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How to Raise Humane Dog Food


We turned to the board-certified veterinary nutritionists at DVM Consulting. Their website, BalanceIT. com, provides customized recipes based on several variables, including protein and carbohydrate choices and your dog’s age, sex, breed and activity level. Their recipes provide specific nutritional profiles, so you know exactly what your dog is getting. The vitamin and mineral supplement they sell, also called Balance IT, is crucial to making sure these homecooked meals provide all of the nutrients your dog needs.

If purchasing humanely raised meat and preparing homemade meals for your dog is too expensive or time-consuming, here’s another option: ask the manufacturer of the dog food you currently buy to offer a product based on humanely raised livestock. If the pet food industry begins hearing about it from enough consumers, someone is bound to respond to the demand.

In the end, one thing is clear: the choices we make for our companion animals affect the lives of food animals. Better choices can improve both our pets’ lives and the lives of animals destined to become food, and that means a better world for all of us.

About Rolling Dog Farm
Steve Smith and Alayne Marker founded their nonprofit sanctuary (originally known as Rolling Dog Ranch) in 2000. In 2010, Smith and Marker moved the sanctuary from Montana to the White Mountains of New Hampshire. In keeping with New England tradition, it’s now called the Rolling Dog Farm.



This article first appeared in The Bark,
Issue 65: Jun/Aug 2011
Steve Smith left his job as an executive in communications with Boeing in the late 1990s and, with his wife, Alayne Marker, created a sanctuary for disabled animals. rollingdogfarm.org

All photos courtesy of Rolling Dog Farm

CommentsPost a Comment
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Submitted by Kerry | June 20 2011 |

Champion Petfoods, based in Alberta, Canada, is quite open about where they get the meat, eggs, and fish for their foods. They process and manufacture all components of their food and source the ingredients regionally, from responsible, humane farms, ranches, and fisheries. They even posted a video on youtube of where their food comes from and how it's made:

Submitted by Debbie B. | June 21 2011 |

What a thought-provoking article. It examines the issues without resorting to emotional hysterics employed by some animal-rights organizations. Steve and Alayne walk the walk, working harder, spending extra money to meet the responsibilities of their belief system. Good on ya, and good on Rolling Dog Farm.

Submitted by Heather Deiss | June 27 2011 |

Thank you so much for this article. I think about this every day as I feed my carnivores! I am very much into cruelty free, humanely raised, and am a vegetarian myself. I pray every day for the animals who gave their life for our animal's food. We are all connected and I am truely sickened at how farm animals are abused. Putting this topic in the spotlight is important and I hope more people can be open to the idea that all animals deserve quality lives and care!!!

Submitted by Olivia | July 11 2011 |

Are you sure the steers "gave" their lives? That implies willingly, right? (I don't know a single cow who would knowingly walk to a kill floor, no matter how quiet and clean it is.) Doesn't it also imply that the bovines agree with you that your dog's life is more important than their own lives are?

And if that's the case, then I would think you would have to agree with the folks in Asia who feed farmed dogs to carnivores -- whether they be lions in a zoo or themselves (after all, most people who are carnists consider themselves, even if unscientifically, to be carnivores).

I have heard wonderful things about Rolling Dog Ranch, and I admire this couple's commitment to those dear dogs, truly I do. But I get the feeling there's a lot of cognitive dissonance and rationalization going on here.

There are plenty of dogs who acquire a taste for vegan food. Sure, it may take a while for taste buds to adjust, but I don't think any dog is going to starve to death before learning to like new foods, any more than a cow is going to wittingly walk to her death.

Submitted by Alyssa Morris | August 22 2014 |

Dogs -cannot- CANNOT live off of a vegan diet and be healthy.


When it comes down to it, you have to think, "Do I love this cow more than my dog?"

If you can't do that, then you shouldn't have a dog or any other meat eating animal. It's harsh but the world's harsh and if you don't love your animal enough to feed them PROPERLY you shouldn't have a pet.

End of story.

Submitted by Annie | July 11 2011 |

Steve and Alayne,
My heart is uplifted by your dedication to these previously unloved animals. I encourage you to stay true to your veganism and again try offering plant-based foods to your omnivores.

If your aim is what seems to you to be a "natural" path for your dogs, well, I don't think dogs generally eat cows. You might need to raise rabbits and chickens and squirrels for your dogs to hunt, and for you to feed to those that can't hunt for themselves.

Thank you again for the wonderful work you are doing.


Submitted by Anonymous | July 11 2011 |

You lost all credibility when you said you left Sebastian to be killed all by himself. How do you think he felt? How was he killed? Describe it. You know there's no way to nicely kill anyone. You said you wanted to know how he died. Why didn't you stay and look into his eyes while he died? Also, you know that there isn't enough room on the earth for all of the animals that people kill and shove in their faces and wipe off their asses everyday, to live the lives they deserve to live. You act like you did the greatest thing in the world and granted, they had a MUCH better life than they could have had but you know that's not good enough. It's good that you let the few that you feed to your dogs live a better life, but don't make that big a deal out of it. Most people don't have room, time, ability and they will continue feeding the suffering to their animals and to themselves. So really, what did you do?

Submitted by Russell Hartstein | June 25 2012 |

Thank you, for doing what you do and this wonderful article. it is such a pleasure to read about your farm and your practices with disabled pets. Your wealth of knowledge and practices regarding feeding and welfare of all animals is such a refreshing breath of air to read. You have provided a wonderful source of information and knowledge to all who have pets. Russell Hartstein CPDT-KA Miami dog training

Submitted by BE Adams | June 25 2012 |

So, what about the field animals that are slaughtered when the harvesting combines come around? Unless each leaf is delicately picked by someone who doesn't step on any bugs, you're just as much a participant in senseless slaughter as the rest of us!

Submitted by HK Animal Speak | June 26 2012 |

I applaud your efforts and appreciate that you made note of the fact that not everyone can do this. If someone can make the extra effort, then no reason not to try. Living in Hong Kong and running my own animal welfare organization I struggle with our limited land mass, over population of abandoned animals and the need to rely on imported products. That being said, we have wonderful people here who do make a difference and we are getting better all the time. Thank you for your inspiration!

Submitted by Anonymous | January 28 2013 |

Some of the angry comments really took me aback.

Dogs and cats require meat - just like animals in the wild that are predators. We have a choice with dogs and cats that have been abandoned. We can "put them down" or rescue them. Now that we've chosen to rescue them, we have a dilemna - how can we best feed them ethically, and what can we do within the confines of our own situation.

Cats and dogs are meat eaters - it is genetically necessary for their health and not a matter of a child who doesn't like the peas you put on their plate. There is a lot of information out there about this and is worth the time to research.

I also wonder at the commenters who are ranting about killing animals humanely - haven't they read the evidence that plants feel pain, too? So maybe they shouldn't be chomping down on that carrot. The thing is we live in a complex world. I think most of us that have chosen to become vegan, or vegetarian, recognize that we are part of food chain. And so we make the best efforts to minimize our impact, but ultimately we have to kill something in order to survive. It doesn't make us have to like it.

My grandparents had a true farm back in the day - and I applaud the poster's ability to raise and animal and then participate in the cycle as much as they are able. I can understand their dilemna and compromise. I couldn't kill an animal. But if it has to happen, which it seems to be until they can grow meat for our animals in test tubes as hunks of flesh, they are participating in the life and death of the animal as much as they are emotionally capable.

I truly appreciate this article, the thoughts, and the resources as I am wrestling with this issue myself, although only because of money. It's not as expensive to give up meat and be an organic vegan - not buying meat pays for much of the extra cost of organics, but when you have to add the cost of local/humanely raised meat back in - well that's a lot harder to make happen on a tight budget. Being able to make ethical choices shouldn't just be for the rich.

Submitted by Alison | August 1 2014 |

Due to this very issue, my dog eats Acana. Unfortunately she his prone to weight gain and it is very rich food. They don't make a lean option. I'm researching alternatives right now.

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