Contributed by Eric Swanson
While we humans realize the importance of whole foods, we have been sorely neglecting our best friend – the dog. We mostly have been feeding them store-bought dog food manufactured by companies with huge marketing budgets.
While some may be good, in many cases they turn out to be meat flavored junk. They come with a plethora of additives and fillers. The fillers which form the bulk of store-bought food, have no nutritive value at all.
Due to their long association with human beings, domestic dogs have learned to tolerate a diet that includes starch. That being said, they do require a large portion of meat in their diet. Wild dogs live almost exclusively on meat. They get all their nutrition from it.
Feeding raw food is increasingly popular. Research shows that dogs that are on a balanced raw diet regimen are healthy. Raw food is the way to go for a shiny coat and robust health.
Top 7 Raw-Feeding Rules for Dogs
You may want to put your furry companion in a balanced raw food regimen. These seven raw-feeding rules will help you start off.
1. Ensure that the food has enough calcium. Calcium along with phosphorous aids bone growth. So, the diet must consist of at least 15% bone. Some good choices for meaty bones would be:
- Wings, neck, and thigh of chicken
- Neck and ribs of goat or lamb
- Beef tail, great for large dogs
- Whole animals such as whole chicken or a rabbit
2. Feed them organ meats. Organs and offal are rich in many vitamins and minerals that are necessary for your dog. Some of the organs that can be fed are liver, heart, kidney, spleen, pancreas, thymus, lung and brain.
As these organs are loaded with beneficial nutrients, they should not consist of more than 10% of the food. An excess of some nutrients can cause complications.
It is advisable to feed them a mix of the different organ meats whenever possible to ensure your dog gets a good mix of essential vitamins and minerals. Pay attention to the fat content. Organ meats are loaded with fat.
3. Give them muscle. Muscle meat will form a major portion of the diet. It is rich in proteins that are vital for your dog. Some good muscle meats are boneless cheap cuts of beef, bison, turkey, chicken, pork, lamb or sheep. It is advisable to buy in bulk and freeze.
Muscle meat must comprise around half to one-third of the diet depending on how much organ meat you added. You could include even bony muscle meat, such as chicken necks or lamb ribs. Trim excess fat if necessary.
4. Limit the amount of fat. Fat is a very essential part of the diet. It helps with nerve function and skin health. Organ meats, poultry with the skin on and pork belly are high in fat. Meats like poultry without the skin, lean ground beef, pork loin, rabbits, most fish and wild game have less fat. Adjust the portions so that the fat is less than 20% of the diet.
5. Include fruits and vegetables. If you have followed the above rules, your dog already has a well-balanced diet. But fruits and vegetables have some unique benefits. Indigestible fiber makes for good prebiotics and will improve gut health. Chlorophyll is good for the liver and digestive system. Other important antioxidants and flavonoids prevent cell damage and slow down aging. If your dog loves his veggies, go ahead and give him some.
Here is a selection of fruits and vegetables that you can give:
You can lightly steam some vegetables to get the most out of them. You can also mash or puree certain fruits. This will make the vitamins and minerals in the fruit more easily absorbed.
6. Avoid carbs and starch. Dogs have evolved to tolerate a small bit of starch their diet. However, it is recommended not to include them in their regular food. Excess starch will make your dog obese. It may even cause diabetes. They are just empty calories. Since grains do not have any benefits, why include them in the diet?
7. Feed a wide variety. When you vary their foods, they get the complete range of beneficial nutrients. Moreover, like us, they too appreciate a varied diet. You can feed them a variety of foods many of which may seem yucky to you.
You could rotate between poultry, beef, pork, fish, and lamb. Give them a whole carcass from time to time. Deboned fish, rabbit and small poultry can be given whole. Do not hesitate to include yucky parts like poultry feet, beef trachea, tails, and lungs. Parts like chicken feet and beef trachea are loaded with nutrients that help build healthy joints. These items are mostly available as offal and are extremely inexpensive. Make your neighborhood butcher your friend and stock up whenever available.
It’s Easier and Less Expensive than you Think
Now, many would think that a raw diet is a lot of hassle. It is slightly tough in the beginning, but when you establish a good raw-feeding regimen, it becomes easier.
Some may argue that this diet is expensive. Actually, it is not. Organ meats and offal can be bought cheaply. If you have a butcher in the neighborhood, you can get fresh meat every day. You could also buy in bulk and freeze.
Sometimes due to various reasons, it may not be possible to feed all the required nutrients in one meal. That is okay. You can try and balance it over a week or so. We cannot calculate the exact amount of nutrients that we need to feed. We can only stick to an approximation. In the long run, it evens out nicely. It is worth noting that whole animals like a whole chicken or a rabbit are a fully balanced meal on their own.
Remember, a raw diet not only meets all the nutrient requirements for your dog, but it is also very easily digested. It has essential enzymes that no ready-made dog food would have.
All these efforts will not go to waste. Your furry friend will love you for it and reward you by being happy and robust.
EDITOR’S NOTE OF CAUTION: Consult with your veterinarian before making changes to your dog’s diet. Research into the benefits and dangers of a raw diet for pets has been conflicting. For your protection, practice safe food handling procedures and be aware that your dog will spread bacteria from raw meat.
Eric Swanson is a pet lover outdoor enthusiastic blogger. He has been caring for pets since He was young and his most cherished memories are when he is helping others and their pets. He enjoy volunteering his time with local dog rescues, along with spending time with his family. He is currently sharing his expertise with Pick Pet Vacuum.
✔ You may also be interested in reading:
Easy Ways to Feed a Raw Diet to Your Pets
Hunting Wild Game for Your Dog or Cat (With Instant Pot Stew Recipe)
The Best Natural Foods and Supplements to Help Your Dog Live Longer
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