Today I thought I would elaborate a bit on the new course, so those who are deciding whether it is right for them can gather some more information before deciding.

To start – what are these tutorials, anyway? Well up till now, and including this fall session, they have been conducted on facebook, in a closed, private group, which you will be given access to once the session starts. In this group there is a section called “Files” and that’s where I keep all the reading material, resources, exercise, recipes and so on. We have a Master File that shows you how to navigate the material, so you can read in order and follow along with the course. Note that you don’t have to actually be in the class/online at any given time – a point I’m going to repeat a few times as it is THE most often-asked question I get.  These mini courses do not require anything from you at all – once you have paid and joined the group you have access to the materials basically forever – there is no cut-off point – and the two weekly sessions in which I am online, are not “live chats” nor are they webinars – we will be getting set up for those in future but right now, the “two weekly sessions” are simply when I am actively online and in the group, and available to chat and answer questions.  There are no formal assignments, but there are practise exercises and I am always available for extra support outside the class, which is why I include a discount on my (already very reasonable) Q&A service..

The tutorial starts the week of  March 25th.

And now, some Q&As about the content – I hope this is clarifying, but if your questions weren’t covered, feel free to leave a comment and I will get back to you asap.

1) First question – why would we cook food for dogs at all? If we are going to home feed, isn’t raw much better?

For me, it is far too general a statement to say “raw is always better”. My own experience suggests raw diet can be superb, or it can lack essential nutrients and plant compounds that are so important for health and longevity. There are dogs who simply do better, digestively, with cooked meals (my own dog Daniel among them). Some dogs have health conditions that suggest a cooked diet will be preferable, and sometimes, owners just prefer to make a balanced cooked recipe. In our first week of class, we’ll go into the most common myths about cooked diet – there are some pros and there are a few cons. It is NOT true that all cooked food is “toxic)  nor is it accurate to say cooked food has lost so much nutrient as to render it valueless. Those are overstated and misunderstood. We’ll also talk about enzymes – the type your dog produces, the type in food, and how to tell if you might need a boost. In short – cooked diet, done well, represents a quantum leap forward from even the best quality kibble. It can be a better choice for some, an equal/either/or choice for others and a close runner up to raw for others. Your dog is an individual, as I and others have noted and emphasized for  two decades now. Wholesome, balanced home cooked food is a gift of love and time for your dog and I see wonderful results with it. There are also somethings you can get very wrong – and hence this course.

2) Do home cooked recipes have to have a lot of carbs? Many of the recipes I’ve seen in various books are loaded with them.

No, indeed they do not need a lot of carbs!  While some dogs do better with more carb in the diet than others, and some actually have health issues that indicate higher carb/lower fat and protein – the average dog can do with carbs at around the 15-20% level and absolutely thrive. My clinical cases with cancer, who are eating a cooked diet, often have carbs below the 10% level….it varies.  How much carb a dog does best with…how much we actually need in a recipe…depends on many factors, including the age and activity level of the dog (and hence caloric intake) the dog’s digestive tendencies (they are not all the same) and any health conditions that may indicate lower or higher levels. Again, your dog is an individual, and in this course, you will learn how to figure out not just the mount, but the type of carbs your dog need and does best with – and it will vary, and it will always be up to you.

3) What about supplements? I hear that home cooked diets need a lot of supplements, and I’m worried about needing to rely on them.

This is a common concern, but the reality is, that while almost all of these diets require calcium, and many require a few others (VitaminD, zinc,manganese,  iodine – it depends) there is much variation as to what will be needed. A tiny dog who can tolerate a wide variety of foods will require very little, a larger dog who eats at the lower end of the energy spectrum will need more. Dogs who have issues with specific foods or macronutrients (meaning fat, carb, protein) will need more supplementation than those who can eat a lot of food and tolerate both changes and all kinds of ingredients. So, the method analyzes your own dog, what he or she needs and does best with, and then develops recipes that are ideal for him or her. And, whatever is low or missing, we supplement.  Bottom line: a little high quality supplement in a dog’s diet, is vastly preferable to the myriad health issues associated with low nutrient intake, many of which can go undiagnosed and thus, never addressed, while the symptoms persist  (poor coat, joint and cardiovascular disease, vision loss, even serious issues such as rubberjaw syndrome from low calcium). MANY “old-age” conditions that vets will write off as normal, are in fact degenerative issues related to chronic poor nutrient intake and absorption.

We’ll be looking at the good, the bad and the strictly-to-be-avoided in the world of supplements. Used properly, they are not only NOT “toxic” – they are a great support to the health of your dog. But we use only as required. Food is the first, and best, of medicines. 🙂

4) Is a home cooked diet very expensive? Will I need exotic or hard to find ingredients? I want the best for my dog but I work fulltime and I do have a budget to stick to.

This is a tough question to answer, because, well yes, it IS going to be more expensive than even a premium kibble. HOW expensive though, depends on a few factors – including the availability of the foods you wan to feed, your own organizational skill (shopping sales) and how much variety your dog can tolerate. You most certainly do NOT require fancy, expensive food (quail, pheasant,  wild boar, zebra, kangaroo) UNLESS your dog has a health condition that requires this type of feeding. You can put together beautiful, nourishing meals using everyday foods; still, there are better and worse sources of chicken and salmon and beef and dairy(etc). We’ll cover all of these in the course, how to select, how to rotate. Beyond covering nutrient requirements, which I am always on about, foods need to be wholesome and well prepared.  It’s all in the course material…including feeding seasonally, and of course, preparation.  Nobody should feel intimidated or overwhelmed by excessively fancy, expensive or hard-to-access foods. While those are fun for people with a lot of time and money to spare, most of us do have to work within realistic boundaries. I’ve been feeding cooked, balanced, home made food to large breed dogs for 20 years – I have a few tricks to share. 🙂

5) How much time will it take to prepare cooked diet? My dog didn’t do well on raw, and I want to try cooked, but have concerns it will take so much longer to prepare. 

Here is one where there is a simple answer – yes, it takes more time.But again, this can be minimized – you can prepare weekly batches, some of my own clients prepare up to a month at a time.I personally do 3 days at a time in a batch and steam the veg fresh every day. (I have a kitchen helper, maybe you can enlist one of those as well?) There are ways to cut down on the time involved, but I’ll be blunt – cooking takes more time than raw, in the preparation stage.

6) I’m not thinking of going 100% cooked yet, but maybe combine it with a commercial product – say  50/50 to start. Would that work?
Can I feed kibble with cooked, or raw with cooked?

Yes you most definitely can! The single most important thing to consider here is, how does your dog do with the combinations? Some dogs (like some people) are juuuust fine thank you, with different types of diet and with food changes – others are so delicate a few different ingredients can be upsetting(many of these dogs can be helped with herbal support for the gut and liver, but not all. Some are, really, “just like that”) and these sensitive dogs, I recommend figuring out what works and sticking with it. For those with a more robust digestive system, you can mix. I have many clients doing a mix of raw and cooked. And, in the course, we will touch on the mythology versus the facts about feeding raw and kibble. Kibble, while not the greatest food, can be handy and combines very well with cooked diet, with a few things to know about. More in the session, of course.

7) I have looked at your recipes on the blog and while they look great, healthy and of course, balanced,  my dog doesn’t like to eat the same foods all the time, doesn’t like veggies mixed in to the bowl, gets bored quickly. Do you see that a  lot with dogs? And – can the recipes we develop be presented in different ways?

This is something I very much look forward to  sharing – how we can develop one recipe, and present it in a variety of ways. Once you have the ingredients you need for the day, or week, there are several ways to put the foods together that make it a little more interesting, say, for tiny dogs/dogs who get bored easily. (Many of us, and most of my clients have dogs who happily inhale the food any way we present it, but even those guys can get bored). I use a veggie puree (cool in summer, warmed in winter) as a “side” or topper and my guys enjoy it – almost a soup. You can make a stew in a slow cooker, you can serve the meal as we eat, with the ingredients separate in the dish (as long as your dog eats it all) you can give the egg, salmon and broccoli at lunch and the chicken, chicken heart and veggie stew at supper(I feed three times a day, but of course you don’t have to). If your dog tolerates change, and I find the majority do well with rotated recipes, you can feed the chicken/beef recipe for 2-3days and then the salmon-egg recipe – there are many ways to put meals together aside from the standard “mix all ingredients, stir in supplements, cool to room temperature and serve.”
Although, to be fair, that works too. 🙂

8) You do often mention the need for recipes to be correctly balanced, a lot, and I agree. Will this course cover all that, how to formulate so the recipes are balanced?

This topic is the very foundation of the course!  it will be looked at in Week Two, and  the whole course will refer back to it all the time – but, since I am offering one of the other tutorial archives for free, I strongly recommend you opt for the Formulation class. That course goes into much more detail about the method and provides the NRC values as well. This is not, strictly speaking, a formulation course, but I’m going to emphasize the need to “do the math” all through it, with many pointers as to how. And, my eBooklet is finally done and ready to launch by the time this course starts, it goes into much detail about formulating, and is yours at 50% off as a student in this tutorial.
So yes, I will be ensuring that you know how to put recipes together, by the end of this course.

To wrap up, then, I am always seeing very unbalanced recipes on the net and in books, some worse than others, and all will be detrimental to the health of your dog, over time. The thing I hear most from those interested in home preparing dog food is, fear that it will not be balanced. That’s a valid concern as is the worry that it won’t suit your individual – purchasing even a balanced recipe, tailored to your dog, is still going to lock you into feeding that one diet all the time. When you understand how to look at requirements, work with ingredients, and what can and can’t be used as substitutes, you are so much more empowered.

I hope this covers your questions and piques your interest to join us in this new learning experience. I’m excited to start, and happy to answer anything I’ve missed.  Have a Good Dog Day!
Link to Register: