-cooked or a raw diet. Fat quality is also important for good skin and coat. I have often found homemade diets reduce odor in dogs, as the fats in dry foods can oftentimes cause body odor. Adding EPA fish oil capsules at one capsule (1000 mg) per ten to twenty pounds of body weight daily will help due to the omega 3 fatty acids. If the dog has mouth odor, be sure to have a complete check up on the dog’s teeth and gums. Often teeth in poor condition or gum disease will cause this. Removing grains and starches will often help keep teeth cleaner and reduce the need for dental procedures. As mentioned earlier, dogs do not have the ability to break down starches in their saliva which can, in turn, cause tooth decay and gum disease.

Weekly baths with a good quality oatmeal based shampoo such as Pure Pet Care Herbal Shampoo will also help skin and odor. Rinse with a solution of ¼ white vinegar and ¾ water. If the skin problem persists, be sure to have your veterinarian do a skin scraping to check for bacteria, yeast or mites. Both bacteria infections and yeast can cause skin odor. For more information on skin care:


Cognition Problems in Senior Dogs

Symptoms of possible cognitive problems in senior dogs can include confusion, restlessness and less enjoyment of life, and some can have increased house soiling incidences. Research done in humans has also been found to apply to dogs. BOTH senior dogs and people, need MORE protein for good health; especially for heart, kidney and liver health. Dogs who have been raised solely on dry dog food tend to be more prone to decline in cognitive ability. Studies have shown that when protein levels are increased and antioxidants and fish oil with EPA and DHA (from animal based oils such as fish oils) are added to the diet, senior dogs were known to sleep better and show clarity improvement in their surroundings and had less house training issues. I would suggest senior dogs have a fresh food diet – home-cooked or raw – or a commercial diet with fresh animal protein added in. Additionally, I think it is important to add a couple of quality supplements. These would be Berte’s Immune Blend, which contains antioxidants and other good nutrients, EPA Fish Oil capsules at one per ten to twenty pounds of body weight daily and CoQ10 at 2 to 3 milligrams per pound of body weight. CoQ10 is also thought to help cognition as well.

Additional Health Problems of Senior Dogs:

Adrenal Disorders

Cushing’s disease and Addison’s disease are both adrenal disorders caused by either too much or too little cortisol production. Either disease can create a major health crisis. Both diseases can be vague in their symptoms, which can cause these health problems to be over-looked and mistaken for simply being attributed to old age. Cushing’s disease is an over-production of cortisol and symptoms often are mistaken for other ailments. These can include sudden onset of thirst, increased urination, increased appetite, development of a pot belly, poor hair coat and/or skin, dark spots on the belly, more prone to infection and lack of energy. If any of these symptoms occur, have a complete veterinarian evaluation. For more information:



Addison’s disease is caused by under production of cortisol and there are three types: primary, secondary and atypical. Like Cushing’s disease, the symptoms can mimic other problems and are often over-looked or confused with other health problems. These symptoms include diarrhea, lack of appetite, rear end weakness, loss of energy, shaking and depression. Both Cushing’s and Addison’s disease, if not treated can result in death. Your veterinarian can test for either of test with an ACTH Stimulation test. For more information on Addison’s disease:




Daily Supplement Suggestions:

Two good supplements for senior dogs include the EPA Fish Oil Capsules and the Berte’s Immune Blend. The Fish oil contains omega 3 fatty acids which help with skin and coat and are renal, heart and liver protective. Recommended dose is one capsule per 10-20 pounds of body weight daily. The Berte’s Immune Blend contains the antioxidants vitamin C and E and also a B complex (good for nerve and eye health), L-Glutamine (helps slow muscle atrophy and helps with digestion), digestive enzymes (helps break down proteins and fats) and Probiotics (help keep the good flora and fauna in the digestive tract).

On a final note, it is always important to keep your senior dog in good physical condition. I can’t stress the importance of daily walks and exercise, as their mobility permits. Good nutrition, bi-yearly wellness checkups by your veterinarians, and keeping your senior physically fit and mentally active will lead to a long and healthy life!


Lew Olson's newly revised edition is filled with an abundance of new topics and information. Whether you are new to home feeding or a seasoned raw feeder, have a senior dog or a new puppy, a pregnant mom or a toy breed, this book presents all the information you need to make the best nutritional decisions for your dog. 

Dog owners have a variety of ways in which to feed their dogs. Some use a Raw Diet. They make their own or buy pre-made raw diets. Others prefer to home cook for their dogs. They may make their own or order pre-made cooked diets. Some use dehydrated forms of raw dog food. And probably, the majority of people use commercial dog food, which is mainly dry dog food and also known as kibble.


Each method of feeding has issues of convenience, cost, time and interest of the person choosing their preferred choice. Making your own raw diet is generally less expensive than buying a pre-made raw brand. Cooking meals for your dog at home is also less expensive than buying pre-made cooked diets. And commercial dry dog food offers the product that is readily available and needs no preparation or freezer space. It offers the convenience of a one-step simple ‘measure out the meal amount’ that provides the convenience of providing your dog ‘a meal in a scoop’.

Want to Feed the Best Diet for Your Dog, But Don’t Know How?

Now there is a fast and easy way to learn! Check out Lew Olson’s easy-to-follow, on-line course videos! Read on to learn about Canine Nutrition and preparing Raw and Home Cooked Diets! Click for Video


A new concern about dry dog food is the issue of taurine. In recent years, some dogs have developed heart problems which have been pinpointed to certain brands of kibble. While more research is being done, there were some early conclusions that were found to be untrue. One was that grain free diets were the cause, however research has not shown this. I personally suspect this was done more for marketing purposes as no good data or information has been presented.


You need to understand how taurine is lost from animal-based products when heat is used or moisture is removed. When meat is cooked, taurine (an amino acid found only in animal-based products) is leached out during cooking. Many types of commercial dog food are heavily processed at high heats and the moisture is removed in order to make a dry product. Since a bag of meat and fat would have no shelf life, fiber is added to the food. This would include grains, rice, vegetables, beet pulp, rice bran, tomato pomace, flax seed and even peanut hulls. But the recent addition of legumes, potatoes, peas and pea proteins and lentils have added more of a concern as some research has shown that these may inhibit the uptake of taurine. It would also be wise to avoid commercial dog food that contains legumes, potatoes, peas, pea protein and lentils!




Based on this, dry dog foods (including dehydrated and freeze dried) could possibly have a lack of taurine. Many dog food companies have caught on and are now adding taurine back in to their products. However, what I recommend for those feeding dry diets, is to add some fresh food to the dry food you are feeding. A lot of people have asked me how to do that, so I have outlined it for you here!


You can mix fresh food with kibble. It does not affect digestion. That was a big Internet myth for some time. I do caution people, however, that it is probably wiser to feed raw meaty bones as a separate meal from kibble – at least in the beginning. Raw meaty bones are usually fatty and the heaviness of the bones may compete with the dry dog food for digestion in the stomach. I recommend any dry kibble be moistened, as moist food is easier to digest for dogs and is not as irritating to their digestive tract. Dogs are designed to eat raw meat and bones. It would be a rare thing if they ever ate anything completely dry. It is my opinion that eating dry food is what is causes so many digestion issues, including IBD, gastritis, reflux, an irritated intestinal lining and the ability to digest and uptake nutrients. People complain of their dog having allergies, stomach sensitivities, gas and diarrhea frequently and I believe most of this could be resolved with a diet that is moist and contains some fresh food.


With that said, let’s take a look at how you can improve a kibble diet.


Adding fresh food to kibble will only enhance it! But it MUST be enhanced with animal-based products only. Dry dog food is already too high in carbohydrates. As mentioned earlier, carbohydrates are added to extend shelf life and keep costs down. So, give your dog what they really need which is meat, animal fat, eggs, whole milk yogurt, cottage cheese, canned mackerel, salmon or sardines packed in water, organ meat, raw meaty bones and chicken or beef broth. All of these contain taurine – some more than others – and they help moisten the dry food. DO NOT add any vegetables, potatoes, grains or fruits. Dogs get no nutritional value from carbohydrates and they will only add to larger stools, poorer digestion, gas, and they add unnecessary calories.


You can add up to 50% of the total diet in animal-based proteins without any worry of adding additional calcium to balance the diet as long as you vary the proteins added, and use some dairy and canned sardines, mackerel and salmon packed in water to help balance calcium. Not only does adding animal-based proteins help to moisten the dry food for better digestion, it also adds important nutrients that your dog needs. Animal-based proteins include taurine, iron (dogs can only absorb iron from animal-based products), vitamin D3, B vitamins and vitamin A.


You can offer your dog a variety of foods with each meal. Any meats you add can be cooked or raw, with the exception of raw meaty bones. Do Not cook raw meaty bones. Raw meaty bones must be fed raw as cooked bones can splinter and cause injury to your dog, and raw meaty bones are easily digested. I do however, suggest only feeding raw meaty bones SEPARATELY from dry food in the beginning. And for extra digestive insurance as you start to add fresh animal-proteins to your dog’s dry food diet, I suggest adding the Berte’s Ultra Probiotic Powder to your dog’s meals to aid digestion. This is a very reasonably priced product at only $13.95 for a one-pound jar and it will support your dog through this diet change.


If you want a boost in taurine, the animal-based proteins highest in taurine include dark meat turkey, dark meat chicken, pork, beef and lamb. Yogurt also contains small amounts of taurine.




To further enhance a dry dog food diet, I also suggest adding the Berte’s Daily Blend, and Fish Oil capsules at one capsule per ten to twenty pounds of body weight daily.


I hope you found this article helpful. You can find more information about feeding dogs on the K9Nutrition Facebook page, or in my book, “Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs”. I also have videos on preparing raw and home cooked meals for your dog at https://rawandnaturalnutritionfordogs.teachable.com


Lew Olson's newly revised edition is filled with an abundance of new topics and information. Whether you are new to home feeding or a seasoned raw feeder, have a senior dog or a new puppy, a pregnant mom or a toy breed, this book presents all the information you need to make the best nutritional decisions for your dog. 

I receive many calls and emails pertaining to dog health issues, but the two most common questions are about:

  1. Suspected food allergies in their dogs or;
  2. Their dog’s inability to eat certain foods because it has a ‘sensitive stomach’

This month I will give you some answers to these very common questions and health issues. Both food allergies and sensitive stomachs oftentimes get mislabeled and can send dog owners spinning down a rabbit hole of despair. Stop the despair and please read on!

First Question:  My dog has allergies, what do I do?

Want to Feed the Best Diet for Your Dog, But Don’t Know How?

Now there is a fast and easy way to learn! Check out Lew Olson’s easy-to-follow, on-line course videos! Read on to learn about Canine Nutrition and preparing Raw and Home Cooked Diets! Click for Video

When someone tells me their dog has allergies, the first questions I ask is ‘What are your dog’s symptoms and how did you conclude your dog has allergies? Most often, I am told the dog has digestive issues or vomits on certain food; or is itchy on their sides, back, feet or face, so they are certain the problem is a food allergy.

In reality, most symptoms of allergies show up in the form of hives, itching, or skin and face issues (swelling and itching). It is important to note that food allergies are extremely rare in dogs, almost unseen. However, allergies can develop from repeated, constant exposure to the same food if fed the same commercial diet day after day for many, many months or years. The body needs to develop antibodies to a substance to develop an over-active immune system to think it is ‘alien’.


Allergy testing is very inaccurate – up to 50% inaccurate, and saliva-based tests are pure baloney, as they have no basis in being able to accurately diagnose any type of allergy.

The distribution of test results from samples obtained from allergic, non-allergic or fake dogs was not different from that expected due to random chance. Test-retest reproducibility was poor to slight.”



The next question I ask is ‘Where exactly does the dog itch?’ If it is the face, paws, back, or near the tail, I can almost guess that what is really going on is a yeast infection. Dogs do not get candida as humans do. They get an airborne yeast (fungus) called Malassezia. Dogs are most prone to getting this during wet, rainy seasons, hot weather, when we turn our furnaces on, or in dogs that swim. It also affects the ears causing a brown, thick discharge with an odor. Yeast breeds in moist places on the dog, most commonly around the eyes, mouth, ears, feet or anus. Treatment is not related to diet, unless however, you are feeding commercial dry dog food. These foods contains high amounts of carbohydrates, which convert to sugars. These sugars can then in-turn feed yeast growth. The resolve is more about bathing your dog frequently with an anti-fungal shampoo and rinsing with a solution of a few tablespoons of baking soda mixed in water.  Keep this mixture on for 10 minutes before rinsing. Apply topical sprays such as Tinactin Athletes foot spray or lotion to the feet and tail area to kill the yeast and apply anti-fungal solutions in the ears. Additionally, keep your dog’s bedding clean and wash floors frequently. It takes 30 days of this treatment to effectively to wipe out the yeast.

Read more on treatment here:



The second most common health issue I get questions on is about dogs that have difficulty with certain foods or switching foods. Some people tell me their dogs have ‘sensitive stomachs’. I can only guess this made up term comes from either the internet, or some popular product. They tell me their dog vomits or gets diarrhea whenever they switch kibble brands or from feeding specific proteins like chicken, beef, turkey . . . you name it. The answer is not the protein the dogs are reacting to, but rather one of the three other causes.

  • Over feeding: Over feeding causes the most diarrhea or stomach upset in dogs. Remember, dogs only need about 2% to 3% of their body weight daily for young, active dogs.  Less is needed in in middle-aged, spayed or neutered dogs, or dogs that do not get a lot of activity. Over-feeding or giving your do too much food will cause stomach issues.
  • Continual dry dog food feeding: Dry dog food contains a significant amount of sodium, which is used as a preservative. It is irritating to the digestive tract due to the dryness. Commercial dry foods are also is high in carbohydrates, which convert into sugars and high fiber. Sodium increases water intake, which in turn can cause digestive upsets. Feeding dry dog food without adding water or some fresh food will inflame and irritate the digestive tract lining. Additionally, high fiber diets, which contain high levels of grains and starches, also puts an extra strain on the intestinal tract causing diarrhea, gas and large loose stools.
  • Compromised and inflamed digestive tract: Once the digestive tract is compromised and inflamed, any additional fat OR fiber (vegetables, rice, grains) will produce explosive wet stools, sometimes with mucus. Why? Because once the intestinal lining is compromised, it can no longer effectively digest large amounts of fiber or fat. Both of these take their toll on inflamed and irritated digestive tract linings. This will then be diagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD). This simply means that the digestive tract lining is inflamed. How do you stop this? IBS or IBD does NOT mean your dog is sensitive to one food or protein, it means the need the digestive tract lining needs to heal.

Treatment for IBD or IBS:

Treatment is straightforward and is an easy 3-step process:

  1. Diet: The dog needs a moist diet. A moist diet is easier to digest and less irritating. I would recommend feeding your dog one of these three choices:
  2. a raw diet (the best solution)
  3. a home-cooked diet
  4. or a diet that includes 50% fresh food added to a kibble, dehydrated or freeze-dried diet

Feeding any of the three diets listed above will not only ease the strain on your dog’s digestive system, it will also help to fight yeast!

  1. Feed Smaller, more Frequent meals: When changing diets OR fighting diarrhea, feeding smaller, more frequent small meals puts less of a strain on your dog’s digestive tract. The larger the meal, the harder it is to digest.
  1. Beneficial Supplements: Adding two supplements to your dog’s diet can benefit the healing of their digestive tracts tremendously! The first is to give your dog L-glutamine at 2,000 mg per twenty pounds of body weight daily. This helps heal the digestive tract lining and helps with muscle development. The second is to add the Berte’s Digestion Blend. This product does have some L-glutamine in it, but you need to add additional L-glutamine for the first 6-8 weeks for the best results. Berte’s Digestion Blend also contains probiotics, which help put the good flora, and fauna back in the digestive tract, animal based digestive enzymes that help digest fats in the stomach before it hits the intestines, and supplements for nausea and better digestion. Give the Berte’s Digestion Blend at half dose for the first two weeks and then to full dose after the two-week initial period.

More information on IBD:



If your dog is itching and you think it might be allergies, PLEASE rule out yeast first! This can be done either by a skin scraping and culture at your veterinarian’s, and/or treating the yeast with an anti-fungal shampoo every other day for a week and rinsing with a solution of baking soda and water for 3 treatments and then repeating this weekly for four more weeks. You can also use Tinactin athletes foot spray as needed, keto wipes (look on Amazon for those) topically and Zymox in the ears for ten days. Keep bedding and floors washed daily.

If your dog is having trouble digesting food or switching foods, double-check the amount you are feeding your dog. The most common cause of stomach upset and diarrhea is caused by feeding too much food, so adjust the amount you are feeding, if necessary. If it is not that, then try smaller, more frequent meals (3-4 a day); add in l-glutamine to help heal the digestive tract lining and the Berte’s Digestion Blend for the probiotics to keep the good bacteria balanced and the enzymes to help with the digestion of fats.

During this time of the COVID 19 Pandemic, I send my love to you all and want you to remember to stay safe! Social distancing and wearing a mask and gloves when you are out is very important. It helps keep you and your neighbors safe. Please stay home as much as you can!

While you may experience meat shortages during this trying time, try to find the fresh food that you can. Please know that you can use eggs and yogurt to keep taurine levels up. You can add one egg per small dog, per day, two for a medium-sized dog and 2-3 for a large dog. You can feed raw eggs for those dogs who are used to it, or you can cook the eggs scrambled, over-easy in a dab of butter, or hard-boiled!

Making your own yogurt is also quite simple. See the recipe below:

  1. Bring one gallon of whole milk to a light boil
  2. Remove milk from the stove and put into 4 quart-sized containers
  3. Add 3-4 tablespoons of ready-made yogurt to each container
  4. Cover and put on counter or in an unheated oven
  5. Wait 24-48 hours and Voila!
  6. Fresh Yogurt for your dogs!

Lew Olson's newly revised edition is filled with an abundance of new topics and information. Whether you are new to home feeding or a seasoned raw feeder, have a senior dog or a new puppy, a pregnant mom or a toy breed, this book presents all the information you need to make the best nutritional decisions for your dog. 

In today’s dog food market, you not only find puppy and adult foods, but also senior foods and diet foods. Also on the shelves are bags of dog food specifically formulated for toy breeds, large breeds and giant breeds. This is quite a selection of food types and can be very confusing. So, what do you do? I hope to explain the differences and remove some of the confusion so you can make the right choice for your dog. This article will give you the right information you need to make the best diet decisions for your dog.

Up until a few years ago, the only dog food available for our companions were regular and puppy formulas. The puppy food was generally coated in a white substance, which made you think it might be milk. Then senior diets came on the horizon. These typically contained higher amounts of higher fiber and less protein. A similar formula was made for weight loss diet. These also included higher amounts of fiber, less protein, and less fat.

To further confuse us, or fill us with fear, special diets were developed for large and giant breeds. These formulas, depending on the brand, contained less or more protein and less or more calcium. Moreover, while I am guessing here, the toy breed dog diets were simply made with smaller pieces of kibble designed for the smaller mouth.

Want to Feed the Best Diet for Your Dog, But Don’t Know How?

Now there is a fast and easy way to learn! Check out Lew Olson’s easy-to-follow, on-line course videos! Read on to learn about Canine Nutrition and preparing Raw and Home Cooked Diets! Click for Video

At the end of the day, let’s put the marketing hype aside and examine some of the real facts.

  1. All dogs are the same on the inside, regardless of their size or age. In other words, all have the same jaw, teeth, digestive tract and nutritional needs. While larger dogs grow slower than toy breeds, they still have the same nutritional needs.
  2. Lower protein does NOT slow down growth or protect bones or joints. The fact is, puppies and seniors BOTH need MORE protein, not less.
  3. While calcium may be an issue, especially with too much calcium, reducing it is harmful and adding TOO much is equally harmful. All dogs have the same requirement for the proper calcium to phosphorous balance. This article offers some helpful resources at the end and emphasizes that calcium to phosphorus needs are the same for all dogs. They also emphasize the need for D3, which helps calcium absorption into the system, and to NOT overfeed a large growing puppy:
  4. Senior dogs need MORE protein than adult dogs. High quality, bioavailable protein helps protect the heart, kidney and liver function in senior dogs. You also need to avoid high fiber diets for senior dogs, as they rob them of protein and they struggle to digest fiber as dogs do not have the ability to process or ferment fiber well enough. A good article on that is found here:
  5. Toy breeds (typically dogs under 15 pounds) have the same requirements as larger dogs. The one difference is that toy dogs grow and mature faster and often need smaller, more frequent meals due to their fast metabolism. Some toys breeds can have problems with hypoglycemia on one or two meals a day. I recommend 3-4 meals daily if possible, and they need slightly more food than medium to giant dogs. The general recommendation is 2%-3% in body weight daily, but for toy breeds, it is often more like 5%. They just burn calories faster due to their metabolism.

Important points to remember:  Spaying and neutering often changes hormones and metabolism in dogs. Spayed and neutered dogs are prone to weight gain because of this. Rather than put them on a weight-loss formula, which robs dogs of valuable protein and fat, just feed slightly less – about 10% less – AND do your work by walking them daily to help keep the weight off.


My best advice is to feed a raw or home cooked diet. You can monitor the ingredients and this diet is ideal for all life stages (puppy, adult, senior) and sizes of the dog. If I want the dog to lose weight, I reduce the fat in the diet. The protein in these diets is very bioavailable and helps protect the dog’s heart, liver and kidney health and also helps senior dogs retain their muscle mass.

So, what is the answer? All ages and breeds have the same mineral requirements. All have the same calcium/phosphorus requirements. Puppies and seniors need a bit more protein for growth and organ protection. Where do you get the best protein? A fresh diet, naturally! That would be a home cooked or raw diet, or at the very least, a 50% fresh to 50% kibble diet. Need your dog to lose weight? More exercise and less fat in the meal, which is easy to do with home cooked or raw. Do you worry about joint issues in your large or giant breeds? Feed a regular diet, but do not over feed!.

Good supplements to add?

  1. Berte’s Fish Oil Capsules, one per ten to twenty pounds of body weight daily, limit of 6 for the large and giant breeds
  2. Berte’s Immune Blend. This blend contains good probiotics, vitamins A, B’s, C, D3 (great for helping with the calcium uptake and healthy bones) and E, along with l-glutamine (helps keep a healthy intestinal lining). Half dose for healthy dogs and puppies, full dose for immune compromised and ill dogs.
  3. Special vitamins for the aging dog includes fish oil capsule, acetyl carnitine and the Berte’s Immune Blend.

Please Remember, all ages of dogs get the same diet as long as the protein has high bioavailability (digestibility, which means fresh and is animal based), do not OVER FEED, and only reduce a diet by 10% to start for weight loss. For puppies and seniors, it is most important they get a lot of high quality, good animal-based protein. Raw diets that contain 50% in raw meaty bones are naturally balanced. Home cooked diets need 900 mg of calcium carbonate or calcium citrate added per pound of food served. In addition, the Berte’s Immune Blend contains D3 to help this overall balance (calcium needs D3 to be absorbed).

Please remember to walk your dog’s daily during this very challenging time! The exercise will help you both and the walk and fresh air can help clear the mind and can be calming.



Filed Under (Dog Nutrition) by B-Naturals.com on 03-01-2020
Lew Olson's newly revised edition is filled with an abundance of new topics and information. Whether you are new to home feeding or a seasoned raw feeder, have a senior dog or a new puppy, a pregnant mom or a toy breed, this book presents all the information you need to make the best nutritional decisions for your dog. 

Introduction by Lew Olson

In past years, we occasionally shared with you testimonial stories from folks who have seen amazing transformations after changing their dog’s diet from a commercial diet to a raw or home-cooked diet. Some of these dog owners were simply looking for a more nutritional diet to give their dogs the best opportunity for optimum health and some were dealing with significant health issues from severe allergies to cancer. This month, we are excited to bring you Kerry Ann Crossley’s story that includes her experience through the process of changing diets and the healthy benefits the change in diet made to her beautiful dog, Hopi.

For Lew, My Reasons for Raw

Want to Feed the Best Diet for Your Dog, But Don’t Know How?

Now there is a fast and easy way to learn! Check out Lew Olson’s easy-to-follow, on-line course videos! Read on to learn about Canine Nutrition and preparing Raw and Home Cooked Diets! Click for Video

By: Kerry Ann Crossley

My reasons for wanting to switch to a raw diet for my dogs were selfish ones. I wanted a puppy. I wanted an excellent puppy. A near perfect puppy. From an amazing, award winning breeder. It just so happens, this breeder REQUIRED me to feed her puppy a raw diet for its entire life. I was so elated to be considered, it was almost instinctual, I just agreed. I hadn’t really thought this thing through all the way. What have I done?

I had fed raw before, when I had one dog. One very special dog, who came into my life at a time I needed her most. She was a stray, and her mother brought her to me. Then she brought all the rest of her pups to me, through a clearing in the woods. I’ll never forget that feeling for as long as I live. A stray mother trusting me with her newly weaned, worm filled litter. She must have been watching me, through the woods, gardening in my back yard. Perhaps she thought, there is food. The first one she brought me, I kept. I found loving homes for the other five.

We had a special bond, I dreamed her name and her name was Hopi. At some point early in our journey together, I decided to start feeding her a home cooked/Raw diet. It was a recipe from Dr. Pitcairn’s book, on holistic health for dogs. It was raw ground turkey necks mixed with cooked oats, a few vegetables, and lots of supplements. Not a lot of variety. It was pretty easy to make, and I froze and defrosted Hopi’s meals. She was so very healthy, then. Lean and muscular, she had stamina and was very happy on our walks together, every day, for over an hour. She could run alongside my bike.

When Hopi was almost four years old, I had a traumatic breakup, and I left everything behind but the dog. This caused a change in my finances, which caused a change in my free time, and so Hopi went back to kibble. Time marched on. I met a man, we had dogs and we got more dogs.

So here we are, 16 years into a happy marriage, we have a strong affection for three Brussels Griffons, and I want another. Somehow I had forgotten about the home made meals, and I thought I was doing all the best things for our beloved dogs. They got the high end kibble, 95% meat in the cans we used to top the kibble. The cookies were always grain free, limited ingredients. I supplemented with salmon oil for their coat, Glucosamine for their joints. They were on medicines for joint pain, and allergies. It wasn’t cheap. Even with online delivery service, it wasn’t always easy. I had developed a system, had a devoted shelf in the pantry. A special air tight container.

Enter the up-setter. This breeder, who had somehow, casually, turned our world upside down. I discussed this with my friends. I got an “OHH NOOO!!!” Lots of groans, and even a “WHY!?” I knew the answer, I remembered Hopi’s lesson for me. Homemade food was better. I knew the result of a healthy diet, yet I could easily have been swayed into thinking this was too much to ask, that there was an easier way. Little did I know how much our lives would change.

So, I agreed to a raw diet, quite quickly. My husband was shocked, and very dubious. I know there was tuttering and head shaking behind my back from all my friends and family. This childless woman with too much time on her hands was losing her mind, endangering her dogs. Well, as it turns out, I work 30 to 60 hours a week, and “free” time is not in my lexicon. My calendar is packed. When I do have some self-care time it ALWAYS involves walking or grooming my dogs, taking care of my house and garden. I don’t have a house keeper, or any staff.

Once I agreed to commit to a fresh diet for a potential puppy, the first thing that ran through my mind was, “It’s all or nothin’”. That’s one of my mottos. It had to be all the dogs. I began immediately. I didn’t even have any type of guarantee from this breeder that I could have one of her exceptional puppies. They were, in fact, hours old.

I began by going to butchers, grocers, and looking online. Reading newsletters and forums. Where would my sources be? I took pictures of packages of meat, much to the amusement of other shoppers. I got lots of “No’s” when it came to asking if they would grind bones, or if they had such and such. I did math. Many times over. I made notes.

I bought and read another book, a more modern version of canine nutrition and wellness. What do you know? The author of the book was a PH.D, and she was also the breeder in question. I was so impressed, and so intimidated. What on earth was I doing?

But something had clicked. I knew, that even if I never got the “reward” of the puppy, that I was changing the lives of my dogs forever. I knew that logically, fresh, homemade food just made sense, just like it makes sense for us. I also acknowledged, that any breeder with a requirement of feeding RAW for her puppies has a conviction, and anyone with a passion, a conviction, and an education was worth listening to. This was not her first rodeo. I could trust her, and more importantly, I could trust the science. Nutrition is science, and it is chemistry, for all creatures. You really can’t argue with science, no matter how lazy I felt like I might want to be.

So it began. I first thought about my husband, and he likes to take part in feeding our girls. I wanted to make it easier for us both, so after doing the math, I bought appropriate sized containers for each meal. Then I bought a freezer. All or nothing. I really don’t like to not have a bulk of food, this was even true with my kibble and cans and cookies. It makes me calmer to know I won’t be caught empty handed, with hungry mouths to feed.

I started by covering my kitchen in foil and freezer paper. I got a kitchen scale and I bought lots of proteins and I began an assembly line. I followed the same path as my breeder/nutritionist/guru and decided to go all RAW, and to feed a muscle meat and organ meal in the AM and a RAW MEATY BONE meal in the PM. After doing math over and over again, I weighed out the portions of each and placed them in individual containers, and placed those in the freezer. Then I fed my dogs kibble again. I was exhausted and frightened.

My husband had concerns over cleanliness, E-Coli and such. He also had concerns about dogs choking. These were valid concerns. If you google too much, you will find conflicting articles about every issue under the sun. Luckily he’s a very smart man, and together we found ways to appease all our concerns.  We began one night for dinner, and we haven’t gone back. I’ve given away pounds of kibble and countless cans. I’ve gifted bags of cookies.

For now we use ground Raw Meaty Bones, as our dogs are small. I changed the bowls to ones easy to clean, and I wash them after each meal. I use antibacterial wipes, I tried placemats, now I just spot mop, and I wipe their faces with doggy baby wipes after each meal.

I’m not going to say it’s been effortless. It has actually been a ton of work. It’s been nerve racking at times, when they turned their noses up, or just wouldn’t eat. It’s been stressful at times to see the digestive upsets. At one point, my husband almost called it off because his favorite girl, who happens to be 14, wasn’t showing enthusiasm at meal times anymore. This was a deal breaker!

It turns out, her digestive enzymes required a boost. Once she was on a probiotic and digestive enzyme supplement, she’s the loudest demanding dog at dinner time again.

We just kept going. It wasn’t always perfect, or easy. But I know for sure my dogs are benefitting. I will try to list the changes I have seen, after feeding RAW for only 2 months now.

  1. The first thing I noticed was the glitter in their eyes. Their eyes actually glittered. Sparkled. I’ve never seen that before. Now I can’t quite remember what they looked like before, I have to refer to pictures. The oldest one, at 14, used to have so much eye gunk in her eyes we bought special wipes for them, and it was a “thing”,” did you wipe her eyes today?” We have not had to wipe her eyes in a couple weeks now.
  2. The glossiness in their coats. We were supplementing with salmon oil in the bottle, and we switched to Omega -3 capsules, because we learned the air in the bottle oxidizes the Omega -3 making it inert. Maybe it’s the Omega-3. Maybe it’s the fresh meat, maybe both. But these girls have gorgeous coats, now. Shinier than they have ever been.
  3. Better mobility. We have the 14 year old that was on pain meds, pretty strong ones, for her luxating patella and her joints in general. When we changed her diet I didn’t want to tax her system too much, and I also thought about her upset stomach, so I suspended the drugs for a bit so that she could get accustomed to the diet. We took care to always walk her in the stroller, carry her up and down the stairs during this time. I fully intended to put her back on the pain meds as soon as she adjusted to the diet. Well, as soon as she was barking and demanding her dinner again, she was dancing on her back legs. She was trotting down the hall. She was straining at the leash to be allowed to walk further. We have not resumed the pain meds. Her mobility is better than it’s been in years.
  4. The shape of their bodies. This part is harder to describe. But I will just say, they seem more muscular. My husband jokes they are getting fat, but their ribs are still there, able to be felt. And while I may cut back on the food by an ounce or two, I feel that the change is in the squareness and the set of their bodies. They seem cobbier. More squared off. More muscled. Like they’ve been working out. I can only assume they were somewhat starved of protein before. And for that, I am deeply sorry.
  5. Their contentedness. They are, simply, more content. They sleep better. They play with more joy. They walk with more pep and nap harder afterwards. I felt that jitteriness and restlessness might have been part of the breed before. It is not. Now, every rattling bag does not send them scurrying into the kitchen. They are content.
  6. Their toileting habits. Let me just say that the time I spend putting meat into little containers is time I used to spend scooping poop. I have bags dangling from the leash handle. I have a pooper scooper rake-and-tray butler’s broom deal for the yard. These have not seen much use. They poop once a day now, maybe twice, and the poops are tiny, insignificant. They’re not as smelly, and the dogs seem to be able to make it to the rear of the yard now, and they seem to want to. Before I would have poop on the potty patch because they couldn’t make it outside fast enough. Before our littlest one would have a stool the length of her body. We were constantly amazed at that. That all seems behind us now, pun intended.
  7. The connection I have with them. This is also hard to articulate. I have often shown my love for my dogs through meal times. I suspect my husband does this too, which is why the diet change was so concerning. We used to fall for the marketing, the puppy ice cream and yogurt frosting at birthdays, the fancy labels on cans, and the cute names of meals. Always they would have treats and cookies and snacks, and I see now that, despite all this, they were malnourished. Feeding them in this new way, with fresh meat, and taking the time to portion the gizzards and hearts, the tripe and sardines, it feels even more special, somehow. I think they enjoy it more, even if on some occasions we enjoy it less. My husband hates the smell of tripe, and yet, seeing their excitement for it and hearing their eating noises somehow makes it worthwhile. The opening of a can or using the measuring scoop in the kibble was never quite as fulfilling for any of us as much as putting fresh, varied meats in their bowls and adding a scoop of a daily probiotic and digestive enzyme, and then a bit of Oil of Omega-3. It’s really not that hard. And what it does is slows us down just enough to connect with them, and their health and well-being. They know, instinctively, that we are taking more time, we are giving more care to their food, and I really, truly, deeply believe they are trying to communicate a thank you. Just like I want to communicate a Thank You to this breeder, whom I’ve not yet met, and from whom I do hope to get a puppy in just a few short days. We’re ready! And I’d also like to communicate a Thank You to Hopi, who taught me so much about unconditional love, patience, and kindness. She will forever be the barometer for loyalty and selflessness for me. I hope I’ve made her proud.

Filed Under (Dog Nutrition) by B-Naturals.com on 02-01-2020
Lew Olson's newly revised edition is filled with an abundance of new topics and information. Whether you are new to home feeding or a seasoned raw feeder, have a senior dog or a new puppy, a pregnant mom or a toy breed, this book presents all the information you need to make the best nutritional decisions for your dog. 

When a dog has ongoing symptoms of diarrhea, gas, and occasional vomiting, this is often diagnosed as Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD). The best description of this is that the lining of the intestinal tract has become inflamed. This causes the food to shoot through the digestive tract, which in turn, forces the food to pass without being digested properly. The diagnosis will occur when symptoms of diarrhea, upset stomach and weight loss have continued for several weeks or months and other causes have been ruled out. Other causes of long-term diarrhea may include the following:

  1. Internal parasites, such as whipworm, hook worm, giardia or coccidia
  2. Bacteria overgrowth, including helicobacter or SIBO (small intestinal bacteria overgrowth)
  3. Addison’s disease, an adrenal disorder due to low cortisol
  4. Ulcers

It is recommended that you take a stool sample to your vet and have a complete wellness checkup done on your dog. If the cause is not diet related, it could be a variety of things, which can include parasites, bacteria and/or inflammation of the intestinal lining.


Want to Feed the Best Diet for Your Dog, But Don’t Know How?

Now there is a fast and easy way to learn! Check out Lew Olson’s easy-to-follow, on-line course videos! Read on to learn about Canine Nutrition and preparing Raw and Home Cooked Diets! Click for Video

Parasites can be a common cause of diarrhea so it is important to rule these out first with your veterinarian. Parasites that can cause diarrhea are roundworms, whipworms, hookworms, coccidia and giardia, just to name a few. Once parasites are identified, proper treatment usually clears up the diarrhea.



Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth (SIBO)

Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth (SIBO) is caused by a bacteria overgrowth. This is becoming more common in dogs. This problem creates large, gassy stools, weight loss and often appetite loss.




Other causes of diarrhea to rule out include:

Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI)

EPI is a condition where the pancreas does not secrete the proper enzymes to digest foods. This is common in German Shepherd Dogs, but is seen in other breeds as well. Testing is needed to determine and confirm the disorder and prescription enzyme medications are needed for treatment. Like SIBO, EPI has large stools with odor.

Symptoms of EPI include INCREASED appetite, fluffy, very smelly, greasy, gray colored stools, loss of weight, gas, loud stomach noises, etc. The dog’s pancreas does not produce enough digestive enzymes to break the food down and therefore no matter how much they eat, they cannot digest their food. Untreated, weight loss happens quickly and can lead to starvation and death.




Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE)

With HGE there is bloody diarrhea, which is often red and clotted in appearance. Vomiting and lethargy can develop later. A high packed cell volume (PCV) in a blood panel will confirm the diagnosis. Toy breeds are more at risk, but HGE has good recovery outcomes.




When all the above are ruled out, your veterinarian will oftentimes refer you to a specialist who will recommend a series of tests. These can include using an endoscope or doing exploratory surgery to obtain a biopsy. The results will determine which part of the intestinal tract is involved and what degree of inflammation is present. At this point, several medications are usually recommended. These include steroids, immunosuppressant drugs, antibiotics and flagyl (metronidazole), or other drugs to slow motility (lomotil).


These drugs tend to mask the symptoms and do not address or treat the problem. Steroids will bring back the appetite and help control inflammation, but long term use of prednisone and other steroid drugs have numerous negative side effects that include frequent urination, diarrhea, GI disturbance, ulcers, pancreatitis, renal and liver problems, diabetes, Cushing’s Disease, thinning hair, pancreatitis, muscle wasting, bone thinning and changes in behavior.

Immunosuppressant drugs can cause bone marrow loss, anemia and a permanent loss of tears in the eye, causing dry eye.

Metronidazole is an antibiotic with some anti-inflammatory side effects. However, this drug is processed through the liver.  Long-term use can cause neurological disorders and it destroys the natural flora and fauna in the system. Tylan is another antibiotic used that also has anti-inflammatory effects, but again, using antibiotics long term can destroy the good bacteria in the digestive system and it can lead to antibiotic resistance.

Diet recommendations often include prescription dry diets of the hydrolyzed protein type, which claims to be more easily digested.

I find it amazing that when a dog’s digestive tract is inflamed and the dog is in a weakened condition, the treatment is to offer harsh drugs that reduce the immune system and have a myriad of harsh side effects. On top of that, a poor food source that is heavily processed and high in fiber is included. Besides offering poor nutrition, high fiber diets continue to irritate and keep a dog’s digestive tract inflamed. Dogs are carnivores and therefore it is easier to digest animal protein and fats. Food spends more time in a dog’s stomach and then speeds through their short and simple digestive tract. Humans on the other hand, have a longer digestive tract, designed for longer transit time. Dogs labor tremendously trying to digest diets high in fiber. While high fiber will remove moisture in the large intestine and produce firmer stools, the intestinal tract remains inflamed and continues to cause spasms and creates poor digestion.

Rather than feeding a high-fiber diet and using immunosuppressant drugs and high power antibiotics that strip the digestive tract of good flora and fauna bacteria and cause further damage to the digestive tract, ideally, a diet change would be the first treatment of choice!

This diet would never be a dry food diet such as kibble, which is more irritating to a dog’s digestive tract. Instead, this diet would be a moist diet, high in good quality animal proteins and fats. A small amount of carbohydrates would be useful in a cooked diet for a fiber source. In a raw diet, the bones act as the fiber, which keeps stools firm.

Keeping stools consistently firm is not the main part of the ‘healing’ process, but it makes the human owners more secure when they see their dog’s stool look more like their own. Canines in the wild often have loose stools. This is not a sign of being unhealthy or having an illness, as long as they are digesting and utilizing the food consumed. Diarrhea now and then is not a big problem; it is projectile or liquid diarrhea for more than a day that can cause dehydration. The idea is to reduce the inflammation in the intestinal tract, which puts the digestive tract back into good health and allows for the proper digestion of food. My best advice is to look at the overall health of your dog. What is the condition of the skin and coat? Are they at a healthy weight? Are their stools consistent? Pay less attention to the stool and pay more attention to their coat, skin and weight for signs of recovery and good health.

Diet Recommendations

If you prefer a cooked diet, I recommend the low fat, low glycemic diet. This diet is 75% animal protein and 25% low glycemic (low sugar) carbohydrates. I would use a variety of proteins, such as beef, chicken, turkey and pork. Remove the chicken skin and trim extra fat from the other meat choices. You may also use low or nonfat yogurt and cottage cheese and egg whites, as they are also low fat. Low glycemic vegetables include broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, green beans and dark leafy greens. For more recipes, see my newsletters on Low-Glycemic Diets:

Carbohydrates and Low Glycemic Diets Part I

Carbohydrates and Low Glycemic Diets Part II

You can also get information that is much more detailed in my book, Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs.”

In raw diets, I suggest using a menu that consists of 50% raw meaty bones and 50% muscle and organ meat. For raw meaty bone meal, I suggest skinless chicken necks, turkey necks and pork neck bones. For the muscle/organ mix meal, I would use leaner meats such as low fat hamburger, white chicken meat chicken (no skin), and wild game such as venison and elk, with a small amount (5% of the meal) organ meat (liver or kidney), and nonfat yogurt or cottage cheese. More fat can be introduced to the diet later, but while the digestive tract is healing, higher fat diets should be avoided.

For both home cooked or raw diets, it may be best to start with three or four smaller meals per day for the first few weeks. Additionally, adding the supplements below will help during the transition of the diet and help heal the digestive tract.


I recommend three main supplements for dogs with IBD and gastric problems. These include:


L-Glutamine is an amino acid that is helpful in healing the lining of the digestive tract. This supplement helps maintain muscle mass and helps healing after surgery or an injury. The recommend dose is 500 mg per 20 pounds of body weight daily.

Berte’s Ultra Probiotics:

Berte’s Ultra Probiotics are a blend of beneficial bacteria, which are typically found in the digestive tract. These probiotics contain the good bacteria the digestive tract needs for proper digestion. During times of stress or illness, this natural bacterium can be depleted. Adding these probiotics to the diet, twice daily with meals, is helpful in restoring the flora and fauna needed for proper digestion and maintaining a strong immune system.

Food Science All-Zyme:

Animal-based enzymes include pancreatin and pancrealipase. They help predigest fats in the stomach so that when food is released into the small intestine, less strain is put on the liver and pancreas. The fat is better digested for easier passage through the small intestine. This leads to better formed stools.

Berte’s Digestion Blend:

This supplement offers all three of the above suggested supplements, L-Glutamine, Probiotics and Animal Enzymes, as well as GAGs to help heal the gut, and ginger to help prevent nausea.

Yucca Intensive:

Yucca is a natural steroidal herb that helps control inflammation. It MUST be given with food and at no more than 1 drop per ten pounds of body weight.

DMG Liquid:

Dimethylglycine is an amino acid recommended to help support proper immune response and glucose metabolism. For dogs with allergy problems, this supplement has been found to be beneficial in helping the immune system. This supplement also helps support skin and heart health, as well as proper nerve and brain functions.

You can find more information on this subject in both my newsletters Gastric Problems and Digestion and Gastric Problems FAQ.


Filed Under (Dog Nutrition) by B-Naturals.com on 01-01-2020
Lew Olson's newly revised edition is filled with an abundance of new topics and information. Whether you are new to home feeding or a seasoned raw feeder, have a senior dog or a new puppy, a pregnant mom or a toy breed, this book presents all the information you need to make the best nutritional decisions for your dog. 

This month we bring you part II of “Myths about Feeding Dogs”. Feeding your dog a healthy diet is not difficult. You just need to follow a few simple rules and apply some common sense. As we mentioned last month, many feeding myths are discussed among dog fanciers. It is important for you to know what is ‘myth’ and what is ‘truth’ when it comes to canine nutrition. Therefore, check and double check any nutritional information you find on the internet when it comes to feeding your dogs. Your dogs will certainly appreciate you knowing the truth and feeding them accordingly!


7) Dogs with liver ailments need low protein diets

In reality, dogs with liver problems need protein for the liver to thrive, regenerate and heal. Most dogs will eat a normal diet with the majority of liver issues. It is only in serious liver cases, such as a liver shunt or severe chronic liver disease, where ammonia can leak into the bloodstream. This can cause discomfort and severe illness. However, you still don’t need to reduce the protein; you simply feed meats that are low in ammonia, such as chicken, fish, and eggs and dairy. Red meats and organ meats are high in ammonia, so these are proteins to avoid. Additionally, it may be necessary to feed a low fat diet to a dog with a compromised liver. The liver is an organ that helps process fats and if the liver enzymes are elevated, low fat diets may be recommended until the liver enzymes return to normal levels. For more information and diet recipes, see this article on diets for dogs with chronic liver disease:

Want to Feed the Best Diet for Your Dog, But Don’t Know How?

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8) Dogs with renal issues need low protein diets

Dogs never need to have a low protein diet if they have renal issues. However, if the BUN is over 80, creatinine is over 3, and the phosphorus level starts to rise above normal, a low phosphorus diet may be needed. Like the liver, the kidneys need protein to survive and thrive. But when chronic renal failure occurs, the kidneys have trouble processing phosphorus. When the phosphorus levels in the body increase, it can cause pain and discomfort. Lowering the protein amount does NOT spare the kidneys or give them longer life; however, lowering phosphorus levels can create comfort for the dog. You can read more about kidney diets and treatment options here:


9) When I switch my dog to a raw diet, I should start by mixing only one protein source to the kibble

This is also a myth! If you brought a child into your home that had been eating a processed diet, you wouldn’t move them over to a fresh food diet slowly. You would make the change immediately and offer the child a variety of fresh foods. Oftentimes, when you change a dog’s diet from processed to raw, it may have difficulty digesting fat. In that light, I recommend you remove the skin from chicken, serve leaner meats, and use low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese to start. Also, serving frequent, smaller meals can help through the transition period. I also suggest adding Berte’s Ultra Probiotic Powder or Berte’s Digestion Blend, which help keep the good flora and fauna in the digestive tract and predigest fats in the stomach before it enters the small intestine. More information can be found here:


10) If my dog’s diet is complete, I don’t need to add any supplements

This is somewhat true; however some needed nutrients are hard to find in fresh foods. Omega 3 fatty acids are one of these nutrients. Therefore, I suggest adding Omega 3 fish oil capsules. Probiotics are also helpful in keeping the good flora and fauna in the digestive tract. I find this especially true for convalescing dogs, dogs that undergo stress, performance or show dogs, puppies and senior dogs. Adding water-soluble vitamins, such as C and B complex are also good additions to the diet. Read the following article for additional information about adding basic supplements to your dog’s diet.


11) Carbohydrates are necessary for dogs and they need grains, fruit and vegetables.

This is a myth and completely untrue! Even the NRC (Nutritional Research Council), which is the government agency that writes the nutritional guidelines for feeding dogs, states dogs have no nutritional need for carbohydrates. Commercial pet foods use them because it makes the foods more economical to produce and they provide a long shelf life for the food. The fact is carbohydrates (grains, fruit and vegetables) are comprised of sugar. Dogs are carnivores and are not designed to digest or use the nutrients found in carbohydrates. Dogs have a short, simple digestive tract which is not designed to ferment or process large amounts of fiber in their system. Carbohydrates also cause tooth decay and gum disease because dogs do not have the enzymes in their saliva as we do. Carbohydrates also cause body odor, large smelly stools, and disrupt the dog’s hormone and adrenal system. Lastly, they rob the dog of important animal protein and fat, which they need for heart, kidney and liver health and to maintain a good immune system. You can find more information about this in my article on carbohydrates.


12) Plant oils are good for dogs and provide good omega fatty acids

Many plant oils have been heavily marketed toward dogs over the years. Some of these oils include flax seed oil, hemp oil, canola oil, safflower oil and more recently, coconut oil. While some plant oils do contain Omega 3 fatty acids, they are in the form of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), which dogs cannot convert to a usable form of Omega 3. Dogs need Omega 3 fatty acids for healthy heart, kidney and liver function, to support the immune system, and to keep the skin and coat healthy. However, they need animal-based Omega 3 fatty acids, not plant-based. Animal based Omega 3 fatty acids are found in salmon, fish, menhaden, sardine or krill oil. These oils contain EPA and DHA, which are both necessary for good health. Plant oils, just like carbohydrates, are simply not needed by dogs, nor do they offer any benefits.




Filed Under (Dog Nutrition) by B-Naturals.com on 12-01-2019
Lew Olson's newly revised edition is filled with an abundance of new topics and information. Whether you are new to home feeding or a seasoned raw feeder, have a senior dog or a new puppy, a pregnant mom or a toy breed, this book presents all the information you need to make the best nutritional decisions for your dog. 

This month and next, we will be discuss and dispel some of the common myths about feeding dogs and proper nutrition. Many of these myths we will talk about include information that circulates on the Internet and is frequently discussed among dog fanciers when the topic of canine nutrition is discussed.

1. Stones and Crystals in the urine are all treated with the same diet, and just change the pH of the dog’s urine.

Actually, there are numerous types of stones, and all are treated quite differently. Struvite crystal and stones are caused by bacteria in the urine, or Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s). Diet has nothing to do with these, but treating the infection will clear them up. Calcium oxalate stones are most often genetic, and simply feeding low oxalate foods (most oxalate foods are in carbohydrates, such as vegetables and grains) will clear those up. Purine stones are treated by feeding a low purine diet (no red meat or organ meat), and cysteine stones are hardest to tackle. But feeding a prescription for diet (which is one diet, which is recommended for all) is relatively useless. The pH is caused by bacteria waste in UTI’s (struvite) and once you remove oxalates from a dog prone to calcium oxalates, the pH will normalize as well. You can click on the following links for more information on these stones:

Want to Feed the Best Diet for Your Dog, But Don’t Know How?

Now there is a fast and easy way to learn! Check out Lew Olson’s easy-to-follow, on-line course videos! Read on to learn about Canine Nutrition and preparing Raw and Home Cooked Diets! Click for Video


2. Do not mix fresh food with kibble

‘Do not mix fresh food with kibble’ is a particular statement that is frequently seen on message boards, email lists and Facebook. However the truth is, dogs are quite capable of digesting multiple types of food at one time. It is important to understand that dogs are different from humans when it comes to digestion. When people digest food, it tends to spend a short time in the stomach and a much longer time in the intestinal tract. Dogs, however, have a much shorter and simpler digestive tract. Dogs are carnivores and therefore, their digestive system is designed to digest animal protein and fat. Food spends a longer time in the dog’s stomach where powerful gastric juices break down the food. This helps to destroy bacteria, dissolve and break down bones, fur and skin. Kibble is fine to feed with animal protein and fats, however, it is suggested that raw meaty bones be fed separate from kibble. This is because raw meaty bones are heavier and therefore, may compete for gastric juices when the stomach churning forces both against the stomach wall at the same time. Read more about mixing kibble with fresh foods here:

3. High protein diets harm dogs

Dogs, as carnivores, require animal protein for many important health functions. Proteins help maintain a healthy liver, heart and kidney function, keep the blood sugar level, and they provide the vital amino acids a dog needs for good health.  These are not found in plant-based foods. Two important stages in a dog’s life when high protein levels are essential are during puppyhood and the senior years. For puppies, protein is essential for proper growth and development. For our senior dogs, it is essential to help maintain healthy organs and to provide the needed nutrients as the dog ages. High protein does NOT cause renal problems! When renal issues develop, the level of phosphorus MAY have to be reduced, but this only becomes necessary with chronic renal issues. You can find more information about the importance of protein in a dog’s diet and the consequences of not feeding enough quality protein here:


4. Feed High Fiber Diets for Dogs to Lose Weight

Many diet dog foods that you see on the market reduce protein and fat and replace it with fiber such as rice hulls, grains, starchy vegetables or other plant fillers. Sometimes people will replace some of the food with green beans or other carbohydrates assuming this will cut calories, keep their dog full and satisfied, and reduce its appetite. However, these types of ‘food replacements’ leave a dog feeling unsatisfied and hungry. These dogs become hungrier because their body is craving the quality nutrition it needs. It is better to simply reduce the amount of food served. If you reduce the amount of food served, do not reduce the total amount by more than 10% to start.

If you are feeding a fresh food diet and you want your dog to lose weight, I suggest using less fatty foods. You can do this by removing the skin from chicken, using leaner cuts of meat, and using 2% yogurt rather than whole milk yogurt. In dry dog food diets, I would use a HIGHER protein diet OR, replace some of the kibble by adding in some fresh lean animal protein. If you want your dog to lose weight, their diet must still provide them the proper nutrients needed to remain healthy and feel satiated after a meal, but they also need more exercise! Carbohydrates and fiber increase your dog’s appetite and they are oftentimes MORE fattening than quality proteins and fats. Dogs need fat for energy and they need high quality protein to maintain good health. If you want to learn more, please check out the following link:


5. Dogs Do Great on Vegan/Vegetarian Diets

Yeah? Well I don’t think so! Dogs need animal protein to maintain healthy heart, liver and kidney function. Animal-based proteins contain the amino acids that are not found in plant-based proteins. The dog’s digestive system is a simple one and it labors when it is fed a high-carbohydrate diet overloaded with grains, starches and beans. This is because their digestive tract is short and simple. It simply cannot ferment and digest these types of foods. Additionally, dogs MUST get their iron requirements from animal-based foods. They have a poor ability, if any, to get their iron needs from supplements or plant-based foods. Animal protein is essential for your dog’s organ health and to ensure your dog is healthy as it moves into its senior years. Remember, old age does NOT cause renal, heart or liver failure, but a poor diet can! There are numerous other reasons why canines should not be fed a vegetarian diet. Please check out the following newsletter for more very important information on this topic:


6. Raw Meat Will Cause Aggression

Occasionally I hear people say they would never feed a raw diet because it will create ‘blood lust’ and aggression in dogs. The interesting thing about feeding a raw diet is that is creates the exact opposite effect. Dogs need animal-based proteins to the get the amino acids they need. These not only provide dogs the proper nutrition needed, they also provide a calming affect!

Carbohydrate laden diets, such as grains, starches and fruit all convert to sugar. As the sugar levels raise and lower in the blood, it creates mood swings and can cause a lack of concentration. A diet that contains no carbohydrates or is very low in carbohydrates creates a more stable blood sugar level in the dog’s system. High carbohydrate diets also create cravings for the protein that is necessary in their diet, which can cause anxiousness, odd cravings, the begging and stealing of food, and create destructive chewing behaviors on inappropriate things such as furniture, clothing, books and other household items.

The best remedy for dogs that are hyperactive, have anxiety separation, destroy personal objects and are nervous, it is to feed a diet high in bioavailable fresh protein. This includes meat, whole milk yogurt, eggs and organ meat. Dogs will not only be more satisfied and ‘satiated’, but it can also calm them and help stop their frantic searching and chewing of inappropriate objects! This will not happen overnight, however gradually you should begin to see a calmer temperament over a period of several weeks.

Additional information regarding raw diets and aggression in dogs can be found here:


Next month we continue with Part II of “Myths about Feeding Dogs”.


Filed Under (Dog Nutrition) by B-Naturals.com on 11-01-2019
Lew Olson's newly revised edition is filled with an abundance of new topics and information. Whether you are new to home feeding or a seasoned raw feeder, have a senior dog or a new puppy, a pregnant mom or a toy breed, this book presents all the information you need to make the best nutritional decisions for your dog. 

I’ve written about vegetarian and vegan diets for dogs in a couple of past newsletters. First was in 2003 and then it was updated with additional information in 2014. I also wrote extensively about this topic in my book Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs. While opinions and theories change as new information becomes available, I will say that my opinion on this subject has NEVER changed. I say the same thing today that I said in past newsletters and in my book. Please do not EVER feed any dog a vegetarian or vegan diet! Dogs are not humans! They do not digest food the same way humans do and they have different nutrient requirements needed to maintain their good health.

Bramble, a Border Collie from the UK, is often used as an example of a dog that lived to be 25 years old on a vegan diet. What is oftentimes left out of her story is that Bramble was a farm dog that was able to run free daily. I can only imagine that Bramble loved the porridge her owner gave her, but she was also opportunistic and spent much of her free time foraging for small rodents and rabbits.

Dogs will certainly eat what we provide for them. They do not have a choice in what we choose to feed them and therefore are subjected to what we decide to feed them. Hunger itself will cause the opportunistic dogs to eat what we set before them. However, we need to understand and take a closer look at what dogs need to THRIVE, not just survive!

Want to Feed the Best Diet for Your Dog, But Don’t Know How?

Now there is a fast and easy way to learn! Check out Lew Olson’s easy-to-follow, on-line course videos! Read on to learn about Canine Nutrition and preparing Raw and Home Cooked Diets! Click for Video

Humans are omnivores and have a medium length digestive tract. When we eat food, it spends a relatively short time in the stomach and the bulk the time in the intestines to complete the digestion process. Humans have enzymes in their saliva to help predigest starches. Our jaws move up and down and back and forth to chew plant material and help pulverize and prepare food for digestion.

Dogs are carnivores. As such, they have a much shorter and simpler digestive tract than we do. In the digestive process, the food dogs consume spends the greatest amount of time in the stomach. Dogs have more gastric juices than humans do because carnivores need these in greater amounts to digest bones, break down animal fats and kill bacteria. After the digested material leaves the stomach, it goes through the intestinal tract rather quickly. Because of the short digestive tract, dogs have little or no ability to ferment foods. Therefore, their digestive tract is not designed for handling large amounts of fiber (grains, starches, fruit and plant material).

Canine teeth are sharp and pointed for the purpose of hunting and ripping, tearing and chewing meat and bone. Dogs have a large mouth opening to swallow larger amounts of food than humans can. Their jaws only move up and down (never sideways) and are not designed to mash up or pulverize plant materials. Additionally, they have no enzymes in their saliva to assist in starch digestion.

Protein and Dogs

Animal protein sources contain several nutrients not found in vegetarian and vegan diets. One important nutrient is the amino acid taurine. Protein is essential to organ and skin integrity, growth, and a healthy immune system. Amino acids provide the building blocks for these components that are essential for life. Each of these amino acids is specialized, and all of them work together to keep the body healthy. In humans, nine amino acids are needed to make up a complete diet. In dogs, at least ten amino acids are needed, and quite possibly eleven. As carnivores, dogs require certain amino acids in different amounts and ratios than humans.

Taurine and L-Carnitine

Research on nutrition and the heart in canines has shown some interesting results. It has been proven that Taurine is essential to cats, but the emphasis on the need for Taurine in dogs has been neglected. New studies show that certain breeds are prone to dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), such as Newfoundlands, and are oftentimes found to have a taurine deficiency. Studies on this are also being performed on Doberman Pinschers. Other breeds that are affected include Boxers, Cocker Spaniels, and Golden Retrievers. While scientists previously believed that dog foods high enough in sulfur containing amino acids (such as cystine and methionine, which can produce taurine) and proteins would allow canines to produce taurine, now believe this may not always be true:


Another amino acid needed in the dog’s diet is carnitine. This study shows that a carnitine deficiency can cause DCM (Dilated Cardiomyopathy) in dogs:


Note that the dogs used in these studies were fed a dry dog food. While only animal proteins contain taurine, certain preparation of animal proteins can deplete taurine in the diet:

“Animal muscle tissue, particularly marine, contained high taurine concentrations. Plant products contained either low or undetectable amounts of taurine. The amount of taurine that remained in a feed ingredient after cooking depended upon the method of food preparation. When an ingredient was constantly surrounded by water during the cooking process, such as in boiling or basting, more taurine was lost. Food preparation methods that minimized water loss, such as baking or frying, had higher rates of taurine retention.”


Dog food companies tend to add sulfur to their commercial diets because they know the high heats of cooking the small amount of animal protein in their formulas destroys the amino acids. However, while sulfur in the diet can assist dogs in making taurine, it appears to vary in the amount needed by breed and by size of the dog. To date, not enough research has been performed to understand how much taurine is needed for a processed diet heavily laden with carbohydrates. This leads to another problem with vegetarian and vegan diets.

Carbohydrates in the Dogs Diet

Carbohydrates are comprised of sugar and most are very high in fiber. The dog’s digestive tract is designed specifically to consume, utilize and digest animal protein and fat. As mentioned earlier, it is short and simple, and labors with diets high in fiber. Even though starches and grains are more easily digested when cooked, they still afford too much fiber for a canine to properly digest. Due to their struggle in processing high-fiber foods, it results in the production of gas and large, loose stools with very strong odor. Additionally, because dogs are unable to ferment fiber, this type of diet is very irritating to the small intestine and intestinal lining. As humans, we can have a tendency to project our dietary needs on to our pets. This is why it is so important to understand the nutritional needs of dogs and how their needs are different from ours. Not only is the high fiber, carbohydrate diet irritating to dogs, the abundance of sugar in carbohydrates causes obesity, body odor and red staining around the eyes, on the coat and feet. Sugar promotes both yeast growth and tooth decay in dogs. REMEMBER, dogs have NO way to break down starches in their mouth. Therefore, the food lodges in their teeth and can result in tooth decay and gum disease.


Plant sources are also a poor source of minerals. Probably the most important mineral to consider is calcium. Plants, including grains, are a poor source of calcium. They are high in phosphorus, potassium and magnesium, but low in calcium and sodium. Furthermore, grains and many vegetables are high in phytates, which block the absorption of calcium, iron, zinc, iodine and magnesium. This fact was brought to the attention of the dog food companies in the early 80’s. However, rather than reduce the amount of grains and starches in their commercial products, they simply opted to add more calcium, zinc, magnesium and iron.

A vegetarian diet, and especially a vegan diet, needs added calcium, zinc, magnesium, iron and iodine to balance the diet. The problem with adding minerals to the diet is that adding too much or adding improper combinations can be just as dangerous as getting too little. Minerals need to be supplemented in specific amounts in order to balance with each other. Most important in the canine diet, is the calcium and phosphorus balance and the zinc and copper balance. Of all the nutrients we may supplement, balancing these minerals is of the utmost importance if you are feeding a diet that is low or devoid of these minerals. A home-prepared diet with meat, eggs and dairy provides the balance of all of the minerals, except calcium, in a form dogs can readily use. Adding raw meaty bones to the diet provides the needed calcium. Vegetarian and vegan, or plant-based diets, do not contain these needed minerals in a form that can be digested AND utilized by dogs.

Remember, the phytates found in most grains, many starches and vegetables could bind calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc. Oftentimes, diets high in these foods need more calcium than a diet high in animal-based food sources. Additionally, high fiber diets make iron absorption more difficult. Dogs utilize iron more efficiently from animal-based sources such as meat, eggs, yogurt and fish.


Another important area to address is vitamins and vitamin deficiencies. These include Vitamin A, B vitamins and Vitamin D.

The Vitamin A found in meat sources is called retinoid. The Vitamin A found in plant sources is called beta-carotene. Dogs, and especially cats, have a difficult time converting beta-carotene to a usable form of Vitamin A. Animal proteins provide this important vitamin in its ‘already converted’ state. Therefore, it is important to feed dogs a diet that contains animal proteins so they benefit from this important vitamin.

Vitamin A in either form requires fat to be absorbed in the intestines. Therefore, consuming a high-fiber diet can interfere with the uptake of this important vitamin.


The level of beta carotene fed dogs decreases very rapidly, compared to humans and other mammals. This is important to note, as the retinol form is usable when consumed by dogs, and they don’t process beta carotene to a usable form as effectively as rats or humans.


“These are called preformed vitamin A because they are in a form that your body readily uses.  Retinol is the most usable of the three forms and can be converted to both retinol and retinoic acid in the body.”


“Niacin [vitamin B3] deficiency is generally encountered when owners formulate their own diets for their pets and do not include meat as part of the ration. Be very careful when trying to convert a pet into a vegetarian. Riboflavin [vitamin B2] is found naturally in organ meats and dairy products. It is lowest in grains, vegetables, and fruits. The un-supplemented vegetarian pet is at extreme risk of developing a riboflavin deficiency. Dogs fed a diet deficient in vitamin B2 will have poor growth, eye abnormalities, weakness in rear limbs, and eventually heart failure.”

Vitamin D has been found to be lower in blood plasma in dogs fed a vegetarian diet. This is a great concern, especially for growing puppies. This is caused from using plant-sourced vitamin D (D2) and increased fiber intake, which blocks the uptake of this vitamin. Dogs need vitamin D3, NOT vitamin D2. D2 is plant sourced and dogs simply cannot absorb and utilize this type as efficiently. Dogs require D3, which is animal sourced. Dogs are unable to absorb vitamin D from the sun.


“In contrast, the skin of dogs and cats contains significantly lower quantities of 7-dehydrocholesterol than other species, and its photochemical conversion to cholecalciferol is quite inefficient; dogs and cats thus appear to rely on dietary intake of vitamin D more than do other animals.”


Also note, the research shows that Vitamin D2 (mostly plant based) has little effect on humans and an even poorer effect on dogs. Always use vitamin D3 as the supplement choice.


This link is full of research sources showing how much more effective vitamin D3 is for humans and other mammals:



Most vets do not recommend feeding a vegetarian diet to dogs. I personally do not believe it is possible to feed a vegetarian or vegan diet to a dog and successfully supply all the nutrition that a dog needs.

A study of dogs in Europe that were fed a vegetarian diet showed the following results:

  • Over half the dogs showed inadequate protein intake
  • Calcium requirements were not met in 62% of the dog’s diets
  • Phosphorus requirements were not met in roughly half the dogs
  • 73% had an insufficient intake of sodium
  • A high number of blood samples showed insufficient amounts of iron, copper, zinc and iodine, as well as vitamin D
  • 56% of the dogs were not getting enough vitamin B12.
  • Even the commercial vegetarian diets were found not to meet the nutritional needs of dogs.
  • Even sources that support feeding vegetarian diets to dogs stress the complexity of supplying all the necessary nutrients and the dangers of leaving them out. The better sources recommend feeding eggs and dairy, even if meat is not fed.

Before anyone chooses to feed a vegetarian diet to their dog, they should have a thorough understanding of the dog’s nutritional requirements and know how they will meet their dog’s dietary needs feeding a vegetarian or vegan diet. This includes adding which vitamin and mineral supplements and in what amounts, should be given. Additionally, no dog should be fed a vegan diet, which is incapable of meeting his or her nutritional needs.

Lastly, it is important to look at the needs of the dogs, and cats, we choose to have in our lives. While we may have our own ethical or moral choices in what we eat, we are responsible for the care and wellbeing of our pets. It is certainly fine that you eat the vegetarian or vegan diet if you believe is right for you, but it is unfair to impose the same beliefs and diet onto your pets. Dogs and cats require animal proteins in their diet to meet their health needs. To make a conscious decision to feed carbohydrates to your dog, along with a myriad of supplements to try to make up the vitamin and mineral deficiencies of a meat-free diet is unhealthy for your pet. It is also selfish and unkind. The results of a vegetarian or vegan diet results in a higher risk of obesity, and leaves you with an unhealthy pet whose palate and nutritional requirements are not met. It is very important to separate our needs from our dog’s needs and provide them with the best nutrition, physical exercise and mental stimulation that is appropriate for them and not us!