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 email@example.com
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
A lot of people I know would love to try their dog on a raw diet but their belief in rumours and old wives tales are stopping them from actually seeing for themselves how this healthier way of feeding their pet could save them money in the long run and be better for their pets.
Myth 1: Bacteria in raw food will harm my dog
Handling your dog’s raw food should be dealt with the same way you handle your own raw food.Use common sense and a good hygiene plan for raw food in your kitchen. Wash hands, clean surfaces with a good antibacterial cleaner and keep chopping boards for meat separate from those you use for veg and other things.
As for bacteria that your dog eats, firstly their saliva has an enzyme which has antibacterial qualities called lysozyme. Secondly your dog’s stomach acid sits at a pH of 2, this is a very acidic environment where a lot of bacteria cannot survive, it is so strong that your dog’s stomach juices can break down bone! Thirdly, the dog’s digestive tract is a lot shorter than a lot of animals, including ourselves, leaving bacteria very little time to colonise in this acidic environment. There is just as much chance of picking up Salmonella from dry dog food as there is from raw so do wash your hands after handling all types of pet food.
Can I just add here that if you think of some of the things that our dogs eat out on a walk on a daily basis like other animals droppings, dead or rotting things and it can lick itself with no ill effects, then you will find we worry for no reason.
Myth 2: Feeding bones to my dog is dangerous and they can splinter
This myth is especially prevalent when I talk to people about feeding my dogs raw chicken, this is the question I get ‘ Isn’t chicken bones dangerous?’, I always answer by saying I think you’ll find that’s cooked bones. I don’t feed cooked chicken bones, I feed whole raw pieces of chicken, bones wrapped in meat. Cooking bones changes its structure making it more likely to shard or splinter. Even those cooked bones in the pet shops will splinter with a strong pair of jaws around them!
The idea of feeding Raw Meaty Bones is that the dog gets to use all the tools he was given naturally which sit in his mouth, to rip, tear and chew his way through a meal with precision and professionalism. I am always in awe when I watch my dogs eat their way through their raw dinner as to how easy and natural they make it look! As mentioned in myth no 1, the dog’s stomach acid is very capable of breaking down bone and all the meat making their digestive tract a very efficient system.
Because of this efficient digestive system a raw diet is 90-97% digestible compared to 40-70% digestibility of dry kibble diets (due to fillers or fibre). A dog on a raw diet will excrete a firm, odourless stool two thirds smaller than that of a kibble fed dog. I think that says not only does the dog get to use all of his food but what comes out the other end is a bonus to the owner cleaning up behind him!
Myth 3: Dog’s get the ‘taste for blood’ when they are fed a raw diet
I’m sorry but this makes me laugh, as I must have 4 blood thirsty hounds living with me! This has to be the biggest old wives tale of them all! Lets not forget the canine is a predator first and foremost as is our other 4 legged companion the feline. The dog is hard-wired to chase and we have used this to our advantage over the past centuries, breeding and honing them to herd, retrieve and race.
Have we forgotten this in the 21st century, that our pets roots are based in the wild? But we have also domesticated this predator and bred more likeable features, like herding dogs not to eat their charges but protect them or for our working gun dogs not to run riot when they see game and kill everything in sight! Indeed I know a number of gun dogs who are fed on a raw diet who are quite happy to bring shot game back all day, un-chewed and eat his raw meal when he gets home.
It is easier to blame a dog’s diet for its behaviour rather than the relationship between it’s owner and the likelihood that the dog was never shown or trained to be around livestock or other small pets, hence the dog then relies on its instincts. I am just adding here that I keep chickens in my garden for fresh eggs and my dogs are fed on chicken, this does not mean they understand the link between what they eat and the birds they chase up and down the fence line on a daily basis. Here’s a great LINK to what I mean.
Myth 4:Dogs fed on raw are at a higher risk of worms and parasites
This is true if you feed your dog wild game or wild fish. Most people don’t, they feed human grade food bought from supermarkets, butchers and other suppliers where they buy their own food. If you feed human grade food, parasite levels are negligible. If you are worried about parasites then deep freezing usually kills these off. For 24hrs for fish or for up to a month with wild game like rabbit.
Usually it is down to the animals’ own immune system and it’s health as to whether it will be affected by worms or parasites. Parasites hate a healthy host. You can also worm your dog using a homeopathic wormer so as not to upset the chemical balance a raw diet brings to your pets health. I use a very gentle homeopathic wormer and rarely have to use any products for external parasites such as fleas or ticks on my own dogs.
Myth 5: A raw diet is more expensive and inconvenient than commercial dog food
What is convenience worth? If you ate fast food all your life what would be the cost to your health?
Nowadays there are so many raw food suppliers that it makes it a lot easier to source your raw food, which at first can be what makes feeding raw cost a little bit more. Talk to other raw feeders to find good sources, I find the fridge section at the supermarket where they sell short date items cheaper a great source for bargains of fish and meat. Ask your butcher about off-cuts and sourcing what you are looking for, most butchers are happy to help. Of course if you can find a supplier dealing exclusively with raw pet food then cost and convenience should be within everyone’s budget.
As a supplier myself I can offer owners a great variety of high quality raw food within most people’s budgets, for instance;
- Toy breed <5kg Costs £3.50 per week or 50pence a day
- Terrier size <10kg Costs £5 per week or 71 pence a day
- Spaniel size < 15kg Costs £7 per week or £1 a day
- Lab size <20kg Costs £7.50 per week or £1.07 a day
- Large breed <30kg £8.50 per week or £1.20 a day
- X large breed <40kg £12.50 per week or £1.79 a day
How much does your commercial dog food cost you?
Dont forget, on a raw diet your dog will have a stronger immune system, a healthier body and more vitality so your vet bills will also become less over time, saving you more money. Click HERE to see my website for supplying raw pet food in Ireland.
There are lots of information out there for anyone interested in feeding a natural raw diet, here a few sites I like
I look forward to your comments or questions about this post and I hope you will think about giving raw feeding a try
Bernie – The Dog Owners Coach
Keeping your four legged friend cool on those hot days is as much about comfort for him but why not make it fun as well! Take a walk to a local park that has a pond or a stream and have a dip. There is usually a nice shady walk in the woods too, bring a throw toy or ball rather than throwing a stick. Dont forget they wear their fur coats all day every day so if you are taking them for a walk please do it in the morning or early evening when the temperatures have dropped, there’s nothing I hate more than seeing a poor dog being walked in the middle of the day, panting for all it’s worth in the heat of the sun while the owner strolls along in a t-shirt and shorts with a bottle of drink in their hand.
Smoothie pops and meat pops
You are going to be down with the dogs with these great treats on hot days.
Meat pops are easy, use a plastic party cup and fill it with lots of yummy raw meat like chicken, mince, chunks of meat, use just one flavour or mix them up. Push them all well down, cover with some cling film and pop into the freezer for a few hours. When the doggies are getting hot, pop them out of the cup and Hey presto a nice cold treat for your dog to cool down with and keep him busy too! Kongs are great for this as well.
Smoothie pops are again an easy treat to make, again use disposable plastic party cups, you want some low fat plain live or bio yoghurt, a couple of tablespoons, any soft fruit that might be going over like banana, strawberries or blueberries, whizz together with the yoghurt or chop the fruit finely and mix, put in cups so half full and top up with water, mix again in the cup. Cover with cling film and freeze for a few hours. Mine loved these last year and it was great using up the softer fruit left in the fridge.Have fun with them, just remember no grapes or raisins and nothing with a pit as these are toxic to dogs.
Kids Paddling pools
These are brilliant, especially the hard plastic ones, we dont want over excited claws or teeth deflating blow up ones! Most dogs like a few inches of water in it where they can just lie down and cool their belly’s in it or dip their feet. If you want them to swim, take them to the lake! If you know anyone who’s kids are a little older, they might have an old pool stored away and will hand it over to make space in the garage!Just ask.
Hot days dont have to be boring, enjoy x
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‘ 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
If you have never heard about the BARF or Raw Diet Revolution, I advise start doing your research. It is one of the quickest growing trends in feeding your dog and cat, here in the UK & Ireland, the USA and Australia and there is a very good reason why so many people are changing over.
What is B.A.R.F?
Barf stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food, basically, food that is appropriate for the species you are feeding; grass or veg for herbivores, meat for carnivores and a mixture for omnivores. Just like most zoo’s feed their animals foods which are as close to what they would eat in the wild, then our domestic pets should be fed with the same mindset.
What is wrong with commercial pet foods?
Not only is a lot of commercial dog and cat foods highly processed, cooked, ground, pulped and reconstituted into pellets or kibble. Any goodness that originally was in the basic ingredients have been cooked out so the manufacturers have to add synthetic vitamins and minerals back in. Ok, that’s fair enough if it was just meat and bone and maybe some veg as the basic ingredients, but what if there was not only culled animals, not necessarily slaughtered but could have been sick, euthanised, treated with a plethora of drugs before it died? It isn’t unheard of as most ‘animal derivatives‘ can come from what is called a rendering plant, where carcasses of any and many animals are boiled down together and sold on to manufacturers, not only in the pet food industry.
Food standards for pet foods are very vague and other ingredients can be added from other manufacturing processes. Do you know what it means by Animal By- Products on your pets food labels? No, neither did I but I have researched it a lot and some of the things which can go in is pretty disgusting never mind having no nutritional value to your pet. There are plenty of articles about it in newspapers and online recently to keep you reading for hours! Try this one from the Born Free Organisation
Look at your pet food label and just see what the top ingredient is, if it is meat, then good on you, you have at least chosen a manufacturer that is trying to make a nutritional pet food. If your top ingedient is wheat, maize, corn or some other type of grain, these are called fillers. Not because they fill your dog up but because they plump or bulk out the food. Grains are not a natural part of your carnivores diet and their digestive systems do not contain the correct enzymes to break down these grains, that is why most of what you are feeding, if you were to weigh what comes out the other end, comes back out again because their bodies cannot digest and assimilate these types of ingredients.
Dog Breath, smelling ‘doggy’ and other hints on your pets health
I have 4 dogs and not one of them smell like a dog the way I used to think of a bad doggy smell. I know that sounds funny but growing up around dogs all my life, our dogs were fed an artificial or commercial diet and they all had dog breath and they all had a certain ‘smell’ about them which I just associated as a ‘dog smell’. Now that I know better it was the smell of what a commercial food was doing to their bodies. I used to age dogs by how much plaque was on their teeth, the more plaque, the older the dog or if they were missing teeth, usually a sign of a dog getting on. Obviously overall health and condition played a part in guessing a dogs age too. All of these things I now know was my experience of aging a commercially fed animal.
I always get people commenting on Solo, my 17 year old whippet/ collie cross, his shiny coat his bright eyes and how spritely he is, they get a shock when I tell them his age and most people comment that he looks half that age. Now just think about that. He isn’t a young looking dog anymore and he’s grey around the chin and just a little stiff around the hind end but otherwise healthy & happy and people think he is 8 or 9! Have we accustomed ourselves to the fact that our dogs and cats should start looking old and grey before their time?
Good Oral health = Good Over-all Health
Does your dog or cat get regular ‘Dentals’ at the vet or have you been told that your pet might need one soon? Have you been advised to ‘brush’ your dog’s teeth regularly? Like humans, oral health i.e. your teeth and gums, give dentists and doctors an idea of our overall health, this is the same with our pets. Wild dogs, coyotes, wolves, foxes etc dont have someone to clean their teeth every day or a vet to clean them every 6 months, so how do they keep their teeth and mouth healthy? Remember this is their main weapon in order to bring down their prey as well as eating it so keeping this armoury spick and span and healthy is a must for survival in the wild. The answer is just eating their natural prey naturally cleans their teeth and massages their gums and gives them all their nutrtional needs for health and survival.
The ripping, tearing and gnawing which is part of eating meat on the bone cleans a carnivores teeth as they eat, getting rid of bacteria and other debris which might have built up since the last meal. Dogs who eat dried kibble which are high in sugars for palatability and preservation, 1. barely touch the sides of some dogs mouths as they’re eating, therefore not cleaning the mouth of bacteria and 2. these sugars feed the bacteria in the mouth and help them multiply leading to plaque build up and gum disease. (facts and info taken from,Tom Lonsdale- Raw Meaty Bones ISBN :0646396242)
Don’t fall for the Pet Food Conglomerates (such as Colgate-Palmolive, Mars, Del-Monte and Nestle to name a few) and their media machines, they are in it to make money, first and foremost, your pets health comes way down the list, so start doing a little research into your pet food brand, I will tell you now you are going to be shocked with what you find out. Visit My Website for more info on feeding a natural diet if you live in Ireland.
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Next week- Part 2, How feeding a natural diet could save you money and your dog’s life
I would love to hear your comments and thoughts on anything in this article that you found helpful or interesting, thank you
So so tired after a long day, what with halving whole chickens and packing them and chicken legs for the freezer and then my order from Natural Instinct arrived late this afternoon. Hauling over 100kg into the freezers, I think it’s time for a shower. The dog’s have been following me around all day – I probably smell like dinner to them! lol
They sampled the big juicy legs and heartily agreed that they were of great quality and could they try some more later. They got mince beef and salmon strips instead but they weren’t that disappointed really.
looking forward to the weekend where we can all go for a nice walk by the river if the weather keeps up, hopefully get some good photos.
ciao for now
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.