Dog Food Mixes
Dog food mixes are designed as a base to which you add fresh foods such as meat, eggs and dairy (yogurt, kefir, cottage cheese) in order to make a complete diet. While more expensive than a homemade diet, they provide similar nutritional advantages and make preparation easier, as well as helping to guarantee that all of your dogs nutritional needs are met (as long as the mix meets AAFCO guidelines).
There are a number of products on the market, ranging from those that are complete diets even without added foods (but are designed to remain balanced when fresh foods are added), to those that provide little nutritional information and should not be relied upon to provide a complete diet, but can be used for occasional feeding. Pay attention to these details when choosing which product to feed your dog.
The following foods are formulated to meet AAFCO guidelines when fed as directed:
|The Honest Kitchen|| Offers dehydrated foods that can be used as complete diets, but are designed so that you can add your own fresh foods (Preference variety must have fresh foods added). Some are grain-free (Force, Embark). Embark and Thrive are suitable for puppies and for pregnant and nursing mothers. New product Zeal (available September 2010) is fish-based and grain-free, which may work well for dogs with food allergies.
Available at Amazon. Foods are made in a human food manufacturing facility, and are tested for melamine. "All our foods, except for Preference, are formulated to meet and exceed the AAFCO Nutrient Profiles.
|Know Better Dog Food|| Offers several varieties:
Better in the Raw, designed for those who feed raw diets (there are two versions, one with liver, and one without for those who include liver in the diet).
U-Stew, for those who feed cooked diets (same ingredients with the addition of probiotics and digestive enzymes).
Better Bits, for those who feed commercial diets.
Web site states that its products "meet and exceed AAFCO guidelines" and that U-Stew "is a human grade dry ingredient pre-mix for preparing a balanced homemade diet for all life stages." The amount of fat in the diet would be very high if using 85% lean ground beef shown in their example; better to use leaner meats unless you have a working dog.
||Dinner Mix combines organic brown rice and dehydrated carrots (they also have a vitamin-mineral only mix, see below) meant to balance out a limited homemade diet. "When prepared according to package directions, our products are formulated to meet nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for adult maintenance."|
|Balance IT Original Blends||Balance IT, a company that started out just making a vitamin-mineral mix (see below), is now also offering "Original Blends," designed to be fed with added meat and, in most cases, oil. The blends are a mix of either oats or potatoes, plus canola oil, powdered cellulose (insoluble fiber), and all the synthetic vitamins and minerals from their regular supplement.|
These mixes appear to provide a complete diet when fresh foods are added per instructions, but have no mention of AAFCO on their web sites. They should be fine to use as part of a rotation, but I would not feed them exclusively:
|Grandma Lucy's Artisan Grain-Free Pre-Mix
||Everthing found in regular Grandma Lucy's Artisan mixes, but you supply the protein source. Appears complete but no AAFCO statement on the website.|
|Sojourner Farms|| Sojos offers Original Dog Food Mix (formerly called European-Style), Grain-free Dog Food Mix (formerly called Europa), and Monzie's Organic Müesli. All of these mixes are designed to be balanced when you add fresh meat. Also offers Sojo's Complete Dog Food Mix, which includes meat and is grain-free.
|Urban Wolf||Grain-Free mix uses Sweet Potato and vegetables. Also offers a Dietary Balancer for Puppies. The Adult Formula states "Urban Wolf meets & exceeds the AAFCO guidelines." I believe that the amount of oil they say to add (3/4 cup oil to 2 lbs of meat) is dangerously high and could lead to weight gain and even pancreatitis. My calculations indicate that if the recipe is fed as directed, 67% of the calories in the recipe come from fat. This is too much -- even working sled dogs should only get about 60% of their calories from fat. 41% of the total calories come from the oil, essentially empty calories. If you do use this food, I would reduce the amount of oil used in the recipe considerably.|
|Wendy Volhard's NDF (Natural Diet Foundation)
||Now available as a single mixture (NDF2) in addition to the original AM and PM separate mixtures.|
These mixes have little nutritional information and should not be relied upon to provide a complete diet, but they'd be fine to feed on occasion or for a limited time:
|Birkdale Pet Mix||Whole foods plus calcium. No nutritional analysis or mention of AAFCO.|
|Dr. Harvey's Canine Health|| It is not clear how much calcium Dr. Harvey's product contains, and whether it would really provide a balanced diet. No nutritional analysis of his products has been done. It would be fine to feed this food occasionally, but look for a product that gives you more information for long-term use.
Also offers Veg-to-Bowl, a mix of dehydrated vegetables and herbs, and a new Veg-to-Bowl "Fine Ground" that also includes supplements (indicating that neither of the original products are complete, as they do not include these supplements).
Note that Dr. Harvey is apparently a chiropractor, not a veterinarian or someone with training in canine nutrition.
|Essex Cottage Farms||Made by the same company as Urban Wolf (see above). No guaranteed analysis of their food is provided. I recommend using less oil than they say to use.|
|Happy Dog Food
||Two varieties have a mix of grains, vegetables, vitamins and trace minerals, plus they offer a Grain Free recipe. Original says "Happy Dog Food's meals are formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for All Life Stages." However, the amount of calcium is way too low.|
|Noah's Kingdom||All Natural Dog Food Pre-Mix is a mix of grains, vegetables and herbs. No specific calcium is listed. No nutritional analysis or mention of AAFCO.|
|West Coast Canine Life||Offers several different varieties, including different mixes for those who feed raw meaty bones (where the bone is consumed), and for those who don't. They also have a mix especially for puppies, and a number of mixes for specific health problems, such as gluten-free, though not all are appropriate without additional dietary supplements. Complete analysis is not provided, nor is there any mention of AAFCO. The amount of oil they say to add (1/2 cup oil to to 1.5# meat) is too high.|
These vitamin-mineral mixes are designed to balance out incomplete homemade diets, including supplying the proper amount of calcium. Some of these use whole foods along with synthetic ingredients, while others use synthetic ingredients only. Note these are different than traditional vitamin-mineral supplements that are designed to be added to complete diets.
|Balance IT|| Supplement designed by veterinarians to balance a very limited, high-carbohydrate diet (similar to the vitamin & mineral mixes added to commercial foods). I don't recommend their recipes, which are extremely high in carbohydrates with minimal amounts of protein. If you do use them, choose one that says "high protein" (even the "high protein" diets are high in carbs, but not as bad as the others).
A new version called Balance IT Carnivore Blend is designed to balance a diet high in protein. Recipes include meat and plant oil only (no carbohydrates).
Uses synthetic ingredients only, no whole foods. Full nutritional analysis provided.
Contact me if you don't use their recipes to find out how much of the supplement to add.
Note: Balance it also makes Canine-K, a low-phosphorus supplement for dogs with kidney disease, and Canine -Cu, a supplement without copper for dogs with liver disease. Both require a prescription from your vet.
|JustFoodForDogs JustDoItYourself Kits||This company makes cooked, frozen food using individualized supplement blends. You can also purchase JustDoItYourself kits consisting of the recipe along with the customized supplement blend to make the food yourself at home. Each supplement packet makes approximately ten pounds of food.
The company will also formulate custom blends for a one-time fee of $195. You can then choose to either have the company make the food for you, or you can purchase the customized supplement blend to make it at home.
|MyPetGrocer Canine Vitamin & Mineral Mixture for Dogs||Vitamin-mineral mix designed to balance a cooked diet. Each 1-lb packet will balance 40 pounds of food. Recipes are no longer shown on the website, but my prior notes show, "They use about half meat and half starchy vegetables, with added water and oils. Note the recipes use very low-fat meats with a lot of added oil (you would not want to add so much oil if using higher-fat meat, and even with low-fat meat, the amount of oil may be too high, about 1 tablespoon per pound of food, which provides 13.5 grams of fat and over 120 calories from oil). I would advise reducing the amount of added sunflower and flaxseed oils to no more than 1/4 the amount they recommend (about 1 tablespoon each per 10 pounds of food)."
No nutritional analysis is provided, but this product is used by Rayne Clinical Nutrition, where you can see a nutritional analysis of their maintenance diets (which may be the same as MyPetGrocer recipes) using this mix.
|Fresh + Oasis Canine||Vitamin-mineral mix meant to balance out an all-meat diet. Appears to be appropriate for adult dogs only. Uses primarily synthetic ingredients. Partial nutritional analysis included. Appears complete but no AAFCO statement provided.
Note it's better to feed a variety of different foods, not just meat.
|Furoshnikov's Formulas||Offers a vitamin-mineral mix meant to balance out a limited homemade diet in addition to their Dinner Mix listed above. Uses synthetic ingredients only, no whole foods. "When prepared according to package directions, our products are formulated to meet nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for adult maintenance."|
|My Natural K9||Uses whole foods and glandulars as well as synthetic ingredients. No nutritional analysis or mention of AAFCO.|
|Rara Avis Healthy Powder||Offers two versions, one with calcium from bone meal, designed to balance out diets that do not include bone, and one without, for diets that include bone, or any complete commercial diet. Uses whole foods as well as synthetic ingredients. Appears to be based on Pitcairn's Healthy Powder recipe. No nutritional analysis or mention of AAFCO.|
|See Spot Live Longer||Homemade Dinner Mixes are a combination of whole foods and synthetic supplements designed to balance out a meat-based diet. This product is from the developer of Steve's Real Food for Dogs, a complete raw diet. Uses whole foods as well as synthetic ingredients. Complete nutritional analysis provided. "Our dinner mixes contain mineral- rich foods and quality supplements to ensure the optimum amounts of minerals – from both a natural or “prey-model diet” perspective, and following the recommendations from the National Research Council (2006, Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats) and AAFCO nutrient profiles."|
|Wysong's Call of the Wild||Powder designed to balance out all meat diets (home made diets that do not include bone). Uses whole foods as well as synthetic ingredients. No mention of AAFCO. Nutritional analysis provided.|
If you have any questions or comments, you can contact me, but I have less time to answer questions than I used to, and it may be several days to a week before I can respond. My name is Mary Straus and you can email me at either or