Real Foods for Healthy Dogs

The ancestral dog’s diet contained 85-90% whole prey and small amounts of fish and eggs. The other 10-15% was scavenged grasses, berries, fruits, nuts and other vegetation. The nutritional analysis of the ancestral diet shows that the animals obtained 49% of their calories from protein, 44% from fats, and the other 6% from carbohydrates.

Protein from wild prey and animals, unlike plant protein, contains balanced amino acids and a complete range of protein type nutrients. Wild prey contains higher quality fats than farm raised animals. Farm raised animals will have less protein and more fat in their meat than their wild counterparts. This high quality protein exceeds anything found in commercial dog foods or any homemade diet for that matter.

The ancestral diet included a complete range of fats. Fats obtained from prey animals contained muscle meat fat, storage fat, bone marrow fat, and organ fat. Our dogs today don’t get access to such a wide range and balance of fats.

Carbohydrates for the ancestral dog were not necessary due to the amount of meat in their diets. The small amount of carbs were obtained from fruits and grasses. The amount of fur and other indigestible animal parts provided the other necessary carbs and fiber.

Obviously a wild prey diet for our dogs would be ideal, however, that isn’t always possible, so a fresh food diet for our dogs is the next best way to promote a long and healthy life. Fresh, species appropriate food provides the support an animal’s body needs to maintain a vibrant and healthy state for many years.

Most commercial dry and canned food diets contain poor quality ingredients. They generally contain too little protein, too many carbohydrates, unbalanced and at times, rancid fats, due to oxidation, and lack the complete nutrition that can be provided with fresh foods. A Swedish study has shown that feeding a home-made/non-commercial diet to a lactating bitch protected her offspring from subsequently developing skin allergies.

The fresh food meals you can prepare for your own dog will be far superior to any commercially prepared foods. Raw foods will contain the most nutrients for your dog and will most closely mimic the ancestral diet, however, cooked meals will still be more nutritious than a commercial diet.

If you must feed commercial dog food, then you can still make a significant difference by adding a few simple fresh foods to supplement your dog’s diet and provide the missing nutrients of a commercial diet.

The following information will help you understand the nutrients required by your dog. And always remember that fresh water is a dietary component that is vitally important. Always have plenty of fresh water available for your dog!!

PROTEIN - meats, organs, bones (buy lean meats 90-93%)
All of the meats below can be fed raw. They can also be ground with the bone in but be sure NOT to cook BONES. Dogs can chew and digest RAW BONES but cooking will make the bones brittle and dangerous.

• Beef
• Organ Meats: Heart, Liver, Kidney
• Turkey
• Chicken
• Eggs (especially pregnant bitches)
• Sardines

Ground lamb can be too fatty and many pets don’t do well on lamb. The health benefits of lamb are few and can’t be justified for the price of this meat.

Never feed rabbit that has not been frozen for at least 72 hours. Rabbit may contain parasites that may make your dog sick.

Venison is a great choice, particularly organ meats. They are farm raised and 100% organic! As with rabbit, always freeze for 72 hours before feeding, to kill any parasites.

Organ Meats:
Organs provide essential nutrients. Heart and livers are indispensable. Do not skip these vital nutrients. Heart meat contains the necessary Taurine, Carnitine and Coenzyme Q10 for a dog’s diet. Gizzards from chicken and turkey are usually cheap and high in beneficial cartilage.

CARBOHYDRATES - vegetables and fruits
Grocery store produce has plenty of pesticide and fungicide residue.You can use a very dilute solution of dish detergent and a thorough rinse to remove most of this residue.

Fruits with more color are the most beneficial. Keep fruits and below the ground vegetables to about 10-15% of the mix. More than this will result in too much sugar or carbs than is natural for your dog.

Berries (anti-oxidant and helps dogs remember what they learn better)
Cooked sweet potatoes, pumpkin, green beans and other legumes
Greens (Spinach, chard, collards, kale, endive, escarole, mustard and mixed baby field)
White Potatoes have little nutritious value and high carbs

Sweet Potatoes

Lutein and zeaxanthin:
A Xanthophyll and naturally occurring carotenoid and is found in high quantities in green leafy vegetables. It can enhance brain function and can help with macular degeneration and cataracts.
Egg yolks
Dandelion leaves
Turnip greens
Swiss Chard

A flavonoid and possible anti-oxidant, free radical scavenger, promoter of carbohydrate metabolism, immune system modulator, and anti-inflammatory agent.
Chamomile tea
Clover blossoms
Green pepper
Olive oil

From red vegetables help keep the brain sharp.

The fat content in commercial dog food is measured at the time of processing. Fats oxidize quickly through unopened dog food bags and through improper storage can even turn rancid. Date of manufacture and storage times can greatly affect the quality of fats obtained from commercial foods. Add fragile, essential fats such as EPA and DHA in fresh, highly useable, non-rancid, natural forms such as these:

linoleic acid (LA),
alpha linolenic acid (ALA),
arachidonic acid (ALA),
eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA):
Probably the most important fat for brains and eyes and is the primary fat in the retina

Krill, Flax and Hemp Oil


Bone is necessary for proper calcium and phosphorus. If you don’t feed raw bones, then adding bone meal to your dog’s diet will be necessary (1.5-2% of meat weight). Dicalcium Phosphate or powdered egg shells (1% of meat weight) may be substituted for bone meal.

Digestive Enzymes:
Products with lactose my cause problems for some animals, so it is a good idea to add digestive enzymes which are not fungal to their food. Digestive enzymes are lost in cooking and are found in prey animal’s digestive systems which we usually don’t feed. There are many good products which can be bought for digestive enzymes. Usually, major improvements can be seen in health and digestion with the use of these products.

Fatty Acids:
Sardines, high quality eggs, krill oil, flax oil, hemp oil

Maintain the balance of beneficial flora in the gut. The best probiotics are found in the dairy section in the whole/health food store. These are especially useful during antibiotic use, after an illness, for chronic digestive issues, or immune problem. Plain Kefir or Yogurt will provide the beneficial organisms. Kefir is the best choice with a wider range of beneficial organisms.

Fiber may be needed because we usually don’t feed our dogs fur or other non-digestible parts of dog’s prey from their ancestral diet. Fiber remains largely undigested and slows the digested system to balance water content in the intestines, creating a healthy colon. If your dog has dry stools or loose stools, or has difficulty defecating, add fiber. Ground psyllium is the easiest way to add fiber to your dog’s diet, but adding sweet potatoes, pumpkin, or ground veggies will also help. Apples, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and seeds, and Flax seed can also be added to your dog’s diet as a source of fiber.

Glandular Products:
These are made up of the tiny glands and organs that animals eat in the wild. These include, in addition to the heart and liver, pituitary, hypothalamus, adrenal, pancreas, spleen and other substances. Since we are usually not able to supply our animals with these products, you may want to supplement with a glandular product sold in capsule or powder form.


B complex(thiamine and folate):
B complex is a balanced form of vitamin B supplementation; which is the only way B vitamins should be given, unless specifically instructed to give one of the B vitamins by your veterinarian. B vitamins are cofactors for a number of important biological processes. They are important in maintaining a positive environment for neural regenerative efforts. In addition, they are water soluble so that any excess is merely eliminated in the urine. I recommend that all dogs receive B complex supplements twice a day.

For small dogs, use the regular B complex. For medium size dogs, use high potency B complex (B 50s). For large dogs, use high potency stress formula B complex (B 100s).

Can help old dogs stay alert

Vitamin D:
It is important to feed foods rich in this vitamin especially in winter.
Sardines, oysters, eggs, and liver

An essential trace mineral.
Beef Liver

An essential trace mineral.
Kelp, oysters, sardines


Is an essential trace mineral.
Spinach, Yams, Broccoli, Flaxseed, hempseed, kelp

Almonds, Apricots, Bananas, sweet potatoes

cheese and cottage cheese

Salt is essential in maintaining the electrical balance of a dogs body. In the ancestral diet, blood and organs contained substantial amounts of salt.

Plain salt should be used, not iodized, as iodized salt is inconsistent in it’s iodine content. Iodine will be added with kelp. Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt can add amounts of trace minerals that may be beneficial.

Some breeds have difficulty with Zinc, but most need to receive more than the normal level.
Oysters (great for pregnant and lactating females)


Vitamin E:
Vitamin E is an important nutrient which has been shown to have a number of physiologic and pharmacologic effects. It in a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Poultry diets require more Vitamin E than do beef diets. Use natural sources of Vitamin E listed with the “d” form: d-alpha-tocopherol.
raw almonds, beets

For dogs under 2 years of age, give 400 IU of vitamin E daily. For dogs over 2 years of age, give 800 IU of vitamin E daily.

Vitamin C:
Vitamin C works with vitamin E and helps regenerate vitamin E, potentiating its antioxidant effect. Vitamin C supplementation does no harm, since the excess is excreted through the kidney. While dogs produce vitamin C in their bodies (unlike human beings and guinea pigs who must have it in their diet), under stress or disease, they may need vitamin C in excess of their manufacturing capacity. In excessive dose, vitamin C can cause flatulence and diarrhea. This intestinal tolerance level varies among dogs, but is generally around 3000 mg per day in an adult German Shepherd. I recommend this be given to all dogs.

For dogs under 2 years of age, give 250 mg vitamin C twice a day. For dogs over 2 years of age, give 500 mg of vitamin C twice a day.

Beta-carotene is an important antioxidant which may protect against certain forms of cancer. It is available in fresh vegetables and can be provided by eating plenty of these. If vegetables are lacking in the diet, then supplementation with extra beta-carotene is probably wise.

The dosage should be between 10,000 and 25,000 IU daily, depending upon the size of the dog. (One medium raw carrot has 25,000 IU of beta-carotene; cooking reduces the content by half.)

Coenzyme Q10:
CQ10 is essential for cellular energy production, and acts as an anti-oxidant that protects the fatty acids in cell membranes from oxidation.

Flax seed:
Contains essential vitamins and minerals (including vitamin B and potassium), fiber, and protein. It plays a significant role in canine cardiovascular health and skin and coat health. Flax seed is an important source of fiber and antioxidants, and it may have anti-tumor properties as well.

Selenium is an important mineral which has antioxidant properties similar to vitamin E. Vitamin E can replace the requirement for selenium in the body, but selenium cannot substitute for vitamin E. In addition, selenium does not cross the blood-brain barrier like vitamin E. On the other hand, selenium may help allow vitamin E to be more effective. Many plant sources are low in selenium and supplementation may be important.
raw almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, meat, fish, eggs

Dogs cannot live without this vital, eye, brain, heart nutrient
Beef heart

Carnitines exert a substantial antioxidant action which benefits the heart, dogs with weak kidneys


An organic monosaccharide (simple sugar) which benefits the heart function and is important for active, working dogs.
Raw Red Meats

Glucosamine/Chondroitin/Hyaluronic acid:
These nutrients are reported to help relieve joint and soft tissue pain.
egg shells


Omega-3 fatty acids:
EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
DHA (docosahexaenoic acid, probably the most important fat for brains and eyes)
These are the constituents of fish oils that act as anti-inflammatory agents and may be worth trying if your dog has an autoimmune disorder or arthritis.
Herring, Sardines, Mackerel, Anchovies,
ground flax seeds or flax oil, hemp seed
enriched eggs, grass fed meat, animal brains and eyes

I recommend all dogs receive 1000 mg of fish oil capsule, 1 T ground flax seeds or eat 2 sardines every day. Since some studies have demonstrated negative or adverse effects using fish oil capsules (due to spoilage), I prefer giving sardines or ground flax seeds as the supplement source.

Phosphatidylserine (PS):
A phospholipid component that can help with memory, intelligence, and mood. It has also been used in sports nutrition to speed up recovery, prevent muscle soreness, improve well-being, and might possess ergogenic properties in athletes.
Chicken heart
Atlantic herring
Egg yokes

Gammalinolenic acid (GLA):
A fatty acid which is hard to get in the diet. GLA is an effective anti-inflammatory agent with none of the side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs. It also promotes healthy growth of skin, hair, and nails. It may be good for skin conditions, arthritis, and autoimmune disorders. It takes six to eight weeks to see changes after adding GLA to the diet.
Evening primrose oil
black currant oil
borage oil

I recommend small to medium dogs receive 500 mg of a GLA source daily, either as evening primrose oil, as black currant oil or as borage oil. Large dogs should receive 500 mg of a GLA source twice a day.


Ginkgo leaves:
One tonic I recommend is an herbal preparation made from the leaves of the ginkgo tree (Ginkgo biloba). Recently extracts of ginkgo leaves have attracted much attention from researchers because of their ability to increase blood flow to the brain. You can buy capsules of these extracts in most health- food stores, although different brands vary considerably in their content of active ingredients (ginkgolides). Ginkgo is nontoxic.

For dogs with nervous system disorders, give 1 capsule twice a day.

Ginseng: (males only)
Two species of ginseng are available: Oriental ginseng (Panax ginseng) and American ginseng (Panax quinquefolium). Both are full of compounds (ginsenosides) that work on the pituitary-adrenal axis, increasing resistance to stress and affecting metabolism, skin and muscle tone, and hormonal balance. Oriental ginseng is more of a stimulant and can raise blood pressure in some people, so I recommend using only the American species for dogs. Ginseng probably has little to offer young dogs, but may provide an increase in vitality to older one.

I recommend using 1 capsule of American ginseng once or twice a day in male dogs over 6 years of age.

Dong quai: (females only)
Dong quai is a Chinese herbal remedy made from the root of Angelica sinensis, a large plant in the carrot family. It is often called "female ginseng," because it is a general tonic for women and the female reproductive system in much the same way that ginseng acts as a tonic for men and the male reproductive system. Dong quai is available in the form of encapsulated extracts. It is a good general remedy for female dogs who lack energy.
I recommend using 1 capsule of dong quai once or twice a day for female dogs over 5 years of the age.

Green tea:
Green tea is a good general tonic and has some cholesterol lowering effects. It also contains theophylline which can help boost energy. It is available as a capsular extract or you can make green tea and add it to the diet.

I recommend 1 capsule (or cup) twice a day for dogs.

Grape seed extract:
A great deal of recent evidence supports the value of grape seed extract in reducing free radicals and decreasing the chances of developing chronic diseases. It is best to use standardized extracts. Alternatively, your dog can drink 1 cup of "purple" grape juice a day.

The dose of the extract is 1 capsule daily (usually 50 mg in strength).

Siberian Ginseng:
Siberian ginseng is derived from the root of a large, spiny shrub (Eleutherococcus senticosus) found in Siberia and northern China. It is a relative of true ginseng, but has entirely different properties. Siberian ginseng has "adaptogenic" properties and reduces physiologic responses to stress. Scientific investigations suggest it increases physical performance and endurance and improves immune function.

For dogs, give 1 capsule twice a day.


Raisins or grapes
Macadamia Nuts

If you feed Salmon, it should be cooked. Some salmon contains a parasite which can be fatal to dogs.

(Broccoli, Collards, Cauliflower, Bok Choy, Kale, and others) Don’t feed foods from this family daily. These fed in large amounts can cause a problem with iodine uptake, which could imbalance the thyroid system.

Holistic treats are very expensive and can actually cost more than food.
• Do not buy products from China.
• Exclude sugars such as cane juice, molasses, honey, brown sugar
• Don’t buy treats with wheat flour, white flour, oat flour, oats, barley, millet, quinoa

Buy treats made of of meat only. Fruits, raw almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, blueberries, frozen peas and small amounts of cheese are also excellent choices. Freeze dried organs are great treats.


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