There are many opinions about the best diet for dogs. I feed some meals of cooked stews made with meat & veggies, some
meals of raw chicken and other raw meats, and some meals of high-Meat-protein, low-carbohydrate, no-grain kibble. Some people favor an all raw
diet. Others exclusively use packaged dry dog foods ('kibble'). Some of these kibbles are much better than others.
The cheap dog kibbles are
mostly grain. These grain-based kibbles do have the amount of protein their labels say they have, but it is not the right
kind of protein for dogs. Proteins are made up of amino acids. Different sources of protein contain different
types of amino acids in different amounts. Grains do not provide the correct types and balance of amino acids for dogs.
Dogs require 22 amino acids (the building blocks that make up proteins). Dogs can synthesize 12 of these amino acids.
The remaining ones - called 'essential amino acids' - must be consumed. Some of the essential amino acids are
not present in proteins from grains. A deficiency in any of the essential amino acids can cause health problems.
Meat, fish, and eggs are the best sources of high-quality protein for healthy, happy dogs. If you give your dog a diet
high in meat-protein, some of the protein will be used as calories, some used to build and repair the body, and any excess
will be excreted.
Dogs bodies have been designed by nature to thrive on the high-protein, meat-based diet of a carnivore. They won't prosper
best on a high-carbohydrate grain-based diet any more than you would if you tried to live on a diet of grass that your horse would thrive on.
As omnivores we humans can make better use of carbohydrates / grains in our diet than dogs can. We need to feed our dogs a diet that
suits their digestive systems rather than a diet that would work for us. Dog foods which contain at least some meat-source
protein together with grain may prevent or delay the negative health consequences that would result from a total absence
of the essential amino acids lacking in grains, but the best diet for dogs clearly should be based on meat, fish, & eggs.
Grains contain large amounts of carbohydrates. Much lower amounts of carbohydrates can be useful for a dog, but high levels
of carbs in grain-based diets lead to weight gain and nutritional deficiencies.
"If no one on earth
had ever seen a dog, and a dog arrived from another planet in a flying saucer, and we were wondering what food to offer, the
dog's sharp teeth and short digestive system and other physical traits would clearly be saying 'This
is a carnivore. His nutritional needs will best be met with meat.'"
Some vets will tell you that too much protein will cause kidney
disease or other health problems. This is not true. It used to be widely believed in the past, but now is known to
If your dog has a kidney disease, please see Mary Straus's 'DogAware' website.
report that their dogs with arthritic problems improved greatly when grain was removed from their diets. Chronic skin
problems are also reported to be resolved by removing grains from dogs' diets, as well as other health problems.
It may be that some dogs are genetically more strongly predisposed to have arthritic & other health problems when
fed a lot of grain and other carbohydrates. It is certainly true that dogs do not need grain in their diet and that grains are not an ideal food for
are now a number of no-grain dog foods available. It is important in choosing among them to consider protein sources
& protein percentages. Simply being a no-grain food is not good enough.
'No-grain' has become trendy, so some kibble makers
are selling new products in which they have simply switched from grain to another carbohydrate. It is possible
for a kibble to be no-grain but have too little animal protein and/or low quality animal protein. Look at the ingredients
listed on the bag. By law these must be listed in order of percentage in the kibble. The first named ingredient
being the thing there is most of in the kibble, etc. However, be wary. Some manufacturers will break down ingredients
listed so as to give a false impression. For instance, if a kibble is mostly rice with only a little meat, the
ingredients list should in honesty read:
rice/rice broken pieces/rice hulls/ground rice), chicken meal," --- etc etc
but the manufacturer knows many people look to see what the first named ingredient is on the bag, so he breaks out
the various rice items as separate ingredients, letting him put 'chicken' first, thus:
"Chicken, brewers rice, rice pieces, rice hulls, ground rice," --- etc etc
Or, the manufacturer could use multiple non-meat ingredients to
let him keep chicken as the first listed ingredient while the proportion of chicken in the kibble is actually small:
"Chicken, brewers rice, rice pieces, corn, wheat, ground brown
rice, rice powder, beat pulp," --- etc etc.
A kibble could have a dozen non-meat ingredients which added together comprised more than 90% of the kibble's
weight, but if no single one of the non-meat ingredients were more than a chicken proportion of 8%, the chicken would
be listed as the first ingredient.
Seeing high quality meat sources (such as chicken, turkey, chicken meal, etc) as the first several ingredients,
and high protein percentages overall, are the indicators of a good quality no-grain kibble.
-- Seeing one or two low quality protein sources (like "poultry
by-product meal") followed by non-meat ingredients, and a lower protein percentage overall, indicates a low quality kibble.
---- Here are the kibbles I like best:
--The Natura company which makes 'Innova' brand kibble has a
no-grain kibble named 'Evo'. Great for adult dogs, but not recommended for puppies.
-- Champion Petfoods makes 'Orijen'. A great adult kibble,
and for puppys, 'Orijen Puppy' is the best there is.
--The Wellness company makes a good grain-free kibble called 'Core'.
Here is a link to a dogfood analysis and review website:
meals which include a variety of meats and veggies are good. Raw meat meals are good. A high-quality, no-grain,
high-Meat-protein, low-carb commercial dog food is also good choice. Using a good quality kibble for at least part of a dog's
diet insures that you aren't missing some necessary nutrient in your home-made food. Here is a link to the Orijen 'White Paper' on dog nutrition which is extensive and well worth reading if you want to be better informed on dog nutrition.
I stopped using grains and reduced all carbohydrates I found that dogs were much less inclined to put on excess weight. Many dogs who have ligament
injuries are overweight dogs. It is important to get their weight down as part of recovery and for avoidance of future
'Diet' dog foods are marketed to appeal to humans. The kibble makers
who sell these cut back on the more nutritious meat protein and animal fat components and put in more carbohydrate fillers so that the food bowl can be just as full
but the dog will have more filler (corn meal etc) in the same volume and less high quality meat protein & other preferable
ingredients. The food appeals to humans who would feel bad about feeding Fido less, but this is not good for Fido.
It is much better to simply feed him less of a top quality food.
Supplements ---- There are different opinions about the various joint supplements. The
foundational supplements for joints are Glucosamine & Chondroitin. There are many manufacturers of these supplements.
There is no reason to prefer supplements marketed especially for animals. It is fine to use human-grade supplements. You
can find them at most places that sell vitamins. Supplements are also available through catalog and internet sale.
Vets sell joint supplements but there is usually a high markup on the price.
There are now dry dog foods which include Glucosamine & Chondroitin. The amounts included are very small
relative to what a dog should be getting. Supplement tablets are the best way to provide appropriate dosages.
I often hear from people that their vets have recommended dosage amounts that I believe are less than optimum. Here's
the amounts which I, and many other people, have used for years with good effect.
Daily Joint Supplement Dosages:
500mg per 25 lbs of body weight ( 20mg/lb)
400mg per 25 lbs of body weight.
You can safely give more so you don't have to split tablets. Just give
however many tablets it takes to be at or over those dosages. These are very safe supplements.
---- Many supplements' front labels say something like "1500mg Glucosamine" when this is the amount
in what they consider a serving, rather than per tablet. Be sure you are calculating properly to give the right amount.
For instance, if there are 3 tablets per serving and a serving is 1500mg, then each tablet is 500mg.