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I only occasionally add fresh food as a kibble topper or treat, usually just once per week on the weekends. Typically lean chicken, turkey, beef, or an egg (all cooked). I also recently bought a can of sardines to add to the mix as well.

I've been wanting to make this more of a regular part of his diet instead of just once a week, but don't want to upset the balance he gets from his kibble. I'm aware that no more than 20% of a dog's diet should be unbalanced foods. Here's my question:
How do you calculate that 20%? Is it no more than 20% by weight, volume or calorie count? And is that per meal, per day, per week? I tried looking in past threads, but really couldn't find the info I was looking for.
 

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Hmm, that is an interesting question, 20% of what???? I am going to hazard a guess that would be based on calories since whether dietary staple or treat anything we eat has measurable calories.
 

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That's what I've been leaning towards myself but was surprised I couldn't find it spelled out in any more detail anywhere I've looked online.
 

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I've heard that if you go over 30% you need to start adding a calcium supplement (which is easy -- I use ground egg shells). There is a good Facebook group called Home Cooked Diets for Dogs.

Not sure how you calculate the 20% or 30%, but I'm pretty sure that it would apply to what you feed over the course of a week or more, not just one meal. So if you are just adding home cooked food once a week, you should be fine even if you are over the limit for that meal.
 

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Not an answer, just sharing what I do.

My vet signed off on what I call the "Last Bite" several mini poodles ago. He also gave a percentage figure. I would take the equivalent of one to two small to medium bites of entrée meat and veggie (not too spicy), cut or shredded into smaller bits, then top or mix in. We feed two meals a day. I also add water to one meal, to make a bit of au jus.

I hadn't thought to question percentage of what, so I'm glad you brought this up. I think I just assumed it wasn't a significant amount but it does count toward calorie count and nutritional intake. If they seem to be picking up or dropping weight, I adjust the kibble amount (1/2 to 3/4c daily) and do Last Bite as usual. I think it helps add variety, too.
 

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I like "balance over time" I would look at the additional items as supplements since supposedly your dog gets all she/he needs from the kibble. What you add should be super valuable - eggs with shell are great, sardines with bones too. I would rotate through the month so you make a list what you want as an add-on and make sure you feed that x-times per month. What to feed is determined by what you would like to address - skin, joints, teeth etc...
 

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I've heard that if you go over 30% you need to start adding a calcium supplement (which is easy -- I use ground egg shells). There is a good Facebook group called Home Cooked Diets for Dogs.

Not sure how you calculate the 20% or 30%, but I'm pretty sure that it would apply to what you feed over the course of a week or more, not just one meal. So if you are just adding home cooked food once a week, you should be fine even if you are over the limit for that meal.
Thanks for letting me know about the Facebook group. While I don't plan on moving to entirely homecooked, or even more than 30%, I'm sure there's some valuable information in there and will definitely check it out. Actually, with all the kibble controversy right now, I'd love to do homecooked, but just don't feel comfortable making sure I get the balance right. Hubby and I also plan on starting a human family soon, so I also don't know I could devote the time once babies are in the picture.

At my current one meal per week I'm not worried about balance, but I'd like to start adding things several times per week, even daily, so want to make sure I get it right. Since I don't feel comfortable balancing it, it's important to me to make sure I keep it a small enough portion of his diet that I don't have to worry about that.

Not an answer, just sharing what I do.

My vet signed off on what I call the "Last Bite" several mini poodles ago. He also gave a percentage figure. I would take the equivalent of one to two small to medium bites of entrée meat and veggie (not too spicy), cut or shredded into smaller bits, then top or mix in. We feed two meals a day. I also add water to one meal, to make a bit of au jus.

I hadn't thought to question percentage of what, so I'm glad you brought this up. I think I just assumed it wasn't a significant amount but it does count toward calorie count and nutritional intake. If they seem to be picking up or dropping weight, I adjust the kibble amount (1/2 to 3/4c daily) and do Last Bite as usual. I think it helps add variety, too.
Thanks for this. I haven't talked to my vet about it anytime recently. I did ask about adding fresh foods at one of his very first puppy visits, but at that time she said she wouldn't recommend it because it might make him a picky eater. When I asked when she would suggest we can start, she just told me there's no reason to give anything other than kibble.

I like "balance over time" I would look at the additional items as supplements since supposedly your dog gets all she/he needs from the kibble. What you add should be super valuable - eggs with shell are great, sardines with bones too. I would rotate through the month so you make a list what you want as an add-on and make sure you feed that x-times per month. What to feed is determined by what you would like to address - skin, joints, teeth etc...
Thank you, this sounds like a great way to approach it! I don't have any specific needs to address (not yet at least) but just want to make sure he's getting some good, fresh protein sources and not just processed kibble.
 

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Hey rp17, Like you, I wanted to add fresh meat to my dog's diet but did not feel comfortable with balancing it myself. I can't answer the 20% question, but just wanted to say that using a base like Honest Kitchen works for me ( you have to make sure you get the box of BASE mix, not the complete meal). I feel good about adding fresh meat ( chicken breast/thighs/heart/liver and/or beef heart/liver/stew meat) and it is balanced for me. It is a dehydrated powder that you mix with warm water and the fresh meat. I then use it as a topper or as a whole meal. I cook the meat in a slow cooker then freeze small portions in baggies to use - very easy even with other family obligations. As you can imagine my dogs love it!
 

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Thanks StormeeK, that's such a great idea! I also want to say I've come across your signature pic in other posts when I've been digging around for info, and have always loved your Dewey's cut and coloring. The bracelets look so great with that mix of black and white!
 

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Very interesting question. For many years (last and current dogs), I've added a bit of canned to the kibble for their breakfasts. That meal because I like leaving for work to have some extra enticement...

Last year I decided to try making up a meatloaf for Oliver in place of the canned. I've used grass fed beef, ground turkey breast, or canned salmon as the base, with an egg or two to bind, vegetables, and usually some herbs, including a bit of turmeric. Always just made up recipes cooked as I would for myself, and indeed I've shared at times. The most recent I did as a sort of stew on the stovetop, so no eggs. Then I freeze most of it, and only take out enough for a couple days at a time. In the morning I warm it in a container of hot water, and before leaving for work, mix up a couple teaspoons with the kibble and warm water (I prefer to feed warm meals).

The percentage for the day is unknown. He also gets supper with kibble, warm water, and sometimes a sardine. I doubt it's much over 15%, but am curious now.

This winter his coat, while it's improved the last few years, has just been crazy thick and healthy, so maybe we are on a good track. He's pulled a couple puppy tricks lately, too ;).
 
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