Food & Nutrition
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10 Myths and Misperceptions About Homemade Dog Food

5. “My dog had some loose stools, so cutting way down on fiber will correct that.”

Fiber is an important dietary component, and the type of fiber you use counts as much or more than the amount (fiber is commonly used to address both constipation and diarrhea problems).
If your dog has loose stools on a homemade diet, switch to bland meals or cut back on the amount of food by about 30 percent for a day or so, and watch for other symptoms that might indicate an illness or parasites. If the problem doesn’t clear up within a few days, consult your veterinarian.

6. “I use a lot of fresh veggies in my dog’s diet because they offer so many health benefits.”

Vegetables’ role in the canine diet has been a topic of considerable discussion. One school of thought holds that adding them is inappropriate, since dogs are carnivores and do not need plant matter. Others emphasize the need for both veggies and fruit to boost not only essential nutrients but also phytochemicals that may provide protection from disease.

Unlike cats, who are obligate carnivores (animals who must get their primary nutrition from meat), dogs’ systems are more accommodating, and vegetables offer a lot in the way of health benefits. But here again, we are faced with the all-important questions, “How much and what type?” Some vegetables have elements that may interfere with the absorption of minerals, and others, such as those in the nightshade family—tomatoes, white potatoes, eggplants and peppers—contain solanine, an alkaloid that some theorize aggravates inflammation. Use veggies judiciously: Limit dark leafy greens—which contain high levels of oxalate and may contribute to bladder stones in dogs who are prone to them—and be conservative with nightshades. Green beans and carrots are usually safe bets, and pumpkin and sweet potatoes are well tolerated (unlike white potatoes, sweet potatoes are not in the nightshade family, but are high in calories and starch).

7. “Dogs don’t require carbs, and grains are bad for them.”
This is one of the most often-quoted—and misunderstood!—of all the ideas here. It seems to come from National Research Council studies, which conclude that dogs have no strict requirement for dietary carbohydrates. Briefly put, canines can metabolize adequate glucose (blood sugar) from a diet consisting of fat and protein alone.

All this means is that lack of carbohydrates will not lead to an identifiable deficiency in the way that a lack of Vitamin C in humans will produce scurvy. It does not, however, mean that a carb-free diet is a good idea. To complicate this issue, many people use the terms “carbohydrate” and “grain” interchangeably, thinking they’re following a no-carb diet because they have eliminated grains.

Complex carbohydrates provide energy and aid in healthy gastrointestinal function, and some portion of your dog’s homemade food should consist of brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, legumes (which also add protein) or starchy vegetables. Try to keep levels consistent so if need be, you can make adjustments.

8. “A raw diet is always superior to one that’s cooked—dogs fed raw do not get sick.”

Raw diets vary in type; some seek nutrient balance while others utilize a “prey model” approach, which mimics the diet of wolves or wild dogs as closely as possible. These diets have become hugely popular over the past decade, and to be sure, there are dogs who absolutely thrive on them. But some do not. As with a cooked diet, it’s essential to ensure proper formulation. Raw diets have drawbacks as well as benefits, and may not be suitable for every dog.

If you are planning to try a raw approach, do your homework. Research both within and outside the various raw communities that exist on the Internet. Talk to veterinarians and nutritionists, read widely, and take your time.

9. “Raw diets are a dangerous fad. I’d be scared to try it.”

CommentsPost a Comment
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Submitted by Anonymous | March 31 2011 |

Excellent article. It is along the lines of the information that can be found at the http://www.petdiets.com site run by canine nutritionists.

Submitted by Rod | January 30 2013 |

Most all of the ten of these so-called myths are "straw man" arguments. You make up a non-existent claim and then shoot it down. Why don't you deal head-on with the fact that a well-balanced homemade diet with fresh meat beats the commercial junk food, especially the dry food (kibble) every time?

Submitted by Anonymous | February 7 2013 |


Submitted by Cat Lane | March 18 2014 |

Hi Rod,
I'm not sure I understand - I wasn't making up claims here, these myths keep coming up over and over all the time, on my yahoogroup, on Facebook on dog forums...I thought I might address them, one by one. I completely agree hat a well formulated home made diet beats kibble, but it really should be well formulated! That was my main point. :)

Submitted by Anonymous | April 19 2014 |

Since dog needs vary a great deal, how are we even ensured that commercial dog food adequately meets the specific needs of your dog? The arguments and worry about a balanced homemade diet can be made for mass produced kibble diet. Can all the varying dog breed nutritional needs be meet by the simple categories of "large breed" "small breed" and "senior" as the packaged kibbles would suggest?

Submitted by Monica McLaughlin | June 14 2013 |

To prepare food to feed a dog the author suggests "reading widely, speaking with nutritionists and vets (holistic, conventional and specialists)".
Wow. Feeding a dog without the help of the dog food industry sounds like rocket science -- way too difficult for a mere mortal. Better buy commercial dog food, because no matter how bad they make it, mere mortals could only do worse. (Makes one wonder how we manage to feed ourselves, doesn't it?!)

I particularly love the suggestion that those attempting to make food for their dog speak with vets. You mean we should consult with those people who generally suggest that we feed our pets that Science Diet garbage? Get real Ms. Lane. If you don't already work for the commercial pet food industry, you really must sign up.

Submitted by ken jones | August 7 2013 |

Right you are !! Jesus, I am so sick of hearing about how we can't supply our dogs with the proper nutrition from homemade, nourishing food. I switched to this method last week, in short time my Boxer has normal stools, more energy, better looking coat you name it! Synthetic nutrition (whats inside most commercial kibble) is NOT as good as naturally occurring in nature...works for me AND my dog. Amen !!

Submitted by Cat Lane | March 18 2014 |

Precision nutrition is really powerful, Ken. Many dogs do extremely well initially in a home made diet that is not correctly supplemented, but down the road, problems related to nutritional deficiency do arise. I completely agree that nourishing food is the basis, ad I derive as much nutrient as possible from food, in my recipes. But the areas that come up low I supplement. I have a unique perspective; I do this for a living, so I see a lot more than the general public. Low levels of Vitamins and minerals do really impact on health, over time. And we know that "variety" won't equate to adequacy - hence, my attempt to help with a problem I see vastly more of than the average dog owner ever will. :)

Submitted by Shell | February 27 2014 |

In some ways I agree with your comment, about Vets seemingly working for the pet food industry. But in reality, it was my Vet that recommended the home cooked diet for my dogs, even gave me printed guidelines for making their meals! She also noted that if given raw chicken (bones and all) a calcium supplement wouldn't be necessary. But I liked the part of how to get a calcium supplement from egg shells. I can use that when feeding meats other than chicken. The Vet also recommended only chicken be given raw, and only after 3 days of freezing, then thawed in refrigerator, no other, other meats should be cooked to well done, (due to parasites) and only raw chicken bones no other, not even cooked!

Submitted by Cat Lane | March 18 2014 |

Hi Monica,
I think we might have to agree to disagree - I really do believe, given the many analyses I have done over the years, that what people end up feeding without any kind of guidance can be very problematic!Yes, feeding a dog home made food without proper research and education can end up in a disaster.I want to be clear that yes, I recognize many or even most vets, don't have a lot of training in education...but, they do have knowledge about canine health conditions,and I would never discount their input. In my years of consulting I've learned much from vets; it's still a valid suggestion in my book.
I think you have misunderstood my intention, which was to empower people with a wide range of knowledge, so they don't end up creating health issues they seek to avoid. I've seen it so many times, and it really is heartbreaking.
Not rocket science, but not something we should just take a casual attitude towards either.

Submitted by pam | June 16 2013 |

i am 51 years old and grew up with dogs, who 'strangely' lived to the age of 14 and 15 or more, eating only 'human food'! they very seldom went to the vet, then many years later, married with children and a golden retriever who suffered from excema and died at the age of 8 having been on cortisone from the age of 5 months! so much for royal canin science hill and all the others sold by the vet who make tons of money of petfood. i recently got another golden retriever and will be cooking her food at home costing a 10% of vets food and this not with the vets approval (i wonder why, -$$$$$?) they say dogs have evolved since the 60's,(do they actually think i must believe such a crock?) thank goodness common sense prevails and my vet bills will be confined to boosters once a year as the last 7 years my chow/lab has thrived on home made food!

Submitted by liz | July 5 2013 |

Can you share which foods you give your dog? I'm making our dog's food and after reading this article I'm questioning whether I am giving her enough variety and nutrition. I am not supplementing with calcium and wonder if I should be adding egg shells as the author suggests. I started thinking I HAD to start adding commercial food to supplement what I'm giving her, but after researching commercial foods again, I realize that no way am I ever going back to commercial foods. So I have to get the home made diet right.

Submitted by Christine | July 24 2013 |

Did you receive a response of which foods to give your dog? I too and in your exact situation, have not supplemented with calcium and thinking I need to start. Please let me know. Thank you,

Submitted by ken jones | August 7 2013 |

hi, I just started with home feeding, working out great; I give her a teaspoon of granulated egg shells morning and one at night. That's about 5,000mg a day plus whats in her other food.

Submitted by Cat Lane | March 18 2014 |

Liz, if this was directed to me, I offer a goodly bit of information on my blog here: http://www.thepossiblecanine.com/
I hope some of it helps; if you are feeding a home made cooked diet without ground bones, you should indeed be supplementing calcium and other nutrients).

Submitted by ken jones | August 7 2013 |

excellent comment I'm right there with you. Keep cooking for your doggies they'll stay healthy and love you even more. I can't believe the amount of people who feed their beloved dog the same crap kibble every day, just the same garbage.

Submitted by dana wheatley | January 27 2014 |

Hi there. i have four dogs..3 little yorkies 11yrs..8yrs..and 7 yrs and a cocker who is 6. I love them and they r my children. I have spent so much on pet foods and HIGH vet bills.All the foods have been expensive and the last was blue which they have been on for over 3 yrs. well two days ago 2 out of four had bloody loose stools so off to the vet i went. 3 antibiotics later today they r better but this morning the cocker had the runs!! back to vet i went to get more meds for the other two. And ofcourse he wanted to stop the blue and start them on science diet that he sells!!!!!!! im in tears and need a recipe for homemade dog food PLEASE HELP.I DONT WANT TO FEED THEM BLUE OR HILLS

Submitted by Anonymous | February 1 2014 |

Type "Dr. Strombeck" into the search bar of this site. You will see that homemade dog food recipes from his book are available for free. My 5-year old Havanese had a urinary tract infection and struvite bladder stone and I was told to feed her Royal Canin SO. The ingredients were horrifying and my dog could not tolerate it. I found this site and Dr. Strombeck's recipe for struvite dissolution. I fed my dog his recipe for a month (along with a course of antibiotics) and her stone is gone. His book includes recipes for various health conditions as well as recipes for healthy dogs. Good luck.

Submitted by Frasier | August 9 2013 |

There is no reason dogs need carbohydrates or fiber. Their digestion works just fine fed what it's designed for: raw meat and bones.

Submitted by Cat Lane | March 18 2014 |

It's a little more complex than that, honestly; I have a four-part series on carbohydrate in the canine diet, starting here: http://www.thepossiblecanine.com/think-like-a-nutritionist-carbohydrates...
Have a read and see what you think!

Submitted by Bel | September 6 2013 |

Homecooked diet > any commercial kibble

Submitted by Denise | November 30 2013 |

I have 2 big dogs and a puppy and have been cooking their food for about 6 months. The improvement is dramatic... my oldest dog no longer has joint and arthritis issues, the middle dog no longer chews herself silly and the puppy is just fine and all their coats are beautiful! I don't give them commercial flea and tick meds either I add apple cider vinegar to their drinking water and spray them everyday with apple cider vinegar mixed with water. The vet argued with me about this but couldn't find a flea or tick on any of them. I make them a "meatloaf" once a week portion it and freeze so it's easy during the work week. I use 10lbs ground beef 7% fat or ground turkey or chicken, a bag each of black and red beans, lentils either pearled barley or white rice, carrots and peas or green beans, 18 eggs including the shells and whatever fruits i pick up usually blueberries or apples. Twice a week i add in sardines and sweet potato or pumpkin. I also add Nupro as their vitamin supplement and I add every meal a sprinkle of Nutritional Yeast and Alfalfa. It doesn't sound like it but I actually save over $100 a week making it this way!

Submitted by Michelle | February 25 2014 |

Just wondering how this is going since a few more months have passed? I have two big Labs and i am seriously considering switching to homemade...love the 'meatloaf' idea. Any other tips, ideas? Whats your monthly cost?
Thanks! Michelle

Submitted by Anna | January 15 2014 |

I am a holistic nutritionist for humans, when I started to research what my dogs should eat, I found that dog kibble is the equivalent to the processed foods found on the grocery store isles. It's junk food really. I don't eat that stuff and I won't feed my dogs the same kind of so called food. I've been making food for my dogs for several months now and it's not hard at all. They do require special supplements, but already I have seen improvements in their health, and my dogs were healthy.

Any home made food especially if organic, is way better than the boiled out, not for human consumption pieces of meat, tons of artificial additives and preservatives, colors and flavors kibble. I also switched vets and now go to a holistic vet, my dogs don't get all the crazy vaccines either, just a few of the necessary ones, and all the de-worming I do naturally myself with herbs, foods like raw carrots and pumpkin seeds and Diatomaceous earth.

Submitted by Toby | January 16 2014 |

I came to the site trying to find out whether or not powdered eggshell has calcium bioavailable to dogs. There seem to be differences of opinion. I would certainly give my elderly Bichon home-made food, but I don't want her deprived of minerals. Can anyone help?

Submitted by Joyce S. Gonzalez | March 5 2014 |

I just popped a batch of what I call mutt balls into the oven and my dogs LOVE them. I started cooking a week ago after having to syringe feed one of my dogs her prescription dog food for the last two weeks. My baby has cancer so I'm limiting grains and have focused on getting more protein and vitamins into her. I can't tell you what a difference cooking has made for her. Most of her days were spent laying in bed with nausea, vomiting, loose stools and absolutely no appetite. It broke my heart to see her suffering. I really felt that it was time to put her down...I started doing research on dog food recipes and in my search I came across powdered vitamins and minerals that are specifically for people who cook for their dogs so I ordered it. The company that makes the supplement I'm using is called Furoshnikov's Formulas. There is a simple dog food recipe on the back label although, I used information from the dog cancer blog to create my recipe. My baby is up every morning now to eat her mutt balls. This morning she tried to steal two of her brothers meatballs. Instead of sleeping in her bed all day she sleeps on a pad in the kitchen now...I think she's afraid she'll miss out on her meals. No more nausea, vomiting or loose stools. I'll cook for her til the day she dies. You can download the dog cancer diet pdf for free at the following link. My other two dogs don't have cancer but I'm feeding them all the same diet and they all love it.

Submitted by Cat Lane | March 18 2014 |

Absolutely I can help! Powdered eggshell provides calcium carbonate at about 1800 mgs per level teaspoon of finely powdered shell. Calcium is only a start but it IS an important one, for sure!
how much does your dog weigh?

Submitted by Mary | April 2 2014 |

Hi Kat, my dog weighs 65 pounds. How much eggshell calcium would I need to give her? I make her meatloaf right now. Consisting of ground beef, ground chicken, and assorted vegetables as well as a few eggs (not their shells). Thank you

Submitted by Cat Lane | April 5 2014 |

Hi Mary,
At 65 pounds - assuming she's an adult - her daily RA for calcium is 1640 mgs daily. You can go a little higher, accounting for absorption variability - one level tsp of finely powdered eggshell provides about 1800 mgs calcium carbonate, so I'd use that. Be aware that this diet will need some organ meats for VitaminA, it lacks VitaminD and zinc, and is likely to be low in other nutrients as well. A good start, but remember - variety will NOT assure adequacy, and over time, marginal intake of essentials will show up. Check my blog for more information, if you like. :) Learning to balance nutrients in a recipe is easy to do, and takes your home made recipes to a whole new level of excellence. Good luck!


Submitted by Cat Lane | March 18 2014 |

I have just NOW seen all these comments! I will be delighted to sift through and answer anything that is directed t me, or where I might offer some support. I wonder how I missed all this? My apologies for not replying...

Submitted by Diana | March 24 2014 |

I don't believe enough emphasis is put on one paragraph in this article and that is; "The following applies to adult dogs in good health; if your dog is a puppy, a senior or has health issues, be sure to consult with your veterinarian before making dietary changes." (and hope your veterinarian is not an idiot like mine was)

I wish when I was researching a raw diet for my 9 1/2 year old pit bull that I had seen more warnings regarding a senior dog. It seemed everything I found online was positive stuff and I even have friends who have fed raw and never had a problem. I was told it was never too late to start feeding your dog healthy. Not true.

I fed her Honest Kitchen dehydrated food which is very good, mixed with some raw chicken or raw hamburger. That was my mistake. She died within 6 weeks of starting her on raw from complications of e-coli poison. Her immune system was not strong enough to fight off the bacteria.She was a very healthy dog before I started this diet, so I did not feel the need to check with my vet, who was stupid anyway. My vet did not diagnose her correctly or even look for e-coli, even though I told him she had been on a raw diet and we were there twice within a 3 day period.I did not know at the time what was wrong, but all her symptoms pointed to e-coli. I found this out too late.

So, suffice it to say, I live daily with tremendous guilt for killing my baby with raw food. I absolutely DO NOT recommend it for senior dogs or puppies. BE VERY CAREFUL if you decide to choose raw for your dog. Better yet, don't do it. Cook it first. And make sure you have an awesome, smart vet.

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