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Fresh, Raw, Whole Food For Your Dog’s Health

In this article understand what whole, fresh, raw foods are good for your dog;
How to prepare and feed these foods to your dog;
Mistakes to avoid making.

 

In this article understand what whole, fresh, raw foods are good for your dog;

How to prepare and feed these foods to your dog;

Mistakes to avoid making.
Fresh whole foods such as fruits and vegetables, dairy and meat, healthy oils, herbs and spices offer our dogs digestible, nutrient rich food without the dangerous ingredients, additives, toxins and carcinogens found in many pet store food products.

My dogs get homemade cooked dog food in the morning and early evening and then, later in the evening they get their bowl of fresh food. It is best not to mix fresh fruit and fresh vegetables with your dog;s main protein meal – I will discuss the reason for that further below.

Feeding your dog fresh whole foods as part of a balanced diet can have a profoundly positive affect on a dog’s overall health and can be a great aid in avoiding, treating and remedying many health issues – for example periodontal problems and GI tract problems.

 

Protein

Meat is a rich source of protein, amino acids and contains many nutrients necessary for the health of dogs. Protein is the primary and species appropriate food for a dog. Dogs can survive without carbohydrates but they cannot survive without protein and fat in their diet. Organically raised, pasture fed chemical free (no antibiotics, no growth hormones, none GMO grain feed, etc) raised is always a better choice than meat coming from farms that use antibiotics, steroids, pesticide and herbicide, GMO feed. Some people like to feed their dog raw meat, while others prefer to provide their dog with cooked meat. I feed my dogs cooked meat rather than raw meat. My dogs also eat hard cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt and fish on a daily basis.
Appropriate and Safe Protein Sources for Dogs

Lean red muscle and organ meat such as:
Beef

Bison
Lamb

Venison, etc.

– grass fed, pasture raised preferred

Poultry such as:
Chicken
Duck

Emu
Turkey, etc.

– free range, antibiotic-free, hormone-free

Fish (wild or wild-caught) in particular fatty fish such as:

Anchovies

Salmon

Sardines

Shad

Smelt

Mackerel

For more information on appropriate fish, and how to select the best options you can go here.

You can also add other forms of protein such as:

Eggs – free-range, organic

Raw – make sure you wash the eggshell before cracking open

Cooked

Dairy – organic

Cottage Cheese or Quark

Hard Cheese such as cheddar cheese, mozzarella for example

Goats milk

Kefir

Yogurt

Seeds – organic

Chia or saba chia seeds – whole or ground

Flax Seeds (brown or golden, use ground flax seed as opposed to whole flax seed)

Hemp seed

Sesame seed

Pumpkin Seeds (best if pulverized or ground)

Nuts – organic, only, fresh not stale in small amounts.

Peanuts

Almonds

For information on seeds and nuts that pose serious danger to a dog’s health read here.

There are some facts that you need to be aware of when it comes to whole food protein…

Dairy products…Just like with people, some dogs are lactose intolerant. None of my dogs have any adverse reaction to cheese or yogurt. Yogurt is a good source of protein and also a source of acidophilus which helps to prevent the overgrowth of bad bacteria in the digestive track. Plain yogurt or yogurt with natural fruit sweetened with honey is best. Yogurt sweetened with sugar is alright but your dog does not require sugar. Yogurt sweetened with artificial sweeteners should be avoided. Xylitol is especially dangerous for dogs and can result in liver damage.

Raw eggs…My dog’s get raw organic eggs – the entire egg (shell, egg white and egg yolk). Some people advise that dogs should not be given raw eggs due to the chance of salmonella poisoning. A dog’s stomach acids are stronger than a human’s and a dog produces more bile than a human does. While dogs are better at fighting salmonella than humans, dogs still get salmonella poisoning, but they can tolerate higher levels of salmonella than we can. Wash egg shell’s thoroughly prior to use. Also, it is important to note that eggs contain avidin, an enzyme that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin). Bioten deficiency can lead to hair and coat problems. Avoiding bioten deficiency is simple – make sure you always  give your dog the egg white, and egg yolk.

Peanuts and other nuts… Aflatoxins grow mainly on grains but they also grow on legumes – like peanuts, walnuts and pecans. Aflatoxins cause liver cancer. This is one reason why you will hear some people say do not give your dogs nuts. While there are some nuts that you should never give your dogs (like walnuts and macadamia nuts). If you want to give your dog peanuts or almonds make sure you use organic, human food-grade fresh nuts, never give your dog stale nuts. I have treated dogs for aflatoxicosis – it is a very serious condition.

Too much protein? Yes, the ongoing debate about how much protein is too much for a dog’s diet. While I think it is best to provide a variety of foods to dogs, I think we need to fixate less on worrying about too much protein and be more concerned about the quality of the protein. In particular the protein source in kibble! Ingesting and processing high quality protein does not strain and damage a dog’s organs the way poor quality protein does. This is one reason why you need to be mindful of the protein source in the kibble you feed your dog. If you would like to learn a little more about this subject you can click here.

Fruits and Vegetables

Many people think that giving a dog fruit and/or vegetables will give the dog diarrhea. In actual fact high quality soluble fiber helps prevent diarrhea and constipation.

 

Soluble fibers attract water and form a gel, which slows down digestion thereby delaying the emptying of the stomach and makes a dog feel full, which helps control hunger and weight. Slower stomach emptying can also have a beneficial affect on controlling blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity, which helps control diabetes. Apples, oranges, pears, berries, cucumbers, celery, and carrots are examples of fruits and vegetables that provide soluble fibers.

Insoluble fibers are gastrointestinal tract (GI Tract) friendly as they have a laxative effect, add bulk to the diet and help prevent constipation. Insoluble fibers do not dissolve in water, so they pass through the GI tract primarily intact speeding up the passage of food and waste. Insoluble fibers are mainly found in whole grains and vegetables zucchini, celery, broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, dark leafy vegetables, fruit, and root vegetable skins are examples of fruits and vegetables that provide unsoluble fibers.

As noted above, fruit and veggies contain a lot of good soluble and unsoluble fibre, but they are also rich in vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and are naturally low in fat while being filling.
Eating fresh fruit and vegetables also plays an important role in:

  • Helping to boost the immune system;
  • Helping the body eliminate toxins;
  • Keeping organs, eyes, teeth etc. healthy;
  • Preventing colon cancer;
  • Reducing the risk of developing heart and vascular problems, stroke and cancer;
  • Reducing the risk of inflamed anal glands (which result in ‘scudding’, burst glands and discharge);
  • Aiding in good oral health;

If your dog is overweight one of the best ways to help it to lose weight is to add veggies to the dog’s diet. The herb turmeric can also help as can coconut oil. While delivering great quality nutrients they also help:

  • Keep weight under control – thereby reducing risk of:
  • Diabetes, and:
  • Stress on joints.
  • Inflammation of joints is another contributing factor to the onset of cancer.

These are just a few of the many benefits that fruits and veggies offer to our dog’s health.

In the wild, dogs eat pre-digested fruits and vegetables when the consume the digestive organs of herbaceous prey, as well they also consume some plants, fruits, vegetables to self-heal and boost their immune systems. Grass is one such example.

 

The fruits and vegetables that I give to me dogs on a daily basis vary a little depending on the season, for instance watermelon in the summer and oranges in the winter. The following provides a partial list of fruits and vegetables that are good for dogs. You can use fresh, canned or frozen fruit. If you are going to give your dog canned fruit, make sure it is packed in juice not syrup – sugar is not good for dogs. You can use fresh, canned, frozen and/or cooked veggies.

Fruit that is Safe & Beneficial for Dog’s to Consume
The following is a partial list…

Apples (remove the seeds)

Apricots
Avocado – in small amounts daily is fine for most dogs. Avocados contain persin – a fungicidal toxin. When a dog is fed large amounts of the fruit vomiting and diarrhea can result from overdose of persin.   The pit of the avocado is toxic to dogs and should never be consumed by dogs.

Bananas
Blackberries
Blueberries
Cantaloupe
Canary Melon
Cherries (remove the pit)
Clementines
Cranberries
Coconut (fresh or dry non sweetened, shredded)
Grapefruit
Goji Berries (if your dog is on medications check for drug interactions)

Honeydew Melon
Kiwi
Mangos (remove the pit)
Nectarines (remove the pit)
Oranges
Papaya
Peaches (remove the pit)
Pears (remove the seeds)

Persimmons
Pineapple
Plums

Pomegranate
Raspberries
Strawberries
Thimbleberries
Tomatoes
Watermelon

Vegetables that are Safe & Beneficial for Dog’s to Consume
Alfalfa Sprouts

Asparagus
Anise
Broccoli

Broccoli Sprouts
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Celery

Clover sprouts
Chicory
Cucumber
Kelp, Chlorella, Marine Phytoplankton, Spirulina

Leafy greens – beet greens, green or red leaf lettuce, frizzy lettuce, kale, radicchio, romaine, spinach, cilantro, dandelion, parsley
Tomatoes
Squash – various types, summer and winter squash
Sweet Peppers – green, yellow, orange and red, purple, etc.
Mushrooms – Chaga, Maitake, Shiitake, Reishi and several others. Please note many other types of mushrooms are toxic to dogs, just as they are to people.

Pumpkin
Okra

Zucchini

Roots Vegetables
Beets
Carrots
Parsnips
Potatoes

Rutabaga

Turnip
Sweet Potatoes
Yams

How To Feed Your Dog Fruits and Veggies…

Preparation to Ensure Maximum Absorption of Nutrients from Fresh Fruit and 

Vegetables
In order to make sure your dog gets the full benefit of nutrients from fresh fruit and vegetables you need to understand a little about the difference between a dog’s and a human’s GI Tract…
Optimizing The Absorption of Nutrients…

  • Dogs have a shorter intestine than humans, this means that food moves through the dogs GI  tract faster than it moves through a humans GI Tract;To ensure that your dog’s digestive system has the opportunity to absorb the maximum amount of nutrients from vegetables and fruit it is important (especially with vegetables which have a tougher cell wall structure) to help the dog’s GI tract by breaking down the vegetable’s (or fruit’s) cell-walls before you feed it to your dog;
  • You can breakdown the cell walls by choosing one of the following method’s…
    1. Finely chop fruit and vegetables – either by hand or with a food processor;
    2. Lightly steam vegetables, or
    3. Freeze the vegetables or fruit first, thaw and then give them to your dog;
  • Make a smoothie as per the example just below.
  • By choosing one of these four methods to breakdown the food’s cell-wall you:
  • Perform the first stage of digestion, so your dog’s GI tract has the opportunity to absorb nutrients properly, and;
  • You greatly reduce the chance of your dog choking on a hard piece of vegetable.

Most fruit has a softer cell wall than vegetables;

  • You don’t have to chop berries such as blackberries and raspberries;
    • But you should cut most other fruit up in smaller pieces, and:
    • Harder fruits like apples and pineapples are best if chopped finely;
  •  If you are giving your dog frozen fruit:
    •  You should chop the fruit up to avoid a choking hazard;
    • I add fresh finely minced ginger and ground cinnamon, and sometimes mint, fresh apples, pears – toss the mixture into the food processor and blend the 3 or 4 items together.

Make a Smoothie for Your Dog

 

Green Leafy Smoothie

If you want to give your dog fresh leafy greens – such as romaine, kale, spinach, beet greens, etc. you can…

  • Chop the greens either by hand or in a food processor and mix a little into your dog’s food, or;
  • You can toss the greens into a blender with some homemade chicken stock and make a smoothie – store in the refrigerator for up to three days and just add to your dog’s food once a day…
    • X-Small Dogs and Cats – 1 tbs;
    • Small Dogs and Cats – 1/8 cup;
    • Medium size dogs – ¼ cup;
    • Large dogs – 1/3 to ½ cup.

Fruit Smoothie

If you want to give your dog fresh or frozen fruit in a nutrient rich smoothie…

  • Toss the fruit into a blender with some kefir or yogurt or use homemade chicken stock to make a smoothie – store in the refrigerator for up to three days and just add to your dog’s food once a day…
    • X-Small Dogs and Cats – 1 tbs;
    • Small Dogs and Cats – 1/8 cup;
    • Medium size dogs – ¼ cup;
    • Large dogs – 1/3 to ½ cup.

Do’s and Don’t s:
Don’t…

  1. Don’t give your dog produce that is going bad – moldy, rotting, slimy, you can make your dog very ill.
  2. Don’t mix fresh whole or coarsely cut fruit and veggies with a main protein meal.
    1. You CAN add fruit and vegetables to a main protein meal if you do one or a combination of the following –
      1. Finely chop, mince the fruit or veggies before adding to the meal;
      2. Steam the fruit or veggies before adding to the meal;
      3. Use thawed frozen fruit or veggies.

Do…

  1. Wash the food item to remove dirt, contaminates, and as much pesticide/herbicide as can be removed if the produce is not organic.
  2. As mentioned above do cut/chop/shred fresh vegetables into small pieces – a food processor is great for finely chopping fruits and veggies.
  3. Finely chopped or minced fruit and vegetables::
    1.  Can be properly digested.
      1.  As explained further above a dog cannot properly digest uncut, whole fruit and vegetables .
    2. Larger pieces of vegetables and hard fruit pose a choking hazard.
      1. An example –
        1.  Zoey my 12 lb Pomeranian once got a piece of cauliflower caught in his airway – completely blocked;
        2. Zoey quickly became unconscious and if I had not known how to and did not administer the Heimlich manoeuvre and mouth to mouth resuscitation he would have died in front of my eyes.
  4. When you introduce new fruits and veggies to your dog’s diet it is best to introduce each new food one at a time. If there is any kind of negative reaction, such as stomach upset or allergies you will be able to pinpoint the culprit. None of my dogs have any allergies to fruits and veggies.

Herbs

People have used herbs and spices to add flavour to food and to treat ailments for thousands of years. So it should not be surprising that there are many herbs and spices that are good for our dog’s health. Herbs and spices can boost the  immune system and are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants to name just a few benefits. If you would like to find out more about herbs and spices you can add to your dog’s diet click here. Herbs such as Turmeric and/or Curcumin can also help your dog loss weight and maintain a healthy weight.

Grains
Grains are not part of a dog’s natural diet, here are some important points to note…

  • I recommend removing all grains from your dog’s diet (including any pre-prepared processed products that contains grains – i.e. grain-in dry dog food or grain-in treats);
  • There are some dog’s that after being on one or more dry dog foods – acquire an auto-immune response  which creates a food sensitivity to many foods that should not normally adversely effect a dog;
    • In some such cases one of the only food items the dog can still tolerate are grains such as rice.
    • If you must keep grain in your dog’s diet:
      • Make sure that you only provide your dog with human quality grains.
      • If the grains are not human grade they can contain aflatoxins.
      • Aflatoxins cause liver cancer.
      • Grain that is sold for bird and livestock feed, grain that is used in most commercially manufactured dry and wet dog food is animal feed grade and is not screened for aflatoxins. Always cook the grains.
  • Grains absorb liquid, so ingesting uncooked or grains that have not been pre-soaked can lead to swelling and bursting of the stomach…dangerous at the least, lethal at worst.

If you have to use grains in your dog’s diet try using quinoa – its not actually a grain, and it is nutritionally dense. If you must use grains use organic grains such as …

  • Barley
  • Brown Rice
  • Bulgur
  • Millet
  • Oatmeal – steel cut
  • Pot Barley

Grains can be completely replaced by (for example) substituting a combination of sweet potato, squash etc. as demonstrated in this recipe for homemade dog food.
Fats

Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are very important for the overall health of a dog. However the intake of Omega-3 and Omega-6 must be balanced correctly. The ratio should be in the range of 2:1 for Omega-3 to Omega-6. An out-of-balance ratio can disrupt the balance of pro and anti-inflammatory agents in the body and brain resulting in chronic inflammation and elevation of the risk of health issues such allergies, arthritis and diabetes and can adversely effect behaviour.  To read more about the importance of Omega Fatty Acids, what is a balanced intake and what are good as opposed to poor or dangerous sources of these vital nutrients you can read this article.

Removing Commercially Manufactured Kibble From Your Dog’s Diet

If you are thinking of completely removing commercially manufactured kibble from your dog’s diet you need to now a few things first. To make sure your dog gets a well balanced diet (without kibble) you need to include the following food stuffs in the right amounts:

  • Protein
  • Carbohydrates (from starchy roots such as sweat potatoes or from grains)
  • Fruits and veggies…you can also include herbs
  • Fats
  • Minerals such as calcium, you may also need to add vitamins such as A, B complex and E and enzymes depending on the type of food you make.

If you would like to learn more about making your own dog food you can try these simple to make recipes for nutritious homemade dog food.

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About Karen

Dogs are my life, my work, my passion… I am a Dog Whisperer, Dog Behaviorist and Holistic Canine Wellness Adviser with a wealth of real-time, real-life experience living and working with dogs. For two and a half decades I have worked with and shared my life with dogs. My own dog pack is comprised of eleven dogs, various breeds and ages. I provide a full range of services including Obedience Training for puppies and dogs; canine Behavior Modification; canine Psychological Rehabilitation, specializing in assisting dogs that are experiencing extreme states of insecurity, anxiety and aggressive-reactive behavior; Diet, Nutrition and Wellness Advice and Plans for canines and felines…natural wisdom for you and your companion animal.

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36 comments

  1. Hi Karen – I tried the fully cooked version and my dogs loved it. One of my dogs had a vet check-up and the vet asked the routine “what diet are they on?” and I showed her the recipe. She said I should be cautious because there is no way to know the nutritional analysis of the recipe and therefore it may not meet all of their nutritional needs. I still prefer the idea of providing whole foods but want to be sure they are getting everything they need. Can you tell me the nutritional values of your recipe?

    Thanks!

    • Your veterinarian knows nothing about nutrition – if she did she would not have made such a stupid statement. If you need additional help feel free to engage my consultation services. Also I would advise you to read my articles on veterinarian prescribed foods. Cheers, K

  2. if i make a smoothie out of raw fruits and veggies i still cant mix with the dogs food correct? only if its lightly steamed? and if i add powdered superfoods can they be added to protein mea,l or given separate also?

  3. Would it be alright to combine fruits and vegetables with my dogs dry food or would it be to difficult to determine how much I can put?

    • Yes it is OK provided that you prepare the vegetables and fruit as I have instructed in the article above – when not prepared as noted the absorption of nutrients from the main food – in your case dry kibble – can be seriously hampered leading to health issues.

      Amount – 15% to 20% veggies max to dry kibble in a combined meal.

  4. Karen, on behalf of my husband and I, our dog Bella, and “natural pet parents”, just want to say a big THANK YOU for your wonderful website and sharing your knowledge! I wanted to get your thoughts on something if you have time! Bella eats a home cooked diet, and while she absolutely LOVES vegetables, when it comes to fruits, she just won’t eat them…at all! We’ve tried your suggestions as well making a purees of fruits to mix in with her meals, all with no success. If she even detects (or suspects, lol!) fruit puree has been mixed into her meals, she will walk away and not touch her food!

    I did some searching around and found a couple companies that make Organic freeze dried fruit powders, which are just 100% fruit, nothing added. I ordered a sample size of Organic Banana powder, mixed it in with her food, and Viola!…Bella loved it! So now I’m thinking about ordering more flavors like like blueberry, cranberry, apple, pear, etc; then mixing them together, and figuring out how much to give her with each meal. However, these fruit powders are NOT cheap, so before ordering, I wanted your opinion on if you think this would be a good way for Bella to get fruits in her diet. Thanks so much, and again thank you for such a wonderful site, I know you work very hard on!! 😉 ~Cynthia

  5. I found this when i was looking up what was okay to give my dog…can i give my dog garlic?? Onions, Garlic, Chives – can cause the destruction of red blood cells known as Heinz body anemia, a form of hemolytic anemia. No clear quantity has been established as to the onset of the anemia. But for garlic, if your dog consumes the equivalent of 1 teaspoon of garlic for every 10 pounds of their weight (1 teaspoon for a 10 pound dog) it can destroy red blood cells. Poisonous reaction can result from raw, cooked or dried onions, garlic, chives, including those included in powdered or dehydrated forms.
    Read more at http://www.dogheirs.com/dogheirs/posts/141-toxic-foods-for-dogs-fruits-vegetables-and-nuts#GfMh9Qhee7OMUOmj.99

  6. This is such a wonderful resource! I was wondering, what fruits and veggies can I dry-out as Chewy-Treats(if any)?? Thank you so much for all of the Information!

  7. Great article thank you, my norwegian elkhound is ten years old, and gaining weight, so I have cut the amount of kibble and add mackeral, fish or chicken to his feed but having read your article I think I should omit the kibble and feed him twice a day one protein meal and one veg/fruit meal.

  8. I have been feeding species appropriate raw food diets to my pets for almost fifty years now. The “species appropriate diet” for carnivores includes raw meat, eggs, canned sardines or salmon, ground bones or bonemeal supplement, organ meats, and a small amount of pureed vegetables (optional), No carnivore should be eating sweetened yogurt or legumes (which are starches). The reason nutritionists warn against feeding raw eggs is to avoid biotin deficency, not salmonella poisoning.

  9. I’ve tried feeding my rescue raw veggies and fruits but she really doesn’t seem to go for it at all – ive found adding a little chicken stock (made specifically for the dogs) seems to get her to eat some if she’s really hungry but sometimes even that doesnt work – how do introduce whole foods into her diet in a way that would actually get her to eat it

  10. Thank you! There’s so much to read here, and it’s what I’ve been looking for. Both my dogs have issues that I think could be solved by improving their diet. My vet is NO help. :-)

  11. How about raw diet? Commercial raw food meal all have fruits and veggies mixed in? Is it still better to separate protein from veggies?

  12. Thank you for this very comprehensive, helpful article. I did note one error. Under the section FATS, you say that the proper ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 is 1:2, which I believe is backwards. In your article Omega Fatty Acids for Dogs, as well as elsewhere, I’ve seen the ratio noted 2:1 (even 3:1) Omega 3 to Omega 6. Since the ratio balance is critical not only for good health, but safety and not causing a health problem, I thought it was important to mention this so that you could make the correction. Given the breadth and depth of information you cover on your blog, I imagine people see it as credible and place total trust in what they read. For the reader who only reads this article, they will get the ratio wrong, and I know none of us would want that.

    Thanks for your great work! Keep it up.

  13. Great Advise.
    I currently make my dog’s meals. I usually combine the veggies with cooked chicken – Should I just give her chicken in AM and veggies in PM?
    I am confused by your section on the absorption of nutrients.
    Thanks!!

  14. So excited about this site ! Karen could I get your help in setting up a real food diet for my 2 goldens ? My big guy is 9 and has titanium knees and also fatty tumors that we check. He has had a surgery for removal of some of them a couple years ago. He is my baby and pride and joy. My other baby I rescued at 2 months old and he is 2. He had a very hard life as a baby and is finally becoming the trusting boy he should be…they do remember !9 year old does well on human food…sensitive stomach to dog kibble and baby was on Blue Buffalo and kept getting yeast in his ears. As soon as I took them off that ears were fine…now on Science Diet but I like the idea of cooking for them and I am sure I could join in and eat right with them. Sounds very healthy. We would love to hear from you …thank you Anne and the Boyz…..dameyouanyway@yahoo.com

  15. I’m confused as to exactly what is included in their “fresh food” that you give them later in the evening. I see the recipe for the homemade food and the homemade treats, but not the fresh food.

  16. Thank you so much for this article! I am in the process of switching my dogs over to fresh food, and I will be referring to this article a lot. I love the picture of all of your dog’s bowls lined up. So cute. What lucky dogs you have!

  17. This is a thoroughly researched and intelligent article for anyone considering upgrading the food their dogs eat. It should be recommended by veterinarians knowledgeable about canine nutrition!

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