In this post, I discuss pet health.
If you feed your dog (or cat) kibble, whether it’s store bought, purchased from a “boutique” pet store, or from the vet… do your fur baby a favor and watch the documentary Pet Fooled.
All my life, I’ve had a dog growing up, and sadly, it wasn’t until this year – 30-something years later, that I had learned how crucial it is to care for our pet’s health and well being.
Now, before we even watched the documentary, early March, our Doberman (out of nowhere) became ill.
We noticed his lack of interest in food, hardly drank water, and had enema in his back ankles; we brought him to a vet, who said he had kidney failure.
Opting for a natural and holistic treatment, we went home and did a bunch of research on kidney disease in canines, and nutrition kept popping up, and it made sense. I’ve studied nutrition; I eat a healthy for my well being, so it was clear that our fur friends should be eating nutrient dense foods to support their health and bodies as well.
The BARF / Raw Food Diet
If you’re like me, I met a handful of people who feed their dogs raw, but didn’t know much about it… or maybe this is all new to you.
During my research, I came across the B.A.R.F diet (biologically appropriate raw food or bone and raw food), or simply, the Raw Food diet. “Biologically Appropriate” meaning, a diet that is best suited from their genetic ancestors (the wolf, and wildcat), the way nature evolved dogs and cats to eat, as carnivores.
Think about their teeth – dog’s and cat’s teeth are sharp canine/ feline teeth, which are meant for ripping and tearing flesh.
“My foo foo can’t stomach raw meat”
Umm… they can [insert sassy girl here]
The acidity levels in dogs and cats stomachs are very high compared to ours (their pH during digestion is similar to battery acid for a more accurate representation), so they are capable of breaking down and digesting raw meat and bones!
Don’t be a fool and feed your pet raw food after reading this, than complain its not working.
You need to introduce it into their diet, as you would when making a diet change for yourself.
I will explain how to make the conversion at the end of the article, along with some recipes.
Switching your pet to a raw food diet may seem like it’s over your head, but lucky for you, I know nutrition, and have done all the work, so read on!
So what exactly is Raw Food?
If you haven’t guessed it, it’s straight up RAW (uncooked) meat, fish, organs and bones.
– that’s right, it’s Fido eating a piece of raw chicken, bone-in!
Depending on the size and breed of your dog, you can feed them whole cuts of meat / fish and/or bone, or ground up.
If you are located with Toronto, or the GTA, there is this great place in Durham, where we pick up food for our boys – Heronview Raw and Natural, Lori and her staff are knowledgeable and friendly!
Prices of meat are by the pound, they carry treats and supplements, including holistic therapy, AND they deliver…
so no excuses!
You can also pick up meat, bones, organs and fish from a butcher, meat shop or market.
I personally think the quality of the meat is important (as with our own health), as you don’t want to be feeding your pet hormone/steroid/antibiotic injected animals – just remember, the cleaner, the better.
Benefits of your pets eating raw
Compared to your pet eating kibble, here are the benefits I found with our boys being on the raw food diet…
Naturally Cleans Teeth – raw meat does not cause tartar buildup
I treated my little guys teeth with a toothbrush and dog-friendly toothpaste to remove the buildup from the kibble he had been eating for so many years, and now he has pearly whites!
Less Poops and No More Stinky Farts – because there is less crap their bodies need to process and digest (just think of all the filler ingredients they do not need from kibble) – poops are smaller and they don’t have to poo as often.
Our Doberman used to poo like a horse, now they are small and almost comparable to my little guy.
You may also notice poops turning chalky after a few days, which is completely normal.
This is due to evaporated water, which leaves a white calcium coating behind, causing the poops to look chalky.
Strong Jaw Muscles – ripping and chewing raw meaty bones supports strong jaw, neck, and shoulder muscles, which is hard-wired from chewing on the bones of carcasses, as it mimics what they would be eating in the wild.
Other benefits your fur friend may experience include:
- More energy
- Weight control
- No more stinky dog odour
- Allergies reduce or disappear
- Arthritis reduces or disappears
- Improved pregnancies
- Puppies develop at an appropriate rate
- Prolonged life
Feeding Raw is Expensive
If you are comparing it to feeding your pet crappy kibble, sure it’s a cost effect way of feeding him/her, but see how much your vet bill will be when they get sick. If you are already paying for an expensive bag of dry processed kibble that is $80+ a bag, because you think the “quality” of the ingredients are better, think again. You are still feeding your pet processed, dry food with ingredients they don’t even need, or worse, essential vitamins and minerals that are missing!
Don’t fall for gimicky marketing words that are plastered on bags of food, and they’re all colorful and look nice.
Fido can’t read, nor can he/she see in color, and if you watch the documentary, you’ll learn how the food is marketed towards YOU, the pet owner.
Invest in your pets health and feed them food they deserve.
Seriously watch Pet Fooled!
We budget approximately $120/month of meat for both our dogs, and that includes a variety of meat and organs, so they are not constantly eating the same thing.
All in, we spend about $200/month to feed both of our dogs, which includes veggies, eggs and supplements, which I will jump into next…
Vitamins and Minerals for Pets
Some people who have their dog on the raw food diet, choose not to supplement, and there are those who think it’s a waste of money. I personally feel that in order to provide the best for my pets health, that we supplement.
You can also incorporate “offal” (organ meat) into their meal, which is a concentrated source of many essential nutrients. If you have a puppy, it is HIGHLY suggested to give him/her offal for optimal growth and nutrients when feeding raw.
In addition to supplements, our guys eat offal, including: chicken hearts, chicken liver, chicken gizzards, beef liver, beef lung, beef heart, beef spleen and tripe.
So rather than opting for kibble that is overly processed and has added supplements, which are probably synthetic, artificial, and not the correct dosage, I recommend the following:
Vitamins and Minerals
I add juiced veggies mixed with the pulp to their food for their vitamin and mineral intake.
“Wait… you juice for your dogs?” you ask.
Yes, because this is the most holistic and natural way of them getting their vitamins.
The reason for juicing is because they cannot digest whole vegetables – which was seriously new to me, but it made sense after learning, and recalling seeing whole bits of veg in their poop.
This is because plant cells are surrounded by a cellulose cell wall, which dogs cannot digest.
Out in the wild, wolves and dogs – yes your perfect little poochie pie included – eat the stomach contents of their prey, as the contents are already predigested vegetable matter.
If juicing is important for us to intake nutrients, why not for our fur friends?
Especially since they are domesticated and not in their natural state of being in the wild.
It comes down to their teeth – dogs and cats are carnivores.
As I mentioned above, their teeth are meant to rip flesh, as opposed to herbivores teeth, which are flat and able to grind and crush vegetables.
If you don’t own a juicer, I also suggest a jar or those baby food baggies with the twist caps – the organic options have no preservatives, and have a good selection of veggies and fruits that are pureed.
This is my backup if I ran out of veggies and need a quick add-in, otherwise, I’ll feed them a meal with offal in it.
What about cooked vegetables?
Cooked vegetables are ok, as long as they are pureed.
I’m not totally against this option, as something is better than nothing, but when you cook the vegetables, they lose some of their nutrients, as opposed to their raw wholesome state.
If you don’t own a juicer, and prefer to give your pet cooked food, just be sure to puree/smash the veggies so it will be easy for them to digest, otherwise you are just wasting food (and money).
Our boys take (liquid form) Omega, which is great for their coat and skin.
It helps with allergies and itchy skin, and gives them a nice shiny soft coat.
We also give them, and Glucosamine (also in liquid form) for healthy joints and mobility. They are also super active and run a lot, and glucosamine helps dogs with, or can prevent hip dysplasia and arthritis.
We use and are extremely happy with Pure Paw Nutrition’s line of Omega and Glucosamine.
– and they boys love they’re fish skin treats!
Now, before you go to your local drug store, it’s important to note that type of Glucosamine is different for pets than humans. This is due to how it is broken down in their digestive tract.
For example, if you give your pet a human glucosamine in pill form, you will be sure to see it, in his/her poop.
My next suggestion would be chewables, as they need to break it down, however be sure to check the ingredients, and look up anything you don’t know, as some may be fatal to your pet, and you can do more harm, than good.
This is why I suggest the liquid form, it’s easier and there is no fuss.
Raw Meaty Bones
Besides having your pet on a raw meat diet, it’s also helpful to include raw meaty bones with their meal, or give to them as a treat during the day.
Raw meaty bones provide nutritious marrow and amino acids/protein, and provide essential fatty acids, fiber, enzymes, antioxidants and a vast array of species-appropriate minerals and vitamins.
Chewing on raw meaty bones also supports jaw, neck and shoulder muscle health as noted above.
Just be sure to keep an eye on your fur friend while they are chewing / eating the bone. Bits can get stuck in their teeth, or they can get excited and feel the need to devour rather than chew, so you want to make sure you are supervising them at this time.
Meat is high in phosphorus but low in calcium.
So by giving your pet a whole egg, shell included, they are getting their calcium and phosphorus intake.
Phosphorus is excellent for a lot of things, including forming bones and teeth, kidney function, heart health, nerve condition, and maintains and repairs cell and tissues.
Calcium is a vital requirement to maintain bone health, and supports cardiovascular health, immune and endocrine function and important for blood clotting – every cell in the body depends on calcium to support enzyme functions, so it’s vital that calcium is in their diet.
If you start feeding a puppy raw, it is IMPORTANT they get their calcium intake, or they could end up with skeletal problems.
Great for older dogs, and used as a healing therapy.
Bone broth is rich in minerals that support the immune system and contains healing compounds such as: collagen, glutamine, glycine, and proline.
The collagen will heal the dogs gut lining and reduce intestinal inflammations, which also aids in an acidity and indigestion. Every few days, our boys will have bone broth in the morning, (about 30 minutes before eating), to balance the acid levels in their stomachs.
We noticed our big guy would vomit a bit of bile in the morning, which was due to the high acidity level in his tummy.
If you have a senior dog, add 25 – 50% of bone broth to their daily meal for extra nutrients!
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider is great. It’s inexpensive and provides so many benefits for not only our health, but our pets health too.
Out of 22 essential minerals, apple cider vinegar contains 19, which helps in fighting toxins and inhibiting unfriendly bacteria.
We give our guys 1 teaspoon per feeding (they eat twice a day), and you can also add it to their water.
If your pet has problems digesting raw meaty bones, try soaking the bones in apple cider vinegar prior to feeding, as the acidity will help with the digestion process.
Can I give my pet carbs?
This is where bagged pet food is flawed, as they pack carbs into the kibble, which isn’t necessary for a dogs diet.
Carbs (grains specifically) should only be fed to increase weight.
Grains are not a natural food for pets, in fact, they do not need carbohydrates.
Worst of all, carbohydrates are converted into sugars which feed cancer – so if you don’t feed your pet carbs, and it’s removed from the diet, the cancer has nothing to feed on.
When carbohydrates and proteins are eaten at the same time, our pets process the protein enzymes first, making digestion of carbohydrates wait, and while the carbs are waiting to be digested, they ferment and release toxins in the body – this is why they have big poops and smelly farts, as their bodies are eliminating the crap (literally) that’s been sitting in their system
Grains are also one of the major causes of allergies in dogs, and also causes gas, so unless you need to up your pets weight, avoid feeding them grains, and if you do, try sticking with rice.
What about Fruit?
While it’s not essential, they can eat it, and compared to vegetables, they can eat fruit as a whole.
Fruits are mostly water, followed by soluble carbohydrate (simple sugar).
So if you want to give your pet some fruit, for fiber, vitamins, enzymes and antioxidants, here are some recommendations: apples, pears (my guys love finding and eating pears that fall from our neighbors tree!), grapefruit and oranges.
Proper feeding should be meat only (or other heavy proteins such as eggs or milk) as one meal;
vegetables can be given with either heavy proteins (as we do with our boys), or mixed with grains (again, only for upping the weight).
If you are feeding your pet carbs, fruit and grains should be eaten as a separate meal or snack.
How to start your pet on a raw food diet
I met a few people who said their dogs didn’t “take” to the raw food; it didn’t agree with them, etc, etc.
First rule – you can’t just feed your dog raw meet, they have to be weaned off their current food, and the raw dietas to be introduced.
This applies if you have a puppy (or kitten).
Unless you got him/her from a breeder feeding their litter raw, you will also need to wean them into the raw food diet.
Get your pet to eat raw in just a week!
Here is my recommended breakdown to start your pet on a raw food diet…
Day 1 & 2
70% Cooked Meat (start with boiled chicken – don’t worry about adding anything else)
Day 3 & 4
70% Cooked Meat
30% Raw Meat
Day 5 & 6
50% Cooked Meat
50% Raw Meat
100% Raw Meat
To introduce other meats, start from Day 3 & 4, by giving them 70% chicken and 30% of the new meat (don’t worry about cooking it, at this point, as they’ve accepted the raw diet), than work your way to 50/50, to 100% of the introduced meat/organ or fish.
After eating the raw chicken, our guys didn’t need any introducing and had no issues with eating new meats.
Now they eat everything!
Here is a chart I jotted down (don’t recall from where), which provides their daily serving portion, by multiplying their weight by the suggested percentage for your pet.
Weight Loss 1.5%
Non Active 2.0%
Maintain Weight 2.5%
Slight Weight Gain 3.0%
Significant Weight Gain 3.5%
8 weeks – 1 year 4.0%
Puppies and Pregnant 4.5% – 8.0%
For a quick example of calculation, my small guy is 20lbs and we’re maintaining his weight.
So 2.5% of 20lbs = 0.5lbs (227g) of food he eats a day.
Keep in mind, since he eats vegetables as well, I have him on 70% meat and 30% veg.
This works out to 70% x 227g = 159g (this is his daily serving for meat), and 30% x 227g= 68g of veg.
He eats twice a day, so split his meat and veg portion in 2, and those are his meals for the day.
If you need help determining your pets serving portion, comment below, or send me an message.
Once you get your portions down, weighing and portioning the meals will help when it comes to feeding time.
Having a large freezer also comes in handy, but if you’re strapped for freezer space, keep the selected meat in the fridge, then weigh and feed when needed.
When we get our meat order, I usually do a prep day where I weigh out the meat portions and freeze them for future use.
Juicing, I do fresh and keep the juice/pulp mix in a container to use for the week.
Recipes are very easy to create and feed your dog a mix of good wholesome raw food.
Here are my top choices: