I’ve recited this blog post for months in the shower, and today an Instagram follower actually asked if I knew of a resource for her with this information. So, I thought it was about high time I got to getting this on “on paper”.

If you follow my Instagram or Facebook stories, you know I like to post photos of my dogs’ food a few times a week! A meal for them typically contains a raw food patty (or two) of some sort from Carnivora as a base to ensure they are getting their meat, bone, and organs. But it doesn’t end there! I also add a few extra food items as well as some additional supplements.

You may be watching from the sidelines and thinking that my dogs have pretty fun meals, but not really fully getting why I am adding these things! This blog is going to explain all of that to you! To ensure you don’t throw the balance of your dog’s kibble diet off, try to keep these additions to 20% or less of your dog’s total diet. 

HOT TIP: You DO NOT need to be a raw feeder to add fresh foods and supplements to your dog’s food. In fact, kibble fed dogs could benefit even more from these fresh food boosters! Like I say to my clients, “just because you don’t eat salad everyday, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever eat a salad!” Some salad is still better than no salad!  

1. Raw Eggs

For a lot of year’s we’ve been conditioned to fear raw eggs, but did you know that when eaten with their shells, eggs are nearly a complete source of nutrition for your dog? Eggs are a great source of: selenium, iron, vitamin A, riboflavin, fatty acids, vitamin B12, and folate.

Although eggs cannot be used as your dog’s main source of nutrition, most dogs are fine consuming them a few times a week. And remember to feed them raw if you can as cooking will destroy many of the egg’s nutrients.

If you can’t feed bone to your dog for some reason, drying and grinding egg shells in a coffee grinder is a great way for your dog to get important minerals like calcium in a homemade diet. If you do this, be sure to buy your eggs from an organic farmer. Large commercial brands spray egg shells with a chemical to make them shiny to entice us to buy them in the supermarket. You don’t want your dog consuming those chemicals.

Recommended Dose: With any new food item, try small amounts to start and work your way up to a full dose. Try replacing a portion of your dog’s meal with a raw egg 2-3 times a week. If you have a small dog, try a quail egg!

Best Brand Options: Local, organic, free range and naturally fed (my mom’s chickens eat bugs and food scraps as well as a little grain) is the very best option. If you can’t source or afford those eggs, purchase as close as you can in your supermarket. Costco has free range, organic eggs for example. I wouldn’t feed the shells from these eggs, however.

2. Goat’s Milk

Goat’s milk is know as the “universal milk” and is the most digestible milk available due to the small size of its molecules. If your dog has issues with bovine dairy, goat’s milk is another option that tends to be more hypoallergenic and better tolerated than cow’s milk. 

Because raw goat’s milk has naturally occurring probiotics, it’s has all the benefits that probiotics offer in a very easy to absorb form. If your dog has digestive issues, give goat’s milk a try! Goat’s milk is also another great way to hydrate your pet! 

Recommended Dose: With any new food item, try small amounts to start and work your way up to a full dose.

 

Up to 20 LBS pet: 1-2 oz per day
20 – 40 LBS pet: 2-4 oz per day
40 – 60 LBS pet: 4-6 oz per day
60 – 80 LBS pet: 6-8 oz per day
Over 80 LBS pet: 8-10 oz per day

Best Brand Options: Look for goat’s milk from animals that have been naturally raised, preferably raw and organic. Primal Pet Foods has a raw goat’s milk that can be found in the freezer section of higher end pet food stores. Their milk is humanely sourced from free range goats without the use of hormones or antibiotics. Their goat’s milk also has added turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger. 

3. Kefir

Kefir, otherwise known as the “grain of life” has so many health benefits. Many people compare kefir to yogurt because they look similar, but kefir is like yogurt on steroids! Kefir is a fermented food that’s loaded with probiotics and beneficial yeasts (30 different strains!) that help ward off the pathogenic yeast and bacteria.

If your dog is on a dry food diet, their food could contain up to 70% carbohydrates!! Carbohydrates wreak havoc on the body because they are essentially fuel for pathogenic yeast. If your dog is smelly, itchy, losing fur, or has frequent ear infections, they may have an issue with yeast overgrowth.

If your dog has recently undergone extra stress (like staying in a kennel) or has taken medication, especially antibiotics, you need to add a probiotic like kefir immediately! (I would also add a pre/probiotic supplement)

Here is a short list of the benefits to supplementing with kefir: anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, helps with candidiasis, IBD, allergies, and it’s filled with beneficial vitamins and minerals.

Kefir is traditionally prepared with cow’s milk, but it is available with sheep or goat’s milk – it’s just harder to find. It also exists in dairy-free versions using coconut or almond milk, but again, a little trickier to find.

Recommended Dose: With any new food item, try small amounts to start and work your way up to a full dose.

 

Up to 20 LBS pet: 1-2 oz per day
20 – 40 LBS pet: 2-4 oz per day
40 – 60 LBS pet: 4-6 oz per day
60 – 80 LBS pet: 6-8 oz per day
Over 80 LBS pet: 8-10 oz per day

Best Brand Options: I use Open Farm’s raw, organic kefir. It’s made from organic, raw cow’s milk and is certified humane. You can find it in the freezer section of your local, high-end pet food store. You can also find kefir in grocery stores in the dairy or natural food sections. As with any food, try and use sources that are organic, gmo free, antibiotic and hormone free.

Although I have never attempted this, you can make you own kefir! Since my mom has Jersey cows, I might give it a go! You can buy kefir cultures in health food stores or online. Culture’s for Health has some great options!

4. Sardines

There has been a lot of talk about the amino acid, taurine lately! Many folks are looking for ways to add additional taurine to their pet’s diet and sardines are an excellent source of taurine. They’re also a very good source of omega 3 fatty acids which are essential for good health. I love sardines because they are a small, short lived fish. This means that they have less time to accumulate toxins in their bodies, and they don’t eat larger, older fish that have time to accumulate toxins. So they are relatively “clean” fish.

Recommended Dose: With any new food item, try small amounts to start and work your way up to a full dose. Try replacing a portion of your dog’s meal with a few sardines 2-3 times a week. I alternate eggs and sardines. 

Best Brand Options: I usually purchase my sardines from the grocery store, canned, packed in water. My dogs will sometimes reject frozen fish, but if you can find fresh, frozen sardines, you can feed them thawed as well. I have yet to find a good source of fresh, frozen sardines.

HOT TIP: You don’t have to feed all of these foods at every meal! Rotate between them, or feed what you have on hand. Variety over time is key to a balanced diet. Quite the opposite of what we’ve been told by pet food companies in the past. 

5. Pumpkin Puree 

Pumpkin has been a popular food supplement for awhile, and for good reason! It’s one of the best ways to regulate digestion because it’s high in soluble fiber. If your dog has the runs, it helps bulk up their stool. If your dog is constipated, it loosens the stool. It’s pretty amazing how it works! 

Pumpkin also has a respectable amount of vitamins and minerals, and is also high in antioxidants. Pumpkin in a great ingredient to use to make frozen dog treats in the summer. I use pumpkin in my “Tender Tummy” Doggie Dessert recipe. 

RELATED: Prevention and Natural Treatment of Dog Diarrhea 

Recommended Dose: With any new food item, try small amounts to start and work your way up to a full dose. Add 1 tbsp per 10 LBS of body weight to your dog’s food, or freeze in ice cube trays for a frozen treat. 

Best Brand Options: When you are shopping for pumpkin, it will likely be canned. Make sure it’s pure pumpkin, NOT pumpkin pie mix. It should only contain one ingredient: pumpkin. (organic is best!) Sweet potato has a similar affect, so feel free to substitute for variety! I like the Nature’s Logic and Nummy Tum-Tum brands. Nummy Tum-Tum is organic which is a bonus, and they have a variety of pumpkin “mixes” you can add that are dog safe. 

6. Bone Broth

One of my favourite things about bone broth is that it adds much needed hydration to your dog’s diet. This is especially important for dogs that eat dry, dehydrated, or freeze dried diets. Water is ESSENTIAL for good health, and most dogs and cats don’t drink enough.

RELATED: Healthy Bone Broth for Dogs AND Frozen Bone Broth BrindleBerry Bones

Bone broth also promotes healthy digestion, helps repair leaky gut, helps the liver detox, and is great for joint health.

Recommended Dose: With any new food item, try small amounts to start and work your way up to a full dose. Add 1 tbsp per 20 LBS of body weight to your dog’s food, or freeze in ice cube trays for a frozen treat. Don’t get too hung up on serving size here! Give or take a little is just fine! 

Best Brand Options: I make my own broth, and when that runs out I will purchase commercial broth. There are so many great products available now! Primal Pet Foods has a frozen broth – thaw and pour. Nature’s Logic and Honest Kitchen have dehydrated broth powders – just add water and pour on your dog’s food! In Calgary there is a local brand called Borderland Food Company that also makes a frozen version.

7. Fresh Vegetables & Fruit

Pureed veggies has been a recommended addition to raw diets for many, many years until recently when the importance of vegetables for dogs has been questioned. I have wavered back and forth myself but have decided that the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals found in raw, pureed veggies are of benefit to my dogs. 

RELATED: Add Fresh Food to your Dog’s Diet with Pureed Veggies

Fresh, raw fruits and veggies have cancer fighting properties. They contain phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals, proteins, lipids, fiber, enzymes and moisture. Phytonutrients are anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and anti-worms! We all really need the protection that fresh, raw fruits and vegetables can provide us! 

In the last few years it’s become popular for people to share photos of their dog’s raw diets on platforms like Instagram which I think is cool, because it’s changing the way people view dog food – or as I call it – FOOD.

However, many of these images feature fruits and vegetables cut up in raw chunks. While raw, whole veggies won’t hurt your dog, it just won’t do as much to help. Dogs can’t break down the cellulose in vegetables which basically means they won’t make much use of the nutrients contained inside (Look at your dog’s poop sometime, and you’ll see those veggies in the poop and they look almost the same coming out as they did going in.).

There is a simple solution to this problem. Simply pulverize the vegetables in a mixer. In this form they are a little closer to how nature intended dogs to consume them which is from the stomach contents of a herbivore. Veggies are much more digestible pureed.

Recommended Dose: Dr. Billinghurst recommends feeding about 10% of your dog’s diet as pureed vegetables (a small percentage of this can be fruit). Don’t worry about feeding it every day, just try and get some in your dog’s dinner rotation on a regular basis. 

Best Brand Options: You can make veggies yourself and freeze, or purchase veggies that have already been blended and frozen for you! Green JuJu is one of our favourites as it contains more than just veggies. It also has coconut oil and broth and a few other goodies. Red Dog, Blue Cat here in Canada has a new product really similar to Green JuJu called Jump! Health Booster. Any pet food store that has raw diets and a freezer should have pre-blended veggies in some shape or form! 

8. Fermented Vegetables

Ron calls these “fur-mented” veggies! The veggies pictured here were fermented by Ron! These will be ready to eat in a few weeks when the whole family will enjoy them! On the left is purple sauerkraut, on the right regular sauerkraut with turmeric, and in the middle are brussel sprouts with onions (those are for us – don’t feed onions to your dog!). 

What is fermentation exactly? It’s when a microorganism (like yeast or bacteria) breaks down a food and literally pre-digests it. This means that fermented foods are extremely bio available (easily absorbed by the body). They are loaded with beneficial bacteria that support a healthy gut. And we know now that a healthy gut is responsible for a healthy immune system, so these bacterial are very important. 

Dogs with chronic diarrhea or IBD may benefit from more fermented foods. Just be sure to gradually add them as to not upset the stomach. 

Other fermented foods in this blog post include apple cider vinegar and kefir. 

Recommended Dose: With any new food item, try small amounts to start and work your way up to a full dose. Start with 1/4 of the recommended dose and work your way up to a full dose if the bowels are tolerating it. Try feeding about 1-3 tsps per 20 LBS of body weight. It’s not recommended to overfeed veggies from the cabbage family, so a few times a week is lots!

Best Brand Options: When shopping for sauerkraut to share with your dogs, look for krauts that are all natural. They should contain only two ingredients: cabbage and salt. Do not choose kraut that contains alcohol. Organic is best!

HOT TIP: If you try adding any of these boosters to your pet’s food, share a photo on Instagram and hashtag #brindleberryboosters and I’ll share some in my stories! 

9. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a medium chain fatty acid with many health benefits. My dogs’ coats are always incredibly shiny and soft when I am feeding them coconut oil daily. 

Some of the amazing benefits of coconut oil include: as mentioned, it’s great for skin and coat health, helps with weight loss, improves gut health, improves brain function, can repel ticks and mosquitoes, can expel parasites, and it can even be used as a toothpaste if your dog is ok with the taste. You can also rub it into dry, cracked paws to moisturize and heal. 

Coconut oil is not a replacement for other oils. If you feed hemp or fish oils, just simply rotate through them for variety. 

Recommended Dose: With any new food item, try small amounts to start and work your way up to a full dose. Start with 1/4 of the recommended dose and work your way up to a full dose if the bowels are tolerating it. If you are feeding coconut oil daily, or every couple of days, you can feed 1 tsp per 10 LBS of body weight.

Best Brand Options: Look for cold pressed, extra-virgin (or virgin), organic coconut oil in glass jars. Virgin vs extra-virgin makes no difference at this time – they mean the same thing. And, in the case of coconut oil, refined is not necessarily bad (refined coconut oil doesn’t taste coco-nutty and is great for cooking). But HOW it’s refined matters. Look for chemical-free methods like friction, heat, or spinning.

I use Baie Run Organic Coconut Oil, as well as a variety of grocery store brands including the Costco brand. Costco’s is in a plastic container, but it’s organic, virgin, cold pressed and unrefined and with three dogs I go through a lot!

10. Apple Cider Vinegar

I use apple cider vinegar for Pebbles, but it may not be for every dog! Pebbles has regurgitation issues (just brings up a little something, and then gulps it back down) that we’ve been unable to figure out the cause. Sometimes she vomits, and 9/10 the vomit is only bone fragments from her food indicating that she doesn’t have enough stomach acid to digest the bone.

Recently I learned that the commonly used medication, Benedryl, can upset the acidity in the stomach. When I heard this, a little light bulb went on for me. Pebbles has been taking Benedryl for allergic reactions to bug bites her whole life! Could this be the reason for her bouts of acid reflux, or regurgitation or whatever it is? (no vet has been able to diagnose it) 

Since most dogs are on carbohydrate laden dry foods, their digestive tracts are too alkaline. Apple cider vinegar can help lower the PH in their stomachs, bringing to back into balance. This of course helps with healthy digestion. 

Although many of ACV’s best uses are topical, here are some of the benefits to ingesting it: helps improve digestion, can help reduce tear staining, helps reduce gas, promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria, can relieve constipation and has anti-bacterial properties. 

Recommended Dose: With any new food item, try small amounts to start and work your way up to a full dose. Be careful to not feed ACV straight (I tried some and it gave me incredible heartburn). Add 1 tsp – 1 tbsp per 50 LBS of body weight to your dog’s water or food. If they aren’t a fan of the taste, start with tiny amounts and work your way up.

If you are adding ACV to your dog’s water, ensure you have another bowl of water available if they dislike the taste. You don’t want to leave your dog without anything to drink. Also, watch the stool – too much ACV can cause diarrhea. 

Best Brand Options: Bragg and Omega Nutrition are my two favourites, but if you can’t find either, just be sure you are choosing ACV with the “mother” and preferably it’s in dark or opaque bottle. Organic is always best!

Supplements I can’t live without

There are a few commercial supplements that I add every day to my dogs’ meals.

I’ll go into more detail about supplements in another blog post!

RELATED: The Amazing Benefits of Phytoplankton for Dogs

HOT TIP: If you try adding any of these boosters to your pet’s food, share a photo on Instagram and hashtag #brindleberryboosters and I’ll share some in my stories! 

Please remember when you are adding these extras to your dog’s bowl, you are adding extra calories. Your dog’s weight is always the best indicator of how much to feed, but as a loose rule I recommend just eyeballing volume. If you add an egg to their food, remove an egg-sized portion from their kibble or raw. Of course this isn’t precise, but it’s an easy way to start until you get your portions right.

You can find many of the products discussed in this article at my store in Calgary, the Copperfield Tail Blazers. Feel free to call ahead to confirm if what you are looking for is available! 403-726-0558. Please join me on Instagram and Facebook for more valuable nutritional information, and for some pretty adorable animal photos!

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