CANINE RAW FOOD DIET BASICS
Raw foods are the most powerful healers for our companion animals. They are the mostdigestible and absorbable nutrients that we can provide. They are the building blocks for our animal’s innate healing abilities - tissue repair and organ regeneration. The health benefits of the raw food diet surpass any other diet - homemade or commercial. The raw food diet is just as nature intended, an evolutionary diet fit for the digestive system of a carnivore / omnivore. Of course, organic and/or hormone and antibiotic-free is the best for all animals. However, just switching to a raw food diet is a
quantum leap in nutrition and further steps in refinement are relatively minor in
comparison. For example, homemade cooked recipes provide approximately 60% optimum absorbable nutritional value, whereas the highest quality commercial preservative-free pet food rates provide < 50% optimum absorbable nutritional value.
A balanced raw food diet provides 95% optimum absorbable nutritional value. Being a purest and offering only the best quality meats and organic vegetables as well as rotating vegetables and meats will increase the optimum absorbable nutritional value to 98%. Do the best you can for your circumstances.
Most dogs are so excited when they first get raw food – it is as if they have been waiting for real food all of their life. However, there are some dogs (especially small breeds) that can be a challenge, if you have one of those finicky eaters. You may want to try cooked meat at first and then slowly start cooking it less and less. Fasting dogs for 24-36 hours prior
to introducing the raw food is helpful in minimizing detoxification symptoms Use digestive enzymes for at least the first few months. Convert slowly by mixing 25% of the raw food with 75% of their present diet. Gradually increase the proportions of the raw and
decrease the proportions of their current diet over 5-7 days until you are feeding 100% raw.
Just as with humans, nutritional caloric intakes of dogs vary greatly with metabolism. This is not an exact science just as feeding ourselves is not a calculated effort for most people. The goal is to have an optimal “Body Condition Score” where they will eat far less raw food since more is absorbed and utilized for lean muscle tissue. In simplified terms, the optimal “Body Condition Score” is defined as a body condition where you can
see a definitive waist in front of the hips (looking from above) and you can easily feel their individual ribs. Any intentional weight loss should be gradual. Weights should be checked at least every other week in the beginning so you can determine the maintenance amounts of food for your dog. Guidelines for amounts to feed for an adult dog of average health and activity are about 1 pound of food per 50 pounds of body weight. Sample menus are provided below. Puppies, pregnant and lactating animals, as well as animals with cancer could require more than twice this amount of food. Very
active/working animals will also have higher requirements and might need special balancing. Determine what works for your individual companion.
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Dr. Tamara Hebbler
Healing Hope (877) 738-4673
Ø 65 - 80% Raw Meat and Bones . The meat needs to be RAW – not cooked! For the most part concern over the use of raw meat is unwarranted. I have never personally seen a problem with bacterial overload such as E. coli or Salmonellaas a result of feeding raw meat. Everything has a natural balance and the digestive tracts of dogs are designed to ingest raw meat. As long as care is taken and the meat is not spoiled, there is not an issue with feeding raw meat.
However, precautionary steps may be indicated in animals with severely
depressed immune systems. Turkey, Chicken, Beef, Lamb, Venison, and Fish are all acceptable sources of meat, but do NOT feed pork products, fish bones, or raw salmon
. Raw meaty bone sources; chicken necks and backs, (wings and drumsticks are only for the experienced eater), turkey necks, and beef ribs are good sources of bone. I recommend starting with ground meat and bones for the novice eater since gulping/inhaling raw bones can be a problem. Then after a few weeks slowly introduce chicken/turkey necks- section in smaller pieces at first if you
have a “gulper.” Judge risks for your individual dog- some “gulpers” are better
fed ground meat and bones only. After your pet has been on raw food for a
while, vary the meat if you can, steady feeding of the same food can lead to
. Offering a variety of different meats is very beneficial, but just by feeding the raw food diet you are way ahead of the game. Variety at least 1-2 days a week is usually sufficient. Large breed puppies and geriatric animals should have a little less meat and bone in their diet.
5 – 10% Raw Organ Meat . This includes liver, kidney, heart, etc. from all of the acceptable meats listed above. Organ meat can be offered a few times a week or include a small amount daily with the raw muscle meat. Prepackaged, ground organ meat can be obtained from 80/20 mix contains organ
Ø 20 - 30% Raw Vegetables . It is good to include both aboveground vegetables and root vegetables. Broccoli, cauliflower, dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, mustard greens, green leaf, endive), zucchini, carrots, peas, green beans, parsnips, turnips, cabbage, etc. are all possibilities. Herbs such as dandelion, parsley, carrot tops, etc. are excellent but need to be in small amounts. Corn is not recommended since it has been extensively genetically modified and many animals are sensitive to it. Large breed puppies and geriatric animals should have a little less meat and bone in their diet.
0 -10% Cooked grain. Grains are only occasionally recommended for extremely
active dogs needing extra glycogen stores. Use grains carefully as they are the source of most food sensitivities. I prefer potatoes, yams, or sweet potatoes for complex carbohydrates. Working dogs or very active dogs are the only ones I think do better with a small amount of grain in the diet consistently.
0 - 5% Nuts and fruits . Great snacks and typical part of the evolutionary diet. Best to feed fruits alone as they are digested quickly and tend to ferment when fed with a meal. (peanuts not recommended because of associated allergies and toxins.)
Vitamin/Mineral Supplements . It is essential to supplement with additional
vitamins and minerals since soils and harvests have been depleted by overfarming.
High quality supplements include Animal Essentials, Vetriscience
products, Pat McKay’s products, TCInstincts, Celestial Pet, Kymythy’s kelp/alfalfa mix, Catalyn by Standard Process, etc.
Essential Fatty Acids . Fatty acids rich in Omega-3 are also essential. There are many varied opinions regarding which are the best and in what combination (i.e., cod liver oil, flaxseed oil, evening primrose oil, salmon oil, borage oil, hemp seed oil, etc…). I recommend a variety and prefer the combination formulas for that reason.
. Raw bones are the preferred main source of calcium, IF YOU CANNOT FEED BONES, YOU MUST USE A CALCIUM SUPPLEMENT! Bone meal is not recommended due to frequent heavy metal contamination- know your source.
Good quality calcium supplements can be obtained from Animals Essentials, Pat
McKay, Celestial Pet, etc.
. Eggs are an excellent and highly absorbable source of protein. If the eggs
are of high quality, (free range–hormone and antibiotic free) they can be fed raw
with the shells broken in small pieces. I recommend Shelton’s or San Pasqual
brands for optimal quality. Depending on the size of the animal, one to several
eggs twice weekly can be used as an additional protein source. In older animals,
eggs can be fed daily to help with signs of senility.
Ø Milk and milk products
. I usually do not recommend milk products because most
dogs lack the lactase enzyme which is essential for digestion of milk products
pasteurized cow’s milk can cause diarrhea and gas. However, raw milk (sheep,
goat, cow) is very well tolerated and can be introduced slowly into the diet if you
can find a high quality source. Processed or cultured dairy products (cheese,
yogurt, kefir, panir, cottage cheese, etc) are usually fine in small amounts and
work well for treats or supplement administration.
. Routine weekly fasting for liver detoxification is a good idea. I recommend
starting with 12 hours and gradually working up to 24 hours. Smaller breeds may do
better with 12 hour fasts. Always provide fresh water.
Wright’s 80/20 mix is one of the most complete prepackaged you can get with meat,bones, veggies and organ meat, so it is definitely the easiest for converting. You canstart with the 80/20 with rice to decrease likelihood of diarrhea detox issues and then after a few weeks switch over to the 80/20 without rice since grains are not a necessary part of the diet. There are many pre-packaged raw food diet brands. Do research at your local natural pet store or consult past issues of The Whole Dog Journal. Start with ground bone or chicken necks depending on your comfort level and then graduate to larger ones depending on the size of your dog. Always include some plain
muscle meat to keep balanced. You can routinely look at the feces to modify
proportions. There may be too much calcium if the feces are consistently white- cut back on bones and add more muscle meat. If constipated, add more vegetables and muscle meat and/or cut back on bone. If stools are loose, add more bones and/or decrease the vegetable content. Go with trends in fecal patterns because it is normal to have some minor fluctuations day to day (as observed in coyote scat) depending on
what is ingested. Remember you are balancing over time; meaty bones can be given at different times then the muscle meat/veggie mix. Gnawing bones are great on fasting days. If you choose to make your own raw food diet, some daily sample diets and amounts from Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats are listed below:
Feed food close to room temperature for best digestion.
10 lbs body weight
1) Raw meat: ¼ to ½ cup
2) Raw bone: 1 – 2 chicken necks
3) Veggies: ½ - 1 Tbsp. pulped (chopped and blended w/ small amt. of water)
4) Kelp/alfalfa: ½ - 1 tsp.
5) Cod Liver Oil: ¼ tsp.
6) EFA’s (flax seed oil): ½ tsp.
50 lbs body weight
1) Raw meat: ¾ - 1 cup
2) Raw bone: 1 turkey neck or 6 chicken necks
3) Veggies: 3 Tbsp. pulped (chopped and blended w/ small amt. of water)
4) Kelp/alfalfa: 2 tsp.
5) Cod Liver Oil: 1 tsp.
6) EFA’s (flax seed oil): 1 ½ tsp.
100 lbs body weight
1) Raw meat: 1 ½ - 2 cups
2) Raw bone: 2 - 3 turkey necks
3) Veggies: ¼ - ½ Cup, pulped (chopped and blended w/ small amt. of water)
4) Kelp/alfalfa: 1 Tbsp.
5) Cod Liver Oil: 2 tsp.
6) EFA’s (flax seed oil): 2 tsp.
4 Dr. Tamara Hebbler
Healing Hope (877) 738-4673Cardiovascular System
~ Heart and Blood Vessels
Performs the function of pumping and carrying blood to the body. Blood contains nutrients and oxygen providing energy that allows the cells of the body to perform work.
~ Lymph Nodes and Lymph Vessels
The lymphatic system includes the lymph nodes and lymph vessels. Part of the immune system that helps the body fight-off disease. Works with the cardiovascular system to return fluids from the blood vessels.
~ Mouth, Teeth, Salivary Glands, Esophageus, Stomach, Small & Large Intestine, Pancreas, Colon, Liver, and Gall Bladder
Performs the absorption and digestion of food and eliminates waste from the body.
Digestion begins in the mouth where food is mixed with saliva to lubricate the food as it passes down the esophageus. Dog's teeth are suited for gripping, tearing and shredding the food. (Go here to Canine Dental Anatomy). Dog's saliva does not contain enzymes for digesting carbohydrates, like humans who have amylase
Swallowed food passes down the esophageus to the stomach. The stomach of a canine is very acidic with a pH as low as 1. Food is well mixed and broken down before contents leave the stomach as chyme
Chyme is fluid that passes easily into the the small intestine, where the pancrease provides additional digestive enzymes. These enzymes continue protein digestion and also provide carbohydrate and fat digestion
Most of the nutrients have been digested and absorbed by the time any food reaches the large intestine. It is were water is absorbed and bacteria can break down undigested fibre.
~ Skin and Fur
The skin is the largest organ in the body, it has many functions including protection for the underlying organs. The fur helps insulate against heat loss. Dogs and cats do not sweat through their skin. They only sweat from their footpads and nose. They lose water by panting rather than sweating.
~ Bones, Muscles and Joints
The musculoskeletal system includes all the muscles, bones and joints [shoulder, elbow, rear leg, stifle (knee)].
~ Mouth, Nose, Trachea, and Lungs
Responsible for taking in oxygen, eliminating waste gases like Carbon Dioxide, and regulating temperature.
~ Kidneys, Urinary Bladder, Genitals, Ureters, Urethra
Responsible for removing waste from the blood and eliminating urine. Genital organs determine sex and reproduction.
~ Brain, Spinal Cord, and Nerves
Includes the brain, spinal cord and all the nerves that communicate between tissues and the brain and spinal cord.
~ Thyroid Glands, Adrenal Glands and Parathyroid Glands
Includes several glands that produce hormones. Hormones are substances that travel through the blood stream and affect other organs. Endocrine organs include the thyroid glands, parathyroid glands, adrenal glands and part of the pancreas.
~ Bone Marrow and the Blood Cells
Includes the bone marrow which is located inside the bones. Three types of blood cells are made in the bone marrow: white blood cells that fight infection, red blood cells that carry oxygen and platelets that are part of the blood clotting process.
Special Senses of the Dog
~ Eyes, Ears
The organs of special senses allow the animal to interact with its environment; sight, taste, smell and hearing.