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Natural Canine Health Symposium

Five Foods You Should Feed Your Dog

Do you feed your dog raw food?  Kibble?  Cooked or dehydrated food?  A mixture of more than one?  Regardless of what you feed, it’s always a good idea to take a step back every now and again and decide whether your dog could use a little nutrition boost.  Sound nutrition is the first step in providing a healthier lifestyle for your dog, so let food by thy medicine!  Here are five healthy food items you might want to add to your dog’s diet.

Green Tripe

Green tripe is truly a superfood that no dog should be without! Tripe is loaded with naturally occurring digestive enzymes and probiotics. Think how much money you can spend on supplements when those same wonderful, natural substances are in abundance in green tripe. Tripe is also loaded with B vitamins and has the perfect ratio of calcium to phosphorus – 1:1. It also contains the essential fatty acids Linoleic and Linolenic, in their recommended proportions. If you can’t find green tripe from your raw supplier, there are canned products available. Tripe stinks but you won’t regret feeding it: no guts, no glory!

Milk Thistle

Although milk thistle is technically a herb not a food, it’s an important part of any dog’s diet. The active ingredient of milk thistle seed extract as a flavonoid compound called silymarin. This little powerhouse has been shown to be safe and effective in treating a variety of liver diseases and other conditions. It specifically protects the liver against toxins and stimulates the growth of new liver cells to replace those that are dead or damaged.

Milk thistle is a great herb to have on hand and should be given any time your dog is exposed to any toxins including drugs, vaccines, dewormers, lawn chemicals and the like. Milk thistle also has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions. It can be purchased in powder, capsule, and liquid extract form. Follow label instructions or give a teaspoon of fresh ground milk thistle seed per 20 pounds.

Raw Eggs

Next to green tripe, raw eggs are another one of nature’s most wholesome foods for dogs. Eggs are not only economical, but they’re one of the most complete and nutritious foods available.

Eggs are a nearly complete source of amino acids (the building blocks of proteints), and contain lots of vitamin A, riboflavin, folate, vitamin B12, iron, selenium and fatty acids. Feed the egg with the shell on, and the phosphorus and calcium are perfectly balanced, making the egg a nearly complete source of nutrition for your dog. Whenever possible, try to find eggs from pasture raised chickens raised without hormones or antibiotics.

Coconut Oil

This superfood is comprised mainly of medium chain triglycerices which in turn are loaded with lauric acid, followed by capric acid, caprylic acid, myristic acid and palmitic. Most of the coconut oil benefits come from the MCTs. For example, the lauric acid in coconut oil has antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties. Capric and caprylic acid have similar properties and are best known for their anti-fungal effects. In addition, MCTs are efficiently metabolized to provide an immediate source of fuel and energy, enhancing athletic performance and aiding weight loss.

In dogs, the MCTs in coconut oil balance the thyroid, helping overweight dogs lose weight and helping sedentary dogs feel energetic. According to Dr. Bruce Fife, certified nutritionist and naturopathic doctor, coconut oil gently elevates the metabolism, provides a higher level of energy and vitality, protects you from illness, and speeds healing. As a bonus, coconut oil improves any dog’s skin and coat, improves digestion, and reduces allergic reactions. Look for organic sources whenever possible.

Organ Meats

Organ meats are important for both raw feeders and those who feed kibble. The raw or home prepared diet would be incomplete without the powerful nutritional punch of organ meat and, due to consumer demand for higher quality protein sources, most high end kibbles avoid the use of byproducts and this includes organ meats.

Compared to regular cuts of muscle meat, organ meats are more densely packed with just about every nutrient including heavy doses of B vitamins such as: B1, B2, B6, folic acid and vitamin B12. Organ meats are also loaded with minerals like phosphorus, iron, copper, magnesium and iodine, and provide the important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. It’s important to note that animals raised outside on grass contain even higher levels of these essential nutrients than their grain fed counterparts.

Raw is best but you can also fry up some liver or kidney for your dog as a treat.

It doesn’t take a lot of effort or money to add these superfoods to your dog’s diet. Try them on your dog and watch him reap the rewards!



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70 Responses to Five Foods You Should Feed Your Dog

  1. Deborah

    I am trying desperately to feed my 2 Yorkies dehydrated raw…I break up a pattie for each in their bowls. ..I then cook chicken tenderloins, livers, and gizzards in some chicken stock and coconut oil and place on top pouring the juice over to wet the dry raw pattie… it smells delicious and you’d think a dog would just gobble it up… But not my dogs. ..They sniff and walk away..I can’t tell you how much of this expensive food I’ve thrown away… I’m at my wits end. .. Does anyone have a suggestion regarding such picky eaters? …I can’t understand how they can turn their nose up on such a feast. .. What am I doing wrong? ..What’s more confusing is sometimes they eat it… But never consistently. ..I’m convinced that raw is the way to go to keep them at optimum health. .They’re both a year old and healthy and happy. . Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

    • Dogs Naturally Magazine

      Deborah, they might like frozen raw better that the dehydrated – just thaw it to room temperature (do not microwave).

      • I use frozen raw dog food too. My dogs live it.i mix with frozen finely diced veg(no onion)..adding rice or pasta few times a week…biscuits add bulk …never without clean bowls. Fav. Is tripe. Or beef..

      • Daphne Wilcox

        Also, might try one new thing at a time. Sometimes people do part raw and part quality kibble until they are used to it.

  2. kkoira

    Organ meats are an essential part of any raw diet. If you are feeding raw, liver should make up 5% of the diet, and other organ meats (such as kidney) should make up another 5%. Just as edible bone should be 10% and muscle meat (including heart, which does not, nutritionally speaking, count as organ, but as muscle) should make up the other 80% of the diet. The edible bone amount should be increased if needed for the dog to have stools which are properly formed.

    I don’t think tripe is a needed food. Most of the probiotics it contains are unlikely to work in the high acid environment of the dog’s digestive system. There is no real reason that it should be included in a diet, except for your dog’s enjoyment if the dog happens to really like it. Its main benefit is that since it smells so strongly, it can help entice older or sick dogs to eat when they are reluctant.

    As far as coconut oil and milk thistle go, I think they are not needed for EVERY dog. Milk thistle should be fed only in dogs who need it, such as those with liver issues. Coconut oil can be beneficial to dogs with dry skin or coats, but again, it isn’t absolutely necessary to feed to every dog.

  3. Sonja

    Hi my Jack Russel/Papillon is prone to kennel cough. Please can you suggest a diet or supplements to aid recovery and strengthen his immune system. He is 4 years old. t

  4. georgia gilham

    All the above plus I believe apple cider vinegar is another important daily supplement

  5. I feed a dehydrated raw food from a company called Big Dog Natural out of New Jersey. They do ship all over the US. All their food includes Green Tripe.

  6. My dog was diagnosed with old age heart problems though the heart is only slightly enlarged and she is NOT on meds. She also had stones in the urinary tract as a puppy. she is 11 1/2 now.I feed her cd prescription diet, canned food BUT she doesn’t always want it. What should I be feeding her. AND Please what are raw foods, specifically??? Is raw foods a brand name or just things like fruits, veggies and real chicken, etc. HELP and thanks,

  7. Anna

    My dog suffers from Perianal Fistula. I tried the raw diet with him and for a few months he did well on it but then became very ill. This I believe due to the fact that his immune system is compromised so I had to stop feeding raw. Would tripe affect him the same way that raw did so far as his compromised immune system? Should his eggs always be cooked because of this? Thanks in advance!

  8. Kimberly

    My dogs get everything listed *except* the green tripe. They eat a raw/homemade diet and the only reason they don’t get this is because I just can’t find it in an affordable way. There is a pet store that has green tripe, but it is frozen in small bite sized pieces for a high price tag, which means they would only get it maybe once a month as a treat (I have 3 dogs, btw.) When you say it can be purchased canned, is that marketed as canned dog food or canned human food at the grocery store (probably a dumb question, but I have to ask.) Thanks!

    • Nancy

      You can find canned Tripe online. Google Tripett and has several different types of tripe. Or, if you have a pet specialty store ( not big box) in your area, they may be able to get it for you as well.

    • Melissa Zecher

      Try canned tripe made by Tripett they sell in 6oz and 12oz cans also solid gold has a canned tripe but they have potatoes added

  9. roxanne

    I was told by my vet to stop feeding coconut oil because it could cause pancriatitics (sp)

  10. Lynn

    I love Dogs Naturally and am planning on subscribing to this wonderful informative magazine. I share my life with two beautiful cats and plan on sharing my life with a dog as soon as I have time to train. I get very good information which I can use for my cats. I feed my cats raw food which I purchase from Hare Today. They love it, especially the whole ground rabbit and tripe. I purchased beef tripe strips which I need to cut up into smaller pieces and give it to my boys with their dinner. They were reluctant at first but now enjoy it very much!

  11. Rachel

    I know that organ meats have tremendous nutritional value, however they are high in purines. I have Dalmatians, which are stone forming dogs. Their diets are aimed at being low in purines to avoid crystals and stones. Do you have any advice on how to achieve a balanced approach on this? I have just avoided organ meats, game meats, and legumes as those are the foods with the highest levels of purines.

    • kim

      Yes! There is very little info on feeding low purine diets. With my dally boy I’ve found it safest to stick to low animal protein foods as even the smallest amount of beef will set his stomach off. Anything with fish is good especially salmon and the best treats you can get are dried sprats. All the dog food advice is based around high protein and that’s not best for everyone

      • kkoira

        Keep in mind with Salmon that if you are feeding it raw, it cannot be wild from the Pacific Northwest. Wild salmon and other salmonids from the Pacific Northwest can carry a parasite which can cause salmon poisoning. Salmon poisoning is almost 100% deadly without timely vet treatment. Deep freezing can kill the parasite, but for many people, it is just not worth the risk.

  12. Susan

    Milk thistle works wonders for you and your beloved dog. My Italian Spinone’s liver values were off the charts. The vets wanted to run all kinds of tests and do a liver biopsy on him but I knew it was because of the phenobarbital he was taking for his grand mal seizures. I gave him a milk thistle compound for 2 weeks from my medicinal herbalist neighbor in Maine, had him retested and his levels were back to normal. The vets could not believe it. They said there must have been a mistake with the original blood work. Hahaha! I cut the tincture with raw honey to make it more palatable for him and he would wait for his dose every day.

  13. Dianne

    I was told not to feed westies beef or lamb due to sensitivities in the breed. Would it still be ok to feed beef or lamb tripe? If so how much would be good for an eighteen pound westie?

  14. According to Dr. Dodds, though Milk Thistle should not be given unless the liver is actually in trouble, otherwise it loses effectiveness … ?

    • Michelle swank

      I believe milk thistle is on again and off again. This should not be used daily long term without breaks. I forget the on and off duration off the top of my head at this time. I have used for liver and cardio dogs as well as cancer issues, that’s when I first learned of it years ago.

  15. Tina

    Please help, does anyone know if it is safe to give a dog: wheatgrass, grapeseed extract, whole ginger extract, Lysine, and curcumin-from tumeric? Also has anyone given these at the same time as chemo drugs (piroxicam)? Thank you kindly.

    • Dogs Naturally Magazine

      These are all routinely given to dogs with cancer. Best of luck.

    • Sylvie D'Auteuil

      I have read here and there that turmeric ( curcumin) could block the effect of the chemo . I would contact an holistic vet before to give turmeric in the same time than chemo.

    • kkoira

      I would not give grapeseed extract, since some dogs have a severe and deadly reaction to eating grapes and raisins, and the ingredient in grapes and raisins that causes that reaction is currently unknown. Some dogs may be fine with it, but I don’t personally think it is worth the risk of a deadly reaction occurring.

  16. kristin

    Where can I find appropriate amounts…especially the milk thistle and coconut oil?

  17. Nancy

    I currently give my dogs omega-3 oil. Getting confused on reading now about giving coconut oil. Is one better than the other? Should they be getting both? They are fed an all raw diet. Thanks !!

    • Dogs Naturally Magazine

      Hi Nancy
      Coconut oil isn’t as high in Omega-3 so you should feed both…they both have different functions.

  18. Patti Sears

    Great information here! One question though on the milk thistle, what dosage would I give my dogs?

    • Dogs Naturally Magazine

      If giving the tincture, it’s a 1/4 tsp per 20 pounds according to Greg Tilford

      • Isiris

        Would I be able to use the Milk Thistle I use, 150 mg capsules. I have 2 Shih Tzu & feed dehydrated raw in the morning & home-cooked in the evening. Both are about 15lbs. Thanks.

  19. Paula

    I just read the comment about not feeding kibble with raw because kibble slows down digestion. I never realized this! Although I do not feed my dog a raw diet, I do offer her a little moist food along with her kibble at meals. Should I not be doing this???? Or is it only RAW food that you should not mix with kibble? I currently feed her fresh pet moist along with Acana kibble. Both of which I thought were the best option besides going raw.

    • You’re fine with what you’re doing. Wet food and dry food are fine together.

    • kkoira

      The reason you don’t want to combine raw and kibble is because part of the reason dogs can handle eating raw meat that might make a human sick is how fast it goes through their digestive tract. Since kibble gets processed slower, it may slow down the raw going through and increase the chance of getting sick if the raw is carrying any bad bacterias.

  20. I feed Great Life Dog Food my golden loves it. I also give Flax oil every day #1 tablespoon in his kibble with a probiotic.
    My friend says that salmon oil is better what is your opinion. And for a 70 pound golden do i feed kibble in AM and tripe in PM. Or how much a week do i give it to him and how much in quanity.

  21. Darci

    Great article. I feed all of these on a rotating basis. Didn’t know about the milk thistle. Glad to know it. My dogs love these!

  22. Rosa

    Hi All,
    I know this is a bit off topic, but a friend of mine has a miniature schnauzer who recently had a pancreatitis attack. :( And she is one of those “Doctor knows best” type of people. So the vet has her on a low fat Science Diet kibble (Which I know is a bad choise of food alone). And I’m wondering if anyone has any knowledgable advise on what she should be doing. She has recently bought a dehydrator to make snacks, and is also trying to make her own home made cookies. But as far as food, I know there is something better that she could be using. Also would Coconut Oil benefit him any on this issue? I would love some great adivise, and would like to say thank you in advance. :)
    Happy Holidays!!

    • Amy Seidler

      I would avoid adding oils,even coconut oil to a dog with Pancreatic issues. My 3-lb Chihuahua went through this. I just shopped for a food lower in fat, NO PEOPLE food, and I mix just a little kibble with some Honest Kitchen food and he seems ok now but it was not a chronic issue with him either. I wish vets weren’t taught to prescribe junky dog food. But Science Diet is the main brand with specific formulas and many homemade diets dont include all of what they need

    • kkoira

      Unless the dog has had pancreatitis multiple times (chronic pancreatitis), simply avoiding feeding items with large amounts of cooked fat should be fine. Feeding a balanced raw diet or most decently rated kibbles shouldn’t cause any problems. My dog had pancreatitis when he was one. He is now five, and has been eating either a raw diet or a good kibble ever since then, no specialty foods and no restrictions.

      Things that should be avoided in every dog due to risk of pancreatitis are mostly cooked fatty items, such as cooked chicken or turkey skin. Uncooked animal fats don’t seem to trigger the same issues as cooked fats.

  23. I have been giving my westie CoCo Therapy coconut oil as well as their organic coconut chips. Dogs Naturally Magazine had an excellent article [several issues back] on the benefits of using coconut oil – my westies come running when they see the glass jar. For a westie size dog I use about a 1/2 of a teaspoon each – if they could they would eat the spoon. I sprinkle the coconut chips on the top of their raw food. My westies have been feed a raw diet from the get-go and have no allergy issues and I contribute this to our breeder ‘who was in the know’ about dog food.

  24. Mary

    I live in St. Charles ,Il can you reccomend a homopatic dr. in my area.? Also can the raw egg with the shell on be ok for the my dog to digest ? should the shell be ground up with the raw egg & given that way.?

    • Dogs Naturally Magazine

      You can give your dog the egg with the shell or mash the shell up a bit with a fork. Homeopaths and homeopathic vets can do phone consults, they don’t always have to be right in your area.

    • Nancy

      Please tell her to get the dog off processed food, especially the inferior ingredients of “prescription” foods. A holistic vet versed in homeopathy and or traditional Chinese medicine can help as well.

  25. Cris

    Can I mix raw meat with my dogs’ kibble and still derive the maximum benefits from the raw food? Does mixing it somehow hinder proper digestion?

    • Dogs Naturally Magazine

      Yes it does. Kibble slows down digestion quite a bit and the longer food sits in the GI tract, the more susceptible the dog is to bacteria and toxins. It’s best not to feed kibble at all for this reason but if you do, feed it separately from raw foods.

      • It is advised not to mix raw/kibble as it takes different digestive enzymes to break down these two foods. I totally agree with Dogs Naturally.

  26. vanessa

    Coconut oil works wonders,even if your dog has a skin condition and you apply coconut oil,i garuntee you will see the difference,you dont want RBD(refined,bleached ,deoderized) but organic,if you use it on there skin,dont put them out in the heat as it can burn..

    Green Tripe is one of the best foods.

  27. Marilize

    Raw eggs are great for dogs – I feed them every so often and my dogs love them. One of them will even crack it himself.

    But coconut oil isn’t good for dogs because it’s plant based and dogs are carnivores. You won’t hurt your dog with coconut oil, but fish oil is much more biologically available, so you get more good benefits for less oil (and less money).

    • Dogs Naturally Magazine

      Dogs have the ability to manufacture their own Omega-3 which can make fish oil redundant in some dogs and diets. Fish oil is promoted for human health because humans don’t have the ability to convert Omega-6 to Omega-3 but dogs do.

      • Cecilia

        I just wanted to say that dogs (or any other mammal or bird) cannot convert omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids. Or synthesize omega 3 or omega 6 fatty acids, they are essencial and need to be provided in the diet. Dogs can convert a very small amount of shorter chain omega 3 (from linseed or canola oil, for example) to longer chain omega 3, just like people. So, if you want the dog to get some bioactive omega 3, fish oil is irreplaceable, there are no omega 3 in coconut oil.

  28. sasa/Lunaspi

    Good article.
    Andrea – sometimes the problem with allergy is more in egg white and not as much in yolk

  29. Andrea

    Not all dogs can tolerate raw eggs:-(

    • Dogs Naturally Magazine

      If some dogs can tolerate the eggs and others can’t, the egg isn’t the issue. Any dog that can’t digest a raw egg or other food product should be treated homeopathically – digestive issues are often a sign of a deeper chronic issue and it’s a good idea to pay attention to this symptom.

      • Isiris

        When I have fed my 3 yr old Shih Tzu raw, she gets loose stool, which is ok when starting, but then it continues for a few days and then gets bloody. I tried several times. That’s one of the main reasons I stopped feeding them raw. Another reason is that they started having tear stains. The 3 dogs I had before them were on raw and had AWEFUL tear stains and stains at other parts of their bodies like around their mouths, underarms, feet & genital areas. They were almost white so it looked terrible! She doesn’t get tear stains since I started giving her TearLax, but when I give them dehydrated raw, the boy gets tear stains & stains in other places when he eats more than 2 patties a day. I would love to go back to feeding raw instead of cooking but these issues keep me from feeding them raw. They’re beautiful dogs and the stains diminish their beauty. I mostly pressure cook their chicken so that they’re able to eat the bones which come out soft enough to squish between your fingers after cooking for about 40 mins. Do they still contain calcium and the other nutrients? I feed them vegs every day & the boy gets his probiotics with coconut oil. The girl gets her coconut oil as a treat. Thanks.

        • Amy Seidler

          NEVER feed cooked bones, especially chicken. They splinter and can kill them!

          • Carolyn

            Not when cooked in a pressure cooker.

    • Kathy Jo

      Best form of egg is a poached egg — raw yolk and cooked whites.

    • kkoira

      The response then is to feed to tolerance. Some dogs will get the runs when they are first fed raw eggs. If your dog is on an appropriate raw diet, you can try adding in a raw egg with a bone-in meal to help prevent loose stools as a result. If you really want to feed raw eggs, start with feeding them occasionally with bone in meals, then slowly feed them more and more often. My dogs love a raw egg, given to them whole, as a treat/snack or with their food.

  30. Andrea Kraus

    Great Infos !!! Thanks so much

  31. Pam Tucker

    I feed coconut oil; 1 teaspoon per 10 lb. of body weight per day. And I give my dog raw egg. But I can’t find the other things. Where can I get them and how much should I feed?

  32. Cathy

    how often do you feed the other foods…i’ve given my dogs cooked egg but never raw..i guess raw is okay for them?

    • Isiris

      My 5 yr old used to love raw eggs when I was feeding him raw, but when I went to cooking, he stopped eating eggs. Now he doesn’t even like eating cooked eggs.

  33. Lori

    Any idea what an ideal dosage of coconut oil would be?
    And who is that GORGEOUS GSD????

    • Denise

      i give my golden retrievers a tablespoon once a day. Does wonders for their coats and skin!

    • Heike

      I give my corgi/jack russell mix a teaspoon full each morning and I have one myself. Best thing ever!

  34. jennifer mattly

    Great to know!!! It would be great to know how often and amounts based on dog’s weight and possibly breed.

    • Destiny

      Its 1/4 teaspoon per 10lbs of weight. Four 1/4 teaspoons make 1 teaspoon. Three teaspoons make 1 tablespoon. It is recommended to feed the amount twice daily. They have another article on Dogs Naturally Magazine that explains it in more detail.

      My 130 lb dog gets 1 tablespoon 2x a day.
      My 7.5 lb dog gets a little under 1/4 teaspoon 2x a day.

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