The Very Best Pet Food, Part 1

Because the 2 most important factors in determining both health & lifespan are vaccines & nutrition/diet, what your dog eats is extremely important. The best diet for dogs (cats, too) is a raw meat & bones diet. It’s also called “raw meaty bones,” SARF (species appropriate raw food), or BARF (biologically appropriate raw food).  It’s the only correct diet for both species & is as close to what they eat in nature without human intervention. In raw food, the majority of nutrients, such as amino acids, vitamins, minerals, prebiotics, probiotics, & enzymes, haven’t been altered or destroyed & they’re derived from natural sources. Feeding our dogs correctly is nothing more than plain common sense; it isn’t complex or difficult. Look at the teeth of our dogs & you won’t find omnivore teeth with both grinding molars & canines; you’ll only find teeth designed for ripping, tearing, shredding, & shearing. Looking at wolves who live in the wild, we also learn this is the correct & natural diet for K9s. Knowing this, the simple solution to feeding our dogs the proper diet – one that enables them to thrive, not just survive – is to feed a raw meaty bones diet.

It’s worked wonders for our own dogs & the Rescue dogs. It saved the life of my rescued Yorkie female who was dying from IBD (irritable bowel disease) & pancreatitis. It eliminated repetitive ear infections for others. It resulted in 8 rescue dogs with severe allergies being completely symptom/problem free, it drastically reduced seizures in another rescued dog, & stopped the Chihuahuas from shedding. It completely reversed severe diabetes in a cat in only 6 days. It cured a severe case of demodectic mange in just 1 month. At the time, we had a conventional vet.  He estimated 6 months for the 2 dogs to be completely mange free & he was amazed at the results. These animals had serious health problems & were on medications. Changing to raw, organic food resulted in great health for all of them & they no longer needed any medication. “When the diet is right, medicine is of no need; when the diet is wrong, medicine is of no use” has proven so true.

We agree with homeopathic/natural health veterinarians, & animal nutritionists that raw food is both the very best diet for both dogs/cats, & is the only correct one. It replicates their natural diet & provides the greatest nutrition. We feed & recommend a natural raw diet. There are some different ways to feed your dog or cat a raw diet. The very best method of raw feeding is called “prey feeding” or “raw meaty bones.” This not only provides the animals with proper nutrition, it cleans their teeth as they chew the meat off the bones; makes for healthy gums, & strengthens their jaws & neck muscles. The bones & marrow provide incredible nutrition & the animals really enjoy their food. Animals who eat this way don’t develop arthritis & numerous other health problems. The many benefits from feeding your pets a raw diet are phenomenal.

Conventional veterinarians have NO correct education or knowledge on nutrition. They receive only 1-3 hours of instruction on food/nutrition while in vet school from the very people who make kibble & commercially made pet food. Yet, this is 1 of the most important aspects in determining health. These same companies subsidize their education &amp, give them free food for their own pets, & give them discounts for selling their products. It’s why you find these brands in veterinary offices. Pet food ads are untrue. Holistic animal nutritionists are THE experts in this field with hundreds of hours of instruction/research on this important subject. All of them advise feeding a raw meaty bones, organic diet as the best & correct food for our dogs/cats.

If your animal has any health issue, kidney or liver disease or failure, we recommend you consult with a homeopathic veterinarian – both for homeopathic treatment & before changing to a raw diet.  We recommend homeopathic vets; most are available for phone, Skype or email consultations as well as office appointments. Please see our “Hello, World!” posting for a list of these vets.  More are listed here:  http://www.shirleys-wellness-cafe.com/AnimalWellness/Vet-List & here: http://theavh.org/.

Please NEVER feed kibble to your pets. Even if it starts out with the highest quality ingredients, it’s cooked & so overly processed that there’s very little nutrition left in it. It’s why vitamins & minerals must be added back into it. It’s NOT real, whole food. It’s a processed, man-made product. Kibble is pet food the same way potato chips are food for us….it’s junk food. It has no moisture & ends up dehydrating their internal organs. To entice pets to eat it, kibble is sprayed with fat. The natural prey that animals kill & eat is 70% water….the exact amount of water that makes up their own bodies. Water is absolutely essential in their food for good health. Read here to learn why all kibble is bad for your pets, even if made with only organic, human-grade ingredients: http://www.thewholedog.org/artkibble.html. It’s an article written by Dr. Jeannie Thomason, a naturopathic vet. She’s also a Boston Terrier natural rearing breeder.

These links explains the difference between a cooked diet vs.a raw diet for dogs & cats: What Happens to Food When It’s Cooked – http://www.thewholedog.org/artcookedfood.html.  Read about Pottenger’s Cats to see the health & lifespan difference in cats who were fed a raw diet vs. cats fed a cooked diet: http://feline-nutrition.org/nutrition/proper-feeding-from-pottengers-cats. Both articles show why today’s pets have so many health problems & birth defects.

Please read below & then research “raw pet food,” “raw meaty bones,” “prey feeding” & “SARF” for your pets. There’s info online & in books on how to feed a raw diet for a lot less money (meat as low as 79 cents a lb). These are the best websites we’ve found:

rawlearning.com
rawfed.com
http://www.rawfed.com/myths/preymodel.html
http://feline-nutrition.org/ (this has great info that helps small dogs)
http://www.skylarzack.com/rawfeeding.htm
http://k9rawdiet.com/FAQ-p-5.html
http://www.rawfeddogs.net/Recipes
http://feline-nutrition.org/answers/answers-raw-diets-and-cats-what-about-eating-bones (for cats but the info is great for small dogs)
http://thewholedog.org/id9.html#nutrition

Other methods of raw feeding are: a) ground raw meat with bones & organs (either grinding it yourself or purchasing frozen raw pet food that has been ground with the meat & bones in it); and b) the Paleopet method. Ground raw meat with bones & organs is the 2nd best way of raw feeding since it contains bones, marrow & organ meat. The Paleopet method is not as good as these first 2 methods since it does not have ground bones & marrow in it. You must add calcium or bone meal to this. Whole natural food is always best & gives the most nutrition. If not feeding raw bones, we recommend using ground eggshells as the calcium source (more about this later). Powdered supplement is next (either calcium or bone meal). Supplements are good, but never equal the nutrients found in whole, natural foods. Marrow has high nutritional value & is necessary for good health. This video explains the Paleopet method: http://paleopet.com/.  Eggs from chickens who are pasture-raised & fed organic, non-GMO feed are best.

Our dogs get a small amount of raw vegetables daily with their raw meat/bones. It should be only 10-15% of their diet. If the veggie must be cooked before eaten (like asparagus), we steam it using low heat. Cool it to room temperature before giving to the dogs or adding to their raw meat/bones meal. Heat from just-cooked veggies will destroy enzymes in the raw meat & you don’t want to do that. Raw foods have more nutrients & also have enzymes that are essential for good health. Enzymes are destroyed by heat/cooking. We run the veggies through a food processor before adding to the raw meat meal. These tiny pieces are very easy for dogs to digest & they get more nutrition from it, too.

The best quality meat & eggs are wild raised, next is pasture-raised or grass-fed, organic (nothing GMO); third best is organic. Feed the best you can afford. Any raw meat/bones diet is far superior to pet foods. Do NOT give dogs meat that’s been injected with sodium. You need to read labels as this is commonly done to fowl (chicken, turkey, etc). We buy most of our pasture-raised, grass-fed, organic meat & ground raw dog food from our local whole food markets & from Creston Valley Meats (http://crestonvalleymeats.com/). They deliver frozen meats & ground raw dog food to both So & No CA every week. Simon & his staff are happy to explain how it all works; their website has their phone number. Their prices are 50-75% less than what pet stores charge for frozen raw dog foods.

You’ll find info on the raw diet & food suppliers for your dogs at the best prices here: http://www.dogaware.com/diet/rawgroups.html. If you live in another area, do an online search to find a “raw fed” group near you. They’re a terrific source of where to find low prices on quality, truly natural meats. There are many Yahoo & Facebook raw feeding groups you can also check out.

Commercially-made raw pet foods are a good way to get started with the raw diet. However, be aware that feeding ground raw meat with bones does not clean their teeth & is not the best way to feed your dog for the rest of it’s life. The prey method or raw meaty bones does an excellent job of this, & once the dogs are accustomed to it, they thoroughly enjoy this way of eating. This method not only cleans their teeth, it strengthens their jaw & neck muscles, & makes for healthy gums.  Commercially-made raw food is more expensive, but it’s still superior to standard “pet foods.”

It’s very easy & not expensive to make raw food for dogs. By feeding your dog a raw meat/bones diet, you’ll save a lot of money in vet expenses. According to the holistic animal nutritionist & natural veterinarians we use, dogs actually do best on a simple diet of 1 meat per meal. Fruits & vegetables are optional. They’re excellent & provide antioxidants, fiber & nutrients, which is why we feed them to our dogs. Fruit MUST be fed alone as a snack – NEVER with meat/protein. Fruit digests in about 15 minutes while meat/protein takes the longest amount of time; this is why they’re not to be eaten together. Veggies are fine to be included with their meat/protein, just keep it at 10-15% of their daily diet. The majority of their diet needs to be raw meat. They’re carnivores who need this type of protein. We give our dogs fruit as an afternoon snack 3-4 days a week…never with any meat/protein.

Dogs/cats need organ meat (kidney, liver, gizzard, spleen, etc) but you don’t have to add it daily if you don’t want to. Organ meat should be 10-15% of their diet; these are nutrient-rich foods & you’ll want to include them about 2 months after your dog has been eating the raw meat diet. You can feed some organ meat 2-3 days a week if you don’t include it daily. This has nutritients that aren’t found in muscle meat & is necessary for good health. Taurine is 1 of these; it’s needed for proper urinary tract function. A small dog (4 to 16 lbs) should get 1 to 3 teaspoons of organ meat per day if given daily.  Heart is muscle meat, not organ.

Raw eggs are best. We feed a little mixed raw egg daily. Cooked eggs are ok, but it’s best to limit cooked foods to only 1 day per week. Eggs are the highest quality protein on earth. Even the shell is edible & provides calcium. Small dogs can have a problem with a whole raw egg & it can give them diarrhea. We crack open a pasture-raised, organic raw egg, mix it up & give each dog 1 tsp (type used to stir coffee, not measure) of the mixed raw egg in their dish along with their daily raw meaty bone meal.  Or, you can stir the raw egg into their tiny pieces of veggie & organ meats. Giving raw egg daily or a few days a week is fine.  It’s safe to keep the raw egg in the fridge for 3-4 days; storing in glass is best. After that time, either toss out whatever is left or cook it.

If you feed ground meat without bones & marrow, you must add calcium to this (900 to 1,000 mg for 1 lb of food; 2 cups = 1 lb). Adding calcium provides a nutritionally complete meal to this type of raw meat meal.  When dogs chew on & eat the raw meaty bones, they get their needed calcium, phosphorus & trace minerals from the pieces of bone/marrow they ingest. Yes, raw bones (chicken, turkey, rabbit, etc) are safe for your dog. They break easily when a dog chews on them. Chicken & turkey sold in stores for human consumption comes from birds who are only 6 to 8 weeks old; their bones are not hard. Bones from bigger animals (beef, lamb, llama, venison, etc) are more dense & harder.  Never give your pets any weight bearing bones (legs) from larger animals.  They could cause problems for the animals, including chipped or broken teeth. Once a week, we give each dog a beef rib with meat attached & take away whatever bones they haven’t consumed within 30-60 minutes of eating them.  Natural calcium, derived from a food source is best as this is what’s proper for the body. Eggshells are the next best source for this, after raw bones. Never use synthetic supplements/vitamins; the body deals with them the same as chemicals since it’s not a natural food. Centrum is an example of a synthetic vitamin. Spark is a new whole food complete supplement that’s great for dogs; we give it daily; http://www.petwellbeing.com/products/spark-daily-nutritional-supplement-for-dogs-and-cats-50g. It has vitamins, minerals, omega 3, probiotics & digestive enzymes. It’s terrific for them.  Our dogs love it & we highly recommend it.

There are a number of prepared raw dog foods available at better specialty pet supply stores, animal feed stores & online. Prepared raw dog food comes in 2 types – frozen/fresh or dehydrated/freeze dried. The dehydrated & freeze dried types are reconstituted by adding water to them & allowing them to sit for awhile. Leaving it overnight in the fridge is best. The longer it sits, the easier it becomes to digest. Some brands of this type of raw food are:  Sojo’s Complete (some quality issues – not always enough meat in the product), Grandma Lucy’s (too much garlic), & The Honest Kitchen. Some PetCo & Pet Smart stores now carry frozen raw pet foods but not all of them. You’ll need to call the stores in your area to find out.

We used the dehydrated/freeze dried for awhile. It’s not as good as the fresh/frozen type & didn’t give the same great results to the dogs as the fresh/frozen. Our dogs tired of these type of dried raw foods quickly, but they love the raw meaty bones. If you’re traveling with your dog, these dried raw foods are an option since they don’t require refrigeration & you can easily feed it, even while traveling in the car. Simply add some pure, filtered water to reconstitute the food, allow it to soak for 20-30 minutes & then give to the dog. Our dogs don’t like & won’t eat “Steve’s Real Food” (frozen raw) but we have a friend who feeds Steve’s & her dogs love it.  It’s a good idea to buy a small amount of a new food to see how your dog reacts to it.  We’re opposted to “Nature’s Variety” because some of their meat is from China; it’s used in their raw, canned & dried foods. We also say NO to Stella & Chewy’s, Bravo, & Natural Instinct brands because they use high-pressure pasteurization. It’s unnecessary & destroys nutrients. There’s also no long-term history yet to know exactly how this effects the animals’ health. It becomes “processed food” – raw, unprocessed is best. The less done to the food, the better. This link gives you info on this:
http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2012/10/22/sterile-raw-pet-food.aspx?e_cid=20121022_PetsNL_art_1

Before feeding the “prey method” of raw food, we used these brands of ground raw dog food & do recommend them: PawNaturaw (866-Raw4Pet), Darwins (http://www.darwinspet.com/), Harmony Farms (http://essentials4all.org/HARMONY_FARMS.html), OC Raw (http://www.ocrawdog.com/), TigerTail Foods (http://tigertailfoods.com/), & Aunt Jeni’s. These are all the best-rated frozen, commercially-made, ground raw dog foods in our area. It’s an easy way to transition to raw feeding if you’re uncomfortable starting right in with the raw meaty bones, prey or Paleopet methods. These raw frozen foods are totally complete & have ground-up bone & marrow in them. This supplies the calcium, phosphorus & trace minerals needed. The down side to these foods is that they have too many ingredients & most of them have fruit – remember, pets do best on a simple 1 meat & 1 veggie diet, & fruit should never be fed with protein. It’s still a better option than standard pet foods, & will give your dog much better health. Aunt Jeni’s brand has a strong garlic odor & it’s not our first choice in commercially-made raw pet foods. Garlic is actually good for dogs, but they shouldn’t eat it every day without a break.  More info on this in another post.

You can also make a complete raw diet yourself. The Paleopet link above shows you how to do this & there’s much info about this online. There are online groups that have formed to get fresh, grass-fed & organic foods directly from the farmers at a reduced rate. In addition to vibrant health, lots of energy, no arthritis, glistening hair/coat/eyes, etc, you’ll find that the bowel movements from dogs & cats who eat a raw diet are small & have very little odor. This is because their bodies utilize almost all of the food since it’s what they need & is super high quality…resulting in very little waste. There is no “filler” in this food. You’ll find lots of great info on dog nutrition, brands of prepared raw dog foods, & other doggie stuff at www.dogaware.com – http://vitalanimal.com/, http://dr-jordan.com/, http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/dr-karen-becker.aspx,  www.shirleys-wellness-cafe.com, http://www.drdeeblanco.com/about/ & http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/. There’s a wide variation in prices, so check it out. Switch meat/veggie types & brands often to give the dogs a different mix & for good health (variety is best for all of us nutritionally).

For dogs with food allergies, our animal nutritionist & natural veterinarians recommend trying rabbit or venison for their meat/protein. Rabbit is the easiest meat for them to digest. Beef, salmon/fish, buffalo, goat, llama & turkey are also good choices. Steaming is recommended IF you cook the veggies. Again, raw is best. Salmon must either be “hard frozen” for 3 weeks prior to feeding or must be cooked to be safe. The 3 week hard freeze will kill any fluke parasite that’s possibly found in salmon. Canned fish is cooked & safe for dogs & cats but it’s best to limit cooked food to only 1 day per week if you include any in their diet. Remember to keep their diet about 70-80% meat, 10% for bones, 10% veggies, & 10% organ meat. I know people who feed only meat/eggs 5 days a week & add veggies with organ meat only twice a week. Again, do some reading so you’ll understand their nutritional needs & feel comfortable with what you give them.  Good nutrition is achieved over time; not every meal must be “100% balanced & complete.”  That’s not how they eat in the wild.

If your dog appears to have a food allergy, alternate ingredients to find out what your dog is allergic to.  If they have a reaction to anything, keep a list of it so you know not to feed that to them.  The usual allergic reaction to a food item will be scratching & licking themselves – ears, eyes, face, & paws are common spots.  Allergy dogs should be kept on this very simple diet of 1 meat per meal.  When adding a veggie, just 1 per meal.  Dr. Jean Dodds is able to test for food allergies; more info is here on her website:  http://www.nutriscan.org/.  She’s located in Garden Grove (http://www.hemopet.org/).

Check for animal feed stores in your area.  We shop at Anaheim Feed Store in Anaheim, CA.  These stores have a good variety of frozen, raw foods, & their prices are much better than the big chain type pet stores or the pet boutique stores.  Raw food contains enzymes, amino acids & other nutrients that are destroyed in cooking, even if you just warm it up.  Dogs & cats NEED these enzymes/nutrients.  In the wild, they eat raw meat when they kill their prey.  Please do some reading on this.  You’ll be amazed at what you learn & what a tremendous difference raw food has made in the health & lives of the dogs & cats who eat it.  Their digestive systems are different than ours & they are NOT affected by things in raw meat like we are (i.e., salmonella, bacteria).  We can personally attest to the outstanding health & benefits our dogs have from eating a grass-fed, organic, raw diet.  Plus, you’ll save money because there’s a lot fewer vet bills.  We’ve seen raw food work wonders for every health condition, including allergies, repeat ear infections, irritable bowel disease, yeast conditions, seizures, pancreatitis, impacted anal glands, etc – even completely eliminating these problems for some of the dogs.
Continued on Part 2…