Dogs need proteins, minerals, amino acids and fats as part of a healthy diet. In theory, dogs can survive on a vegetarian diet, but many dog nutritionists do not recommend it.
Dogs have no dietary need for carbohydrates or fibre, although they can digest and enjoy them. Fibre, in particular, can aid good digestion. Green beans, for example, really come into their own if you have a dog that needs to lose weight, as they will keep your dog feeling fuller for longer.
As always, fresh water should be available at all times.
Three Healthy Diet Options
Generally speaking, dog owners can choose from three types of dog food: Commercial Food (kibble and canned), Raw Food (BARF) or a blend of both.
The Raw Diet
Raw feeding, also known as “BARF” (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food), promotes a diet of raw meat, bones, and organs (with no grains). The raw diet consists of:
- 5-10% organ meats.
- 10-15% bones.
- 75-85% muscle meats.
- Small amounts of vegetables are optional.
If you want to start feeding your dog the raw diet or want to add to your library of information, then check out this complete compendium: Going Rawr!
Raw diet principles have now been adopted by dog food companies who produce pre-ground raw dog food. This is particularly useful for owners worried that raw bones may remain undigested in their dog’s gut. Alternatively, dog owners may elect to grind bones (using relatively inexpensive home grinders).
Generally, cheap kibble and canned dog food will not provide enough nutrients for your dog. Remember that pet food companies, like every other business, are there to make profits. So when you see slogans like ‘Premium Grade’, ‘Vet Approved’, ‘Good For Your Dog’, and ‘Finest Ingredients’ please check the actual ingredients to see if the particular product is good for your dog.
To make things easier for you, I have compiled a list of ingredients:
- Animal protein to be listed more than once in the top five ingredients
- Meats that are clearly listed by type, for example, rabbit, chicken, beef, lamb, duck, and venison.
- Whole grains such as millet, rice, and oats.
- Naturally preserved kibble.
If you are feeding your dog on a mixture of canned food and kibble, ensure the majority of each portion is kibble. Canned foods are not designed to deliver a complete diet. This is partly because canned food does not offer any health benefits to your dog’s teeth; kibble results in less teeth tartar. It will also save you a small fortune!
The Blended Diet
A healthy diet can also consist of a blend of raw and commercial food as well as leftovers. Traditionally, domestic dogs used to be fed on nothing but scraps until the 1940s, when commercial dog food companies came into being. However, in those days, the food that humans consumed was in a much more natural and less processed state than it is today.
Remember: Don’t feed your dog spicy or heavily salted food. Lots of salts is not good for you, and it is not good for your dog either. Avoid gravies and other ‘condiments’ and stick just with the meat and vegetables themselves. As a rule of thumb, anything bad for your waistline or blood pressure is bad for your dog too!
If you’re still interested in a raw diet for your dog, then Going Rawr! gives you the complete system for meeting your dog’s nutritional needs a natural way