I'm overwhelmed! What's the best approach if I want to feed my dog a fresh food diet?
Updated: Oct 7, 2021
There are many different nutritional philosophies when it comes to feeding our dogs a fresh food diet.
In dog feeding circles, there are various feeding percentage ratios from 80/10/10, 80/10/5/5 to 50/40/5/5 and others, then there’s prey model, BARF, raw vs cooked, 100% balanced meals daily, balance over time - and is balance obtained by a ratio or by AAFCO or NRC?
Whether you look at feeding philosophies for yourself or your dog, it can be so overwhelming that we can have a tendency to give up and feed (or eat) whatever we want because nobody can agree on anything! Please don’t give up -diet is one thing we actually have control over and it’s been shown to be one of the biggest contributors to health and longevity in our dogs.
My own philosophy in feeding my dogs has evolved over the past 20+ years. I have fed based on various ratios, generic recipes, commercial raw, homemade cooked and raw but it wasn’t until I started using the National Research Council guidelines in my dog’s diets where I was truly able to tailor their diets for their uniqueness. Dalmatians need low purine foods – this means that organ meats and oily fish are out – among others. If I fed by ratios, then I’ve lost a whole segment of the equation – whether it’s 5% or 10% or what have you. Now what?
It’s not just Dalmatians that have genetic uniqueness, all breeds- including mixed breeds -have some sort of genetic predisposition. Within the breed, there is still individual uniqueness. What if your dog can’t tolerate the % of bone that the ratio philosophy suggests or their stools get too hard, so you reduce the bone…is the diet still providing enough calcium? What if your dog can’t tolerate the % of organ meats that the philosophy suggests or they get runny stools or vomit? If you reduce or eliminate nutrient dense organ meats, then you are reducing vitamins and minerals.
Please consider the questions below as a guide to help you navigate the various models.
Remember that initially almost any change from processed food to fresh food may show up with positive external results – shiny coat, firm stools, and perhaps better energy. Fresh foods provide powerful nutrition and that means even an unbalanced diet is going to look great- at first.
Are you confident that the chosen feeding philosophy will proactively support your dog’s health long term – from puppy to adulthood and their senior years?
Do you know what your dog’s predispositions are and does the feeding philosophy effectively address them?
If your dog’s health status changes, how will the feeding philosophy apply?
If your dog has food intolerances or certain food preferences that translates to some type of restricted feeding, does the feeding method address the potential nutrient imbalances?
Do you truly have peace of mind you’re meeting your dog’s requirements?