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Diet: Achieving nutritional balance and convenience.

Updated: Nov 20, 2023

If you’re looking for an easy, well informed read on dog nutrition, one author worth checking out is Dr Ian Billinghurst.

Dr Ian Billinghurst, Author

In his text “Give your dog a bone”, Dr. Billinghurst (1993), outlines combining a diet involving 12 different meals of bone, organ & muscle meats with 8 meals of non animal sources such as dairy, legumes, grains and vegetables. This is one way; some may argue an excellent way, which balance could be achieved. However, we must bear in mind the home, a family’s capabilities, time, energy and enthusiasm for preparing and feeding a raw diet.


The rise of the commercial pet food industry has been largely on the back of added convenience, if we are to successfully transition clients back to feeding their pets a species specific, nutritionally balanced diet it must be convenient, simple and cost effective.


The ‘raw feeding’ community, appears split on the concept of feeding non animal sources to dogs. For many, the feeding of grains and legumes especially is considered inappropriate for dogs, considering the soaking, sprouting or cooking that’s needed to make them digestible and the risk of imbalances if you don’t feed both equally their viewpoint is understandable[1]. Feeding dairy products causes digestive upset in many dogs meaning care must be taken when recommending meals of this kind[2].


When designing a balanced diet for a dog the primary consideration is that their diet should contain a minimum 60% meaty bone component to meet their nutritional needs with the balance from other suitable sources depending on the dog and their guardian. A simple option for many would be to comprise a diet with three components, meaty bones, offal and a leafy green based mix.


The meaty bones, fed maybe 4 days a week, could comprise both small edible and large recreational bones. The proportions varied to suit the calorie needs of the dog with different protein sources e.g. chicken, pork, beef etc included.


The offal component would be fed once a week; many suppliers offer an offal mix which may suit some owners. If the pet is not keen on straight offal, it could be mixed either with a minced meaty bone from above or with the leafy green mix below.


The leafy greens, fed twice a week, could include not only leafy greens but any other items deemed suitable, for example, plain Greek yoghurt, eggs, berries etc. Supplements such as kelp, brewer’s yeast and cod liver oil could also be added to the mix. A little minced meaty bone or offal from above can improve palatability if needed; it’s about finding a convenient simple solution that a family can manage to ensure their dog receives a balanced, species appropriate diet filled with the nutrients they need to thrive.


Sources

[1] Gupta, R. K., 2015. Reduction of phytic acid and enhancement of bioavailable micronutrients in food grains. Journal of food science and technology , 52 (2), 676-684. [2] Billinghurst, I., 1993. Give Your Dog a Bone. Bathurst, New South Wales: Warrigal Publishing.

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