Fresh Food Feeding for Healthier Dogs and Cats

Fresh Food Is Alive and Vital. Processed Food Is Not.

We all agree that eating fresh food is healthy. Processed food, not so much. “Eat the rainbow” and green leafy vegetables are good for you. Ideally everyday, right? Yet the party line is that it’s best to feed food out of a bag or can. Not only that, but you only need one food for your companion animal’s entire life. Huh?? Something is seriously wrong with this picture. Either animal nutrition is very different than human, or there is a big disconnect. I’m here to say that it’s the latter. In fact, you can sum up optimal animal nutrition in three words.

Those words are Fresh, Moderation and Variety.

Variety Leads To Balance

But what about balance you say? How “complete” does each meal need to be? Well let me answer these questions with another question. How “complete and balanced” is your diet or the one you feed your family? Here’s nutrition expert vet Dr. Wysong’s opinion on the “Complete and Balanced” myth: CLICK 

Most us don’t even measure our foods, worry about proportions or the ingredients of what we eat every day. Let alone do the complex nutritional analyses that are needed to determine proper percents of amino acids, minerals, carbohydrates, etc. Perhaps if you eat the exact same food every day it’s best if it is a “Total” diet. But we don’t. Neither should our dogs and cats. Variety and moderation are keys to healthful eating. Balance is achieved over time. The fresher the better. Same applies to our animal companions.

Fresh food promotes health by improving vitality. The higher our vitality, the healthier, happier and longer-lived we all are. All of our family members deserve this.

Raw Food Is The Freshest & Most Vital, But…

Common sense and basic science tell us that the freshest food is Raw. The least fresh is processed dry and canned foods. Many of my clients (and myself) feed a raw food diet to our animal companions. Yeah, yeah I know that the AVMA and many vets say that this is a big no-no. Well, my 30+ years of clinical experience with thousands of my patients and many, many (many) others is different. The raw diet is best for many, if not most, animals. Chronic diseases like allergies, diarrhea, epilepsy etc. often just disappear. Why? Because the vitality and healing ability of the individual is hugely improved by this diet.

However, some of you are not ready to feed a raw diet. I get it. No problem.

There are now many healthier commercial food options around. Some are closer to “real” food than kibble and canned foods. Freeze-dried, air-dried, dehydrated are better options but can be expensive to feed to larger dogs and multi-animal households. 

Making food for your companion animal is another alternative. It’s less costly and allows you to feed higher quality and fresher ingredients. Try farm fresh eggs or veggies from a local producer. Unfortunately the reality is that many of us don’t even cook for ourselves. What to do? Here’s what I propose. It’s quick, easy and affordable!

You can increase the vitality of the food you feed and promote health without feeding raw. This will only take about 10 minutes/week and can cost under $25. You can do it. Really!

 


Low (heat) & Slow (cooking)

All it takes is a slow-cooker (“Crock-Pot”) and three or four ingredients. 1 meat, 1 vegetable, 1 fruit +/- a *healthful* non-GMO grain (gasp, yes I said grain!) or bean. I’ll help guide you with periodic pre-tested and Vanya-approved recipes. If you don’t have Crock-Pot (or similar slow cooker), you can get a 4 quart one like this from Amazon or your local store for under $20: 4 Quart. If you want something bigger, here’s a 6 quart for under $30: 6 Quart

One proviso before I give you my first recipe. It is not meant to be complete and balanced. It is designed to be part of an easy but varied feeding program.

Once a week you chop up and lovingly put healthful ingredients in the slow-cooker and let them cook low and slow. This week preparation took us 10 minutes. A few hours later, voila! You have a week’s worth of delicious and nutritious food. Your animals will love it!

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Cost for this week’s recipe?

Grass fed Beef from the Craft Butchery: $6.75

Organic frozen Spinach from Trader Joe’s: $1.99

1 Butternut Squash: $2.29

Organic Red Lentils from Whole Foods: $0.60

Week Total: $11.63

Here’s our “recipe” for “V-stew” (for Vanya’s stew and your Victory for making fresh food for your pup or cat).

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds cubed boneless grass fed beef shank (~1” cubes)

4 cups of peeled cubed butternut squash

2 cups of organic frozen spinach

1 cup of organic red lentils

That’s it. Now just place all of the ingredients into the Crock-Pot and add enough fresh (filtered or spring) water to cover the food. Usually about 4 cups. Bring to a simmer on low for about 4 hours (smaller pieces of meat will cook faster). 6 hours is also OK (if you’re really worried about bacteria). 

Before serving but after turning off the heat, mix 1 tsp. of turmeric powder in with the stew for even more of a nutritional and antioxidant boost!

 


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This stew is full of life-giving vitality and nutrients. It is high in iron, potassium, vitamins A, C, E, K, and more. 

If you are currently feeding primarily commercial bagged or canned food, please start the diet upgrade by mixing 1 tbsp. of the Crocked meal with the usual food. Once you see how well the new food is tolerated and how much it’s enjoyed, you can increase the proportions of fresh to processed food. As you get more and more comfortable with feeding fresh foods, you might even cook the meat less and less. Remember, the closer you get to feeding raw meats the better! Fresh is always best and the healthiest. For proper digestion however, the vegetables, beans, grains, etc. should be fully cooked. 

All of your family members can enjoy this stew. If you’d like to make it last even longer, you can mix it with the fabulous all organic Cornucopia canned food formulated by nutrition expert vet Dr. Geoffrey Broderick. He personally supervises and eats all of the food that he produces!
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Meats are high in the element phosphorus. Ordinarily, the calcium rich bony component of a raw diet balances this out. If however, you decide to feed cooked meats alone for more than 4-6 months or in young pups or kittens, please add a calcium source. Eggshell and seaweed calcium are my favorite sources. See the resource guide for the one I use in my private practice. Also, if you are feeding the same home-prepared diet without variety for months (or years), please add a high quality dog or cat-specific multivitamin.

 


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The HomeVet® holistic pet care community should have received this post by Thursday am. If you are reading this then, we’d love you to join us live at our 1pm eastern time video chat for a fresh food nutrition discussion at: BLAB 

Want to get immediate access to other great foods and diet resources? Click here to download the free fresh food feeding resource guide and join our community. This tool-kit contains everything you need to upgrade your animal companion’s diet. No longer will you have to feed de-vitalized processed commercial foods!

Disclaimer-This information is not meant to replace your veterinarian’s advice. It is available to show you that there are many feeding options. If your dog or cat already has a health challenge, please discuss any change of diet with your veterinarian.

Bone appetite!

Dr. Jeff

7 Comments
  1. Looks fantastic! Thank you (and Vanya) for this terrific recipe. Bet Sparky will love it — any portion size recommendations?

    • Hi Peggie.

      How sensitive do you judge him to be to diet variety? If I recall correctly, he’s already getting a good fresh(ish) variety. Right?

      Perhaps start with 1 tbsp. mixed with his other food. You can work up from there.

      Remember to continue the variety. Farm fresh eggs are available now from Belta’s And Sherwood farms. You can add those (raw or lightly scrambled) as well.

      Have a great evening.

      Dr. Jeff

  2. Where can I download the the free fresh food feeding resource guide? There is no link or I can’t find it!

    Thanks for your refreshing article.

  3. Got it…I reloaded the page and saw it!

  4. Excellent Maria!

    Please let me know how your pup or kitty likes the food (and don’t forget to vary it).

    Dr. Jeff

  5. Great article, thanks Dr.Jeff! We have fed raw for years now and will never go back, but this recipe sounds like something my husband will enjoy 🙂

  6. I used to slow cook but it’s only good for small dogs or those that are not that active. My Vizsla is very active and ate over 1 quart a day so we just ended up doing raw. Otherwise I was cooking more for her than for me! Just remember to feed the water that it’s cooked in to get all the nutrients that have leached out as juices.

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