- Raw diet or “biologically appropriate” diet, aka ancestral diet
- A mix of high-quality kibble with homemade whole foods
- High-quality kibble (majority of diet), supplemented with a few whole foods
Remember that dogs don’t have the same stomachs we do… These are animals that can eat another dogs poop and be fine… I have been feeding raw for 10 years and have never had a dog get sick or ill. I feed fresh meat, or I freeze it. I don’t give my dogs any “questionable” meats, other than freezer burned but safe “donation” meats I get. I also thoroughly clean my hands and any prep surfaces. I have never been sick from handling raw meat and organs.
Remember, the more digestible a food is, and the less starches and fillers it has, the less a dog will need to eat, and the less “waste” will be produced to clean up. The foods I recommend are concentrated fairly high in protein and calories compared to a cheaper food.
- Orijen (puppy or large breed puppy)
- Acana (all-lifestages)
- Nature’s Logic
- Nature’s Variety Instinct
A list of what I consider decent dog foods:
- Earthborn Holistic
- Wellness Core
A list for the budget-conscious, or those who are feeding multiple dogs:
- Kirkland (Costco brand). This brand is made by Diamond, for Costco. It is not a grain-free food, and it is not low in carbs. However, you cannot beat the price for the quality it is. It sells for about $27 for a 40-lb. bag.
- Nature’s Domain (Costco brand). Also made by Diamond. Grain-free, and about $28 for 25-lb bag.
- Redford Naturals (Pet Supplies Plus house brand)
- Acana Heritage Free-run Poultry Formula. At about $55.99 for a 25-lb bag, this grain-free low-glycemic food is almost half the price of the company’s Orijen foods, and is still very high quality.
A partial list of lower end dog foods, I do not recommend:
- Beneful, Pedigree, Science Diet, or anything available in a grocery store
- Any food with corn or any grain as the first or second ingredient
Any food with soy protein, wheat gluten, or artificial coloring dyes
- Any food with less than 25% protein
If the food you’re wondering about is not on my above list, I probably do not recommend it.
Look up any dog food’s ratings on Dog Food Advisor
What can I add to my dogs kibble diet?
Supplementing a commercial diet is important. What you feed, and how much, will depend on your individual dog. Here are some ideas, and foods I have prepared for dogs.
- Sardines. A fantastic source of nutrients, healthy fats, and fish oil. They are the lowest mercury-containing fish. Look for tins of “sardines in water,” and avoid any with oil, salt or sauce in them. I stock up when they’re on sale! I give my dogs each 3-4 tins a week.
- Eggs. The incredible edible egg! High in protein. Feed them raw, just crack one or two onto your dogs food daily. In a homemade diet, I will usually blend in the raw egg whole, including the shell, as it’s a source of calcium and minerals.
- Canned tuna and salmon. Super easy, just open and serve. Tuna is low in fat and high in protein. I buy whatever is on sale, in bulk. The “light tuna” is lower in mercury than the more expensive “white albacore.” I feed tuna about once a week. I also feed canned cooked salmon, as it’s one of the best foods for a dog– high in healthy fats that benefit skin/coat, great source of protein, and they love it.
- Greek Yogurt, plain. Not only do dogs love it, it’s protein-packed and contains calcium and beneficial bacterias aka probiotcs. Try freezing it (along with a bit of kibble) in a Kong for a treat. You can give this to your dog a few times a week.
- Cottage cheese. Small amounts of cottage cheese can be added to cooked meat to provide calcium. It has less lactose than milk.
- Fruits. Fruits are fairly high in sugar, so only feed in moderation. They are also high in vitamins and antioxidants like vitamin c. Wild wolves often eat ripe berries, and dogs like them, too. Strawberries and blueberries are the best. Small amounts of banana is good, too. If you have some mealy apples, cut them up and I’m sure your dog will enjoy them as a topper on their kibble, or as a treat.
- Veggies. In order to be properly digested, most veggies will need to be pureed in a food processor, or steamed. Carrots, kale, and spinach are healthy options. Some dogs enjoy a few pieces of raw carrots as a treat.
- Canned chicken breast. If you can’t cook it, this would do fine as a topper on kibble.
- Raw meat. Feed this in a separate meal from the kibble (such as kibble in AM, raw in PM). Chicken, beef, hearts, chicken necks, turkey necks (both great for cleaning the teeth!) I give my dogs raw turkey necks as a healthy snack. The bone is soft enough for them to crunch right through. You may have to check out various grocery stores to find the best meats– I go to either Tony’s, or Cermack Produce. I typically buy chicken quarters for just .59 cents per pound. My dogs all crunch through and eat whole chicken quarters in about 20 seconds. However, if you’re feeding a cooked diet, you may just want to stick to…
- Cooked meats. This would go best with a kibble diet, as it’s cooked as well. Ground turkey, chicken (no cooked bones), lamb, and lean steaks and ground beef are good. Don’t overcook the meats, and avoid bones and fatty or greasy meats.
- Sweet Potato. Super easy to make. Rinse your potatoes, and pop them either in the microwave for about 10 minutes, or bake them in the oven. Leave them whole, cook them until fully soft, then mash them up whole. The skins have nutrients and fiber. Dogs love them, you can eat them, too, and they’re fairly inexpensive. Avoid white potato– it’s not a healthy starch.
- Oatmeal. This is another carb or filler to a homemade diet. But it has a lower glycemic index than other carbs, and is easy to prepare. Cook your oatmeal well so it can digest properly, and only use unflavored plain varieties.
- AVOID: milk- cows milk is not good for puppies of any age. If a puppy must have another animal’s milk, goats milk is preferred. Raw goats milk can be super healthy for dogs. Also avoid: anything that’s a choking hazard, anything poisonous to dogs, sugar, salty foods, pasta, bread, too much cheese or fatty foods at once, citrus fruits, spicy food, spoiled meats, fish with sharp bones, cooked bones, etc.
For chews, other than some varieties of raw meaty bone, bully sticks are popular. Nylabones are also good. Rawhide isn’t healthy, and can be a choking or blockage hazard. Raw beef marrow bones and raw turkey necks are what my dogs chew. Himalayan Dog Chew is another great product, you can find it on Amazon.com, and they are a hard longer lasting treat.