The Many Faces of Raw Feeding

Choosing your method of DIY raw feeding

There are several models and methods of feeding your dog a raw diet. However, following one specific model can be too limiting making if difficult to meet nutritional requirements without having to resort to heavy supplementation. Becoming familiar with the various raw models is an important step for knowing how best to provide for your dog’s nutrient needs.

How Should You Feed Your Dog? Carnivore vs. Omnivore

There are several models and methods of DIY raw feeding that can be followed. And behind those models and methods lie some pretty convincing philosophies and interpretations of what science has shown us about our canine companions. There are two extreme views that exist; and from my own research and education, both extremes have several shady areas that do not stand as factual. Before you can decide how and what to feed your dog, you must understand what dogs are designed to consume. Let’s take a look at these two extreme views.

Pure Carnivore
One philosophy that is hugely popular in the UK and Australia and has spread throughout Europe and to the USA is the strict carnivore model. This philosophy interprets a dog’s anatomy as purely carnivore and sees the physiology as strictly carnivore as well. While you cannot ignore the fact that a dog’s anatomy is undeniably carnivore, it isn’t quite so cut-and-dry when we examine the physiology.

Many adherents to the strict carnivore model teach that dogs do not produce salivary amylase; therefore, they conclude, dogs are strict carnivores as only omnivores produce salivary amylase. Now, in their defense, I am only part of a minute handful of people who are actually aware of the study that detected tiny amounts of salivary amylase in Beagles[1]. Herbivores, you may be surprised to learn, do not produce salivary amylase either, and yet sensitive tests have also detected it in lambs. So take both those findings for what their worth. So, yes, this is true in a sense. However, their teaching starts to go south when proponents of this view start to make claims that are clearly not proven.

It is taught that a dog’s pancreas is “strained” when carbohydrates of any kind are ingested as this requires that the pancreas must produce amylase enzyme. Carbohydrates are defined as vegetables, fruits, starches, sugars, grains, and legumes. While any organ can be strained from overwork, the function of the pancreas is to produce hormones and enzymes; therefore, normal function would not “strain” an organ. However, just like in humans, when the organ is abused (key word here) by excessive consumption of inappropriate foods, then yes, the organ will be overburdened and damage often occurs. Both the NRC and AAFCO do not list carbohydrate requirements because both know that dogs have absolutely no requirement for carbohydrates. So are the carnivore purists correct?

If this were a fact, then the high-carbohydrate commercial diets over the past one hundred years would have mass murdered millions of dogs. And since this wasn’t or isn’t the case, that in itself is proof that their claim in not entirely true. However, dogs have developed numerous health conditions, chronic disease, joint deterioration, cancer, and increased mortality at an alarming rate. So maybe there is some credibility to their claim? The answer is yes. Let’s look at the other extreme view to see why.

Omnivore
There is a large group of raw feeders and proponents of homemade cooked dog food that claim dogs are omnivores. This is the view held by the major commercial dog food manufacturers and even many veterinarians. However, the dog food companies have an agenda: dog food sales. When an agenda enters the equation, you know darn well that agendas and philosophies start to be touted as fact.

The omnivore theorists point to the fact that dogs do in fact produce pancreatic amylase. Recently, many have groped at the exhaustingly misinterpreted AMY2B gene in domestic dogs that codes for amylase enzyme. It is taught that because dogs have anywhere from four to thirty copies of the AMY2B gene, unlike their close cousin the wolf who has a mere two copies (dog DNA is only 0.2% different from the wolf), dogs, therefore, have evolved to life with humans and have turned into omnivores. Sounds factual since dogs can in fact eat high carbohydrate diets without immediate consequence (other than obesity) and dying immediately. Yet, how can we explain the rapid rise in chronic disease that just so happens to parallel human disease and the increased mortality rate in the modern canine?

The answer lies in the correct understanding of epigenetic gene expression and adaption. Dogs have simply adapted through epigenetic gene expression to survive with humans. This adaptation potential is within the DNA of ALL canines, including wolves. (Adaptation potential is actually encoded in every living being.) The exposure to high carbohydrate diets with humans turned “ON” the gene expression within dogs that codes for amylase enzyme. Each consecutive generation of domestic dog, therefore, passed the code onto their offspring until a select few breeds developed higher numbers of the gene than others. Epigenetic gene expression is common knowledge within the scientific community, but not among lay people who misinterpet scientific papers and articles (not to mention read with a biased eye). Gene expression is directly affected by diet and environment. Dogs simply adapted to life with humans. Understand that adaptation is a survival mechanism that in no way equates to thriving.

So, what was it exactly that drove the raw food movement initially? Sadly, canine disease and the increasing mortality rate. So how did this happen if dogs evolved into omnivores? Let’s be real here. Dogs are clearly anatomically NOT omnivores. This simply cannot be denied. Their teeth, jaw and jaw movement, neck, body structure, and digestive tract are in no wise omnivorous. If adaptation changed canines into omnivores, then their anatomy would have followed suit. And clearly, that is not the case. Physical (anatomical) changes are absolutely essential if something as serious as food sources has changed. One has only to look at Charles Darwin’s Galapagos Island finch study [2, 3]. The finch has coded within its DNA a genome that codes for beak shape. The finch has the adaptation ability to change beak shape entirely as a direct result of available food source and environmental conditions. The gene expression is turned “on” depend upon outside conditions. And conversely, the gene expression can be turned “off” and the beak returns to the original shape. This is observed in the offspring of the following generations as gene code expression is passed on to future generations.

Have dogs changed anatomically? Not in the least. While selective breeding plays a role in appearance and size, dogs are still structurally carnivores. They have simply adapted and increased a mere ONE gene code as a direct result of the diet offered to them by their human companions, nothing further. So what is the verdict?

Dogs are neither obligate carnivores nor are they omnivores.

Dogs are FACULTATIVE CARNIVORES. Period.

What does this mean? Biology states that facultative carnivores are “able to live under a range of external conditions” for survival purposes in the absence of their species-appropriate diet and environmental conditions.

How should you feed your dog? Like the facultative carnivore that they are!

[1] https://bmcvetres.biomedcentral.com/…/10.…/s12917-017-1191-4

[2] https://explorable.com/darwins-finches

[3] https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/02/150211-evolution-darwin-finches-beaks-genome-science/

Should You Follow a Raw Model or Ratio?

There are several models for canine raw feeding as well as helpful ratios that can be used as guidelines for creating balanced meals. The two most popular models are Prey Model Raw (PMR) and BARF (biologically appropriate raw food). The most popular ratio guideline is 80/10/10 or 80/10/5/5 which pertains to the ratio of flesh to organ and bone in whole prey. From these original models and ratios, raw feeding has evolved. To learn more about models and ratios, read my article “Simplifying the Raw Food Models.”
https://theholisticcanine17.com/…/simplifying-the-raw-food…/

Many people tend to follow trends, the advice of friends or people close to them, or stick with what is popular. But when it comes to feeding your dog, trends, well-meaning advice, and popularity is not necessarily on the table as a good option. Nutrition is serious business. Knowing and understanding how to create meals using a model or ratio as your guide is essential to the health and wellbeing of your dog that may just have a serious impact on longevity.

While some dogs do exceptionally well on a BARF model diet, some just plain don’t. Simple as that. And where many so-called canine “nutritionists” make extremist statements such as “PMR is an unbalanced diet plan,” you absolutely cannot deny that there are generations of dogs doing exceptionally well on PMR and living to incredible ages. Also, simple as that. And, have you noticed that some dogs live to an impressively old age on kibble? As hard as that may be to swallow, it is true. Sadly, others do not and their lives are one suffering experience after another. The truth is, dogs are facultative.

Dogs are undoubtedly (and impressively) nutritionally-versatile creatures. But it is for this reason that dogs are among the most nutritionally abused animals on the planet (next to humans). The most critical question to ask is: just because dogs can be nutritionally abused without immediate consequence, does this mean they should be? I pray your answer is wholeheartedly NO.

Let me go back to the question I have posed in the section title: “Should you follow a raw food model or ratio?” What is your answer? Is there an answer? Being that my expertise is orthomolecular nutrition science coupled with my doctoral research on species-appropriate diets in humans and animals, I believe there is a definitive answer.

SPECIES-APPROPRIATE. End of story.

Species-appropriate Raw Diet

I won’t lie, I used to be a BARF model purist. As a human nutritionist, I see the value in plant-based diets (this does not mean vegetarian) and have witnessed health return to people of all ages and conditions, including stage 4 cancer. Naturally, I see incredible value in organically grown produce. How can we not share that value with our canine companions? But as time went by and my experience, research, and education expanded, I could no longer deny that PMR feeders were experiencing exceptional results and producing offspring that lived to almost unbelievable ages. Just take a look at Thomas Sandberg’s results in his own dogs and in his Long Living Pets Research Project (which, btw, my six dogs are a part of). Thomas, like myself, is a board certified holistic health practitioner and practicing naturopath…and also a PMR feeder and teacher. And he is reversing cancer! Results are results, they can’t be denied.

So what am I saying? No, I did not cross the street to the PMR purists, but nor do I adhere to BARF. I have realized that nutrition is based on each individual dog and blending the two models has produced incredible results…including cancer therapy (more on that in the future as I have an on-going study). My stance is strictly species-appropriate nutrition plans.

After reviewing the many research results on zero and low-carbohydrate diets in endurance dogs that the NRC reported on in their work “Nutrition Requirements of Dogs and Cats,” I realized that carbohydrates really do not have much value. Nor do they for humans. Since I am known as the “weight loss guru” in my human nutrition practice, I realized that I should take that same strategy to the dogs. What strategy? Low-carb nutrition plans. Since dogs have no requirement for carbohydrates, as is stated by the NRC and AAFCO, why would we need to add them when the studies showed that the zero and lowest carb diets produced the better athletic performance in the test dogs? Unlike protein and fats that have multiple vital purposes and functions, carbohydrates have but one…energy, something that fat supplies as well as protein (via gluconeogenesis in carnivores). Nothing else, no other need, and non-vital.

What do facultative carnivores eat? Prey. And when prey is in short supply, their incredible facultative adaptability allows them to survive (intended for short periods, mind you) on scavenged food, human garbage, berries and other fruit, grasses, and not much else. We need to focus on species-appropriate foods that are easy to digest, offer the highest nutrient absorption rate, and the absence of anti-nutrients that prevent nutrient absorption.

The focus of your dog’s nutrition should be species appropriate foods. Not a model, not a ratio, but foods that are best for dogs. See my article entitled “The Importance of Species-appropriate Foods for the Cultivation of Optimal Health.”
https://theholisticcanine17.com/…/the-importance-of-specie…/

Focus on your dog’s NRC nutrient requirements (which does not include carbohydrates) and create meals around those needs. Protein and fat from fresh raw mammal and poultry flesh, organs and offal, and raw meaty bones (and don’t forget fish and crustaceans!) should be your main focus. And if your dog can adequately digest, without ANY difficulties, some vegetables, seaweeds, and ground seeds in small percentages, these can offer additional value. Note, I emphasize SMALL. Fruit can be an option, but is not always appropriate. I have had enough experience to know that fruit tends to be the main cause of itching, ear conditions, and yeast overgrowth, among other issues. Fruit, like in human nutrition, needs to be offered and consumed apart from mealtime. Again, fruit should not be fed in meals, but as treats.

Never force your dog to eat vegetables and fruits. These are optional and often your dog knows that he or she cannot digest them and/or they are making them feel yucky. Be observant and examine stools. Stools are your window into the internal workings of your dog’s digestion. My six dogs do eat vegetables on occasion and once in awhile they will get berries for treats. But all in all, they don’t want them. Your dog can help you to learn quite a bit about canine nutrition. Pay attention! And when in doubt, ask a professional.

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


The Mystifyingly Astounding Microbiome

Long lasting health begins in your dog’s gut!

If our goal is to cultivate optimal health in our dogs, than every pet parent’s focus must be turned to their dog’s microbiome. Just like us, our dogs contain a vast and complex array of microorganisms that in-and-of-themselves make up its own distinct system. The amount of genetic information contained within the microbiome is immense. But what is most incredible is the commensal relationship that your dog shares with his/her microorganisms. The microbiome is teeming with bacteria, viruses, and fungi that are essential for the correct and peak functioning of digestion, immunity, and brain function.

Intriguingly, “germs” generate fear which is blaringly obvious by the frantic quest for immunity against the perceived deadly strains of microbes. Doctors and veterinarians warn against the dangers of pathogenic microbes and push antibiotics and vaccines. Additionally, warnings against the dangers of feeding raw meats and organs to dogs and cats is filling the internet. But recent understanding of the microbiome is only now beginning to show that those “germs” are required for immunological homeostasis [1]. The microbiome is the very defense mechanism that not only protects against deadly pathogenic organisms, but drives immunity and health cultivation. In fact, seventy percent (70%) of your dog’s immune cells reside in the gut alongside the microbiome. Incredibly, a unique communicatory partnership exists between the gut (immune cells and microflora) and the brain [2]. The microbiome is your dog’s dominant military defense against the proliferation of pathogenic organisms as well as the foundation of immune response, nutrient absorption, mental poise, hormone balance, and the forces behind the cultivation of optimal health and healing.

As a result of this exciting science, the popularity among probiotic and prebiotic supplements has increased and will continue its wave of popularity as a greater understanding of the microbiome continues to come to light. But are these supplements really all that beneficial and worth the expense? In short, no. Continually feeding your dog a probiotic supplement is a fruitless endeavor and waste of money [3]. If your dog is recovering from a gut issue, a week or two on probiotics can be quite helpful, but that is its limitation. Realize that you are introducing hundreds of thousands of a mere three, maybe ten, species of bacteria to your dog’s microbiome that should contain upwards of 30,000 species of microorganisms. Attempting to cultivate a microbiome with a mere three to ten species creates imbalance. Your dog’s gut should look like a tropical rainforest alive and flourishing with tens of thousands of biological species, not a desert or mere field with a few species of plants and insects. Do you see the difference? This very difference is what makes one dog healthier and stronger than another. Forget the probiotic supplements and focus on cultivating the microbiome the way nature intended.

Every dog, like every human being, is born with their unique and active microbiome which begins within the womb and is further enhanced during whelping via the birth canal of his or her dam. Dam’s milk begins the nourishment of the body, the immune system, the brain, and the internal microflora. How soon pups are weaned, what food they are weaned onto, and what chemicals are introduced into their tiny bodies can either support or damage their vital, dynamic, and maturing microbiome. This can set them up for a life of health and vitality or a life of health crises and a decreased life expectancy.

We must all understand this important detail: the health and longevity of the modern canine begins with the breeders. Responsible breeders will never breed dogs with genetic abnormalities or from breeding lines with high mortality rates. Nor will they breed without the appropriate veterinary and DNA testing to certify health. An additional step that is critical to future offspring is to prepare breeding dams (and sires) before any litter is even considered for the sake of both mama and pups. Providing potential dams with a species-appropriate raw food diet and cultivating optimal health through holistic health care strategies are necessary to nurture and strengthen her microbiome for the benefit of both her and the offspring. Searching for a naturally-rearing breeder is highly recommended if your desire is to grow a healthy dog with a greater chance of resilience to illness and disease, especially if longevity is your ultimate goal.

What about those dogs who were not the product of a carefully selected breeding program? The focus of pet parents who are the guardians of these precious canines must be on the proliferation of an active and vigorously health-cultivating microbiome if health and longevity is on their radar. This is essential! Knowing where and how to nourish the microbiome is priority, especially in puppies. This begins with providing a species-appropriate diet that is raw and teeming with not only macro and micronutrients, enzymes, coenzymes, factors, cofactors, and numerous other vital constituents, but also microorganisms. Your dog NEEDS to receive microorganisms from the outside in order to build and strengthen his/her microflora colony.

The microbiome is alive, dynamic, and in communication with your dog’s brain. A weak and imbalanced microbiome can contribute to numerous health and mental concerns. Dysbiosis, the term for an imbalanced microbiome, is a serious and growing concern that decreases nutrient absorption and leaves your dog vulnerable to potentially pathogenic bacteria and viruses that a healthy microbiome should easily accommodate. If pathogenic bacteria, viruses, and fungi are cultivated within the gut, your dog will be nearly defenseless against so-called “germs” with the added bonus of mental instability. Dysbiosis leads to acute illness, immune disorders, sensitivities and allergies, gut inflammation, colitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, anxiety, hyperactivity, aggression, depression, and a whole host of other potential health and mental crises. Dogs with dysbiosis are in dire need of correcting, establishing, and proliferating their microbiome with beneficial microorganisms. How is this done?

To cultivate a strong and healthy microbiome flourishing with as many as 30,000 species of bacteria, viruses, and fungi, implement the following strategies:

  • Offer a varied and balanced species-appropriate raw diet.
  • Get your dog out into the fresh air, especially where nature is abundant. Exercise them and stir up the grasses, soil, and trees. Microorganisms enter your dog’s body through their noses and via their fur and skin.
  • Soil is abundant in microflora and dogs love to dig and stick their noses into their dirt holes. Give your dog an opportunity to be in the soil. Soil enriches the microbiome. Allowing your dog to eat his food outside on the lawn is also a great way to introduce microorganisms.
  • The environment offers a wealth of microflora. Take your dog on hikes to different areas to allow for the greatest possible exposure to microorganisms. Many holistically minded breeders and pet parents that prefer to avoid vaccines do this to expose their dogs to pathogens for the main purpose of creating true and lasting immunity. While pathogens are not the main goal of increasing the species load and strengthening of the immune system, they are required, as stated above, to establish immunological homeostasis.  
  • Offer raw and/or soured raw milk as this contains a wealth of beneficial bacteria. Also, consider offering foods that have been subjected to “wild fermentation [3].” If you want to feed your dog fermented foods, make sure you are either fermenting foods at home using the wild method or do not offer at all. Most fermented foods are not species-appropriate and may cause intestinal upset. Yogurt is not recommended as most products contain carrageenan and other thickening agents. Stick with kefir or cottage cheese that has nothing added.
  • Water can also contain microflora. Although offering your dog purified or filtered water is advisable for regular in-home drinking water, dogs also love to drink out of mud holes, streams, ponds, and even toilets. This is not my recommended source for regular exposure, but it is immensely effective. While it is possible that a few dogs with weakened immunity may pick up a pathogen, most dogs will suffer no-ill effect.

Never has science been so exciting! We are discovering that life is a symbiotic dance among biological entities, a partnership that assists and serves for the ultimate goal of optimal health and vitality.

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

[1] The mammalian virome in genetic analysis of health and disease pathogenesis, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRVxTBuvChU

[2] The brain-gut-microbiome axis, http://www.greenmedinfo.com/article/brain-gut-microbiome-axis

[3] Dr. Zach Bush, MD, triple board certified physician and leading expert on the microbiome; https://zachbushmd.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Why-Probiotics-Dont-Always-Work-EG-BB-edit.pdf


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


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


Feeding the Modern Canine: PART V

Grains

Let’s talk grains. Grains are grass seeds. They differ from other seeds in that grains do not “go to” fruit, vegetable, or flower such as pumpkin seeds, apricot kernels, and sunflower seeds that are commonly consumed as foods. (Nuts and beans are also considered seeds.) The most commonly consumed grains are wheat, rice, oats, barley, rye, corn and the pseudo-grain quinoa which have been at the forefront of the canine nutrition debate for decades. Grains have been used in commercial dog foods since the dawn of James Spratt’s dog cakes in 1870 and F.H. Bennett Biscuits Co.’s bone shaped ‘Milk-Bone’ dog biscuits in 1907. Since that time, the health of our dogs has declined right along with that of man’s, and this just so happens to parallel the rise in grain consumption. We can see that the modern canine has developed the very same chronic conditions, obesity, and diet-induced diseases and cancers as his fellow man. While we certainly cannot blame the decline in health entirely on the consumption of grains, we do need to ask, should grains continue to be used as a dietary option in canine nutrition? After all, the grain-free dog food craze has boomed. Since FirstMate introduced the very first grain-free commercial feed option in 1995, nearly every other pet food company has followed suit and their sales have exploded. However, since kibble requires something to hold it together and boost protein percentages, the pet food industry simply swapped out the grains for legumes, peas, and potatoes. Are these better alternatives? Sadly, it doesn’t appear that way. As if the health crisis of the modern canine could not get any worse, the grain-free alternatives have appeared to have contributed to another threat to dogs known as dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). As a result, nutritionally uninformed veterinarians are warning pet parents to go back to feeding grain inclusive foods. Thus, feeding grains to dogs is being revisited in a big way; and in my opinion, the wrong way. Let’s take a look.

I discussed canine anatomy and physiology in Part I of this series. Clearly, dogs are not designed to consume grains. You may be surprised to learn, neither are nearly all the herbivores or mammals for that matter. One common example is the feeding of grains to ungulates which are designed to graze and forage. Feeding grains are, unfortunately, a cheaper way to supply the volumes of food that these animals require to meet the demands of consumers for their meat and milk products. But at what cost? The nutritionally-lacking final food products are evidence enough. But like dogs fed foods that are not species-appropriate, feeding grains to animals not designed to properly digest them results in poorer health and disease, and more often than not, the reliance on drugs to prevent them from succumbing to illness. Simply because we can offer grains to dogs and many farm animals without immediate life-threatening consequences does not mean that this equates to an adequate substitute for those foods that the animals are designed to consume. Species-appropriate foods create and cultivate optimal health, something grains are clearly not noted for. The fact of the matter is grains are only species-appropriate to granivores, and granivores are birds.

Birds are anatomically and physiologically equipped to consume grains. They contain a crop and a gizzard which allows them to safely and adequately digest grains. The crop is in the throat where grains and seeds can germinate before entering the two-chamber stomach. The first chamber of the stomach is like ours. The second chamber, however, is the gizzard which holds grit, stone, and sand picked up with food the birds eat from the ground. The grit is held in the gizzard where it is ground into the grains and seeds by the strong muscular contractions of the gizzard wall. This breaks down the grains and unlocks nutrients. In a nut shell (no pun intended), grains are for the birds…period. But what is it that makes grains so contrary to those species-appropriate foods that do cultivate and sustain health? I am glad you asked.

Grains, as noted above, are grass seeds that contain anti-predation proteins (anti-nutrient chemicals) including lectins, phytic acid (phytates), enzyme inhibitors, cyanide, and prolamins. Some of these chemicals are bitter tasting (as many of us have experienced). In fact, grains in their natural raw state are actually quite toxic. Grains are not meant to be eaten; rather their purpose is to fall to the ground and reproduce. Aside from the evidentiary chemicals produced by the plant, the physical indications also speak volumes. Grass seeds have hard outer shells as well as spikes, fuzz, and mucus and oil coatings. But for the sake of this article, it is the anti-nutrient chemicals that I am here most concerned with. These anti-nutrients serve the purposes of preventing predators from consuming them, preventing premature germination (sprouting) in the absence of adequate conditions for growth, and to protect them from the destructive acids and enzyme of the digestive process in order to preserve them for their true purpose: new life. The human and animal (except for birds) who consumes whole grains (grass seeds) also consumes these anti-nutrient chemicals. Anti-nutrients interfere with and inhibit mineral absorption in the gut, inhibit the pancreatic enzymes from adequately digesting food, irritate the immune system, and irritate the gut lining creating an inflammatory environment. The inflammation causes the intestinal wall to produce an abundance of mucus (you will often see this in your dog’s stools) which further reduces nutrient absorption in the small intestine. Add to this the fact that parasites (intestinal worms) typically consume mucus, one reason we commonly see grain-laden kibble-fed dogs regularly needing preventative chemical worming protocols. Thus, it is clearly apparent why the consumption of grains is posing a major health threat to not just our dogs, but also to people who consume them and grain-fed farm animals.

It can be argued that people and animals have been consuming grains for a very long time. And while this is true, a simple research of historical records will show the unfortunate decline in the health of humans and animals following the advent of grain-cultivating agriculture. Malnutrition and infectious disease were the major consequences of grain consumption. Of the studies that do show a possible positive link to grain consumption, the fact is that these studies were observational only and cannot prove that whole grains caused a reduction in disease risk. In fact, the opposite shows more prominently: disease-risk increased. Post-Industrial Revolution and the mass production of grains and grain-based foods brought with it the rapid ascension of chronic disease and cancer in humans, livestock, and pets. Despite the fact that grains were prepared and consumed much differently in the past than they are in this technologically advanced world, grains were not then nor are now an adequate food source as indicated, for one, by the anti-predation measures grasses have adapted and the decline in health that followed. Add to this the high carbohydrate and fiber content and you have another major issue for a carnivore.

Understand, firstly, that both whole grains (containing the bran, endosperm, and germ) and refined grains (endosperm only) come with risks. Whole grains come with the anti-predation chemicals along with the issues of the fiber. The bran is the outer layer on the endosperm and is composed of insoluble fiber. Especially in the carnivore, insoluble fibers from grains pose problems. Dogs do not have need for more than a small amount of fiber from foraging and the consumption of species-appropriate fur and feather fiber. Insoluble fiber from grains inhibits proper digestion and reduces nutrient absorption where it is already poor in the presence of the anti-nutrients. Even more, Dr. John Briffa, writing on human nutrition, expressed, “Do bear in mind though that insoluble fiber has been show to induce tiny rips and tears in the lining of the bowel. These will need repairing of course, requiring proliferation of cells. Uncontrolled cell proliferation, by the way, is the hallmark of cancerous tumors. While doctors, dieticians and cereal manufacturers often extol the virtues of bran, my opinion is that such foods should be flushed (straight) down the toilet.” Now take this information and apply this to a carnivore that should be consuming species-appropriate meats, organs, bones, and small amounts of vegetation. Imagine what grains are doing to a canine’s digestive system especially where they are a regular part of the diet. It is also possible that the high fiber coupled with the low-quality protein in commercially prepared foods may be implicated in the increased rate of heart disease in dogs. So, what happens if you remove the fiber-rich bran and the germ such as in the refining process of grains? You have nothing but low-nutrient carbohydrates. Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Oncology concluded that high carbohydrate diets create favorable conditions for the growth of tumors in dogs and cats, especially in those animals already fighting cancer. Their recommendation is a diet high in protein and fat which is exactly what carnivores should be consuming to begin with. Additionally, there exists the issue of glucose (sugar) spiking from the high carbohydrate content along with the greatly increased risk for obesity, diabetes, and all the chronic conditions that follow. The processed grain is no longer a whole food and lacks the partnering constituents to balance the carbohydrates that would reduce the increased risk for disease conditions. Thus, it matters not whether you feed whole grains or refined grains; the negatives of both far outweigh any benefits.

Since research on the negative value of grain consumption is fairly well-known, as well as the consequences experienced by countless people and animals, many health-savvy individuals have brought back some of the older methods of grain preparation to help make the consumption of grains safer and more beneficial. The Weston A. Price Foundation and many other nutrition professionals have published educational articles and videos on proper grain preparation techniques that serve to reduce and eliminate dangerous anti-nutrients; I happened to have been one of them. As a result, germinated, sprouted, and fermented grains have risen in popularity. Many of these health-savvy pet parents have also taken these measures to their dogs. But is there really any benefit in adding even sprouted and fermented grains to a dog’s diet? (Just to notate, both sprouting and fermenting would be necessary!) For one, grains must be heavily cooked to a near indistinguishable mush for a dog to even benefit slightly as a carnivore’s digestive tract can in no way break down unprocessed grains, period. Let’s consider the well-meaning pet parent who is feeding oatmeal, a grain which cannot be sprouted nor has been shown to benefit from soaking in an acid or fermented medium over-night prior to cooking. Grains contain the enzyme phytase that helps to breakdown the anti-nutrient phytic acid for the purpose of sprouting and growing into a new grass. However, phytase is heat sensitive and is destroyed easily by heat. Oatmeal (either rolled or instant) is a common addition to homemade dog food. In order to create oatmeal from whole grain oats, the oats are subjected to steam and then toasted or are precooked. The heat destroys the naturally-occurring phytase in the oats and therefore leaves the anti-nutrient phytic acid in the oatmeal. As a result, oatmeal does not benefit from presoaking even in an acid medium because there exists no phytase to “activate.” Oatmeal requires the addition of phytase or the homemade meal is sabotaged by the anti-nutrients. As noted above, the anti-predation chemicals in grains are meant to withstand the digestive tract in order to come out whole in feces for its purpose of creating new life. Unless the grains are sprouted or fermented before cooking, the anti-nutrients remain and will bind with minerals and pancreatic enzymes creating a possible mineral deficiency condition. And if this isn’t problematic enough, you must still contend with the lectin toxins and prolamin. Most lectins are proinflammatory, immunotoxic, neurotoxic, and cytotoxic. Some lectins may also increase blood viscosity, can interfere with gene expression, and act as endocrine disruptors. According to the world expert on plant anti-nutrients, Dr. Steven Gundry explains, “lectins are like little barnacles that look for specific sugar molecules in our blood, the lining of our gut, and on our nerves. When they find a good spot to land, they cling to those cells, breaking down their ability to communicate with our immune systems. Then, they literally tear open little holes between the cells that line our intestines. This perforation is the cause of Leaky Gut Syndrome, which we’re learning can cause a great deal of unpleasant symptoms and autoimmune issues or symptoms similar to those of food poisoning…. For the most part, grains are a relatively new food to us. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors didn’t search for grains. Plus, most grains are lectin bombs, as well as gluten-free grain substitutes. It’s best to limit grain intake. If you must, eat white flour over wheat.1” Reducing lectins requires sprouting, fermenting, and pressure cooking the grains. And finally, grains contain prolamins. Prolamins are known to be especially irritating to immune function. In the presence of these anti-nutrients, adequate mineral absorption and proper digestion is not possible. Adding grains are, therefore, counter-productive, not to mention time-consuming. Most of the time, the reason a pet parent is adding oatmeal or another grain is for the purpose of meeting one nutrient requirement such as magnesium. Going through the long and arduous preparation process just to hypothetically meet one nutrient requirement, while likely reducing the gut-absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc, is anything but beneficial.

If you have read Part IV of this series, you will know that my highest nutrient per bite ratio recommendation would cancel out grains completely. Grains are not nutrient-saturated and contain a valueless macronutrient (carbohydrate) that is unbalanced for a carnivore. Carnivores have no need for carbohydrates and grains are primarily carbohydrates with low-bioavailable proteins. This then creates a domino effect in the canine’s diet that 1) reduces or radically alters bioavailable essential amino acid proportions and levels, 2) reduces the potential for enzyme and cofactor saturation that can only be supplied with fresh raw foods, 3) which then creates a need for anti-inflammatory fats (along with Vitamin E) to be added to the meal, 4) which then raises calories, 5) which then requires a reduction in the vital animal protein sources, essential animal fat, or the grain (which lowers the already low nutrient-value of the grain) to avoid too many calories, 6) which would then require the addition of supplemental nutrients, and thus you are left with an over-all reduction in nutrient saturation in the total diet. Barely meeting minimum nutrient requirements is not adequate to prevent disease and cultivate optimal health. Optimal health is never built on minimums or just above. Optimal health requires an abundance of nutrients that can be found in highest nutrient per bite ratio foods saturated and teeming with life giving nutrition.  

There is also the concern with the rise in dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) among many breeds of dogs. While I am not a veterinarian and am unqualified to write on the specifics of this devastating condition, I do know that most DCM conditions are dietary related and are a direct result of a taurine deficiency. This is a newer epidemic among dogs as the amino acid taurine is not an essential (required) amino acid that must be added to a dog’s diet. However, it is possible that the low quality, plant-based proteins that dominate commercial pet foods is leading to a deficiency of this important amino acid. Grains do not contain taurine; therefore, providing your dog with a grain inclusive kibble (as is being recommended by veterinarians) will not solve the issue. Taurine is abundant in meat, heart, fish, eggs, seaweed, and dairy foods, ingredients that lack in commercially processed dog foods. Taurine-deficient DCM can be avoided altogether by providing your dog with a taurine-rich, nutrient-saturated raw food diet.

Should you feed your dog grains? I hope that your answer is no. I have even recommended to many of my humans clients to remove grains from their diet as well. The health benefits of grains are nil. Feeding a carnivore grains is even more-so problematic. Leave the grains to the birds and focus rather on providing your dog with biologically-appropriate foods that are bioavailable, easily digested, saturated with nutrients, enzymes and cofactors, and rich in amino acids such as taurine. Why take a chance with your dog’s health when we have them for such a short time? Offer your fur-baby the best you can provide. The Holistic Canine is here to support you.

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

1 https://gundrymd.com/reduce-lectins-diet/


Feeding the Modern Canine: PART IV

In Parts I through III, I briefly discussed the anatomy and physiology of the canine to show what a dog is designed and meant to consume as well as the specific nutrients that dogs must receive from those foods in order to prevent nutrient-deficient pathologies and premature death. I also touched on the work of the NRC and AAFCO in determining nutrient minimums that have prevented nutrient-deficient pathologies in dogs consuming commercial foods. Thus we have a baseline, and in the instance of a few nutrients, we know the safe upper limits (SUL). And yet of all the information I have provided, what may possibly be the most important is the understanding that nutrients obtained from synthetic and inorganic laboratory produced isolates do not and cannot produce optimal health. I would like to briefly recap.

Nutrients perform synergistically. Some are antagonistic; others are dependent upon other nutrients, cofactors, and enzymes for absorption and/or function. Separating nutrients from their sources removes them from the web of interaction and cooperation. Man’s attempt at copying what nature has provided in her perfection via the creation of synthetic isolated pseudo-nutrients has created a host of difficulties. For one, synthetic nutrients are in no way similar to the biological process by which plants and animals manufacture, utilize, and/or store them. The nutrient structures that are reproduced in the laboratory, despite being similar, do not equate to a biological system recognizing, utilizing, processing, and storing them in the same manner as naturally occurring food nutrients. In fact, because of their isolated form, imbalances are far more probable creating the increased likelihood for deficiencies and toxicities. We know this to be true because studies on supplemental nutrients have been underway for decades. Sadly, of the thousands of studies performed most of the objectively unbiased studies are still concluding that synthetic nutrient supplements have no positive effect on the body. According to multiple articles found on The National Center for Biotechnology Information’s website, multivitamin supplementation use has led to an increased risk for cancer. It is unfortunate that there still exists no demonstrable evidence suggesting that synthetic nutrients are beneficial, especially in an already healthy body that does not require them.

The majority of commercially prepared processed dog foods are laden with synthetic and inorganic nutrient isolates. Not only are the adulterated and rendered ingredients (complete with copious amounts of carbohydrate and fiber fillers) biologically inappropriate for a dog, so too are the laboratory-produced nutrients added to make them comply with AAFCO’s “complete and balanced” nutrient standards. Dogs who are consuming these commercially processed foods are hit with this destructive double whammy. And yet, as mentioned in the previous parts of this blog series, dogs are extremely hardy, and as a result, many dogs ARE living long lives despite consuming these less-than-ideal foods. Nevertheless, the remaining higher percentage of pets are stricken with a life of suffering from minor to major health conditions and finally succumbing to chronic disease and cancer. Now imagine, if pets are able to survive while being nutritionally abused through the consumption of these processed and synthetic foods and nutrients, how much more will they thrive when switched to a biologically-appropriate fresh-foods diet teeming with naturally occurring food-sourced nutrients. And so, we have now come back to our focus: food-sourced, naturally occurring, organic nutrients. How can we be sure to provide our pets with a balanced diet that not only meets AAFCOs “complete and balanced” standards and the NRCs nutrient minimums, but exceeds them through nature’s biologically-appropriate nutrients? You will do this by following my HN/Br plan for creating nutrient-rich meals.

For the informed and educated pet parent motivated to provide their pet with the highest-quality biologically-appropriate nutrition plan, feeding my highest nutrient per bite ratio (HN/Br) is the easiest way to ensure your dog will meet their nutrient needs without having to rely heavily upon supplementation. Before embarking on a homemade raw-food journey, you will have homework to do. You must first determine your dog’s baseline nutrient requirements. You will find a complimentary nutrient calculator on my business website that will determine your dog’s NRC minimum nutrient requirements based on your dog’s weight. This will be your baseline (be sure to print or record them so you have these values handy.). Once you have received your nutrient minimums, it is highly recommended that you further research your dog’s breed to discover common health problems and conditions, common gene mutations, and breed disease-predispositions. Also look into his/her pedigree (or parents) for any conditions that may have been genetically passed on. If you have a dog with an unknown breeder and pedigree, you may want to consider using a DNA test to check for any possible conditions. Embark Dog DNA Test checks for 165 genetic conditions. This is highly advised if your dog’s ancestry is unknown and you desire to cultivate optimal health and longevity. The reason for checking into your dog’s background is for the purpose of raising specific nutrients that support the body and assist in the prevention of potential predisposed conditions. For all the information you will discover, follow that up by looking into preventative measures and what is advised and recommended by either The Holistic Canine, your holistic veterinarian, or another nutrition/naturopathic pet professional. Once you have your nutrient baseline and all necessary information for preventing possible conditions or disease in the future, you are ready to begin creating meals. This may all sound overwhelming, but really it is not. Start with your breeder or the internet and do as much research as you are able without assistance. If you require a nutritionist or holistic veterinarian, especially one who specializes in food therapy, you have one right here. The Holistic Canine can be contacted for further support. Simply use our contact page, visit our Facebook page, or email us at wellnessforlife18@yahoo.com.

The highest nutrient per bite ratio (HN/Br) is a simple way of choosing foods that are nutrient saturated. You will need to discover and then source the biologically-appropriate foods and meal ingredients that are most nutrient saturated in order to cover a large portion of your dog’s nutritional requirements with those foods. I call these broad spectrum foods. Ingredients you will be sourcing are muscle meats and fish, muscle organs, secreting organs, eggs, and bone. You may also wish to add vegetation, seeds, and a variety of other foods or ingredients that are nutrient-rich and specifically beneficial to your dog. You may find as you begin offering more and more foods that your dog may occasionally have loose stools or diarrhea (rare is constipation an issue unless you are feeding far too much bone). Pay close attention to your dog’s stools. Stools are a key to informing you which foods are beneficial, which foods may be causing issues, foods that are not being tolerated well, or that the meals you are providing may be unbalanced.

To learn what nutrients are in the foods and ingredients that you will be including in meals, you will need to refer to nutrition apps, nutrition websites, and/or meal designer programs that have databases of the hypothetical nutrient profiles of most foods. I prefer to use Cronometer. While the macronutrient food values are generally accurate (proteins, fat, and carbohydrates), please understand that the micronutrient (vitamins and minerals) nutritional profiles are averages and hypothetical values ONLY. What this means is that the ingredients you purchase may not actually contain the nutrients that are hypothetically in the average same-food. The databases are simply reference guides. To ensure that the foods you purchase and feed to your dog are actually nutrient-rich, you will need to purchase the highest quality possible. Choose quality ingredients that you are able to source and afford then look-up their nutritional profiles in the database(s). Compare these profiles to your dog’s nutrient needs. You will then need to discover which foods fall under the HN/Br and put those at the top of your list to be fed as priority foods (more on this coming up). Organ meats consistently fall under HN/Br. Organs are nature’s multi-vitamins and -minerals! To begin creating meals, refer to the following ratio guideline.

The following percentage ratio is a GUIDELINE to creating a meal:

80/10/10

80% = muscle meats. This category is further broken down to 65/15: 65% = superficial muscle, 15% = organ muscle.

10% = bone. This is an approximate. Prey, on the average, contains 12% bone. Puppies require 15% bone. Some dogs do better with 12% bone rather than 10%. You will need to discover what is best for YOUR dog.

10% = secreting organs. This category is further broken down to 5/5: 5% liver, 5% other secreting organ.

80/10/10 is the simplified version of this more accurate ratio 65/15/10/5/5.

I emphasize guideline because many pet parents mistakenly believe that this ratio means “nutrient balanced” and/or that it must be exactly followed; however, nothing could be further from the truth. A pet parent may follow the ratio perfectly and have provided meals that yield next to no micronutrients that their dog must have to be healthy and prevent disease, and/or may be supplying unbalanced macronutrients. The ingredients and foods you choose is first and foremost the most important factor in creating adequate nutrient-balanced meals. Once you have determined your HN/Br foods (those nutrient saturated foods that will more than cover your dog’s nutrient requirements), place those into the ratio guideline above to create the actual meals. To receive The Holistic Canine’s Raw Feeding Guide resource, please join our Facebook community or contact us to receive the pdf copy. The following is a list of ingredients from which you will find HN/Br foods and create meals. Note these are not exhaustive lists, merely easiest-to-source ingredients.

Muscle meats (superficial): 65%              Muscle organs: 15%

  • Beef (grass-fed is best)                             Heart
  • Goat (pasture-raised is best)                   Gizzards
  • Lamb (pasture-raised is best)                 Lung
  • Rabbit                                                          Green tripe
  • Pork (pasture-raised is best)                   Tongue
  • Chicken (free-range is best)                    Trachea*
  • Turkey (free-range is best)                     Cheek (not technically an organ)
  • Quail
  • Duck
  • Sardines
  • Salmon (wild-caught only)
  • Whiting (wild-caught)
  • Herring, mackerel (wild-caught)
  • Smelts
  • Trout
  • Oysters
  • Off-cuts, briskets, and fillets Eggs (chicken, duck, quail, etc. from pasture-raised birds)

Bone: 10%

  • Chicken quarters (thighs, drumsticks)                       
  • Chicken feet
  • Chicken necks                                                           
  • Chicken wings
  • Chicken backs                                                           
  • Poultry carcass
  • Turkey necks                                                             
  • Turkey wings
  • Turkey backs                                                             
  • Duck wings
  • Duck head                                                                 
  • Quail, whole                           
  • Cornish hen, whole                                                    
  • Rabbit thigh, ribs, feet            
  • Goat/lamb neck                                                         
  • Goat/lamb rib
  • Pork rib                                                                      
  • Pig feet
  • Ox tail                                                                         
  • Eggshell**

Organs, secreting: 10%

  • Liver 5%: beef, calf, chicken, pork, duck, rabbit, goat, lamb, venison
  • Kidney: beef, pork, rabbit, goat, lamb, venison, poultry/fowl
  • Spleen
  • Pancreas
  • Brain
  • Testicles* (not recommended for an intact male, but excellent if neutered!)
  • Ovaries* (not recommended for an intact female, but excellent if spayed!)
  • Thymus (sweetbreads)

Look specifically for foods that will also cover the more difficult to meet nutrients. These include manganese, zinc, copper, iron, magnesium, iodine, Vitamin D, and Vitamin E. Unfortunately, when we are relying on nutritional information for human foods we are not always able to find nutrient information on foods that people would not commonly eat, yet foods that we do feed to our dogs. For example, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and iron commonly come up low when we are trying to source for these nutrients. One of the reasons this happens is because human nutritional data does not provide information on bones. Wild dogs do not seem to have a problem sourcing all of their nutrients. One of the reasons is likely because bone and marrow contains those hard-to-source nutrients. Bone contains calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, chloride, sulfur, potassium, and silica, while marrow contains iron, zinc, selenium, manganese, boron, Vitamins A & K, and fatty acids. Another major source of manganese is fur and feathers, specifically the reds. Humans certainly do not consume bones, fur and feathers or many of the organs that we can feed to our dogs, thus nutritional information is not provided for these important foods. This is a major problem with relying on human nutritional information. Note that even the pet diet designer programs are limited to the same human nutrition information. If you are feeding bones, none of your meal recipes will come up accurate in these programs. Dogs Naturally Magazine has developed a calculator that accounts for bone. Please join our Facebook community to have access to this free resource.

One of the most important tips that I give to my clients is also one that will help keep you out of the dark when it comes to unknown nutritional information. If you want your dog’s organs, muscles, eyes, vessels, bones, etc. to be healthy, FEED THOSE PARTS. Those same nutrients that each part of your dog’s body requires for health are found in the food parts. This is one way to know what is in some of the foods we offer to our dogs. Again, if we are aware of which nutrients are needed for the health of each organ, bones, eyes, blood, muscles, joints, and ligaments, for example, we can conclude that many of those nutrients are found in those parts that we can offer as food to our dogs. Organs store a wealth of nutrients. Because organs are so rich in nutrients, we can only feed so much without the possibility of hypervitaminosis, a toxicity condition from too much Vitamins A, D, and B (especially B12).

When sourcing for particular nutrients, for the same reason I mentioned above, many foods which we are feeding to our dogs are not listed in human nutrition databases. As a result, it appears that some of those audited meals are coming up short in several nutrients. As a warning, please do not fall for the same mistakes many raw feeders are making under the guise of “science-based” meal planning. Many of these pet parents who are relying solely on human nutrition databases and programs will then turn to inappropriate food sources to meet a nutrient need. Inappropriate food sources commonly used by so-called “science-based” food database groupies are oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, potatoes, legumes, beans, peas, and others. These foods are in direct opposition to my HN/Br. Not only do they not have a broad spectrum nutrient profile, but they are only hypothetically filling a mere one, maybe two, nutrient gap(s) while also creating an issue with empty calorie space. I emphasize hypothetically because firstly, these foods are biologically-inappropriate to a canine; secondly, every one of those species-inappropriate foods contains health-destroying anti-nutrients which bind other minerals from being absorbed, and thirdly, they all require the necessity of first soaking, then sprouting, then cooking, and then cooking some more as well as the addition of the enzyme phytase which is destroyed by cooking. This is also in direct opposition to raw feeding. (More on grains in Part V.) These foods should not a have place in your dog’s diet.

How you will choose HN/Br foods to be added to meals is through nutritional comparison. Use cronometer to find nutrient values for the foods you will offer your dog. As an example, grass-fed ground beef contains far more iron than chicken, while the beef heart contains more than double the iron than the ground beef, yet chicken hearts have more than double the iron found in beef heart. So for iron we can look to chicken hearts. But what else do chicken hearts contain to make it worth feeding? Remember, we want broad spectrum foods, not foods that cover a mere one or two nutrient(s). Chicken hearts are rich in taurine, an amino acid that helps prevent taurine-deficient dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), they are one of the richest animal sources of folate (needed for DNA methylation1), they contain more zinc than ground beef and beef heart, they are an excellent source of B vitamins, and coenzyme Q10. We can conclude that chicken hearts would classify as a HN/Br food. However, that does not mean that you don’t also feed the comparison foods. We will simply rely on the HN/Br foods to cover a broad spectrum of nutrients while also feeding the other ingredients to further meet nutrient requirements. It all adds up, but when you feed HN/Br foods in every meal, you can more than meet nutrient minimums. Let me give another example, beef liver is a rich source of copper, chicken liver contains only trace amounts. Chicken liver is slightly higher in iron; however, beef liver also wins for Vitamin A and all of the B vitamins. So beef liver comes under the HN/Br foods. You can rotate beef liver with pork liver which contains huge amounts of iron, equally high B vitamins, but next to no copper, and chicken liver which is higher in iron than beef liver but also contains huge amounts of folate. What I do is I rely on beef liver but also occasionally feed other liver or feed two different types of liver in one meal. Do the same for nutrient saturated vegetables and seeds.

Look up each of the more difficult to source nutrients by doing a web search for “richest food sources of [nutrient name].” Keep in mind that you will only pay attention to those foods that are biologically-appropriate and safe for a dog to consume. Discovering and adding these foods makes it even easier to fill all nutrient requirements. Once you have your list of HN/Br foods, you can begin to create meals with your meat and organ sources, vegetables, and other foods. You want to rely heavily of naturally occurring food nutrients and not on bottled supplements (and never ever on laboratory produced synthetic pseudo-nutrients).

It is also necessary to remember that you will need to balance fats. Feeding too much of the omega-6 fatty acids, such as from relying too heavily on chicken, can create an inflammatory environment in your dog’s body. Be sure to balance omega-6 foods with omega-3 containing foods. I find that offering chicken along with grass-fed beef and fatty fish, two sources of omega-3 fatty acids, balances the fat in the meal beautifully. If you are feeding oils, only offer those oils that will balance out the fats in your meats.

Another key to covering nutrient requirements is to use a vast variety of foods. And, do not remain stagnant with one or two recipes. Would this be beneficial for you to eat the same meal over and over? No. Neither would it be for your dog. Rotate where you source for foods as well. Every farm and every area of the world has different soils and weather patterns. You want to source locally as much as possible while also sourcing out. Feeding four or more protein sources in a meal is adequate and provides a broad spectrum of nutrient profiles.

Having learned how to create nutrient-rich meals, now is the time to determine where you need to supplement. I do use many supplements, most of which are whole-food sources of nutrients. I do not want to simply meet minimums, I want to provide the best possible nutrition plan that I am able. This most often requires adding “extras” to meals. Extras include vegetables, fruits, seeds, algae and phytoplanktons, medicinal mushrooms, oils, fermented foods, herbs, spices, and natural nutrients that are not synthetically manufactured. Always purchase natural or food sources of vitamins and minerals. If you need to boost minerals, food-source minerals are best followed by organic mineral chelates. Do not purchase inorganic minerals! Supplements can be very expensive, especially since you will want to purchase supplements for people unless you have found an excellent natural source of supplements for dogs (these are often more costly than human-grade). To keep cost at a minimum, be sure to meet nutrient needs through food ingredients first and foremost and add supplements where you absolutely must. Adding additional “superfood” supplements for disease prevention is a necessary secondary must if you are being proactive in preventing future disease in your dog. As a precaution, if you are purchasing individual vitamin and mineral isolates, purchase LOW doses. You do not want to mega-dose your dog. More is not better. Mega-doses are used for therapeutic purposes only.

Do your research and be sure that you are prepared and confident to begin a raw food nutrition program. You have valuable resources available through The Holistic Canine!

©2019 The Holistic Canine Written by Kimberly Lloyd, PhD, BCHHP, Cert Raw Dog Food Nutritionist

*hormone exposure is likely! This is NOT necessarily advantageous and may actually lead to hormone imbalance in intact dogs or dogs prone to thyroid disorder.

**eggshell is not a substitute for bones when feeding puppies. Puppies must have bone for proper calcium to phosphorous balance.

1 DNA methylation is an epigenetic mechanism used by cells that controls gene expression. DNA methylation is a commonly used epigenetic signaling tool that can fix genes in the “off” position.