dog food

Nutritious and delicious for your dog

real food for dogs

What do you feed your dog? Kibble? Raw? Real? I feed mostly real. The little one is one his way to completely real but we are taking our time. I do not want a puppy with diarrhea, no thank you.

What the heck is “real food?”

Real - being an actual thing; having objective existence; not imaginary:

Food - any nourishing substance that is eaten, drunk or otherwise taken into the body to sustain life, promote growth etc.

Okay, so real food is good for you versus highly prepared food. Kibble and/or prepared food can sustain us and our dogs but does it allow us to thrive? I think not.

Do my dogs eat the best of the best every day, no. But, neither do I. I try to eat really healthy most of the time and I try to feed very nutritious food to my dogs most of the time.

The most important thing for me in feeding real is variety. The more variety you feed the more nutrients you feed; that is as long as you are feeding real food. As far as cooked or raw, I feed mostly cooked but throw in raw when I can sneak it in. Elsa is not a raw fan although I’m sure that Riggs will be.

I feed lots of different types of animal protein; which is the most important part of a dogs meal. When I cook it I just barely cook it if they are eating it right away. If I am making batch food I will cook it a bit more but it is never over cooked.

Beef - 20% protein/3 oz

Chicken - 25% protein/3 oz

Cod - 15% protein/3 oz

Egg - 6% protein/1 large

Salmon - 17% protein/3 oz

So these numbers are solely from the animal protein. Much of the problem with dog food is that the protein percentage is taken from meat by products and or plant protein. Things like beaks and feathers can be used to up the protein level in food but is not easily utilized by dogs. Also plant protein is not the same as animal protein and there is lies the problem. Dogs need meat.

Along with quality animal protein I feed veggies. Lots of different leafy ones, cabbage, carrots, green beans etc. These are either wilted down or cooked enough to be easily digested by my dogs.

I sometimes throw in potato, sweet potato, squash and other things. Variety, variety.

I am not a big supplement person; not for humans or for dogs. But I do offer a few extra things like goat kefir, cranberry concentrate, krill oil etc These are never given on a daily basis but every so often when I think about it.

I am not a science type person and think that we have been pushed into a state of fear when feeding our dogs. We have been made to believe that we “cannot” do it on our own and that “dog food” is the way to go. Please feed variety. Even if you just want to feed dry kibble; switch it up and offer many different protein sources. Do your research and feed the best that you can.

Add a bit of real everyday. The more variety that you feed your dog the more their system is capable of accepting lots of different foods.

Feeding your dog

A healthy dinner for both Elsa and I; although the orange would have to be snuck in somewhere for her. 

What did you have for dinner last night?  I had an organic romaine heart salad with organic quinoa, pecans, beet and cabbage sauerkraut, organic black beans, with dressing.  To drink I had water with cranberry juice.  I pretty much eat salad every night.  I feel really great eating at least one salad a day; plus it's super easy to make.

What did your dog eat for dinner last night?  Elsa had grass fed beef, wild caught salmon with bone and skin, organic quinoa, organic greens, chia seeds and cranberry juice.  Right now I have a turkey meatloaf for her in the oven that will be packaged up and put in the freezer for later.  For breakfast this morning she had wilted organic romaine, eggs over easy, egg shell, organic quinoa, hemp seeds and cranberry juice.  Earlier this morning she shared my peanut butter Perfect Bar in bed before 6:00am.  We eat well.

Nutrition is such an important part of feeling good.  Sure you can exist on over processed, dried and packaged food but you will not feel optimally healthy.  If you've only ever eaten a diet of processed food then you won't even know what you're missing as far as feeling great.  Same goes for your dog. 

Yes, dogs can exist and be sustained on a diet of over processed garbage, like Pedigree or Beneful but will they thrive?  Nope.  There are lots of folks out there that will say "my dog is so healthy," when questioned about what they feed.  If it is a poor quality dry dog food then your dog could be much healthier.  

There is such a range of food available for canine guardians to feed their dogs.  If price is the first thing you look at, you need to do some homework.  Just because you can feed your dog for penny's a day does not mean that you should.  No, you do not need to spend a fortune on food to feed a better diet.  When you buy better food, the amount needed is typically less.  Many dogs eat too much food that contains too little nutrients. 

Think of a wolf when considering what to feed your dog.  How much actual real meat is in their food?  How much nutrients are accessible for their body to utilize?  Elsa and I often eat a very similar dinner albeit different rations.  She is heavy on the meat where mine will be heavy on the veggies.  We need to think about food as fuel for the body; both for us and for our dog.  When I take Elsa out for a run; I consider what her powerhouse of a body needs to run.  She is a high energy dog in peak condition.  Much thought goes into what she eats so that she feel as great as she looks.  

Feeding real food makes sense; eating real food makes sense.  The more processing a food goes through the less nutrition is left at the end of it all.  Does your food resemble real food?  How about your dogs?

"My dog only gets dog food"

"My dog only gets dog food."  Quite the statement.  Do you have any idea how many times I have heard people tell me this with pride?  Oh yes, their Veterinarian told them to only feed dog food, no scraps or people food.  "People food"  I honestly hate that term.  Like all the food on the planet belongs to us.  Think about it. 

I was at Target just the other day; and as I passed a shelf filled with Beneful dog food I stopped in my tracks.  Hmmmmmm, I flipped the bag over and had a look.  Now, I already know that the foods sold at these type of big box stores are not good and should not be fed to our dogs but when I read the ingredients I was still completely shocked.  

Really?  Corn and corn gluten meal in the top three ingredients.  That and chicken by-product; meaning that it is all the stuff processed down into a meal that is not fit for human consumption.  Feet, feathers, heads etc.  Yes dogs can eat that stuff but just how much nutrition is in it?  Have you ever seen a wolf kill and eat a bird?  They don't eat the feathers.  They take food with very little nutritional value and process the hell out of it; in attempts of making it non spoiling.  

As a human, I need a great deal of protein to feel my best.  If I eat processed food I don't feel good.  Dogs need a whole lot more protein than we do in general and this is what some owners offer?  I remember years ago when I told a training client who had been referred to me by their Vet; not to feed a certain brand of very low grade dog food that the Vet had recommended.  That Vet called me and scolded me for going against what she had told them to feed.  She said if it happened again that she would not refer me as a trainer.  Think I changed my habit of educating people on dog food?  Not a chance. 

When you start to look at nutrition for your dog and for you it is eye opening.  You realize that much of what we eat and feed our dogs is simply filling the pockets of the big commercial food makers.  Most of them don't care what we feed or eat; just as long as they get rich.  

When you eat or feed, think.  Look at the days long ago when food was real, ingredients were simple.  Check out the list of ingredients on that Beneful bag, mind boggling.  Just because they call it dog food does not mean that we should feed it to our dogs.  

There are good dog foods and horrible dog foods, just like our foods.  Food is food and to consider our food as human food and the garbage crap left over to be given to our dogs?  Well, I don't think so.  Let's feed our dogs the way that they should be fed, with food, real food that their body can use as real fuel.  

Research and find the best food that you can buy for your dog.  Don't they deserve it?    

Nutrient density


What is nutrient density? 

Nutrient - any substance that nourishes an organism.

Density -  a measure of the compactness of a substance, expressed as its mass per unit volume.

A high nutrient dense food gives you more for less.  Meaning the more nutrient rich a food is, the less you have to eat of it.  Makes complete sense right?  Right.  So what are we feeding our dogs?  What are you feeding your dog?  Is it a nutrient packed food or not?  When we feed a low grade dog food, we need to feed a lot of it.  Ever notice how much food the low grade foods tell you to feed?  It is pretty astounding how much food has to be given to even reach the acceptable nutrient level. 

More is not better.  Obviously are many people feed their dog way too much food.  Perhaps they read the directions on the back of the bag and then round it up, so to speak.  If you feed really high quality food, you don't have to feed as much to get all the nutrients in.  Elsa eats about a cup of food, twice a day.  (Luke should eat the same but rarely does so he gets snacks whenever he wants or will eat one) That is not much for dogs this size; but as far as I am concerned, she is in perfect peak condition.

I am very food conscious as far as my human family is concerned.  That has flowed over into the world of canine nutrition.  I am always looking to learn more; both in the human and canine nutrition area.  Like any other topic that you research; you will find information from all walks of life.  That means that you must sift through it all and figure out how you feel about what you read.  When you settle on what you feel is good for you; then you have to consider your dog/s.  I do my best, it is all that we can do.  Dogs have very different food requirements than we do and I try to meet those to the best of my ability.

If you are still just grabbing a bag of dog food without reading labels or considering what is best for your dog then you could be doing better.  In my opinion, if there is an advertisement on television for the a dog food, DO NOT BUY IT.  Many of the big dog food companies are behind the push back against real food diets.  Of course they are; they don't want us to know that dogs can eat food, just real food.  But just like us, dogs should eat food that is processed as little as possible.   If you do want to feed a kibble based diet then read, read and read some more.  Find a food that is actually made for your dog and not just to put money in the pocket of the huge manufacturers.

Our dog's bodies need fuel; high quality fuel, not just filler so that we can say "there you're fed."  There is still a general consensus that dogs deserve less; which has been perpetuated over the years by feeding low grade dog food.  The idea that giving our dogs the same food that we eat is something awful to do.   "People food," is the term that most people use when in fact it is just food, food for all actually.  Who said we humans have dibs on all the food?  Funny isn't it?  It's all ours and we will dish it out according to your status.  Well, sadly the dog is still getting short changed in many homes today.

Don't give your money to those companies that don't care.  The big conglomerates that take your money in return for cast off waste to feed to your dogs.

Think carefully about where your money is going when you buy a bag of dog food.  Is it going into the people at the tops pockets?  The ones who are scraping the bottom of the barrel to create what they sell to you?

Expect quality, buy quality; wouldn't it be nice if you always got what you thought you were paying for?


Calories, calories..... we've learned to hate them haven't we?  "It better be worth the calories" is a common phrase heard around the world.  Calories have become a bad word in our quest for the perfect body weight world.  Of course there are good and bad calories.  But calories are a much needed thing in the whole spectrum of running a body.  For our dogs it means energy.  We need calories and so do our dogs. 

Finding the perfect amount of calories all depends on quality of calories and movement.  Quality calories are made up of foods that a body can use; nutrient filled.  Those calories are eaten, digested and utilized as fuel for energy.  If you do not feed enough of the appropriate species calories then your dog will suffer in the energy department.  What our dog's bodies cannot use for fuel will be evacuated for you to pick up.  I remember seeing a National Geographic video on digestion years and years ago.  It made a huge impact on me.   Through the use of a tiny camera, food was followed through a body.  You could see how each step utilized the nutrition of the food.  It most definitely made me think about the fuel that our body needs to just run, let alone run well. 

Think of that when you put food down for your dog.  How much of that food will be taken and turned into energy?  How much will end up in your backyard as waste?  I'm not a numbers sort of gal; I am a visual person.  Calories for me are seen, not calculated.  I don't use a scale for myself; I rely on the tightness of my pants to remind me to cut back.  For my dogs, I go by feel.  I just noticed yesterday that Elsa has lost a few pounds.  With it being lizard season she has been constantly on lizard watch.  So, she needs more calories at this time of year.  Calorie intake requirements factor in dog size and activity level.  The link below is a great and easy way to give you a general range. 

Stombeck's Home prepared food - calorie chart

I see fat dogs all the time and I hear people saying "I don't feed that much."  They may not be feeding a huge amount but they are either feeding the wrong kind of food or their dog isn't moving enough.  The whole secret of losing weight is moving.  Often a reduction in food is not required; only more movement. 

Article on Weight Management from The Bark magazine.

Funny how we have been programmed to look at a piece of cake and think calories.  But we don't look at a plate of fish and a salad and think calories.  Calories are calories; there are good and bad.  But calories in the true sense of the word are not a bad thing.  Our bodies and our dog's bodies need calories.  The form those calories take is the important part.  Yes, you can have too many or too little; good or bad calories.  Finding the perfect combination of quality and quantity of calories can take a little while to figure out.  Calorie charts are a very general ball park as far as what your dog needs.  Movement and metabolism will factor in the rest. 

I remember as Tilley and Jessie got well into their golden years; having to cut back on their food intake a great deal.  Much more so for Tilley than Jessie though.  Tilley had always been a very active girl but she did have a tendency to carry a little extra weight.  So as she slowed down her food requirements became much less.  The food quality was not changed, just the quantity.  More weight on a old body is very taxing. 

Ohio State University - body conditioning chart

Calories are not the enemy, garbage food is the enemy.  "Empty calories," a body cannot use are just using up space in the backyard.  Go for the good ones that your dog's body will use in their day to day activity. 


As an avid weight lifter I know the importance of protein for muscle growth.  The other day I wondered what the actual numbers were for protein as far as dog are concerned.  What I found after much research is that there is no easy answer.   Much of the information out there is for protein in dog food which is measured by a percentage.  Whereas our protein requirements are measured in grams.  Measuring protein by percentage is assuming that all proteins are alike.  So I dug deeper. 

Much of what goes into dog food is unusable by our dog's bodies.  Of course the better the food you choose the better the ingredients.   But how do you know what is a good food and what is not?  Well, like I wrote yesterday, I'd stay away from the big guys first.  Next read the ingredient label.  This may sound easy but it is not.  Here is a great article on how to read the ingredient label. 

Reading the label

What I found after much reading was that dogs generally need 2 grams of high biologic protein per kg of body weight.  (Merck Veterinary Manual) High biologic protein refers to animal protein that can be used nutritionally.  Beaks, hooves and hair contain protein but are very low as far as usability.  They are not utilized well as they are digested.  They contain less value for a dog nutritionally. 

Trying to figure out the actual high biologic amount of protein in dog food is a difficult task.  There is the list of ingredients to decipher, moist content, actual protein ingredient to attempt to figure out and more.  Whereas the amount of protein you give to a dog fed in it's real form is a much easier task.  That said, most people feed dog food so when you do; do your research.  Do not take the percentage rates on the bag as a whole truth, dig. 

protein chart

Our bodies need protein to build and maintain muscle.  Of course there are other things involved as well, like exercise and other nutrients.  But protein is a big part of building muscle.  The more one exercises the more protein they require.  But even in quality proteins, they are not all alike.  The chart listed above will let you know what contains the most percentage per weight. 

The dog food project  This is a great link if you want to delve further.  About amino acids, protein etc. 

I could go on and on and get very scientific but I prefer to leave that to those who want to do the research.  I have listed several good links but there are more, you just have to dig.  There is much more to nutrition and muscle growth than just protein but protein is a big part.  Are we shorting our dogs?  I think much of the time.  Muscle will not grow without proper fuel and exercise, they go hand in hand.  We have been duped for far too long as far as feeding our dogs.  Time to look into it and see what you come up with. 

We eat what we eat and don't think much of it correct?  Yet when it comes to our dogs we must read the labels and try to figure out what is really in the bag.  Keep it simple, the fewer ingredients the better, just like your own food.  The big companies who are spending literally millions on advertising campaigns are not spending it on quality ingredients.  Next time you see a big ad on television for a new dog food or human food for that matter, think. 

You are what you eat

Yesterday's blog was a repost about toxic algae.  It is a post that I like to put out there every year in hopes I that it might save a dog or two.  Before I read about a dog losing it's life to it; I'd never head of toxic algae.  Please tell anyone you know about it. 

The rest of the week I want to round out with nutrition.  We are what we eat; is the saying right?  I was in Target yesterday picking up a few things and walked past the pet section.  Funny, I'm so into dogs; but that is one area I've only visited once in the past.  That one time was to read ingredients and since then, I haven't been back.  I don't check out the dog section in the grocery store and the only dog stuff I check out at Costco are the beds.  Why?  Because what they sell is crap.  Bottom line.

When I see an advertisement on television for a new food product I make a mental note, do not buy.  Yep, it goes against everything that those companies are planning but I am not buying what they are selling.  I have bought several dog food brands over the years that were scooped up by the big conglomerates.  Once they move to the big leagues, everything changes.  Quality goes down, quantity goes up and typically the prices goes down as well.  I see this in human and dog food. 

I don't buy food or anything else in the big pet stores either.  I like the small stores, the ones who do their research and care what they sell.  Oh no, there are not a lot of them out there.  But they are worth finding.  I have one not far from me and it is where I go when I need dog food.  The owners research and have very high standards.  They can tell me just about anything I ask as far as food goes.  It's really nice to talk to someone who knows what they are talking about.  Think the kid behind the counter at Petco or Petsmart knows about nutrition?  I think not. 

The more you research the more you find, the more you find the more you have to research.  Of course that is only if you have an inquiring mind.  Not everyone wants to know, nor do they care what is good and bad in food.  A bag of dog food is a bag of dog food and that is all they need to know.  That's fine, but if you want what is best for your dog; stay out of the big box stores.  Don't buy food or treats there; because there you will not find quality.  Although you will most definitely find quantity. 

They wouldn't sell stuff that is bad for our dogs right?  I remember having this conversation with my son years ago about organic food.  He didn't see the reason to buy organic and stood strong on his belief that the FDA would not knowingly allow toxins in our food.  Well that son of mine is the biggest health food person that I know now.  With a little research, knowledge and more research he has discovered some truths about food. 

I am in no way telling you what to feed or buy for your dog.  But if you are concerned with health and nutrition, read the label.  What's in that bag of grub you've bought for your best friend? 

Tomorrow's blog will be on protein and muscle growth.