Canine diets in the wild consist of raw meat, much of it not fresh and full of live bacteria, and chyme, partially digested plant matter in the stomachs of animals lower on the food chain. Problems occur when pets are fed denatured foods. Dogs have a normal urinary pH of 7. Some systemic diseases are associated with too-acidic (low) pH. Feeding more plant matter raises pH.
Test pH Levels Regularly
It is important to know if dietary changes are effective. Urinary pH may change from day to day. A veterinarian can test urine pH or recommend supplies for home testing.
The quickest way to increase urine pH is to force-feed cranberry juice with an eyedropper or syringe. Use pure unsweetened cranberry from a health food store. One milliliter per pound of body weight once a day is a good place to start. The dose can be reduced by half after one week. Any is better than none, but it must be given regularly to be effective. Buffered Vitamin C with bioflavonoids may be more palatable to some dogs. Consult a veterinarian for dosage information.
Green Meat Option
A natural diet will balance pH. Taking a dog completely off commercial dog foods is easy if raw meat, including bones and organ meat, is substituted. Mix shredded spinach, romaine, kale or powdered spirulina in the meat. Experiment with amounts, since the pet may be willing to take only a little green food at first. Add enzyme powders, probiotics and omega-3 rich fish oils or flax seeds. Don't worry about spoilage. Dogs love the smell, and their digestive systems are geared for it. Be sure to use safe handling practices so that humans don't get sick, however.
If a raw meat diet is too distasteful, urinary pH in dogs can be raised with a vegetarian diet, although it is more challenging. Including eggs and fish and a milk-based, lactose-free protein supplement powder add essential amino acids. A change of 50 percent and then 75 percent within a few days will help the pet adjust to new foods. Brewer's yeast is flavorful and an important source of B vitamins. Many dogs will adapt to pureed vegetables, added first to their commercial dog food and then mixed with whole, uncooked oats or brown rice. Most dogs do not like celery, but many enjoy fresh peas and carrots, cucumbers, hearts of romaine, cabbage stumps, red bell peppers and apples. Many dogs also eat coconut and dried fruits such as dates. Soaked sprouted grains and olive oil add nutrients; reduce oil if the dog gets diarrhea. Feed vegetarian dogs only two meals a day to ensure optimum digestion. Avoid soy and potatoes, as both are indigestible for many dogs. Do not feed large amounts of nuts, and never feed roasted nuts.
Mary Earhart is a registered nurse, a public health nurse and licensed midwife. Her articles have appeared in professional journals and online ezines. She holds a Bachelor of Science in nursing from California State University at Dominguez Hills. She works in a family practice clinic, has a home birth practice and her specialty is perinatal substance abuse.