The Intimate Human & Canine Bond Demands We Provide the Best

A plea to correctly meeting your dog’s nutritional needs and more

The strength of the bond between a dog and his guardian never ceases to amaze me. It is a beautiful and harmonious relationship between two species remarkably entwined in an intimate connection surpassing the language barrier, the physical dissimilarities, and the purpose that drives life and intention. Both are united ultimately by need. A need to nurture and for companionship or assistance on the part of the human, and a requirement for mere basic necessities on the part of the dog that trickles into the fierce desire to give his loyalty, devotion, protection, companionship, service, adoration, and affection. It is this that translates into pure love. How better to express the bond we have with our canine companions?

With this loving bond comes the need for mutual agreement and trust. Dogs are not people. If you expect your canine companion to adhere to the basic rules of your life and household, then should you not also give and allow your dog the opportunity to be a dog? He obeys your rules by respecting your house and environment, but the outside world is a dog’s first home. It is his birthright to have territory upon this earth to call his own. A mutual agreement between man and canine strengthens the bonds of love and loyalty, trust and affection. Let him be a dog by giving him a safe piece of your yard and your house that he can call his own. Let him dig and explore, eat grass and roots, chew on bones and sticks, roll on the earth, run to his heart’s content, chase birds and squirrels, bark at the world, snuggle up in a blanket on the sofa or a bed, retreat to his own spot, lie in his favorite place on your floor (even if you have to step over him), sleep in undisturbed peace, and have the right to go outside when he asks. He is, after all, a dog and not a person; a being who is under your rule.

Canis lupus familiaris had (and many dogs still do have) the ability to perfectly care for their own needs. Instinct guides them to survive, driving them toward the proper nourishment and care that their bodies require. But under the care of a human, basic needs are left to the mercy of their guardian’s knowledge and decisions.  When we take the responsibility to make decisions for another living being, there comes with that choice a great responsibility. For our dogs, we are making decisions for beings that know what they require and know how to get it. Yet we become the master of their provisions. Can you see how great an obligation this is?

A dog is designed for specific food and they are driven to hunt. Even the cutest of the toy breeds can be seen chasing squirrels, digging up mice and moles, and chasing “prey.” Yet we humans have decided what is best for our loyal companions. Man has a drive for convenience, creating simplicity, money and gain, and approval. And so he takes from the wild a beautiful creature and makes him more convenient for himself. Worse yet, he decides for the canine what he will eat and offers him food his body is not designed to consume. Once free and thriving in the wild, domestic dog succumbed to man’s need for convenience and monetary gain, and worse yet, his disease-ridden state. Dogs do not create disease within themselves, man does this for him. Humans have a habit of believing that they know best, like gods directing and deciding for others. Nature alone knows best. Instinct drives the animal to seek and acquire what he needs.

Food is a vital need. Yet, should your dog not also enjoy what he eats and get pleasure from breaking, crushing, and chewing food? Food should never create dis-ease. Food is meant only for nourishment of the body to provide energy and to build, maintain, defend, and heal cells and tissues, and to create internal harmony and produce optimal health. Do we not have, then, the highest obligation to provide for our beloved canines the food that they were designed to consume? Food that makes their bodies thrive in a state of abundant health and wellness? You are the master of your dog’s needs. You are the sole provider of his basic requirements that will either nourish health or feed dis-ease. He gives you his love, his loyalty, his companionship, his trust, his heart and soul. Can you not provide, in-return, for his basic needs exactly what he is designed to consume that will reward his life with health, comfort, and longevity? He needs nourishment from foods that are appropriate for his species. He needs the pleasure of breaking, crushing, and chewing food as this stimulates his trigeminal nerve and releases potent neurotransmitters to create mental poise and reduce behavioral problems. He is not a human, he is a canine.

This is my plea to you: MUTUAL TRUST. Your dog trusts you. You are his provider. He loves and obeys you, he respects your lifestyle, your home, and even your heart. He seeks your approval. Give to him the best that you are able. Throw away the convenience food. You made a decision to care for a life. Hold this decision as your highest responsibility. Your dog requires a diet of fresh whole foods, not dead dried-up processed balls, pellets, and bits from a bag with artificial nutrients sprayed on top to “meet” a standard set by an organization that was created because man was killing animals with improper diets. Man does not know best! Nature knows best. Science studies nature, the natural world, in order to learn facts and truths about our world, our environment, our bodies, animals and their bodies, and all life in general. It is not the other way around. We do not teach nature, nature teaches man. The only scientific canine diet is the diet nature provided. NATURE IS SCIENCE and SCIENCE IS NATURE AWAITING DISCOVERY.

Ask yourself this: Does science support commercial man-made nutrition in a bag? No scientific endeavor or discovery will ever find commercial kibble for dogs. Nature provides for her canines. Man simply chooses to rape nature with unscientific ideas. Give your dog the best. He deserves to have his basic needs met with what nature has provided for her creatures. Your dog requires fresh meat, fish, poultry, organs, bones, eggs, and water from his fresh food. A homemade fresh raw or lightly cooked diet is an ideal nutrition plan. Many commercial raw foods are now also available for convenience and simplicity. Doesn’t your dog deserve the best? Give him the best of what nature has provided. You owe it to him for all he gives to you. Love is action!

The Holistic Canine is here to help you meet your dog’s needs…all of them. If you would like to learn how to provide your dog with the best scientific diet, please join our Facebook group for a FREE online course in raw feeding and naturopathy. Also contact The Holistic Canine to set up a consultation or to request a custom recipe or nutrition plan. We also have recipes available for immediate purchase. No matter what your need, we are here to assist you!

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


Raw Feeding for Dummies

Excerpt Lessons from our Raw Feeding Course

To take advantage of the full course available for FREE, please join The Holistic Canine: Raw Feeding, Naturopathy, & Keto group on Facebook!

What does my dog require? Lesson II

Your dog has several requirements that are necessary for health, health maintenance, healing, and disease prevention. If you are feeding a puppy, his or her needs are even greater and more important for proper growth and development. These are critical requirements that need your special attention.

First and foremost your dog requires food for energy. Energy is primary. Without energy there is no function, without function life ceases. So food must first provide energy. Secondly, food contains vital nutrients that your dog requires for physiological and cellular function. Your dog’s digestive system is perfectly able to release nutrients from species-appropriate foods by mechanically and chemically breaking it down into its smallest components. Once these components are released, the nutrients are then absorbed into the bloodstream via the intestinal wall where they are carried and distributed throughout the body as and where needed. Others that are in abundance are either stored in tissues or later excreted.

Your dog requires:

  1. Protein
  2. Fats
  3. Vitamins
  4. Minerals

Protein and fats both supply calories and therefore potential energy (calories). Fat should be your dog’s main fuel source with protein as secondary.

Keep in mind: These above nutrients are the known and studied essential nutrients. There are many more nutrients that science has not yet studied fully or even discovered. This is why feeding species-appropriate foods is so vital for making sure your dog is receiving an abundance of nutrients, both the known, the new and indefinite, and the yet-to-be-discovered.

Protein is needed for:

  • building, repairing, and maintaining tissues such as muscles, bones, organs, blood, cartilage, skin, and nails
  • the building, repair, and maintenance of cells
  • the production of enzymes
  • the production of hormones
  • the production of antibodies
  • the production of signaling proteins
  • the production of bodily chemicals
  • immune function
  • energy

Fat is needed for:

  • energy
  • the structural components of cells and cell wall integrity
  • carrying fat-soluble vitamins for absorption
  • physiological processes such as blood clotting, inflammatory response, and tissue healing
  • hormone production
  • brain function
  • immune function

Vitamins and minerals are needed by every cell, tissue, organ, and muscle and for every physiological function of the body. They are required for hundreds of functions and roles throughout your dog’s body.

SPECIES-APPROPRIATE FOOD SOURCES:

Protein → meat, poultry, fish, organs, eggs, milk products

Fats → meat, poultry with skin, oily fish, organs, egg yolks, bone marrow, milk products, oils

Vitamins & minerals → bones, meat, poultry, fish, organs, eggs, milk products, whole-foods supplements and powders

SPECIES-INAPPROPRIATE FOOD SOURCES that may provide benefit:

Fats → avocado, ground seeds

Vitamins & minerals → pureed vegetables, fruit, ground seeds

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

My dog needs how many nutrients?! HELP! Lesson IV

You have already learned that your dog not only requires energy from food, but also protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Proteins and fats are pretty simple to source with the added bonus of also being the main energy providers. Meat and organs deliver ample amounts of amino acids, fats, and calories making providing these nutritional necessities a simple task. Now here comes the worrisome part.

What about all those vitamins and minerals?

This is where DIY raw feeding gets scary and many pet parents rightfully get uncomfortable. I want to assure you, it is not all that difficult once you learn the basics.

Let’s start with the easy part. The NRC has compiled their research into a library of books for animal health and nutrition. One such book is the “Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats.” In this work is a list of the known vitamins and minerals (micronutrients) required in the diet of dogs along with their recommended daily amounts. The following is the list of vitamins and minerals recommended daily by the NRC:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin B2
  • Vitamin B3
  • Pantothenic acid
  • Vitamin B6
  • Folate
  • Vitamin B12
  • Choline
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorous
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Sodium
  • Chloride
  • Iron
  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • Manganese
  • Iodine
  • Selenium

The question that we must now ask is HOW MUCH of each nutrient needs to be provided. So, how much of each individual micronutrient does your dog need in daily meals? Before I answer that, take a look at the following list. This will give you an idea of the daily recommended requirements per 1,000 kcal in accordance with the NRC, AAFCO, FEDIAF, and my own research.

Vitamin A
Vitamin B1
Vitamin B2
Vitamin B3
Pantothenic acid
Vitamin B6
Folate
Vitamin B12
Choline
Vitamin D
Vitamin E
Vitamin K
Calcium
Phosphorous
Magnesium
Potassium
Sodium
Chloride
Iron
Copper
Zinc
Manganese
Iodine
Selenium
380 RE to 16,000 RE
0.56 mg
1.4 mg
4.25 mg
4 mg
0.4 mg
68 mcg
8.75 mcg
425 mg
3.4 mcg to 20 mcg
7.5 mg
410 mcg
1,200 mg
1,000 mg
190 mg
1,250 mg
250 mg
400 mg
9 mg
1.8 mg
20 mg
1.5 mg
220 mcg
90 mcg

Looks daunting, doesn’t it? The single greatest concern I hear from pet parents is their fear that they are not or will not be able to provide all of these nutrients. And yes, it is a sensible fear. After all, your dog’s health is relying on your knowledge, efforts, and meal prep skills.

Can you just wing it? You want my honest answer? My answer is this…of course not! So now what?

Let’s start with the easy part. Of all those nutrients listed above, most of them are really quite easy to get into the diet daily. Here are the easy nutrients:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, folate
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorous
  • Potassium
  • Sodium
  • Chloride
  • Selenium

The following are not too difficult, but do take a little know-how:

  • Choline
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin K
  • Magnesium
  • Iron
  • Copper

And finally, the difficult nutrients:

  • Vitamin E
  • Zinc
  • Manganese
  • Iodine

Does it still look difficult now? It shouldn’t! You just have to focus on a few nutrients and have the confidence that the remainder of the essential nutrients are being provided with a properly planned and balanced diet. This is best done by rotating ingredients and providing several meat, organ, and bone options. Variety and rotation is the key.

Let’s go back to the HOW to be sure your dog is receiving all they require. For starters, the easy-to-source nutrients will almost always be in meals provided you are feeding at least:

  1. two skeletal proteins per meal
  2. at least one internal muscle organ such as heart
  3. you have included liver
  4. you have one other secreting organ
    And…
  5. a minimum of 10%, preferably 12%, bone. You can even go as high as 15% bone per day.

How easy is that?! Now let’s move on to the more challenging nutrients.

  • Choline
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin K
  • Magnesium
  • Iron
  • Copper

Choline is richest in eggs. If you are feeding eggs, you have met choline needs. And if you are providing free-range eggs, you are also providing a source of vitamin D and possibly even vitamin E if the chickens are fed flaxseeds. On top of that, eggs are rich in B vitamins, calcium, selenium, iron, and zinc. Duck, quail, and even turkey eggs also provide a wealth of nutrients and benefits.

Vitamin D, besides egg yolks, is also found in fatty fish such as sardines, mackerel, and salmon. Only a small amount of fish is needed in meals. You get the benefit of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids among a wealth of other nutrients.

Vitamin K may seem tricky especially if you’re using a nutrient auditing program or spreadsheet and are not feeding vegetables, but I have news for you. There are two forms of vitamin K and dogs only require one of them. Dogs need vitamin K2 known as menaquinone. Vitamin K1 is phylloquinone, a plant form of vitamin K. In humans, the absorption rate of K1 is less than 10%. What do you think absorption rate is in dogs who have a different digestive tract from humans? You guessed it…next to none! Your dog does not need vitamin K1 which they cannot absorb. The highest sources of K2 are found in goose liver, milk products, egg yolks, and beef. Of course other meats and organs contain K2, so don’t be concerned if you are feeding in rotation.

Magnesium is really not all that difficult. It may look difficult on auditing programs due to the programs’ lack of account for bone minerals. Magnesium is found in a good amount in bones. In fact, 60% of body magnesium is stored in bones. That’s a lot of magnesium in bones! If you are feeding an ample bone percentage, your dog is getting a wealth of bioavailable magnesium along with other nutrients. Magnesium is also found in impressive amounts in salmon, mackerel, and halibut (even tuna, but I don’t recommend feeding tuna due to its mercury content). And if you’re feeling brave standing up to the myths circulating within the dog community, avocados are an excellent source of magnesium and a whole host of other nutrients. And guess what? Avocado flesh is NOT toxic to dogs. Don’t be shy, add a small amount to meals!

Iron is also quite easy to source if you are regularly feeding red meats, organs, and adding myoglobin. Myoglobin is the red juice drippings from meat and organs that many people mistake for blood. It is a very rich source of iron and amino acids. And guess where else iron is found? BONES!

Copper is actually TOO easy to source and that can be a problem because too much is NOT a good thing. If you are feeding beef/calf liver and/or lamb liver, be careful not to feed too much. Copper can cause toxicity and zinc deficiency. BUT, if you’re not feeding beef or lamb liver, your copper will be too low. So be sure to feed beef, calf, and/or lamb liver as a regular part of meals in just the right amount for your dog’s needs.

Do you see the common denominators in the above? They are:

  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Bones
  • Liver

You should already be adding these to your dog’s diet anyway. Let’s move on to the hardest to source nutrients which you are about to find out are just as simple as all the rest.

  • Vitamin E
  • Zinc
  • Manganese
  • Iodine

Vitamin E is rich in flax-fed free-range egg yolks. It is even found in the bone marrow of mammals. Yet, is it enough to meet requirements? What if I told you that selenium does the job of vitamin E? If you are feeding ample amounts of selenium (which is not at all hard to do) then vitamin E is not essential. It is just an extra bonus in meals. Many pet parents purchase a natural vitamin E oil supplement and add a few drops of oil to meals. Easy peasy!

Zinc is also not difficult. In fact, zinc is quite easy to source. Bone is an excellent source of zinc as are oysters. Oysters are extremely high in zinc, so much so that you need only add small amounts to meals. And the best part is you can buy them just about anywhere in the canned fish aisle. (Psst…Walmart!)

Manganese is actually a tough one if you are not feeding large amount of RMBs with connective tissues. Manganese is rich in joint tissue, ligaments, cartilage, trachea, and bone marrow. It is also found in green tripe. These ingredients are not always feasible, so another rich source is mussels. If you can source mussels, you have your manganese requirement met well over what your dog requires.

Iodine is also not difficult. Nearly all foods contain trace amounts of iodine. Iodine is found in free-range eggs and dairy products. The easiest source of iodine is the seaweed kelp. But because kelp is so high in iodine, you must take great caution to be sure you only ever use a supplement that is analyzed for iodine levels. NEVER exceed the recommended dose for your dog. And if you have a large breed, do NOT exceed 300 mcg.To discover how much of each nutrient your dog needs, use the information in the previous lesson to determine your dog’s estimated calorie requirements per day.

To discover how much of each nutrient your dog needs, use the information in the previous lesson to determine your dog’s estimated calorie requirements per day.

If your dog needs more than 1,000 calories, multiply the NRC (et all) recommended nutrient amounts listed above by your dog’s calorie need. This is how is it done.

  1. Magnesium requirement per 1,000 kcal = 190 mg
  2. If your dog requires 1,575 calories per day, you will multiply by 1.575.
  3. 190 mg x 1.575 = 299.25 mg magnesium / day

If your dog requires less than 1,000 calories per day, also multiply in the same manner.

  1. Folate requirement per 1,000 kcal = 68 mcg
  2. If your dog requires 430 calories per day, you will multiply by 0.43.
  3. 68 mcg x 0.43 = 29.24 mcg folate / day

Do the exact same math for every nutrient and you will have all of your dog’s daily requirements. Make sure you keep them in a safe spot to save you from doing the math all over again!

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

These lessons are the property of The Holistic Canine. ©2019 Copyright; use only with permission.


Raw Feeding Guide

©2019 Updated Version

Offering your dog the best possible nutrition plan does not have to be complicated. Not only that, but it does not have to cost you a fortune nor take up hours of your time providing daily meals. Your number one goal should be to supply your dog with everything he needs to cultivate and maintain optimal health along with preventing internal imbalance. Now this may seem like a lofty goal, but I want to assure you, it is not difficult once you learn the basics of meal preparation.

On that note, I want to briefly address the popular “complete and balanced” concept invented by the dog food industry. While the idea of mastering a “complete and balanced” nutrition plan may be on your radar as the ultimate goal, please understand that this is a misguided endeavor. Not only is “complete and balanced” unfeasible, impractical, and based on a cleverly crafted marketing scheme, but the science does not exist to show what this actually looks like. The reason for this is because every biological being has its own unique needs. While domestic canines do have specific energy and nutrient requirements, exactly how much of each nutrient is not exactly clear. Couple this with the fact that energy and nutrient needs change (sometimes daily) based on external and internal conditions, and we are left with a science that is uncertain and theoretical.

What we do have is observational science. What this teaches us is that each species on this planet has its own unique nutritional requirements and therefore consumes very specific food in order to receive from that specific food vital energy and nutritional components. Physiologically, the bodies of each and every species is uniquely designed (or evolved, whichever you prefer) to breakdown (digest) only specific foods from which they are perfectly able to release and utilize the nutritional components from within that food source. These foods are what are known as species-appropriate. For our canines to thrive, we do know which foods they specifically require to promote and cultivate optimal health and optimal health maintenance.

Your dog is anatomically and physiologically a carnivore that, due to the thousands of years of living with and beside humans, has adapted the ability to consume, passably digest, and partially utilize nutrients from carbohydrate-dense foods making your dog a facultative carnivore. However, more than a century of commercial dog food consumption has clearly shown us the worrisome statistics and results from feeding dogs a starch-based diet. While a dog may be able to survive on this type of diet, their quality of life is greatly diminished and the cultivation of optimal health is difficult, complicated, and in many dogs, impossible. Thus, what you feed your dog is critical. Fresh raw species-appropriate food allows your dog to properly unlock and easily absorb vital nutrients in an unhindered manner.

To cultivate optimal health your dog needs whole and/or partial prey or a combination of muscle meats, organs, bones, connective tissues, vessels, skin, and fur/feathers to thrive. Of those two options, providing the latter is far more feasible for the majority of pet parents.

Dogs have no need or use for carbohydrates such as starches, sugars, or fiber. Despite this, there is growing evidence that suggests there may be some benefit to offering your dog small amounts of vegetables and fruit provided it is fed in the correct form. Vegetables require steaming, boiling, and pureeing or juicing. Otherwise, there will be little to no benefit. In fact, most of the most healthful vegetables contain oxalates, phytates, lectins, solanine, chaconine, and goitrogens, for example, all of which can be dangerous to your dog and inhibit overall nutrient absorption from his meals. Cooking helps to remove some of these anti-nutrients making it safer and more beneficial. Keep in mind that vegetables are only optional and are unnecessary in the diet. Fruit, on the other hand, can be offered whole or pureed in small amounts between meals as treats.

Are you ready to begin providing your dog with the most beneficial nutrition plan?

Welcome to The Holistic Canine’s Raw Feeding Guide! The guide uses a ratio guideline as your starting point. The ratio is a rough representation of the approximate meat, organ, and bone composition of whole prey. Creating meals or a day’s worth of meals with the following ratio guideline is simple. You may even choose to provide these percentages over a week’s time. However, despite many veterinarians and canine nutrition professionals recommending balance over a week’s time, I do not recommend that. Balance over a few days is fine, but a week is not my preferred method. For my own six dogs, I provide the balance daily.

When creating meals with the ratio as your guide, you want your main focus to be on providing all of the nutrients that your dog requires to be optimally healthy. If you are unsure of your dog’s NRC, FEDIAF, or AAFCO nutrient recommendations, go to my article here to discover what your dog requires or contact me for assistance. Once you have those in hand, you are ready to create species-appropriate meals!

If you would like a FREE pdf copy of the guide, go to the contact page and request your free copy.

80% MEAT

65% muscle, 15% organ muscle

Beef
Chicken
Turkey
Goat
Lamb
Mutton
Pork
Rabbit
Duck
Quail
Salmon, Mackerel
Sardines, Anchovies
Oysters, Mussels
Whiting, trout
Venison
Bison
Elk
Llama
Emu
Heart
Gizzards
Green Tripe
Cheek
Tongue
Lung
Trachea*
Eggs (chicken, duck, quail)
Off cuts, Briskets, Fillets, Grinds

*thyroid hormone contamination and exposure is possible

Meat Provides:
Protein (amino acids)
Fats (essential fatty acids)
Zinc
Phosphorous
Potassium
Copper
Nitrogen
Iron
Magnesium
Selenium
Chromium
Carnosine (antioxidant)
Carbon
B vitamins
Vitamin D
Vitamin K
Folate
Creatine

10% – 15% BONE

12% – 15% puppies

Chicken thighs
Chicken drums
Chicken necks
Chicken wings
Chicken feet
Chicken backs
Chicken carcass
Turkey necks
Turkey backs
Turkey wings
Goat ribs
Goat necks
Lamb/sheep ribs
Lamb/sheep neck
Ox tail
Beef neck
Duck heads
Duck feet
Duck necks
Duck wings
Duck backs
Cornish hen frames
Quail frames
Poultry carcass
Rabbit ribs
Rabbit thigh
Rabbit heads
Rabbit feet
Pork neck
Pork tail
Pork ribs
Pig feet
Bone Provides:
Calcium
Magnesium
Chloride
Potassium
Phosphorous
Sodium
Sulfur
Silica
Marrow Provides:
Fatty Acids
Iron
Zinc
Selenium
Manganese
Vitamin A
Vitamin K
Vitamin E
Boron

Connective Tissues Provide:
Glucosamine
Chondroitin

10% ORGAN

5% liver, 5% other secreting

Beef/calf liver
Beef kidney
Beef spleen
Beef pancreas
Bull testicles*
Chicken liver
Turkey liver
Duck liver
Brain
Eyes
Pork liver
Pork kidney
Pork spleen
Pork pancreas
Pork thymus (sweetbreads)
Goat/sheep liver
Goat/sheep kidney
Goat/sheep spleen
Goat/sheep testicles*
Ovaries*

*hormone exposure is likely, feed with caution or do not feed to intact dogs

Organs Provide:
Protein (amino acids)
Fats (fatty acids)
Iron
Selenium
Phosphorous
Manganese
Chromium
Nitrogen
Copper
Zinc
Potassium
Magnesium
Sodium
Co-Enzyme Q10
Carbon
Vitamin A
B vitamins
Vitamin D
Vitamin K
Vitamin C

FRUIT & VEGETABLES

May feed 5% up to 10% (NON-essentials)

Raspberries
Blueberries
Blackberries
Cranberries
Watermelon
Apples
Pears
Rosemary
Basil
Parsley*
Thyme
Zucchini
Lettuces
Cucumber
Wheatgrass
Spinach*
Broccoli*
Cauliflower †
Pumpkin
Asparagus
Barley grass
Avocado

*Contains oxalates. Oxalates bind with iron and calcium and contribute to kidney stones

Inhibits synthesis of thyroid hormones, feed in MODERATION

NOTE: I do NOT recommend feeding fruits with meals. In the presence of protein and fat, fruit ferments in the stomach and gut contributing to stomach upset, intestinal irritation, loose stools, and an increased risk for Bloat (a deadly condition).

Fruits & Vegetables Provide:
ALL vitamins
ALL minerals                                                      
Phytonutrients
Antioxidants                                                                     
Fiber

OTHER FOODS TO SUPPLEMENT

Beneficial Non-essentials

Goat’s milk
Kefir
Cottage cheese
Raw milk
Hemp seeds (raw, ground)
Pumpkin seeds (raw, ground)
Chia seeds (ground, gelled)
Kelp
Spirulina, Chlorella
Marine phytoplankton
Alfalfa powder
Golden paste

Coconut oil
MCT oil
Hemp seed oil
Flaxseed oil
Krill oil
Bone broth
Fish stock
Medicinal mushrooms
Apple cider vinegar
Coconut water
Green lipped mussel powder
Diatomaceous earth (food grade)

My recommendation is to add these supplemental foods, powders, and oils AS NEEDED for their nutrient profiles, to balance fats in a meal, for extra calories, for their medicinal properties and constituents, and for a functional purpose such as digestive aid, worm prevention, natural therapies, and chronic disease and cancer preventative and therapy.

Do NOT Feed

  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Onions, all (garlic is still under debate)
  • Green tomatoes
  • Artificial sweeteners (ALL!!)
  • Xylitol
  • Alcohol
  • Cacao (cocoa & chocolate)
  • Walnuts & macadamia nuts
  • Whole grains (corn included)
  • Legumes (soy included)
  • Rawhide
  • Processed snack foods
  • Sugars & candy
  • Yeast, dough
  • Corn on the cob
  • Bell pepper seeds
  • Hot peppers
  • Blue cheese
  • Gum
  • Mouthwash, toothpaste
  • Cooked fat
  • Cooked bones
  • Hops
  • Tomato and avocado leaves
  • Cat food
  • Peanut butter spreads*

*Peanut butter spreads are not peanut butter. Peanut butter is peanuts only (salt may be added). Peanut butter spreads contain thinning oils and often sweeteners. Xylitol is a zero calorie sweetener commonly added to spreads. This is DEADLY.

HOW TO CREATE A MEAL

You will want to feed 2% to 4% of your dog’s ideal body weight. Puppies require 4% of their projected adult weight or 7% to 10% of current weight until 3% of their projected adult weight is reached.

Whole prey is balanced perfectly without the need for plants. If you cannot feed whole prey, use a ratio as a guide:

80/10/10

This means = 80% meat, 10% bone, 10% organs.

My preferred ratio is a breakdown of 80/10/10. It looks like this:

65/15/10/5/5

This means =  

  • 65% muscle meat + 15% organ muscle (80%)
  • 10% bone (MINIMUM)
  • 5% liver + 5% other secreting organ (10%)

Feeding with raw meaty bones (RMB):

  • 65/15 meat = 40% to 60% meaty bone(s) + 5% to 25% boneless meat + 15% organ muscle meats
  • 10 organ = 5% liver + 5% other secreting organ(s)

Ideally, your meals will consist of approximately:

  • 40%-60% RMB
  • 5%-25% boneless meats
  • 15% organ muscle
  • 5% liver
  • 5% other secreting organ(s)
  • You may wish to try creating a semi-whole animal using various animal parts if you cannot feed whole prey. We call this Frankenprey. This also helps to feed ratios most similar to whole prey.
  • Feed three meals per day for puppies under 12 weeks old.
  • Feed two meals per day for puppies older than 12 weeks.
  • I recommend feeding adults one meal per day to benefit from fasting. Some people and dogs prefer or need two meals per day. Feed according to your dog’s needs or your schedule/convenience.

You will want to discover your dog’s nutrient requirements for his/her age and weight. You can use the nutrient requirements recommended by the NRC, FEDIAF, AAFCO, or The Holistic Canine. You will find nutrient requirements for dogs and puppies here. The nutrient charts are based on 1,000 kcal. If you need assistance learning your dog’s specific requirements, contact me for assistance.

Remember the ratio is ONLY A GUIDE. There is no rule that dictates that the ratio needs to be followed exactly. The main goal is to provide the highest balanced nutrient saturation in each meal or meals per day without creating or causing an imbalance within your dog. An imbalance can be caused by the creation of a dangerous nutrient antagonism or synergism in meals, not feeding enough ingredient variety in a consistent rotation, feeding species-inappropriate foods, adding/feeding too many plant ingredients (especially with anti-nutrients), meals consistently lacking in necessary nutrients, meals consistently excessive in a particular nutrient or nutrients, or veering too far off the ratio guideline. Some dogs require higher bone percentages.

Bones can be fed up to 25% of the diet. Do not exceed 25%.

Please note: feeding raw does not necessarily increase the life expectancy of every dog. What it does do is greatly reduce the risk and rate of chronic disease as well as improves quality of life. Many dogs do in fact live very long lives on raw diets, others do not. However, had those shorter lived dogs not been raw fed, their lives would likely have been even shorter. Understand that by feeding a species-appropriate diet you are providing your dog with the best possible nutrition IF and ONLY IF you follow a balanced raw protocol. The Holistic Canine exists to make sure you do just that. We are here to help!

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

©2019 Created by The Holistic Canine, Macon, GA


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


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


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