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Whole Foods Raw Diet For Dogs

  • July 13, 2021
  • By MaggieLovesOrbit.com
  • 0 Comments
Whole Foods Raw Diet For Dogs

The concept of eating healthy is not new. Humans’ dietary choices include Atkins, Intermittent, Nutrisystem, Weight Watchers, Keto, Paleo, Mediterranean, Gluten-Free, Vegetarian, Vegan, Pescatarian, Eat-Clean, Carnivore, and Alkaline to name a few.

And although each diet has a different methodology there are certain common themes:

  • Eat less processed
  • Eat less sugar
  • Eat as many whole foods that you can

With dogs, it’s a little different. Dogs were domesticated about 15,000 years ago. Highly processed kibble dry diets based on feedlot nutrition is about 200 years old. 

The majority of dogs eat a kibble diet and some eat canned food. An even smaller portion eat a home-cooked diet or raw diet.

Veterinarians go to school and are taught only one way to feed dogs. That is to feed them dry kibble out of a bag or wet food out of a can based on feedlot nutrition.  Processed food cooked at high heat utilizing feedlot ingredients.

What Is The Goal of Feedlot Nutrition?

Dry ultra-processed dry dog food (aka kibble) is made from feedlot ingredients. For many years advocacy groups have been fighting to make a change to either have truth in labeling or to require better quality ingredients but have yet to be successful.  

The goal in feedlot nutrition is to grow the animal using one size fits almost all approach.  

Bags of kibble come with feeding recommendations based on daily caloric needs, and so a small chihuahua can be fed the same food that a larger dog would eat. The only difference would be the amount of food they ate.

Seeking A Healthier Way To Feed Dogs

As humans evolve and seek out fresh, whole food options for themselves, they are doing the same for their dogs.

I am one of those dog parents. I’ve run two marathons, three half marathons, and even though I’ve given up on long-distance running I will still regularly run 5Ks.  

Health is important to me. I fuel myself and my family with whole, fresh ingredients choosing to make my food as frequently as possible and only eating out as a matter of necessity.  

That doesn’t mean I don’t eat carbohydrates or processed food. I enjoyed a bowl of ice cream for dessert this evening, and over the weekend, I cooked a spaghetti meal which meant we had pasta. These items are more a rarity than a standard item in my weekly diet. 

As for my two Boston Terriers, Maggie and Orbit, keeping them healthy and active is a priority. I have fed them fresh food all of their lives. I started off with raw but switched to cooked the first year. This was their diet up until three months ago, and I’ve now fully transitioned them back to a raw diet.

Both have had a history of leaky gut and allergies. A few years ago Orbit had a terrible yeast infection. Maggie has suffered from seasonal allergies since she was one years old.

A holistic vet prescribed a detox plan and provided me with dietary guidelines.  Looking back my initial raw diet recipes were heavy on the chicken. Both of my dogs had chicken allergies. I’ve since minimized how much chicken they eat limiting it to eggs, and chicken feet.

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DISCLOSURE: Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means that if you click on a product link, I may receive compensation. This compensation comes at no additional cost to you, and as always I only recommend products I have tried and trust. Maggielovesorbit, Ilovebostons is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
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The diet I’ve formulated are based on reading from:

  • Dr. Conor: Feeding Dogs
  • Dr. Dodds: Canine Nutrigenomics
  • Dr. Tom Lonsdale: Raw Meaty Bones
  • Dr. Ian Billinghurst: Feed a Dog a Bone
  • Dr. Judy Morgan: Yin and Yang
  • Rawpetmedics: On Balance
  • Small Animal Clinical Nutrition
  • Canine and Feline Nutrition
  • Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats
  • Canine Nutrigenomics
  • Raw Meaty Bones
  • Dr Becker’s Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats

I also owe Ruby owner at Real Dog Box my gratitude for mentoring me in my raw feeding journey. This recipe was developed with her.

Homemade Raw Dog Food Guidelines

I follow a basic foundational guideline when I’m preparing Maggie and Orbit’s raw dog food. The foundation is based on feeding from whole foods as often as possible. The cheat sheet is below.

Whole Foods Raw Diet For Dogs

The core components are as follows: 

  • 60% Meat:  
    • Aim for a variety of meat feeding more red meat than white meat.
    • Keep the skin on poultry, and keep the fat on meat. Fat is an important source of energy. Vary your cuts of meat so that you’re not always only feeding lean meat or always only feeding fatty meat.
    • Ground beef 80/20 is not the best option for ground beef. Opt for a leaner blend or buy roasts and cut it up and portion it our or if you have a grinder – grind at home.
    • If you are just starting out switch out protein weekly so if you are feeding turkey for one week, feed beef the next. That doesn’t mean you can’t change the protein out mid week but at a minimum aim to change it out weekly. Do not feed one protein for longer than a week and if you are able to – switch it up every three days. In my case I’m feeding a variety of 5 proteins a week.
    • Long time raw feeders strive for a variety of nine to ten variations in protein in month. My core protein gets me to 5 to 6 and then my chews and treats from my monthly subscription box adds more variety
    • Switch out cuts of protein. For example, if you are buying beef, buy beef chuck, beef shank or brisket etc.
    • Look to feed a variety of four to five different types of protein (at a minimum). As you become more organized and are able to source different types of protein and different cuts, you can look to feed nine to eleven different types of protein.
    • If you are transitioning – go slow – don’t change or add proteins until you’re sure your dog can eat the protein you are feeding and consistently have firm stool.
    • Don’t be afraid of nose-to-tail parts like ears, heads, necks, heart, feet, and tails.
    • If your dog has allergies, it’s good to know Traditional Chinese Medicine and feed cooling protein
    • Protein choices: beef, bison, chicken, duck, egg, goat, pork, rabbit, quail, ostrich, rabbit, turkey, lamb, green tripe

What My Week For Meat Looks Like

  • Lamb one day (has a high level of zinc)
  • Beef two separate days
  • Venison and Elk two separate days (I have a blend I get and Elk has a high leve of zinc)
  • Turkey one day
  • Pork one day

I also dry my own pork heart which is a great source of zinc.

Whole Foods Raw Diet For Dogs
  • 15% Seafood
    • Aim to feed fresh fish as opposed to supplementing with oil from a bottle
    • Aim to feed small cold water fish
    • Aim for variety and feed at least 3 different types of fish in a month. 
    • Seafood choices: Anchovies, herring, smelt, sardines, mackerel, salmon, tuna, Alaskan halibut, mussels, oysters, octopus
    • One oz of salmon for the whole day will meet all my Vitamin D requirements for that day
    • Two cooked blue mussels per meal will have the manganese my two 20 pound Boston Terriers need for the day
  • 10% Bone: 
    • Feed bone that is appropriate for your dog’s chewing style and size.  
    • Some dogs do better if the bone content is increased to 12%
    • Monitor their stool daily. If their stool is too hard, you are feeding too much bone.
    • Bone choices: Beef ribs, pork ribs, duck feet, duck necks, duck wings, turkey necks, turkey feet, chicken feet, chicken necks, chicken wings, chicken legs, chicken thighs
    • If you are not feeding bones, you can get calcium from base mixes. I prefer Raw Vibrance by Doctor Harvey’s. Another option would be to use seaweed calcium from Animal Essentials.
Whole Foods Raw Diet For Dogs
  • 5% Liver
    • Aim for at least 2 different types of liver in a month
  • 5% Other Secreting Organ
    • Aim for at least 3 different types of other secreting organ in a month such as beef liver, beef kidney, pork liver, pork kidney, duck liver, chicken liver, duck spleen, pork spleen etc.  
    • I once tried to prepare a mix of organs and liver at home and realized one pound of organ equated to 106 servings and realized with my small dogs – I would not be using organs in the raw form for the bulk of their meals. I purchase a blend of 50% liver and 50% other organ from Real Dog Box to make homemade meals easier. Air dried organs can be rehydrated back to raw becuase they are dried at 130 degrees or less. Dehydrated organs are not as bioavailable because they are dried at 155 degrees or more which means they cannot be rehydrates.
  • 5% Vegetables and/or Fur
    • Feeding too much vegetables can cause food to move too fast in the digestive system.  
    • Cruciferous vegetabls such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage and bokchoy are great in fighting cancer. 
    • Fresh, whole fruits such as apples, bananas, berries, cantaloupe and watermelon provide fiber and antioxidents.  
    • When feeding leafy greens, select lower oxalate choices such as collar greens, watercress, cabbage, bibb lettuce and dino kale
    • All vegetables should be pulsed in the food processor, steamed or gently cooked (do not feed raw vegetables)
    • Fur is a great source of fiber. It also is a source of manganese which has to be fed. A very small amount goes a long way. For example if you have access to rabbit belt, a piece the size of your thumbnail for a 20 pound dog is all you would need to add.

Other Notes

  • Carbohydrates are not essential in a dog’s diet. It can be an energy source but in the diet I formulate I leave them out
  • I feed raw pasture raised eggs three times a week
  • I do not add any grains or legumes
  • I feed a raw meaty bone twice a week
  • I noticed that canned sardines and oysters cause Orbit to start scratching herself about one hour after a meal so I stopped feeding canned seafood
  • I also noticed kefir or fermented raw food also caused the same itchy reaction so I don’t feed those to her.    
  • I do not balance to AAFCO or NRC as those are recommendations with feedlot ingredients to cook kibble. The pet food industry is aware that the dry food process makes food less bioavailable as well as makes efficiency of vitamins and supplements not as accessible. Formulating a raw diet to AAFCO’s levels would be like trying to cook a Japanese Dish with Keto guidelines. They are two very different philosophies in cooking and feeding (not apples to apples) so I would not do the same for raw diets, home-cooked diets, and kibble diets. AAFCO’s guidelines are necessary when you are producing tons of food and need to have minimum levels met.   
  • Instead I follow the guidelines from 5 different vets who support raw. Dr. Conor Brady, Dr. Dodds, Dr Judy Morgan, Dr. Billinhurst and Dr. Lonsdale.
  • I use an app – Cronometer which is great because it has data on raw meat, organs and seafood. I look at the nutritional data to look at key vitamins and minerals. I also love that it shows the Omega 3 and Omega 6 levels.

Essential Nutrients – Feed Daily

Oftentimes homemade diets are criticized to be low in Vitamin D, E, Zinc, Manganese and Iodine. To ensure this doesn’t happen to you feed whole food sources as follows:

Vitamin D: Salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, beef liver, eggs.  Just one oz of Wild Salmon will have enough vitamin D for my 20-pound dogs that day.

Vitamin E: Wheatgrass, sunflower seeds and almonds (soak and puree seeds and nuts). In addition to feeding wheatgrass, I supplement with 400 IUs twice a week because that is the size of the pills I have. The guideline for a 20-pound dog is 85-115 IUs daily, or 200 IUs every other day (for raw-fed diets). Source: Dogaware

Zinc: beef, buffalo, elk, goat, pork, turkey, lamb, eyeballs, heart, gizzards, green-lipped mussels, tongue, canned cooked oysters, wheatgrass, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, (soak and puree seeds and nuts).  

Manganese: Hair and feathers, blue or green-lipped mussels, green tripe, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds (soak and puree seeds and nuts).

Iodine: kelp, fish, oysters, eggs.

Test Before You Supplement

Every dog will be different – no two dogs are alike. Even my own.

A dog bed a varied raw food diet with meat, offal, bone, and seafood, with a small amount of plant matter, seeds, and nuts, will NOT be lacking in essential vitamins and minerals.

As a raw feeder, part of your annual expense should include a complete blood test (make sure you check T4, B12, Folate, Vitamin D, Zinc, and Vitamin E).

Your dog’s results will show you if they are at the appropriate levels.

Many holistic raw feeders never add in Zinc or Vitamin E if their dogs are a lot of variety. And their blood tests will prove out that their dogs are receiving the vitamins they need.

It might be tempting for you to look at raw feeder’s bowls on social media and see all of the supplements that are being added and feel pressured to do the same. Please TEST YOUR DOG BEFORE YOU SUPPLEMENT.

Supplements from synthetic ingredients is a dark science and supplementing at the level that kibble diets are formulated are not appropriate for raw food recipes. For example, zinc in its synthetic form is poorly absorbed by dogs.

Most usable to least usable forms of zinc:

  • Zinc citrate, picolinate, and gluconate are highly absorbable and easily used by your dog’s body
  • Chelated zinc is slightly less absorbable than zinc picolinate and zinc gluconate, but it generally doesn’t cause as much stomach upset as some other forms of zinc
  • Zinc methionine is relatively bioavailable and well-digested by most dogs (Zinpro is an organic supplemen and the only brand currently that I would recommend)
  • Zinc sulphate is hard on the stomach, so in general, it is recommended you crush it and add it in the food. However, this makes it less absorbable
  • Zinc oxide is very difficult for your dog to absorb. However, it’s cheap, which makes it the zinc of choice for many dog food manufacturers when adding zinc to their dog food

I’m a firm believer that you should feed with purpose and not just add supplements because it’s trending. 

What About Supplements?

Below is a list of supplements, what their purpose is, and the frequency in which to feed it

Mushrooms:  
Purpose: To help lower inflammation and fight against cancer.  
Frequency: Feed as needed. Can be daily if your dog has a lump or has allergies

Bone Broth:  
Purpose: Joint health, helps against inflammation boosts the immune system
Frequency: Can be daily

Enzymes
Purpose: Improves digestion 
Frequency: Can be daily if your dog has gas or acid reflux

Milk thistle: 
Purpose: Liver support
Frequency: Feed as needed. 

Prebiotic:  
Purpose: Supports the grown of probiotics
Frequency: Feed as needed. 

Probiotic: 
Purpose: Supports a healthy gut
Frequency: Feed as needed. 

Fruit
Purpose: Anti-oxidants
Frequency: Can be daily

Spirulina
Purpose: Small amounts of spirulina can help balance and stabilize the immune system 
Frequency: Feed as needed. 

Tumeric Paste
Purpose: Anti-inflammatory
Frequency: Feed as needed. 

Vitamin E
Due to the high amount of fish I feed, I also supplement with 400 IUs twice a week. Read dosage requirements on DogAware

Kelp
I add kelp to their meals daily and use the brand Animal Essentials.

Base Mixes

Base Mixes are an essential item in my pantry. I have been using Doctor Harvey’s Raw Vibrance base mix when preparing either a cooked or raw meal. All you have to do is add your protein, organ, and seafood and then you’re done.

One of the key features to base mixes in addition to the fact that it’s super easy – is that it has calcium already added into it. So if you DO NOT HAVE ANY BONE or do not WANT to FEED bone – then you would use a supplement that had calcium or add that into every single bowl.

I use this base mix at least 2 to 3 times a week that it deserves its own video. Stay tuned.

Treats and Chews

I feed single ingredient treats and chews from Real Dog Box. I treat my box as a way to add a variety of food I am not able to source. In one year I will receive a variety of up to 40 different types of treats and chews. For example I might get elk, duck heads, rabbit feet, or bison back strap chews which I can’t easily source on my own. But when I get it in my box it lets me reach the variety of up to eleven types of proteins and cuts that I feed my two Boston Terriers.

When I run out of what’s in those boxes I’ll use my home dehydrator to make my own.

Final thoughts  

I’ve seen the benefits in feeding my dogs a fresh, whole food diet.

Our vets have noted that:

  • Their allergies are almost non existent
  • They are at a healthy weight
  • Their blood count levels are in line with what they expect
  • Their teeth look great
  • Their body condition scores are healthy

Overall feeding a raw diet has worked out extremely well for my dogs. They are healthy and thriving.  

Remember every dog is different and what might work for my dogs may not be optimal for yours.

It’s essential to keep a diary to understand track what you are feeding. No matter what diet you are feeding monitor their: 

  • Teeth
  • Skin
  • Coat
  • Eyes
  • Stool
  • Energy
  • Behavior

Visit your vet regularly and have your dog’s blood levels checked. 

If you are able to – conduct a test through Parsley Pet annually. This is a simple and non-invasive way to discover if your pet is deficient in essential nutrients or has an overabundance of heavy metals in her body.

A hair mineral analysis test reveals your dog’s minerals deficiencies and heavy metal toxicity. You will receive a full analysis from a veterinarian explaining the test results and action steps.

At the end of the day, your dog’s health markers will give you a clear indication of whether or not you are on the right path.  

Let your dog and their health determine what’s best for them.  

Thank you for reading this far, dear friends. To your own dog’s health and happiness. Best of luck in your information-seeking journey.

Stay steadfast and curious as you research and form your own opinions on what’s best for YOUR dog. 

Sources:

Research by Dog Risk: https://www2.helsinki.fi/en/researchgroups/dogrisk-health-via-nutrition-epidemiology-and-cancer-detection-dogs/research-by-dogrisk#section-56404

Zinc: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33915721/

Minerals: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29953228/

Pet Food Industry Articles That Explain the Process of Minerals and Vitamins and state supplementation is not as bioavailable as real sources. 

https://www.petfoodprocessing.net/articles/14836-study-proves-benefits-of-premium-trace-minerals-in-canine-diets

https://www.petfoodprocessing.net/articles/13710-balancing-vitamins-and-minerals-for-bioefficacy-in-pet-food

https://www.petfoodprocessing.net/articles/13305-important-technologies-designed-to-optimize-nutrient-delivery-in-pet-diets

https://www.petfoodprocessing.net/articles/13999-how-antioxidants-keep-products-fresh-and-pets-healthy

On kibble and determining digestibility 

https://www.petfoodprocessing.net/articles/14760-key-considerations-for-balancing-amino-acids

How To DIY Raw: https://dogsfirst.ie/raw-faq/raw-diet-for-dogs/

Feeding Fish: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/11/201113103723.htm

Books: 

  • Dr. Conor: Feeding Dogs
  • Dr. Dodds: Canine Nutrigenomics
  • Dr. Tom Lonsdale: Raw Meaty Bones
  • Dr. Ian Billinghurst: Feed a Dog a Bone
  • Dr. Judy Morgan: Yin and Yang Nutrition for Dogs

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hannah Zulueta and her two dogs Maggie and Orbit

Hello, my name is Hannah, and learning about Boston Terriers and canine nutrition has become my life’s work. 

First and foremost I am a dog owner, a Boston Terrier breed enthusiast, and a seeker of the truth.

I started this blog because there isn’t enough space to write on our Instagram.

My mission is to equip Boston Terrier owners and dog owners alike with the knowledge I have so that your dog will live a longer life and better health.

I have two dogs.  Maggie is my socially awkward one; which I find highly relatable because I am completely out of place in large groups myself.  And Orbit is the freebird. She used to have terrible allergies but since she started eating fresh food she’s been symptom free.

You won’t read about cats here… but you will get a fairly large dosage of articles dedicated to the Boston Terrier.   Read more about us. 

By MaggieLovesOrbit.com, July 13, 2021
Fear-Based Health Care
The Unlearning
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