Not everybody has the time or disposable income to prepare a diet of fully raw dog food, particularly if it’s a larger dog, but that doesn’t mean your dog’s health has to take a back seat. Unfortunately for dog owners, the grocery store kibble brands have had a death grip on our ideas about the type of food we should feed our dogs. Big kibble corporations (I’m talking big – did you know Science Diet is actually owned by the same company that makes soap, Colgate-Palmolive?) have even sponsored nutrition courses in veterinarian education programs, which helped to further the public’s idea of what dog food should be.
Dogs need a varied diet made up of whole foods and mostly meat. Kibble, even the healthier grain-free formulas, lack variety, moisture and freshness. What makes kibble a not-so-great diet staple but a wonderful retail product is its shelf life. Regardless of recipe, kibble starts out as a meatball of ground up ingredients, then cooked at high temperatures so the piece of food hardens into a kibble. It’s the human equivalent of processed cereal – something we would never eat at every single meal, so why should our dogs?
One of the main issues with feeding only kibble is the lack of moisture in it. Dogs historically acquired roughly 70% of their water intake from eating uncooked meals. If you check the bag of your dog’s kibble you’ll see moisture percentages as low as 10% and 12% – your dog has to make up for this difference solely through drinking water. Many dogs, especially health compromised or older dogs, simply can’t and begin to show the symptoms of perpetual, mild dehydration. Store-bought raw dog food is generally 70% moisture.
When a dog’s body doesn’t have sufficient moisture, it begins to redirect these resources to more vital functions, like digestion. Issues like a dull coat, constant and heavy shedding, dandruff, urinary tract issues and even joint health are affected by a lack of moisture.
You might feel you just don’t have the time, money or expertise to invest in switching your dog to 100% raw dog food, but it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. So let’s get to my recipe for supplementing your dog’s diet with a raw food booster snack.
I was boarding a client’s dog and saw that for having a coat of thin, short hair, the dog was shedding tons; entire clumps of fur. I also noticed that her coat was riddled with dandruff. These are classic signs of a chronic lack of moisture – the skin and hair are not vital functions and are thus some of the first to have moisture stolen from them to facilitate more integral functions.
I learned her diet was strictly kibble, but it wasn’t even a low-quality brand of kibble, as it was Taste of the Wild. Yet it didn’t matter whether the kibble was grain-free, organic or kosher – it was still kibble and never above 15% moisture – that leaves your dog having to make up for over half their moisture requirement strictly through drinking water. There are many problems with this but one of the most dangerous that has plagued especially larger dogs is bloat, or gastric torsion – a condition that’s been observed to occur when a dog consumes too much water too quickly; it occurs suddenly and can kill.
So being that this wasn’t my dog, I wanted to find a cost-effective way to boost her dietary moisture without switching her food or even buying raw meat. The recipe in this post is what I came up with and it’s made almost entirely of ingredients you almost certainly have in your kitchen right now.
This is a great recipe to either feed as a snack or add to their meals of kibble. Just be aware of how this addition to your dog’s diet could alter their daily caloric intake.
- *1 egg (plus shell, crushed).
- *1 tablespoon of sprouts
- *0.5 tablespoon of shredded spinach
- *0.5 tablespoon of coconut oil
- *1 teaspoon olive oil
- *1 teaspoon chia seeds
- *0.5 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1. Crack egg into food bowl and add crushed shell.
- 2. Add shredded spinach and all other ingredients.
- 3. Mix until an even mixture is attained.
- 4. Add a splash of hot water if coconut oil solidifies.
- 5. Serve as is or with kibble.
- 6. Dispose of leftovers after 30 minutes.
- * This recipe is crafted with a health 40 pound dog in mind. Each item can be researched to confirm the proper serving size for your dog.
The Benefits of Each Ingredient
- Raw Egg: No, your dog will not get salmonella. The ph of a dog’s stomach is highly acid and kills bacteria that a human’s would not. Plus, ever seen a dog eat another dog’s poo? Yeah, they can handle a raw egg. Dingos are actually known to eat raw emu eggs, so this really isn’t an unusual addition to your dog’s diet. Eggs are a great source of amino acids (what proteins are made of), vitamin A, iron and fatty acids too.
- Eggshell: It might seem strange to feed your dog the egg’s shell, but powdered eggshells is already a supplement available to humans because it’s rich in calcium. Letting your dog chew up the egg shell is also somewhat helpful in keeping their teeth clean, particularly great for dogs that already have trouble chewing bones.
- Spinach: Dogs need a diet that is mainly comprised of meat, organs and bones, but even wild wolves are known to forage for berries and get a notable portion of plant matter from the stomachs of the herbivores they prey on. Plus, if our dogs can benefit, why not feed it? Spinach is packed with antioxidants, iron and vitamins A, B, C, and K that all have the same healing benefits to our dogs as they do to us.
- Sprouts: This is something else that I already buy for my own consumption and just share with my dog. While there are definitely some foods you can’t share with your dog, a quick search can confirm any of your questions. Whether it’s pea, mung bean, alfalfa, broccoli, radish, clover or sunflower, sprouts are superfoods for both humans and dogs because most plants actually contain higher levels of all the nutrients they offer in the sprouted stage. So sprouts are basically steroids but made of vitamins and minerals, thus including them in your dog’s diet can help address issues with chronic ear infections, IBD, pancreatitis, allergies and arthritis. If your dog eats grass, they might be engaging in an instinctive behavior to consume trace minerals lacking from their diet, which sprouts can provide.
- Olive Oil: Adds moisture and shine to dry skin and dull coats. Olive oil is also full of antioxidants that can boost the immune system. Plus it’s known to aid circulation.
- Cinnamon: You might think cinnamon would be toxic to dogs the way nutmeg is, but it’s actually beneficial to help control or prevent diabetes and its anti-inflammatory properties help ease the severity of arthritis. It’s also antibacterial which can give you some peace of mind knowing that you’re helping to provide your dog with nutrition to keep them from succumbing to any bacterial infections. Cinnamon has even been found to prevent the growth of E.coli.
- Chia Seeds: They have 3 times the amount of omega 3 fatty acids as salmon, making them a super potent supplement for issues with skin, coat, immune and joint health.
- Coconut Oil: Almost entirely made up of healthy fats, coconut oil was my go-to in restoring this dog’s shiny and soft coat. It’s known to improve digestion (an important aspect if your dog is known to have stomach sensitivity), reduce bad breath, aid with joint issues, and control or prevent diabetes.
What do you feed your dog now? My dog eats a mixture of homemade and store-bought raw food, with the occasional canned food when we’re traveling. Does your dog have coat/skin issues too? Let me know if you try out the recipe – you should see a noticeable improvement in coat health after about 30 days.