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I'm feeling pretty overwhelmed right now. I've been trying to figure out how to build a balanced diet for Snow without anything that he might be currently reacting to in his previous dog foods.

When he was a puppy, I feed him Science Diet Large Breed Puppy and then switched to Science Diet Large Breed around when he turned 1 year old. He's had a tendency to chew at his tail and a few other spots for as long as I can remember, and has had some instances of hot spot as a result. He also developed Hyperkeratosis on his nose.

I didn't feel too satisfied with being told to just give him an antihistamine, and made the switch to Nutro Grain Free Limited Ingredient Large Breed. I saw a reduction in his symptoms with this food and have been feeding it for several months.

When he developed bloat with twisted gut a couple weeks ago, we were instructed to feed him a bland diet, then gradually switch him back to his regular food. I made the startling discovery that while on the bland diet, his nose completely cleared up, and I realize now that he wasn't chew at his tail and other spots as much. As I suspected might happen, returning to his regular food has also resulted in his symptoms getting worse again. I'm seeing a lot more tail and other spot chewing as well as the sides of his nose starting to look a little chapped again.

I made up a spreadsheet with the different ingredient from each food to try to help narrow things down, but I'm not sure it's helped all that much. I do know that Ground Turkey, Rice (white and brown), Pumpkin, and Braunschweiger (Pork and Pork liver mainly) which was used to wrap his pills all seems to be on the safe list. From what I'm reading these aren't enough to give him a balanced diet long term, but I'm not too sure about what I need to add to make it a balanced diet. So many of the things that I'm seeing on various lists for home cooked diets include many things that are also on the list of common allergens in dogs.

I need something that is going to be fairly simple and straightforward, but not time consuming. I'd be okay with cooking up the main mix once every one to two weeks and then portioning it out for meals. I'd be fine with measuring out a supplement for vitamins and minerals to sprinkle on each meal rather than putting it in while cooking, but not bottle after bottle of this that and the other thing.

So can anyone give me some help figuring this out? Links to websites you found helpful, recommended recipes, recommended supplements, etc. Thanks!
 

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I home cook for three large dogs, so I do a lot of cooking. I also made the switch because of health issues.


Rather than doing a guess for what Snow can and can't safely eat (which is what you are doing by your process of elimination spreadsheet) I would get a NutriScan analysis done. It will tell you what works and what doesn't.


Once you know what you can feed you will be able to build a nutritionally complete diet. There are some programs that will tell you how much to feed on a per body weight basis to make a nutritionally complete meal plan. I don't have one myself since I don't think there is one for Macs, only Windows.



I just happened to wander out here to where my computer is to look at the weather information for my backyard weather station and am not really wanting to stay up long enough to explain how I manage the logistics of this but when I am really up in the morning I will add more information for you.
 

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I also cook for my animals. The best advice I found was on DogAware.com: Diet & Health Info for Man's Best Friend the basic principles are pretty straightforward.

1 Feed muscle, organs and ground bone (or a suitable calcium supplement) in a ratio of approximately 80:10:10 by weight (or the equivalent amount of the supplement). Liver, especially beef liver, is an important source of nutrients but is very rich - about half the organ meat should be liver.

2 Feed as wide a range of proteins as possible - beef, chicken, lamb, turkey, fish (especially oily fish), eggs, etc, etc. Avoid any that cause problems (Sophy can't tolerate turkey) but still try to use as many as possible.

3 Well cooked or pureed vegetables - up to 20% by weight - can help to provide vitamins and micronutrients. No onions, and not too much green leafy vegetables. Pumpkin and sweet potato provide fibre.

4 Rice and other carbohydrates provide calories, but are comparatively low in nutrients -

You can check the nutritional content of what you are cooking on the USDA food composition database https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/, and compare it to AAFCO and other recommendations.

I buy a prepared petfood mince that contains offal and ground bone, and cook it with a few vegetables, fresh or frozen depending on what I have. I buy chicken, beef, lamb and salmon, and cook two or three different together meats at a time. I don't add any rice or other filler - my dogs are toys and get quite enough calories from the meat and veg. I did a lot of research when I first started, and occasionally check up again, just for peace of mind.
 

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My dogs are intolerant of rice so we use pasta instead since they are all okay with wheat. While there isn't much "nutrition" in carbs they are important in providing caloric energy which will promote using the other foods for the amino acids, vitamins, minerals and so forth. A very low carb diet will promote using protein for calories rather than cell work of making new protein, maintaining muscle tone etc. Through their coevolution with us dogs have become more omnivore than carnivore in comparison say to domestic cats that are obligate carnivores.


Dogs need a fair amount of calcium so you need bone meal or something similar. I also use sea kelp powder for iodide and other electrolytes. I add a krill oil capsule once a day as well. I also highly recommend canned pumpkin. I am using the wrong computer right now, but when I get a hold of the other one that BF has right now I will post my recipe..
 

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You are right, I should have been clearer, Catherine. I do feed carbohydrates - starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, treats made with rice and flour, etc, etc; it's just not part of the recipe for their main meals. If I were feeding a bigger dog it probably would be, but at only 300 - 350 kcals each a day it is easy to feed a mostly meat diet.
 

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Here's what I feed my dogs:

First, variety is good for them. I may feed the same thing for 2 or 3 days in a row, but in general, they get a variety of different foods.

My dogs get a combination of meat (or fish or eggs) and starch plus a calcium supplement every day. Sometimes I add some vegetables or legumes too.

Here are the specifics:

In the meat category: ground turkey, ground beef, boiled meat, tilapia, canned salmon, hearts (beef, turkey or chicken), liver (beef, turkey or chicken), gizzards (turkey or chicken), eggs. All of my meat is purchased directly from farmers who use humane and sustainable practices.

Starch: White bread and potatoes are their favorites. In addition, I sometimes give them pasta, rice or couscous. Bread works well if I have boiled the meat -- just mix it into the broth and meat. For the potatoes, I use frozen shredded potatoes or spuds, or a boxed latkes mix.

Calcium supplement: I sometimes use ground egg shells and sometimes a commercial calcium supplement (available in pet stores).

Vegetables/legumes: My boy Bob (RIP) loved raw apples and bell peppers, so he got plenty of those. Sam and Cammie are not so hot on veggies and will sometimes leave then in their dish. Adding veggies takes a bit more time. When I am boiling meat, I usually add a few carrots or kale. And if I am making lentil soup for myself, I'll often add that to the dog's dinner.

All chicken or turkey bones get boiled twice so that I get as much stock out of them as I can. One favorite meal is boiled chicken or turkey. Take the meat off the bones, mix it with bread and stock (the water that you just boiled the chicken in) and carrots (or other veggie). Feed one meal while it is warm. Meals for the next day or two can be stored in the refrigerator, and the next day's meal will be a cold gelled "chicken and stuffing." Yum.
 

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fjm carbs get a bad reputation in the minds of so many people but complex carbs like sweet potatoes or in my feeding whole grain pasta are important in proportion, of course, to the size of the dog(s) being fed.
 

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I don't feed my dogs carbs except those from vegetables and those must be pureed in the Vita Mix and cooked and the water included since a lot of vitamins get into the water. The Vita Mix helps because they (and we) can not digest cellulose. And anyhow, that is a pretty small percentage of their diet. I figure, just because dogs can digest carbs, it doesn't mean carbs from flour are good for them. Carbs that come from white flour or other grains are associated with metabolic diseases, such as diabetes, joint and whole body inflammation, tooth decay and obesity. Dogs do not need carbohydrates in their diet. A small amount if it helps with poop, I figure...fine. And some have some good nutrients for sure, some (too refined) not so much. I find that Maurice needs a little extra roughage so green beans or pumpkin help normalize him. The other dogs, not so much. So it does seem to vary between dogs as to their needs...to a degree. The way their teeth, jaws, digestive tract, enzymes etc are constructed, they are still carnivores. They like and will eat other things but that doesn't make them omnivores. They can get their energy from fat and meat. Or...let's put it this way: They're not obligate carnivores like a cat.

Here's something that might be of interest: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/sled-dog-science/



Here's something else for your reading pleasure: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170124111352.htm
 

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If I had toys, I could see feeding a very low carb diet. But with two standards, carbs are a great way to provide nutrition that does not depend so much on meat. Two good reasons choosing less meat are (1) cost, and (2) the way meat is raised in the US is bad for the environment, cruel to animals, and involves dangerous over use of antibiotics. So about 50% of my dogs' home-cooked diet is carbs. I use a variety of bread, potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, couscous and other grains.

Here is some interesting reading on carbs as part of a dog's diet:

Carbohydrates and Your Dog's Digestive System
https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/13_10/features/Carbohydrates-and-Your-Dog_20103-1.html

From the above article:

As we mentioned before, dogs have no nutritional requirement for dietary carbohydrates. They can get everything they need from a diet that contains only protein and fat. Energy metabolism in the dog can be based on fat oxidation and the breakdown of protein to produce glucose.

There are two main reasons why we feed carbs to dogs. The first reason is because we can. Dogs can utilize just about anything we feed them; their digestive tracts are extremely versatile. The second reason is economic; fat and protein sources are much more expensive than carbohydrates.

Dogs evolved to love starch
https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2013/01/23/170103080/in-order-to-live-with-people-canines-evolved-to-love-starchy-foods
 

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Thanks. I read that article. And while I think some carbs are fine...I think dogs need more protein from meat. There are amino acids that are very essential to optimum health I believe, including heart health that only come from meat...to my understanding. As a matter of fact, you may have already read about the association between all this pea protein in grain free commercial food in place of enough protein from meat and dilated cardiomyopathy. I don't know that it's proven but there's sure a strong correlation. And it isn't because it's grain free. It's because there's pea protein to replace ample meat protein. (a lack of amino acids and other nutrients) You may have already seen this, but... https://www.americanveterinarian.com/news/fda-warns-of-possible-link-between-grainfree-dog-foods-and-heart-disease

Anyhow, my dogs need more protein. They're little wilderness hikers. Even Maurice...all 4.5 lbs of him is BUFF. haha.

Anyhow, I see your point about raising all those cows and doing something to the environment. And cruelty where it does exist. I don't think it exists everywhere. And as far as antibiotics and hormones, here's something to alleviate some of that worry. https://meatscience.org/TheMeatWeEat/topics/meat-labels/article/2017/06/08/misleading-claims-of-hormone-free-or-antibiotic-free

Your dogs are healthy and that's what's important. Whatever you're doing, you must be doing right. I just couldn't bring myself to not feed my dogs plenty of meat. They like it a lot. :hungry::love2:

HOW TO BE ENVIRONMENTALLY RESPONSIBLE and save money: Only have toy breeds. Haha.:act-up: You should see how little my poodles' bowls are filled. It looks like I must be starving them. But they're robust, but lean and full of energy. I could feed them filet minion or meat from a rib eye steak and only spend pennies. lol. It doesn't matter if it's on sale or not.
 

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I ended up purchasing a copy of "Raw or Cooked Home Feeding Primer e-Booklet" from Monica Segal's website. It's finally provided me enough information to begin working on how to create a balanced cooked diet.

While I work through that information, I received a recommendation for a different kibble that has a couple formulas with more unusual proteins that are often better tolerated by dogs with allergies. They also have a lot less of other ingredients that can be problematic. So I'm giving 4Health Untamed Red Canyon a try while I continue to work on figuring out how to provide Snow a balanced cooked diet. That way I have a backup plan if the new food is also problematic.
 

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Thanks for posting, Poodlebeguiled. But the above article does nothing to alleviate my worry about the overuse of antibiotics in farm animals. It basically represents the meat industry's attempt to say that everything is OK. But it does not even mention the concern about human health being impacted by resistance to antibiotics that is caused by routine use of antibiotics in the feed of farm animals -- fed in their feed, not because they are sick.

A lot has been written about this and about the need to pass legislation that prevents the routine use of antibiotics in healthy farm animals.

Here is just one article:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4638249/

From the above article:

Recently, the World Health Organization called antimicrobial resistance “an increasingly serious threat to global public health that requires action across all government sectors and society.”
Of all antibiotics sold in the United States, approximately 80% are sold for use in animal agriculture; about 70% of these are “medically important” (i.e., from classes important to human medicine).2 Antibiotics are administered to animals in feed to marginally improve growth rates and to prevent infections, a practice projected to increase dramatically worldwide over the next 15 years.3 There is growing evidence that antibiotic resistance in humans is promoted by the widespread use of nontherapeutic antibiotics in animals.
 

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Well...yeah, if the animals aren't even sick, that's crazy. Or maybe they're afraid they will get sick so they're preventing it. But why do I read on packages of chicken that there's no antibiotics ever. It's against federal regulations. Maybe that's only with chickens. (?) Well, I guess my feeling is that I eat meat and when I get an infection, anti-biotics still seem to knock out any bacterial infection I have gotten. That is not to say that there's no resistance to anti-biotics happening. Of course there is. But I just haven't had that problem. So I tend to not worry about my dogs too much with the meat they eat because they don't live as long as I have already. Not even close. lol. Maybe it's one of those double edged swords. I'll read that article in a minute.
 

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That's creepy for sure. Why does it say though, in that article I posted that it dissipates or something or other over time and by the time we eat it, it's gone out of the meat?

Anyhow, this is the best route for now.
Health care providers can also encourage their individual patients to purchase meat that is sustainably raised without the overuse of antibiotics.
I hope our backward country will catch up with those who are banning it as long as the animals don't all get sick and die. There must be some reason they do it. Denmark and other countries aren't so big...probably don't have as many animals. (?) Maybe they have an easier time to keep diseases at bay. (?) I'm just guessing. But yeah...something needs to be done. But I'll still eat meat and so will my dogs because I think it's still important and good. I could never be a vegan and I wouldn't want my dogs to be either.

Thanks for the interesting read. I think it's a valuable thing to keep in mind. Hopefully, they'll do something soon.
 

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UC Davis Veterinary Medical Consulting has this site to sell their own multivitamins, but within it is a homemade recipe generator..... when you click on the link below it will take you to a log in page, but you do not need to use it....you can just click on the 'Homemade Food' icon at the top, and it will take you to a recipe generator that is free ( click on the 'Free Autobalancer EZ' on the drop down) it's pretty nifty for getting ideas!



https://secure.balanceit.com/recipe generator_ver4/index.php


P.S. I don't see why a you couldn't substitute another multivitamin that is perhaps less pricey LOL! As long as the vitamin is complete nutritionally!
 

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I could use some advice. I am preparing for a puppy. After hours, days, weeks of research, throwing up my hands several times and trying again, I have made progress, but am still confused about what to feed.

I have tried and tried again to find a good kibble. DCM is scary. But I am not satisfied logically or scientifically. I have ditched dog food advisor.

I cannot feed raw for reasons I won't get into.

But there does not seem to be enough information on home cooking for puppies (or I have not found it?) For example, the recipe generator (which is otherwise great, Molly), specifically says the recipes are for adult dogs.

I recently came across Susan Thixton's annual "The List". I am so thankful for all the work she put into it! There are a couple of (affordable, at least until adulthood and he or she eats more) companies that produce gently cooked foods that claim to be puppy safe. Why does this make me nervous?

For a puppy, what would you do?? Would you go with the best puppy kibble until adulthood? I could probably afford a multivitamin if I did this, but then I'd be afraid to do more harm than good adding to the vitamins and minerals already present. Would you supplement puppy kibble with gently cooked? Would you go totally gently cooked? Would you feed kibble and just add a can of sardines (or other foods?) once a week or every day? Do you know of any good books/websites/resources that you would trust for puppy recipes? Honestly, I'm not sure how sustainable cooking everything from scratch would be for me right now, especially in the busy time of puppyhood and proper socialization, so I'd definitely appreciate opinions on the gently cooked options at least possibly for the first few months, but information on anything puppy related for now or later. BTW, there was a puppy option to buy raw, but gently cook before feeding. That is a possibility.

Also, I am planning to raise the pup Dunbar style. This method of stuffing Kongs, etc. does give me pause with gently cooked vs. kibble. Any advice there? TIA.
 

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Sorry for taking this thread in a slightly different direction, but it seems like you all are already headed in a direction I'd like to go. SpinningBunnyFluff, I can identify with feeling overwhelmed. LOL!
 

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Appropriate life stage kibble of good quality should not require vitamins or other supplements. I don't see why a puppy could not be raised on home cooked food so long as you adjust portions appropriately as the puppy grows.


BTW the use of antibiotics in poultry is prohibited.
 

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BTW the use of antibiotics in poultry is prohibited.
While some industry leaders are taking welcome and long-overdue steps to limit the use of antibiotics in poultry, it is still legal in the US. Not legal in the EU.

Here's a recent article: https://www.globalmeatnews.com/Article/2018/11/16/Animal-antibiotics-use-in-the-spotlight

From the above article:

On a global scale, the US and China are the largest users of antibiotics for food production. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 80% of the total antibiotic use in the US is in agriculture, with pigs and poultry receiving five to 10 times more antibiotics than cows and sheep.

And here's another article on the changes taking place:

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/09/chicken-after-antibiotics/570028/
 
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