Food and Nutrition.

The basis for good health in our pets is diet and the key to good health is prevention.  The more natural and fresh the diet, the more nutrients are available for our pet’s bodies to use in building a good immune system.

For dogs, the three main options for feeding are:

  • Commercially packaged dog food
  • Home-cooked diet
  • Raw meat and bones

There are pros and cons to each diet that you, as your dog’s caregiver, should know about.


Commercially packaged dog food.

Should you choose to feed your dog a commercially packaged dog food, be aware of the ingredients.  For example, dogs do not digest grains well since they are carnivores. 

-Avoid commercial foods that have chemical preservatives such as butylated hydroxyanisole (BHT), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHA) , or ethoxyquin, and choose those that have natural preservatives such as vitamin C,E and mixed tocopherols (which have a potent form of natural vitamin E).  Most canned food also contains propylene glycol, which is a petroleum by-product. 

-If you feed kibble (dry food) keep it in an airtight container in a dry environment.  All kibble contains storage mites because they like to eat grains and the mold found on grains.  When the molds are being eaten by the mites, they secrete mycotoxins (chemicals secreted by toxic mold) and when the grain is processed, all of this end up in the kibble.

-Choose a food that does not contain any by-products, which is anything that is left over but should be thrown out.

For more information about pet food, visit the pet food report.


Home-Cooked Diets.

There is a wide variety of recipes and ways to do this.  Many people combine pureed vegetables, meat and eggs, and then bake the entire mixture.  Or you can just choose to focus on meat and bones.  Because dogs have short intestines designed for carnivores, bacteria don’t have time to incubate inside them like they do in humans.  So, you won’t need to cook the food very long.  Many people who prepare cooked diets for their dogs will prepare enough for a week at a time, and then freeze the food. 

One of the downsides to this diet is that many of the good enzymes and probiotics found in food are killed off during the cooking process.  Therefore, you’ll want to supplement your dog’s diet with a daily whole food supplement.

The American Veterinary Medical Association does not recommend home-cooked diets.  Dr. Tony Buffington, DVM, Ph.D., an Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine professor of clinical sciences and a member of the AVMA agrees but he recommends Home-Prepared Dog & Cat Diets: the Healthful Alternative by Dr. Donald Strombeck as a good cookbook for pets. Dr. Buffington also recommends as one the best Web sites on home-cooked pet diets.


Raw Diet.

A raw diet is commonly known as a BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food), which includes meats, bones, and even some vegetables, eggs, yogurt and nuts, or SARF (Species Appropriate Raw Food), which excludes vegetables, eggs, and nuts.  

A raw food diet consists of a variety of meats and raw bone.  Some of the benefits associated with a raw food diet include clean, white teeth, small, dry stools, shiny coat, no bad body odor or breath.  As with the other diets discussed above, it’s important to thoroughly research the benefits and pitfalls.  For more information, go to

Cats have much higher protein and fat requirements than people, dogs and many other mammals.  As true carnivores, their diet should consist of about 30 percent protein.  Cats also require taurine, an amino acid found in meat. 


Commercially packaged cat food.

Like with commercially packaged dog foods, it’s important to read the labels carefully. 

-Watch for qualifiers such as “dinner”, “entrée,” and “platter.”  Using these descriptions reduces the amount of the main ingredient that must be present in the food.  For example, “tuna for cats” must be at least 95 percent (dry weight, excluding water) tuna, while “tuna entrée” requires only 25 percent (dry weight) tuna. 

-“Complete” means that all nutrients cats require are present in the food.  “Balanced” means that these nutrients are presnt in the food in sufficient quantity relative to the energy content of the food, so that when your cat eats, he gets the required amount of all the nutrients he needs.

-“Complete and balanced” means the food is high in animal protein and fat, low in carbohydrates and contains a balanced mix of vitamins and minerals

For more information about pet food, visit the pet food report.


Homemade Cat Foods.

Homemade diets for cats can include cooked meats, vegetables, fruits and grains. Others focus on raw ingredients including meaty chicken and turkey bones, organ meat (liver, kidney, heart, brain, tongue and tripe) and eggs.  Leafy vegetables can be added after running them through a food processor. Vegetable oils, brewer’s yeast, kelp, apple cider vinegar, raw honey, dairy products (such as raw goat milk, cottage cheese and plain yogurt) and grain can be added.  Note that cooked bones can kill your cat. They splinter when they break, and the sharp ends can perforate her esophagus, stomach or intestines

Your pet's diet should be one that is balanced and focuses on high quality ingredients