I have been feeding my dogs a raw diet since spring 2005. For years I believed that only the commercial pet food companies knew how to formulate a healthy diet for dogs. I had been indoctrinated by the dog food marketers.
Later I switched to the premium dog food brands suggested by Whole Dog Journal. Still, my younger dog had severe allergies and my older dog acted older than her years. Finally, in desperation, I switched both my dogs to a raw diet. Ironically, it was my older dog who responded first and most strongly to a diet switch. She was 6 years old at the time, but acted 10. Now she is 8 years old and acts 3.
If you are just starting to think about feeding a raw or a cooked diet you prepare at home for your dog, I encourage you to read a lot. Be informed, but do not be intimidated.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has nutrition information available on the Web for your use. You can analyze all kinds of food items.
Buy a good basic book about feeding your dog. An easy way to get started with a raw diet is with a charming little book by Carina Beth MacDonald, Raw Dog Food: Make It Easy For You And Your Dog. The author also moderates a Yahoo!Groups e-mail list, Barf-lite, where the members assist people getting started with a raw diet.
Another good e-mail list for nutrition is K9Nutrition.
The book I use now was written by a veterinarian, Donald R. Strombeck, DVM, PhD, Home Prepared Dog & Cat Diets. Dr. Strombeck advocates cooking the food, and although I believe that probably is the safest thing to do, I feed raw for convenience. I follow Strombeck's guidelines on diet, to be sure I am feeding a balanced diet.
I have found that most veterinarians oppose home prepared diets. I would guess that they doubt most people will put in the effort to be sure the diet is balanced.
It is important to be sure your dog gets all the nutrients it needs from its food. You can be sure of that if you follow guidelines in a book by a trusted source. I still carefully follow the guidelines in Strombeck's book.
Other books of interest:
back to Cheryl May's Dogsports page