Just over a century ago, most dog owners fed their dogs what was left of their dinner. Table scraps were dog’s staple food. Then pet food manufacturers caught on the idea of selling pet food and encouraged dog owners to buy their products for their dogs, saying that the processed pet food they make is the best for their beloved pet. Each manufacturer would have you believe that their product is all-meat and all natural, that theirs is high in protein and non-allergenic, and that your dog will surely love their taste. However, as we have seen, no other pet food, commercial or home-made cooked dog food can mimic what dogs have fed on in the wild.
Commercial pet food manufacturers may claim that their formula provides your dogs with a completely balanced meal each time you feed them. But think about what dogs consumed before they were domesticated and had masters to give them food. Dogs hunted and fed on the prey they caught in the wild. Being domesticated didn’t change that even as they couldn’t hunt anymore. They still need raw food – meaty bones and organ meat – that can provide complete nutrition without over supplying your dogs with the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Commercial pet food is processed so you can be sure it contains chemicals and other ingredients not fit for dog consumption.
2. Storing Raw Food
As a general rule, the fresher the meat the better if is for your dog, which is also applicable to humans of course. However, for economical reasons, you may have to buy in bulk in order to get cheap some of the raw meat and bones you order from your butcher.
It is always a good practice to freeze raw meat if it is not going to be fed to your dog within two days. Store them below in the refrigerator and separate from prepared or cooked food to prevent cross-contamination. Keep them at a temperature of 40 degrees or below. Some of the nutrients are destroyed by freezing but it can’t be helped and besides, it is still worth it compared to commercially processed dog food.
Make sure you thaw it inside your ref a day before serving raw meat and bones to your dog and not outside as this could encourage the growth and multiplication of bacteria.
3. Resources of Raw Food
You can get your supply of raw meat and bones from your local grocery stores, butchers and raw meat suppliers. Some raw meat feeders have found a good source from nearby farms and friendly hunters.
5. A Note about Mixing Raw Food and Kibble
We have discussed this topic earlier in switching from commercial pet food to raw food diet. Many dog owners tried the slow switching method where raw meat is mixed with kibble in a gradually increasing manner in a span of one month. While this may sound the ideal way to do the switch, there are some important considerations before you decide to go this way.
Raw food, as we have explained in one of the myths, is more readily digestible than kibble. It only takes about three to four hours for raw food to be digested and about nine to twelve hours for kibble. When both types of both are mixed, the meat will be digested first while some of the kibbles will be left to ferment inside the stomach. If this happens, the level of bacteria in the dog’s stomach will rise and can cause health problems.
6. Feeding Fruit and Vegetables to Your Dog
Dogs do not need carbohydrates so feeding fruits and vegetables are optional. These foods do provide nutrients such as phytonutrients and trace minerals but we know now that they are only a tiny portion of the dog’s natural diet in the wild. Vegetables must be pureed in a juicer, blender or food processor. There is nothing wrong with whole vegetables but their cell walls are not digested in the dog’s stomach so, in such state, they have very little dietary value. It is better not to calculate vegetables as part of the diet’s total percentage but as an addition to the quantity of food your dog eats.
The best vegetables to feed your dog are all kinds of leafy greens, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, celery, zucchini, summer squashes, and carrots.
The rule to remember is to know your dog. Some dogs are like children – they may or may not like vegetables. Your dog may enjoy vegetables or may refuse to eat them even after you have put so much of your efforts to prepare them.
Apples, papayas, bananas, berries, mangoes, and melon are good fruits that you can add in small amounts. However, never feed raisins or grapes or raisins to your dog as these are known to cause kidney damage in dogs.
Many of a dog’s health problems can be caused or worsened by grains and other carbohydrate-rich foods. If you have an overweight dog or if he suffers from arthritis, allergies, chronic ear infections, seizures, incontinence, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or other digestive disorders, it might be better if you don’t feed your dog these types of foods and wait to see if his condition improves. Eggplants, tomatoes, potatoes, all kinds of peppers may worsen arthritis pain.
7. Feeding Raw Fish
You can feed raw fish to your dog but only in moderation to complement a balanced diet. At least once a week should be enough. Too much raw fish can produce vitamin deficiency in your dog since it contains an enzyme capable of breaking down vitamin B2, which in turn can lead to seizure and loss of appetite.
The best fish to feed your dog include Black fish, red fish, whiting, sardines, mullet, and mackerel. You can also try if you can get them, eel, crab, and prawns. Fish bones should not be an issue especially if fish is fed whole.
Beware of blow-fish which contains tetrodotoxin. It can be fatal to your dog. Watch out for it in beaches or river banks. If your dog happens to eat one, immediately seek veterinary help.
8. Should You Give Table Scraps to Your Dog?
If by table scraps you mean leftover food from your lunch or dinner, and assuming that you have cooked your food, then it is out of the question. We have already made the point of feeding only raw meat and bones so whatever it is you have left on the table should not be given to your dog, especially if it has been cooked. Having said this, however, let us mention that there are two opposing camps when it comes to feeding table scraps to dogs. “Why not?” says the first group and “It does not acceptable!” says the other one.
Many veterinarians have observed that most dogs fed with table scraps often have weight problems. You can give table scraps to your dogs under certain conditions. Never give cooked bones as they could splinter and cause trouble right inside the mouth and in the digestive tract of the dog. Also beware of certain foods that can cause different illnesses such as onion and garlic, avocado, raisins and grapes, mushrooms, chocolates, yeast dough, salt, alcohol, and certain dairy products that can cause diarrhea. Chocolates are bad because of a chemical substance called theobromine. When consumed in large quantities, chocolate can cause heart problems which can lead to death.
If you decide to feed table scraps to your dog, remember that just because they are dogs should not excuse them from table manners. Never try to feed them directly from your table. Make sure your dog does not connect his begging for food at the table and you giving in to his begging. After the meal, wait for him to stop begging and bring the leftovers to the place where the dog normally eats and put the food in his bowl. Do this only occasionally, and only as a treat.
9. Special Diet for Special Dogs
Dogs age too, and as they do, they undergo physical and behavioral changes. They become less active and may become obese. Some senior dogs however, do not become overweight but rather become the opposite. They lose weight and become disinterested in food. So your job here is already cut out for you – finding the right balance of food that will either help keep your senior dog’s weight down or help him gain weight and get back his healthy appetite for food. In either case, raw feeders have found that a raw food diet brought back their dog’s vitality and energy. There are incidences however of some dogs displaying negative symptoms after switching to raw food such as itchy skin, bad breath, vomiting, runny eyes and smelly ears. These can be attributed to the body’s reaction to the elimination of toxins as a result of healing initiated by the raw food diet. Such symptoms are expected to disappear after a few days.
Some dogs fed with commercial pet food containing processed and grain-based ingredients have undiagnosed allergies. Switching to raw food may cause some of those allergic symptoms to go away. If you have been feeding your dog commercial dog food, there’s a huge chance that he has been exposed to large quantities of unfit for dogs grains, which could lead to long term health problems. Starting your dog on a raw diet now can give your dog a new lease on a longer life.
Pregnant or lactating dogs can be safely fed raw food and in fact, it could be one of the best things you could do for them. You may even have to increase their diet to the upper limit in so far as quantity is concerned. It is essential for lactating dogs to have more bones and plenty of water in their diet.
It is perfectly alright to start puppies on raw meat even before they are completely weaned. You can give them chicken necks, wings or backs to slowly introduce them to solid food and get their jaws used to the act of chewing.
You can start your dog on a raw food diet at any time. The decision to start lies both on you and your dog. Dogs with developing dietary deficiencies may not exhibit symptoms at all or it may take several months for symptoms to become evident. Feeding your dog raw meat and bones can reverse the symptoms of dietary deficiency and ensure a healthier, longer life.