My Pack's Diet
Why feed raw?
Dogs are carnivores - they eat meat, bones and organs of mammals & birds. They don't eat stomach contents and they don't cook their food.
Dogs are now classified Canis Lupus Familiaris - 'This change was formalized by the 1993 publication of Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, edited by D.E. Wilson and D.A.M. Reeder. Published by the Smithsonian Institution in association with the American Society of Mammalogists, this reference book is the final authority of the scientific community on mammal classification.'
- from http://www.kc.net/~wolf2dog/fido.htm
- also see http://home.earthlink.net/~pawsreflect/nutrition.html
To me, this means I should be trying to provide as close to a natural 'wolf-like' diet as possible - fresh water, raw meaty bones, muscle and organ meat. I work on the philosophy that feeding a raw, natural diet will keep my dogs in excellent health - large amounts of supplements are simply excreted by the body and therefore are a waste of time.
Dr. Tom Lonsdale (a vet and an advocate of prey model Natural Feeding) says to avoid diets that consist of exclusively lean meat or exclusively vegetables - these diets are not balanced and that dogs (and cats) should be fed a diet consisting of the following to maintain optimum health:
1. Fresh water constantly available
2. Raw meaty bones/chicken wings/whole fish/rabbit or similar should form the bulk of the diet
3. Table scraps both cooked and raw (discard cooked bones)
Dogs don't need to be fed a balanced diet every day - to balance the diet over a week is the ideal for our canine friends.
My pups go to their new homes carrying a copy of Tom Lonsdale's latest book - << Work Wonders >> ~ order it from Tom's site: www.rawmeatybones.com
What's wrong with commercially prepared pet food?
Did I say that dogs are carnivores?
Processed food contains a large amount of grain - carnivores simply don't eat grains (and their digestive systems are not designed to handle these foods). Commercial food also has to contain some sort of meat - have you ever stopped to think about where that meat actually comes from?
'The National Animal Control Association has estimated that animal shelters kill over 13 million household pets a year. Of this total, 30% are buried, 30% are cremated and the remaining 40%, about 5 million pets, are shipped to rendering factories to be recycled and used in pet food.'
This article, and others about commercial pet food listed below, are all American - I don't know if the situation would be different here in Australia - I am currently searching for Aussie articles about the same sort of issues - if anyone has any links they would be appreciated.
- from http://home.earthlink.net/~pawsreflect/nutrition.html
Another problem with canned food and even the kibble or dry food, is that it doesn't clean or exercise the gums and teeth properly, and this is a major reason why dogs fed on a commercial diet often need a lot of dental treatment. The kibble is ground down using the flat of the teeth and so it doesn't clean the teeth like bones do - dogs chew bones in many different positions, and both with the flats and the sides of their teeth.
'Uncooked bones had the most marked effect [on removing tartar buildup on teeth] followed by rawhide chews and super hard baked biscuits.', said PC Higgins, Veterinary Adviser to Uncle Bens of Australia 1987.
- from http://www.rawmeatybones.com/PrevDent.html
Bad teeth and teeth covered in tartar contribute to bad breath and a general 'stinkiness' - that all too familiar 'doggy smell' - and can also harbour bacteria which could be dangerous to your dog's health.
Everyone must decide for themselves...
I acknowledge that everyone must decide for themselves about how they will look after their pets, and that feeding or not feeding processed food is a contentious issue. I avoid feeding processed food as much as possible, and I will spread the word about how much healthier all my animals are now that they are eating a more natural diet.
Have I mentioned that dogs are carnivores?!
What I DO feed my dogs:
raw meaty BONES - chicken necks, wings & frames (*see note below), lamb neck & rib bones, rabbit backs & legs and kangaroo tails (NEVER cooked bones, and NEVER unsupervised). Larger pieces for big dogs - preferably not sawn bones.
CHICKEN, LAMB, BEEF, ROO, & RABBIT - all human grade either from the same butcher where I get my own meat or from our own home-killed meat.
OFFAL - beef, lamb & chicken hearts, chicken livers & giblets, lambs tongues
I also use the following in small amounts -
tinned MACKERAL in Natural Oils - 1 or 2 mackeral per dog, once a week. The Omega-3 oils found in oily fish like mackeral are fantastic for their coats and general health.
Recreational Bones - About once a fortnight, I give them a recreational bone, rather than a meal. Load bearing bones (ie. leg bones) are much harder than wings and necks and are therefore not consumed completely. These bones provide valuable gum exercise and teeth cleaning.
TABLESCRAPS - snow peas, sticks of carrot or pumpkin as a treat. I avoid onions of any type, because large amounts can cause anaemia. Mostly raw, some cooked - never cooked bones.
whole raw EGGS (*see note below) - half an egg per dog occasionally (the shells can also be ground and added to the meal - they are high in calcium, phosphorous and other minerals)
* A note about Eggs:
Eggs contain an ENZYME INHIBITOR which can make them difficult to digest for very young puppies, sick dogs, old dogs, or dogs with pancreatitis. Apart from that, unless a dog has an allergy to eggs, there should be no problem. Egg whites contain a substance called AVIDIN, which binds with the vitamin biotin (a member of the B Complex group), making it unavailable for your dog. The only situation where this has been a problem was when an experimental diet, totally deficient in biotin was fed together with lots of raw egg whites for several weeks. It is possible that lots of egg whites could precipitate a biotin deficiency, in a dog fed a poor quality dried dog food. If that dry food was low in biotin, as they often are, the dog may suffer a biotin deficiency. It's worth noting that egg yolks contain lots of biotin, so feeding whole eggs is very safe.
How much food I feed my dogs:
I work on Tom Lonsdale's formula of 2 - 3% of the dog's body weight plus some scraps per day. I vary the amount between 2 and 3% depending on whether the dog is very active (my male Saluki) or very inactive (my lazy female Tenterfield). For my Tenterfields (5 kgs), it works out to about 150 grams and for the Salukis (25kgs), about 750 grams of food per day. Each week, about 60% of this amount is raw meaty bones, 35% is muscle and organ meats and about 5% is table scraps.
What I DON'T feed my dogs:
(and my reasons why, which are based on my opinions and have not neccessarily been proven as facts)
tinned (canned/wet) food - bad for teeth and digestion, dogs become smelly & itchy, contains grains
dry (kibble/pellet) food - bad for teeth and digestion, dogs become smelly & itchy, contains grains
supplements can create imbalances, especially calcium supplements without phosphorous in the correct ratio
cooked bones of any sort - splinters can cause blockages
onions, leeks, shallots or spring (green) onions - possibly leads to anaemia (be aware that garlic also falls into this family)
ivermectin (a drug found in Heartgard) - possibly associated with AHIA (Acquired Haemolytic Auto Immune disease)
chocolate - the toxic chemical is called Theobromine
Some links to get you started on the quest for good health for your pet:
Information for people new to raw feeding
Raw Feeding FAQ - Information collected by Jane Anderson - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
http://www.rawlearning.com/ - Jane Anderson presents a variety of information for people starting out with Raw Feeding Z(the base page for the FAQ above) - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Raw Fed Dogs - funny recipes with *minimal* preparation, also some interesting links
Raw Feeding Advocates
Dr. Tom Lonsdale's Raw Meaty Bones Lobby has published 2 books that are both excellent resources
- Particularly interesting and useful are: Diet is the Cornerstone of Good Health and Preventative Dentistry
Give Your Dog a Bone - Dr. Ian Billinghurst (Australian Vet) advocates a raw diet
Raw Feeding Email Lists:
Natural Raw Dog [appropriate for newbies]
Basic Raw [experienced Raw Feeders who feed minimal supplements]
Raw Feeding [the *BIG* BARF list, suitable for new & experienced Raw Feeders, high volume]
Raw & Home Cooked Recipes and Diets
Satin Balls - good for putting weight on skinny dogs (read the info first)
Other Useful Raw Feeding Sites
WellPet - the WellPet email list is a huge resource that has given rise to the WellPet website. The main purpose of the list is to promote serious thought about what we feed our pets, however it has a great deal of information about natural healing, diseases and conditions and the vaccination debate.
http://www.rawfoodlife.com/ - a huge resource about people health & diet, with a great raw pets section
http://k9joy.com/ - Useful section on feeding dogs, also many articles on training and care of the dog
About Commercially Prepared Pet Food:
Dog eat Dog - what's inside the processed food we feed our pets?
Food not fit for a Pet - Dr Belfield's Commercial Food recommendation
Other Useful Links: