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What if I told you that I had manufactured a food that contained everything you needed to keep you healthy and all you had to do to prepare this wonder food would be to open a tin or packet and pour it out?
You would know that it couldn't possibly be true because we all accept that for people to be truly healthy we have to eat a variety of fresh foods, foods that contain the nutrients we need in their natural, unprocessed form. Yet we are prepared to believe that dogs are different; that dogs can eat processed food from a packet or tin and be supremely fit.
Dogs can be healthy if all they ever eat is a manufactured mixture, or can they? Aren't our dogs suffering from an epidemic of itchy, scratchy skin, cancers, colitis and tartar encrusted teeth to mention just a few disorders that were almost unheard of thirty or forty years ago? Fertility levels in some dogs have decreased dramatically with more bitches not conceiving, or reabsorbing their pups or just having tiny litters. Is it not likely that there is a connection between our dogs' deteriorating health and the way we feed them? Here in the UK it is only since the 70s that most people switched from feeding their dogs a largely home-made diet to feeding a dry, so called 'complete' food.
Pet food manufacturers spend a lot of money, an awful lot of money, to convince you and me that their food is best for our dogs. They have a team of nutritionists to ensure that their food contains every possible vitamin and mineral dogs need and besides, as I was once patronisingly told by a vet., ''It's really difficult to make a dog a balanced home-made diet. Why bother when someone else has done all the hard work for you?''
But is it really that difficult to feed a dog naturally? The answer is no, of course not.
If you were a dog, which would you prefer? This?
Or these as your daily diet?
I'm going to assume you chose the raw meat, meaty bones and vegetables, if only because it looks more appetising and you can tell immediately what it is.
Perhaps it would be best if I described what I feed my own dogs . I have two dogs, 1 year and 12 years old and I feed them twice a day. Breakfast varies but is usually a mixture of raw vegetables which have been pulped in a liquidiser or whizzed round in a food processor until they are as fine as grains of sand. Any vegetables or herbs are fine except onions which could cause problems if fed daily but you should try to include green leafy vegetables as well as root veggies like carrots most days. Now it depends on your dog's taste buds whether he or she will eat vegetables on their own. If time is short try SmartBarf, ready prepared for you, just add water.
My dogs like their veggies mixed with gravy or soup (home made leftovers) or fish or minced meat. You get the picture, variety is the spice of life and by using a variety of veg you provide a variety of vitamins. You can also add nuts and seeds like sunflower or pumpkin to this mixture too. I sprout wheat grain and alfalfa seed for the dogs and put them into the food processor too. Two or three times a week I'll add an egg, raw of course, to this mixture.
A couple of important points here. Firstly vegetables prepared like this will oxidise and lose their health giving properties quickly so only prepare them just before you feed them or when time is short, as it is for most of us, prepare the vegetables and freeze them in portions.
Why bother preparing them like this, why not give chunks of vegetable or grate the veggies instead? The reason lies with the short digestive tract of the dog which is incapable of breaking down the cellulose wall of vegetables and allowing your dog the health giving properties in the short time that they're in the dog's stomach.
The evening meal is usually raw chicken wings or chicken carcasses or chicken backs. Maybe some breast of lamb or some other meat. Once or twice a week they'll get some offal, liver, kidney whatever. They also get raw meaty bones of whatever type I can get from my butcher. But the important thing is that all of this food is raw, uncooked and therefore highly nutritious. A dog weighing about 50 lbs or 23 kg will need about three or four chicken wings, maybe more (depending on the size of the chicken and whether it's a 2 or 3 jointed wing) and perhaps some other meaty bone daily along with the veggie meal to keep fit and healthy. A larger dog, like a GSD, will need a whole chicken carcass with his meaty bone or perhaps seven or eight chicken wings. This is just to give you a rough idea of quantities for your own dogs. And in case you're wondering I spend about £5.00 (US$7.5) a week on their food; that's for TWO dogs, not each.
I can hear someone saying, ''Surely bones splinter, perforate stomachs and are dangerous.'' Yes is the answer to that but ONLY if they are cooked, not if the bones are raw. Choose softer bones from young animals like lamb, veal or chicken if you're at all worried. Raw chicken carcasses are so soft I can break them with my bare hands.
TIME IS SHORT
Some people imagine that preparing your dog's food yourself means you need all day to do it. Not so. It takes me about 5 minutes in the morning to prepare the veggies and about 30 seconds in the evening to throw a few bones or whatever at them. I don't visit the butcher's shop daily, I buy in bulk and freeze the bones and chicken carcasses and defrost them as I need them.
I don’t bother for the youngster but my oldie gets K-9 Sure to give her a little extra zip.
The eagle eyed among you may have spotted that I do not give biscuit or rice or pasta to my dogs. Why not? Simple, dogs don't need it and are not designed to eat it. Veterinary texts agree that dogs don't need cereals but cereals are in dog foods because they are cheap filler and also you it’s hard to make a biscuit or a complete food without cereals. Recent veterinary research says that eating cereals puts the dog's pancreas under stress and could be the cause of auto immune disease, skin problems, allergies and cancer.
I have also removed milk and dairy products from their diet because dogs don't need them and anyway these tend to encourage the stomach to produce lots of mucus, and mucus is a breeding ground for worms and may promote the onset of problems like colitis. I would feel differently if I could buy raw, unpasteurised milk because that would be a natural, complete food but that type of milk isn't usually available to me.
Artificial preservatives and colourings are also missing from my dogs' diet. Things they don't need like BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin and tartrazine. These are known to cause a whole load of health problems and even behaviour changes in people as well as dogs. Sugar is also missing from their diet because it is just as bad for your dog as it is for you, yet if you look closely at the ingredients listed on many dog treats and foods sugar will be included; why? Well for one thing it tastes yummy!
An Australian vet, Tom Lonsdale writes, ''The stench of stale blood, dung and pus emanating from the mouths of so many of my patients has finally provoked this eruption of dissent. The sheer numbers passing through the practice, when extrapolated to the world situation, tells me that oral disease is the source of the greatest intractable pain and discomfort experienced by our companion animals. This is a great and mindless cruelty we visit upon our animals from the whelping box to the grave. Just imagine having a toothache for a lifetime.
''What's to be done? Simple, give our cats and dogs their basic rights of a healthy functioning mouth. Supply raw chicken wings, chicken necks or ox tail to young/small kittens and puppies when they most want to chew and explore. Help them to control their two bouts of physiological gingivitis before it becomes pathological. Older larger dogs need raw bones and cats need raw meat on the bone.''
© 2015 Frances Gavin
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