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Raw feeding and why you should switch from kibble

Raw feeding and why you should switch from kibble


How much do you love your dog? Silly question...but the point is, our dogs are often closer to our hearts than the people in our lives, so with that cheery thought in mind, if you are feeding a homemade raw (or cooked) diet that is all about optimum nutrition and wholesome goodness, well done. If you are not, the question is, why not? 

Hi, my name is Frank and I'm in the peak of health.

It upsets me pretty much more than anything else dog-related (other than cruelty and neglect) that people are happily spending vast amounts of money on commercial dog food, thinking they are doing the right thing, but unfortunately have been duped by the advertising and the false claims being made by the massive, multi-billion pound pet food companies.

Have you ever put two and two together when you're at the vet, looking at those enormous mountains of 'prescription' dog food sat next to the reception desk? I hate to be the harbinger of bad news, but the vet is making money selling you this food because he/she has been paid by the pet food companies to endorse the product. You are led to believe that these foods are medically healing in some way. They must be, right, because the vet is someone you trust and they wouldn't sell you this stuff if it was bad for your dog/not proven to treat the issues they are prescribing it for?

 

Unfortunately, this could be the case. 

I'm not saying that all dogs with illnesses are sick because of eating commercial dog food. I've heard many a person say, 'but my Rover has eaten Butchers for 18 years and he's still going strong.' Yep, there are always exceptions to the rule; just like your 97-year old granny who smoked 60 Woodbines every day and downed half a bottle of whisky with her Cornflakes, but generally speaking, a lot of people are spending more time at the vet, haemorrhaging cash into the (already) bulging cash tills because their poor dog is always suffering from some diet-related illness, i.e. obesity (the same as humans, if you eat junk every day you get fat), dry skin problems (dry food = dry skin), allergies, stomach issues, rotten teeth, behavioural problems, flatulence, and more serious and life-threatening diseases like pancreatitis, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

I changed my vet a couple of years ago to one that has no pet food in the waiting room. I feel much better about the fact that they are concerned with the welfare of my dogs, and are not trying to sell on some 'miracle' food with mystery claims about 'now with added unicorn dust to aid your dogs immune system, hair follicles and pearly white smile.' 

It's also no wonder that many dogs are so hyped up, out of control and unhinged, with a frazzled owner wondering what the hell is going on. This is not rocket science people; these dogs are high on sugar and other unmentionables that they should never be consuming. If you fuel a dog with rubbish, as with children, they behave accordingly, through no fault of their own.

We (and dogs) are what we eat.

Can somebody also please explain to me what a 'complete' dog food is and how some of these companies have the audacity to describe this stuff as 'complete'? Complete in what exactly? Oh yes, that'll be fillers, preservatives, colouring, grains, sugar, salt, processed meat unfit for animal consumption that has been cooked, killing off important enzymes, and then cooled so it can contain dangerous bacterias. Sounds like just the kind of stuff you want to be giving to your beloved pooch.

I wonder if this contains any additives..??

The fact is, if you feed your dog a low-cost, processed dried and canned food you could be causing all manner of health issues, the biggest one being an untimely death (yep, that's pretty final!) As dramatic as that may sound, the research will entirely back me up on that statement.

Don't just take my word for it, do your own research; scan the labels; read the ingredients; check out the companies that are making this stuff. You will be horrified.

Given that dogs are basically domestic wolves (same anatomical digestive system), it makes perfect sense that they follow the raw diet of their ancestors to enable a healthy and long life. A natural diet that would've consisted of things like deer, rabbit, fowl and rodents - all the skin, muscles and bones, as well as fruit and vegetables eaten through foraging, or from the stomach contents of the animals they've killed and eaten.

 

Depending on which internet search you do, or which report you think best suits your lifestyle and beliefs, will depend on your opinion of whether dogs are entirely carnivorous or omnivorous.

My personal view is that, as the ancestors of wolves and the points I've just made above, and given their ability to break down starchy carbohydrates (to a certain extent), they fall more into the omnivore category. Plus the fact, by giving a dog fruit and vegetables you are therefore giving them more nutrients and vitamins. Surely not a bad thing.

I know first hand with all my dogs how they love to scrump the fallen plums and apples off the trees, and as I also don't use shop-bought dog treats, I know that a piece of carrot goes down very well when you are training a dog.

Another point to consider is how boring it must be for your dog if they are given a bowl of the same kibble, morning and night, every day of the year. Imagine only ever eating one type of food every day for the rest of your life. I've even seen something called 'Kibble Seasoning' online. *shakes head in utter disbelief*

If you buy your raw meat and bones from a reputable source whereby you know where it's come from, making your own dog food not only gives you the peace of mind that it contains NOTHING but good, wholesome awesomeness, but in my opinion, and for my three dogs it also works out to be more economical (also taking into account zero visits to the vet!)

Even better, get friendly with your local butcher and come to an arrangement whereby you pick up a bag of free-range meaty chicken and beef/lamb bones that they have to pay to get rid of anyway. Everyone's a winner!

I have given my menu advice to many people who have changed their dogs on to this raw, natural way of feeding. The results are always dramatic; always incredibly positive.

When Nancy, our Cocker Spaniel, had her litter of seven puppies we had a visit from the Approved Breeder lady at Nature's Menu to talk about feeding tiny dogs a raw menu once they were weaned. I didn't know until that moment that you could feed puppies raw bones (like bashed up chicken wings).

I also didn't realise how obvious the difference between a raw-fed puppy and a kibble-fed one is. Basically, you put dried biscuits into a dog's stomach and they expand upon contact with liquid, causing bloating. The dog then drinks a lot because the dried food makes them thirsty. My dogs always have a bowl of clean water down, but the only time you ever see them drinking is if they've just come in from a long walk on a hot day.

So, quantities of feeding - I always make enough and put it in a sealed container in the fridge to last a couple of days to save time, but as far as meal portions are concerned, you are supposed to feed a puppy around 7-8% of their body weight up until 12 months old, then 2-3% of their body weight from there onwards.

This is a pretty standard selection I use to get a good mix of textures and nutrients.

Each dog is so different though, so I would say get to know how much they need to stay in peak condition. It's up to you if you think they are getting too podgy, or looking a little skinny. Feed accordingly as, just like humans, there are many factors involved, i.e. metabolism, age and energy levels.

Foods to be avoided as they are toxic to dogs include onions, garlic in large quantities, unripe tomato, avocado, leek, grapes, raisins, apple and pear seeds, chocolate and rhubarb. Citrus fruit and persimmons can cause an upset stomach. And some fruit and veg also contain a high sugar content, like carrots, cherries and celeriac, so feed accordingly.

So, take a good selection of vegetables and blitz them in a blender to break them down and treat them as though they have been pre-digested by another animal. Research shows that dogs can struggle to digest big chunks of veg, which can be apparent when you see their bowel movements.

Blitz away.

I buy my raw mince and bones from a brilliant ethical and sustainable supplier called Paleo Ridge Raw and have it delivered frozen, storing it in a freezer out in the garage. The minces come in biodegradable packaging and are either with bone content or without. My rule of thumb here is to feed about a 25% veg, 25% bone and 50% meat content per meal, or a meal of raw, meaty bones. 

 

I add a locally-sourced extra virgin rapeseed oil for anti-allergy as we have quite a lot of rape fields in our area; I also put a cup of Kombucha in for probiotic goodness, and some ground olive leaf for antibacterial magic. Occasionally you can add cottage cheese, natural yoghurt and a raw egg complete with shell to the mix. I also use tinned tuna, pilchard or salmon as a meat alternative every now and again, and because oily fish is packed full of Omega 3s and the oil makes for a lovely shiny coat.

Now, doesn't that look delicious...

Twice a week I like to give raw meaty bones as a meal. They must have a good amount of meat on them though and they must ALWAYS be raw. These can be chicken wings, chicken carcass, duck and turkey drumstick, beef or lamb rib.

Lots of people ask me 'You can give dogs raw bones?' The answer is most definitely YES! It's the reason they have those big, sharp, pointy teeth - the ones that are designed to rip and crunch on meat and bones and tear at flesh. If dogs were meant to eat kibble and things like wheat and grains they would have the flat, grinding teeth of plant-eaters such as cows and camels.

Some people feed offal but I find that my dogs get a bit loose with eating it, so I either mix it with other mince, or just feed very occasionally.

'Scuse us...could you please stop taking pictures and hurry up!

I don't like to feed pork bones which can contain a strange bacteria and can also harbour parasites, or large weight bearing bones such as cow femur as they are too dense and may break your dogs teeth!

Generally speaking, if you are going to change your dog onto raw you should gradually add the new menu over the course of a week to get your dog's stomach used to it, but once you are a raw convert you will never go back.

You can go much further than I do with your menu choices. There are some fantastic websites all about raw feeding and the benefits, so I urge you to check them out. 

Good luck!