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Good health for dogs, as well as people, requires variety and fresh food in the diet. To meet this need add fresh foods to a dry dog food base. Since heat and processing destroys or alters the nutrients in foods, add supplements that return the lost nutrients back into the diet.

For the best nutrition follow the guidelines under optimal nutrition below. Since it is not always possible to feed optimal nutrition, the following are suggestions to help select the best nutrition available. When selecting food consider the following:

To obtain even minimally good nutrition, you must read the labels – on both food and treats – and good nutrition can be hard to find.

At a minimum, your dog's food and treats should contain

  • No artificial preservatives (BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, or propyl gallate)
  • No artificial colors
  • No sugars and sweeteners (corn syrup, sucrose, and ammoniated glycyrrhizin)
  • No propylene glycol
  • No soy containing products except lecithin
  • No animal digest
  • No animal by-products. Limit the amount in treats

Good Nutrition: In addition to the above list, use

  • A whole meat source as one of the first two ingredients. The meat should be single- source meat, i.e., chicken not poultry, it may be listed as chicken or chicken meal. Ideally the food should list two meat sources, but do not eliminate a good food on this lack alone. If you do feed a single meat source, try to avoid lamb by itself. There have been questions about the completeness of the amino acid profile in single-source lamb products used long term.
  • Whole fats, i.e., salmon oil, safflower oil, flax seed oil, chicken fat.
  • Natural preservatives (vitamin C, vitamin E [tocopherol], and rosemary)

Optimal Nutrition: In addition to the above lists, use these products:

  • Super Premium* food that meets the above requirements.
  • Probiotics, Digestive Enzymes, and Dietary Enzymes to put the "living component" back into the processed foods. These boosting the immune system and providing the body with the correct nutrients to help it flush toxins and repair itself. By doing so, it helps prevent allergic reactions, vaccine reactions, and cleanse toxins from the body.
  • Balanced Omega 3 and 6 – Salmon Oil .
  • To the morning meal, add one of the following: up to 1/4 cup cultured yogurt, buttermilk, ricotta cheese, 1 large soft-boiled egg including the shell (chopped), 2-4 tablespoons of premium canned or dehydrated dog food (such as The Honest Kitchen, Merrick or Evangers). These have a balanced calcium/phosphorous ratio and may be fed at any time. You may also add up to 1/4 cup cottage cheese, shredded cheese, egg without the shell, or raw/lightly cooked meat (beef, chicken, turkey). These protein additions need to be alternated to maintain the calcium/phosphorous ratio. Alternate the protein sources for a variety of amino acids and mineral content. These amounts are for adults, decrease appropriately for the puppy's age.
  • To the evening meal, add up to 1/4 cup of finely chopped fruits or vegetables: carrots, broccoli, tomato, zucchini, squash, kale, collard and turnip greens, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, green beans, sweet potato, berries, melon, apple, orange, or banana.You can give some of the fruits and vegetables raw, but most of them should be put through a food processor or steamed. Frozen vegetables work well when fresh are not available or convenient. These amounts are for adults, decrease appropriately for the puppy's age.


If you are interested in further information on nutrition, most dog food companies have their formulas (including ingredients, calorie, protein, and fat content) and distributor lists of their foods on their web sites. When choosing a food check the protein and fat content. Keep the protein between 22-26%. The fat content is not as crucial although it should be at least 12% until the dog reaches 8 years of age.

*Examples of good super premium foods are NutriSource, Holistic Select, Precise Holistic, Life's Abundance, Evangers, Fromm Gold, Fromm Four-Star, Merrick, and Flint River Ranch. Most of these foods are only available direct from the company, through distributors, or "small" pet stores. Many of them have web sites that will lead you to a distributor list. See the links page for web site information

The above list of foods is short because we do not believe in feeding foods manufactured by large conglomerates. Typically the ingredients are of lower quality and product control is not as strict. If you cannot find a food manufactured by a smaller company, please read the label ingredients and follow the recommendations above for selecting a quality food. Blue Buffalo, Canidae, Castor & Pollux, Natural Balance, Nutro Ultra Holistic Adult, PetGuard, and Natural Balance are good foods manufactured by larger corporations.

"Grain-free" diets are not recommended. Grain-free does not mean carbohydrate free. Generally these products have switched the grains for tapioca, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and/or peas as the carbohydrate source. Not enough research has been done on grain-free diets to recommend them, especially during growth.

Treats/Dog Biscuits:
Treats fall under the same category as food. If it is ingested, it needs to be free from the artificial additives put into dog food today. Good treats may not be easy to find. Even those labeled as “natural” sometimes have preservatives in them. Treats are covered on the treat page.


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Copyright 2006-2013 Susan Armstrong - All rights reserved

Updated July 2013