Imagine having to eat the same thing, day in and day out – it’d get pretty boring right?
Or eating food that could be doing you damage, because dog food from a supermarket (Coles, Woolies, Aldi) is basically McDonald’s, plain and simple. It’s full of salt, poor quality meat, high in fat, high sugar, vast amounts of preservatives and additives – as well as the dry food containing up to 20% ash. Yes, you read that right, ASH.
Cooking your dog’s meals can do wonders for their health, so let’s head to the kitchen with a Vet’s guidance!
The two BIG rules!
Above all else, there’s 2 dog food rules:
Rule A: DOGS ARE NOT LITTLE PEOPLE. Dogs have very different physiology compared to humans and therefore need a specific diet.
Rule B: DOG FOOD NEEDS TO BE BALANCED. Each meal should include all of their nutritional needs, which we’ll jump into next!
What nutrients do you need?
For the right balance of macronutrients, your dog’s meal should follow the below guide:
1) 50% vegetables for carbohydrates and fibre.
2) 40% lean meat and offal for protein.
3) 10% fats and oils.
Personally, I try to avoid grains as they’re usually high in calories – and grains are by far the most common source of allergies in pets – but adding some whole grains or seeds can be beneficial if you use just a single unprocessed grain like brown rice, whole corn or flax seeds.
Okay, now your dog food shopping list!
1. Vegetables (50% of ingredients)
Vegetables are the key to mixing up your dog’s flavours and food, by using different vegetables you can be assured that your pet is going to be getting a whole range of amino acids, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and fibre.
Using as many colours as possible is a good rule of thumb for a good vegetable dietary profile. A bag of mixed frozen vegetables is super cheap now-days and can be given to your dog “raw” as well.
But remember, GARLIC, ONIONS and GRAPES are toxic to dogs – so never use them in their food.
2. Meat and offal (40% of ingredients)
Lean meats and Offal are the building block of life, so for a growing pup or a high energy dog – a good source of high-quality protein is important. Using lean cuts of meat or mince (like chicken or turkey) is best. If you want to spoil your pooch with some steak, go for it, just be sure to trim the fat!
Dogs need 10 essential amino acids that primarily come from meats and protein rich legumes. By using offal, especially liver, heart and kidneys you can get more of these as well as extra nutrients like iron, B vitamins and zinc.
Just make sure the meat is ALWAYS cooked (we’ll cover this later – but raw can be quite dangerous).
3. Fats (10% of ingredients)
Fats help every cell in a dog’s body – and healthy cell membranes are the foundation of good health. Dietary fats are also required for the absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K which are all essential for good health and immunity. Dogs also cannot make poly unsaturated fats so these must be added to your dog’s food as well.
Some of the best fat profiles are a mix of two different types. 2/3 animal fat (chicken or pork is best) 1/3 seed oil (safflower oil or any oil high in polyunsaturated fats). Another great tip is to add ¼ of a tin of sardines in oil to your dog’s diet each night as well.
Having all the right fats will also help your dog’s coat, and skin stays shiny and super healthy.
The power of fresh water!
Additional to cooking your pet’s food, never underestimate the power of clean water – and water during meal time is essential to get the stomach and intestines running optimally and help maintain digestion.
Clean water, daily, in multiple bowls around the house/property will help your dog get all the fluids they need.
The raw diet ….problem.
We have one rule at our clinic, “no raw food, ever”. By raw food, we are referring to raw meat and eggs, not raw vegetables, grains or fruit. Although there seems to be a big online push for “raw” diets, it’s essential you know the risks.
Because it’s not actually the digestion of raw food, but the campylobacter and salmonella that run RIFE through raw meats and eggs when not cooked or stored in the right way. Raw food kills hundreds of pets each year all around Australia.
Just because a dog used to eat raw food in the “wild” doesn’t mean that it’s better for them – in fact, wild dogs live to only 5-7 years of age on average – something to consider if you currently feed your dog raw.
Raw food is too risky, and so are bones. But we’ll address this in another Blog article so you can make informed decisions.
…. So for now, happy cooking – and enjoy the licks after your pup has devoured one of your delicious home cooked meals!!