Why I feed a Natural Diet
Muffin, “my” first purebred dog was a Bullmastiff. She was funny, sweet and thought I was the best thing that ever happened to her, feelings were mutual. She died of nasal cancer at the age of 7 years old.
Cody and Bailey were born just days apart. They were our next Bullmastiffs, died at the age of 4 & 6 years old, both to cancer.
Bandit was our first Border terrier; he was the love of my life. He died 2 weeks before his 4th birthday, my heart felt physically broken when I lost him. He died of a severe allergic reaction to his processed foods. Two weeks after his death a biopsy revealed he had a rare auto-immune disease and years later we found out he also had Spike's Disease/CECS
Chicklet, was our third Border terrier. She too died an early death for a Border terrier. She was almost 5.5 years old, she struggled with many health issues due to clear vaccine reactions from the time we got her at 10 weeks old. It was because of her, I finally opened my eyes and mind to greater things.
These dogs were family members that were cherished and loved deeply.
We feed a raw natural diet at Boldwind Kennel. Some call it B.A.R.F (Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods) some call it Whole Prey and some call it a Raw Natural Diet. There are some differences in these, but, the one thing that remains consistent amongst these diets, are, RMBs (raw meaty bones).
I attended a raw feeding seminar in l999 when Tigger was only a few months old. It made so much sense to me, but I thought it would be too much work. After all, I was feeding the best kibble on the market, even though every year or so the best kibble would change to a different brand, and, all I had to do was scoop and feed. But I was so impressed by what I had heard in the seminar I told my in-laws about it. We spent many visits discussing in depth proper canine nutrition.
My in-laws bred Bullmastiffs for over 30 years and had just recently retired. From the moment I met my mother in-law in 1979 she was already worried about feeding processed foods to her menagerie of Bullmastiffs. She was always searching for the right food to feed her dogs, all 14 of them, and yes, all lived in their house, spoiled and loving it.
In the following year I spent much of my time researching my beloved canine health records, and, what I found was all had died of human diseases or auto-immune diseases'. Again, my in-laws and I discussed this issue in great length and went through 30 years of their canine records. Our findings were much the same. All had died of human diseases and or auto-immune diseases. As well, most had a short life, just as mine did and most had lived with a chronic issue, whether it was allergies, chronic ear infections, hot spots, Addison’s,Cancer, etc.
My in-laws were highly respected, responsible and reputable breeders, feeding high quality processed foods and giving yearly vaccinations.
In the last few years of their breeding program there was an ever growing concern with processed foods so they started feeding a well known homemade cooked diet. They preferred this homemade cooked diet to processed foods but were still not totally satisfied.
During our many visits we talked and remembered our parents and grandparents' dogs living off table scraps and raw meaty bones, they all lived to a ripe old age and died of natural causes, unless, they were unfortunately hit by a car. These dogs never saw or ate a piece of processed food in their lives, nor were they vaccinated on a yearly basis, ever. And, the vaccines that were given back then were not a 5 in 1 or a 6 in 1 shot, they were singular or never given.
In Dec. 2000 due to rapid declining health of one of my Borders I was forced to start feeding a raw natural diet, it was the best thing I ever did. It saved my Border’s life, but she did live out the remaining years with chronic issues. My only regret, why did I wait so long!
My in-laws switched their dogs to a raw natural diet the same week I did, and they too continue with the raw diet to this day, 2009.
Feeding a raw natural diet is not as time consuming as I originally thought it would be. My dogs love their meals, more then they ever did when they ate processed foods. Imagine that, with a Border!
Raw feeding can be as complicated as one makes it. At first, it can sound complicated, but it's not.
My dogs eat human grade edible raw “meaty bones” daily. Their diet has variety, beef, pork, bison, elk, chicken, lamb, goat, duck, quail, rabbit, organ (offal) meats and on occasion, venison and moose. I often buy frozen pre-made ground meaty bones because of the variety available. There is nothing else in the food other then the whole animal ground up, no veggies or supplements. I also choose a company that has not used antibiotics or hormones and the animals have been raised humanely. The rest of the raw foods I feed I’ll buy from local grocery stores and butchers. My dogs also get organic/free run eggs and muscle meats. Fresh fish is great, but my dogs won’t eat it so they get canned sardines in water, salmon or mackerel. They love “green” tripe, very stinky but healthy for them. Offering a variety of raw meaty bones and their meat as well as organ meats will get the “balance” effect, and it’s all done over time.
But, feeding whole meaty bones is best. It helps to keep the teeth clean, avoid gum disease, strengthens the jaws, body muscles and is psychologically satisfying. This is achieved when a dog is allowed to tear and rip at whole meaty bones. I buy these from my local grocery stores and butchers as well as certified organic farmers. I give these several times a week.
I very seldom (maybe once every three months or so and only for one or two meals) use veggies any more. For me, trying to get the veggies blended, which ones to use, which ones to use occasionally, which ones to cook or feed raw makes it far more complicated then I like! Instead of veggies, I use green tripe. Green Tripe is more of a natural food then broccoli, cauliflower, beets, romaine lettuce, etc. Berries too are far more natural to a dog’s diet then veggies are. I give my dogs’ ripened fruits when I have them, but only as a treat.
Researchers have established that non-reproducing adult dogs do not have any nutritional requirement for carbohydrates.
With puppies, I will add (green) veggies daily for one meal if I don’t have green tripe. I add veggies only because they burn off energy quickly and to give them a taste for everything, but it's not something I make myself crazy about.
I very seldom feed my dogs’ dairy products, complex carbohydrates or any kind of grains. Other then if they get in the garbage :-). The only exception is when my females are in whelp. Most of the time in late pregnancy they want cooked brown rice, soaked and crushed rolled oats, cooked squash, etc. At that time I will allow these foods, or pretty much whatever they want. As soon as the pups are born, right back to lots and lots of RMBs.
When I prepare my dogs' foods I take the same precautions as when I prepare raw meat for my family. I wash all utensils and counter tops with hot soapy water. If one is concerned with a bearded breed like mine, you can wash your dog’s beard with a wash cloth and warm soapy water after their meals. Just like one would do with a child after meal times.
Raw foods contain life-enhancing nutrients that are vital to providing optimal health for our pets. Whole raw foods provide enzymes, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids in its natural state. Some people add supplements and others do not feel there is a need. I add a mineral supplement, twice a week, weekly or even daily, sometimes not for weeks, just whenever I feel like it. I also use fish oils/cod liver oil when I don't feed sardines/mackerel. I also add vitamin E when I give fish oils.
Taz’s teeth at 5.5 years old, she's never had them cleaned by a veterinarian . Chewing on raw meaty bones keep her teeth pearly white.
Other benefits of feeding a raw natural diet: reduction in stool volume and odor free, fresh breath, cleaner teeth and more energy in older dogs.
Raw foods also contain bacteria. In fact this is probably the single most deterrent that pet owners have when it comes to feeding raw. The thought of exposing their pets to Salmonella, E Coli and Campylobacter is frightening for some owners. The digestive system of domesticated dogs and cats is the same as their wild ancestors, which means, they are entirely able to tolerate the bacteria in their body. Raw foods should come from a reliable source and if handled correctly your healthy pet's digestive tract will be able to digest and utilize the nutrients the bacteria’s adds to the meat. The argument against feeding pets’ raw foods and bacteria they harbor is based on the untruth that a dog's digestive system has changed from its raw meat-eating ancestor: the wolf. But this is physiologically impossible to have occurred in the short time frame that processed pet foods has been in existence.
There are many prepackaged raw dog foods being sold throughout the world. This makes it easier for people who don't have the time to prepare the diet from scratch, but would like to feed a natural diet. There are many raw food buying co-ops, butchers, farmers and local grocery stores for people who want to feed whole meaty bones and not ground foods.
The use of whole raw meaty bones as pet food was commonplace, and well accepted, throughout the world until the mid 1960's when commercially prepared dog food became available. I emphasize the importance of feeding the basic concept and a variety of foods. Some people think all they have to feed is meat. This will surely cause bone growth problems in puppies and will leave teens and older animals deficient in important nutrients. Eventually this will cause serious health problems for your animal.
If you are going to feed a raw natural diet to your animals, please take the time to research the diet so you can make appropriate choices for your animals. They depend on you to make the right choices to maintain their health. Raw feeding has been around for decades, it was invented by nature.
“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored”-Aldous Huxley