People who believe in the value of feeding their dogs a biologically appropriate diet, comprised largely of raw meat and bones – with other foods added only to ensure that all their nutritional needs have been met, not as lower-cost “fillers” – love frozen raw diets. Food that has been formulated to meet the nutrient standards for a “complete and balanced” diet, and made with (mostly) meat and bones from (often) sustainably raised and humanely slaughtered meats, with the balance comprised of (frequently) organic, local produce . . . What’s not to like? The answer depends on who you are.
Four veterinarians from the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis, published a study in the June issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, entitled “Evaluation of recipes of home-prepared maintenance diets for dogs.” I don’t think any WDJ readers will be surprised to hear that their findings were not exactly positive. The study analyzed 200 recipes. Of those, 133 were obtained from 2 veterinary textbooks and 9 pet care books (two of which were also written by veterinarians), and the remaining 67 recipes came from 23 different websites. Of all the recipes analyzed, 129 were written by veterinarians, and 71 by nonvets.
No good deed goes unpunished. That’s what Pam Rowley of Upper Brookville, New York, discovered last November, when the hospital administrator who always greeted her and 8-year-old Vizsla Gunner at the start of their monthly therapy-dog visits quietly took her aside to deliver some bad news.
Thanksgiving is a time when families gather together to enjoy good food and to remember all the things we have to be grateful for. Unfortunately, one part of our family often gets left out our dogs! It must be frustrating for them to smell all the wonderful aromas coming from the kitchen, but not be able to share in the feast. We're here to relieve that vexing situation with recipes for some healthy Thanksgiving dishes just for them.
Several raw feeders contacted me after reading my homemade diet guidelines (“You Can Make It”) in July’s Whole Dog Journal issue. While their diets varied considerably, each had problems that are common with raw diets – but most are easily fixed. For example, many raw diets are high in bone, which provides calcium and phosphorus. Excess calcium can lead to serious orthopedic conditions in large-breed puppies, especially before puberty. High-calcium diets are not dangerous for adult dogs, but calcium binds other minerals, including zinc and iron, so a diet high in bone may lead to other nutritional deficiencies. Too much bone can also cause constipation.
It's important that the home-prepared dog food diet you feed your dog is complete and balanced
Making meals from scratch is the only way I know to have exactly what I want for my dogs no ingredients from places with spotty records for quality assurance, no multi-syllabic additives making a label longer than I like. After I covered the pet-food recall in 2007, I changed the way I eat and the way I feed my pets. For my dogs, that meant commercial products from companies I trusted, along with raw-food meals from regional sources of meat, grains, and vegetables. It wasn't a huge shift from raw to cooked when my Flat-Coated Retriever, McKenzie, started chemotherapy for soft-tissue sarcoma a few days after her seventh birthday. At the suggestion of her veterinary oncologist, I dropped the carbs, rebalanced the diet with the help of some expert advice, and started feeding McKenzie Meatloaf" to all three of my dogs."
Bill and Marin Corby of Romeo, Michigan, feed a homemade dog food diet to their two rescued Cockapoos. Max, estimated to be anywhere from 6 to 9 years old, has been with them for three and a half years. Max weighed 32 pounds when first adopted, but his current weight is a healthy 20 pounds. Mickey was four months old and very sick when they first brought him home, as he had problems digesting his food. The Corbys switched Mickey to a raw dog food diet, and he’s now thriving at 20 months of age and 16½ pounds.
Many raw dog food diet proponents claim that the nutrients and/or chemical composition of a raw diet keeps dogs from developing gingivitis or periodontitis. We’re not aware of any studies that have proven these claims, but the persistence of the anecdotal evidence of this phenomenon (to say nothing of its evolutionary success) suggest that there are dental benefits to a diet that includes raw, meaty bones.
Feeding fresh food to your dogs can help make them healthy and happy, but it can also be expensive, particularly for those with large dogs. Whether you feed a completely homemade diet or just want to improve your dog’s diet by adding fresh foods, there are many ways to reduce costs. Here are some ideas to consider...
This is the debut of what we intend to be a regular feature in Whole Dog Journal: a detailed critique of a home-prepared diet. I will analyze diets that people feed their dogs and offer feedback and suggestions that might improve the nutritional value of the diet.
Over the past few months, I've read more than 30 books on homemade diets for dogs. Many offered recipes that were dangerously incomplete; a smaller number provided acceptable guidelines but were confusing, unduly restrictive, overly complicated, or had other issues that made me recommend them only with reservations. A few were good enough to recommend without reservation. This review is about the cream of the crop: three relatively new books (one is a new edition of an older book) whose authors have taken the time to analyze their recipes to ensure that they meet the latest nutritional guidelines established by the National Research Council (NRC).