FAQ on Home Made Diets
PhD Natural Health, LMSW-ACP
FAQ on Home Made Diets
After publishing the August newsletter on dealing with terminal illness that was written by Doug Koktavy, I lost my beloved Bean on August 4, 2007 to renal failure and took a little a time off. This is why there was no September newsletter. Bean would always want us to celebrate his life, and nothing pleased him more than a fresh food diet. This month, I will address frequently asked questions for people just starting out, or considering changing their dog’s menu. I can tell you, Bean would approve very much!
Blackwood The Green Mile, (Bean) July 9th, 2002- August 4th, 2007
Frequently Asked Questions on Home Made Diets
1. How much food do I feed my dog?
Answer: The general rule of thumb is to feed 2% to 3% of the dog’s “ideal” body weight. For instance, if you feel your dog needs to weigh more, use this percentage for the weight you would like your dog to weigh. If you think your dog needs to lose weight, feed to the percentage that meets that goal.
Example: One pound equals approximately two cups.
100 lb dog = 2 lb to 3 lb daily, or two meals of 1 to 1-1/2 lbs each meal.
75 lb dog = 1-1/2 lb to 2-3/4 lb daily or two meals of 12 oz. to 18 oz. each meal.
50 lb dog = 1 lb to 1-1/2 lb daily or two meals of 8 oz. to 12 oz. each meal.
25 lb dog = 8 oz. to 12 oz. daily or two meals of 4 oz. to 6 oz. each meal.
2. How often should I feed my dog?
Answer: Two meals per day are recommended. However, many dogs do fine with one meal per day. If you are feeding two meals per day, it is suggested you feed one raw meaty bone meal and one muscle and organ meat meal. If you are feeding a raw meaty bone diet and only feed one meal per day, you may want to feed raw meaty bones one day and muscle and organ meat the next.
Do not fast a dog, unless medically indicated, as dogs need to eat every day, just like we do.
3. What kind of diet is better? A raw diet or a home cooked diet?
Answer: Both are fine. It is a matter of deciding what is easiest for you and what you are most comfortable feeding your dog. Each diet has its own pro’s and con’s. Raw diets don’t involve cooking, which saves time, and they have their own calcium source (the bones) already in place. Cooked diets can be made in advance, put into individual servings, and are ready to feed once thawed. Both offer the benefit of serving your dog unprocessed, fresh food.
4. What are the benefits of a fresh food (raw or home cooked) diet?
Answer: When I first started feeding a raw diet, it was for a specific health reason. The side effects were not only unexpected, but a welcomed surprise. Some of these included loss of ‘doggy’ odor, clean skin, sweet breath and clean teeth. And lastly, the stool size decreased, along with the odor. My dogs have leaner, more muscled bodies and their energy levels and endurance are better in the show ring, performance ring and home at play. Nothing beats the nutrients from fresh food. A home made diet, either raw or home cooked offers better nutrition than a processed, commercial diet.
5. How will I know if my dog is getting a balanced meal?
Answer: A Balanced diet is a commercial food issue. When a dogs diet consists of only a particular brand and flavor of one commercial dog food, that food must be complete and balanced. When you serve home prepared meals, you offer variety in those meals. The variety of foods you feed help to give more nutrients to your dog for a more nutrition packed menu. What we do need to ensure with home prepared diet is proper calcium to phosphorus ratio. In home cooked diets (no bones added), you need to add about 900 mg of calcium carbonate or calcium citrate to each pound of food served. When using raw meaty bone meals, you would make 40% to 50% of the diet in raw meaty bones and the other portion in muscle meat and organ meat (about 5% to 10%). You can add to this meat meal pureed vegetables, dairy and eggs if preferred. To both of these meals, you can add EPA fish oil capsules (for the omega 3 fatty acids, at about one per 20 lbs of body weight daily), vitamin E, vitamin C and B complex. You can find these vitamins in the Bertes Daily Blend and the Bertes Immune Blend).
6. Won’t a diet change upset my dog’s digestive tract?
Answer: Normally, dogs make the transition to a raw or cooked diet pretty easily. Some dogs, however, if they have been on dry food for a long time may react to the fat in the home cooked or raw diet. Because of this, I generally advise people to use lower fat foods (remove the skin from the chicken, use low fat cuts of meat, low fat or non fat dairy) in the beginning and start the diet by either mixing the new food with their kibble or start the new diet in smaller, more frequent meals. Most dogs do not have any upset at all. The two main causes of stomach upset come from feeding too much food (it isn’t hard to give a dog too much of something they like!) or feeding too much fat in the diet.
7. What can I do if my dog gains too much weight?
Answer: One way to tell if a dog weight is too much is to check his ribs with your fingers. If you have to ‘dig’ to find the ribs, the dog weighs too much. Ideally, you dont want to see the ribs, but you dont want to have to ‘dig’ to find them. To take some weight off your dog, you can cut meal portions by 10% and reduce some of the fat in the diet. You do the opposite if your dog is losing weight. If this is the case, increase meal portions by 10% and add more fat to the diet.
8. What about bacteria in home made diets?
Dogs have a short and simple digestive tract, which is very different than ours. Their digestive systems are designed to eat raw meat and bones. It is always important to use USDA approved meat, and of course, use sensible handling of raw food. This includes proper refrigeration; using clean containers and practicing good clean up procedures. Remember, dogs handle bacteria much differently than we do. They walk on the dirt, sniff and lick each others private parts, drink pond water, grab and eat long dead things on the road and many even eat stool. Store bought meat is much cleaner than these. For more information on safety of raw meat, please read Christie Keith’s article, here: http://www.caberfeidh.com/Safe.htm. I have been feeding as many as 15 18 dogs of my own, plus rescue dogs a raw diet for over 10 years and I have never had issues with bacteria or parasites from meat. And note here that the number of dogs I have fed is more than the numbers needed for laboratory research testing.
9. Are parasites a concern in raw or cooked meat?
Answer: No. As long as you are using USDA approved meat, it is fine. Pork had concerns with trichinosis some years ago, but this rarely seen. Cooking or heavy freezing (as is done before pork ever hits the grocery selves) is fine. Most parasites are found in the stool, and can be a concern in some wild game meat, such as wild pigs.
10. Are there special considerations for Puppies and Senior Dogs?
Answer: Puppies adapt very easily to a raw or home cooked diet. We do feed puppies a higher quantity of food (approximately 5% to 10% of their body weight daily) and feed the more frequently – four meals a day. For more on puppy diets, you can read the newsletter at this link:
Senior dogs actually need more protein than an adult dog, so the high bioavailability of a fresh food diet is ideal for them. Sometimes we need to feed a diet lower in fat to our seniors, but keeping them active with regular exercise such as frequent walks and play time, also helps with weight control.
See the article on feeding puppies and seniors:
For more information and additional reading, please read the following newsletters:
Here is a newsletter that includes recipes and instructions for home cooked diets for dogs:
This newsletter is about Raw diets for dogs and includes recipes:
I hope everyone is enjoying the seasonal changes of Fall, I know my dogs are enjoying the cool, crisp weather! Don’t forget to give all your dogs a big kiss and hug today! I will see you next month!
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