Patient Info: Diet Wellness Fundamentals

As an integrative veterinarian, it is no surprise that I recommend an unprocessed, balanced and biologically appropriate diet for all my patients. However, there is a lot of controversy and confusion around how to best and safely provide this to our furry loved ones. There is no question that the processed foods available and recommended by the pet food industry can support life, but they are a poor substitute for the bioavailable, whole food and nutrient-dense foods our pets are designed to eat. The most ideal diet for our dogs and cats is biologically appropriate, minimally processed and nutritionally balanced.

The most appropriate type of diet should be determined for the individual. Not all unprocessed diets are alike and each individual is best served by a careful assessment of their specific needs and should have their diet sculpted based on that information. Ensuring that the diet is adequate to meet all of their nutritional needs (i.e. balanced) is absolutely critical. By far the most dangerous diets are those that are home-prepared but unbalanced.

For patients benefiting from raw foods, there are many brands available that are of good quality. The HPP (high-pressure pasteurization) requirements are infiltrating into many of them though, so a lot of scrutiny needs to be placed on the sourcing and the quality of products as well as company practices of any raw food company’s food.

Home-preparing a balanced diet is often the highest quality option because you have full control and knowledge of all the ingredients in the food! However, home-prepared diets can be overwhelming and confusing at first and dangerous if unbalanced. It is crucial to seek out extra support from a veterinarian while embarking on this journey to ensure there are no other factors to consider in order to meet your pet’s individual needs. There are
some very good recipes and diet formulation tools now which are fairly easy to navigate and involve adding in additional supplements (fatty acids and vitamin/mineral mixes) to home-prepared foods available now that make the process safer and much easier.

Home-prepared prescription diets can also be formulated for pets with medical conditions that have specific dietary management requirements. While I am able to help in diet formulation for some of these cases, I may refer you to a board-certified veterinary nutritionist if the situation is particularly complex.

The Fundamentals:

  1. Feed a balanced, species-appropriate diet, low in carbohydrates, high in lean quality protein (75% for dogs and 80% for cats) and moderate in fat. Use or seek out diets with quality, clean (organic if possible) carefully sourced ingredients.
  2. The addition of probiotics +/- digestive enzymes can help support healthy gut flora and functioning. I am happy to help you sculpt the best plan for supplements given your pet’s individual needs.
  3. Feed a diet high in Omega 3 fatty acids. Diets too high in Omega 6 and too low in Omega 3 FAs significantly contribute to inflammatory conditions.
  4. Daily exercise and weight management! Obesity is absolutely linked to cancer and chronic disease!
  5. Daily teeth brushing, Healthy Mouth oral gel +/- water additive, safe chew bones/treats depending on individual
  6. Reduce any unnecessary vaccines and plan for at least twice a year veterinary check-ups (ideally Spring/Fall).

Home-prepared food resources:

My favorite resources right now for quality balanced diets are as follows:

Both of these sites offer their own powdered balancing supplement for home-prepared food which is very important to ensure all your pet’s nutritional needs are being met over the long term.

Below is an example of a recipe for a 50 lb active adult dog: This recipe is roughly a daily amount (can be divided into several meals, if desired)


  • 12.0 Oz. Ground Beef, 85% Lean
  • 3.0 Oz. Carrot
  • 3.0 Oz. Broccoli
  • 0.5 g. Sunflower, Safflower, Hemp Seed or Walnut Oil
  • 2.0 g. Marine based Omega 3 oil
  • 1.0 Pkt. Meal Mix for Dogs

Preparation Instructions

  1. Weigh meat raw. Meat can be served raw or lightly cooked if desired. Avoid over-cooking to preserve nutrient content. Crumble meat into a mixing bowl. If using cooked meat, do not drain fat.
  2. Rinse carrots under cool water and drain. Carrots can be lightly cooked or served raw. Add to the mixing bowl.
  3. Rinse broccoli under cool water and drain. Broccoli can be lightly cooked or served raw. Add to the mixing bowl.
  4. Add Meal Mix packet, mix thoroughly.
  5. Add sunflower oil, safflower oil, hemp seed oil, or walnut oil.
  6. Divide into daily portions as directed below.
  7. Add marine-based Omega-3 oil right before serving. If using Dr. Mercola’s Salmon Oil, the contents of 1 capsule equals 1 gram of oil. If using Dr. Mercola’s Krill Oil for Pets, 10 pumps equals one gram of oil.

Additional portions can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days, or the freezer for up to two weeks. Frozen portions can be thawed overnight by transferring to the refrigerator. Do not thaw meat under hot water or leave at room temperature overnight.

If feeding exclusively beef, bison and/or venison and not rotating with poultry the sunflower, safflower, hempseed or walnut oil must be added to balance the fats. If rotating red meats with poultry throughout the month this step is not required as poultry contains higher levels of Omega-6’s which will provide balance over time.

There are many recipes out there and individual/constitutional needs should be taken into account when choosing recipes to make. We can talk about details for your pet’s needs and whether specific foods are important to use or avoid.

Commercial Raw Food:

I hesitate to recommend any specific brand of food, since companies can be sold and quality control can change unbeknownst to me, and I would prefer instead to empower you to know how to select and sculpt a diet most appropriate for your pet. Any pet food company must be watched closely as company practices change. can be a great resource for tracking recalls etc. It is also good to align with a quality pet food store/ distributor that uses careful buying practices and does a lot of research on foods they sell. I love P.C.’s Pantry in Boulder and Mile High Raw Food ( for this reason. Both are excellent resources for quality raw food.

Remember that variety is extremely important. Rotate as often as works for your pet and be mindful of transitioning slowly. Always practice safe raw food handling practices when working with raw meat! Supplementing appropriately to ensure no nutrients are missing is of critical importance with any food.

Crockpot cooking:

Below are some basic guidelines for those wishing for a simpler way to incorporate some home-cooked food into the mix without having to worry about the balancing supplements. Adding up to 40% of the diet in the form of home-cooked food to a balanced commercial food can be a good way to stick your toe in. Try to source high- quality organic food. 🙂

  1. You will need a crockpot or slow cooker for this, but you can also make a stew on the stovetop if easier
  2. Picking ingredients
    • Meats: Meat should be the majority of the meal with veggies and fruits and grains if included filling the rest of the pot. Beef, chicken, turkey, and fish can all be excellent choices and easy to source cleanly/organically. AVOID: Energetically hot or cold foods for most patients such as lamb and duck and be sparing with fish. 
    • Fruits and Vegetables: These foods are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Choosing a wide variety and paying attention to keeping the starch/sugar content in check is important. For example: broccoli, spinach, kale, carrots, celery, squash, apples, pears, blueberries/other berries are all excellent choices! AVOID: grapes, raisins, onions, avocado pits, Macadamia nuts 
    • Grains: these should be avoided in foods prepared for cats and limited, if included, in diets for dogs. Some dogs do not tolerate grains and need their food to be grain-free. For others, high quality and ideally soaked grains such as millet, buckwheat, barley, oats, quinoa or rice can be a beneficial addition. AVOID: corn 
    • To the final product: feel free to also add in small amounts of organ meats (liver, heart, kidney), probiotics, bone broth, etc. as desired.
  3. Cooking
    • If using a crockpot
      • Line the bottom and sides with veggies as these take the longest to cook and add meat in middle. 
      • Use 2 cups of water for every cup of grains. Be sure to cover all the ingredients.
      • Cook for 8 hours on low or 4-6 hours on high.
    • If cooking on the stove
      • Sauté meat and veggies together with a small amount of coconut oil until well combined.
  4. Feeding
    • Commercially balanced food should comprise at least 50% of the diet to avoid nutritional deficiencies/imbalances. If you want to feed more home-cooked food or ideally entirely please see the above resources. 
    • Start slow with incorporating any new food into your pet’s diet. Over about 5-7 days work up to the full amount. Quantities to feed vary based on foods chosen, so make a guestimate- if your pet eats kibble and is getting 2 cups twice a day, you could work to eliminating that to 1 cup twice a day and add in roughly 1.5 cups of home-cooked to replace what you are taking out in kibble. Watch your pet’s weight closely and increase or decrease what you are feeding based on their body condition.

Have fun and please reach out with any questions along the way. Here’s to feeding with love!