Food Choices - Raw, Fresh, Dry and More

While we prefer raw foods there are several options from raw food diets, fresh foods and dry foods.  I've heard many Lhasa owners say "My dog is picky" and to some degree that may be true.  Some may have dogs with allergies in which the owner is not yet aware of, making it seem as if they're picky. 

More times that not, it's an owner who is not in charge and letting their Lhasa tell them what they'll eat.  If your Lhasa truly is refusing to eat for more than 2 days, please see your vet!  The below is simply our opinions on the various options, along with some pricing information, reviews and concerns.  Enjoy!

    Raw Food

    Raw Meat, Vegetables & Dairy

    Raw Food Diets - The Controversial Question  

    We believe that raw food is the way to go for our dogs.  Raw dog food was introduced to us by a friend recently and we decided to try it.  What we discovered is that our dogs love it!  BJ's Raw Food was recommended and we found they use grass fed, free range, locally sourced animals, and use the entire animal (not removing human grade portions, but including it in their pet food).  We reviewed Dr. Billinghurst's studies regarding how raw food affects a dogs digestive health, and many other studies regarding the benefits to feeding raw.  We spoke to a world renown breeder of champion Lhasa Apsos who uses 100% BJ's Raw and all of this has changed our opinion, which we are happy to share. 

    We use BJ's Raw Pet Food in a premium ground blend for our dogs.  This comes pre-mixed with fresh and raw ingredients and is easy to prepare.  Both puppies and adults can eat the same food!  The Premium Mix is considered a complete meal with 80% meat, 10% bone, 5% liver and 5% other secreting organs.  The premium mix contains fresh ground whole chicken, bone, beef, pork, tripe, spleen, liver and kidney.  At this time we are topping the raw with a small amount of frozen vegetables such as carrots, peas, and bell pepper which our dogs love (not required).   With weaning puppies you will want to use a premium puppy blend or add fresh goat's milk or goat's milk kefir (also available at BJ's). 

    If you use the basic blend you may want to add a supplement which contains fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, digestive enzymes, pro-biotics and vitamin E to complete their daily nutrient requirements.  This is also available from BJ's Raw Pet Food in a powder form or you can add your own.  BJ's Daily Raw Complete Powder  contains Psyllium Husk, Organic Alfalfa Meal, Omega 3 Fish Oil, Kelp, Montmorillonite, Calcium Carbonate, Vitamin E, Barley Grass, Broccoli, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Choline Chloride, Arginine, Garlic, Dried Carrots, Aspergillus Oryze and Niger, Lactobacillus Acidophillus, B12, and Vitamin E..  It is not necessary to add this to BJ's Premium blend mix as it contains fish and vegetables, completing the nutritional requirements. 

    Please take precaution if you choose a raw food diet.  Consumers should be aware of raw-food handling practices.  It is best served in a stainless steel bowl, which is washed thoroughly afterwards.  If your dog is a messy eater you'll want to sanitize the feeding area and wipe any facial hair which was in contact with the food, before children are allowed to play with the dog or be near the feeding space. 

    The same as when preparing a family meal, safe kitchen food-handling practices for raw animal products apply. For example, a dog bowl full of raw meat raises concerns that need to be considered. Can children reach the dog food? Does the uneaten raw food go back in the refrigerator? Is the bowl ever washed and cleaned? How often? What about food which is spilled on the floor?   We practice strict methods of washing bowls immediately after a meal, never saving leftovers (never an issue) and wiping dog's faces, just to be safe.

    The FDA has a number of excellent resources for those who wish to feed raw foods to their pets. Check them out here.   If you are using Performance Dog frozen raw pet food please discontinue doing so immediately and read the FDA warning here.

    Fresh Food

    Home Cooked & Fresh Delivered

    Home Cooked 
    For those that cook their own, know your composition and nutrients.  Know what your dog needs and at what balance.  I can tell you that from personal experience, having fed a home cooked (what seemed nutritious) meal to a Chihuahua for 10+ years, that I discovered the hard way I was not as wonderful a pet parent as I thought.  Having cooked fresh chicken nightly with fresh steamed broccoli, cauliflower, cheeses, chicken broth and rice (usually white) which my dogs gobbled up and loved, I learned just how wrong I was, This diet actually caused painful kidney stones to develop (click here to see the x-ray), a costly and painful surgery and a special diet for life, which was super hard to get a dog to accept after all that home cooking.  Don't just wing it if you're home cooking your dogs meals.  Research to know the calorie count and nutrition.

    Fresh Dog Food
    There are many fresh dog food delivery services out there which will formulate a diet based on your dog's needs and deliver to your door.   Ollie, The Farmer's Dog, Nom Nom, Pet Plate and Chi Dog are some of the top names in this service.  These are generally more pricey than a dry kibble but the fresh ingredients and convenient doorstep delivery is worth it to many.  If you're interested in this service, they generally will have you complete a questionnaire about your breed of dog, amount of exercise, age and weight and customize a plan for you. 

    Nom Nom uses quality ingredients, comes recommended by many Verinarians, has a board-certified veterinary nutritionist formulating plans and offers several delivery frequencies with four dog recipes including Beef, Chicken, Pork and Turkey.  The average price is about $9 per day for an average adult Lhasa.

    The Farmer's Dog boasts "human-grade" dog foods (this does not mean it's edible for humans) which has to do with the handling of the food (storing, handling, processing and transporting), and not the ingredients themselves.   For this reason the packaging is a little more difficult and will require scissors to open, so it can be a little messy.  The average price is about $8 per day for an average adult Lhasa.

    Ollie offers four recipes from Beef, Turkey, Chicken and Lamb with monthly deliveries and you can see more of the real vegetables in the mix.  The plate of food looks more appealing to us and their food ships in plastic containers with peel-back lids for an easier use which also offers a nice storage of leftovers container.    The average price is about $6 per day for an average adult Lhasa.

    Dry Food

    Small Dog Kibble

    Dry Food - Read the Label 

    The majority of people will buy dry dog foods.  The best advice you can receive about feeding your dog is this: feed your dog the highest-quality food you can afford.  The differences between a premium food and budget food are not found on the nutrition label; they are found in the quality and source of ingredients. Two dog foods may each contain 27% protein but be vastly different when it comes to digestibility.  Check feeding quantities and weight (heavier food or larger portions for big eaters).  It's important to read the label.  

    What to look for
    Ingredients on the label must be listed in order of predominance by weight.  For the most part the major ingredients affect only taste or may be a concern due to allergies.  Do you recognize the major ingredients by name; meat, poultry, meal, meat or meal by-products (may contain other ground body parts)? What fats and plant ingredients does it contain? What additives (chemicals) does it contain, does it have food coloring? What type of grains; whole grains (the entire grain kernel - bran, germ, and endosperm such as wheat, brown rice and oats) or refined grains (milled to a finer texture to improve shelf life but also removes dietary fiber, iron and many B vitamins, such as flour or white rice).  If it contains refined grains, does it state they are enriched (adding back nutrients which were stripped away in processing)?  

    What ingredients are missing that you may need to supplement for? Are there probiotics in the mixture? What is the shelf life of the product?  This is a key factor in knowing how much additives are included since the more fresh a product is, the lower the shelf life.  Check the expiration date to give you an idea of how long it lasts.  Remember, a shorter shelf life means a more fresh product.

    The six basic nutrients are water, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins. These essential nutrients are required as part of the dog's regular diet and are involved in all of the basic functions of the body. The minimum dietary requirement has been established for many nutrients.

    Check the calories and recommended feeding amounts. The proteins and fat percentages combined should be near 50% of the food.

    Other Options

    For most people a choice of raw, fresh cooked or dry kibble will be made.  There are other options you may consider as well, or entertain as a means to switch-it-up at times.  Consider powdered gravies which can be hydrated and poured over dry kibble, or sprinkled toppers which entice through flavorful flakes and powders (like fish or cheese options) and can be put on top of any food selection.  There are also canned or wet meal options available which many dogs love.  

    Most importantly remember, that leaving food in a bowl does not always mean they do not like the food.  It could simply mean he's being offered too much and has had enough.  Remove any uneaten food and offer less the following day, to see if this is all it was.  If your dog does not eat anything for more than a day it may be time to contact the Vet to ensure everything is good digestively.  A dog can go without eating for a few days but drinking should always occur.  If your dog is not drinking anything, go ahead and call the Vet for proper advise!