Fresh, Balanced Dog Diets: Simple Steps for Your Success

“You’re trying too hard.” Words cannot describe what a relief I felt when I heard these words. Of course, it was in regards to Oliver and Wally’s diet. Fresh, balanced dog diets don’t have to be difficult. Hopefully, you can use my experiences for your own success!

I’d struck the jackpot a month ago and scored a coveted appointment with the only holistic veterinarian/vet nutritionist in my area. Quite frankly, I’m pulling out all the stops to feed my 2 dogs a nutritious and balanced diet. It’s some work. So hearing those words from a professional in the field came as a huge relief.

A “too hard” dish. Raw meat, probiotics, pumpkin puree, Greek yogurt, blueberries, green beans and Golden paste.

Phasing Out Kibble; A Process

food healthy wood dry
Photo by Mathew Coulton on

The end goal is to stop feeding kibble altogether. Wally and Oliver’s kibble is overpriced and full of carbs. Plus, a friend’s story of working on a game reserve and watching the pet food trucks come and take rancid, sun-baked barrels of venison scraps, skin, bones, and offal from the property churns my stomach. I always picture that and seethe when I dump the overpriced venison kibble in the dogs’ dishes. No one wants to feed their pets that junk. And lately, Wally the food vacuum, sticks his nose up at his kibble breakfast.

So, it’s out with the kibble and in with fresh, real food. In the past 8 months, these are some of the diets I’ve experimented with to phase out that crunchy dry kibble. Also, what I’ve settled on with the vet’s guidance, along with some tips to begin your own DIY fresh food journey.

Novel Proteins

When we first adopted him, Oliver was a stinky, barfy, burpy, and gassy mess. This dog’s farts could CLEAR THE ROOM. Additionally, he’d scratch his face and rub his paws after each kibble breakfast. Our last traditional vet suggested that Oliver was allergic to chicken, like many other dogs. Of course, the kibble and toppers I fed were full of chicken.

The next step was a “novel protein” diet. Novel proteins are proteins a dog hasn’t eaten before. Venison, rabbit, lamb, kangaroo, bison, fish, or turkey are popular and readily available options. It’s important not to feed your dog these proteins because if she develops a food sensitivity, you can try them to eliminate what’s causing the problem. To try an elimination or novel protein diet, you will exclusively feed only one of these proteins for a period of time.

Venison: The Perfect Novel Protein

Living in Michigan, I settled on venison. Even knowing a handful of hunters, I struggled to find enough vension and vension organs to feed a 60 pound dog!

Also, venison is expensive! Retail prices topped $10 per pound! Not economical. I hit a low point waiting in the rain for over an hour for a Facebook marketplace connection and decided this effort probably wasn’t worth it.

I did luck out and score a couple of buckets of old scrap meat and organs which Oliver was happy to devour. However, preparing this deliciousness was a stinky and miserable job. Anyone with children or a demanding schedule likely isn’t going to put in this type of effort to feed their dog.

The vension lasted for the 8-12 week period my vet recommended the novel diet. There were no changes in Oliver’s itching or shedding. However, the gassiness disappeared. With that, we contiuned feeding a venison kibble, but eased up on the fresh homemade vension portion.

Balance IT: Pros and Cons


More recently, a bigger social account I follow has promoted BalanceIT meals. This is a supplement powder that’s added to each meal/batch and balances nutrients. Heaven knows, a homemade dog feeder’s biggest dilemma is making sure nutrition is complete and balanced!

This is a great product because it gets people into making their dogs’ food from real and wholesome ingredients. Also great because the nutrient blend is developed by board certified veterinarian nutritionists. One more pro is that BalanceIT has a recipe builder website with a veritable smorgasbord of recipes you can build yourself from ANY protein, starch, fruit, and vegetable combination.


This stuff is expensive. A one pound bottle costs nearly $70. Also, for a week’s batch of food, I had to use nearly 1/4 of the bottle. That’s A LOT of powdered vitamin to add to your pet’s food. I felt like I was drowning the recipe in white BalanceIT powder.

My take on this was that if you are making 3-4 recipes per month, (I usually batch cook or prep a week’s worth of food) you’ll use up the whole $70 bottle each month. Adding that to the proteins and vegetables needed to cook for your dogs isn’t terribly economical. I’d personally rather purchase separate supplements and add them to my dogs’ food at mealtime.

DIY Raw and Homemade

Here’s where I am now. My dogs enjoy a homemade breakfast, similar to what I eat. Sometimes it’s eggs, oatmeal, high-protein legume-based pasta, sardines or other protein, Greek yogurt, berries, and some vegetables. The new vet nutritionist said, “Change it up!” Just like we enjoy some variability in our meals, our dogs do too. With their breakfast, both dogs get a quality fish oil (when they’re not eating sardines), a full-spectrum vitamin powder (I use Herbsmith Nutrients), and some calcium. The calcium is ground farm-fresh eggshells or human grade bone meal, calculated for each dog’s weight. That’s it.

A stinky dish of raw goodness. This is a Dogs Naturally recipe.

Raw Suppers

I’ve also transitioned both dogs to raw suppers. These are a bit more work, but I am learning SO MUCH! I alternate between beef, turkey and pork. Meats are purchased (usually on sale) from the grocery store, and organs are bought at the meat market or Latin grocery store. Adequate freezer space is a must. Since I run the pet food company, I have 2 large freezers to support this endeavour.

So far, I’ve prepared recipes from Dogs Naturally, Perfectly Rawsome, and Dr. Brady’s book, Feeding Dogs. I prepare, measure, and portion out about a week’s worth of suppers. Most of them are stored in the freezer. I take out the next day’s supper at PM feeding time so it can thaw in the fridge. Suppers include the vitamin supplement and fish oil if the dogs haven’t gotten it for the day.


The pros to this type of diet is that the nutrients are highly digestable and bioavailable. My dogs LOVE these meals. I find it satisfying watching them enthusiastically devour their dinner. Additionally, dogs who are fed a balanced raw diet, or ANY diet with nutrients from whole food have fewer, smaller, firmer stools. This is less to clean up in the yard. Both dog’s coats are healthy and shiny, with much less shedding from Oliver. Oliver has also stopped scratching, burping and farting as a result of this diet. He can also enjoy ALL of the proteins, even chicken, with no problems.


Like anything worth doing right, this type of diet is some work and effort. Grinding, chopping and blending organs is not for the faint hearted. I set aside an hour each week to prepare my dogs’ meals. Most people are pretty busy and not as obsessed with their dog’s meals. This type of diet certainly takes dedication.

Also, the proteins are costly. It’s difficult and takes a little effort or some farm connections to get ahold of the necessary organs that benefit our dogs. I probably don’t need to have this much variability in the raw portion of the diet; 2 proteins would likely work and have the same benefit.

Finally, there is always the risk of imbalance. I am confident that with rotation and added supplements this won’t be an issue. Imbalances occur most often when feeding the exact same meal for long periods of time.

How Do I Start Preparing Fresh Meals?

Are you ready to start this journey? Are you ready to get away from kibble, or at least provide some healthy add-ins to the kibble? Honestly, anything above and beyond just straight kibble WILL benefit your dog. You DO NOT need to go to the extent that I have. Here are a few simple ways to boost your dog’s diet. Seriously, start today!

  • Add some dog friendly greens; if you’re not sure which ones, check out this blog post about them!
  • Hydrate that kibble; use purified water, goat’s milk, coconut water, or bone broth
  • Give your dog a few eggs each week
  • Add some berries (just a few)
  • Add some rinsed sardines in water
  • Share some of the proteins you eat. (You can feed them raw, just no raw with bones and kibble at the same time. NEVER feed cooked bones.Of course, if you are more comfortable cooking meats first, cook them!)
  • Remember, no seasonings, salt or processed meats like sausages, lunch meats, or hot dogs.

If and when you’re ready to transition to a homemade or raw diet, feel free to contact me. Feeding a fresh, balanced dog diet doesn’t have to be diffucult! I can set you up with some tailored, balanced recipes, supplements, and resources your Best Friend will adore and thrive on!

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