Ok – as reluctant as I have been to do this, in the interest of sharing some of my methodology and insight, I am inserting here and there a few sample recipes. They will all be, unless otherwise noted – for moderately active, healthy adult dogs. These are not diets for management of health conditions, they are not for growth and while they could work for some seniors, I am addressing the adult dog, through the majority of his or her life.
That said, as always I emphasize individuality – so, I’m not just posting one recipe for this mythical dog, but several, over the course of the next few weeks. Why several? Because weight, age and activity level still don’t tell the whole story – not by a long shot. Even within a litter, we will often see dogs who do best on lower fat, dogs who gain weight readily on a reasonable level of carb and need to go lower, dogs (like my own) who become agitated when overfed protein. Now, I had really hoped to get my entries up on protein and fat before starting the recipes, but I will feel the need to be comprehensive, and thus if we wait for those entries we’ll be waiting a while. <g> Without further adieu then, let’s delve into what we might feed an average dog in the fifty pound range (give or take a couple lbs in either direction) .
Whenever I do a consultation, I start with a questionnaire (which some have said is ‘neverending’) but I need as much detail as possible to be precise. The information, including temperament/behavioural issues, helps me to select an optimal calorie range to start with. The first thing we calculate is energy intake, which as most of you keeners know, is greatly variable, just as it is for humans. Put simply, some dogs are fast calorie burners and others are not. So for this recipe I am selecting the middle ground, an average calorie burner. Please note that if you decide to use this recipe for a dog, he or she may gain or lose a little weight on it. If that occurs, you can’t simply feed more or less of the recipe – one of the great values of using a tailormade diet is, ALL nutrients are calibrated to an optimal level for YOUR dog. So if you feed less of the recipe, your dog will be shortchanged somewhat(I calculate to the NRC Recommended Allowance in proactive recipes, so if you cut back just a little you *might* still be above the Minimum Requirement- but I don’t recommend this. With any client whose dog gains or loses weight on my initial recipe, I adjust it for them. Or you can take my course and learn how to do it yourself!)
So, using the formula we know and love, let’s get the caloric value first.
Fifty pounds = 22.68 kilograms
22.68 to the power 0.75 = 10.39
10.39 is our magic number, as I call it. This is what I use to calculate all the nutrients, but for this blog entry, we’ll just go into the energy part.
To estimate our energy, the NRC suggests we use 130 as our number, but I can tell you from much experience that is often a little high. 10.39 x 130 gives us a daily total of 1350 calories. Now sure, some 50 pound dogs can do that much. But others can’t, so I almost always start lower. For these recipes, I’m going to work with 1100 calories per day – 7700 per week. And here’s the thing I need to emphasize – while we can play with a caloric total endlessly, the RA (Recommended Allowance) numbers for all other nutrients, will stay the same. 10.39 for the dog’s weight – that stays the same and you will use it for calculating vitamins, minerals, protein and fat. (Now I’m teaching you formulation, so I’ll stop now and get to the recipes).
Point being – 1100 per day is usually good for fifty pound dogs, but it MAY be too much and it may be too little. All the nutrients stay the same.
Ok now I’ve bored you to tears – another crash course in formulating. Our first task is to divide the 1100 calories into three sections and decide – how much of this total should come from protein, how much from fat and how much from carbohydrate? Never mind what sources yet, just the basic division. And this is where it gets a bit complex – again, with the bioindividuality. Here’s a basic diet that divides the total into roughly 35% protein, 35% fat and 30% carb. This is a division I personally really like for healthy dogs. And in my professional experience, loads of them do really well on it.
Loads, but by no means all. So in this series we will look at several variants on this theme- in another entry we’ll remove the fish and add oils and VitaminD3 for those dogs who need lower sodium or don’t like fish; we’ll offer an example of the same diet higher in fat for dogs who can benefit from and can handle it- or perhaps, don’t deal with fiber well; and we’ll provide -again using the same foods – a version balanced for a dog like mine, who needs more carb and controlled, but still plentiful, fat and protein. If I have time, I’ll add one for dogs who can’t do beef, in which case we’ll need other supplements – but just to show how one theme – turkey, brown rice, beef etc – can be adjusted in so many ways, to best suit the individual.
So next – what foods will we use? Well, I’m going deeply into foods once I get to the aforementioned entries on protein and fat, just as I did with carbs (and there’s more carb entries to come, too). In this recipe, and so I don’t end up writing a book here – I will use a sample recipe based on turkey, sweet potato, brown rice, sardines, beef liver and heart, with a small amount of cooked lentil and broccoli. You can check through the entries on carbs to learn about the value of rice, and info on protein sources and fats will be posted over the winter.
This recipe provides 7815 calories, slightly above our 7700 goal but remember, this is a very flexible number! percentage-wise it breaks down as 33.9 from protein, 32 from fat and 34.1 from carbohydrate. That translates as 644.3 grams from protein ( more than twice the RA) 263 from fat and 92 grams of fiber.
My aim is as always, to obtain as much nutrient as possible from food, and minimize the essential supplements I have to add – and, to support bodily systems- cardiovascular, liver, kidney, immune, digestive, nervous – by using moderate levels of nutrient and foods that have been shown to help prevent cancer.
Remember, the numbers are only the starting point. They’re essential, but they are never the whole story.
Here’s Recipe One. 🙂
Please us a food scale to measure gram weights – much more precise than going by volume (cups). I include cups here to give you a starting reference of how much of each food you will be using.
One Week recipe for a Fifty Pound Dog
1)10 cups (1400 grams) dark meat turkey, roasted, skin included, diced
2) 6 cans (504 grams) water packed sardines, drained and mashed
3)1 cup (145 grams) poached beef heart, diced
4) 2 0unces (56.7 grams) poached and diced beef liver
5) 5 cups(975 grams) very well cooked brown rice, measured warm (NOTE: please pre-rinse and soak the rice for about two hours with several changes of water. See entry here:
6) 6 cups (1968 grams) cooked and mashed sweet potato (I recommend peeling first, cutting in smallish chunks and boiling just till done )
7) 1.5 cups( 286 grams) well cooked lentils (rinsed and cooked till very soft, please don’t substitute canned)
8) 1 cup(97 grams) steamed and chopped broccoli florets
Combine all of the above – all are COOKED WEIGHTS – and mix thoroughly. you will have a big sticky mixture, but you can and should add some warmed water to the food before offering it. Since this is a one week batch, you can go ahead and add the WEEKLY supplements to it before dividing and freezing. To balance this recipe, you MUST add the following:
1) 6.5 level teaspoons of NOW calcium carbonate – for a total of 7800 mgs
2) 3/4 tsp of this kelp (for a total of just under 1200 mcg iodine)
3) 60 mgs zinc – in total for the week – I recommend this Picolinate from Thorne:
4) One capsule of this manganese picinolate, or any quality 15 mg product you prefer:
You will scoop, crush or empty the capsules into the big batch, and mix thoroughly.Since we have so much good, bioavailable nutrient from the food – we don’t need a lot of supplement- you’ll notice just a little zinc and manganese, for example. A few others need to be added fresh daily, but with the addition of calcium, manganese, kelp and zinc, you are ready to divide the food into 7 portions of equal size, wrap them up and freeze. I know it’s hard to get away from plastic, but try to find alternatives: I wrap my food in parchment and stuff it in large sized coffee cans. Just don’t overfill the cans or you will never get it out!
I generally freeze 5 days right away, and start defrosting as needed.
The last steps;divide the one-day portion up into 2-3 servings, and make sure it is gently warmed. Each day I will have you add:
1)200IU of natural vitamin E
2)one level teaspoon of a good quality coconut oil such as Nutiva
3) half a Bcomplex – that’s a standard B50 – not a time released or stress B, just a plain 50 like this one.
4) 500 mgs taurine – always a good idea!
That brings the Bvitamins well over the RA, but these are water soluble nutrients that offer tremendous health benefits at higher doses (more on that later) and we are nowhere near a SUL (safe upper limit) even if we gave a full one daily.
I recommend dividing the oil into two servings, using a half teaspoon morning and night.
If your dog has thyroid disease, substitute green beans for the broccoli.
Many people like to leave the greens out of the large batch and cook/add fresh daily. That’s fine, too.
There are a whole host of additional supplement that can be great for your dog’s health – probiotics, spirulina, fish oils and many, many herbs – but I like to wean the dog onto the diet first, watch for a few weeks and then consider what I think is most beneficial. I suggest using your own sense of your dog to decide whether he can go straight onto this diet or needs a moderate level of introduction, weaning off from whatever he’s eating now. Sometimes, there is a little soft stool for a day or two; that’s not an emergency, but it should not be liquid or lasting. Many people fear the lentils but I have almost never seen a reaction – once, a sensitive GSD had some gas, so we just removed them. If they make you uneasy, leave them out, feed one week without and then try adding them in. It’s only a cup a week and they are loaded with health benefits.
Final comments; I’ve started with a weeklong recipe because I’ve found that people with medium-to-larger dogs prefer it that way. you can of course make the meals fresh every day – if I get requests for one-day versions, I can offer those too.
please get organic rice whenever you can, and rinse, rinse, rinse.
By all means use low sodium sardines if you have any worries about the content, but it really is within safe limits for a healthy dog, and there’s a lot of potassium here from the sweet potato to balance it.
If your dog has been on kibble he will *probably* drink less.
Yes, it’s a lot of work. Yes, it gets MUCH easier with practise.
Yes, I can do simpler recipes. This is just one I really, really like.
Any questions, fire away!