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One of the most important considerations when caring for a pet is nutrition. Perhaps the first thing to know is what foods are toxic to your dog.


The huge number of commercial choices can be confusing. Then, there is the option to make your own dog food. (Recipes below.) How do you decide what's best for your Havanese?

More important than whether the food is from a bag, a can or your kitchen is what's in the food, Dogs need protein, fat, calories, vitamins and minerals. Different dogs, and even the same dogs at different ages, require different combinations of these essentials. Dogs are omnivores, so they eat meats, fruits and vegetables.

The AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) lends its name to packaged foods that they deem "complete and balanced". Foods that display this approval are great choices for your puppy or dog. Without that, you have to analyze the ingredients yourself. They are listed in order of quantity by weight. Since meats contain a lot of water, "meals" may be a better first ingredient, because the protein in them is concentrated. Byproducts may have a bad reputation, but they too are good for your dog. They are not beaks and toenails, but more likely livers, tongues, diaphragms - parts that we may not find appealing, but that our dogs will. In general, adult dogs should have 12-18% protein in their diets, and puppies need between 20-28%. 

We choose foods that are high in protein and fat content. These are some brands that we offer our puppies:

Up until about six months of age, puppies should be fed 3-4 times a day. After they reach six months, that can be reduced to once or twice a day through adulthood, depending on how active the individual dog is.

Chances are that you will be tempted to offer your dog table scraps. This is fine, in limited amounts. Treats should make up no more than 10% of their diet. Since Havanese are motivated by treats, this is something to keep in mind when training. There are also several foods that you need to keep your puppy or dog away from.


Some foods that are toxic, even deadly, to large and toy dogs are:


Caffeine (including coffee grounds)

Grapes (or raisins)



Bones (can splinter and cause internal damage)


Tobacco products

Xylitol (a sweetener found in some chewing gums, breath mints and candies)

Many nuts (see full list of nuts toxic to dogs)

Dairy products may cause diarrhea or itchy skin.

Medications for people can also be dangerous or deadly for dogs. Never offer pain, allergy or other human meds to a dog.

For those who aren't comfortable feeding store-bought food, there are hundreds of recipes for DIY dog food and home-made treats. Ingredients for main courses include lean meats, beans (lentil, kidney, pinto - discontinue if gassy), barley, oats, peas, rice (brown if it doesn't upset them, otherwise white), green beans, sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin and carrots. Many dogs like apples, berries and melons. If you are switching your dog's diet from commercial to homemade dog food, mix the old kibble half and half with the new food for a couple of days to transition them.

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Wild Dog Food Recipe

2 pounds ground turkey

3/4 pound ground beef

2 tablespoons bone meal

1 tablespoon fenugreek

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves     

   (use less if dried)

1/4 cup marigold petals

1 cup chopped parsley leaves

2 apples (or 8 ounces fruit) chopped

1 squash, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

1 cup broccoli florets

1 cup dandelion greens

1/2 pound haddock, chopped into 1-inch squares

1/4 pound beef heart, chopped into 1-inch squares

1/4 pound liver, chopped into 1-inch squares

1/4 pound kidney, chopped into 1-inch squares

1/4 pound gizzards, chopped into 1-inch squares

1/4 pound beef fat, chopped into 1-inch squares

4 eggs

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup dried organic seaweed, soaked and                 strained to remove the salt

Put ground turkey and beef into a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl combine bone meal, fenugreek, rosemary, marigold petals, and parsley, and mix well. Combine with the meat mixture. Use a food processor to grate apples, squash, and carrots. Add broccoli florets and dandelion greens and mix well. Add to the meat mixture. Combine haddock, beef heart, liver, kidney, gizzards, and beef fat and mix well. Add to the meat mixture. Combine eggs, olive oil and seaweed and mix well. Add to the meat mixture and thoroughly mix all the ingredients with your hands.

Make patties and poach them in chicken or beef stock.

To serve, mix with high quality kibble, an egg, 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and supplement with digestive enzymes, probiotics, co-enzyme q10, and wild blue green algae.​ Recipe can be frozen.

Commercial Dog Food
DIY Dog Food
Dog Food Recipes
Foods to Avoid

Crock Pot Stew for Dogs

3 lbs lean ground chicken

1 cup butternut squash, chopped

15 oz can kidney beans, drained (or lentil, pinto)

1 cup peas

1 cup green beans

1 cup carrots sliced or diced

1 ½ cup uncooked rice

4 cups of water

Add ingredients to crock pot. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours, stirring occasionally.

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Apple Peanut Butter Cookies

2 cups apples (grated, fine)

6 heaping tablespoons peanut butter

3 cups whole wheat flour
5 cups oatmeal (instant or original)
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons blackstrap molasses 
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cup lukewarm water

Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour, oats and baking powder in mixing bowl. Add apples, molasses, peanut butter and olive oil. Knead. Add water while kneading until batter is smooth

Hand roll into 1 1/2" balls. Place cookies on nonstick or greased cookie sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown on the edges. 

Happy Trails Dog Mix

Pieces of meat 


Vegetables (no onions)

Fruit (no grapes or raisins)

Cut ingredients into ½ inch thick pieces

Spray lightly with cooking spray

Place in a food dehydrator or into a 200 degree preheated oven until dried

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