by Cassie Steele –
The majority of dog owners feed their pets commercial dog food, either in the form of canned meat, or dry kibble biscuits. These are convenient and easy to come by; however, it might not be best diet for a working dog who goes hunting and fishing, as they require a diet that is high in protein, vitamins and minerals. A natural diet of unprocessed food could be just what your working dog needs in order to get enough energy. This can be made from food found in any supermarket in America – you don’t need to go to a specialist dog shop.
What is a natural diet?
A natural diet is made from a variety of meat, fish, carbohydrates, such as rice or potatoes and fruits and vegetables. It is not made from waste or byproducts from the food industry, such as processed intestines, spleens, lungs and other carcass parts. It also doesn’t contain the thickening agents that are commonly put into dog food, such as carrageenan, guar gum, cellulose and starches. There are no artificial flavors or colorings. There are no “additional ingredients” either, that generally include plasticizing agents, collagen and other emulsifiers. A natural diet is good quality ingredients, not some kind of meat mush.
How do I put in my dog food?
50% of your dog’s diet should be protein. This can include any meat or fish – although avoid oily fish, such as tuna or mackerel, unless only given once in a while. Frozen chicken breast are inexpensive in the supermarket and can generally be bought in big bags. Other proteins can include eggs. It is fine to also include offal, such as chicken livers a couple of times a week. 25% of your dog’s diet should be grain or carbohydrates. This could be rice, quinoa, potatoes, pasta, barley or oatmeal. The last 25% should be vegetables. Peas, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes and green beans are good options. Fruits, such as apple slices and bananas can be given as snacks. If your dog is over the age of 7, it is also a good idea to put a joint supplement in with their food, to make sure they get the essential oils and vitamins that they need to stay healthy and mobile.
Making and storing your dog food
Apart from rice and pasta which generally need to be boiled, the majority of your dog food ingredients can be cooked in a large roasting dish in the oven. Make sure that items like potatoes and carrots are chopped up so that they cook through properly. You can then portion up your food, freezing it, if you are making enough food for a whole week. When you are giving the food to your dog, you can always add a few chopped herbs too, such as mint and parsley for fresh breath. It is worth noting that feeding your dog in this way generally costs half the amount that it would to buy heavily processed, commercial dog food. You can also easily tailor and vary their diet, depending on their needs.
Domestic dogs have lived off leftovers for 10,000 years. Moving away from processed food, to a natural diet of fresh meat, fish and vegetables is good for your working dog and will give them plenty of energy.