Natural Dog Food Diet FAQ

Most nutritionists will tell you feeding natural dog food usually consists of home-prepared meals made for your dog from ingredients you would use to feed yourself. However, in actuality, this may take on many forms.

1. Why Do Pet Owners Doubt Commercial Kibble?

The problem with relying on commercially prepared dog foods to provide a natural diet for your dog is that the dog food industry is not tightly regulated. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) regulates the minimum standards with which dog food must comply. It has more difficulty regulating other claims that pet food companies may make, such as "organic" or "human-grade ingredients."

Many companies may use these claims without substantiating them, so proceed with caution when choosing a natural diet from commercially prepared food. Honest Kitchen did win a court battle which allows it to use the term "human-grade ingredients," since the company proved that its freeze-dried food products were, in fact, made completely from human-grade ingredients.

2. What Is a Raw Diet?

Though most proponents of the natural dog food diet state that the food must be cooked, many nutritionists and veterinarians claim the raw food diet is the most natural because it imitates the way dogs eat in the wild. Use caution when instituting a raw diet because dogs aren't accustomed to all the chemicals and steroids added to the meats that we humans eat. Therefore, raw hamburger may not be the best diet for your dog.

There are many commercially prepared raw diets that take meats from both muscles and organs, which provide dogs with key nutrients that our meat may not provide. It's also important to include ground vegetables or fruits because dogs are omnivores and require certain nutrients provided by fruits and vegetables.

3. How Can I Prepare a Home-Cooked Diet?

In the strictest definition, home-cooked foods are known as the natural dog food diet. In this diet, human foods are prepared for the dog's meals and thoroughly cooked along with vegetables, fruits and possibly grains or starches. When preparing a home-cooked diet, it's important to follow a recipe that includes all the nutrients your dog needs. It's also a good idea to rotate the types of protein, vegetable and grain sources that you use to prevent allergies from developing.

In his book, "Natural Health for Dogs and Cats," Dr. Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, PhD, recommends adding healthy powder to each meal, which includes 2 cups brewer's yeast, 1 cup lecithin granules, 1/4 cup kelp powder, 4 tablespoons bone meal powder and 1,000 mg vitamin C. Small dogs can have 1 to 2 teaspoons per day, 2 to 3 for medium dogs and 2 to 3 tablespoons for large dogs. This ensures they are getting the nutrients they need that may not be in the meat or vegetables you have on hand.

These meals can be prepared in large quantities and frozen so you don't have to prepare a new meal each day, but they should be warmed before feeding. You can also add eggs or yogurt for additional nutrients.

Preparing a home-cooked meal for your dog is a great way to ensure that he gets all the nutrients he needs from high-quality foods. However, be sure to follow a recipe so no nutrient is left out.