Supplements include vitamins, minerals and other foods besides meat, organs and bones. There is a mountain of evidence to support the need for supplements in dogs, as well as other pets and us humans too:
Studies of nutritional supplements have been shown to increase life span.
Essential nutrients in levels exceeding the basic requirements may significantly reduce degenerative conditions.
Supplements can increase the efficiency of cellular regeneration, enhance the elimination of waste products and toxic substances, and decrease the damaging effect of free radicals.
Better nutrition for the cell allows all organs and systems to recover faster from stresses of pollution and deterioration that occur over time.
A long list can make supplementation seem more complicated and impractical than it is in practice. Instead, start here:
Create a dedicated area for herbs and supplements for your dog (such as a shelf or basket) that will be nearby when preparing a meal.
Pick 2 or 3 supplements to add at each meal, varying day to day, seasonally or as any specific needs arise.
We typically use 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon per pound of meat.
Which supplements should be in that basket?
A dog’s natural prey would include some partially digested (fermented) plant material (including herbs, grasses, seeds, bark etc) from the intestines of that animal, which provide essential minerals and vitamins.
When choosing supplements, think of what would meet these needs but also keep in mind that mineral depletion in soils is widespread and deficiencies move up the food chain.
A Simple Solution
If you want the simplest solution, you can order (subscribe) to pre-made supplements to add to your dog’s food, such as those offered by Dr. Peter Dobias or Young Living.
If you want to dig deeper there are books written by experienced breeders and professionals to help guide you. You can learn which plants and supplements to include in your dog’s preventative diet, as well as herbal, homeopathic and essential oil treatments for ailments.
Some examples of supplements to include are:
Olive oil (summer)
Cod liver oil (winter) or FeelGood Omega® or OmegaGize³
Kelp or GreenMin® or MultiGreens™
Thyme, oregano, parsley, etc
Pumpkin seeds (raw, unsalted and lightly ground just before use)
Apple cider vinegar
Probiotics: GutSense® or Life 9®
Mineral Essence (balanced, full-spectrum ionic mineral complex )
We also give our dogs access to a wide variety of plants and even kitchen scraps as treats. We’ve observed our dogs search out wild berries in the summer, walnut hulls in the fall, etc. You may be surprised that your dog will find much of his or her own medicine if given the opportunity.
Most of a dog’s diet should be raw meat, bones and organs. How much of each? Think of the ratios in a prey animal, but don’t overthink it.
You do not have to provide everything in perfect balance at every meal. Instead, balance it over the course of a couple of weeks or a month.
Meat (including organs) 70%
Plants + Supplements 5%
*Many sources recommend up to 25% plants (vegetables). We find a lower percentage towork for our dogs.
A dog’s relatively small stomach has room for only very limited quantities of food. The general feeding rule for dogs is small amounts of highly concentrated foods of which raw meat is one of the foremost. Estimate how much food based on your dog’s weight, and adjust according to appetite and condition.
Dog’s weight in pounds x 10 = food in grams per day
(Eg 100 lb dog x 10 = 1000 grams = 2.2 pounds per day)
Include meat from a variety of prey animals. Lamb and goat are ideal for dogs. Minimize use of ground meat. Less popular cuts from a local butcher (eg chicken backs) are often priced lower. Venison is a great option for stocking up in season at a lower cost. Raising your own meat rabbits would be another great option, though more suited to smaller breeds. Beef is more suited for larger breeds.
Raw bones provide minerals, keep your dog’s teeth clean and keep the stomach strong. Start with smaller bones. (Eg chicken necks for puppies and toy breeds). Larger bones such as lamb, goat and deer are ideal for dogs. Never feed cooked bones, which can splinter and cause serious injuries. Large beef and bison bonescould potentially crack your dog’s teeth.
Raw Meat, Organs and Bones are the foundation
Most of the necessary nutrients are found in a raw meat, organs and bones diet with some caveats. Unless prey animals are fed whole, your dog’s diet will be missing some nutrients and roughage. There is also the potential of mineral deficiencies that can be traced back to the soil in which the plants grew that the prey animal ate from. The diet I shared in this post is an excellent starting point, and part 3 below will fill in the gaps.
Dogs and wolves share 99.8% of their mitochondrial DNA. Dogs are in the same species as the gray wolf. The wolf is a carnivore and the dog’s internal physiology does not differ from a wolf except in proportionate size. We must learn to look beyond our needs, opinions and agendas and to address the needs of the animals in our stewardship.
The dog’s entire anatomy is adapted for a meat diet – from the teeth fashioned for tearing and crushing, the powerful jaw bones and muscles, the small, very muscular stomach, the short intestines and above all the very powerful digestive juices peculiar to the carnivorous animals – the digestive juices that can dissolve even lumps of bone.
When dogs are fed grains or vegetables the pancreas is forced to produce large amounts of amylase in an attempt to break them down. A carnivore’s pancreas is not designed to do this. Over time this can lead to pancreatic exhaustion, pancreatitis and diabetes.
Feeding a processed (cooked) diet void of live enzymes, causes the dog’s body to rob enzymes from other organs to transport to the stomach. Over time depletion of enzymes can cause dysfunction and disease in those organs. By contrast a raw meat, bones and organ diet naturally contains the necessary enzymes.
Juices both of the mouth and stomach in dogs are strongly antiseptic, and thus raw meat and even flesh from diseased animals – food which would kill a human being in a day – can be eaten without harmful effects.
Species appropriate raw nutrition is necessary to ensure normal growth, prevent disease and maintain balanced physical performance. The benefits of a raw natural diet also go beyond maintaining health to preventing disease. A properly functioning body does an amazing job at preventing disease and healing itself.