Canine Raw Diet

Why feed your dog a canine raw diet?

According to some dog owners, this type of dog diet offers superior nutrition since the food is unprocessed and most closely resembles the diet followed by dogs through the centuries.

The short digestive tract of a dog is still best designed for processing raw, meat-based foods rather than grain-based foods.

In the wild and times past, dogs would get raw food by eating freshly-killed animals, and get the veggies from the stomachs of their prey or from surrounding plants.

Since few people can let their dogs hunt their meat, how do you make homemade dog food that approximates what dogs would naturally  eat?

A Brief History of the Canine Raw Diet

Dr. Ian Billinghurst started out as a research scientist in agriculture and also earned a diploma in education to teach high school, before studying to be a veterinarian.

His veterinary training claimed dogs and cats did best on scientifically formulated kibble and that disease was inevitable. (This in contrast to farm animals where nutrition was seen as a good way to prevent illness.) Subsequent experience with his own dogs and that of his clients who fed their dogs raw, meaty bones and family food scraps showed a different picture. 

Clients who fed their dogs a raw meat and food scrap diet reported noticeable improvements regarding skin allergies and arthritis. Puppies raised on this diet did not experience hip and elbow dysplasia.

Dr. Billinghurst attempted to alert the veterinary world but they did not consider him an expert in nutrition and he was ignored. He finally wrote a book called Give Your Dog a Bone geared toward dog owners. This became successful and led to speaking engagements in the U.S. and a second book, Grow Your Pups with Bones, in which the term BARF - Biologically Appropriate Raw (Real) Food - was coined.

Switching Your Dog to a Canine Raw Diet

We decided to do some research and found at least three websites that outline how to switch your dog to a canine raw diet:

Barf Diet

Dr. Billinghurst explains why the BARF diet is so superior and also has information on switching to a BARF diet, as well as recipes.

The FAQs section and the BARF Specifics link on the site contain a lot of good information.

This canine raw diet is based on whole, raw, natural foods including ground up raw bones. If you like, they can ship you frozen Chicken Mince patties which include ground-up chicken bones, Beef Offal or Unbleached Tripe patties. Fruit and Veggies Nuggets are also available.

Their BARF Plus Supplement, includes fiber, minerals and vitamins made mostly of ground up organic dried vegetables, grains and fruits.

Pet Grub

Author’s quotes: “Pets today are not starving for food. But pets today are starving for nutrition!...Commercial dog foods are often grain based and have the nutrition cooked out of them.”

The author maintains that people have gotten used to thinking that ill health and short lives (under 10 years) in pets is the norm, but that only started happening after pet food became commercialized and food with a long shelf life became the goal rather than food offering good nutrition.

His website offers the best FREE information we saw about switching your dog to a raw, natural food diet. He includes ratios of raw meat to finely chopped vegetables, providing detailed information on the types of meats and vegetables that are good and which ones to avoid. He relates why ground up eggshells are a much better calcium supplement than bone meal.

He mentions that even if you are unable to give your dog organic or free range raw foods, they will still get better nutrition than when just being fed most commercial kibbles. He also talks about the detoxification that may happen when switching a dog from a kibble-based diet to one consisting mostly of raw foods - so make a gradual rather than a sudden change, especially for an older dog that has been on kibble a long time.

This author offers some guidelines on how much to feed, but thinks it’s best to let the dog decide. Put out as much as the dog will eat in 10 or 15 minutes, then store the uneaten portion, separating the meat from the vegetables.

Raw Food Cakes 

Although this simple recipe includes cooked rice, yams and eggs, most of the other ingredients are left raw. The mixture is left uncooked, then made into balls or cakes and frozen. By varying the ingredients used and adding raw meat and supplements, you have a nutritious diet for your dog.

The author of this recipe has a flat-coated, 70-lb retriever named Sam who was 18 years old and still active at the time she published the recipe. She believed this was in part due to what he was being fed. In addition to 1 Raw Food Cake twice a day, Sam was getting 4 oz raw meat as well as 250 mg glucosamine and a multiple canine vitamin.

The Raw Food Cakes recipe makes 28 cakes and uses eggs and peanut butter for the protein. It contains brown rice and rolled oats but no meat. There are lots of vegetables, some fruits and seeds included, as well as ground up eggshells for calcium.

As you can see, feeding your dog a canine raw diet is not much more difficult than feeding your dog kibble. With just a little planning and research, you can make homemade dog food and improve your dog’s health and wellbeing.

Common Myths About Raw Food

Here are comments from Dr. Andrew Jones, a holistic veterinarian in Nelson, B.C., Canada, author of Veterinary Secrets Revealed:

"1. There are virtually ZERO cases of bacteria induced illness in pets from feeding properly prepared Raw Food. I, and most Veterinarians,have NEVER seen a case. Compare that to weekly seeing pets with a damaged Liver from conventional anti-inflammatory pills...

2. Our pets have acidic stomachs which kill many of the potentially harmful bacteria.

3. Dogs/cats have short intestinal tracts-they rapidly break up and digest the food,leaving little time for harmful bacteria to multiply.

4. Similarly, there are few IF any reported cases of bacteria induced illness in people preparing Raw food- easy to avoid by following some simple steps.

Should you feed your pet raw? Yes- In most cases you will see some pretty dramatic health improvements in your pet." 

Our Experience with the Canine Raw Diet

See here for our experiment with Comet and a canine raw diet.

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