Originally Posted by Lukka'sma
Where is Luba when I need her
Anyone else home cooking?
Hi Lukka'sma... I cook for both my dogs, one is a senior Border Collie/Lab with multiple health issues and so requires a highly specialized diet; the other, my "easy" dog, is a healthy 20 month old RR who just eats a lot.
For me, the starting point is to calculate the enegry needs of the individual dog - how many calories per day - and them decide how you will divide the calories between fats, protein and carbohydrate. (I'm a nutritionist, so I think in terms of nutrients first, and then ingredients, but this is easy for anyone to do). I consider this the foundation of a home cooked diet, start with the nutrient composition you want to achieve for the individual.
For example, my RR would eat 28% protein, 36% fat and the remainder, of course, is carbohydrate. He needs about 2000 calories a day on average(he's a small RR at 75 pounds but he's very fit and active, so he might eat more, even up to 2400, but 2000 is an average for him). All this means is that I'm looking at supplying 560 calories from protein, 720 from fat, and 720 from carbohydrate.
It's a bit of math to get going on this with some accuracy, but well worth it in the longrun, in my opinion.
Once you have decided what the nutrient composition should be, your next step is to evaluate the foods you will use to provide those needs. But this could get lengthy.
It's good to be aware that carbohdrates are NOT a recognized requirement for dogs, and that many dogs have difficulty with grains (Rice is usually the best digested as it contains no gluten). Fiber is not digested per se, but fermented in the colon, and some fiber is beneficial - as long as it's the right type for the individual.
Short version; I use about 30 - 40% carbs in the diet, and rely on starchy vegetables like sweet potato, or else brown rice, quinoa, legumes, buckwheat(no gluten) millet and sometimes, oatmeal. Dogs digest starch well and it's inclusion in moderate anounts in the diet is beneficial for most dogs.
It's my longtime and well-considered opinion that there are pros and cons to every food, pretty much, and variety is important for many reasons, but it is no guarantee of full nutrient adequacy, which is why calcium, iodine, sometimes Vitamin D, and usually a whole array of minerals need to be added to a home made diet.
Of course, individual dogs may do better or worse with the composition mentioned above; if there are health conditions such as pancreatitis the fat must be much lower. I highly recommend anyone starting a home made diet have a full bloodwork down by their vet to get a clear idea of what's going on metabolically.
This is a big topic; what I'm hoping to do here is get you started thinking about nutrients as well as ingredients. Many people when starting a home made diet think of which foods will be "good" or "not good". The popular idea is that providing a varied and fresh food diet will naturally ensure nutritional adequacy,and this is simply not the case. I analyze diets all the time, and I rarely if ever see one that balances properly when it's relying on variety for full nutrient supply. The bit of math needed to calculate all your dog's nutrient needs is so important.
You don't need to drive yourself crazy figuring it all out, but I do strongly recommend some research. If you're unsure, Dr. Pitcarin's book Natural Health for Dogs and Cats has some reasonably good recipes. He does utilize some ingredients I don't personally care for, but I feel a book like this is preferable to just winging it.
Hope this helps and feel free to ask for clarification if I just threw too much at you all at once.