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:
|Product||Description||Available online from|
|The Honest Kitchen||Offers dehydrated foods that can be used as complete diets, butВ are designed so that you can add your own fresh foods. Preference and the new Hale and Kindly varieties must have fresh foods added. For adult dogs only.
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.
|Furoshnikov’s Formulas||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 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.
|Product||Description||Available online from|
|Balance IT||Balance IT Canine is a 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 that are extremely high in carbohydrates with minimal amounts of protein. Instead, choose recipes that are higher in meat and lower in carbs.
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).
Balance IT supplements use synthetic ingredients only, no whole foods. A full nutritional analysis is provided.
Note: Balance IT also makes Canine-K, a low-phosphorus supplement for dogs with kidney disease (the newer Plus version has no phosphorus at all!), and Canine -Cu, a supplement without copper for dogs with liver disease. Both require a prescription from your vet.
Note that Balance IT has a strong smell that can be off-putting to many dogs.
|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.”|
|The Farmer’s Dog||Offers DIY recipes and indiv >We have formulated all of our meals toВ meet AAFCO and NRC requirements.” There is a single sample Beef + Sweet Potato Recipe on the website to get an idea of what their foods include.|
|Hearthstone Homemade||Hearthstone Homemade offers two recipe books, one for cooked meals and the other for raw, along with two supplement mixtures designed to make their recipes complete. Formula A is a vitamin-mineral mix, and Formula B is fish oil plus vitamin E. When measured and used as directed, each container of Formula-A powder will last about one month for a 50lb. dog, two months for a 23 lb. dog and 4 months for an 8lb. dog. Formula-B oil will last over 3 months for a 50lb. dog. See Sample Cooked Recipe. You can also order a free Program Guide. A complete nutritional analysis is included for each recipe.
Dr. Tudor will also consult with your veterinarian to provide custom recipes for specific health problems.
|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.
|Know Better Pet 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,” but the amount of calcium and phosphorus shown in their nutritional analysis would not be adequate for puppies. 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.
|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.
|Petabolics from Natura Petz Organics||Petabolics contains all the vitamins and minerals required by AAFCO for adult dogs (it is not appropriate for puppies). While it claims to be “For Raw, Home Cooked, Dehydrated, Freeze Dried, & Dry Kibble,” it is only appropriate for homemade diets that do not include beef liver. If added to a complete commercial diet of any kind, it could be too high in copper, iron and zinc (copper in particular is a concern). If added to a complete commercial diet approved for all life stages or to a homemade diet that includes raw meaty bones, the amount of calcium could be higher than is safe in some cases.
Note this company’s website and the product label are confusing. The label shows actual nutrient quantities, but not the amount of supplement to which those measurements apply, nor how they relate to recommended dosage. There are claims that this supplement meets fatty acid requirements, but that is not true for linoleic acid (omega-6), which would require additional supplementation if you are feeding a homemade diet that does not include poultry fat or skin or plant oils. The company makes a number of Meal Mixer products, including Meal Balancers, Meal Toppers, and PawR foods. Only the Petabolics and PawR lines claim to meet AAFCO guidelines. The Toppers do not appear to include vitamins and minerals, and many make unsupported medical claims.
|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.||Amazon|
Seemingly Complete Diets
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:
|Product||Description||Available online from|
|Dr. Harvey’s Canine Health and Veg-to-Bowl||Dr. Harvey’s Canine Health is a mix of dehydrated and freeze-dried grains, vegetables, herbs, and supplements. The company also offers Veg-to-Bowl, a similar mix that is grain-free. Both are designed to be mixed with meat, oil, and water. |
The ingredient lists for both products changed in 2012 to include supplements, indicating that neither of these products was complete prior to that time, even though they were marketed as such. It’s still questionable whether or not these mixes provide a complete diet, since no analysis or AAFCO statement is provided.
Note that Dr. Harvey is apparently a chiropractor, not a veterinarian or someone with training in canine nutrition.
|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.||Amazon|
|Pure Naturally Dehydrated (UK)||Human-grade food (made in a human-grade facility. Most are complete diets, but Vegi Plus is designed to add your own meat. Appears complete but no AAFCO statement on 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 MГјesli. All of these mixes are designed to be balanced when you add fresh meat. According to the nutrient analysis, however, it’s clear that the Original version is incomplete, as it lacks vitamin E and does not have enough extra calcium to balance out the added meat. The Grain-Free version does a better job of meeting nutritional requirements. Also offers Sojo’s Complete Dog Food Mixes, which include meat and are grain-free.||Amazon|
|Wendy Volhard’s NDF (Natural Diet Foundation)||Now available as a single mixture (NDF2) in addition to the original AM and PM separate mixtures.|
Likely Incomplete Diets
These mixes have little or conflicting 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:
|Product||Description||Available online from|
|Birkdale Pet Mix||Whole foods plus calcium. No nutritional analysis or mention of AAFCO.|
|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 and vegetables, one is grain-free.В Each premix comes with a separate Nutrient Supplement that must be added. No AAFCO statement, and the amount of calcium in the supplement is not enough to meet AAFCO guidelines when fed as directed.|
|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.|
|Healthy Dogma PetMix||This mix does not list a calcium source among its ingredients and therefore cannot provide a complete diet when fed as directed. In fact, this food would be dangerous to feed long-term for that reason.|
|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.||K9RawDiet|
|Wellmade by Cloud Star||Each of these dehydrated mixes from Cloud Star, including the Garden Vegetables variety, claims to be complete and balanced, with or without added meat, but when I asked for a nutritional analysis, it showed more phosphorus than calcium in the mix. That means these mixes do not meet AAFCO guidelines by themselves, and adding meat would make the imbalance worse.|
|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, and since there is no vitamin E in this recipe, it will not meet AAFCO guidelines. There are several things on the Nutritional Analysis page that make no sense, and the NRC requirements shown there appear to be from 1985, not 2006. The amount of oil they say to add (1/2 cup oil to to 1.5# meat) is too high. The mix is okay for intermittent feeding for adult dogs. I would not recommend using their recipe for puppies, who are more likely to be harmed by nutritional deficiencies or excesses.|
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