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
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.