Response this morning to a few emails I’ve received – friendly questions, so I’m glad to respond. The jist of it all is, my recipes may be balanced and cover the essentials, but where are the Superfoods? Isn’t it boring to feed just sweet potato or quinoa, chicken, liver, heart, maybe some sardines or salmon, maybe some eggs – and then supplements? Ok – first, we are talking proactive diets here, not therapeutic.; therapeutic diets are often very restricted and our topic today is regular recipes for dogs who have no major health problems. What I provide, on the few recipes I have shared publicly and the ones I do for clients – is foundational nutrition – meaning that yes, the food ingredients are used in specific amounts to ensure that the diet covers all the necessities of life (and make no mistake, vitamins, minerals, fatty and amino acids etc ARE necessities, so we account for them first) with macronutrients calculated to best suit the individual dog. That means that Dog A does best with more carb and less fat, and Dog B, is exactly the opposite. And then a simple series of calculations based on the best science we have, tells me what we need to add in the form of supplementation – again, for a healthy dog this should be fairly minimal, and depends on how much food the dog can eat( more food = fewer supplements) and whether the diet is raw or cooked, to name the most important factors. So we end up with 2 or 3 balanced recipes that produce good stool, are well digested, maintain weight and provide all the individual requirements, from A to zinc. We use simple, accessible ingredients – and we see radiant health as a result.
Gratuitous puppy pic, especially for my Frenchie friends.
But then people want to add raspberries and hemp seeds and artichoke hearts and pheasant eggs and mangoes and maca… They’ve read on a pop-nutrition site these are great for dogs and how can my (boring) recipe be ok without them? My full response to this will be posted soon, and emphasized in the book – your dog maybe ok having all these foods, but let’s be clear that they are not foundational – meaning they aren’t going to provide significant amounts of most essential nutrients – and some, like chia seeds, may just pass through undigested; their main purpose is to provide beneficial phytonutrient/chemicals – meaning things like flavonoids or other types of antioxidants (I’ll skip the biochemistry in this long post) that support and benefit health. On that level I am happy to have you add them. Every recipe I send out has the instructions to get the dog adjusted on it,in other words feed for a few weeks! and then add pulped or cooked (important to aid assimilation of nutrients in plants) veggies and fruits as tolerated, in season and in rotation (another one of those triplicities I’m so fond of). So yes, by all means add fun and healthy foods, but…..
A) please know what those foods actually provide
B) don’t use anything that upsets your dog’s digestion….and
C) think in terms of simple, everyday veggies and fruits, not just the exotic and so-called “superfoods”.
I routinely add (organic) apples, carrots, turnip, assorted greens, broccoli and more to my guy’s foods, only rarely do they get exotic fruits and veggies, and often, they don’t like them anyway. I’ve written about veggies and fruits before, what they contain (some may be contraindicated for your dog) and how much to use…so by all means,add them. I always do. But don’t RELY on apples and banana and melons and broccoli and asparagus for nutrients, think of them as a little boost in that department, and a BIG boost in the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, cancer-protective department.
Yes, we’re going to talk about all of these in future blog posts.
Think of nutrition as building a house, and your foundation is the three rules of good diet: the food must…
- cover all essentials(because imbalances carry consequences and sometimes, serious ones)
- Use the best available foods to provide these nutrients and supplement where needed
- Agree with your dog in measurable ways – good stool, good weight, glowing health.
And this requires a well balanced recipe to start with, which may be actually quite simple. And then you can experiment with fun foods and trendy items, because you know you have their needs covered. I want you to know, in my main work as a therapeutic nutritionist, over and over and over I have seen kidney and liver values improve, insulin levels stabilize, bladder stones stop recurring, immune function improve and much more, all with dietary changes that were based on adjustment of nutrients. (Yes, herbs help immensely too, but my method is to work with diet first, see how far we can go and then add herbs accordingly – unless it is an urgent situation of course). When you see the power of nutrient manipulation in sick dogs, it cannot help but lead you to respect the importance and power of correct balance in everyday diets. And never mind the tougher cases, all the time I see someone who has been feeding raw with great results (stopped itching, helped bowel issues) and now the dog has some problem she doesn’t know how to fix. Analysis of the diet shows a few deficiencies – we add foods or supplements to cover them- and the issue resolves. You simply cannot study nutrition and then work with thousands of cases and not place primary value on nutrients first.
Many types of bladder stones can be well managed with dietary manipulation – one of many conditions we know to respond well to nutrient adjustments.
So I am not saying, at all, don’t have fun, don’t make guava/blueberry/coconut popsicles for your dog, don’t feed trendy fun things ever. I’m saying – don’t rely on these foods – or rotation! For adequacy and excellence in a diet. Think about that house foundation and about the three rules of good nutrition – and provide the necessities. Upcoming series on home cooked diets will highlight the great individuality between a healthy dog with a robust digestive system, who can handle a lot of foods, and the needs of a sensitive dog who requires some calorie restriction, and a few cases in between. I hope to drive home my message of individuality, open-mindedness, and nutrients balance. In a fun, side-order-of- kimchi, kind of way.
Up next: Home cooked recipe series; Are Superfoods really BS?; How to choose supplements – fact vs hysterical fiction. Check back often and don’t forget to sign up for the Newsletter.