The Importance of Species-appropriate Foods for the Cultivation of Optimal Health

Energy is Everything! Your Dog’s Life Depends On It

When it comes to fueling our canines’ bodies, there has to be the consideration of which foods are species-appropriate and which are not. Our dogs have very specific energy needs and nutrient requirements that must be supplied by the diet. This requires careful thought and planning. Energy and nutrients cannot come from just any food. The foods must be digestible, void of anti-nutrients that a dog cannot counter or neutralize, and have the correct cells and molecules that a dog’s digestive capabilities are designed to effortlessly and adequately breakdown to unlock potential energy and the nutritional components that are vital to health and life. These foods are what are known as species-appropriate. There are no other foods that need to be or should be added to the canine diet. Let’s discuss why that is imperative if your goal is to cultivate optimal health. Optimal health can only be realized with ideal nerve energy and peak cellular function.

Every biological organism and living being requires food. Food supplies the energy needed for metabolism. Quantum physics has shown us that energy is everything, everything is energy. Our dogs, like us, are energy beings. Energy, therefore, is first and foremost the most crucial factor in nourishing and sustaining the body. Physiological processes cannot be adequately maintained without the consistent supply of energy nourishment replete within species-appropriate foods. When food is not supplied, the body will utilize all stored potential energy located within the muscles and liver for basic metabolic functions and physical work (movement). This first fuel source is glycogen (in carnivores, amino acids are turned into a fuel source via a process known as gluconeogenesis). When glycogen is exhausted, the body then turns to stored body fat, a stored energy source. Fat is utilized by being converted into ketone bodies which are then burned as fuel. When fat stores deplete, the body will cannibalize itself to create an energy source by breaking down muscle and organ tissue to release amino acids that are then burned as fuel (again, via gluconeogenesis). Thus, potential energy is primary in maintaining metabolism and thus sustaining life. Potential energy must be supplied via adequate food intake for physiological processes to be optimal for the cultivation and maintenance of health. Any shortage of potential energy from food will result in the body drawing upon its own reserves. (Note, obese animals must be allowed to draw on stored body reserves for fuel in order to drop to an ideal body fat percentage; however, food intake must still be supplied to prevent malnourishment and fatigue.)

It is thus clear that energy is the foundation for everything to exist. Food for both our dogs and us revolves around energy. While food is also the vehicle for vital nutrients, it is the energy that fuels metabolism and bodily processes that allow for the breakdown and release of the nutrients that are necessary for further physiological function, maintenance, and repair. For optimal health to be realized and maintained, energy cannot be in short supply. And yet this is just what we are seeing in the modern canine as too many dogs are clearly suffering the ill effects. Understanding energy in the correct context is first necessary.

It is essential to recognize body energy in its two forms,

  1. potential energy that is produced within the mitochondria (cellular organelles where the biochemical processes of respiration and energy production occur), and
  2. nerve energy for the functioning powers of the body.

Food provides potential energy that is converted and burned (consumed) as fuel. Nerves control every part of the body including muscular action, digestion, functions of the organs, circulation, and emotions. The nerves are the grand conductors of motive power and sensory impulses. Having adequate energy for both metabolism and vital nerve function is the only way to ensure optimal health and vitality.

The holistic approach to nutrition looks for all possible sources of unnecessary energy expenditure (energy waste), most notably as a result of the diet, but also in every facet of dynamic life. The body will divert vital energy to the elimination of excessive toxin build-up (from both metabolic function and exposure via diet and environment) and to areas that require repair to damaged tissues caused by inappropriate, adulterated, and contaminated foods, excessive stress, chemical exposures, environment, and so forth. By removing these energy wasting sources, energy will be freed to allow for peak motive power available to the maintenance of optimal health, and most importantly, in crises when health is threatened by illness, injury, or trauma. This is the single most important detail for multiplying the likelihood for longevity.

Freeing-up your dog’s essential nerve energy is achieved by,

  1. providing a fresh raw species-appropriate diet (unadulterated and non-GMO) that is easily digestible, nutrient balanced (achieved by offering a variety of differing meals), and free from chemicals and naturally-occurring toxins and anti-nutrients,
  2. providing pure water that has been filtered via reverse osmosis,
  3. eliminating harmful chemical, toxin and stress exposure, and
  4. providing your dog with a safe environment complete with daily exercise in the fresh air and sunlight.

Let’s look at this another way. Excessive toxin build-up and tissue damage occur as a result of:

  • inappropriate, processed, adulterated, contaminated, nutrient-deficient, nutrient-toxic, and anti-nutrient rich diets
  • contaminated water consumption, especially tap water which contains fluoride, chlorine, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, farming chemicals, flocculants, spores, cysts, and parasites
  • environmental stress and chemical exposure
  • physical stress and over-demand
  • lack of exercise
  • polluted indoor and outdoor air, lack of fresh clean air
  • mental stress, anxiety, confinement, loneliness, and depression (YES, animals get depressed!)
  • over-vaccination and the use of flea, tick, and heartworm chemicals and preventatives
  • pharmaceutical drugs
  • parasite infestation

In light of the above, it is not difficult to understand why providing only quality species-appropriate foods is vital to the adequate supply of potential metabolic energy and to assuring that ample nerve energy is available for all bodily functions and in the event of crisis. Because what you put into your dog’s body by way of food choices is so vitally important, I want to again stress what is not species-appropriate for a canine. Anything other than species-appropriate foods lead to motive energy shortage which may mean the deterioration of health and a decreased chance for longevity.

Foods that put a direct damper on overall energy output and nerve conduction are:

  • processed commercial foods full of adulterated proteins, rendered fats, contaminants, and synthetic and inorganic nutrient isolates
  • moisture-deficient dry kibble
  • diets high in carbohydrates and insoluble fibers (dogs have absolutely no need for either of these)
  • grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds (seeds may have some value if ground into a powder and if anti-nutrients are strategically counteracted)
  • plant fats and diets high in plant-based proteins (especially legume and pea protein) or vegetarian diets
  • vegetables that are fibrous and stalky, oxalate and lectin-rich, and from the deadly-nightshade group
  • cooked proteins, fats, and carbohydrates
  • raw fish containing heavy metal contaminants (as well as thiaminase)
  • high sugar fruits and fruit fed in meals with protein. Protein needs an acid bath. When proteins are consumed alongside fruit, it can potentially turn fruit into an alcohol ferment creating a toxin that must be metabolized in the liver.

Any foods that create an unnecessary need for increased energy out-put reduces over-all available energy needed for the optimal functioning of organs, systems, and immunity and daily maintenance, repair, and toxin elimination from metabolic processes and stress. Species-inappropriate and contaminated foods create an undue need for toxin removal, cause or create an inflammatory response, create an increase in pancreatic enzyme out-put (grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds) and pancreatic hormone out-put (insulin in the presence of carbohydrates and sugars), tax and overburden the liver, dehydrate the cells, block or disrupt nutrient absorption via anti-nutrients (phytates, lectins, oxalates, thiaminase, insoluble fiber), create digestive difficulty and reduced nutrient assimilation, and are cause for indigestion, gassiness, constipation, diarrhea, increased mucous production, and the potential for bloat.

Energy is essential. In reality, it is everything. When energy is optimal, functioning is optimal. When we provide our dogs with species-appropriate foods that are easy to digest, nutrient uptake is also optimal and energy is abundant and reserved rather than wasted. Feeding your dog food that is inappropriate for convenience, simplicity, or for the mere reason that it contains a nutrient molecule that your dog requires is ineffective and futile. If energy and nutrients cannot be unlocked or assimilated and it further inhibits the absorption of other vital nutrients, where is the value? The truth is, there is no value. Let’s consider some examples.

Species-appropriate foods can only be of value to those species that are specifically designed to unlock the vital potential energy and nutrients within those foods. Grass contains a plethora of vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. Does this mean that grass is a suitable source of vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids for a dog? Obviously no, and I am quite sure most of us know what happens when dogs eat grass. And yet grass is a vitally important food for grazing ungulates. Grass is species-appropriate food for cattle, horses, deer, and buffalo that are able to create massive bodies with rippling muscles and strong bones from grasses. Consider grains. Grains contain very few nutrients, but are rich in anti-predation chemicals and toxins that are counter-productive to health. Do grains contain any useable nutrients for carnivores such as canines? In their raw natural state they are deadly. The only known species created for grain consumption are birds which have the correct digestive capacity to counter the anti-nutrients and natural toxins while also breaking down the tough cell walls in their gizzard. Since dogs, like ALL other animals, are designed to consume their food in a raw state, grains are not, therefore, species-appropriate. But what if grains were allowed to ferment or sprout, were subjected to milling, cooking, and more cooking? Would these be appropriate even then? According to the National Research Counsil (NRC) as recorded in their massive research compilation Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats, the holy grail of canine nutrition research, “there appears to be no requirement for digestible carbohydrate in dogs provided enough protein is given to supply the precursors for glucogenesis.”

Despite these above facts, man feels the need to offer their beloved canines these inappropriate foods, including feeding foods that are cooked. No other animal, besides man, consumes cooked foods. Dr. Francis M. Pottinger’s cat study [1, 2] speaks volumes as to this massive error made by man. Dogs are not people…period. (Sometimes our dogs may feel like our children, but they are not our species!) The results of this error is clearly realized by the chronic ailments afflicting the modern dog, ailments they share with their human companions. Diabetes, joint destruction and arthritis, obesity, heart disease, macular degeneration, cancer and more are common among nearly every breed. Coincidence? Hardly.

What are species-appropriate foods for your dog? Whole raw prey or fresh raw meat, raw meaty bones, organs, offal, and very little, if any, plant material. Providing your beloved canine with a diet that is perfectly suited for their anatomy and physiology is the first step in providing nourishment that effectively and almost effortlessly delivers the vital potential energy and thereby the vital nutrients that are perfectly intended to flawlessly sustain life and, above all else, cultivate the coveted optimal health and longevity that we likely all desire for our beloved pets. Energy is everything…and not to be squandered and wasted.

©2019 Kimberly Lloyd, PhD, BCHHP, Cert Raw Dog Food Nutritionist

[1] https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/nutrition-greats/francis-m-pottenger-md/

[2] https://www.amazon.com/Pottengers-Cats-Francis-Marion-Pottenger/dp/0916764060/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?crid=Q4TXFN7EUE4T&keywords=dr+pottinger+cat+study&qid=1551383777&s=gateway&sprefix=Dr+pottinger%2Caps%2C146&sr=8-1-fkmrnull


Common Mistakes Pet Parents Make When New to Raw Feeding

Feeding your dog a raw diet of fresh meats, nutrient-rich organs, raw meaty bones, and other nourishing whole-foods is the most natural and species-appropriate option available. When offered and provided correctly, dogs indisputably thrive. Notice the key word here… correctly. As raw feeding becomes more and more commonplace and the internet fills with information, many pet parents are taking the switch to raw into their own hands. And thanks to the Pet Fooled documentary (available of Netflix), the raw food movement is exploding not just within the United States, but has been across the world.

When it comes to taking the responsibility to provide for your dog’s nutritional needs, research and knowledge are not optional. Even for me, being a board certified practitioner and nutrition professional since the 1990s, I did not take the switch from commercial food to homemade lightly. Dogs have very specific nutrient requirements that must be provided or health will inevitably suffer. In my practice, I have observed “common mistake” trends made by pet parents who are new and newish to raw feeding. Here are some common mistakes as well as suggestions for how to avoid and/or make amendments to be sure your dog will flourish on a raw diet.

1. Failure to do adequate research                

Face it, research can be an arduous and laborious process especially when there can be steep consequences to not doing enough. When it comes to a basic need that can spell health or harm (quite literally), research is not to be scrimped upon. Nutrition is vital to life and all processes that sustain and maintain life. I would very much doubt that any pet parent is not hoping for many, many years of health and joy with their beloved companions. Thus, getting your dog’s nutritional needs adequately met is a vital step toward that goal of long ages and stellar health.

Switching to raw is more than simply providing raw ground beef and broccoli with an occasional marrow bone or a bunch of chicken quarters or backs day in and day out. Dogs have a need for a variety of meats, organs, bones, and other foods in varying quantities in order to create a truly complete and balanced nutrition plan. There is the need to know how much food to provide and how much of each ingredient is going to be required to provide all of the essential amino acids, fats, vitamins, and minerals.

A situation in my practice that often needs addressing is the exclusive feeding of the popular commercially and locally prepared 80/10/10 grinds. Most of these products are not “complete and balanced.” While the ingredients may be exceptional quality, most of these products offer only a good dietary base with the need for added ingredients and sometimes supplementation. If you are feeding a commercial or locally created 80/10/10 pet food product that does not come with a “complete and balanced” label or guarantee, chances are you are feeding a significantly deficient product.

You must determine if what you are feeding your dog is either providing all of your dog’s nutrient needs or is deficient or imbalanced and in need of amending. This is where research pays off in a big way. While you can pay a professional do all the work for you, such as myself who would be happy to analyze your pet’s diet, most pet parents are perfectly capable of discovering what nutrients are being supplied and which nutrients are lacking in their dog’s meals.

If you are not sure where to begin, start here. Every pet parent who is or will be raw feeding must have their dog’s specific daily nutrient requirements. You can determine this by using our free NRC nutrient requirement calculator here. Once you know your dog’s nutrient needs, begin to source ingredients that contain the nutrients your dog requires. You will need to use a spreadsheet calculator to audit the nutrients in the meals you create. You can find free spreadsheet calculators in The Holistic Canine Facebook community group. If you do not mind purchasing a low-cost program, you might consider the Pet Diet Designer (PDD) software (not available for Mac users) for your laptop or PC. This software can help you determine deficiencies and imbalances in your pet’s meals (DISCLAIMER, the PDD software does not account for bone and can be very frustrating for pet parents who do not have assistance knowing how to account for missing information in the program). If none of these are a possibility, you can use the USDA Food Composition Database to learn the nutrient profiles of what you are feeding to calculate your nutrient totals.

2. Believing that feeding a ratio means you are providing a “balanced” diet

Ratios are a great guideline for creating meals. The 80/10/10 ratio (80% meat, 10% organs, 10% bone) is the approximate ratio of whole prey. Because most pet parents who choose raw want to provide a species-appropriate diet that most closely resembles a natural carnivorous diet, following the 80/10/10 ratio (or one similar) just seems to make so much sense. And while it does make sense, providing meals based only on the ratio without any regard for nutrients is the most common cause for nutrient deficient meals. While nutrient toxicities are less common, they can occur especially with a consistent amount of liver, other secreting organs, and supplements in every meal. Ratios must be balanced properly if your goal is to cultivate optimal health and promote healing.

Consistently providing your dog with meals that are unbalanced greatly increases the very real possibility for nutrient-deficient or nutrient-toxic pathologies and conditions. Understand that conditions do not occur over night. It takes months and sometimes years for unbalanced nutrition to create problems or damage. Early symptoms are often overlooked and dismissed as sensitivities and allergies whether to food or the environment. Other signs include skin that won’t heal, hot spots, excessive licking, other skin conditions, thinning coat, difficulty maintaining weight, joint injuries, ligament damage, hip problems, poor eyesight, ear conditions, behavioral changes including anxiety or aggression, excessive hunger or thirst, skipping meals, lack of energy, withdrawn or depression, hyperactivity, scatterbrained, increased thirst with an inability to urinate, and more. 

If you are unsure if the meals you are providing for your dog are balanced, refer to number 1 above to audit nutrients.

3. Neglecting to balance the fats

This is a biggie in my practice. It is also a big concern in human nutrition as well. Not all fats are created equally and each fatty acid has its own specific function and purpose. Dogs need to receive each essential fatty acid in the correct balance. The two categories of essential fatty acids that dog must receive from their diet are omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Getting enough of the essential omega-6 fatty acids is easy to do, in fact so easy that this is usually the cause for the fat imbalance.

Farm animals raised for food are primarily fed grains, especially conventionally farmed animals that end up for sale in grocery and food store meat cases across the country to nourish the general public. These meats are regulated by agencies that ensure quality and safety. More often than not, pet parents are feeding their dogs this same meat from conventionally farmed animals. Due to the type of feed that is consumed by livestock during their life, the end result is a meat product high in omega-6 fatty acids. This applies to poultry, beef, pork, goat, lamb, and eggs. Omega-6 fatty acids also happen to be inflammatory fats. Balancing the fatty acids is crucial to prevent an inflammatory environment within your dog’s body. This is done by feeding a balance of omega-3 fatty acids along with omega-6 rich meats in a ratio of 2:1 or 3:1 omega-6 to omega-3. The key word here is balance. Dogs with certain health concerns and chronic disease may be better with a 1:1 ratio.

Livestock that are raised out on pasture and free-ranged will have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids. The meat and eggs from these animals unfortunately also tend to be very costly. The cost is often so high that many families cannot afford these meats even for themselves much less their dog. Feeding fatty fish such as sardines, salmon, and mackerel can easily provide the needed omega-3 fatty acids. But the safety of fish is often questioned as well as sourcing and pricing. Farmed fish is not ideal and wild-caught can be very pricey and is generally available seasonally. This is an example where supplementation may prove a better option for some pet parents over more costly omega-3 rich foods. Be sure to choose a source to balance the fats in your dog’s diet as this is essential for overall health.

As a word of caution, the trend for a supplemental omega-3 source is fish oil. And as with most things, there are a few concerns about utilizing fish oil. Fish oils have the unfortunate problem of rancidity. No matter how wonderful the quality, rancidity is a major problem. As soon as the extracted oil hits the air, oxidation occurs even through gelcaps. Refrigeration is helpful, but I have my doubts. Rancid fish oils will contribute to a highly inflammatory environment within your dog’s body. Additionally, if you’re not spending a good bit of money on a natural supplement with a purity guarantee, you are likely buying a contaminated product containing mercury and PCBs (among others) with the bonus of extraction chemicals. And lastly, the very high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil can actually create health concerns. Just like too many omega-6 fatty acids can lead to a potential disease state, so too, omega-3 fatty acids in amounts well over what is needed can create health concerns.

My first choice for omega-3 fatty acids is food. Wild-caught sardines and mackerel are excellent, relatively low in contaminants, and are also superb sources of protein, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, B vitamins, and vitamin D. Canned fish is also acceptable. My choices for supplements are krill oil and marine phytoplankton. The omega-3 fatty acids in krill oil are more readily and easily absorbed because krill contains astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant. This is also what makes krill oil safer and less prone to oxidation. The lesser amounts of fatty acids also make krill oil innocuous. Marine phytoplankton is high in omega-3s and rich in protein, minerals, and vitamins.

Again, balance is critical. More is not better! Balance is everything.

4. Expecting or holding on to unrealistic results

While raw feeding has a plethora of benefits, switching your dog to raw and holding on to unrealistic goals is not only frustrating, but creates a stigma that can deter other pet parents from transitioning to a species-appropriate diet and providing their best for their pets. It is unfortunate that many pet parents do not learn about raw feeding until after their dog has been suffering or is diagnosed with a chronic condition; the worst case, cancer. It is often the pet parent’s desperate research to learn ways to help their chronically damaged or ill dog that leads them to discovering that diet plays a major and critical role in health and healing, and that a raw diet just may be the answer. While there is no doubt that transitioning a suffering or chronically ill dog to a species-appropriate raw diet can help, how much help is dependent solely upon how badly damaged a dog’s body, immune, and organ function is at the time of transition. Sadly, for many dogs, it is simply too late for their compromised system to recover. Irreversible damage is the sad and heartbreaking case with many cancers. Dogs do not generally show symptoms of cancer until it has already advanced. This is exactly the reason why prevention is critical.

While many dogs have in fact reversed conditions, disease, and even cancer by being transitioned to a raw diet, not every dog is so fortunate. Pet parents would be wise to hold on to the fact that by choosing a raw diet in their dog’s final months, weeks, or even days has provided them with the absolute best nutrition plan possible and likely the most enjoyable meals of their dog’s life. Many dogs transitioned to raw in their golden years or at the tail end of disease end up passing peacefully and in very little pain. As with everything in this world, nothing is a guarantee except that all living beings have their time that must eventually come to an end. A raw diet can and most often does create a platform for reduced pain, decreased symptoms, and enjoyable meal times.

Transitioning to raw can be a wonderfully amazing journey for both dog and pet parent. But be realistic and hold on to the joy and peace that raw feeding can bring to a suffering and ill animal.   

5. Over supplementing (or ignoring supplementing altogether)

Taking your dog’s nutritional needs into your own hands can be a very daunting and frightening task. To help ease concerns, many well-intentioned pet parents turn to excessive supplementation, or what I call bottled insurance policies. While supplements may be indicated in certain circumstances, supplements used wrongly can create a serious imbalance that may put your dog at an increased risk for harm. To know whether or not a supplement may be required, you must first know if a deficiency exists consistently within meals, if anti-nutrients need to be countered, or if you require a synergistic nutrient to assist absorption. Only an audit of your meals will accurately determine this. You can use a spreadsheet calculator or a diet designer software as referred to in number 1 above.

For example, if your meals are consistently low in zinc and you are unable to feed enough beef, oysters, or gizzard to meet your dog’s zinc requirement, adding a LOW dose organic (chelated to an amino acid ONLY) zinc supplement may be indicated. Be mindful that consistent use of zinc can create a copper and manganese deficiency especially if levels of these antagonistic nutrients are also low. I am not a fan of nutrient isolates as it is quite easy to create imbalances thus becoming potentially harmful.

If you are using a multi vitamin and mineral supplement, my best advice is to seek the help of a nutrition professional such as myself to determine if the addition is advantageous or is potentially setting your dog up for a health crisis. To be certain that any supplement is needed, I also suggest consulting with me especially if you are unsure.  

I do advocate the use of food-source supplements. These food supplements can be added to meals just as a food without the calorie load and the benefit of nutrient saturation. I love to add and rotate among barley grass and wheat grass powders, spirulina, alfalfa, green lipped mussel powder, phytoplankton, kelp (WATCH the iodine content and feed with CAUTION!), whole fruit powders, krill oil, mushroom powders, colostrum, and more. However, you must know why you are adding these supplemental foods. These concentrated food sources are rich in nutrients and, while not as likely, could potentially create an imbalance if used excessively.

6. Not sourcing enough ingredients

Animals, like us humans, need a variety of foods to meet nutrient needs and to create an ideal platform for optimizing nutrient uptake and assimilation. Consistently feeding a limited amount of ingredients or neglecting to feed a variety of proteins can create serious deficiencies. Each protein and organ source contains its own unique nutrient profile. Both macro (proteins and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) vary greatly among and within foods. Some foods are richer in certain nutrients than others and thus should be fed to supply those particular nutrients. Unless you are feeding whole prey, limited protein sources will not be sufficient without numerous additional ingredients or supplements to create balance, and supplements are not ideal.

What is of most concern is the nutrient antagonism and synergism. Feeding a limited amount of food ingredients consistently subjects your dog to similar antagonism and synergism. This can eventually lead to an imbalance and reduced nutrient absorption. Nutrient uptake is optimal with variety.                

Ideally, you will want to feed your dog foods from poultry, mammals, and fish. This includes muscle meat along with a variety of organ meat. Organ meat is heavily saturated in nutrients and is therefore fed in smaller quantities. Eggs are nature’s “perfect food” and are an ideal addition to meals as well. Many pet parents also add vegetables, fruits, and seeds to further increase nutrient saturation. The more variety you can offer to your dog, the easier it is to feed balanced meals.

Remember to feed only those foods that are species-appropriate for dogs. This ensures ease of digestion and optimal nutrient absorption. Your dog is a facultative carnivore that must have meat, organs, and bones to cultivate optimal health.    

©2019 Kimberly Lloyd, PhD, BCHHP, Cert Raw Dog Food Nutritionist


Simplifying the Raw Food Models

Which model is best? Let your dog be the judge of that!

If you are newer to raw feeding, undoubtedly you have encountered the well-established raw food vernacular, and if you have been raw feeding for some time, then likely you are quite fluent in all the terminology and raw food model specifics. Clearly, the raw food movement is branching out into numerous directions, many of which differ immensely. Which method should you choose? Or better yet, which method is best?

Many canine nutrition professionals claim their chosen model is the correct choice. But I have news for you; what you choose for your dog must be in-line with what is best for him/her. As with anything in life, there is not just one way or one path. Biological life is highly adaptable. Cells will adapt to the best of their capacity to function both efficiently and effectively to achieve the result that is required. When it comes to dogs, they are incredibly adaptable. Thus, there are many ways that you can provide your dog with fresh, raw, whole-food meals that are both balanced and health-promoting. Which is best for your dog is up to you to discover. This requires careful observation. Consider the following…

The interesting thing about science is the massive misunderstanding surrounding it. Science is about discovery, observation, and learned outcome. It is not speculative or hypothetical. That is best left in the realm of philosophy. Science is a vehicle to learning truths by way of observation and testing. No matter what man observes, examines, and tests, there will be a result. Whether that result was the expected outcome or something entirely different, knowledge is gained by what is clearly demonstrated before observing eyes. Whenever we embark on a new journey, especially one with our dogs who lack the capacity of verbal language, we are at the mercy of observation and discovery. It is up to us, the pet parent, to be cognizant and mindful of any and all outcomes, whether beneficial or detrimental, when providing for our pets’ most basic needs. Taking our dog’s nutritional needs into our own hands requires vigilant observation of what is working and what may not be.

Pet parenting is a journey of discovery and experience. Before you can truly discover what is best for your dog, having a basic knowledge of the different raw feeding models will prove advantageous. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of some of the common raw food methods. Deciding where to start may be one of convenience or ability. But we all need to start somewhere. Do your best to decide what may be best for your dog (and you!) and then observe as many details as is possible. Keep a journal if need be, but let’s journey together to discovering the best for your dog.

BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods, formerly Bones And Raw Food)

Dr. Ian Billinghurst started this model back in the late 1980s. He published his book, Give Your Dog a Bone, in 1992 and the rest is history. BARF began as a raw meaty bones (RMB) feeding plan. Dr. Tom Lonsdale was also a huge proponent for RMBs after his observations of the severely declining tooth and gum health of clients’ dogs. This led him to researching and discovering a way to resolve this serious and growing concern. He too discovered the obvious: give the dogs RMBs and observe the extraordinary changes in not only tooth and gum health, but overall health coupled with a rapid decline in chronic disease. Nine years after Dr. Billinghurst, Dr. Lonsdale released Raw Meaty Bones Promote Health.

This model was created to center around the RMBs. From 40% to as much as 60% of a dog’s daily food needs come from RMBs. The remaining dietary needs come from additional boneless meat and organs. Further, 5% to 10% of the diet consists of vegetables and fruit. The standard ratio guideline to follow is 70/10/10/10 which are the ratios closest to whole prey with the addition of vegetables and fruits. This equates to meat at a rate of 70% of the diet, organs at 10%, bone 10%, and vegetables and fruit 10%. It takes a little bit of math to figure the 10% bone requirement when feeding RMBs, but simply put, the standard recommendation of 40% to 60% RMBs averages out to 10% to 15% bone. This is an ideal representation of whole prey. While Dr. Lonsdale does not promote a heavy emphasis on vegetables and fruits, Dr. Billinghurst does. BARF, however, has evolved.

There exists several concerns with the current BARF model. Today’s BARF, in addition to vegetables and fruit, now includes nuts, seeds, yogurt, kefir, cottage cheese, goat milk products, and fermented vegetables. These foods are more in line with omnivores. And that is just it. Some BARF feeders understand dogs to be omnivores; therefore, including 25% (and sometimes more) plant matter along with other foods is of no concern. So the 70/10/10/10 ratio is no longer followed by many BARF feeders. Additionally, BARF can allow for a high carbohydrate and fiber percentage due to the enormous percentage of the meals coming from vegetables and fruit. High carbohydrate and fiber diets, even from fresh wholesome fruit and vegetables, are not always conducive to a facultative carnivore’s physiological processes.

On the other hand, the variety of vegetables and fruit that can be offered in the BARF model allows for ease in meeting nutrient requirements. Just how beneficial these varietal offerings are is yet to be fully determined as many dogs simply do not do well on plant matter. Additionally, BARF model proponents also tend to be heavy handed on the supplementation.

What is most troublesome, however, is the fact that whole RMBs are being removed entirely and replaced with grinds. Grinds are meat, organ, bone, vegetables, fruits, and seeds ground together. This defeats the whole point and purpose of BARF’s original intention: to give dogs bones to chew! Dogs absolutely need to chew or dental health will decline even on a raw diet. Grinds are only ever needed for dogs without teeth to chew. And even then, giving toothless dogs recreational bones massages the gums and provides them with a pacifying and satisfying activity.

The original BARF model has tremendous value. One would be wise to go back to the original idea.

Pros:

  • There is no doubt that feeding RMBs promotes exceptional dental health as well as healthy bodies. Chronic disease rates dropped dramatically in RMB-fed dogs. Observation over several decades has shown this to be true.
  • Some vegetables and fruit have been proven in a study to be highly beneficial to many dogs; however, the study was completed on kibble fed dogs that were offered fresh vegetation as a supplement to their kibble. There was a 90% reduction in chronic disease among the kibble fed dogs offered fresh foods.
  • BARF is flexible and allows for a variety of foods to be offered to your dog.

Cons:

  • The variety of foods now being offered under the BARF model is going a tad bit beyond what is considered species-appropriate. An enormous percentage of vegetables and fruits along with nuts, seeds, and dairy/goat products are now considered BARF appropriate food choices.
  • Vegetables need to be pureed or cooked for a carnivore to benefit. The most nutritious vegetables contain oxalates which are damaging to the gut, joints, and nerves as well as reducing the absorption of calcium and iron.
  • Fruit and starchy vegetables can cause yeast proliferation in many dogs.
  • Nuts and seeds contain anti-nutrients and must be ground. They require the addition of vitamin C to counter the effects of phytates. They are also high in fat and add a tremendous amount of calories, thus can only be fed in small amounts.
  • BARF can be far too high in fiber and carbohydrates. High fiber can create gut irritation among other concerns. Numerous studies show the increased risk for disease and obesity when high carbohydrate diets are consumed.
  • If one steers too far away from the original RMB BARF model and feeds grinds, the advantages of BARF are no longer applicable. Dental health is key to a healthy body and chewing is critical for mental poise.

PMR (Prey Model Raw)

PMR is based on the understanding that dogs are domesticated wolves. It has been determined that the modern domestic dog’s DNA is a mere 0.2% different from the wolf. Anatomically, domestic dogs are clearly carnivorous. Physiologically, it is also taught that our dogs are indeed carnivores. Thus, this model feeds whole prey or a variation of prey that includes only meat, organs, and bones in a ratio of 80/10/10. The ratio is the approximate percentages of what a dog would consume if eating a whole animal. This equates to meat being 80% of the diet, secreting organs as 10% (5% liver and 5% other), and 10% bone. In reality, whole prey has an average of 12% bone, thus the idea is that the ratio is a guideline which can and should vary. No vegetation or carbohydrates of any kind are fed in this model.

There exist several arguments against PMR. For one, studies have determined that domestic dogs not only produce pancreatic amylase*, but it has also been measured in their saliva. BMC Veterinary Research has identified salivary amylase in Beagles. It has also been discovered that domestic dogs contain four to thirty copies of the AMY2B gene that codes for amylase enzyme while the wolf contains a mere two copies. So what does this prove? While it might appear that these finding indicate that dogs are omnivores, especially if one was to interpret the data through a biased mind-frame, in reality, it does not prove or suggest the evolution to omnivore. After all, anatomically, dogs are clearly carnivorous. A conclusion can only be correctly drawn by seeing the whole picture. And, one must also have a good understanding of genetics to see this accurately. What these finding show is that dogs have adapted to life with humans and their foods. Clearly, dogs have flourished. What we see here is an example of adaptation within the genes. Gene expression is turned on or off dependent upon environment and available food. It is thus clear that dogs can digest some carbohydrates with no ill effects, while some dogs may even thrive with the addition of minimal carbs. However, their carnivorous anatomy and physiology remains predominant.

PMR can appear to be very difficult to balance if whole prey is not being offered. And yet, the variety of protein options may provide the optimal platform for maximum nutrient uptake due to the consistently varying nutrient profiles and the high bioavailability of the macro and micronutrients. Nevertheless, many opponents of PMR criticize the assumed nutrient deficient meals. Trace minerals are richest in vegetables and seeds and are extremely difficult to maximize with meat, organs, and bone alone; or so it is thought. It cannot, however, be denied that many dogs are living to long ages disease-free on PMR.

Pros:

  • Simple to feed, especially if feeding whole prey.
  • The 80/10/10 ratio is a straightforward guideline that allows for easy meal creations.
  • Easily digestible with very little waste in terms of poop.
  • High bioavailability with no anti-nutrients which quite possibly allows for maximum nutrient uptake.
  • PMR is flexible allowing for a variety of protein sources or very few if whole prey can be sourced.
  • Ideal for dogs with sensitivities and limited proteins.

Cons:

  • It is difficult to meet the NRC recommended allowance (RA) for nutrients. In fact, it is often even difficult to meet the AAFCO and NRC minimum nutrient requirements if using a diet designer software. However, many pet parents using spreadsheets are able to provide balanced meals with careful planning and ingredient sourcing.
  • Nutrient profiles for animal parts that are not edible for humans are generally unknown. This often causes audited PMR meals to reflect low in nutrients. Aside from calcium and phosphorus, it is also unknown to what extent bone minerals contribute to fulfilling nutrient requirements. Further, it is unknown to what extent blood contributes to nutrient needs.
  • Whole prey can be very difficult to source and is often very challenging to feed to toy and small breeds.
  • Feeding whole prey is not for the squeamish and can be very messy.

Frankenprey (generally follows PMR, but can also be used with BARF)

Frankenprey can be very simple or very complicated. The idea is that you create a semi-whole animal out of various parts from either one animal or various animals to mimic whole prey. For example, a meal may include a chicken drumstick with skin (RMB), ground chicken, chicken liver, chicken hearts, chicken gizzard, chicken lung, chicken paw, and feathers. Or, a meal may include a chicken thigh with skin (RMB), grass-fed ground beef and beef tongue, sardines along with beef heart, turkey gizzard, calf liver and pork kidney, a duck neck or chicken paw, and a bonus of chicken feathers or a furry rabbit ear. Many pet parents are also able to source blood and will add beef or chicken blood, for example. Quail, chicken, and duck eggs may also be added.

Meals are created by following the PMR 80/10/10 ratio guideline. Or the BARF variation ratio of 70/10/10/10 with the option of adding vegetables, fruit, seeds, apple cider vinegar, and/or fermented dairy/goat products for additional nutrients and value in a small percentage generally around 5% to 10%. The idea is to mimic prey so the addition of vegetables, fruit, etc. is meant to replicate stomach contents for nutrient purposes.

Because many pet parents use additional ingredients, this model can easily meet nutrient requirements.

Pros:

  • Frankenprey, like PMR, can be nutritionally accurate to whole prey when done correctly. This model can be an exceptional choice because it provides variety and varying nutrient profiles which provides the correct platform for optimal nutrient absorption.
  • It can be very simple to create if planned properly as ratios are easy to follow.
  • Frankenprey can allow for highly digestible meals with good nutrient ratios often exceeding NRC’s RA.
  • This model can source all meat and organs from one animal protein to “create” a whole animal which is ideal for dogs with sensitivities who are limited to few proteins. Or a variety of proteins can be sourced to “create” an animal from multiple animal parts. Thus, it is very flexible.
  • These meals can be fun to create…really!

Cons:

  • Frankenprey requires careful planning and the ability to source many hard-to-find ingredients.
  • Determining the nutrients in each meal requires quite a bit of research searching for food nutrient values along with math. Or a spreadsheet calculator can be used to simplify the nutrient findings.
  • Can be very, very time consuming and takes a dedicated pet parent.

Ratio Diet

This model is just another name for following the PMR 80/10/10 ratio or another ratio such as the 70/10/10/10 ratio belonging to BARF. Ratios can vary greatly yet they are all meant to be guidelines for creating meals that most accurately represent the percentages of whole prey. Popular ratios include:

80/10/10 (80% meat, 10% organs, 10% bone)

70/10/10/10 (70% meat, 10% organs, 10% bone, 10% veg/fruit/other)

65/15/10/5/5 (65% muscle meat, 15% organ muscle, 10% bone, 5% liver, 5% secreting organ). This is an exceptional ratio to follow to maximize nutrient potential.

75/10/5/5/5 (75% meat, 10% bone, 5% liver, 5% secreting, 5% other). This is also an excellent ratio for meeting nutrient requirements and to maximize nutrient absorption.

The pros and cons for this model are all dependent upon exactly how the meals are created and can include any of the above listed for each model.

Homemade DIY Meals

This model is an anything-goes type of dietary plan. Proponents of this plan are generally focused on sourcing nutrients and meeting NRC recommended allowance (RA) requirements while paying little to no attention to ratios or modeling whole prey. Meals can have both raw and cooked foods and include everything from meat and organs to oatmeal, kidney beans, fruits, lentils, vegetables, quinoa, soy, cottage cheese, nuts, seeds, peas, sweet potatoes, and on and on. Many of the pet parents subscribing to this philosophy assert that they feed a science-based diet plan. This idea is touted because they follow the nutrient guideline chart from the NRC’s book Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats which was compiled for the purpose of setting updated standards for processed commercial dog foods. However, there are numerous concerns with this free-for-all approach to choosing and sourcing foods.

For one, it is obvious that many of the above listed foods are in no way species-appropriate. Choosing specific foods simply to provide a required nutrient or two without any concern for the fact that the foods are not appropriate for dogs can be highly unfavorable or even injurious in the long run. Foods must be biologically-appropriate to be advantageous and health-promoting.

Many of the pet parents following this plan tend to be recipe driven, thus there is the concern over following the same recipe or two over and over without variation. This subjects dogs to the same nutrient profile with the same antagonism and synergism thereby greatly increasing the chance for nutrient deficiencies and toxicities and potential chronic conditions. This is the opposite of the very reason a pet parent would choose to follow this plan. Following a minimum of five recipes in a rotation is a much better option.

A major concern with following this plan, however, is the use of grains and legumes. These foods are not only inappropriate for dogs, but are not even appropriate for humans. Grains and legumes contain anti-nutrients, toxins, enzyme inhibitors, are gut irritants, increase inflammation, erode joints, greatly increase the rate of arthritis and crippling disease, and are cause for poor gut mineral absorption, among others. Legumes notably are implicated in the rapid rise in the incidences of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).

Proponents of this plan tend to rely heavily upon auditing programs and software diet designer programs to create meals. Unfortunately, most, if not all, diet auditing and meal creation programs do not include or account for bone. As a result, most of these pet parents are either creating or receiving recipes (from dog nutrition professionals) void completely of bone with the addition of a calcium supplement. That is an enormous step away from what is natural and species-appropriate. Having to rely upon supplementation to meet needs is completely contrary to nature. Bone is perfectly balanced and essential. Since some well-meaning pet parents understand this, they turn to bone meal as their calcium source. Bone meal is a less-than-ideal (to put it lightly) source of minerals. The high heat needed to create the product causes the minerals to be poorly absorbed with the added concern for the potential of creating an inappropriate calcium to phosphorus ratio. It is necessary for a dog, and especially puppies, to receive the proper calcium to phosphorous ratio for optimal nutrient absorption and synergy. Even worse, bone meal contains contaminants that can poison your dog and could potentially be fatal.

Because the main focus of this model is meeting NRC nutrient requirements and not bioavailable species-appropriate foods and whole-prey ratios, supplementation can be very heavy-handed. Supplements are never an ideal nutrient source. When supplements are needed, food-source nutrients (whole-food supplements) should be chosen.

And finally, due to the high percentage of inappropriate food sourcing, pet parents who are not nutritionally educated may be unaware that their meal plans do not provide the ideal platform for adequate nutrient absorption and assimilation. Dogs consuming meals following this model on a long-term basis can be similar to the unfavorable ramifications to health as seen in dogs consuming commercially produced dog food. Poor skin, yeast proliferation, chronic ear irritation and infection, weight gain, poor oral/dental health, allergies and sensitivities, joint deterioration, inflammation, hip concerns in larger breeds, hypothyroidism, tumor formation, chronic disease, and cancer are more common with this method especially if species-inappropriate foods are part of the regular diet. Feeding meals under this model requires careful observation and costly yearly blood work from a licensed veterinarian.

Pros:

  • When the sky is the limit, meeting nutrient requirements is a breeze.

Cons:

  • Feeding foods with no regard to the inappropriateness and unsuitability to a dog’s physiology is reckless and potentially harmful. Meeting nutrient requirements with foods not suitable gains no benefit. The hypothetical fulfillment of nutrients on a software program provides more benefit to the pet parent’s psyche than to their dog’s health.
  • Providing meals with no regard for the ratios of wild prey leads to meals that are unbalanced and potentially deficient in amino acids from animal flesh and organs. Dogs have a high requirement for amino acids. Adding a percentage, even small, of a cooked grain or legume reduces the species-appropriate bioavailable protein needs that dogs must receive from meat and organs. It also reduces iron requirements and reduces gut absorption of the little iron that the meals contain.
  • Vegetables need to be pureed or cooked for a carnivore to benefit. The most nutritious vegetables contain oxalates which are damaging to the gut, joints, and nerves as well as reducing the absorption of calcium and iron.
  • Fruit and starchy vegetables can cause yeast proliferation in many dogs.
  • Nuts and seeds contain anti-nutrients and must be ground. They require the addition of vitamin C to counter the effects of phytates. They are also high in fat and add a tremendous amount of calories, thus can only be fed in small amounts.
  • Numerous studies have shown the damaging effects of grain and legume consumption in both humans and animals. Grains contain anti-nutrients and toxins and must be soaked, germinated or sprouted, then cooked in a pressure cooker until mush. Legumes are simply inappropriate, period. Aside from the anti-nutrients, they are toxic, not digestible, block absorption of minerals and taurine (leading to the rapid increase in dilated cardiomyopathy or DCM), cause gut irritation, sensitivities, joint destruction, gassiness, a condition known as bloat, and so much more.
  • High carbohydrate diets have been shown over and over to have damaging effects on a dog. It puts them at an increased risk for chronic disease, obesity, cellular damage, and cancer.
  • Meals created and generated from a software program with no regard for actual nutrition science, nutrient antagonism and synergy, species-appropriate food choices, and what nature dictates as suitable for facultative carnivores will in no wise promote or cultivate optimal health, healing, or prevent disease.

In conclusion, taking your dog’s nutritional needs into your own hands requires dedication, in fact, a great deal of dedication, education, time, and determination. What it comes down to is providing the best nutrition plan that you are able. This requires observation and watchfulness. Any adverse changes in your dog must be taken into consideration and analyzed to discover the cause in order to remove it promptly. Making amendments to your chosen dietary plan or model is a necessity as your dog’s requirements will change with age, environment, stress, health conditions, changes in family dynamic, and so forth.

Understand that there is no rule that says you must follow a particular model exactly, or even that you need to follow only one. Variety is the spice of life. Be creative!

*amylase is the enzyme needed for carbohydrate digestion

©2019 Kimberly Lloyd, PhD, BCHHP, Cert Raw Dog Food Nutritionist


Sourcing Nutrients for the Raw Fed Dog

Taking responsibility for your dog’s nutritional needs is a fundamental proactive step in the holistic health care approach. With this comes the need for educating yourself on your dog’s specific nutritional requirements so that you are able to provide the best possible meal plan that covers all vital nutrients. Once calorie/volume need and nutrient requirements have been determined, sourcing the appropriate foods and ingredients is crucial. This is often the most difficult task; and a task I hope to simplify in this article. Once you have chosen your foods and ingredients, knowing how much of each ingredient to feed is most easily determined using a spreadsheet calculator or Pet Diet Designer software. If those are not available to you, using the USDA Food Composition Database or Cronometer will allow you to do paper and pen calculations (with the help of a calculator!).

All dogs require high quality protein and fats. Carbohydrates are non-essential and therefore not recommended beyond a small percentage of the overall diet. Your dog must also receive vitamins and minerals from their meals in correct and varying proportions from foods that allow for optimal absorption and assimilation. These are vital. Species-appropriate ingredients allow for ease of digestibility for adequate breakdown to release nutrients for uptake. If the meals consistently contain nutrients in poorly managed proportions, antagonism will eventually create nutrient deficiencies or toxicities. If you are feeding inappropriate foods containing anti-nutrients, you will have even more antagonism and optimal absorption cannot be attained.

Protein and fats are the easiest to source. All meat, poultry, fish, eggs, offal, and organs contain both protein and fat. You will want your meals to revolve around these ingredients. Other sources include goat’s milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, spirulina, phytoplankton, wheat grass, and barley grass; however, these “other” foods should be used as supplementary over and above the minimum requirements.

Vitamins (The following lists are in descending order from richest sources to least richest sources)

Vitamin A:

  • liver
  • mackerel
  • egg yolk

Vitamin D:

  • salmon
  • sardines
  • herring
  • oysters
  • egg yolk

Vitamin E:

  • sunflower seeds*, ground
  • egg yolk (from chickens fed flax seeds)
  • almonds*, ground (∆ contains oxalates)
  • bone marrow
  • trout
  • avocado
  • greens (∆ contains oxalates)
  • kiwi, blackberries
  • wheat germ oil

Vitamin K2 (menaquinone):

  • beef liver
  • pork
  • chicken
  • bone marrow
  • fermented dairy: kefir, cottage cheese, yogurt

Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone):

  • leafy greens, especially kale, mustard, chard, and collards (∆ contains oxalates)
  • broccoli (∆ contains oxalates)
  • cabbage (ideally fermented)

NOTE: Phylloquinone is less than 10% absorbed in humans; in dogs absorption is even less, if any. Source menaquinone vitamin K for optimal absorption.

Vitamin C:

  • acerola cherries
  • oranges
  • papaya
  • kiwi
  • red bell pepper
  • melon
  • leafy greens (∆ contains oxalates)
  • amalaki fruit
  • broccoli (∆ contains oxalates)

Thiamine (B1):

  • pork chops (lean)
  • pork tenderloin (lean)
  • salmon (wild-caught)
  • flaxseeds* (ground)
  • sunflower seeds* (ground)
  • mussels
  • asparagus

Riboflavin (B2):

  • beef
  • salmon (wild-caught)
  • yogurt (low-fat)
  • pork (lean)
  • oysters
  • spinach (∆ contains oxalates)
  • cottage cheese (low-fat)
  • eggs
  • avocado
  • asparagus

Niacin (B3):

  • liver
  • chicken breast
  • turkey
  • salmon (wild-caught)
  • anchovies
  • pork
  • beef
  • avocado

Pantothenic Acid (B5):

  • chicken liver
  • duck liver
  • beef liver
  • salmon (wild-caught)
  • beef
  • avocados
  • chicken breast
  • eggs
  • sunflower seeds*
  • pork (lean)
  • cauliflower (∆ contains oxalates)

Pyridoxine (B6):

  • salmon (wild-caught)
  • turkey
  • chicken breast
  • pork (lean)
  • beef (lean)

Biotin (B7):

  • liver
  • kidney
  • pork (lean)
  • egg yolk
  • salmon (wild-caught)

Folate (B9):

  • beef liver
  • turkey liver
  • pork liver
  • pumpkin seeds* (ground)
  • sunflower seeds* (ground)
  • flaxseeds* (ground)
  • asparagus
  • spinach (∆ contains oxalates)
  • broccoli (∆ contains oxalates)

Cobalamin (B12):

  • liver
  • mackerel
  • oysters
  • mussels
  • beef (lean)

Choline:

  • egg yolk
  • beef liver
  • turkey liver
  • veal
  • beef
  • pork

Minerals (The following lists are in descending order from richest sources to least richest sources)

Calcium:

  • bone
  • bone meal
  • eggshells

Phosphorus:

  • bone (and bone meal)
  • salmon (wild-caught)
  • pork (lean)
  • mackerel
  • chicken
  • beef

Magnesium:

  • hemp seeds* (ground)
  • pumpkin seeds* (ground)
  • flaxseeds* (ground)
  • bone
  • spinach (∆ contains oxalates)
  • chard (∆ contains oxalates)
  • mackerel
  • chlorella (dried)
  • almonds (ground)
  • avocado
  • beef

Potassium:

  • salmon (wild-caught)
  • avocado
  • acorn squash (cooked)
  • pomegranate
  • goat milk
  • yogurt, low-fat
  • pork
  • bone

Sodium:

  • canned sardines (also contains essential chloride)
  • canned oysters (and contains essential chloride)
  • Himalayan pink salt
  • blood
  • bone

Sulfur:

  • eggs
  • meat
  • poultry
  • fish
  • bone

Iron:

  • blood and bone marrow
  • liver
  • heart
  • gizzard
  • beef
  • turkey (dark meat)
  • egg yolk

Zinc:

  • oysters
  • beef
  • chicken gizzard
  • chicken heart
  • chicken thigh and drums
  • pork
  • hemp seeds* (ground)
  • pumpkin seeds* (ground)
  • bone marrow

Copper:

  • beef liver (calf especially)
  • oysters
  • pumpkin seeds* (ground)
  • flaxseeds* (ground)
  • kale (∆ contains oxalates)

Manganese:

  • mussels (green lipped)
  • hemp seeds* (ground)
  • pumpkin seeds* (ground)
  • pineapple (RICH source, but feed as treat)
  • sweet potato (cooked ONLY)
  • spinach (∆ contains oxalates)
  • ginger, basil
  • blackberries, raspberries
  • endive
  • bone marrow

Selenium:

  • oysters
  • pork kidney
  • mussels
  • beef kidney
  • pork
  • pork spleen
  • bone marrow

Iodine:

  • kelp (do NOT overdose!)
  • seaweed

Molybdenum:

  • liver
  • kidney
  • bone
  • almonds* (ground)
  • yogurt
  • cottage cheese

Silica:

  • bone
  • connective tissue
  • diatomaceous earth (DE) (food-grade only!)

∆ Foods containing oxalates can pose major health concerns. Dogs are carnivores, and despite the fact that they are facultative, consuming large amounts of plant matter is not species-appropriate. Relying heavily upon spinach, kale, and other oxalate-containing vegetables is detrimental and potentially injurious to a carnivore (and people! So imagine how much worse for a carnivore!). Oxalates reduce the gut absorption of calcium and iron as well as greatly increasing the risk for kidney stone formation and renal damage. Oxalates are also neurotoxic, corrode connective tissues, and upset the gastrointestinal tract. Please note that cooking will not destroy oxalates. Even boiling the vegetables to a mush will only slightly reduce the oxalates. Oxalates are used by paleontologists to determine diets in humans from more than a millennium past. So clearly, oxalates are not easily destroyed.

*Seeds and nuts (as well as grains and legumes. As a side-note, I never recommend grains and legumes be fed to a dog for many reasons including phytates, enzyme inhibitors, lectins, toxins, carbohydrates, and the need to pressure cook until mush, among others.) contain the anti-nutrient phytate. Like oxalates, phytates block the gut absorption of vital nutrients. However, unlike oxalates, phytates can be counteracted by adding foods rich in vitamin C or a food-source vitamin C powder which I highly recommend to all my clients who regularly include seeds in their dog’s meals. This is a simple correction to amplify the mineral-rich benefits of seeds.

©2019 Kimberly Lloyd, PhD, BCHHP, Cert Raw Dog Food Nutritionist


Nutrient Balance

What a Balanced Diet Truly Means for Your Canine

I believe the single most important piece of nutritional information that all pet parents must understand is the proper meaning of the word balanced. And this goes for us humans as well. Providing your dog with a balanced diet should be correctly understood as offering a varied diet from the wide array of nutrient saturated, highly digestible, species-appropriate, whole foods that are essential, high value, and cultivate optimal health in order to receive required nutrients in proportions that will allow for optimal absorption. When focus goes toward individual nutrients, problems begin to arise.

Foods are more than simply sources of protein, fats, carbohydrates, and vitamins and minerals. Foods, whether from an animal or plant, are complex molecular structures (cellular) that were once living organisms. These structures contain networks of components that once functioned as a whole unit. Food possesses potential energy that originates in the sun, and in a complex and miraculous process, inorganic minerals from the earth are taken up by plants and together with the energy from the sun, water, and gases, are converted by the plant into biological organic matter. Animals and people consume the plants, and carnivores consume the herbivorous animals; thus all receive what began with plants and originated in the sun and earth. Just like the plants, in an intricately complex process, biologically-appropriate foods become one with the consumer leaving behind very little waste. What was once life gives life; life begets and sustains life. It is an undeniable intimate relationship.

Life is complex. Thus it comes as no surprise that nutrition is no different. The scientific focus on individual nutrients has helped us to understand the function and purpose of each amino acid, saccharide, fatty acid, vitamin, mineral, and so many others. And with that understanding came the awareness that nutrients function either synergistically or antagonistically. Thus, it is not enough to simply learn or recognize the value and necessity of each life-sustaining nutritional requirement on their individual basis. Nutrients function inter-relationally and are never found individually. Rather, nutrients exist among numerous others in a complex unit of various vitamins, minerals, enzymes, cofactors, and other factors within food. Publicized studies on individual nutrients create difficulties causing many misunderstandings and confusion. Learning about a specific nutrient’s function and benefit is the reason why people flock to bottled supplements. This drives the supplement industry to mass produce bottled nutrients. Sadly, most bottled nutrients are laboratory produced synthetic and inorganic pseudo-nutrient isolates. Individuals and pet parents purchase nutritional supplements believing that these bottled “insurance policies” are boosting their own and their pet’s nutritional needs. And heck, if a little is good, more is better, right? Wrong. And this is a WRONG in a big way. Synergy and antagonism are the reasons why picking and choosing nutrients on an individual basis creates problems. Some of which can be fatal.

Nutrients require careful balance that only a variety of food choices can provide. The bodies of all humans and animals receive their nutritional requirements through the digestive process. Foods contain a complex of nutrients that differ even among the same foods. This is a result of where and how plants were grown and their soil and weather conditions during the growing season, and for feed animals, what the animals were fed and how and where they were raised. These are all determining factors for nutrient levels, composition, and saturation or deficiency. For omnivorous humans, it is far easier to consume a wide range of foods (often times an enormous range of food types) than it is for our animals who are under our direct care. The pets that are stuck eating the same commercial food over a lifetime is the reason why the vast majority have numerous health complaints throughout their entire life. These complaints can range from seemingly minor issues such as doggie odor, gum disease, dry flakey skin, troublesome chronic ear infections, and physical signs of premature aging to the more serious conditions such as hair loss, allergies, chronic intestinal issues, severe infections, tooth loss, ligament and joint destruction, chronic disease, and cancer. Consuming the same food with the same ingredients, sourced from often the same place, with the same nutrient profile, with the same formulation of synthetic nutrient isolates and inorganic mineral compounds is the direct cause for the vast health conditions we are seeing in the modern canine. Many of these conditions are resultant of deficiencies and toxicities. Just because a food hypothetically meets all the scientifically determined nutrient requirements, it does not mean the consistent consumption of the same food with the same nutrient profile is going to be sufficient. Here is why.

Nutrient absorption occurs mostly in the small intestine and, to a smaller extent, the large intestine where water, sodium, and potassium are absorbed. The small intestine is comprised of three sections, the duodenum, jejunun, and ileum. Most of the nutrients are absorbed in the duodenum and jejunum. It all sounds very straight forward, but that is not the reality of what happens on the physiological level. There are very specific nutrient interrelationships that must be considered if all required nutrients are to be adequately absorbed. There must be a homeostatic equilibrium among and between the nutrients. This is most easily achieved by varying the diet which in turns varies the nutrient profiles. If nutrient equilibrium is lost, adverse effects occur upon health. Balance is vital! A loss of nutrient balance leads to subclinical deficiencies followed by illness and disease, and worst case scenario, death.    

Through hair tissue mineral analysis (which I offer through The Holistic Canine), mineral interrelationship understanding has advanced. It is understood that a mineral cannot be affected without also affecting two or more other minerals, and further, each of which will then affect two others. One mineral will affect another mineral, but how much of an effect is dependent upon mineral quantity and the number of enzymes or biochemical reactions in which the mineral is involved. Not so simple, is it? And this is why providing a stagnant diet to your dog is ineffective at creating overall nutrient saturation within their body tissues.

Two relationships exist among nutrients, and as already expressed above, these are synergy and antagonism. The biggest concern is the trace minerals. These include iron, cobalt, chromium, copper, iodine, manganese, selenium, zinc, and molybdenum. Inhibited absorption of a trace mineral is due to an excess intake of a single mineral. One example was the craze over zinc. Many people jumped on the supplemental zinc bandwagon more than a decade ago and a host of problems resulted. For one, copper deficiency occurred. This is due to zinc depressing intestinal copper absorption. Many others were experiencing mild zinc toxicity symptoms. High intake of one trace mineral decreases the intestinal absorption of another mineral. And this is not simply among the trace minerals. For example, a high intake of calcium blocks intestinal absorption of zinc. So even among macro minerals, consuming high doses of any mineral creates disrupt in balance. Further complications then follow at the metabolic level. Antagonism is experienced with an excess of one element. The excess interferes metabolically with the functions of another mineral. Even more, excesses contribute to disproportionate excretion of another mineral due to what is known as compartmental displacement. This occurs with zinc and copper, iron and copper, cadmium and zinc, and calcium, magnesium and phosphorus [1].

Antagonism also exists among the vitamins. Vitamins A and D are naturally antagonistic while thiamine (B1) often creates an antagonistic action on cobalamin (B12). Some antagonism is indirect. One such example is iron’s antagonism on cobalt which is a vital component in B12, thus adversely affecting B12.[2] If this is not complicated enough; hormones have an influence on nutrient absorption, excretion, transport, and storage. And conversely, nutrients have an influence on hormones. Thus it can be easily understood why homeostasis is vital for optimal nutrient absorption and the cultivation of optimal health. In terms of our dogs, what, then, is the best approach to nutrition? Variety.

Offering your dog a variety of species-appropriate foods that are nutrient saturated and rotated regularly in differing combinations and quantities offers the best approach to optimizing nutrient absorption. One of the reasons I never recommend creating or purchasing a single raw dog food recipe is due to the antagonistic relationship among nutrients, notably the trace minerals which often come up deficient in audited homemade meals. The same foods in the same combination and amounts day in and day out will in time create deficiencies. And if a pet parent has decided to include supplements in the same dosages with every meal, both deficiencies and toxicities are likely.

Another difficulty that creates antagonism is offering foods that are not species-appropriate. Many foods contain anti-nutrients to species that have not adapted physiological processes to counteract the antagonists. Anti-nutrients are mineral and enzyme antagonists such as oxalates, phytates, lectins, and enzyme-inhibitors. Offering your dog anti-nutrient-containing foods coupled with a diet that is not rotated regularly is a surefire way to initiate deficiency pathologies leading to chronic conditions and disease, organ damage, joint deterioration, heart conditions, and cancer.

Below is an example of a mere few nutrient antagonism:

  • Vitamin A + Vitamin D + Vitamin E
  • Zinc + Copper + Manganese + Iron
  • Calcium + Iron
  • Calcium + Zinc
  • Calcium + Vitamin E + Vitamin A + Potassium
  • Vitamin C + Copper
  • Vitamin D + Magnesium + Potassium

Below is an example a nutrient synergy:

  • Vitamin D + Calcium + Vitamin K + Boron
  • Iron + Vitamin C
  • Fat + Vitamin A, D, E, & K
  • Vitamin B6 + vitamin B12 + folate
  • Vitamin C + Vitamin E
  • Potassium + Magnesium + Calcium

Creating and providing meals with synergy is vital, but it is also necessary to know when antagonism may be beneficial. For example, many raw feeding pet parents are offering Vitamin A-rich liver on a daily basis. This can cause Vitamin D levels to suffer. To create balance, providing a Vitamin D-rich meal in rotation while significantly reducing or eliminating liver will give Vitamin D levels a chance to rise. Feeding copper-rich beef liver with inadequate zinc levels will eventually lead to a zinc deficiency; thus providing a zinc-rich meal with a lower copper meal aids zinc absorption. Adding Vitamin C-rich foods or a food-source Vitamin C supplement assists the absorption of iron and is also beneficial with meals too rich in copper. Conversely, antagonism helps to prevent hypervitaminosis if a balance exists between antagonistic vitamins and minerals. Likewise, mineral antagonism also helps to prevent mineral toxicity.

While this may sound bewildering or even frustrating, I want to assure you that there is a straightforward solution. True balance can only be attained by varying meal ingredients, food combinations, and quantities of ingredients. This is why The Holistic Canine creates at least three recipes for our clients, especially for growing puppies who require precise nutrients daily. If you have a spreadsheet calculator, pay close attention to antagonistic nutrients and vary your amounts over several meals. Many raw feeding proponents teach and advocate balance over time, and in fact, they are quite correct. This is because balance is factually achieved over time. Nutrient balance is achieved in biological perfection over several meals. For dogs who consume one meal a day, this is achieved over several days. For dogs consuming two meals, this can be perfected in two days. No matter how perfectly balanced you believe a single meal to be, understand there will always be antagonism.

Welcome to orthomolecular nutrition!

Knowing how and when to supplement for optimal nutrient absorption is for another post. Stay tuned!     

©2019 Kimberly Lloyd, PhD, BCHHP, Cert Raw Dog Food Nutritionist

[1] Davies I: The Clinical Significance of the Essential Biological Metals. M.B. London, 1921.

[2] Forth W, Rummel W: Absorption of Iron and Chemically Related Metals in vitro and in vivo: Specificity of Iron Binding System in the Mucosa of the Jejunum. Intestinal Absorption of Metal Ions, Trace Elements and Radionuclides. Skoryna SC, Waldron-Edward D., Eds. Pergamon Press, N.Y., 1971.


Naturopathic Care for Canines

Beneficial Holistic Health Care Strategies

Naturopathic health care is a distinct health care strategy with a heavy emphasis on disease prevention and the cultivation of optimal health. Natural and non-evasive methods along with therapeutic modalities and substances are employed to encourage the inherent self-healing process that is programmed into the DNA of every biological being.  The breaking of the basic biochemical laws, more often than not, results in sickness, pain, and physical degeneration. Naturopathy encourages and promotes adhering to those laws for the prevention of illness and dis-ease conditions. While it does not always exclude medically supervised drug use, it rather considers it as a last resort and not a first. Naturopathic medicine includes both modern and traditional scientific methods, most of which are empirically based. The naturopathic approach to canine health care has the benefit of an extensive array of preventative and therapeutic methods and modalities and is in no way limited to the conventional pharmaceutical and surgical veterinary approach.

There are six principles that are the foundation stone upon which stands the practice of naturopathy:

  1. Vis Medicatrix Naturae (The Healing Power of Nature)
    There is the recognition in naturopathy of the inherent DNA-programmed self-healing process in every biological being that is both ordered and intelligent. The naturopathic practitioner undertakes to identify the cause for a condition or dis-ease, acts to remove impediments to allow for healing and recovery, and assists and supplements this inherent self-healing process.
  2. Tolle Causam (Identify and Treat the Causes)
    The naturopathic practitioner pursues to first identify and then remove the underlying causes of conditions and dis-ease rather than suppressing symptoms and thereby halting the cure in-progress.
  3. Primum Non Nocere (First Do No Harm)
    A strict adherence to the following guidelines ensures the naturopathic practitioner avoids harming the patient: 1) Utilize only those methods, modalities, and medicinal substances that prevent or greatly minimize the risk for dangerous side effects. This is attained by utilizing the least force necessary; 2) Avoid whenever possible the dangerous suppression of symptoms; and 3) Acknowledge, respect, and utilize the biological being’s self-healing process.
  4. Docere (The Doctor is a Teacher)
    The naturopathic practitioner is first and foremost a teacher. They serve to educate their clients and to encourage self-responsibility for their own health and the health of their animals. 
  5. Treat the Whole Person/Animal
    The naturopathic practitioner takes into consideration each client’s individual physical, mental, emotional (spiritual), genetic, environmental, social, and additional factors to ensure healing and that the cultivation of optimal health is not hindered.
  6. Prevention
    Naturopathy emphasizes disease prevention by assessing risk factors, genetics, and predisposition to disease. Following assessment, the practitioner formulates appropriate interventions in order to partner alongside their clients with the single goal of preventing illness and dis-ease.

When considering and planning a health care strategy for your canine, the inclusion of naturopathy into the stratagem broadens the potential for dis-ease prevention and the possibility for full recovery from illness and health crises should they occur. Naturopathy employs the usage of:

  • Nutrition: Species-appropriate fresh whole food is vital for providing life-sustaining nourishment to your dog’s body AND as therapeutic medicine. “Let food by thy medicine and medicine by thy food.” -Hippocrates
  • Herbs: Herbs are nourishing foods that provide nutrients along with medicinal constituents, healing phytochemicals, and powerful essences.
  • Plant Essences: Plant essences, or Bach Flower Remedies, contain the electromagnetic energy of various flowers that, when taken into the body, intermingles with the physical and energetic body systems offering physical, mental, and emotional healing.
  • Essential Oils: Concentrated oils of plants containing the fragrances and potent healing components. These offer numerous therapeutic properties for the body, mind, and emotions.
  • Sunshine: The sun is our main source of energy for health and healing. The sun provides photons, light, energy, and warmth all of which are required for life.
  • Fresh air: Fresh, clean, pure air is essential for health and healing. Air during the early hours just prior to dawn offer the highest oxygen-saturation. Allowing your dog to take advantage of pre-dawn air is therapeutic on numerous levels.
  • Earth Grounding: Grounding allows your dog to receive a negative charge from the earth floor via the paws and body (when in contact with the ground such as when lying on grass, sand, and soil) to combat ROS*, reduce inflammation, and many other positive benefits. Grounding is essential to prevent cancer and in cancer therapy.
  • Exercise: Exercise is essential for cardiovascular health, strong muscles and bones, endurance, lymphatic massage, and oxygenating the body systems.
  • Pure water: Water is essential for hydrating cells and tissues, cleansing, and internal balance.
  • Positive mindset: Rearing a happy dog encourages the cultivation of optimal physical and mental health and healing. By providing your canine with activities they love, it encourages a moderate and composed temperament and mental poise.
  • Homeopathy: Powerful medicines that must be recommended/prescribed by a licensed and/or certified homeopath.
  • Acupressure: A therapy to free up and reestablish the basic flow of energy to benefit healing, and for the maintenance of harmonious energy flow throughout the body.
  • Acupuncture: Through the insertion of fine needles into specific acupuncture points, acupuncture stimulates pain relief, the release of anti-inflammatory chemicals, improves blood flow, increases tissue oxygenation, removes toxins, and relaxes muscles. This therapy must be provided by a licensed acupuncturist.
  • Massage therapy: Massage stimulates blood flow, relaxes muscles, improves energy circulation, releases “feel-good” hormones, stimulates healing, provides pain relief, and is a great bonding activity.
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, Reiki therapy are other natural therapy options.

More often than not, disease conditions are a result of imbalance within the body, mind, and/or emotions. Naturopathy serves to restore balance thereby reducing the reliance on conventional medicine and philosophies. The Holistic Canine specializes in nutrition, nutrition therapy, and natural remedies and therapies for puppies through senior adults. Naturopathy is safe, prevents and reduces the frequency of acute health crises, often results in faster recovery from illness, is a long-term solution to chronic disease without the worry of uncomfortable and/or fatal drug side effects, slows the progression of degenerative disease, cultivates balance, and eases the body, mind, and emotions of pain and stress. And the best part? It is far less stressful on your canine than having to make frequent trips to the veterinary office.

Understand, however, that while naturopathy is often a valuable and efficacious treatment strategy, it is never a replacement for licensed veterinary care, especially in the case of an emergency. A veterinarian is trained to diagnose and save your dog’s life in the event of trauma or if a life-threatening condition occurs. Always take your pet to the veterinarian if you suspect a life threatening consequence may result. Never delay! Naturopathy is a passive treatment strategy. In emergency situations, naturopathy is a supplemental ONLY option to work along with emergency after-care from a licensed veterinarian.

For more information on nutrition and natural therapy, go to our contact page and request valuable information!

©2019 Kimberly Lloyd, PhD, BCHHP, Cert Raw Dog Food Nutritionist

*ROS reactive oxygen species


Health Is In the Cells

A Critical Look at Cellular Inflammation & How to Protect Our Canines

Life is in the cells, thus, health is in the cells. Nothing can exist without cellular function. As a practitioner, my focus is zeroed in on what is happening at the cellular level. A common and growing concern in our modern age is chronic cellular inflammation in both humans and animals. When we think of inflammation, most people will bring to mind swelling, heat, pain, redness, and loss of function such as what is experienced with an injury. Cellular inflammation, however, is something entirely different; for one, it is not discernable. Truth be told, it is the leading cause of chronic disease. When inflammation of the cell membrane occurs, it disrupts cellular communication, adversely modifies cellular detoxification, and affects gene expression which often leads to a genetically predisposed disease. More specifically, cellular inflammation is characterized by increased activity within a cell as a result of an adverse outside influence which directly causes a disrupt in hormonal signaling throughout the body network.

We live in a world that is inundated with chemicals and pollutants that are directly contrary to the needs and functioning of cells. Cells receive the majority of their needs from food, water, and air. The major concern when feeding our dogs (and our own bodies) is the less-than-adequate, highly processed, genetically modified foods grown in mineral-deplete soils with a generous measure of pesticides, insecticides, and fungicides. The bodily cells of too many dogs are relying heavily upon these foods for their nutrient needs. And unless you offer water that is filtered by reverse osmosis (and possibly the addition of UV light) you can add a copious array of heavy metals and additional chemicals and contaminants to the list of cellular antagonists. And why not throw in the air pollutants? In defense, cells must do their best to protect and repair themselves for the purpose of maintaining life. When the barrage of antagonistic environmental and food factors is consistent, we are left with a chronic condition that generally spells a life of chronic disease, pain, suffering, and premature death. Our pets are left most vulnerable. Their life expectancy is far lesser than ours and thus have a greater need for being protected from environmental onslaught and inadequately supplied nutritional requirements.

If we examine chronic cellular inflammation more closely, it is not difficult to recognize that this is a very real concern. Every cell contains what is known as Nuclear Factor-kappaB (NF-κB), a gene transcription factor. When an increased activity in NF-κB occurs, the inflammatory response is activated. The NF-κB is activated by reactive oxygen species1 (ROS), microbial invasion (acute illnesses or infection), and the cells own generation of eicosanoids (signaling molecules) and their interaction with inflammatory cytokines (vital for cellular signaling; the primary cytokine that activates NF-κB is TNF- tumor necrosis factor). It has been shown that NF-κB activation is heavily influenced by diet. Thankfully, NF-κB can be controlled through a nutrition strategy that greatly reduces inflammation rather than promoting it.

One such study found that essential fatty acids have the greatest influence on NF-κB activation. Of particular note is the omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid (AA). The study found that AA activates NF-κB, while the omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) does not2. More recent studies have determined that the single most influential factor in cellular inflammation is insulin. Insulin is produced and secreted by the pancreas in the presence of glucose. Glucose is the digested or broken-down form of carbohydrates. While the inflammatory response is the same in humans as well as dogs, dogs have absolutely no requirement for carbohydrates making them far more vulnerable to the effects of carbohydrate consumption, especially in the form of processed commercial foods and homemade diets that contain starches, grains, and beans (species inappropriate foods). Dr. Francis M. Pottenger’s cat study3 speaks volumes to the effects of offering species inappropriate (cooked and adulterated) inflammatory foods to animals and thereby the conditions and diseases these produce and transfer to each consecutive generation. Dogs consuming high carbohydrate diets are at the highest risk for further inflammation that occurs not only in the cell membrane, but also in the inner mitochondrial membrane. The mitochondria are the power generators of the cells. When mitochondria become inflamed, metabolic processes, defense mechanisms, health, vitality, and energy levels plummet.

For our canines, it is not enough to simply supply required nutritional needs such as through commercially prepared processed diets, homemade meals, or tap water without any regard for the probable inflammatory-producing activity the food and water may generate. This is a key explanation for why we see chronic disease and cancers in both commercially and homemade fed dogs. While processed commercial foods have shown to be a direct and leading cause for chronic cellular inflammation, homemade foods that contain inflammatory foods are in no way a better option. The vehicles (foods) by which we deliver nutrients to the body is of fundamental importance. A so-called “complete and balanced” diet is in no way complete or balanced if NF-κB activation occurs and leads to a chronic inflammatory condition thereby greatly increasing the likelihood of a diseased state. We must look at the whole picture. Food is meant to nourish the body in ways that go far beyond simply protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Foods contain a plethora of components and constituents that affect the body either positively to produce health or negatively which promotes disease. True nutrition science looks at the affects and effects that foods have on biological systems.

Gut inflammation from species inappropriate foods is often the start of a chronic cellular inflammatory condition. Offering foods that are not appropriate to a canine’s digestion and physiology are the cause for inflammatory activation within the intestinal cells. The result is irritation of the gut lining. A series of physiological actions follow hence decreasing cellular network communication most notably with the brain. The effects of an irritated and inflamed gut decreases nutrient uptake and absorption. The whole goal of nutrition is to deliver adequate nourishment to the cells. Foods are meant to provide the vital nutritional energy and components that are required to maintain life, cultivate optimal health, and amplify the ability of the cells to efficiently defend and heal. If cells become inflamed, cellular nourishment is not achieved. Preventing malnourishment begins by offering biologically-appropriate unadulterated wholesome foods that prevent inflammation. This begins with knowing which foods are implicated in inflammatory responses in canines. Inflammation producing foods are:

  • Rendered fat, rancid fat, & cooked fat (pancreatic inflammation)
  • Grains, legumes, & processed carbohydrates
  • Processed, adulterated proteins & meat by-products
  • Preservatives & food coloring
  • Starches, insoluble fibers, & fillers
  • Canola oil, soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, sunflower oil, rapeseed oil (dogs are carnivores and require animal fats)
  • Foods that cause sensitivity symptoms as per the individual dog (any and all, especially allergic responses)
  • Fish oils
  • Proteins from animals fed grains (especially genetically modified grains such as corn and soy)
  • Toxin-heavy foods such as farmed fish and conventionally raised/grown foods
  • Commercially-raised grain-fed chicken and pork (high in omega-6 fatty acids)
  • Commercial eggs from grain-fed caged birds
  • Tap water (and conversely, offering distilled water. This will mineral-deplete your dog FAST!)
  • Heavy supplement use, especially synthetic isolates and inorganic minerals
  • Unbalanced diets & unbalanced fats

Avoiding or healing cellular inflammation begins by greatly reducing or eliminating the above listed foods. What follows is the restoration of the cellular membranes via an anti-inflammatory diet strategy. A species-appropriate balanced raw diet is by far the best strategy for a carnivore IF, and only if, the diet includes easily digestible foods that, first and foremost, do not irritate the gut and thus adequately nourish cells and discourage an inflammatory response. Adding in phytochemical and antioxidant-rich organic vegetables and fruits can also be a part of an anti-inflammatory strategy. Be sure to first discover if your dog is able to digest the vegetation you choose. And be aware that many dogs cannot have fruit as the fruit sugars can be problematic in reactive dogs thus contributing to an overgrowth of yeast. This is a prime example of an inflammatory response to healthful, nourishing foods.

While chicken and pork are heavy in omega-6 fatty acids, they should not be avoided entirely as omega-6 fatty acids are essential to the cells. However, offering your dog free-range chicken and pork is a much better option and helps to nourish cells rather than encourage cellular reaction. Knowing how to balance fats is pivotal to the prevention of inflammation. As indicated in the study above, the omega-3 fatty acid EPA prevents NF-κB activation. Including foods and whole-food supplements into meals that are rich in EPAs is essential. Because of the condition of our food supply coupled with environmental toxin exposure, feeding omega-3 fatty acids in a ratio of 2:1 omega-6 to omega-3 is highly recommended. Wild-caught fatty fish (free of contaminants) are excellent sources of omega-3 fats as well as grass-fed beef and bison, pasture-raised chicken and duck eggs, marine phytoplankton, and krill oil. Raw diets that contain a variety of red meats, poultry, fish, and omega-3 supplements are the most appropriately balanced and provide the greatest protection against cellular inflammation.

On a final note, completely avoiding all grains, legumes, and starches is a vital step. Carbohydrates in the presence of fats has been shown to exacerbate the inflammatory response. In the presence of insulin, animal and vegetable fats can become inflammatory on top of the inflammatory producing grains, legumes, and starches. While these foods may be beneficial to humans when sprouted and pressure-cooked to remove toxic anti-predation lectins, anti-nutrients, and enzyme inhibitors, they are not suitable for canines. These are rich in gut-irritating insoluble fibers (even to humans) and non-essential carbohydrates that break down to useless sugars spiking insulin and resulting in inflammation, weight gain, and an enlarged pancreas. Additionally, grain and legume proteins lack the correct amino acid ratios for carnivores besides the very obvious fact that carnivores do not and would not consume grains even in the absence of prey. Carnivores lack the digestive capacity to breakdown grains and legumes for nutritional purposes.

The purpose of nutrition is nourishment and to provide the body with an energy source. Feeding the body foods that encourage cellular reactivity and are problematic to digest requires the use vital energy making more work for the body. This serves to lower vital nerve energy and create a state of enervation. Energy and vitality are the highest representations of true health and wellness.

©2019 Kimberly Lloyd, PhD. BCHHP, Cert Raw Dog Food Nutritionist

1 Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) are reactive molecules containing oxygen that are produced by excess free radical formation via environmental toxins, metabolism, blood cells, emotional stress, as well as being introduced via diet that directly damage cells.

2 Camandola S, Leonarduzzi G,Musso T, Varesio L, Carini R, Scavazza A, Chiarpotto E, Baeuerle PA, and Poli G. “Nuclear factor kB is activated by arachidonic acid but not by eicosapentaenoic acid.” Biochem Biophys Res Commun 229:643-647 (1996).

3 Francis Marion Pottenger Jr., Pottenger’s Cats: A Study in Nutrition, Price Pottenger Nutrition; 2nd edition, June 1, 2012.



Warring Within a Broken & Battered World

A Crusade to Protecting our Canines from Modern Living

At some point we all have to carefully consider the question, will raw feeding and a natural approach to canine health care guarantee the prevention of chronic disease, health conditions, DCM, cancer, and other issues? The truth? No. There are simply no guarantees in this life except that all beginnings will have an ending. The problem is, we live in a broken and contaminated world. There are thousands upon thousands of chemicals, contaminants, and pollutants that are warring against us and our pets. Too many people have no regard for our planet, our food sources, our air, or our water. Couple this with the modern purebred dog that has their pedigree funneled down to a tiny gene pool that no longer contains sufficient healthy DNA. We are in a literal battle for health…for LIFE. Naturally-reared and lifetime raw fed dogs are still getting diseases and dying prematurely. Everyday in my Facebook news feed I encounter anywhere from two to six posts from distraught pet parents grieving the loss of their beloved companions. Their battles were fought naturally and bravely, but with everything in this life, an end is inevitable. While it can be delayed, it cannot be stopped.

It is my wish for everyone that the understanding of just how precious and fragile life truly is would take precedence in their life. It is a gift to wake up and have another day. It is a blessing to have our pet companions by our side to add purpose and joy to our lives. We owe it to them to do the best we can to protect and defend them from this fallen and diseased world. It is up to us to educate others about the dangers of processed, mineral-deficient, chemically-laden GMO foods; heavy metal and chemical-filled vaccines; insecticide flea and tick pills, sprays, collars, and dips; toxic worming protocols; chemical and pollutant contaminated tap water; exhaust and pollution saturated air; and yards and neighborhoods sprayed and sprinkled with glyphosate, weed killers, and chemical fertilizers. When and where does this end? It can end now with each one of us making the decision to improve our world by the choices we make. Our pets depend entirely on every decision we make.

Nearly all of us understands the pain of experiencing the effects of our beaten and battered planet. We have lost pets…too young and too soon. What we thought was beneficial turned out to be not enough. We say our good-bye and wonder if what we do is even worth the effort. I want to assure you, it is! How much sooner would you have possibly said your good-bye had you not put forth the energy and effort into providing YOUR best for your dog? Press forward! Do not back down in this battle with our battered world. Nature is fighting back. We must support her!

The face of The Holistic Canine, my Siberian Husky, Damon, is facing such a battle, and I, his guardian, am all he has to provide him with an arsenal sufficient for him to move forward in battle for as long as he is able to proceed without pain and suffering. The sad truth is, bad things happen in this world. I am not ready to back down in this fight for health and for our world. Will you stand with me? Our dogs are counting on us and we need an army to rally for nature, for health, and for LIFE.

©2019 Kimberly Lloyd, PhD, BCHHP, Cert Raw Dog Food Nutritionist


Transitioning Your Dog to a Raw Food Diet

From Commercial Dog Food to Raw

Switching to a homemade raw diet is one of the most daunting decisions a pet parent will ever make on behalf of their beloved canine. After all, veterinarians, the dog food industry, and organizations such as AAFCO and the NRC make canine nutrition out to be a very complicated, multifarious, intricate, obscure, alarmingly difficult, and better-left-to-the-experts business that no well-meaning pet parent would possibly dare to take into their own hands. I am sure nearly every raw feeder has at least at one point felt that wave of concern or fear when starting out on their homemade raw nutrition journey, and even years into their nutrition strategy. And for good reason! We all want what is best for our dogs, and we especially do not want any harm to come to them because of something we have done incorrectly. While I am certainly not about to sugar coat the decision to take your dog’s nutritional requirements into your own hands, I do, however, want to assure pet parents that it is not as scary and intimidating as you might think. Thousands of people have been raw feeding their dogs for decades, many of them breeders with upwards of five generations of strictly raw fed dogs. This has given us some invaluable insight into the positive changes in epigenetic gene expression as well as to learn what works and where problems can and do arise. If you have made the decision to transition to a DIY raw nutrition plan, you have some homework to do with the added help of numerous resources to assist you along your journey. (Don’t hesitate to join The Holistic Canine’s Facebook group for resources and support, or use us for a personal one-on-one experience to give you the confidence you need.)

Assuming you have already read my blog posts Feeding the Modern Canine and DIY Raw Dog Food (if you have not yet read through parts I through V as well as DIY Raw Dog Food, it is highly advisable that you begin by reading through everything as this is a necessary step to prevent harm from coming to your dog), and have read books such as Canine Nutrigenomics by Dr. Jean Dodds & Diana Laverdure, referred to other vital books and information from holistic raw feeding veterinarians such as Dr. Karen Becker, Dr. Peter Dobias, Dr. Ian Billinghurst, and Dr. Tom Lonsdale (among others), and scoured professional blogs such as Dana Scott’s Dogs Naturally Magazine, then you are prepared to start. You will notice that I am quite serious about my own nutrition and natural health practice and understanding, and even more, relaying this adequately to my clients for their practice and understanding as well. Nutrition must be in the correct context, especially for the modern canine. We call this orthomolecular nutrition. I do not recommend putting too much stock in some of the popular raw feeding websites, blogs, and Facebook groups that were started by well-meaning raw feeders who have minimal education from online certificate courses. While these courses are fantastic for the individual pet parent to receive a suitable foundation for providing their best to their beloved canines, it is not a sufficient education experience to be selling pet nutrition plans and recipes to other pet parents. I have heard enough horror stories to make even the hardest person cry. As a practitioner, I am held to the highest of responsibility when affecting another living being with my advice as well as to the people who love and care for them. I cannot stress this enough: persist with the holistic veterinarians and pet professionals who have been in this field for decades and have a plethora of results to show.

Having completed your research, the following checklist is a must to begin your raw food journey:

  • You must have your dog’s specific nutrient requirements for protein, fats, minerals, and vitamins.
  • You will need to know how much raw food to provide. Generally, we begin a raw food transition by offering 2.5% of your dog’s current body weight.
  • You should have a nutrient-profile database to which you will be referring such as cronometer or the USDA database.
  • It is helpful to have an auditing spreadsheet that will calculate the nutrients as you add ingredients. It is not, however, necessary if you are okay with doing some paper and pen calculations.
  • You must also have a food scale. You cannot “wing it” especially when first beginning to create raw meals. I still rely on a food scale. I in no way want to eyeball my amounts especially when some nutrients are difficult to source in adequate amounts and others can become toxic in too high an amount. I do admittedly eyeball the bone content. After years of raw feeding, I am confident with adding my bone in varying amounts because it balances out over a couple of days. If you are feeding a puppy, you need to weigh the bone. A puppy’s skeleton is growing rapidly. You must maintain the correct calcium to phosphorous ratio in the required amounts for proper skeletal and joint formation.
  • Be sure to take into consideration some important details about your dog. Does your dog…
  1. have food sensitivities?
  2. have a health condition?
  3. have age against them?
  4. gulp or bolt their food?
  5. need to lose body fat?

And lastly, some additional items to keep on hand if needed or required:

  • probiotic and enzyme supplement(s)
  • apple cider vinegar
  • omega-3 source such as krill oil or phytoplankton
  • Manuka honey
  • Slippery Elm Bark

Final notes before you begin: Avoid offering foods to which your dog has sensitivities. Bear in mind that you will be feeding whole foods and bone. If you have a dog that does not currently chew their food or a senior dog that has difficulty chewing, you will need to consider the type and form of meat and bone that you will be offering. I am not one who recommends grinds (a small percentage is fine, but not entire meals). A dog is meant to chew on bones. The chewing action not only massages the gums and helps to maintain overall oral health, but also stimulates the trigeminal nerve acting as a pacifier by releasing hormones that stabilize mood. Your dog’s oral health is fundamental to creating and maintaining overall body health! Offer grinds only if your dog cannot physically chew. Patience is necessary for a gulper. It is highly recommended that you teach a gulper how to chew by holding the bone and correcting their action. And finally, transitioning to raw is not the time to reduce calories for body fat reduction. Wait until after your dog is fully transitioned and doing well on a raw diet.

If you are currently feeding a premade commercial raw food, you can transition to a DIY meal easily. Just follow the guideline in the DIY Raw Dog Food post. When you are confident with your meals, simply remove the commercial pre-made raw food from the diet completely.

For everyone else feeding a processed commercial kibble or canned food diet, transitioning is often the most difficult step. Many dogs are damaged from the processed foods and must heal their gut in order to digest raw foods without an issue. This is not to say that many of my clients have not had success with a “cold turkey” switch, because the truth is, they have. I am one of those who switched two adults and one puppy “cold turkey” without a single issue. You have to take into consideration your dog’s current health and current diet. If you are feeding a brand by Mars Petcare Inc., Nestlé Purina PetCare, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Big Heart Pet Brands, or Spectrum Brands/United Pet Group, you should consider a gradual transition especially if your dog has been on these foods for three or more years and/or has minor health conditions such as digestive concerns, chronic ear infections, skin issues, joint issues, or any other condition. It is highly advised to start your dog on a probiotic, and possibly even an enzyme supplement, one week prior to the transition. You will continue to supplement throughout the process. This is especially important for dogs who have health conditions.

If you have a puppy that you would like to transition, you cannot do a gradual switch. You MUST do a cold turkey switch to a balanced raw diet because a puppy must have all their nutrients supplied in the required amounts on a daily basis. Switching to a balanced pre-made raw is my best advice for a beginner to raw feeding. Then you can gradually switch your growing pup over to a DIY raw food plan when you are confident that you can provide balanced meals.

Whether you switch your adult dog gradually or cold turkey to a raw food diet, you will want to begin with a single low-fat protein source. It is recommended to begin with chicken breast as it is easier to digest, but there is no rule or real reason why you must transition your dog with chicken. Some dogs do not tolerate chicken well. It is the lower-nutrient, more bland meats that we are going to use to transition. Read the ingredients on the bag or can or pouch of food you are currently feeding. Choosing a bland protein that your dog is already consuming in their current food is a good option. You want to make the transition as easy as possible. What is beneficial about offering chicken, however, is the ease of introducing bone. Chicken is by far the easiest bone sources for dogs just starting out on raw. Bone options include ribs, backs, necks, wings, feet, thigh bones, and drums. Choose what is appropriate to your dog’s size. Small bones for small dogs (wings, necks) and larger bones for big dogs (thighs, backs, drums). What I do not like about chicken, especially in a transition, is the high linoleic acid (omega-6 fatty acids) content. If your dog already has some gut issues, you will need to supply omega-3 fatty acids to prevent the delay of healing cellular and gut inflammation. Offer your dog krill oil or phytoplankton with chicken. Turkey is another introductory meat you may wish to opt for in place of chicken. Be aware that if you choose turkey, grocery store turkey often has broth added. Check the sodium content on the package. You will not want to feed turkey with a brine solution added. Dogs do require sodium, but we do not want to over-do sodium intake, especially during a transition to raw. Quail and Cornish hens are also good transition meats with equally easy bones to offer. And it you have access to domestic rabbit, rabbit is also a good starter protein along with bones to offer (ribs, neck/back bones, and feet are good bone options).

Bone will be required on day three. Use whole cuts of meat and avoid ground meat during the transition as grinds have an increased surface area which can equate to more bacteria. Following a week of poultry, adding red meat is a necessity. Grass-fed beef or bison are highly recommended as they are nutrient-dense and contain beneficial fats. Most of these meats are easily attainable from a grocery store, farmer’s market, and even Walmart. If you know your dog has protein sensitivities, avoid offering those proteins at least until your dog has been on raw for six months to a year with noticeable health improvements. Reintroducing a protein is not advisable unless under the direction of a nutritionist or holistic veterinarian well-versed in raw food and/or TCM food therapy.

Gradual Transition for an ADULT dog: Having chosen your low-fat transition protein and bone (and determined whether or not you will be adding a probiotic/enzyme supplement to their diet), you will begin by offering a “taste” of raw meat (without bone or skin) opposite meal time especially if your dog is kibble fed. If you feed one meal per day, the transition is very simple. Feed the raw meat in the morning or evening, whichever is opposite the meal. If you feed twice a day, feed the raw meat in-between the two meals. A “taste” can be approximately one half (½) ounce, one (1) ounce, or two (2) ounces of lean meat for a small to large dog while a toy dog will begin with a training-treat size piece. Choose the introductory amount proportional to your dog’s weight. Feeding the raw meat opposite mealtime will stimulate the stomach to lower the pH in the presence of the meat and thereby greatly reduce the possibility for pathogenic bacteria proliferation. Since raw meat is a protein, the stomach lowers the pH to create an acid bath to break apart the peptide bonds holding the amino acids together along with killing bacteria. Kibble is digested as a starch which raises pH and speeds up passage into the small intestine where bacteria could enter. While a carnivore has no issues consuming pathogenic bacteria, feeding raw meat with kibble increases the risk for bacteria produced diarrhea. If you have a dog with a digestive health condition, start by soaking the raw meat in diluted apple cider vinegar for at least 10 minutes to remove any pathogenic surface bacteria. (You may opt to follow the soak with rinsing the meat in cold water before feeding it.)

If your dog is accustomed to eating fresh vegetables and fruit, you may wish to continue to feed them as you did prior to the transition. If not, hold off until you are certain your dog’s system is doing well on the transition to raw. Introduce only small amounts of pureed vegetables and berries.

Beginning on day one, offer the raw meat (without bone and skin) to your dog on an empty stomach as per your chosen method listed above. If all goes well and your dog has no digestive upset or diarrhea (semi-formed/mushy stools is not uncommon, it is the liquid diarrhea you will be concerned with), repeat the same amount of meat the following day. If liquid diarrhea occurs, take a break until stools are solid and then start again. If all is fine, on day three, double the amount of meat and add in 20% of your chosen bone as well as some skin (if you used the apple cider vinegar method the first two days, you may stop on day three). Bone helps to keep the stools firm, thus adding 20% bone during the initial few days of the transition is beneficial. Continue feeding this same protein adding an additional half (½) ounce, one (1) ounce, two (2) ounce, or treat size (whichever amount you began with) while also adjusting the bone to 20% and eventually reducing it to 15% (see chart below). Begin proportionally reducing the commercial food until you have completed one full week. By the end of 7 days, you should be half commercial food and half raw meat. If you had been feeding only one commercial food meal per day, you are now feeding half the amount of commercial food at your dog’s usual mealtime, and you will have added a raw meal at the opposite time. If you were feeding two meals per day, you will be completely eliminating one of the commercial food meals so you are now feeding one commercial food meal and one raw meal at the opposite time. Bear in mind, you have now created an imbalanced diet. We will begin to slowly create balance and remove the commercial food completely.

The following chart is an example transition using one (1) ounce of meat for a medium size dog normally fed once per day. Adjust according to your specific needs/plan.

WEEK ONE

Day 1:

  • AM: 1 oz. raw meat
  • PM: Commercial food meal

Day 2:   

  • AM: 1 oz. raw meat             
  • PM: Commercial food meal

Day 3:   

  • AM: 2 oz. raw meat* + 20% bone   
  • PM: Commercial food meal

Day 4:  

  • AM: 3 oz. raw meat + 20% bone
  • PM: Reduced commercial food

Day 5:  

  • AM: 4 oz. raw meat + 20% bone       
  • PM: Reduced commercial food

Day 6:  

  • AM: 5 oz. raw meat + 15% bone       
  • PM: Reduced commercial food

Day 7:  

  • AM: 6 oz. raw meat + 15% bone       
  • PM: Commercial food reduced to half fed**

*Begin gradually adding skin-on meat if feeding poultry.

**While dropping the kibble to half the total amount normally fed is likely less than the small amount of raw added, this is better to allow your dog’s body to adjust.

Beginning on day one of week two, if all went well in week one, adding a nutrient-dense red meat is advised. If your dog is already eating multiple protein sources in their commercial food, you can add an additional protein found in the current food. As noted above, I prefer grass-fed beef; however, bison or pasture-raised goat, pork, and lamb are also good choices. Offer the new protein the same way you introduced the first introductory protein. You are going to be adding this to the raw meal while you will work on removing the commercial food completely from the diet by the end of this week. Also notice the bone percentage will continue to drop. For simplicity sake, I will not list the commercial meal in the following chart. If you feel your dog needs an additional week with just the introductory meat, stay with that one single protein and continue to increase the amount daily as you did in week one.

WEEK TWO

Day 8:  AM: 6 oz. meat one, 1 oz. new meat + 15% bone    

Day 9:  AM: 6 oz. meat one, 1 oz. new meat + 15% bone 

Day 10:  AM: 6 oz. meat one, 2 oz. new meat + 12% bone

Day 11: AM: 6 oz. meat one, 3 oz. new meat + 12% bone

Day 12:  AM: 6 oz. meat one, 4 oz. new meat + 12% bone

Day 13:  AM: 6 oz. meat one, 5 oz. new meat + 12% bone

Day 14:  AM: 6 oz. meat one, 6 oz. new meat + 12% bone

If at any point your dog develops diarrhea, do not panic. Give your dog’s system a chance to adjust. Remove all visible fat and skin from the meat and increase bone back up to 15% to 20%. One day of diarrhea is not uncommon; however, if stools do not begin to firm by the end of day two, add a probiotic or double the amount you started with and bring the bone back up to 20% for a day or two. Give a dose of the probiotic at least 30 minutes prior to feeding the raw meal. Manuka honey is helpful as well. Give a dose according to the size of your dog from 1/2 tsp to 2 tsp. Slippery Elm Bark also ameliorates diarrhea. This can be given 15 to 20 minutes prior to the raw meal.

Depending upon the speed of the transition, week three or week four must include organs to further balance the diet. Organ meats are nutrient-saturated. The richness of these foods can cause loose stools and diarrhea. If you have already battled diarrhea during this transition, introduce organs SLOWLY. Start with liver. I prefer calf liver as a first introduction to secreting organs. Calf (and beef) liver is richer in copper than other livers and is cleaner than beef liver. You will only feed liver at 5% of the total diet if feeding daily. Add small amounts of liver each day until you are up to 5%. If the stools remain firm (you may notice darker stools, this is normal), introduce a second secreting organ such as kidney or spleen to be fed along with the liver. Beef kidney is easy to source. This too is fed at only 5% of the diet making secreting organs a combined total of approximately 10% of the daily meal(s). You will be feeding 10% to 15% bone this week.

By week four or week five, begin slowly introducing more proteins and muscle organs such as heart, gizzards, and lungs. These are fed as main protein sources at approximately 15% of the total diet. Gradually add in more vegetables, fruits, seeds, and other foods that will help increase nutrient-saturation within the meals. Your goal at this stage is to provide a balanced diet. Pay attention to stools as they are the key to how well your dog is digesting foods and either thriving or having difficulties adjusting fully.

Some dogs are what I call “lead bellies.” “Lead belly” dogs can eat anything and everything without a single issue. Even so, you don’t want to shock the system. These dogs do well with a “cold turkey” transition to raw. If you have a hardy dog prior to transitioning to raw, but a “cold turkey” switch sounds scary, you may opt to remove commercial food already after day seven. You know your dog best! Transition according to what is going to be the best option for both you and your dog.

And finally, be sure to start auditing your nutrients by either entering your meal ingredients in a spreadsheet calculator or by looking up nutrient profiles and recording your nutrient values in each meal. It will get easier as time goes by! Welcome to the world of raw feeding!

©2019 Kimberly Lloyd, PhD, BCHHP, Cert Raw Dog Food Nutritionist


DIY Raw Dog Food: Creating a Meal with Fresh, Raw, Whole-foods

Balanced Meal EXAMPLE

Creating a balanced raw meal can be very daunting, especially for the pet parent new to DIY raw feeding. I have created an example meal plan guideline to assist raw feeders on their journey to creating nutrient-balanced meals. I chose easy-to-source grocery store ingredients to make it even more user-friendly for those just starting out in the world of DIY raw pet foods.

To get started you will need:

  • your dog’s daily nutrient requirements
  • food scale
  • food nutrient profile database (I use this one)
  • calculator (unless you are a math wiz)
  • spreadsheet for auditing nutrients (join our community to get one free)
  • ingredients!

According to the NRC’s minimum nutrient requirements, a 45 pound dog must have the following nutrient minimums per day.

  • Protein: 31.5 g
  • Fat: 17.3 g
  •                 Linoleic acid (omega-6): 3.3 g
  •                 Alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3): 0.13 g
  •                 EPA & DHA (omega-3): 0.3 g
  • Calcium: 1.3 g (1,300 mg)
  • Phosphorus: 1 g (1,000 mg)
  • Iron: 9.6 mg
  • Magnesium: 189 mg
  • Potassium: 1.34 g (1,340 mg)
  • Sodium: 251.5 mg
  • Zinc: 19.2 mg
  • Copper: 2 mg
  • Manganese: 1.5 mg
  • Selenium: 113.3 mcg
  • Chloride: 384 mg
  • Iodine: 284.1 mcg
  • Vitamin A: 480 RE
  • Vitamin D: 4.3 mcg
  • Vitamin E: 9.6 mg*
  • Vitamin K: 0.52 mg
  • Thiamine (B1): 0.7 mg
  • Riboflavin (B2): 1.6 mg
  • Niacin (B3): 5.5 mg
  • Pantothenic acid (B5): 4.7 mg
  • Pyridoxine (B6): 0.47 mg
  • Folate: 85.4 mcg **
  • Cobalamin (B12): 11 mcg
  • Choline: 357.5 mg

*this is the alpha only, unfortunately. Vitamin E must be supplied as the complex of tocopherols.

**this is the folic acid (poorly absorbed synthetic version of folate) calculation, unfortunately

For a 45 pound dog that requires approximately 3% (of body weight) per day, I am going to calculate 2.5% to save room for my extras. 2.5% of 45 pounds =

                1.125 pounds (18 ounces) of meat, organs, and bone (per DAY)

For beginner raw feeders, follow the 80/10/10 guideline. This is the easiest ratio to follow. If I were to follow the 80/10/10 guideline exactly, this is how it would look:

An 80/10/10 ratio for 18 ounces would be as follows:

                80%: 14.4 ounces

                10%: 1.8 ounces

                10%: 1.8 ounces

Breaking this down further:

80% meat should be fed approximately 65% muscle + 15% organ muscle:

                65%: 11.7 ounces

                15%: 2.7 ounces

10% organs should be fed 5% liver + 5% other secreting organ:

                5%: 0.9 ounces

                5%: 0.9 ounces

10% bone remains the same

As a guideline you will feed approximately:

                11.7 oz. muscle meat

                2.7 oz. organ muscle

                1.8 oz. bone

                0.9 oz. liver

                0.9 oz. other secreting organ

Total      18 oz.

Now let’s create a meal! I will notate the more hard-to-source nutrients as well as those that are richest in each food ingredient. Vitamins A, D, K, and the B complex vitamins are fairly easy to source; therefore, I will not be concerned with those unless noted due to their nutrient-saturation in the ingredient. Be sure to check what nutrients are in each food you are adding by referring to the nutrient-database you have chosen to use. You need to adjust the ingredients and amounts in order to meet nutrient requirements. Use highest nutrient per bite ratio foods!

11.7 oz. meat

  • 5 oz. grass-fed beef (zinc, selenium, iron, magnesium)
  • 5 oz. pork rib1 (selenium, magnesium, zinc, iron)
  • 1.7 oz. sardines (vitamin D, selenium, magnesium, potassium, omega-3)

2.7 oz. muscle organ

  • 1.5 oz. chicken hearts (zinc, iron, folate, taurine)
  • 1.2 oz. chicken gizzard (potassium, magnesium)

1.8 oz. organs

  • 0.9 oz. beef liver (copper, vitamin A, iron, zinc, folate, vitamin D, B vitamins)
  • 0.9 oz. beef kidney (vitamin A, selenium, B12)

1.8 oz. bone

  • Pork rib
  • Chicken paw (extra, see below)

1 21% bone, this gives me 1.05 oz. bone

Now, since I need 3%, I have left room for all the extras to meet nutrients. Since the vegetables and fruits I use yield very little calories, I do not need to account for these. But I have room for the fat calories from seeds. I will add:

  • 1 oz. blueberries (various vitamins and phytonutrients)
  • 1 oz. kale (magnesium)
  • 1 oz. spinach (magnesium, manganese, zinc, potassium)
  • 0.5 oz. ground pumpkin seeds (magnesium, manganese, zinc)
  • 1 pasture-raised chicken egg2 (selenium, choline, vitamin D, vitamin E, B vitamins, iodine)
  • 0.5 oz. oysters (zinc, B12, copper)
  • 1 chicken paw3 (zinc, selenium, iron, folate, B vitamins)
  • ½ tbsp. coconut oil

2 eggshell boosts calcium for bone %

3 this fulfills bone/calcium percentage/requirement

Details to consider:

  • This meal contains highly bioavailable nutrients with enzymes and cofactors making nutrient absorption optimal. However, naturally occurring nutrients will have antagonists within the same foods.
  • This meal contains oxalates that bind iron.
  • This meal contains an egg. Eggs contain phosvitin which binds iron.
  • This meal will reflect low in magnesium in auditing programs that do not account for bone (see below)

How to correct:

Add a food source vitamin C supplement to increase iron and magnesium absorption. Vitamin C reduces the binding effect of oxalates (found in kale and spinach) and phosvitin (found in egg) that bind iron, while also boosting absorption of magnesium. Add a minimum of 100 mg. Do NOT use a synthetic isolate!4 Although dogs produce their own vitamin C, studies show it is insufficient to cultivate optimal health and prevent disease especially in the absence of whole prey coupled with exposure to the toxins and chemicals of modern life.

Keeping in mind that bones contain nutrients, all but one of the dog food auditing programs and spreadsheets that I have encountered do not account for bone minerals. Bones contain a wealth of minerals besides calcium and phosphorus. Bones also contain magnesium, sodium, chloride, sulfur, potassium, silica, iron, zinc, manganese, selenium, boron, and vitamins A & K. If you are using an auditing program, your values will not reflect correctly where you feed bone in a meal. Thus, the above meal will reflect low in magnesium. 60% of the body’s magnesium is stored in bones with 38% being in the muscles and liver. The highest food sources of magnesium are seeds, nuts, leafy greens, and bones. In the wild, dogs eat very little vegetation and tiny amounts of seeds (which come out whole as noted in wolf studies that examine stomach and scat contents), and yet there exists no recorded incidences of magnesium deficiency among wild dogs. In fact, magnesium deficiency in domestic dogs is extremely rare and only seen in severely malnourished dogs and in dogs exposed to nephrotoxic drugs. Magnesium is poorly absorbed to begin with and supplementation is nearly useless. I personally do not feel adding a magnesium supplement is necessary. This is because there are ways to boost magnesium absorption just as boosting iron absorption is possible. Your dog will receive sufficient magnesium from the diet especially if you are feeding bones, magnesium-rich seeds (ground), leafy greens, and avocados. If you do not feed bones, you will have magnesium deficient meals.

For optimal magnesium absorption, be sure meals contain the following nutrients that assist magnesium assimilation:

  1. Food-source vitamin C (you are already doing this for iron absorption).
  2. Calcium (you are already doing this if feeding bones and eggshells).
  3. Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), found in virgin coconut oil (already added to meal).
  4. Soluble fiber from veggies and fruits (you are already adding these as extras).

4 Synthetic vitamin C, known as ascorbic acid, is made from corn syrup and hydrochloric acid, has a mere 10% absorption rate, and has been implicated in gallstones, arterial disease, and many other conditions.

Finally, log all of your ingredients and amounts into a spreadsheet to audit your nutrient totals. If you are hitting any minimums or missing nutrients, adjust your amounts, switch ingredients, or add a whole-foods supplement to more than cover the requirement. Don’t simply hit minimums, create meals that will cultivate optimal health by utilizing highest nutrient per bite ratio foods that cover a broad spectrum of nutrients. Correct any antagonistic nutrient competition by creating synergy such as in the example above (adding vitamin C).

And finally…

Supplements to add:

  • 100 to 150 mg food-source vitamin C such as Nature’s Way® Alive! Vitamin C
  • 15 to 30 mg mixed tocopherols (Vitamin E oil or dry)
  • 1/4 to 1 tsp. spirulina, phytoplankton, or wheatgrass/barley grass powder (for additional minerals, vitamins, amino acids, enzymes, phytochemicals, and/or omega-3 fatty acids)
  • kelp to provide no more than 200 mcg iodine
  • 500 mg Krill oil (contains astaxanthin)
  • Other supplement(s) specific to your dog’s needs (medicinal mushrooms, golden paste, colostrum, taurine, coenzyme Q10, cell salts, etc.)

As a final note, I puree my fresh fruits and vegetables in a Ninja blender. This helps to unlock nutrients so your dog can easily benefit. Add the mixture to a silicon mold(s) and freeze. Add the frozen molds to meals.

You now have a complete and balanced meal with easy-to-source ingredients!

©2019 Kimberly Lloyd, PhD, BCHHP, Cert Raw Dog Food Nutritionist