With so many dog food brands on the market, it is hard to know what is best for your pet and what to choose. For this reason, many dog owners want to try fresh food for dogs or choose to prepare their pet’s food at home. There are many brands of fresh food for dogs, and choosing the right one can be a real challenge. The condition is to know what ingredients it contains, so it can satisfy your dog’s nutritional needs.
Fresh food for dogs is tastier and healthier than the classic diets, and that’s because of the manufacturing process that preserves the vitamins and minerals in it. It can be perfectly balanced if you adapt the menus and rations to your dog’s needs, which depend on its breed, sex, age, and lifestyle.
Many pet food manufacturers do not offer complete or fresh food for dogs. Pay attention to what is written on the label, and also take into account storing requirements. Fresh food for dogs spoils faster than classic dog food as it doesn’t contain preservatives and is made with natural ingredients.
In this article, you will find out which the healthiest and safest fresh food for dogs is and which foods to avoid. But first, let’s talk about proper dog nutrition!
Proper Dog Nutrition
Anyone that owns a dog knows that its diet plays a crucial role in its life – your dog’s health is closely related to nutrition. Your dog’s physical well-being, vitality, and lifespan can be influenced and enhanced with proper nutrition. Contrarily, an incorrect diet can make your dog sick. An inadequate diet can trigger the following medical conditions:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Skeletal diseases
- Kidney diseases
It is important to be able to provide your dog with an adequate diet in the long term. Changing your dog’s food frequently can be very stressful for its body, and gastrointestinal disorders such as diarrhea, bloating, or vomiting may occur.
Before you decide to change your pooch’s diet to fresh food for dogs, think about what your dog needs from a nutritional point of view. As with humans, dogs’ caloric needs depend on sex, size, and activity level. For example, an overweight or sedentary dog will eat less than an active dog.
To make it easier, you can apply the following rule for calculating the required amount of calories for your dog: 57 kcal per kilogram of body weight.
Best Fresh Food for Dogs
Fresh food for dogs must be tailored to your dog’s nutritional needs. The main nutrients dogs can assimilate through their diet are proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and trace elements. They provide dogs with energy and ensure the healthy maintenance of all vital functions. Contrarily, a lack of nutrients can affect the entire body – bones, muscles, and internal organs – and lead to illness. In other words, fresh food for dogs is healthy and nutritious as long as it is balanced and tailored to your pet’s needs.
Protein is the most important source of energy for your dog, and the best source of protein is meat. Amino acids in protein are essential for dogs.
Dogs are direct descendants of wolves and belong to the category of carnivorous predators. As a result, their need for meat is not accidental. They have strong teeth and masticatory muscles, a relatively short intestinal tract, and quite aggressive gastric juices – all of which are perfectly designed for consuming meat.
Fresh food for dogs must contain at least 50-70% meat.
In general, almost all types of meat can be fed to your dog:
- Fish: salmon, cod, redfish, sardines, and other varieties
Among internal organs, the most recommended are:
- The kidneys
- Cow’s stomach (rumen)
If you cook the meat, the protein content is denatured, and the meat loses its properties. Fresh, raw meat has the highest protein content and makes the best and healthiest ingredient you can add in fresh food for dogs.
The fresh food for dogs’ category also includes bones and marrow. They are a reservoir of minerals, enzymes, and other essential components that maintain the health of the bone and joint system of dogs. From this point of view, two of the most important nutrients are calcium and collagen.
If you want to offer your dog bones, you must take into account some aspects. Otherwise, bones can become dangerous for your pet.
- Give bones to your dog after six months of age when it has changed its baby teeth.
- The size of the bones should be adapted to the size of your dog – do not give small bones to large dogs, for example, because they can be swallowed whole, or dogs can fracture their teeth and mandible trying to chew them.
- Offer your dog bones only as a treat or snack between meals.
- Supervise your dog when you give it bones and do not let it eat them too quickly.
If you want your pet to have whole bones in its fresh food for dogs’ diet, you can grind them (raw or cooked) and add them to its food.
You can also give your dog fish twice a week as an alternative to meat. It should be served as fresh as possible. Fresh fish contains the largest amount of unsaturated fatty acids, easily digestible proteins, and vitamin D.
Fats are also part of the fresh food for dogs’ category, and the intake can be obtained from fish, meat, or nuts.
Fish has unsaturated fatty acids that are very important in the nutrition of adult dogs. They have anti-inflammatory properties and help improve the immune system.
Fats are extremely important in dogs’ diets because they help their bodies assimilate some essential vitamins such as A, D, E, and K. Therefore, vegetables should always be combined with animal fats, such as salmon (salmon oil). The fat content of your dog’s diet must be significantly lower than that of protein and carbohydrates to create the best fresh food for dogs and to prevent obesity.
Nuts represent another best fresh food for dogs. They are a source of natural fats, and you can serve them to your dog grated or ground.
Carbohydrates are found in potatoes and grains and are not essential nutrients for dogs. If you want to feed your dog fresh food, it would be best to give it the ones that contain cereal flakes, such as oatmeal or millet.
Vitamins and trace elements
If you want to try fresh food for dogs, don’t forget the vegetables. Fresh and why not organic vegetables are rich in water and fiber and help to fight constipation. In addition, they are well-packed with vitamins.
Vegetables, fruits, and herbs, contain vitamins and trace elements and should be found in sufficient quantity in your dog’s diet. Nutrients are interdependent. This means that the use of one nutrient entails the need for the use of another. For example, a diet based only on meat is not recommended.
Your dog’s diet should include about 70% meat, 25% fruits and vegetables, and only about 5% grains. Celery, carrots, zucchini, apples, pears, or berries can be finely grated or lightly boiled and then mixed with the meat. Other recommended fresh food for dogs (vegetables and fruits) includes:
- Sweet potato
- Pumpkin (in case of diarrhea; it is offered in small quantities)
- Peas and green beans (steamed)
- Cucumber (peeled and seeded)
- Ripped tomatoes
Always talk to your vet before introducing a new vegetable or fruit into your dog’s diet.
Calcium is mainly found in milk and milk products. However, an excessive amount of calcium can be dangerous, especially for dogs that have not yet reached maturity – due to a high concentration of calcium in the body, they can develop bone malformations. For adult dogs, milk should not be on the menu as it can lead to gastrointestinal upset. Avoid giving your dog cow’s milk because it often causes allergies or other intolerances.
What Vegetables and Fruits to Avoid
If you are thinking of trying to prepare for your dog fresh food, here are the vegetables and fruits you should avoid:
- Grapes and raisins
- Macadamia nuts
- Peach or apricot pits
- Ice cream
- Raw eggs
- Chicken bones
- Aloe Vera
These fresh foods for dogs can cause food poisoning, indigestion, and even poisoning and death.
You should also avoid giving your dog the following: raw dough, coffee, alcohol, or food that contains xylitol.
No matter what diet you choose for your dog, the best diet is one that supports its health, vitality, and longevity. We all know that any diet you choose has to fit into your daily life and budget. But the main priority should always be your dog’s health when you make a decision regarding the proper nutrition of your pet.