RAW NATURAL DIETS: A BETTER NUTRITIONAL CHOICE FOR OUR FOUR LEGGED COMPANIONS.
WHAT IS A RAW NATURAL DIET?
A raw natural diet is a combination of fresh whole foods consisting of raw meat, raw bones, vegetables and fruits. These foods are supposed to be fed to our animals in their raw (un-cooked) natural (un-altered) state.
For a lot of you the idea of feeding your beloved dog or cat raw meat and raw bones seems strange, especially chicken bones. Many of us remember growing up being told that you never ever give a dog or cat chicken bones! It is time to dispel some of the “old “myths.
First let’s take a brief look at our carnivorous friends anatomy and digestive system:
Veterinarians, Scientists and archeologists agree that although altered in outward appearance today’s dogs and cats internal workings are fundamentally the same as their wild counterparts and ancestors.
Dogs are classified as an OMNIVORE. That means that your dog needs a wide range of food in their diet including raw meats, raw bones, organs, stomach contents plus vegetables and fruits.
Cats are classified as a CARNIVORE. That means that your cat needs raw meat including the muscle, organs, stomach contents and bones. Minimal vegetation can be fed 2-5%.
Look at the dental structure of our dogs and cats. Their “fang” like teeth are designed to rip, shred and tear. There are no flat molars to grind food into smaller more workable pieces before swallowing (THEY ARE NOT DESIGNED TO CHEW KIBBLE!)
Dogs and cats do not have digestive enzymes in their saliva. Their saliva is designed to lubricate large chunks of food for easy travel to the stomach. Due to the lack of digestive enzymes in their saliva, these enzymes MUST be present in their food. These vital enzymes are present only in raw unaltered, uncooked food. ANY HEAT PROCESSING KILLS THESE VITAL ENZYMES AND TAXES THE ANIMALS PANCREAS, DIGESTIVE AND IMMUNE SYSTEM!
Dogs and cats have a single chambered stomach, similar to human beings. However their intestines are half the length of ours (approx. 11 ft.) and their stomach acidity content is lower than ours. This acid along with other digestive enzymes are what break down the food matter so that the life sustaining nutrients can be absorbed. This acidity level is also why your dogs and cats can eat raw meat and raw bones, with little to no risk of parasitic disease.
Dogs and cats intestinal walls are a host to hundreds (400) of species of bacteria and microorganisms, called MICRO FLORA. The natural balance of your animals micro flora provide enzymes, vitamins, minerals and help to inhibit the growth of disease- forming bacteria such as salmonella and ecoli.
So why should you choose a raw natural pet diet over a cooked dry/canned pet diet?
Dogs and cats anatomical and digestive functions, as described above demonstrate how they are pre-destined to eat a “species appropriate” diet of raw meat, bones, veggies and fruits (minimal for cats) for optimal health.
Nothing can replace the nutrient value of fresh whole raw foods going into the body. Today’s cooked kibble/canned pet diets are made of poor to low quality foods. Even the better quality kibble/can products using grade “A” and hormone free foods, loose virtually all of the vital nutrients (enzymes and antioxidants) during the cooking process. Even attempts by some of the manufacturers to add back some of the nutrient content in the form of supplements after the food has cooled still falls far short of the true nutritional needs of our furkids.
The steady and increasing onslaught of degenerative disease in our dogs and cats has forced us to question and examine the quality of the foods being used and how they are processed in relation to our pets overall health picture. Let’s look at some common pet ailments;
COMMON PET AILMENTS
- Eye ailments/discharge
- Arthritis/joint problems
- Lacks energy/enthusiasm
- Bowel/urinary problems
- Obesity/weight problems
- Parasites/fleas andmites
- Dental/breath problems
- Poor skin and coat
- Ear ailments/discharge
- Weakened immune system
The above listed ailments can be greatly improved if not eliminated once your pets are eating a raw natural diet.
Switching to a raw natural diet will have a positive impact on boosting your pets overall HEALTH, VITALITY, LONGEVITY AND QUALITY OF LIFE.
How do you make the switch to the raw diet?
Feeding the diet is not complicated, however it is more involved than just throwing Rover a bone! Educate yourself about the diet, remember you are taking charge of your companion animal’s nutritional health and well being.
Prepare your dog or cats digestive system with some “friendly” bacteria. This aids their bodies by boosting natural bacterial levels so they can handle the bacteria present in raw meat. You can use a pre and probiotic powder or Natural Un-pasteurized yogurt. It is a natural probiotic and loaded with beneficial bacteria.
– Cat/Toy dog- 1/2 tbsp-1 tbsp
– Small dog- 1/4 C (4 tbsp)
– Medium to Large dog- 1/2 C (8 tbsp)
– Giant dog- 3/4 C (12 tbsp)
Please note: Only use yogurt if your pet can palette milk products. If your pet cannot tolerate milk products there are a variety of probiotics supplements that you can purchase.
There are a few ways to make the switch to the new diet. Choose one based on your pets overall health and your comfort zone.
The *seven (7) day plan works very well:
Day 1 & 2– 3/4 of regular cooked diet, 1/4 of new raw diet
Day 3 & 4-1/2 of regular cooked diet, 1/2 of new raw diet
Day 5 & 6-1/4 of regular cooked diet, 3/4 of new raw diet
Day 7-100% raw natural diet.
The “hard” switch, out with the old in with the new.
For some pets this can be a stress the system and you could experience some digestive upsets. If you chose this option, fast your pet for 24 hours prior to the change and be sure to provide fresh water, bone broth or plain broth (salt free).
If you are not sure about your pets overall health condition you could have your Veterinarian do a blood panel and urinalysis to determine if there are any underlying health concerns. These are useful tools and recommended yearly for all IN THE RAW fur kids*
What do I feed my dog & cat?
During the transition, we at IN THE RAW… suggest you fed your DOG a mixture of ground chicken with bone and ground mixed veggies and fruit. The meat to vegetable ratio is anywhere from 40 to 75% raw meat blended with 25 to 60% ground or juiced vegetables and fruit.
Your CAT requires a mixture of a minimum of 75% to 100% raw meat, bone and organs, sometimes blended with ground veggies and fruit.
The meat to veggie ratio will vary depending on your pets overall health picture and to provide variance in the overall dietary plan.
Use the same meat for 10 days to 2 weeks to ensure your pets tolerance to the diet.
We recommend chicken as it contains superior nutrient value, has natural calcium, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and essential fats. Plus it is a very easily assimilated protein by the digestive system.
If your pet cannot tolerate chicken, the next best choice would be fish, tripe or lamb, again for there ease in assimilation by the digestive system.
After the transition, there are several ways to feed your dogs and cats.
Some examples of different feeding programs:
The bulk of the dog or cat diet is the blended meat, bone and veggie (limited amounts for cats) meals with some meaty bones added weekly.
1/2 of the dog or cat diet is the blended meat, bone and veggie meals with the other 1/2 being made up of meaty bones.
The bulk of the pet’s diet is meaty bones with odd bits of muscle meat, organs or tripe. Vegetables and fruits are usually fed as a separate food group.
This is just a small example of how to rotate your pet’s foods to provide a nutritional balance over time (approx. 7 to 10 days). Once you get started on the diet you will find what works best for your particular furry friend. Every pet is different! Remember, limited amounts of fruits and veggies for kitties!
The first 2 weeks of every month– 4 blended meat and veggie meals and 3 bone meals, plus 1 to 2 knucklebones (per week)
The later 2 weeks of every month– 3 blended meat & veggie meals & 4 bone meals, plus 1 to 2 knucklebones (per week)
*IMPORTANT* Provide a VARIETY in all the food groups for maximum benefit.
BONES: ENTERTAINMENT & MEAL BONES
Bones are an essential and necessary part of any quality raw fed program!
Entertainment Bones: femur, knuckle, rib and shank – beef, buffalo, lamb, venison etc. These bones are essential for oral health and hygiene, Mother Nature’s toothbrush! They are loaded full of essential nutrients and the ingested bone waste will aid in cleaning the anal sacs. Bones also provide excellent mental and muscular stimulation.
Meal Bones: carcass, backs, necks, wings – chicken, duck, lamb, ostrich, quail, turkey etc. These bones are softer, meaty and packed with nutrients. Again, these bones will aid in dental health and the bone waste will aid in cleansing the anal sacs. They provide an essential balance of calcium, phosphorous and other vital minerals and nutrients.
*SOME CAUTIONARY NOTES ON BONES!*
-Always choose bones larger than your pet’s mouth capacity. At least 1 to 1 ½ times the size of the width and girth of the mouth.
-Always supervise your pet while chewing on bones. Do not hover they will attempt to gulp down the bone.
-Sometimes your pet will regurgitate a bone. DON’T PANIC! Look at the size of the pieces you’re feeding, are they too big or too small for the size and veracious nature of your pets eating habits. Adjust if necessary.
-Puppies, kittens, seniors and beginners choose softer bones like backs and necks. They are a softer cartilage and bone mix and are padded with meat all around so they are easily digested.
-Be cautious of poultry leg bones (the drum) they are long and hollow, some pets don’t chew these properly and therefore they will not digest properly. Recommended for experienced feeders ONLY!
-If unfamiliar with bones you may have to teach your furry friend to eat their bones slowly and safely. Be prepared to hold the bone for your pet as they become accustomed to eating them. In time they will be more than capable of handling them on their own.
-Always feed bones opposite or after the heaviest exercise period.
-If you have more than one pet you may want to feed in separate areas at first to avoid squabbles over their bones. They are the ultimate treat and some furkids like to protect them!
-Bones can be messy, train your pet to eat from a washable mat, bowl or in a smaller enclosed room like a bathroom or laundry room. The best option is outside in good weather.
-Remember, you are dealing with *RAW MEAT* exercise proper hygiene precautions.
What can you expect during the switch & for the first few weeks & months.
SOME, NOT ALL pets can experience “NUTRITIONAL DETOXIFICATION”. Detox happens when the nutrients going into the body are of vastly superior quality than what was previously being fed. The body is literally throwing out the built up poisons and toxins to make way for healthy new tissue. Don’t worry, all is well the body is curing or healing itself. Sometimes there can also be levels of detoxification depending on the overall state of your pet’s immune system when they began on the raw diet. You could notice a few signs and then none and then a few weeks or months later you could see other signs or symptoms. Learn to really” look” at and analyze your pet, some signs can be subtle. Some people keep a journal or diary.
Some signs of detoxification:
-Excess waxy build up in the ears
-Loose or mucous stools
-If your pet has trouble coping with the natural detoxification, you can aid them by supplementing some Aloe Vera, Bee Pollen, Garlic or some pureed pumpkin to name a few.
SUPPLEMENTING THE RAW DIET
At IN THE RAW… we believe that adding a few simple supplements will round out the diet. There are a host of products on the market, but be wary of trying too many varieties at once. You will bombard your pets system! Too much is just as bad as too little.
–Quality Vitamin & Mineral supplement: This can be very simply found in an equal blend of kelp & alfalfa. Kelp and alfalfa provide all of the necessary fat and water-soluble vitamins and minerals. It is a powerful combination that contains a multitude of health benefits.
–Calcium: If you have a pet whose digestive system cannot tolerate bones or the bulk of your pet’s meal consists of red meats then you will have to provide a good quality calcium supplement regularly.
–Essential Fatty Acid Oils: Dogs: Combination of plant & fish based oils such as cold pressed borage, flax, grape seed, hemp, cod or salmon.
Cats: Animal and fish based oils ONLY! Studies suggest that cats do not assimilate plant-based oils (Evening Primrose oil is an exception).
“EFA’S” are used to nourish and support the hair, heart, joints, skin and a host of other areas.
Start simply and monitor how your pet looks and performs. You can adjust your supplements at that level, which would better test the performance of the additive on your pet. Consult your Veterinarian, animal health care practitioner or nutritional consultant for advice in these areas.
What meats can I feed my pet?
There is a host to choose from. The most common choices are chicken, beef, lamb, turkey and rabbit. Increasing in popularity are the exotic and wild game meats buffalo, camel, elk, llama, kangaroo, wild boar and venison. There are also many varieties of organ meats, tripe, fish and eggs.
Choose your meat selections based on quality and your pets sensitivities, likes and dislikes. Provide variety in your pet’s meat selections to get the maximum natural nutrient value.
–Tripe contains essential nutrients, probiotics and enzymes. But do not overfeed, 2 to 3 times per week maximum.
–Organ meats (heart, kidneys and liver) can be blended with muscle meats (5-10% overall) or can be fed as a separate food group. Caution with certain breeds.
–Eggs are Mother Natures complete protein source. If you feed eggs as a staple protein then the egg yolks should be fed raw and egg
whites should be cooked lightly! There is a protein “Avidin”, in raw egg whites that interferes with the absorption of Biotin into the system. However if you feed eggs occasionally this is not so much of a concern.
–Fish is a wonderful protein source with many essential nutrients. Ensure the quality and freshness when purchasing. If you are unsure about quality then remove the intestines to avoid any unnecessary parasitic “flukes” which can be a carrier for infectious disease.
-Meats may can be fed either “ground” or in “chunks”(1/2” to 1” cubes). To avoid “surface” bacteria, meats can be frozen for 2 weeks prior to feeding to your pets. This is necessary if you are getting “wild” meats from a hunter, THEY HAVE NOT BEEN FEDERALLY INSPECTED! Be cautious.
-Meats digest in the following order (ease of assimilation in the digestive tract): Eggs, chicken, fish, tripe, lamb, beef followed by the exotic and wild meats and turkey.
-Wherever possible try to use hormone free, non-medicated and antibiotic free meat and bones. Especially when dealing with your bones, fats and organ meats!
What vegetables can I feed my pet?
There are literally tons to choose from. Remember, variety is the spice of life! Veggies should be fed raw (few exceptions), finely ground or juiced for ease of digestion and maximum nutrient absorption. All veggies have cellulose walls, due to the short length and acidity level of our dogs and cat’s digestive tract; veggies must be juiced or pureed to make the nutrients “bioavailable” to our dogs and cat’s digestive tract. Try to use as a rule of thumb, 4 above and 2 below ground combinations of veggies (dark green leafy veggies have exceptional nutrient value) You can add some fruit, use 1 at a time mixed with veggies or fed as a separate food group (fruits can ferment in the digestive system). AVOID excessive use of starchy and sugary-based veggies and fruits.
Some veggies and fruits to be cautious of:
The following list contains foods essential in nutrient value and are quality foods for our pets. Feel free to feed them but use in small amounts and not on a daily basis.
-Potatoes/must be skinned & cooked
-Corn/NEVER THE COB!
-Peppers/must be cooked
-Eggplants/must be cooked
-Tomatoes/must be cooked
-Whole grains/LIMITED AMOUNTS!
Some pets have special needs due to health concerns. If you are unsure about what veggies and fruits are suitable for your fur child, then you should check with your Veterinarian, animal health care practitioner or your nutritional consultant.
How much do I feed my pet?
The general rule of thumb is to feed ½ lb/225 gr. (1 cup) for every 25 lbs. of bodyweight. Begin with this amount and adjust based on age, energy and exercise levels. The measurements are based on total daily food intake. This includes mixed meat, veggie and meal bones.
NOTE: If your pet leaves food behind, you may be overfeeding. Measure what is left and that amount can be eliminated from the daily intake.
If your pet is licking the bowl clean and appears still hungry, increase the daily portion by ¼ lb. over a few days and see if that satiates your friend (some breeds are notorious for overeating- DO NOT BE FOOLED!).
– Healthy, active adult dogs should be fed 1 meal per day and FASTED 1 day per week. This promotes healthy cleansing of the body. We DO NOT fast our kitty cats. NOTE- the meal should be fed opposite of the heaviest daily exercise to avoid tummy upsets.
– Puppies, kittens, pregnant and nursing pets will require more food and will need to be fed more frequently. DO NOT FAST!
– Seniors and pets with cancer, diabetes or heart conditions should NOT be fasted!
– Seniors and Giant Breeds should be fed 2 to 3 smaller meals in a day for ease of digestion.
How much will it cost to feed my pet?
The cost of feeding your cat or dog will vary based on their age, weight and size. Plus on the choices you make for your pet.
– True, RAW food diets are more costly than some processed pet foods. But, the long term rewards and benefits for your pet and yourself far outweigh the cost!
Some final notes:
– Prepare and serve your pets meal with confidence. Remember, they can sense your feelings. If you’re apprehensive or hesitant then they will be too!
– Remember you are dealing with * RAW MEAT * exercise proper hygiene precautions.
– Do not microwave defrost or heat your pets RAW foods.
– Water is the essence of life. Provide fresh filtered water daily.
– Educate yourself! There is a host of books, magazines, and websites dedicated to Raw feeding.
Suggested Reading Material:
– Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats – Dr. Pitcairn & S. Pitcairn.
– Four Paws, Five Directions – Cheryl Schwartz.
– Give Your Dog A Bone & The BARF Diet – Dr. Billinghurst.
– Grow Your Pups with Bones – Dr. Billinghurst.
– Holistic Guide for a Healthy Dog – Wendy Volhard & Kerry Brown.
– Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats: The Ultimate Diet – Kymythy
– Reigning Cats & Dogs – Pat McKay.
NOTE: This is a small sampling of available readings. We also provide
a “lending library” to our clients so you can learn more.
-These books provided the sources for this handout-
*The information contained within this handout is intended for educational purposes only. The contents belong to IN THE RAW Inc. and are not to be duplicated without written permission from IN THE RAW… Food for Dogs and Cats, Inc.*