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Looking through all the advice on here about getting and keeping a dog, I wonder how many people give any real thought to how they are going to feed this wonderful new puppy once they have brought it home? Obvious, isn’t it, I hear you cry, go down to the local supermarket and buy tins of a very well known brand, or better still one of the ‘healthy’ options that you can pick off the shelf. They are complete foods, with all the vitamins and minerals added, so they must be good for my new pride and joy! Aren’t they?
‘We are what we eat.’ How many times have you heard that well-worn phrase? No doubt many of you apply this philosophy to yourselves, but do you ever think to apply this to your pet? Instinctively you want to do the best for your dog and when the public is bombarded with tinned and packaged convenience foods for pets it is not surprising that these tempt our caring nature. Added to this is the clever way advertisers appeal to our emotions with the use of cuddly cute puppies and alluring adult dogs. It is hard not to believe phrases such as ‘scientifically formulated’ and ‘natural ingredients.’ The pet food trade is a very lucrative market and has cleverly exploited the emotional needs of pet owners, creating a need where there was none!
Think back to a time before rows of dog food tins adorned supermarket shelves and ‘science whatever’ had never been heard of. In fact, think back to before supermarkets existed (some of us can do that!) and convenience food in general had not been invented. Did our dogs die at prematurely early ages because of poor nutrition? I don’t think so! Neither would we consider buying complete diets for our children, so why should we do so for our dogs?
Pet food is not regulated in the same way that human food is, so do not trust the use of words on packaging designed to attract you to buying certain products. Ingredients in pet foods are not chosen in the same way that human food would be selected! The commercial benefits in using the word ‘natural’ on a product are obvious as most of us are attracted to so called natural products. Unless the ingredients are guaranteed organic rather than proclaimed as ‘natural’ then you are probably as well off buying any other make of branded food.
The domesticated dog has descended from wild dogs, surprise, surprise! They have the same digestive system as wolves. If Fido, now sleeping comfortably on the rug at your feet, could regress to hunting for his food in the forest, the rabbit that he would catch would not be processed and prepared with preservatives, anti-oxidants, flavour enhancers and colourings. Neither would it contain a liberal amount of cereal to make up the bulk of the meal. He would also not have the use of a cooker - or the opposable thumbs to use it! Dogs have very acid stomachs and are very capable of coping with meat meals and also rotten food. Their teeth are designed for cutting meat and tissue. They are carnivores! However, in the wild he would also eat nuts and berries, roots and herbs, which makes them omnivorous too!
So, I hear you ask, what can we do? What is the alternative for feeding our beloved Fido, Lasssie and Scamp? But hang on, won’t I need to spend hours in the kitchen
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My best friends!
preparing all this lovely food? I don’t have time for all that. Surely it’s easier to buy my tins and packets at the local store?
Don’t panic, it really is very easy. And this is why you won’t find pet food manufacturers, or anyone else wanting to make money out of your pet, extolling the virtues of – wait for it – RAW MEAT. No, you don’t have to cook it. It’s more nutritional if you don’t. Dogs also benefit from the addition of a few vegetables. Cook extra vegetables when preparing your own meal, or use uncooked but grated vegetables. Organic carrots or cabbage are perfect for this. With the addition of an holistic biscuit, this will make the perfect HEALTHY balanced meal for your faithful friend.
Typically a meal for my two dogs consists of raw free-flow tripe, a small portion of cooked vegetables, mixed with an holistic wholebake dog biscuit. The tripe is frozen, but because it is free-flow it can be spread out on a plate and then takes only an hour or so to defrost. That’s all the preparation there is! Definitely never cook the tripe! The smell will be unbearable! In it’s raw state there is very little smell, unless you put your nose up against it. I tried thawing some in the microwave once – never again! It does get rather smelly if left hanging around for a long time getting warm, but your dog should have eaten it well before it gets to this state! However, if for any reason is does get left and eaten later, they eat it just as well, and probably prefer it in its smellier state! But it doesn’t matter what YOU think of raw tripe or beef. Your dog is the one who has to eat it and who will benefit from a healthier diet. Try to get over your dislike of raw meat for your dog’s sake! Having a dog in the first place means that you have had to get over any qualms you might have had in cleaning up after him, so feeding him raw tripe should be the least of your worries!
Preparation time really is very minimal – take from freezer, allow to thaw, mix with biscuit and vegetables, and add some supplements, just to be certain he is getting all the nutrients he needs. Done!
I use an herbal-conditioning supplement, and garlic and fenugreek tablets are given daily. Cod Liver Oil capsules are given during the winter months. I buy these supplements online. Type in ‘herbal supplements for dogs’ and you should easily find an appropriate site.
I also use uncooked minced beef, beef heart, which I do lightly cook, as my dogs won’t eat it any other way, and chicken. I cook this also, but they usually have leftovers from my meal so I do not prepare this specially. Never feed dogs cooked chicken bones as these become brittle after cooking and are extremely dangerous! You can however feed raw chicken wings and thighs. I also feed an Organic dried food occasionally, particularly useful if you’ve forgotten to get frozen meat out of the freezer, or for when we go on holiday and frozen food is impossible to take. A little research is all that is needed to source these foods and a certain amount of satisfaction can be derived from taking charge, doing the research and finding the appropriate foods.
I am very fortunate because the lady who bred my Westie also introduced me to natural feeding. She is able to buy the frozen meat in bulk, which she then sells on (at no profit!) to her friends and owners of her puppies. You may need to do some local research to find out where you can buy your meat, which ideally should be organic, but again, the Internet is an invaluable source of information (as we all know!) and there are many sites that will give you the information you need. Just type in ‘frozen free-flow tripe!’
One drawback to feeding your dog raw meat is that you will have to invest in extra freezer space. I bought a medium sized chest freezer specifically for keeping dog food, although it has been useful as an overflow for my main freezer, especially at Christmas! If you can get hold of a good second hand freezer for this purpose, then that would be perfect.
You could also try your hand at making dog biscuits, as the treats that you feed him are just as important as the main meal of the day. Try typing 'dog biscuits' into your search engine to find healthy recipes for your dog. Making biscuits is one thing that will take your time, but seeing your dog relishing your efforts is reward indeed!
If your dog is well past the puppy stage and is used to a diet of processed tinned food, then you will have to gradually introduce these new foods a little at a time. Don’t give up because he won’t eat it first time. A little persistence will bring its rewards in due course!
Puppies need more protein than adult dogs, so you have to make adjustments accordingly. At the same time, puppies are fast growing and too much protein together with too much exercise can do damage to the skeleton, particularly in larger breeds. Likewise, different breeds have different requirements, so it is best to check with your breeder for detailed feeding information. Before making drastic changes to your dog’s diet it would be as well to consult with an holistic veterinary surgeon for detailed advice on diets and quantities for puppies and particular breeds of dog. Unfortunately, it is likely that your average vet will in all probability discourage you from feeding your dog the raw meat, natural diet. Most vets have a vested interest in selling you particular brands or prescription diets. You should shop around if at all possible to find a vet who is sympathetic to your needs, and you may need a certain amount of will power so that you are not dissuaded from pursuing this natural diet.
This feeding philosophy goes hand in hand with holistic medicine. My two dogs have never been vaccinated against parvovirus. That does not mean I do nothing at all. I took my dogs to a Homeopathic Vet when they were pups and since then they have had nothing other than homeopathic nosodes, given once every six months. The over-vaccination of our pets is another problem and is something of which pet owners should be aware. You would do very well to type this into your search engine and read thoroughly: holistichealth. A previous dog of mine was regularly given the usual vaccinations for parvovirus and died at a young age of a very nasty illness. Guess what it was? Parvovirus! Needless to say, I’m not a fan of vaccinations.
You do still need a ‘regular’ vet however, for any emergencies. Try to find one who is sympathetic to homeopathy even though they do not practice it themselves. Again, I was introduced to such a one by my breeder, so am lucky in that respect.
Other than the initial trip to my homeopathic vet at an early age, my dogs have not needed to return as the nosodes are sent to me in the post when required. My dogs are extremely happy and healthy five year-olds now, full of energy with no health problems. They go everywhere other dogs go. They are a living testament to a natural diet and a homeopathic regime.
What’s the cost of all this, I hear you cry? Truth to tell, I’ve never tried to work out the exact cost of feeding my two dogs. My main aim is the health and well being of my dogs. Cost has never come into it, but I do know it doesn’t cost me a fortune. One is a Collie cross Springer, the other is a Westie, and just about as opposite as you can get. As an estimate I would say it costs me around £1 a day to feed both dogs. As one is so much larger than the other, then I suppose the Westie is about 40p a day, the Collie cross about 60p at a rough guess. You are also buying into a very healthy lifestyle for your pet, which should mean less trips to the vet, so a great saving there!
It is impossible here to give quantities to feed your particular dog, there being so many diversities in the dog world. Sizes, appetites, lifestyle, existing health problems, all these things have to be taken into account. However, hopefully I have supplied enough information here for you to question the quality of food that you may be feeding to your best friend and you may be inspired to investigate further and put this into practise. Do some research on the Internet. Any articles you can find by Ian Billinghurst or Christopher Day MRCVS are essential reading. ‘BARF Australia’ typed into your search engine and ‘homeopathy for dogs’ will lead you to the right links. Search for Holistic dog food and see what you can find.
This diet is not a gimmick, neither is it eccentric. It is just plain common sense. The public has been trained, or brainwashed, into thinking that they can only leave the feeding of their dogs to the ‘experts’ and that they are far too ignorant to be able to provide a healthy diet themselves. At the very least you should be given the information that allows you to make an informed decision. If, after having read this and perhaps researched the subject independently, you decide that you will continue to feed your dog on processed food, that is your choice. But at least now you are aware that you have a choice.
To sum up, there is lots of information available out there; you just have to look. The rewards are endless. You will have personally taken charge of your pet’s health; you are not relying on food manufacturers to do this for you and thereby making a huge profit out of your ignorance. Your dog will be a healthy dog, bursting with energy and happiness who should live to a good old age. You will have had your eyes opened to the lucrative pet food industry, which may not be as rosy as the glossy advertisements would have you believe. Your conscience will be clear, because you will not be contributing to an industry that unlike you does not have your pet’s best interest at heart, but is only interested in making money out of you and your pet!