I see more and more recipes for cooked diets on the Internet. It seems meal preparations for dogs are popping up on cooking sites. I do think most of these people are sincere, but many have no idea about what dogs need, versus what people need.
People comment how much their dogs love these recipes and gobble them down! Of course, anything tastes better than kibble, fresh food has flavor, it is moist and smells better! But it isn’t the idea of cooked diets being posted all over the Internet, it is the proportions. Consistently I see low protein content, and a poor choice of fiber (i.e., carbohydrates are vegetables, fruit, and grains) that often is in a larger proportion than the animal protein.
All the peas, carrots, rice, spinach, broccoli looks like a lovely salad, with a side of chicken or turkey. Tossed together, it could be chef salad! Great for us, but not great for dogs. So why is that?
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- For a balanced mix of animal protein to carbohydrates, it should be 75% meat, dairy, organ meat and eggs and 25% carbohydrates, for fiber. Red meat is preferably, but beef, lamb and pork can be exchanged for chicken and turkey on occasion. Variety is recommended to make sure your dog is getting all the proper amino acids and minerals. I suggest using at least 4 different protein sources a week. I always keep canned sardines or mackerel in my cupboard, and I suggest using one of these once or twice a week.
- Cooked diets are not entirely balanced. Since there is no bone in them as in raw diets, calcium carbonate needs to be added at 900 mg per pound of food served. You can purchase this in powder form on Amazon or you can save eggshells, dry them over night and grind in a coffee bean grinder. Give ½ teaspoon per pound of food served.
- Now, for the carbohydrates, to make up ¼ of this recipe. We use these for fiber for formed stools. Dogs get very little nutrients from carbohydrates; they mainly need animal protein and fat. The need animal protein for iron (cannot use iron in any other form), minerals, B vitamins and animal proteins are necessary for health heart, liver, and kidneys. I suggest avoiding starches, as they are high in sugars and are difficult for dogs to process. Dogs have a short, simple intestinal tract that is not designed to ferment food. To choose carbohydrates, I suggest dark leafy greens, summer squash, zucchini squash, broccoli, and cauliflower. These need to be cooked thoroughly and mashed, as it makes it easier for dogs to manage these in digestion. Now, NEVER FEED A DOG SPINACH! Spinach in high in phytates, which in turn block uptake of calcium and other minerals. This can create growth and health problems down the road.
So, to put these recommendations in perspective:
- Animal protein 75% (raw or cooked)
- Non-Starch Carbohydrates 25% cooked thoroughly
- 900 mg of Calcium Carbonate per pound of food served
The type of carbohydrate used is not so important (except please avoid starch vegetables for ease of digestion for a dog), as vegetables are most useful as a fiber choice, not for nutrition. I do recommend using at least 4 protein choices a week. That can include beef (including yogurt and cottage cheese), chicken (and eggs), pork and turkey. Other choices are lamb, rabbit, venison to mention a few.
It easy to make up large batches and freeze in meal sized portions. These can be taken out the night before to thaw. I do suggest two meals a day for the best digestion and don’t forget to use variety!
For supplements, I suggest the Bertes Immune Blend. It is a blend of vitamins A, B, C, D3 and E, along with probiotics, digestive enzymes, and l-glutamine. I give healthy dogs half dose, and dogs with health issues the full dose. I would use the Fish Oil Capsules at one per 20 lbs of body weight daily. Fish oil contains omega 3 fatty acids, which are liver, heart and renal protective, and help with coat and skin.