how to cook for your dog

How To Cook For Your Dog With Dr. Harvey’s

Why don’t you learn to cook for your dog? I overheard a conversation between two women in the veterinary waiting room back in the early 2000s. 

One woman was complaining about her dog’s itchiness and allergies. The other woman was explaining how her dog’s itching and hot spots cleared up when she started serving him home-cooked meals. 

I am one of the world’s worst cooks by my own admission. I was a finalist for the television show, Worst Cooks in America, and I turned them down. What business did I have learning to cook for my dog?

My first Cocker Spaniel, Brandy Noel, was diagnosed with irritable bowel disease, I tried everything to help her, including dietary changes. 

Near the end of her 15 years, I discovered Dr. Harvey’s line of dog products. I promised myself that I would look into Dr. Harvey’s foods for dogs and learn to cook for my dogs in the future.

Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I am also an Etsy and Chewy affiliate.

How To Cook For Your Dog With Dr. Harvey’s

What does a bad cook do when she wants only the best home-cooked meals for her dogs but doesn’t know where to start? 

Use a healthy pre-mix from Dr. Harvey’s used as a base to make homemade meals for her dog. Add warm water, a protein, an oil, and serve.

I don’t have the interest nor time to search for the right ingredients in health food stores or online to combine them into a recipe for my dog, hoping I get it right.

Cooking for your dog with Dr. Harvey’s need not be a daunting task. In fact, with a few simple guidelines, you can easily cook up a delicious and healthy meal for your pup right in the comfort of your own home.

In this article, we’ll outline how to cook for your dog with Dr. Harvey’s base mixes and more, including what to cook, how to cook it, and the best ways to serve it up. 

So whether you’re like I was, a newbie to cooking for her dog or just looking for some new recipes to add to your dog’s diet, read on for tips and instructions.

Full disclosure: I am an ambassador for this brand and have been a consumer for nearly 25 years and three Cocker Spaniels.

When my dog Dexter faced a life-threatening autoimmune disease (IMT), the veterinarian told me the good care he had been receiving and the good diet he had been eating helped him fight the disease and survive.

What is Dr. Harvey’s Dog Food?

Dr. Harvey’s has been in business since 1984. They make fine health foods in the USA for companion animals including dogs, cats, and birds in the ultra-natural and all-natural category of pet foods. 

I hesitate to call Dr. Harvey’s formulas “dog foods” because they don’t look or perform like typical dog foods (kibble, canned). Each bag is filled with dehydrated ingredients and freeze-dried vegetables that require warm water to rehydrate. 

It all started with a formula called Canine Health. When a bag of Canine Health first arrived, I was taken aback. Dog food doesn’t look like this. It doesn’t smell like this. This looked and smell like human food. That’s exactly right. 

Canine Health is a base mix, like many Dr. Harvey’s formulas. This means you add warm water, wait 8 to 10 minutes, and step one of three is done. That’s it – three steps.

A base mix means all the vitamins, minerals, and essentials your dog needs in his diet. The base mix needs a protein and an oil added to it.

You add a protein to the base mix and stir that up. You can use fresh cooked protein (as we do) or raw if that’s your preference. 

Finally, add your choice of a healthy oil (i.e., fish oil, coconut oil, etc), stir and serve.

Not all Dr. Harvey’s formulas are a base mix. Some come with the meat already added, but more about that shortly. 

So to review:

  1. Measure the correct amount of base mix and hot water based on the feeding guide inside each bag of Dr. Harvey’s. Stir occasionally and let sit for 8-10 minutes.
  2. Add your choice of a high-quality protein such as beef, poultry, fish, eggs, etc. Measure according to the feeding guide inside each bag. Protein can be raw or cooked. 
  3. Add your choice of a healthy oil such as flax, olive oil, fish oil like Dr. Harvey’s Health and Shine. 
  4. Serve. 

What Base Mixes Does Dr. Harvey’s Offer?

Dr. Harvey’s base mixes are pre-mixes use as a base to make balanced homemade meals for your dog. Here are the base mixes Dr. Harvey’s offers for your dog and what they do:

Dr. Harvey’s Base MixMade For
Canine HealthAny dog, balanced homemade meals
ParadigmRaw diet (can be used with cooked or raw protein)
Veg to Bowl Any dog, ground veggie formula
Veg to Bowl Fine Ground Any dog, fine ground veggie formula
Allergy Canine sensitivities

Which Dr. Harvey’s Dog Formulas Contain Meat?

If you prefer not to cook or prepare a protein for your dog, Dr. Harvey’s offers several protein-based formulas that require you just add warm water. These include:

  • Garden Veggies Whole Grain Beef
  • Garden Veggies Whole Grain Chicken
  • Garden Veggies Grain Free Beef
  • Garden Veggies Grain Free Chicken
  • Healthy Weight Beef Recipe
  • Healthy Weight Chicken Recipe
  • Allergy Fish Recipe
  • Allergy Turkey Recipe

How Many Calories Are In Dr. Harvey’s Foods For Dogs?

Each bag of Dr. Harvey’s comes with a scooper. Here’s a breakdown of the calories per scoop or cup:

Dr. Harvey’s FormulaCalories
Canine Health84 cal/scoop
Veg-to-Bowl74 cal/scoop
Veg-to-Bowl Fine Ground74 cal/scoop
Raw Vibrance70 cal/scoop
Paradigm 55 cal/scoop
Allergy Turkey471 cal/cup
Allergy Fish 428 cal/cup
Garden Veggies Whole-Grain Chicken358 cal/cup
Garden Veggies Whole-Grain Beef357 cal/cup
Garden Veggies Grain-Free Chicken379 cal/cup
Garden Veggies Grain-Free Beef357 cal/cup
Healthy Weight Chicken445 cal/cup
Healthy Weight Beef 445 cal/cup

Who Formulates Dr. Harvey’s Products?

The Dr. Harvey’s Research and Development Team is led by Dr. Marie Limoges, who holds a Doctorate in Animal Nutrition and Food Sciences. Dr. Limoges and her team follow AAFCO feed guidelines and NASC supplement guidelines to ensure the highest levels of nutritional integrity.

Dr. Harvey’s earned the coveted NASC quality seal of approval, which is very hard to attain. NASC stands for National Animal Supplement Council.

Dr. Harvey works in conjunction with his research and development department to ensure the highest quality human-grade ingredients are sourced for the formulations. Before any product is released to the market, the formulation is reviewed by several holistic veterinarians whom our company works with closely.

Dr. harvey’s

What Goes On Behind The Scenes At Dr. Harvey’s?

When I work with a brand and feed their products to my dogs, I become an investigative journalist. I visited the Dr. Harvey’s headquarters in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey a few years ago.

I wrote an entire article about my experience including a one-on-one interview with Dr. Harvey Cohen aka Dr. Harvey. 

I learned that Dr. Harvey is not a veterinarian but he never claims to be one. The company is incredibly transparent. 

Dr. Harvey Cohen (known by everyone as Dr. Harvey) started his career in 1970 as a human practitioner in New York City. He is pioneer in the field of holistic and natural nutrition for animals.

He left his New York practice to dedicate his time to making honest, healthy products for animals. He has been studying animal nutrition and developing recipes for homemade foods for over three decades.

He has lectured across the US and was awarded the Icon Award by Pet Age Magazine in 2015.

Dr. Harvey began creating human-grade products for pets at a time when the idea of feeding fresh ingredients for pets was virtually unheard of. Forty years later….

He oversees the operations of his company to ensure all food products leaving his food facility is up to the high-quality standards he set over four decades ago.

Dr. Harvey’s has never had a food recall. He is an animal lover in name and in practice and shares life with a Basset Hound named Sasha, a Doberman Pinscher named Lance, a Sphynx cat named Franklin, and a cockatoo named Peggy.

 Always consult your veterinarian before starting any new treatment approaches to determine if it is right for your companion animal.

Foods To Cook For Your Dog: Proteins

If you go with a Dr. Harvey’s base mix, you need to add protein. Protein is the building block of life or a combination of amino acids. Your dog needs these to thrive and survive. 

Dogs make some amino acids themselves, but others come only from their food. Protein is an important source of energy. 

Here are the most common sources of protein for dogs:

  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Rabbit
  • Bison
  • Pork
  • Fish (haddock, whitefish, salmon)
  • Turkey
  • Lamb
  • Tuna
  • Tofu
  • Eggs

Dogs who do not have protein sensitivities or food allergies can rotate among different proteins. I rotate proteins with my Cocker Spaniel puppy, Alvin, so he is receiving different amino acids. 

You do not have to rotate proteins, but I do. I generally change his protein every month or so. 

Rotating your dog’s diet also keeps them interested in their food, avoids food fatigue, and can help them get various amino acids to try and avoid food sensitivities.

FACT: At least 70 percent of your dog’s immune system is in his gut. An upset gut can lead to all sorts of issues, from itching to vomiting, diarrhea, and even irritable bowel disease.

How Much Protein Do I Add To Dr. Harvey’s Base Mixes?

Each bag of Dr. Harvey’s base mix and pre-mix foods come with a feeding guide and instructions on protein. 

As an example, my 10-month old Cocker Spaniel eats this combination twice a day:

  • ¼ cup Canine Health or ¼ cup Fine Ground Veg To Bowl
  • ¼ cup warm water 
  • ½ cup protein (currently organic ground beef 93% fat-free, cooked)
  • Dr. Harvey’s Health and Shine Oil 

I rotate his proteins between whitefish, bison, beef, and sometimes hard boiled eggs. Cocker Spaniels are notorious for skin and systemic sensitivities and allergies

By feeding the same protein over and over, you can actually make your dog become sensitive to it so he will itch, scratch, have loose stools, etc. Good health starts in the gut.

I make each meal fresh for my dog twice a day. I make enough protein for four to five days (three pounds of organic ground beef, for example) using my Ninja Foodie XL Pro on air crisp or grill.

It is up to you how to cook your dog’s meat, such as broiling or grilling, or however you choose. Just make sure you don’t use butter or greasy additives.

I cook for my dog without worrying about the ingredients or if he is getting too much or too little. Dr. Harvey’s takes the guesswork out of home cooking for dogs.

If you choose the Dr. Harvey’s formulas that come with the protein, you will simply add hot water, stir, wait 10-15 minutes, top with an oil and serve.

Canine Health for dogs
Alvin with his Canine Health

Which Dr. Harvey’s Formulas Can I Feed My Puppy?

Dr. Harvey instructed me to choose from Veg to Bowl or Canine Health since both have everything growing puppies need. I chose both and rotated. Then we added protein and oil.

If you prefer the complete package, puppies can eat the Garden Veggies variety with grains or without. 

These three formulas are higher in carbs than the others. Since puppies are active and need the extra energy, 

Dr. Harvey also recommends a dollop of yogurt and cottage cheese, with instructions in each feeding guide in the bag.

Can Dogs With Kidney Issues Eat Dr. Harvey’s Food?

It is advised that pet parents of dogs with kidney issues text their complimentary Dr. Harvey’s Kidney Care Information Phone Line at 848-273-1925. 

Texting to this number gets you placed in the callback queue so you can speak with their nutritionist, Lori. She works with dogs that have kidney concerns. 

Please note It may take a few days to receive a callback (approx.5-7 day wait due to high volume of requests.)

Where Can I Get Free Samples of Dr. Harvey’s Dog Products?

You can call and talk to Dr. Harvey if you have questions. He actually calls you back to help. Oh, and the fact that you can try a sample before you buy by just paying shipping, is worth its weight in healthy dog treats.

Dr. Harvey’s knowledgeable team of animal nutritionists and behaviorists are available to answer questions, too. You can call them at 866-362-4123 or email them at

Shop at Dr. Harvey’s and use code FDRLUV2023 to save 10 percent off your order, plus free shipping over $59. Dr. Harvey’s is also available on Amazon.

What About Supplements When Cooking For My Dog?

Dr. Harvey’s makes proprietary supplements that contain whole nutritious foods and healing herbs for each stage or situation of your dog’s life. 

What I love about these supplements is they can be sprinkled over food and easily store in a container. They are human grade, made in the USA like all Dr. Harvey’s products, and contain no drugs or chemicals. 

Here’s a breakdown of each of Dr. Harvey’s supplements and what they do. You don’t need to give your dog all of these in a meal but choose according to what your dog requires/needs.

Dr. Harvey’s SupplementFunction
Kidney HealthSupports your dog’s kidneys
Health and ShineFish oil capsules for a dog’s skin and coat
SolarisSupports your dog’s cellular and immune systems
Coenzyme Q10Supports your dog’s cardiovascular and immune systems
Runs Be DoneDigestive supplement to help with diarrhea
Golden YearsAntioxidant for senior dogs
Ortho-FlexOverall joint function
Multivitamin and MineralDaily use vitamins and minerals
RelaxPromotes a calming effect and sense
Formative YearsFor puppies and young dogs (Dr. Harvey told me pet parents who serve kibble should sprinkle this on it)
Emune BoostHelps boost the body’s immune fighting abilities

Can You Show Me A Video of Making The Food?

I did a cooking video online showing pet parents how to make Dr. Harvey’s food, answering questions, and going through the different formulas.

You can watch the entire video here:

cooking for a dog with Dr Harveys

What If My Dog Doesn’t Eat The Food Right Away?

According to Dr. Harvey’s, as long as there are no kidney issues, you can try the suggestions below to get your dog motivated to eat and enjoy his meal. When in doubt, check with your veterinarian for some basic blood work (CBC-complete blood count).

First, try reconstituting the premix with hot low-sodium chicken or beef broth. This will add additional flavor.

Second, try adding a few drops of runoff from the protein that you have cooked. 

So if you brown ground beef in a skillet, add a teaspoon of the natural oil that forms. This won’t be for every meal, just in the beginning until your dog takes to the food. 

And last, is to add coconut oil. You can cook his protein in coconut oil, or add a teaspoon on top of his meal. Most dogs love the taste of coconut oil and this will add more flavor to entice him.

You can also watch Dr. Harvey’s Getting Started Video for more information.

What Does Dr. Harvey’s Say About DCM and Their Grain-Free Formulas?

I spoke with representatives from Dr. Harvey’s team who offer the following about feeding your dog their grain-free formulas in light of the dilated cardiomyopathy dog food scare:

“This issue is personal to us. Dr. Harvey’s has helped tens of thousands of dogs that have developed conditions like kidney disease, diabetes, cancer, etc. – that are directly related to eating exclusively processed kibble diets.

The biggest changes pet parents should consider is moving away from a processed kibble diet.

One of the biggest takeaways you should know is that this FDA report focuses on 560 cases that have been reported to the FDA. 

The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that there are 77 million pet dogs in the United States. That means that diet has supposedly impacted .000007% of dogs. Most dogs in the U.S. have been eating pet food without apparently developing DCM.

Also note, 350 of the 560 dogs involved are breeds that are genetically prone to DCM. Golden Retrievers, for example, are genetically prone to DCM.

Among all the cases from all brands that were reported to the FDA, the overwhelming majority of impacted dogs belonged to breeds genetically predisposed to DCM, a disease that was first discovered in the 1980’s well before the grain-free diets were available for pets.”

Of note, my second Cocker Spaniel, Dexter, ate Dr. Harvey’s Veg-to-Bowl fine ground formula for much of his adult life. He never developed DCM and was under the care of a cardiologist for canine mitral valve disease, which remained stable his whole life.

You should always consult your traditional veterinarian, holistic veterinarian, or veterinary nutritionist for dietary concerns. You can also call Dr. Harvey’s.

Dr Harvey's dog food for Cocker Spaniels

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Dr. Harvey’s Good For Cocker Spaniels?

Yes, I consider it to be the best dog food to feed your Cocker Spaniel. ⇐= You can read more why by clicking on that post.

Can I Prepare Dr. Harvey’s Meals Ahead of Time?

Yes, you can make your dog’s meals ahead of time and store it in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to two months. 

Pre-portioning meals in sealed plastic Tupperware is great for easy storage and serving. You can then bring the food to room temperature and/or microwave it. 

The oil can be added beforehand if you are storing the food in the refrigerator. If you are freezing the meals, the oil needs to be added fresh right before serving.

How Do I Transition From Puppy To Adult Food?

You will start by adding a small amount of Dr. Harvey’s to the bowl of the food you are currently feeding. Continue increasing the amount of Dr. Harvey’s daily and decrease the old food. Take about a week to make the switch.

Why Do I Have To Add Oil To Dr. Harvey’s Formulas?

Each type of oil has a unique nutritional profile. Components such as amino acids, vitamins, minerals and fatty acids can be found in different quantities, depending on the type of oil. This is a more complete approach in feeding a properly balanced meal.

Does Dr. Harvey’s Offer Dog Treats?

Yes, Dr. Harvey’s offers a few different treats. Our favorites are their freeze-dried dehydrated dog treats. < === Click to learn more

How Do I Make Dr. Harvey’s If I Travel With My Dog?

You can either bring a cooler along for the protein or try one of their new whole grain or grain-free formulas, where you just add warm water, wait a few minutes, and serve.

What Do Other Dog Parents Say About Dr. Harvey’s?

My dogs are walking testimonials of the power of good nutrition. You can also read the Dr. Harvey’s Book of Miracles for more testimonials.

How to cook for your dog with Dr Harveys


  1. I am so glad I found you. This entire article was extremely helpful, but especially the puppy part. We have used Dr. Harvey’s before with our other dogs that recently passed away. Without Dr. Harvey they would not have lived with as high of quality or for as long as they did. In brief, he helped them live a full life. Paradigm was part of their protocol. They both had serious health issues and still made it to 13 1/2 and 14 years. We’re getting a new puppy and immediately feeding him Dr. Harvey’s. Period. Your article helped us flesh out our puppy plan the rest of the way and we are now confident concerning the lines to rotate within that first crucial year. Thank you!

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