Raw Feeding for Dogs & Cats
Introduction An article about feeding raw meat and bones as a species appropriate diet for dogs & cats. My personal experience of raw feeding including the many health benefits, what to feed, where to get it and why not to feed commercial processed pet food.
I have no money to gain by recommending this diet; I do so purely because I believe in it and want to point out the health benefits raw feeding brings to our pets. Raw Feeding for Dogs & Cats
By Isobel Wilson Rainbow Remedies http://www.rainbowremedies.co.uk/
I decided after much research that a raw diet is the best and most appropriate for our dogs. Now I have taken the plunge I would never go back to feeding commercial dog foods. I have seen so many improvements in the dogs’ health and it is great to watch them eat now as they love raw food. Teeth are totally clean white and shiny, no more doggy breath, no more itchy skin or runny poops, better coats, and very satisfied dogs at mealtimes.
There is a lot of information on the internet about the downside of feeding dry or tinned dog food. A lot of chemicals are used to preserve and colour the food which can cause health problems, the meat used may be poor quality and only used in tiny amounts and the top ingredients are cereals as they are a lot cheaper than meat. Contrary to what the pet food manufacturers would lead you to believe, dry foods do not clean teeth and about 75% of dogs over 3 years old who are fed dry food have gum disease, which in turn can lead to diseases in the major organs of the body.
I feed a Prey Model Diet which tries to mimic what dogs or wolves would eat in the wild, this includes raw meaty bones and organs, no vegetables or grains as dogs do not need either especially grains. Most commercial dog foods contain a high proportion of grains because they are cheaper than meat, but they can cause skin problems and diarrhoea so are best avoided. Vegetables can be given as the odd treat but need not be a significant part of the diet.
Unfortunately many vets will not promote a raw diet and many advocate the use of commercial or prescription foods they sell in their surgeries. At vet school information given on nutrition is only a few hours, often the lecturer is from a commercial dog food company! Vet students are given freebies by these companies (including a supply of food for their own animals) in the hope that they will go on to recommend their products to their clientele. Raw feeding is not encouraged and may even be discouraged as there is no money to be made by the large companies. I would always be wary of people advising against feeding raw who are involved with any type of commercial food as they have a conflict of interest.
There are a growing number of Holistic vets who do recommend raw feeding, minimal vaccination and natural therapies, lets hope you can find one! It is your choice what to feed your dog, so please do a bit of research and make an informed choice. There are lots of links on the link page to information about what is really in commercial pet food and about raw feeding, or use Google and you will find plenty about raw diets both for and against. I suggest you read as much as you can then make up your own mind rather than letting the pet food manufacturers advertising campaigns win you over. They try to convince us that we need a degree in nutrition if we want to feed our pets anything other than their “complete & balanced” commercial pet food. Would you feed your children burgers and chips day after day? Do you need a degree to know that a processed diet is not the best thing for children? Do you really believe a processed commercial diet is the healthiest option for your pet? All we really need to do is look to nature for the answer, dogs are carnivores, they have carnivore’s teeth which are designed purely for catching and eating raw meat and bones, they do not have flat molars for chewing grain and vegetables.
Here is a list of what I currently feed my dogs: Whole chickens – cut into meal size portions Chicken carcasses, after the meat has been removed for human consumption Whole rabbits – cut in half Turkey drumsticks Oily fish e.g. Herring, mackerel, sardines, etc preferably whole Green tripe Liver – beef, pig, lamb, chicken Kidneys – beef, lamb, pig Beef heart – cheap source of muscle meat (a lot cheaper then steak!!) Beef lungs, Beef ribs, Beef, chicken, turkey mince when it’s reduced. Egg-shells as well I also plan to introduce venison soon as the hunting season has started, I will try to get ribs, necks and organs. I get most of my meat from my local butcher but you can get chicken carcasses from most chicken producers for a very reasonable amount. I also cruise the reduced meat in the supermarkets every week! The key to the diet is to feed a good variety over time and not to rely purely on one meat source. Organs should be about 10 - 15 % of diet; I usually give liver once a week and give other organs in small amounts to prevent loose bowels.
Bones should be about 20% with the rest meat. Some dogs may need more bone than this so if bowel movements are loose increase the bone intake. If poos become dry & crumbly feed less bone. Feed bones large enough that your dog cannot swallow them whole, the bigger the better. A slab of ribs is much safer than several single ribs. Bones should be edible and not the typical large leg bones a butcher will offer as these can crack and damage teeth. Ribs, neck bones, shoulder blades etc are suitable. Supervise meal times to begin with in case your dog tries to gulp down bones whole. It is better to feed meat in large pieces that need chewing because that gives the stomach time to get the acids ready to digest the meat & bones. It also helps clean teeth and is more satisfying for the dog. I feed minced meat occasionally when I can’t resist a sale price but it shouldn’t really be a large part of the diet for reasons mentioned above plus ground meat is more likely to harbour bacteria.
On the subject of bacteria this seems to put a lot of people against raw feeding as they believe that bacteria will be harmful to their pets. Dogs and cats have a digestive system which is designed to cope with bacteria, have you ever noticed how your dog will eat cat, horse, sheep poos etc, and also rotting bones and lick their own bottom? All pets with a healthy immune system will not be adversely affected by whatever bacteria are present in raw meat. Obviously we should take the same precautions we would when preparing raw meat for our own consumption as we do not have the same ability to cope with bacteria. As dry food takes up to 12 hours to digest it is best not to feed raw and dry food together as this slows down the digestion of the meat, making it more likely to cause problems with bacteria. If you must feed both it’s best to feed one meal of dry and one meal of raw as opposed to the two fed together. But beware, once your pet has tasted “real” food, he will likely turn his nose up at commercial pet food, and can you blame them?!
To start off raw the best way is to feed one meat source for 2 – 3 weeks, then introduce new meats, then organs gradually to give the dog’s stomach time to get used to digesting the new food. There are lots of raw feeding email lists where you can get advice from people who have been feeding raw for several years. Get yourself a freezer, some chicken form the supermarket and get started now, I can assure you your dog will thank you for it. Supplements if you cannot get a regular source of oily fish then you may like to substitute with Salmon Oil or Fish Body Oil. This is because a lot of our meat is grain fed so high in omega 6 but low in omega 3. These oils provide the necessary omega 3s and are ideal for cats & dogs as they are from an animal source. This is the only supplement needed if you are feeding a varied diet of raw meaty bones, unless of course your dog has any specific health problems.
Good websites about raw feeding I have found are:
That should get you started!!
There is a book just out by Tom Lonsdale called Works Wonders which is a how to as well as a why too book. You can get it at this site http://www.ukrmb.co.uk/showcontent.toy?contentnid=7223 I got his last book called Raw Meaty Bones which goes into why commercial foods should not be fed, but it is quite heavy going. The new book will be much better for people new to raw feeding.
I hope this article has been helpful to you and perhaps given you food for thought if you will pardon the pun! I only wish I had been feeding raw for the last 20 years but it just goes to show you how the pet food companies have managed to brainwash us into thinking they know best. If I manage to convert one person to feeding their pet as nature intended then I will be happy. There are so many pets suffering needlessly from skin problems, digestive problems and gum disease to mention just a few which could be improved if not disappear simply by changing to a raw diet. I have even heard that epileptic dogs fed a raw diet have far fewer convulsions and need less anti-convulsant drugs. Meal times in my house are a big excitement now, all dogs are eager to see what mum has today, no more of the same dry food day in day out and the enjoyment they show makes it all worthwhile. Happiness is the sound of dogs crunching on raw meaty bones!
By Isobel Wilson Rainbow Remedies
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