Our Ingredient Philosophy


We support ethical farming practices. Bismark’s Bistro is not organically certified, but all our fresh produce and ingredients are sourced from small local farmers around Cape Town.


The ingredients we use change with the seasons, to ensure that your dog gets the best. Fruit and vegetables that are fresh and in season taste better and have a higher nutritional value. They also cost less because they are more readily available.


It might be posh to buy your dog his own tubs of food from your beloved supermarket, but the ingredients need to be carefully read, as even the best looking tubs are filled with rice, potatoes and mielies. Dogs need a rice free, potato free and grain free diet as they are unable to digest grain. Maize/corn has no nutritional value for dogs. It can bring skin irritation and can make a dog ‘hot’ and cause hot spots. Much more so than rice. The best source of carbohydrates for your dog is sweet potatoes, legumes and starchy vegetables.

Dogs require very specific proportions of meat protein, organ meat, vegetables, fruit, herbs, seeds, fresh produce and carbohydrates. All Bismark’s Bistro meals are grain free and proportioned as follows:

  • 35% Pure protein whole meat (fish/chicken/beef/pork)
  • 15% Organ meat (heart/kidney/liver)
  • 30% Vegetables (seasonal vegetables)
  • 10% Sprouts (chickpeas/beans/lentils)
  • 5% Fruit (seasonal fruit)
  • 5% Seeds/Herbs/Cottage cheese/Eggs and shell/Turmeric/Coconut and seed oils


Protein is essential in order for your dog to thrive. It is an important source of dietary energy, and is necessary for maintaining a healthy immune system. Protein is made up of a combination of amino acids, and some of these, called ‘essential amino acids’, can only come from their diet. Without enough protein, your dog can have all sorts of health issues. Some of the common signs of protein deficiency include:

  • Low energy levels or lethargy
  • Unwanted weight loss
  • Dull coat or chronic skin problems
  • Behavioral problems
  • Weak/deformed bones
  • Slow-healing wounds
  • Weakened immune system.

Organ meat:

All organ meat (except tripe) is extremely rich in vitamin B12, which is an essential component of your dog’s diet. Liver is a rich source of protein, iron, zinc, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin A, and folate. Kidney is rich in protein, thiamine, riboflavin, iron, and is also a source of folate. Heart is a good source of iron and zinc.

Vegetables and fruit:

Vegetables and fruit are an important part of your dog’s diet. They  can help to freshen the breath, boost immune and heart health, and clean up the digestive tract. At least fifty percent of your dog’s veggies should be green leafy ones, such as lettuces, parsley, cilantro, basil, beet tops, carrot tops, kale, and spinach. These plants are vitamin powerhouses with numerous health benefits, and are full of antioxidants and minerals. They also possess cleansing and pH balancing properties, and are an excellent source of fibre. The remaining 50 percent should consist of sweet veggies that are not leafy, and this group consists of zucchini, celery, green beans, red beets, sweet potatoes and other carbohydrate-rich vegetables. We change the fruit and veg used in Bismark’s Bowl according to what is in season.

Seeds, oils and herbs:

Apart from adding flavour and interest to your dog’s diet, herbs, seeds and oils can be very beneficial to your pet’s health. For example, dill has an anti-flatulence effect, and can help with respiratory problems. Rosemary is a good anti-oxidant, and chia seeds contain a near perfect ratio of omega oils. Dogs can eat cayenne pepper, dill, pumpkin or sesame seeds, chia or sunflower seeds, coriander, fennel, ginger, organum, parsley, rosemary, thyme, turmeric, basil, mint and cinnamon.


Sprouts such as chickpeas, lentils and beans are low in saturated fat, contain no cholesterol, and are high in folate, potassium, iron and magnesium. They also contain beneficial fats and soluble and insoluble fibre.

Yogurt, cottage cheese and eggs:

Yoghurt and cottage cheese are recommended by the majority of vets because they contain probiotics (microorganisms that control the levels of undesirable bacteria in the gut). Owners who have tried feeding yoghurt to their dog claim that it helps control diarrhoea, and relieves issues related to stomach discomfort.

Eggs are a great source of very digestible protein, riboflavin, and selenium. For dogs that are prone to digestive upset, eggs can give them a little protein boost. We include cooked whole egg and the shells in our food – raw egg whites can cause biotin deficiency, and the shells are an important source of calcium.

Individual packets, Individual pricing

Your dog’s weight, age and activity level is considered when we pack his box. Each packet is custom made, weighed and packed into a thermal box and delivered to your door every week. Each packet is enough for a full meal.
Depending on the size of your dog, this is more or less what you can expect to pay per day for your dog meals:

What is on the label of the food your dog is currently eating?

Wet canned food

Cereal, Corn and wheat gluten, Maize, 5% Meat and grain meals and by-products, Animal derivatives, Rice, Sodium, BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole), Guar gum, Xanthun gum, BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene), Ethoxyquin, Food Dyes (Blue 2, Red 40, Yellow 5 and 6, 4-MIE), PG (Propylene Glycol), Flavourants, Rendered fat.

Frozen food

Water, 16% beef, rice, egg, barley, peas, chicken, wheat, mielie meal, bone meal, carrots, celery, garlic, parsley, bread flour, rosemary, lentils, monocalcium phosphate, potassium chloride, olive oil, sunflower oil, thyme, basil, mint, sage, fennel, spinach, micro minerals and vitamins

Dry food

Chicken Meal, Brewers Rice, Whole Grain Wheat, Soybean Meal, Whole Grain Sorghum, Chicken Fat, Cracked Pearled Barley, Whole Grain Corn, Chicken Liver Flavor, Pork Liver Flavor, Flaxseed, Lactic Acid, Soybean Oil, Green Peas, Apples, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Cranberries, Potassium Chloride, L-Lysine, Iodized Salt, Carrots, Choline Chloride, Broccoli, Taurine, minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Natural Flavors, L-Carnitine, Beta-Carotene.

Raw food

Our dogs have evolved into domesticated animals, and so have their digestive and glandular systems in the way that they react to raw food. A direct link showing the wolf to be the sole forefather of todays domesticated dog has never been proven. The meat we buy at the store for human consumption is not the same as the meat that a wild carnivore eats from a natural kill. Commercial meat has been processed and exposed to many chemicals that make it harmful to our dogs when fed raw. We are unable to provide the same fresh hot guts and meat that our ancestors had access to many years ago. Cooking breaks down these chemicals and make it safe for consumption. Cooking also normalises the cholesterol level of the meat, lowers the fat content and kills microorganisms and pathogens. Breeds like Miniature Schnauzers are prone to pancreatitis and may get very sick on a raw diet which is high in fat. Bismark is a Miniature Schnauzer and vomits when he eats under-cooked meat. The bones in chicken or turkey necks may cause injuries to the stomach and intestines and splinter their teeth. Raw meat does not improve a dog’s health; the same results will be seen with cooked meat. It is often the absence of the bad ingredients in pellets / kibble / dry food that improves their condition in the first place.

Unbalanced cooked diets

Most self-made home cooked diets consist of rice, chicken, chicken livers and some vegetables. Our research show that some of these dogs suffer with serious digestive upsets and itchy skins. Not to mention the dull looking coats. Chicken as the only source of protein for your dog may cause continuous problems with candida and itchiness, oozing wet skin or sores that don’t heal. It is important to vary the diet with a selection of fresh ingredients, including many types of proteins, various organ meats, seeds, cottage cheese, eggs, oils, vegetables, fruit and legumes. Most of these dogs do very well when switched onto our Fish menu with sardines, as the omega 3 oils heal them quite quickly. Probiotics may also be needed to correct the imbalance in the digestive system and to help fight candida growth.

Transitioning to Bismark’s Bistro

It is important to switch your dog’s diet gradually. Use the transition packs in your box slowly over the first few days by adding it to your dog’s existing diet.  You can also assist your dog’s digestive system by adding a good probiotic to his food a few days before your switch him over.  The transition packs contain additional pumpkin to stabilise your dog’s tummy during this phase.