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Confused When it Comes To Providing Quality Canine Nutrition?

› Canine Nutrition

Figuring out what to feed is really not as hard as you think. 

Commercial dog food companies spend millions of dollars marketing the (erroneous) concept that you aren’t smart enough to know what or how to feed your Sheltie. Hogwash! They also would like to think they are safer but you may want to check out all the dog food recalls we've had.

I ascribe to the, “If we can feed human kids without a formula, we can figure out what to feed our Shetland Sheepdogs without using a formulated bag of kibble” philosophy.

Why not join me?

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Would you feed your child nothing but Ensure and Pedialyte their entire lives because you were afraid to figure out a balanced meal?

Absurd, isn’t it?

If you don’t have to be a Registered Dietician to feed your human family, why would you think that with regards to your Shetland Sheepdog?

A Few Views of Canine Nutrition

There are several sub-philosophies out there regarding canine nutrition. Here are the three basic divisions:

  • The “prey” model which says canines need NO carbohydrates, just raw meaty bones. After all, ever see a pack of wild canines attack a wheat field? They feel only meat and bone are necessary.

Others say…..

  • Small amounts of carbs in the form of crushed vegetables, fruits and starches are necessary along with raw meaty bones. Because, they believe what canines eat are meat, bone and stomach contents of herbivores, which are partially digested fruits, grasses, and vegetable matter.

Then there are those who feel good canine nutrition should include….

  • Vitamin and mineral supplements in addition to the meat, fruits and vegetables are also needed to provide a balance. Because they feel canine nutrition should be optimal rather than just offering minimal daily requirement of nutrients.
  • This version is the closest to what is referred to as the BARF diet. Bones And Raw Food, or Biologically Available Raw Food. 


A great starter book for the BARF diet is by Ian Billinghurst, the vet who started it all. The book is called Give Your Dog a Bone: The Practical Commonsense Way to Feed Dogs for a Long Healthy Life

There is also his companion book The Barf Diet (Raw Feeding for Dogs and Cats Using Evolutionary Principles)

As with just about any topic, you will find the extremists that are willing to come to blows if anyone dares disagree with their philosophy on canine nutrition. My personal attitude is that it’s a diet, not a religion, so chill out.

What Shouldn't Be In The Canine Diet

There are a few things that canines shouldn’t eat. Remember, their digestive system is different than ours. I avoid feeding:

  • The sweetener Xylitol. Even in very small amounts can cause hypoglycemia or liver failure and death so I won’t even keep it in the house. I have read that some "sugar free" peanut butters contain it.
  • Onions can cause blood dyscrasia (use caution with garlic as it is in the onion family)
  • Chocolate can cause an allergic reaction
  • Large quantities of grapes, raisins or other foods high in iron can cause liver failure and death

Pet Poison Helpline: 1-800-213-66801-800-213-6680 FREE.

If canines can survive the garbage that comes out of most commercial dog food bags, they can survive very well even if you forgot a vitamin or gave them some veggies they didn’t absolutely need in your personal raw plan.

Further, understand that the canine's gut is shorter than a human's, so there is a reduced possibility of developing problems from ingesting bacteria like salmonella. The continuous salmonella outbreaks were the humans getting ill from handling the traditional commercial products, not the pups getting ill.

Canine Nutrition Learning Curve

Looking for additional information on a raw dog food diet? Here are more resources. I encourage you to just keep reading and learning until you feel comfortable.

I obviously believe that a raw diet is the best and the most species appropriate way of feeding my guys.

Start simple, do just meaty bones without supplements or veggies to begin. Or, you have the option of the many prepared frozen raw diets available now.

Then continue your research as you gain more confidence and add what you think is necessary to the diet little by little. Any one of the three viewpoints I mentioned is head and shoulders above the usual dry or canned options at the grocery store.

Don’t sweat the details, as they say. It’s what the traditional dog food companies are counting on, even as they sell you their bags of fillers and chemicals. Seriously, when was the last time you read the ingredients on the side of the bag? Hardly good nutrition.

For those of you still on commercial dry or canned kibble that don't feel they can do the raw diet, please do some research on what is in the food you feed now. There are more and more sites that help with this issue of canine nutrition. Check them out.

If you have found the information on these pages to be helpful to you, it would be greatly appreciated if you would consider making a donation.

Funds will go towards website expenses, researching new products to see if they are worth recommending and trying new natural alternatives to canine health care.

To be clear, Yankee Shelties is NOT a non-profit organization, therefore your donation is NOT tax deductible. The IRS needs to extract it's pound of flesh from all of us. 

If you really, really get nervous about the switch, you can start with commercial frozen raw dog food. I use them along with whole raw food just for the sake of variety.

This is a really quick book to get through and the author is a vet, Dr Tom Lonsdale. It may give you a little more courage to get started. Work Wonders: Feed Your Dog Raw Meaty Bones

If you have a little more time, this is another book he wrote that you may enjoy: Raw Meaty Bones Promote Health

Even if you decide to keep on with the same ol' commercial kibble, you can help your dog's digestion with a few supplements. Read my pages about probiotics and enzymes.

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