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Dog Food (Canine Diet and Nutrition)/Homemade food for sheltie


QUESTION: I've been doing my research and thinking of cooking for my 20 lb sheltie. I like knowing exactly what she is getting. The only thing stopping me from cooking is that everyone says homemade foods aren't balanced. I'm also not sure how much to feed her if I did cook for her. I really want the best for Grace. Do you know of any BALANCED homemade recipes for a dog her size?

ANSWER: Hi Samantha,

Thank you for writing and for considering a home-cooked high quality option for your Sheltie's diet.  
I do not know of, and don't really even believe in, a "complete and balanced diet".  Each breed is so vastly different in their needs that specific diets are really best designed for each individual.  Cooking for her, using a variety of ingredients along with a supplement is the best bet in my opinion.   

Here's what foods are best for a Shetland Sheep Dog based on their DNA and historic consumption (info from the master of breed specific nutrition William Cusick Fish, Lamb, Barley, Potatoes, Carrots and Cabbage.  I would cook different "stews" weekly,using these ingredients as the basis and then mix in a few other types of grains and veggies for variety.  You can freeze portions in small containers so you have a choice to offer daily.  I would also suggest adding some plain yogurt, kefir or cottage cheese just before serving to bump up the calcium.  
Another good option is to supplement the home cooking with a vitamin/mineral compound, such as Balance It, Dinovite or Solid Gold.   This way you are sure she is getting everything she needs.  However, be careful not to add too much supplementation.  Food is powerful stuff and if you look at Dr. Cusicks site it will specifically, albeit overwhelmingly, tell you how much of each supplement she needs.  It would require a nutritional lab analysis, or consulting with him (and this is costly) to know the exact amount of each vitamin and mineral in your cooked meals.  And even that can be off by a lot because of so many variables in ingredient freshness, temperatures, moisture etc.  

Here's good news :The calorie part is easy.  Simply look up the total calorie count for each ingredient when you cook the stew, then divide by how many servings you get.  Rudy Green's website has a simple calorie counter, to help determine what she should get daily.

I admire your determination to know what your baby is eating.  It is virtually impossible to find a transparent, trustworthy,  commercial pet food company now.   

Good luck.  Let me know if you need anything else.
Karla Haas

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you so much for answering so quickly! I have one more question. What do you think of I would really like to use it to help me determine the proper amount of ingredients to feed her.

You are so welcome. I first heard of BalanceIt during a Pet Nutrition Webinar put on by the Humane Society Veterinary MA a few months ago.   Personally have not tried it, but since it was created by someone with impeccable and rare credentials that actually ADVOCATES home made pet food, I believe it is probably one of the best, if not THE best thing out there to add in.
Again, be careful not to overdo the supplementation.  That can be much worse than a shortage.  
Best of luck to you.  I would love to hear back if you decide to move forward and try it.
My email is

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Karla Haas


Welcomes questions regarding cooking for dogs, and may be able to provide information regarding pet food quality and ingredients. Not qualified to answer medical questions.


Founder, Rudy Green Inc., manufacturer of a frozen, all natural "people food for dogs". I have been an animal rescue worker for over 20 years and have extensive knowledge of pet food and nutrition.

Bachelors degree in Social Sciences. 20+ years of active volunteerism within Animal Welfare organizations. Over 6 years of studies and hands on research in pet nutrition.

Past/Present Clients
Retail customers include Whole Foods Market, Kroger, Amazon and independent pet supply and grocery stores

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