We believe the food your dog eats, more than any other factor, will determine his or her future health, happiness, energy level, and longevity.
Of all the decisions you make on behalf of your dog, his diet is the most important. Beginning his life with the best puppy food and transitioning into the best dog food will have an immediate and significant effect on the length and quality of his life. That being true, it is helpful to understand some fundamentals of canine nutrition.
Canine nutrients are comprised of six basic categories: 1) protein 2) fats 3) Carbohydrates 4) minerals 5) vitamins 6) water. Of the six essential nutrients, only three are ‘energy’ producing, meaning they contribute to metabolizable energy, also referred to as Calories (Kcals). Dogs are omnivores, or also sometimes referred to as facultative carnivores. Essentially, this means they derive their energy from all three energy producing nutrients.
Typical percentages of metabolizable energy coming from the energy producing nutrients in dog food are: 20-30% protein, 20-30% fat, and 40-50% carbohydrates.
Proteins contribute approximately 4 kcals per gram and are the primary requirement for a balanced diet, as dogs must obtain all 22 essential amino acids from their food. Animal meat, such as meat certified by the USDA fit for human consumption, is currently the most bioavailable and highest quality protein ingredient available for dogs. Protein is made of amino acids, which are required for heathy tissue growth, maintenance, and repair, and is an important source of calories.
At HDF, all of our food for dogs are base-mix foods which require the addition of fresh meat.
Fats are energy dense, providing approximately 9 kcals per gram and this energy can be stored long term for future use. If there are more fatty acids than needed, they are converted into fat and stored in the body. They provide the most concentrated source of calories and add flavor and texture to food. Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids contribute to skin and coat condition, aiding in relief from itching, scratching, dry skin, dull coat and hair loss. Fats also contain vitamins A, D, E and K.
Carbohydrates contribute 3.5 kcals of energy per gram. They are a nutritious, energy producing nutrient. During digestion, carbohydrates are broken down into glucose which travels through the bloodstream and provides quick energy to requiring cells.
Carbohydrates are stored in small amounts in your dog’s muscles as glycogen. They are a used for short and quick bursts of energy.
Carbohydrates come from grains and plants, as well as potatoes and other starches. Some people claim carbohydrates from grains to be ‘empty fillers’, but that’s scientifically not true. While it is true that some carbohydrate sources found in processed commercial kibble can lack digestibility and be less nutritious, whole grain, high quality carbohydrates are an excellent source of energy when used in food for dogs. The real difference here is processed carbs vs. real food carbs, and there is no contest.Carbohydrates from whole foods are an excellent source of energy for dogs.
Carbohydrates that contain fiber also play a healthy roll in digestion and bowel health and research has shown that they can be a great tool in regulating bowel movements, weight control, and also in helping regulate diabetic dogs while on insulin therapy.
Non-energy producing nutrients are just as important as the energy producing ones. Even though these essential vitamins and minerals don’t contribute to calories, they are necessary for normal body functions and metabolism. In fact, when missing over time, diets deficient in vitamins and minerals will lead to diseases and illnesses.
Minerals are required to aid in nerve transmission, muscle contraction, development of bone and cartilage, blood regulation, and maintaining water and electrolyte balance, among many others. Many minerals are required in biochemical reactions as cofactors. Without minerals, your dog simply cannot perform all the bodily functions it needs daily.
Vitamins are also essential cofactors in important metabolic reactions and arecomprised of two major categories, fat soluble and water soluble.
Fat soluble. It is not possible for an excess of these vitamins to be excreted from the body via urine, so toxicity levels can be reached more quickly compared to water soluble vitamins. However, the advantage in fat soluble vitamins is that your dog’s system can store them in the liver for future synthesis.
Water is considered the most important nutrient. It regulates body temperature, maintains hydration and lubricates joints and eyes among many other functions. Always keep plenty of clean, fresh water available for your healthy dog.
The benefit of commercial kibble dog food is convenience - simply scoop and serve. Unfortunately, commercial kibble dog food is highly processed and often contains artificial preservatives, colors, flavorings and by-products that are hard to digest and over time can cause your canine companion to be more susceptible to long term health problems.
Commercial kibble is cooked, extruded and baked at such high temperatures that it destroys many of the nutrients.
Commercial kibble dog foods not only harbor harmful toxins, they are also stripped of much of their nutrient value, becoming a “dead” food product.
Unfortunately, many well intentioned consumers who want to give their pet a high quality commercial diet choose to buy expensive, “grain free” kibbles, with claims of all natural – or even organic – ingredients, believing they are purchasing a more nutritious pet food.
But the fact is, even if these kibbles contain high quality ingredients with no preservatives, fillers or additives, they are still going through a cooking process which ultimately nullifies much of the nutritional value these quality ingredients would have contributed.
The kibble is left with proteins that have been denatured, enzymes that are rendered inactive, and any natural, beneficial microflora (good bacteria) are no longer viable.
These components are all extremely important and provide a synergistic effect for the complete digestion, absorption and assimilation of nutrients from the food.
In comparison, Happy Dog Food, is made with human quality whole grains and dehydrated vegetables and are not highly processed. Dehydration is the process of removing water or moisture from a food product at a much lower heat level. This keeps the foods rich in vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants and amino acids that every dog needs in order to remain strong, healthy and resilient to disease. Happy Dog Food does not contain any meat, intentionally as we want your dog to eat FDA approved human edible grocery store meat. The same meat you would eat yourself. The benefit of homemade healthy Happy Dog Food is really having control over each ingredient. It is particularly beneficial for pet owners who are concerned with the food’s origin and quality. Happy Dog Food is essentially a homemade meal, made easy.
Many of the reasons dogs are taken to the vet are often related to the foods they eat. Many of these reasons disappear when a fresh homemade healthy diet like Happy Dog Food is introduced. The most important thing you can do for your dog is feed a fresh, whole food made of human grade ingredients. Eliminating the junk ingredients such as, fillers, preservatives and by products will have a direct impact on your dog's health. Customers report that the conditions listed below resolve when they introduce a healthier food, free of artificial ingredients, preservatives and by-products.
Digestion - many dogs suffer from GI problems, like diet-related diarrhea and colitis. These conditions are often a side effect of highly processed commercial kibble foods. Many of these foods are difficult to digest and cause irritation to the GI tract.
Skin, Coat and Ear Infections - dry flaky skin and a dull coat are visible outward reflections of how your dog is feeling and can be directly related to the food you are feeding. Ear infections can be a chronic problem with many dogs. A buildup of smelly, yeasty debris in the ears can be closely linked to diet. Often dog owners will find that their dog is treated with oral and topical ear medications for extended periods of time without resolve. A grain-free diet can drastically improve these conditions.
Overweight Dogs - Dog obesity is a huge problem, feeding commercial kibble is like eating fast food everyday of the year. Feeding an appropriate diet and exercise is essential to overall good health. Because our foods are all natural, human grade, balanced with highly digestible grains and vegetables your dog will naturally slim down to an appropriate bodyweight without going hungry.
The well-being of your dog is very important to us. Feeding your dog the same kinds of wholesome foods you would eat yourself, will help to ensure your dog is healthy and happy.
The most obvious difference between Happy Dog Food and commercial canned or kibble dog foods, is the ingredients used to make our foods. The gentle process of dehydration leaves the vibrant colors of the vegetables intact. Studies have shown the importance of the vibrant pigments that exist in fresh vegetables. These substances are rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants, which are highly beneficial for the overall health and well-being of your canine companion. The enzymes are much higher in dehydrated foods than in conventional commercial kibbles.
Our whole grains, pearl barley, brown rice, flake barley and steel cut oats are the same whole grains you would eat yourself. Our vegetables are dehydrated, moisture is removed gently, this slow process is much gentler that cooking, canning or extruding and protects the nutrition that mother nature naturally provides in each vegetable. The finished product, blended together gently in our warehouse and packed fresh daily is a nutrient-rich blend whole food that smells delicious, taste great, and wholesome & healthy for your canine companion.
Whole Grain Goodness (Original Basemix) - Pearl Barley, Brown Rice, Split Peas, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Bell Peppers, Celery, Parsley
Hearty & Healthy Express - Flake Barley, Steel Cut Oats, Flaked Peas, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Bell Peppers, Celery, Parsley
Vitality Veggie (Grain Free) - Flaked Peas, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Bell Peppers, Celery, Parsley
The time required to transition your dog from commercial dog food to fresh, high quality Happy Dog can vary depending on the age and sensitivity of your dog, but in general it takes about 5-10 days.
Think of this transition as more of a detox. For many dogs it will be the first introduction to preservative-free whole food so as a rule of thumb, go slow, as there is no need to rush the transition.
Once your dog is fully transitioned onto a whole food diet, the need for transition is over. He or she is free to enjoy any our recipes.
Once your dog has acclimated to Happy Dog Food you will probably notice significant improvements. Even “premium dog food” and “healthy dog food” brands contain a staggering volume of indigestible ingredients, preservatives, chemicals, etc.
You will likely experience one or more of the following signs within weeks of converting to Happy Dog Food:
Healthy, soft, shiny coat
Brightness in the eyes
Good muscle tone
Little to no ‘doggie odor’
Dogs generally love food, and ESPECIALLY love our food. The HDF feeding guidelines, like all feeding guidelines, are approximate and subject to a given dog’s age, activity level and metabolism. With that in mind, begging probably has more to do with loving the food than needing the nutrients. If he begins to lose or gain unexpected weight then simply adjust the amount incrementally until his weight stabilizes. Always consult with a veterinarian to ensure proper weight management.
A raw food diet provides your canine companion the foundation for a healthy immune system, resulting in healthier skin and coat, a reduction in allergies and an overall improvement in joint health and mobility.
Raw meat has an abundance of heat sensitive nutrients, such as trace minerals and amino acids that are destroyed during the cooking process. Dogs are carnivores and from a nutritional standpoint, carnivores thrive when they consume diets that are structured as nature intended: high in the best quality animal protein and fat, rich in vitamins and minerals.
Dogs have been designed by nature to not only tolerate, but to thrive on raw meat. People worry that their canine companion will get sick from eating raw meat, however a dog’s digestive system is stronger than that of humans and can tolerate bacteria that might otherwise be harmful to us.
If serving raw meat with HDF just isn’t for you, we would recommend when preparing our foods you add the meat while cooking, not separately.
When choosing a meat type for your canine companion, we suggest you consider a few things:
Beef, chicken and turkey all have different fat contents. If your dog is young and very active or you are having trouble keeping weight on your dog, or feel like you are having to feed more food than normal, you might want to consider using ground beef 80/20 which is going to have a higher fat content than chicken or turkey. Our dogs tend to drop weight when we feed turkey or chicken as they are very active herding breeds and require more fat in their diet.
Ground meat is usually more expensive than whole meat such as chicken or turkey breasts or different cuts of beef. If you choose to use ground meat I would suggest looking for a local butcher or small locally owned grocery store that has a meat department and ask if they would custom grind or find you a source for ground meat and in most cases you will find that you can negotiate a pretty good price.
Buying your meat from a local store that has a meat department that does their own cutting will ensure that you are getting the best quality ground meat.
Whole chickens are usually pretty cheap and if you decide to use a whole chicken and are cooking your meat, make sure that when you cook your chicken you remove any bones and use the broth from that chicken to prepare your Happy Dog Food.
If you are using ground turkey, ask your local butcher/grocer if they can order that turkey in a 10lb frozen roll. If they are able to get that for you, have them cut that frozen turkey roll into 10 equal frozen parts, that way you don’t have to defrost the whole roll, you will be able to defrost just the amount you need to make your Happy Dog Food.
For more information on minerals & vitamins for dogs