The raw food diet has been the rage in the human world, especially since it allows people to lose weight, pack up on important nutrients, and stay healthy. However, long before two-legged animals tried raw food diets, their four-legged counterparts have been living on them. Your dog’s ancestors, the wolves, have been hunting and eating raw delicacies for thousands of years. And have you ever seen a fat wolf in the wild? Therefore, to ensure that dogs stay lean, mean and healthy, dog trainers recommend raw food diets.
Now we at Sam Ivy K-9 consultants can vouch for the benefits of the raw food diet. After we shifted our pitbull to it, her skin issues and allergies disappeared. However, rather than pushing you to embrace this diet, we’d like to educate you about it before you make a choice.
The BARF Diet for a Healthy Dog
Before your gag reflex sets it, BARF is an acronym that stands for Bones And Raw Food or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. This type of diet has been used for sled dogs and racing greyhounds for decades, but it became available for family pets in 1993 after Australian vet Ian Billinghurst suggested that dogs can thrive on diets similar to the one canines had before being domesticated.
According to Billinghurst and raw food diet supporters, this type of diet offers a wide range of benefits including:
Healthier-looking skin and coats
Higher levels of energy
However, Billinghurst’s diet had its fair share of issues. For instance, raw meat meant exposure to bacteria. In addition, unbalanced diets could affect the health of dogs while whole bones could break their teeth, choke them or lead to internal puncture. Luckily, specialists have worked around the issues of raw diets to ensure minimal risk to both dog and owner.
Preparing a Raw Meal for Your Pup
Typically, raw dog food combines muscle meat, bones (preferably ground), organ meats (e.g. liver), raw eggs, vegetables (e.g. spinach), apples and dairy. To determine how much you’ll be feeding your pooch, remember Dr. Billinghurst’s formula: 2-3% of your dog’s body weight = serving. So if your dog weighs 25 lb., you should provide him 1/2 lb. of food. However, if your dog is active, you can increase the serving a little. Just make sure to monitor his weight to ensure that you’re not overdoing it.
Now each serving should have 80% muscle meat with fat, 10% organs, and 10% raw meaty bones. However, you can provide the bones as treats. Similarly, you can combine the required 15-18% of greens to the serving or serve separately. As for the egg, only add it once a week to your pooch’s diet.
Feeding Fido His First Raw Diet
Preparing a raw diet serving isn’t as difficult as feeding it to your dog. Despite the resistance you’re up against, he’ll eventually start eating what you serve if you stick to the following.
Alternate by serving kibble for dinner one night and a raw breakfast the next day.
Consider depriving your pup of food for at least one meal so that he can try the new food you put in front of him.
Avoid mixing kibble with raw foods. The former won’t digest quickly, resulting in an upset stomach.
If your dog’s stomach is upset, give her canned organic 100% pumpkin to regulate her stools.
If your dog gets “rocket butt” at first, don’t be scared. Your dog is adjusting to the new non-kibble diet.
Adjust your dog’s portions according to his weight. You’ll know that you’re on the right track if you see the outline of his ribs and an hourglass shape at the bottom of his rib cage.
Mistakes to Avoid While Serving Raw Foods
Raw food diets for dogs tend to have a bad reputation because they lead to GI issues and can be imbalanced. However, with the help of the following tips, your pooch will be safe.
Avoid sticking to only poultry or beef, especially since you have other meats to choose from.
If you’re giving your dog whole raw bones, opt for knuckle bones since they’re softer in comparison with leg bones. However, observe your dog as she eats to ensure that they don’t choke.
Complement your dog’s food with joint care supplements, salmon oil, coconut oil, and other natural supplements which your vet or dog behavior training specialist believe your pet should have.
Don’t mix too many proteins as these can be too harsh on your old gal’s stomach.
If you believe that your dog deserves the best, this is the diet for him. To learn more about the raw food diet, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Sam Ivy’s dog experts or your pet’s diet (if they support this type of diet).