The Healthy Hound: Raising a Nutritarian Dog

January 17, 2018 by Joel Fuhrman, MD


Attention, dog owners: We are launching a Nutritarian communities thread (membership required), as a new member benefit, that will give you the opportunity to learn techniques, and share advice, on the best ways to train, nurture and ensure the nutritional excellence of your pets. The aim is to help those who follow a Nutritarian lifestyle to extend this health and longevity-promoting eating style to their furry friends.

We also want to initiate data collection for a study on the lifespan and health of Nutritarian dogs, and encourage you and your dog to participate. Please keep track of what you feed your pet, and all health and lifespan parameters. Each year, send us a detailed description of your dog’s diet and his health.

A Nutritarian human eats 0 – 10 percent of calories from animal products, and strives for over 90 percent whole natural plant food.

A Nutritarain canine eats 15 – 30 percent of calories from animal products, and strives for over 70 percent of calories from whole natural plant foods.

In this Nutritarian eating style for canines, animal products are more restricted, compared to most popular and mainstream dog feeding advisors. That is because moderately restricting IGF-1, which comes from animal protein, slows the aging process in all species, including predatory animals. In addition, increasing phytochemical and antioxidant exposure in dogs, while simultaneously and moderately restricting calories to maintain favorable lean body weight, is critical to disease resistance and lifespan enhancement. As with commercially-produced human food, commercial dog food lacks sufficient phytochemicals and antioxidants, and therefore, is lifespan shortening.

However, a few companies produce natural, raw dog food that is primarily made from raw animal products and some plant foods. These are recommended, as they are convenient – and can be used as the source of meat or animal protein, to be mixed with the recommended vegetables, grains and legumes. These recommended frozen, meat-based dog foods typically contain 70 to 90 percent of calories from animal products. If using those foods, mix 1/3 with double the amount of plant food mix that you can make following the guidelines below.

Acceptable Commercial Meat-Based Raw Dog Foods Include:

Answers Detailed
Aunt Jeni’s Homemade
Bravo HomeStyle Complete
Northwest Naturals
Fresh is Best
Wysong Archetype
Primal Patties
Darwin
Bravo Balance
Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Bites

Make sure if using raw frozen dog food, that the food is removed from the freezer the same day as it is served, to reduce risk of salmonella or other harmful bacteria. Chop and mash, mixing in with the other plant foods.

Do not feed your dog onions, garlic, grapes or raisins. He cannot eat your food if it is made with onions or garlic.

Animal products should be mostly raw, and include soft bones and cartilage; they should not be limited to muscle meats. Any wild or organic animal products are acceptable; chicken is favorable, since it is inexpensive, and even small dogs can safely eat raw wings and necks without splintering.  Since chicken is high in omega-6 and deficient in omega-3, omega-3 supplementation for dogs is recommended, too.

DO NOT FEED YOUR DOG COOKED BONES, WHICH CAN SPINTER INTO SHARP PIECES. RAW BONES DO NOT SPLINTER.

Foods to Use:

  • Avoid pits and seeds found in fruits, as most are toxic to dogs. Wash fruits thoroughly, and remove rinds and inedible skins before serving. I no longer recommended brown rice for dogs due to arsenic contamination.
     
  • Steel cut oats and quinoa are acceptable grains; however, also use starchy vegetables, such as butternut squash, carrots, peas, parsnips, rutabaga and green vegetables so the meals are not predominantly grains. Frozen wild blueberries are highly recommended, due to their high antioxidant content.
     
  • Think about steaming or microwaving your cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, as they are more difficult to digest when not cooked. Foods in the Nightshade family, such as tomatoes and eggplant, should be avoided or be peeled and seeded before being given to dogs. Cooked tomato products are okay in small amounts. Remove the seeds of red peppers; never use hot peppers.
     
  • Leafy greens: blended into a puree or finely chopped and mixed with food, such as: lettuces, dandelion, parsley, arugula, cilantro, beet tops, carrot tops, kale, cabbage, sprouted seeds etc.
     
  • Consider the purchase of a baby mill grinder to prepare the vegetables for a small dog.

Plant Foods For Moderate Use:

Do not feed a dog a diet predominantly of only one plant food, but mix some others in there.

Apples, no core or seeds
Almonds or almond butter
Apricots
Asparagus
Avocado (no pit or skin)
Bananas
Beans (cooked or canned)
Beets
Broccoli Stalks
Cabbage
Cantaloupe
Carrots
Cashews
Coconut
Corn (no cob)
Dates
Eggplant (cooked)
Figs

Honeydew
Kiwi
Orange
Pear (no seeds)
Pineapple
Mango
Melon
Mushrooms
Nectarines
Nuts* (except macadamia and walnuts)
Radishes
Raspberries
Seeds (flax, chia, sunflower)
Spinach
Strawberries
Tangerines
Tomatoes (acceptable, in small amounts)
Watermelon

*It is best to grind nuts, or use nut butters and mix with the veggies, grains and animal products. Too many nuts may cause indigestion.

Suggested Nutritarian/Fuhrman veggie mix for dogs — to mix with their raw meat mix

Use some or many of these items below in your plant mix, or vary and rotate them.

  1. Take one of the following cooked root vegetables or squashes:
    Sweet potato, carrots, beets, rutabaga, turnips, parsnips, butternut, acorn or winter squash
     
  2. Mix with a cooked green vegetable:
    Broccoli, string beans, zucchini, cabbage, snow peas, okra, frozen peas
     
  3. Mix with a small amount of raw vegetable (finely chopped or blended):
    Kale, lettuce, cabbage, arugula
     
  4. Add: Some beans or tempeh, mash in well.
     
  5. Add: Some nuts and seeds, ground or as nut butters  (smaller amounts)
     
  6. Add: Some frozen or fresh fruit (smaller amounts)
    Use a food processor or blend the above into coarse slurry and mash or mix in with raw meat mix.
     
  7. Add: A small amount of ground flax seeds or chia seeds and a full dropper of Dr. Fuhrman’s DHA-EPA Purity.

These are foods one should NEVER feed to your dog:

Alcohol
Cat food
Chives
Chocolate
Coffee, Tea and other caffeine
Dairy products
Garlic
Grapes
Grapefruit
Macadamia Nuts
Milk and other dairy products
Onions
Peaches
Persimmons
Plums
Raisins
Rhubarb
Salt
Walnuts
Xylitol (artificial sweetener)

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: 888-426-4435

 
References
  • Dog owners guide to nuts and seeds www.petmd.com
  • What veggies are good for dogs by Dr Peter Dobias DVM: Peterdobias.com March 09, 2016
  • AKC Kennel Club>health>articles December 3, 2015
  • Trupanion>Pet Care>Fruits and Veggies for Pets: Trupanion.com
  • Canine Journal www/caninejournal.com
  • Toxic and Dangerous Food Your Dog Should Never Eat www.Webmd.com
  • Anna Maria Gardner DVM http://petsynergy.com/

Joel Fuhrman, M.D. is a board-certified family physician, six-time New York Times bestselling author and internationally recognized expert on nutrition and natural healing, who specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional methods. Dr. Fuhrman coined the term “Nutritarian” to describe his longevity-promoting, nutrient dense, plant-rich eating style.
 
For over 25 years, Dr. Fuhrman has shown that it is possible to achieve sustainable weight loss and reverse heart disease, diabetes and many other illnesses using smart nutrition. In his medical practice, and through his books and PBS television specials, he continues to bring this life-saving message to hundreds of thousands of people around the world.

 

Comments (0):

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Fuhrboy

01/17/2018 10:58 PM

I think some nutritarian recipes for dogs would be helpful.  

 

Dr. Fuhrman replies:

01/18/2018 09:38 AM

I hope that we can discuss what we are all feeding our dogs in the member center in the feeding your dog thread.

I dont follow recipes, but use what I am using for my family and is in the fridge.  My dog does love mashed string beans, raw peas, quinoa and almond butter mashed with half a hard boiled egg, for example.  Let's discuss further.

949Donna

01/23/2018 04:48 PM

Great info, thank you!  What about cats?

 

vaporz replies:

01/23/2018 05:11 PM

Donna, post your question here: https://www.drfuhrman.com/communities/topics.aspx?ForumID=111

CaliforniaVegan replies:

01/23/2018 05:49 PM

Donna, I feed my cats about 2/3 nutritarian (with the VegeCat supplement) and 1/3 dry cat food (meat-based). I've been doing that for almost 2 years--so far so good. I should add that I add a fair amount of TVP to the food I cook for them (primarily beans and carrots).

mlauro

01/23/2018 05:20 PM

Thank you so much for the information my pups will benefit.

Skiergirl

01/23/2018 05:29 PM

I love this idea.  I am confused a bit and would like clarification... You say in the directions above "mix 1/3 with double the amount of plant food mix that you can make following the guidelines below"     Does this mean we should use 1/3 of the daily recommended amount of meat based product we buy, like 1/3 of recommended amount of Nature's Instinct Raw Bites?  For example if I am supposed to fee my dog 1/3 cup of raw bites per the package instructions, then I would feed my dog and additional 2/3 cup of the nutritarian veggie/seed/fruit/bean mix you mentioned above?

 

Minpinmama

01/23/2018 05:29 PM

Every veterinarian source I find says never feed avocado. Why should some be ok?

 

Minirider replies:

01/23/2018 05:45 PM

I am a vet tech and have done research in animal nutrition. My understanding is that the potential toxin in all of the avocado called persin is not poisonous to dogs and cats but is for birds and large animals like horses and cows. The “flesh” is ok in moderation. The pit poses a choking/intestinal blockage hazard and should not be fed to any animal.

This reply was last edited on 01/23/2018 05:48 PM

CaliforniaVegan

01/23/2018 05:47 PM

Yay, this is so cool! Finally, info for nutritarian dogs and their people!

lavender56

01/23/2018 05:51 PM

This is interesting!  I would love to feed my dog a more healthy diet, but I thought all the research pointed to the fact that dogs are carnivores and the best diet should be mostly raw meat.  Is there science out there somewhere pointing to feeding dogs a plant-based diet?  (I have not read any dog-related research in years, so I'm pretty sure I'm behind the times, lol!)

 

wholefoodsvegan replies:

01/23/2018 06:04 PM

Dogs are omnivores, not carnivores.

wholefoodsvegan

01/23/2018 06:04 PM

I've already been making and giving our dog what my son calls "nutri-paste" instead of canned meat.  The batch I made last night (enough for a week or so) included cooked sweet potato, steamed cauliflower, chickpeas, baby kale, and a little peanut butter.   I've always wanted to include mushrooms in her diet because of the anti-cancer properties, but every other list I've ever read regarding foods dogs can and cannot have listed mushroom prominently in the cannot have column.  Are they really safe for dogs??

This comment was last edited on 01/23/2018 06:06 PM

Faith M.

01/23/2018 06:36 PM

What are your feelings about commercial dry all vegan dog foods? I have been feeding V-Dog for a while now and my dog seems to do well on it.

teamsnewman

01/23/2018 08:02 PM

Our family, including our Westies Gus and Truman Newman, have been eating the Nutritarian way since 2010. In time, Gus and Truman got over their leaky gut related issues. Although Gus died a few weeks short of 12 years old, Truman is going on 14 years!  

 Since Gus and Truman were 10 weeks old, we put them on Primal frozen meat nuggets. After a while, it didn’t seem like enough to satisfy them so we added raw fruits and  vegetables, and then in 2010 we learned about the book Eat To Live and the rest is history!

Thank you Dr. Fuhrman for helping us and our pets eat the most healthful way possible!!

This comment was last edited on 01/23/2018 08:18 PM

mballen

01/23/2018 08:17 PM

My dogs have been vegan, eating VDog with some whole plant foods, they seem to be doing great.

MegVeg replies:

01/23/2018 08:24 PM

 Dogs and cats are carnivores and need to eat a raw meat/ bone/ organ diet for optimal health. 

This reply was last edited on 01/23/2018 08:25 PM

BlushingTomato

01/23/2018 08:18 PM

I just started making a balanced cooked meat and veggie food for my dog.  I started giving him cooked sweet potato as a side for some reason - can't remember why that - as a meal extender.  The older he got (11 y/o Jack Russell) he needed about half as much less dog food.  Also have been giving him a warm raw carrot for years after meals as a "toothbrush".  Now nobody in the whole house can eat a carrot in front of him without him going berserk!  I like the idea of giving him less meat. Raw chicken wings seem so fatty!  I'm not sure about raw for an old dog.  I heard chicken necks were, good, too for raw. He gets a multivitamin mineral mix RX Vitamins for Pets - Canine.  I've googled the mushroom question, too.  Found that any mushroom a human can eat, a dog can eat.  I followed Judy Morgan DVM on YouTube.  I think she's in New Jersy, too maybe. My dog likes raw berries and fruit, but doesn't like smoothies!  I've tried to put a tablespoon or so in his dish and after one lick, he's done!

 

This comment was last edited on 01/23/2018 08:23 PM

MegVeg

01/23/2018 08:32 PM

Dogs are carnivores not omnivores. I switched my dog at age two from kibble to raw fed. You aim for 2-3% of their weight for the amount of food fed, 80% meat,10% bone, and 10%organ. She's now 11 and just got a clean bill of health at her annual checkup. 

elysab

01/23/2018 09:03 PM

Aaarrrgh!!  Where did you get your veterinary degree?  There is a website called Balance IT (balanceit.com) that is run by VETERINARY NUTRITIONISTS and can help you make homemade food.  There has been a lot of research over the years on the ideal diets for dogs and cats, please use the knowledge that is out there.

As far as cats - CATS CAN NEVER BE VEGAN!!!

And before the attacks begin, I am a vegan, I have NEVER gotten any kickbacks from the petfood industry, and my dog and cats eat commercial diets and are quite old and quite healthy.

JPBell replies:

01/24/2018 02:10 PM

I'm  a vegan too. I totally agree with you. I think it's a form of cruelty to force cats to eat a vegan diet (i.e. no meat at all). Also it's  harmful to their health. 

This reply was last edited on 01/24/2018 02:11 PM

ash8921 replies:

01/25/2018 02:43 PM

Take a moment to re-read this. No one ever said anything about being vegan. It says to feed your dog 15% to 30% of calories from meat. Obviously, any responsible owner would do more research before switching their diet. Including the BalanceIT.com website is a good step. When I asked my sister-in-law about it, she recommended the same website. Nutritarians aren't necessarily vegan...this isn't a vegan website.

Mendocinoline

01/23/2018 11:14 PM

It was my understanding that yogurt was good for dogs as per my vet. Am I incorrect? 

Keep posting,  I glance often. 

Especially like now laid up in bed with a flu virus. 

Thank you

Brenda Barrett 

jlgerm

01/24/2018 07:13 AM

My vet (a cat specialist) told me that my cats should eat only raw meat and NEVER eat any cereal or plant foods. So I've been trying to buy the super-clean cat foods which are breaking my bank. But my cats love to eat grass or flower leaves when they get outside which tells me me they want some plant foods despite what my vet says. I'd love to know what Dr. Fuhrman says about cats - what the ratio of animal foods to plant foods would be for the ideal diet. Any ideas from you guys? 

FFFLYS

01/24/2018 07:59 AM

I fed my dog an organic raw meat mixed with steamed pureed vegetables and some fruit such as blueberries.  my dog, a Jack Russell started getting warts and my son said he read that the raw meat carries the virus for warts and my kids made me stop feeding the dog a raw diet.  The vet said the diet has nothing to do with warts..  

Questiions:  ARe some vegetable ok to serve raw?   Any information on warts and dogs? 

i would like to find a vet that is more nutritionally trained.  Any recommendations.

 

This comment was last edited on 01/24/2018 08:00 AM

Sheridan16

01/24/2018 01:06 PM

I agree with some recipe suggestions to help kick start  the change in my dogs diet.

Thank you Dr Fuhrman ! It is very conflicting to eat healthy as a Nutritarian and then feed your dog bagged dog food

mxmama

01/24/2018 02:12 PM

Greetings, 

I love the idea of making my dog's food.  I'm wondering though, if meat is raw, veggies are cooked, greens are cooked and blended and fruit is soft, where will the 'kibble' part come in?  Only from neck bones? How do they get the crunch to clean their teeth?  She already eats raw carrots and loves them.  I'm thinking they need more 'crunch' to help clean their teeth.

 

Randi Carbone

01/24/2018 02:28 PM

Further questions and answers about feeding dogs, as well as dog training tips with our resident expert ,will take place within the member center forums.

For more about membership please go to: https://www.drfuhrman.com/membership

graceread

01/25/2018 07:06 AM

I am also wondering about cats? We have 3 and feed them a raw food diet. One of our cats loves fruit and some veggies. Is it ok to feed him this?

 

KCole4212

02/05/2018 04:05 PM

Should dogs eat cherries ? Without the pit of course. I made cherry ice cream with banana, almond butter and vanilla and would like to share with my dog 😀

mmp246

02/17/2018 12:32 PM

I'd like to shift my dog's diet over. I have added beans to what he was eating before (freeze-dried meat and grain free low ingredient kibble). I'm looking at the Darwin raw food website. Their "meals" consist of 75% raw meat and 25% vegetables. Can you suggest a conversion I can follow to use their meals with veggies and grains from our meals at home to get the proper 30% - 70% ratio you are recommending? 

 

Bronte1

05/16/2018 02:59 PM

Hi Dr Furhman

My labrador puppy seems to be thiving on this regime, but I'm the only person I know whose feeding their dog quite such a high proportion of plant based food to raw meat. Could I ask if you've always fed your family dogs this way, and what experts got you into this way of feeding a dog - it seems to be BARF with lots more vegetation.