ALL ABOUT RAW DOG FOOD & WHY 'APPROVED' MATTERS
What is Fresh / Raw Dog Food / BARF
It’s called lots of things – fresh dog food, raw dog food or even BARF (Bones and Raw Food or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food). They all mean the same thing to the dog, that is a biologically appropriate meal based on the fact that dogs are carnivores and
they thrive on a fresh meat and bone diet.
Why Feed Raw Dog Food?
Studies show, when left to their own devices and free of human influence, dogs pursue a fresh meat diet. They are carnivores, meat eaters. They normally consume animals like rabbits, rodents, birds, frogs, anything with a face really. And they love a bit of carcass, which they find with their extra big noses. Their teeth, their short, rapid acidic gut and general physiology are all that of a meat eater.
Studies are now supporting the fact that fresh fed dogs are healthier. For example, Lippert and Sapy 2003 (Relation between the domestic dogs' well-being and life expectancy, a study of 500 dogs) found that animals fed with home made food (based on similar food as the family) reach an average of 13.1 years of age. Animals fed with canned industrial food reach an average of 10.4 years. The animals fed with mixed food (home made plus canned food) reach an average of 11.4 years.
Did you know that dry food companies have never, ever compared their products to a group of fresh fed dogs?! Or they have and they haven't published the data! When they say “scientifically proven” the manufacturer has only ever compared one group of dry fed dogs to another. Imagine this as the basis for the breast versus bottled milk debate?!
A meat based diet has also been shown to benefit kidney function in dogs (O’Connor and
Summerill 1976) and improve behaviour (Mugford 1987).
Raw Dog Food Will Result in Major Benefits…
A fresh, raw meat diet, full of great quality protein will feed a lush coat and muscle mass. Think about a person going to the gym, they aren't eating 50% bread!
Protein is also essential to organs, skin and joints.
Raw fed dogs have better teeth as they are eating less carbs / sugar.
As raw food is low in salt, which is good news for kidneys, raw fed pets will drink less, meaning they will pee less, making house training easier!
There will be less faeces as fresh food is so digestible.
These are the immediate differences. The even more important difference are the long-term health points they will enjoy from a better diet.
What Exactly do Raw Diets Contain?
Raw foods, such as Paleo Ridge, contain meat, bone and some organ meat. Many people include a little veg too. That is what a real "complete" diet looks like, should such a thing be possible.
That's all they need. However, you don't just have to just feed one product. You can mix it up. Try all the types, maybe try Nature's Menu, which we also have in store. Life's too short. Add in a tin of sardines, a raw egg, your dinner left overs (including veg, though no onions!), some half-priced meat you found in the supermarket or butchers, a raw meaty bone, whatever! Everything. Go back to the old ways. It's fun, easy, and the more bits you add in the cheaper you can make the mix for yourself. For some recipe ideas please ask me in store! As long as your base is good, it's as easy as feeding the kids, and infinitely more nutritious!
Garlic – many are worried about using fresh garlic but trust when we say this is one of the most beneficial things you can include in your dog's diet. Garlic is in the onion family and onions are dangerous but garlic contains hardly any of the dangerous stuff (thiosulphate). Half a clove per 10kg of body weight every second day is more than fine. Grind up fine and mix into their food, it is a powerful antioxidant, great for the organs and fleas and worms don't like it either!
Cod liver oil – as good for them as it is for us, full of the most important omega 3's. I buy good stuff by the bottle. Avoid generic “fish oil”. Dose according to body size.
Coconut oil – add in a small dollop of raw, virgin organic coconut oil now and again. Brilliant for you and them.
Blueberries – if you're going to feed them fruit then a few blueberries are probably the best. Choc full of B complex, their brains will thank you.
Raw eggs – incredible food on all levels, great protein, great fats. One a day is fine for a collie. Give them the shell as well, if they'll eat it (calcium and trace minerals).
Full Fat Probiotic Yoghurt – dogs love it and it's great for tums!
Porridge - do dogs need this stuff? No they don't. But considering up until now you have likely been feeding dry food with more than 50% wheat to a carnivore, you putting in some carbs (10-20%) in the form of oats (slower to digest, better for them) to cheapen the mix abit for yourself is no real harm. They are meat eaters but can tolerate a bit of this. I like to use some warm porridge on a cold winter's morning mixed into their mince from the fridge! He seems to appreciate it! Also, sighthounds very much need 20% carbs in their diet.
DO NOT FEED
Wheat based foods, cows milk, onions, grapes (or raisins), chocolate, excessive fat, old vegetables,
How Much Raw Dog Food Do They Need?
An adult dog on the average fresh meat diet will eat 2.5% - 3% of their body weight per day. So, a 7 kilogram adult Westie will require 175g - 210g of fresh dog food per day (1% of 7kg is 70g multiplied by 2.5 or 3). If the dog is a little heavy or a bit lazy? Then feed them a little less. Well exercised? Then feed them a little more!
Introducing Raw Dog Food
When introducing raw dog food to a dog do it slowly – half a teaspoon one meal, a full teaspoon the next etc. The first time you have calamari you don’t want to see the squid! This serves two purposes. Firstly, it gets them used to it. Secondly, dogs, like cats, can get very fixated on those high-salt crackers. Processed food is addictive, as we all can testify to! While most will jump face first into it, best to sneak it in initially.
Storing Raw Dog Food
Raw dog food is almost always frozen. That's how they preserve it without using all the nasty chemicals. It resides in the freezer. You take a meal from the freezer and defrost it in the fridge in a large lunch box on the bottom shelf. This tub serves a dual purpose as you can add your scraps into it. And yes, you can feed partially defrosted meat to your dog no problem. Lots do!
What About Puppies and Reproducing Bitches?
Fresh food is vital essential for everyone, from pup to seniors, athletes to reproducing Mums, they all need fresh protein, good quality fats and lots of easily absorbed vitamins and minerals. This is what fresh food offers. Pups eat very similarly to adults though their foods should contain a higher fat content. They should begin on raw meat from weaning, which is from around 3 and a half weeks of age!
What about cats?
Cats need fresh food too. Studies show that cats suffer dry food terribly, certainly in the case of kidney disease and pancreatitis. Cats are even more carnivorous than dogs. They do not want any veg in their diet (though they too will eat it, if started young). Their ratios are approximately 3:1:1, which is 3 parts boneless meat (chicken, duck, rabbit, turkey,
lamb, fish from frozen or a tin, etc.), 1 part organ meat (liver, heart, kidney, spleen, brains!) and one part meat on the bone (where they can chew the bone or not). That's the ideal and most raw foods for cats are built around this ratio. You can use the Paleo Mixes to get you started and add a little more muscle meat to make it more suitable for cats. They need 2-4% of their body weight per day in this diet. Ask in store for more details.
Is Raw Meat Not Dangerous for Them/Us?
Raw meat can contain baddies. If we eat them they can make us sick. That's why we need to cook it. Dogs, on the other hand, are scavenging carnivores. They are not susceptible to meat pathogens such as Salmonella and E.coli, in the same way that we are. Think of a dog that gets a nice meaty bone, eats half of it, then buries it and digs it up that stinking thing up a week later for a chew. Yet they don't get sick. Their acidic stomachs are adapted to that sort of diet
Studies show that both raw and dry foods contain Salmonella (Strohmeyer et al. 2006) as both contain meat, and dogs fed either diet have been shown to pass Salmonella in their poo. Thus, both dry and raw fed dogs should be regularly cleaned up after. The difference between the two diet is that, to date, there has not been a single incidence of Salmonella poisoning ever recorded from a raw-fed dog or raw dog food product, and there are now millions of us. However, the same cannot be said for dry food. Humans are constantly getting poisoned by dry food (Schottea et al. 2007, Reinberg 2008, Behravesh et al. 2010, Imanishi et al. 2012), usually children under 2yrs of age, likely because dry feeders are more complacent around a product they believe to be "perfectly safe".