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
‘ 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
OK, here’s some background for you all, about me and my 4 dogs so you get to know me almost instantly without having to ask some awkward questions! You will also notice I use this ! a lot, dont ask me maybe it’s how I actually speak!
I live in Derry, Northern Ireland or Londonderry or the Maiden City or the City of Culture 2013, take your pick. I live with my long suffering partner, who bless him is a very supportive soul and of course there are my four kids, Solo 16yrs, Bracken 9yrs, Luna 3yrs (we think) and Rudi 8 months. Apart from Bracken they are all rescues and they are in ascending order, a Whippet cross collie, a Border Terrier, a Border Terrier and an English Springer Spaniel.
I have always had dog’s in my life, there are plenty of family photos showing me squeezing the family’s or somebody else’s dog! If there was a dog in the vicinity I would find it or it would find me, things haven’t really changed much! I worked in show kennels while at high school and then worked with horses for a while, same thing just bigger! I then got Solo when I left college, I was living with my best friend at the time and she bought/ rescued Solo for my 22nd Birthday.
There’s a load of crap in the middle there but the last 9yrs or so have been mainly focused back on dogs. I am a qualified Dog Listener, I managed a rescue centre for 2 years, I petsit and dog walk, I bake my own wheat and gluten free dog biscuits and as from about 6 weeks ago I now sell raw or natural dog food too. So you could say I have a very doggie life indeed!
So I will share my life, my experiences , the ups and downs of dog ownership, hopefully helping some of you on the way and you get to know us all a little bit better.