If you have only started to feed some healthy, uncooked food to your dog or cat but are still unsure, here are some top tips to help you and your pet carnivore make the transition a stress free one.
- Weaning onto a natural raw diet is usually the easiest way to do things. I find minced or ground meat and bone perfect for this as it gets your pet used to the smell and texture first. It also helps your pets stomach acid become stronger over a number of days, preparing it for when they become full time carnivores. Feeding your minced or chunked meat in a separate meal from the processed stuff also helps your dog process and absorb the new food more easily. A lot of dogs naturally will wean themselves onto a natural diet this way and start to refuse to eat dry kibble through this process.
- Texture can be a strange phenomena to some dogs. Bigger pieces of meat on bone can sometimes be daunting and tackling this new food source is a big learning curve. The big tip is don’t put pressure on your dog by standing over them, watching them like a hawk. Let them take their own time to work it out, ultimately they will. I’ve found some dogs, like my own terrier, Bracken don’t like her teeth to sink into bigger pieces of meat like chicken thighs, I get over this by feeding her chicken either frozen or partly thawed for an hour before I give it to her. She eats this without a problem and with gusto!
- Veg and supplements, there are always debates on any forum you read about whether to feed veg or to supplement certain vitamins. My big tip here is to do your research. Read as much as you can from the leading books and feed what you feel comfortable with. If you or your dog were to eat the same food day in and day out, 365 days a year then of course you would only be getting a limited amount of vitamins and minerals. Having a varied diet gives you and your dog a balanced diet. If you decide to feed veg then they should only make up no more than 25% of their food ration.
- Fats for canines are of high importance, they provide extra calories, they are necessary for fat soluble vitamins, they help satiate the appetite and they are an excellent source of fatty acids. If your dog needs to lose weight don’t limit the amount of fat they eat, just reduce the amount of food they eat per day. Then your dog will still be getting all their essential elements for healthy weight loss or gain.
- Feed ‘Meaty Bones’ as often as possible. These act as natural tooth brushes for your pets mouth. Chewing and gnawing on muscle, sinew and bone massage gums, keeping blood supply healthy. It acts like dental floss, removing any bacteria build up between teeth and gums and of course all that chewing releases those essential Endorphins, those ‘feel good’ hormones which help to make your dog feel happy and content.
Please feel free to browse the archive posts on the right as there are many articles about raw feeding, myths and further tips to help you get the most out of feeding a natural diet.
I would love to hear from you if you found this article useful or you have any questions you would like me to answer, please comment below.
Bernie The Dog Owners Coach
We all love our pets, big or small, hairy or hair-less and we all want to do our best to keep them healthy, happy and content. So here’s some Pet Smart tips to help improve your dog or cat or ferret’s life, starting with food.
I’ve put together some do’s and don’ts which will make you a more savvy pet owner and hopefully help you save some money as well as helping to improve your pet’s health!
- Do check your pet food packaging; Check that the main or top ingredient is Meat, chicken or turkey are cheap so there could be a high percentage of actual meat in your pet’s food at least 50%. Don’t think that meat meal or animal by products is the same thing because it isn’t, animal by-products can include, heads, beaks, feet and viscera – nothing too nutritious in those things as a whole. If your top ingredient isn’t meat but a cereal like wheat, maize, corn etc, then you are wasting your money because your pet is probably quite literally, getting rid of it as quickly as you feed it. Cereals are called fillers or ‘fibre’ but your dog or cat can’t digest these cereals and therefore it will come out in nearly the same amounts it went in. Go for a good quality, high meat content and you will probably have to feed less in the long run, saving you money.
- the 2nd part of checking you pet’s food packaging if you feed a commercial brand is to check that there are no added preservatives, colourings or other additives. (This includes commercial dog treats and chews too) So check there are no E numbers, sugars or something called Ethoxyquin – this is a stabilizer which stops fats from becoming rancid, giving them a longer shelf life. It is also a stabilizer for rubber in car tyres! A healthy diet does not contain any of these things in large quantities or eaten at every meal or obviously there will soon be signs that your dog or cat isn’t coping with the large amounts of chemicals and sugars in its diet, obesity, like in humans is never a good sign. Neither is a thin animal that wont put weight on.
- Give your pet Real Food as often as you can. Even table scraps and leftovers, over ripe fruit and vegetables will add much-needed vitamins, minerals and natural enzymes to your pet’s diet that a dry kibble or tinned food may be lacking. *Remember, uncooked foods don’t lose nutrients like cooked foods do, so if you aren’t up to switching to a raw, whole food diet just yet, try just quickly sealing meat, liver or fish in a pan before adding it to your pet’s food- They’ll love you even more for it!
- Do you filter your own tap water? What about your pet’s? Have you ever wondered why they prefer to drink out of a dirty puddle than their bowl? There are many chemicals added to our tap water to make it safe to drink but some waters (depending on geographical terrain) can contain high natural chemicals like Calcium or Lead as well as added Flouride; our pets naturally know that some water tastes better than others and will use their preference. So if you already filter your own water or use bottled water, why not top up their bowl too. Or you can place a bucket outside to collect rain water for your pet if you don’t.
- Lastly, Do give your dog a big, fresh, raw meaty bone at least once a week– more often if you can afford it.You’re local butcher or market can be a great source. It will help your dog clean his teeth and gums, satisfy his chewing and gnawing needs and he’ll look so happy when you give him one that you’ll wonder why you didn’t do this before! (Do make sure bones of any kind are larger than your dog’s mouth if not as big as their head,so they have to chew ). Scrap all those processed treats and chews- this will be much healthier for their whole body, not just their teeth- no more dental trips to the vets!
- Don’t feed the following foods to your pets as they are toxic and others can be harmful
Chocolate, Grapes, Raisins, Onions or Avocados
Excessive starchy foods like bread and potato’s can cause Bloat in large amounts
Small pieces of bone or cooked bones can splinter and can cause choking or get stuck
Fruit pits and corn cobs can get stuck in the bowel
- Don’t feed cow’s milk to your pets, it is high in fats and natural growth hormones. Most dog’s and cats have a lactose intolerance and cannot digest any nutrients in milk, therefore you are feeding a high calorie, low nutrient liquid which has no benefit to your pet – not to mention the milk sludge which will coat their teeth. Stick to water!
- Don’t worry about adding new foods to your pet’s diet. Doing your research and reading books and surfing the internet could help you learn and know more about pet nutrition than some vets!
Ask – ask other people you know what they feed, what they have tried and don’t be put off by scare-mongers. Join groups or forums online who are set up to help and support newcomers and give them advice and support.
Not feeling that you are on your own is a big part of starting any new journey of any kind. We’ve all been there and we all want the best for our pets!
Some Books and resources to get you started
Books- The Nature of Animal Healing by Martin Goldstein (D.V.M.)
Work Wonders by Tom Lonsdale (Australian DVM)
Barf & Raw Feeders N.Ireland– Facebook group for new and experienced pet owners
Or you can visit my own website where you can download an introduction to raw feeding your pet
www.4dogenterprises.com/food or email me firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope you found this content of value and look forward to you lovely comments. Don’t forget you can sign up to receive free updates from my blog or sign up to my newsletter on my website!
Bernie- The Dog Owners Coach
‘ Dogs and cats suffering with peridontal disease frequently develop signs of heart, lung and joint disease. Once the peridontal disease is treated the joint stiffness and general activity levels of the patient frequently improves.’ Tom Lonsdale from his book Raw Meaty Bones
I know some people’s stomach might be doing flip flops with the thought of feeding raw meat, or they have heard stories about dogs who have choked on bones. Fact 1 bones only splinter when they are cooked, they become hollow and their density changes, raw bones wrapped in meat, e.g. a chicken leg or even a whole chicken is safe to feed. For those who are squeemish, I know quite a few vegetarians who feed their dogs a natural diet, me included. Fact 2, as long as you follow good hygiene standards preparing your pets food and after preparation then there shouldn’t be any problems with bacteria etc than when preparing your own food. Carnivores stomach acid is so strong that it turns bone into powder so dont worry about bacteria, their digestive systems can handle it.
Here is some additives in processed pet foods you may not know about; anticaking agents, lubricants,nonnutritive sweetners,colouring agents,flavour enhancers,emulsifiers,stabilisers,flavouring agents,flour treating agents,texturisers, PH control agents …… and the list goes on. These are things any digestive system (human or animal) should not be dealing with on a daily basis without ill effect.
How do these additives and chemicals effect an animals system?
Some animals may seem ok but may have dull coats, stiff gait, lost their sparkle, reduced appetite or drink excessive amounts of water. There can be behavioural or neurological abnormalities, hyper-activity, listlessness or sleeping a lot or even agitation and aggression. Some animals might be prone to gastro-intestinal disorders leading to soft stools or diarrhoea, vomiting or Bloat. These animals will also be prone to skin disease, liver disease, cancer, hyperthyroidism and an over worked Immune System (Vet Tom Lonsdale- Raw Meaty Bones)
What’s in a Natural Diet?
Well, mainly meat and bone, cartilage, fat and skin. Most people feed their pets human grade food because it is reared to meet the highest food standards so there is a limit to chemicals and drugs allowed if an animal is to go into the food chain. If you want to feed organic you can, if you want to feed some veg or fruit, you can so everything you feed your dog you can see and probably know where it comes from nowadays with traceability.
There are so many raw pet food companies out there now that buying, storing and feeding a natural diet is as easy and convenient as any other pet food. Most of it comes frozen, which means it will keep for a longer period until you are ready to use it without the use of preservatives and other chemicals. You can feed large pieces of food frozen, this keeps your dog occupied for longer, they have to chew more (releasing endorphins -the happy hormone,in the process) and keeps smells down to the bare minimum.
Most people I have spoken to who have changed over to a natural diet was because their pet was showing clinical signs of ill health or were generally not in good condition in their body or coat even though otherwise they seemed healthy. I have yet to meet anyone feeding this diet who says they would go back to a commercial pet food and everyone I have spoken to who has converted to this diet has said they now only need to go to the vets for an annual check up, vaccination booster or neutering as they now have fit, healthy pets.
Even if you are still not convinced, I’m going to ask you to try an experiment. For one month, try feeding your pet dog or cat on a natural raw diet. If you dont like it or you see no difference in your pets coat, demeanor, teeth condition and what comes out the other end then go back to your regular pet food brand, what have you got to loose?
You can find more info on introducing your pet to a natural diet on my Website
I Highly recommend you read Raw Meaty Bones and Work Wonders by vet Tom Lonsdale, available online or at good book shops.
Please leave me a comment if you think this article was helpful. Thank You
For the dog owners out there feeding dried food (kibble) or tinned or wet food, I have a challenge for you. Go out into the interweb and find out what is in the food you are feeding your dog. Dont read the packaging because it tells you nothing, find out what actual meat and other ingredients is in your dog or cat for that matter, food. Then tell me you want to continue feeding you beloved pet on a diet which is equivelent to a life on junk food.
Some great books to read, Raw Meaty Bones by Tom Lonsdale and Give Your Dog a Bone by Dr Ian Billingshurst, both authors have veterinary backgrounds so they are sound reads, if not a little in depth some times.
Here is an article in the Daily Mail at the beginning of last year about Pet Foods
I have posted part of the article on my blog but you can read the whole thing and many more like it online.
I have been feeding my 2 older dogs raw food for the past 4 years. I started off to see if I could clear up Solo’s dandruff and Bracken would constantly be scratching her belly but she had been deflead and wormed and I’d tried all kinds of things like aloe vera to try and calm it down. Nothing worked and I had been researching into raw feeding for a few months by then so I decided to just take the plunge and start them on raw chicken! EEK!
They took to it like ducks to water, chewing and gnawing away! I meanwhile watched them like hawks to make sure they wouldn’t choke or start screaming in agony, but no, nothing happened and they loved it. And there was a bonus I wasn’t aware of at the time which was there was less to pick up after them. No smelly, sticky or slimey poo. Just nice little firm odourless pieces which were easily and quickly picked up without the aid of a shovel! Bonus!
So when Luna entered the household she was immediately changed onto a raw diet, one mishap at the beginning where she tried to ‘inhale’ a chicken wing, she screamed, I gave her a heimleck and that was that, she chewed everything slowly from there on in.
My boy Rudi though, he is the star carnivore! He started his natural diet on chicken wings and drumsticks at 8 weeks old and he will eat anything you put down in front of him. The others can be fussy sometimes of something new like rabbit or organ meat but this boy, if it was edible , he’d eat it. It was all new to me feeding a puppy raw as all the rest were adults when I changed over, so I had some nervous moments but I leaned on my raw feeding friends and I have to say he is growing into a very healthy, happy Springer. His coat is silken and odourless, he’s lean and muscular and he had all his adult teeth through by 7 months when most dry food fed pups are only half way there with the change from puppy teeth to adult munchers. Then he could really tackle the bigger bones too, like on the turkey drumsticks and the lamb necks and ribs. I love feeding them their natural diet, the one nature intended them to eat and they love it too and I haven’t had to take them to the vet in so long, I think their health speaks for themselves.