Canine Nutrition

The basis for our and our pets’ health is diet. It is the most basic support for the best health and it can be the biggest challenge to health…depending on what you eat. No matter what wonderful holistic approaches you use, if the diet is a non-supportive challenging diet, then your body will always be challenged.

Canine Nutrition is an area of interest/study for many years for me. It started when I had 2 dogs over 20 years ago with some serious health challenges that were not responding to medical help. I became suspicious these challenges were diet related. After a lot of study/research/learning from true experts on canine nutrition, I decided to switch my dogs to a complete grain free raw diet.

The results for my 2 dogs: complete reversal of all health issues… no more seizures, liver returned to normal within 6 months (after 2 years of abnormal liver function), IBD issues resolved and the allergies also. To say I was sold on the raw complete diet, is an understatement.

It can be disturbing to discover what is in commercial pet foods (by-products, renderings, additives…):

Pet food has been a dumping ground for the human food industry to profit from food that is unfit for human consumption – and yes, even a place to “recycle” our euthanized pets. To say that the ingredients in most commercial pet food are high quality is not the reality. Because of the poor quality ingredients - even ingredients sourced from diseased/long dead animals and plants, lack of proper storage, processing procedures which leads to over processing which damages the nutrients in the food… our pets’ health is challenged.

  • It is important to remember that a dog’s GI tract is a carnivore’s tract.
  • Their saliva does not contain enzymes to start the fermentation process of plant material, it is mostly a lubricant.
  • The enzymes they have are different in nature than humans. They produce protease for animal protein digestion and very little amylase for plant digestion (grains/starch).
  • Their relatively short digestive tract is designed to easily digest meat protein and fat. The short digestive tract makes it difficult for them to process plant foods as they don’t have the capability to ferment and absorb plant nutrients like an herbivore or omnivore animal. Because of this, feeding a diet high in grains/plant material can and does create health issues.

There is no “best” food for all dogs. What works well for one dog may not be supportive for another, especially for dogs with some health issues which may require some adjustments. However, I have found that for the majority of dogs, a nutritionally complete, grain free, low carbohydrate diet helps to best support our dogs.

It is better for a dog to get a variety of foods and especially different meat proteins (chicken, beef, turkey, rabbit, salmon), rather than just one food for its whole life. Rotating frequently from one protein to another helps to avoid food sensitivities that can happen when you only feed one meat protein, especially if you feed only one specific dog food.


Check out “Some of the Worst Pet Food Ingredients”


Today there are several small companies that prepare a complete grain free raw frozen dog food and from my research, some of them provide an excellent ground product. I have fed a few of them to my dogs since 2002, and I am the most impressed with Primal Raw Frozen.

If you are interested in preparing your dog’s food from scratch, here is some good information:


Do Further Research for Assessments of Different Dog Foods.  Choose 5 Star and also verify in different meat selections under specific dog food, that it is also a 5 Star assessed food.   Use:

My Top Picks for Prepared Raw Diets:

  • Primal (except for beef, lamb, chicken = lower rated)
  • Stella & Chewies (only recommend chicken, venison, rabbit and pheasant)
  • Answers Detailed Dog Food (recommend all)

There are also some companies that make a freeze dried product made from raw ingredients that you reconstitute. Freeze drying helps to preserve the nutrients in the food ingredients and is far less processed/damaged than canned foods.   I have personally not fed them as I prefer to go with the raw frozen, just a little less processing involved.

My Top Picks for Freeze Dried Raw Diets:

  • Stella & Chewies Meal Mixer Freeze Dried (except Duck and Goose)
  • Nutrisca Raw Freeze Dried (all OK)
  • Primal Freeze Dried (do not recommend beef, lamb or chicken)

There are also, now, several lines of canned foods that are very good (the processing does do some damage but not nearly as much as to dried foods). Look for foods that are grain free, high meat quality named meats: beef, chicken, turkey, salmon and NOT poultry, meat, fish as there are definite issues there with what can be included).

My Top Picks for Canned Food:

  • Tiki Dog Aloha Petites (all OK)
  • Wellness Core Dog Food  (all OK)
  • Canine Naturals Grain Free Stew (all OK)

If you choose to feed a dry food, please go with a grain free, high quality, specific meat sourced food, if possible add some quality canned food to bump up the more readily usable meat protein. At least a few times a week or each meal if possible: 1/3 canned mixed with 2/3 dry. Make sure you provide clean water (no plastic bowls) every day (bacterial can build up into water from dog dripping water back into bowl from mouth and grow in cracks that form in plastic).

My Top Picks for Dry Food:

  • Acana Regionals Dog Food (USA) (all OK - I think this is best dry)
  • Nutrience Grain Free (all OK)
  • Natures Variety Instinct Original (all OK)

Here are some sources for finding better foods for your dogs:

(only consider 4-5 star foods with no grains)

Take time to compare different foods. Only choose those that have all boxes checked off with green check marks.


Information on What is a Healthy Dog Food and What is in Commercial Dog Food:

An amazing site with some good information about Diet as related to Disease - cause/support in healing, and different diets. Mary Straus - the site owner - was groups major researcher.