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You can print out these recommendations so that they are handy for quick review ... Please read to the end of this article as there are many important things you need to know about feeding a Home-made diet ... also, check out Dr. Becker's Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats it's a great book with recipes, Chinese Medicine "food therapy" and more.
Always REMEMBER - any time you feed a home-made diet you MUST include vitamin supplements. I personally like FidoNutrients and Mercola's Spirugreen - both found on Amazon.
Feeding Recommendations (recipes below)
It is challenging to convince some to shift their pets to a raw diet but the more educated people become it’s becoming easier and easier. Some simply refuse to feed raw so I try to give them non-raw options that are still preferable to processed pet food. The most frequently asked question I get about raw meat diets is, 'What about salmonella?'
About Salmonella - The most important thing to understand about salmonella or any other potentially pathogenic bacteria is that contamination absolutely does occur. It's a fact of life. Salmonella is the reason for most recalls of dry pet foods (and human foods as well). When a salmonella outbreak occurs, there has been contamination in the food chain. The word Salmonella is used to describe over 1,800 serovars (species) of gram-negative bacteria. This bacteria lives in many species of mammals. The most common bacteria riding around in your dog or cat is Salmonella typhimurium.
Dogs and cats are built to handle bacterial loads from food that would cause significant illness in you or me. Your pet's body is well equipped to deal with heavy doses of familiar and strange bacteria because nature built him to catch, kill and immediately consume his prey. Your dog's or cat's stomach is highly acidic, with a pH range of 1-2.5. Nothing much can survive that acidic environment – it exists to keep your pet safe from potentially contaminated raw meat and other consumables. In addition to the acid, dogs and cats also naturally produce a tremendous amount of bile. Bile is both anti-parasitic and anti-pathogenic. So if something potentially harmful isn't entirely neutralized by stomach acid, the bile is a secondary defense. And your pet's powerful pancreatic enzymes also help break down and digest food.
These recommendations are for most healthy dogs, so if your dog is under a vet's care or is having health problems, please do the research first to make sure you are providing the right nutrition. Remember that in feeding a home-made Raw Food Diet, you will need to provide vitamins, minerals, probiotics, bone meal, and other supplements to ensure a well-balanced diet that will create good health. Also, feeding organic/free range meats will help ensure cleaner food and fewer food sensitivities.
Between-meal snacks are disruptive to the digestive system, and the typical doggy treats are loaded with harmful by-products, preservatives, sugars, artificial sweeteners, colorings and xylitol! Stick with the "jerky" type of treat which is just meat, avoiding Chicken Jerky as it has been recalled too many times. I personally use Duck or Venison jerkys as it is still a fairly clean meat, but mostly I use organic free-range chicken. Only feed products where the meat source is from USA [not just "Made in USA"]. It is well known now that food products from China or Asia do not have the quality control that we do here in the US, plus their water supply is often contaminated. You can make your own jerky by taking thin, lean slices of organic chicken, duck, beef, lamb, etc. and baking it in the oven on a cookie sheet at 180 degrees for 3-4 hours ur until it looks like jerky - OR - buy a dehydrator! much easier :)
The following recipe suggestions can be used for all medium or large canines - not just Wolfdogs - to promote a strong healthy immune system. Wolfdogs thrive especially well on a natural diet since their hereditary needs dictate a diet closer to that which they would find in the wild. I have had many a Wolfdog brought to me grossly underweight, with allergies and other health problems, and the owner claiming "he eats a ton of food but doesn't gain weight." This is because the highly processed [and less nutritious] commercial pet food that most people feed their canines literally passes right through them, with little real nutrition absorbed. Especially dry kibble. The additives in commercial food often are the cause of Food Allergies. The first thing I do is take them off processed commercial pet food. Once put on a natural, real-food diet - especially Organic - these same dogs have gained weight and blossomed into shiny-coated, energetic yet calm and happy animals.
Raw food contains more vitamins and minerals than cooked food since cooking destroys many nutrients, and high-heat cooking of meat is actually harmful, creating many toxic chemicals. There are some foods that must be cooked like millet, quinoa, brown rice, etc. but I avoid these difficult-to-digest grains altogether. Yams, sweet potatoes and other root vegetables should be baked, mashed or added fresh at mealtime and in very small amounts. If using fresh, be sure to puree. Leafy greens are best minced and added fresh as they get brown and soggy if prepared ahead of time. Again, very small amounts. Meat should be given raw. Since raw meat ripens, and cooked meat sours (or spoils), raw meat can be stored a little longer [refrigerated] than cooked, but never feed a dog spoiled food. It is important to note that shredded meat is always better than ground as it make the dog chew and it strengthens the stomach muscles.
Our budgets do not always allow us to choose what we would like, so I have prepared two basic recipes - One using raw ground turkey, the other chopped raw chicken with bones - [Never give a dog cooked bones as they splinter]. It is usually less expensive, and still much healthier than feeding a strictly commercial-food-based diet [dry food or canned]. Feel free to substitute the ground meat for shredded meat, using beef, lamb, rabbit, duck, game hens or chicken (use Organic Free-Range Meat if you can to avoid all the growth hormones and antibiotics). It's better to give the dogs a variety of nutrition, not giving them the same meal every night. Remember, always cook pork or any wild game such as venison, rabbit, duck and fish as they usually contain parasites.
Raw Bones - I recommend raw chicken bones, free range, organic. Beef-marrow bones are good if the dog does not try to bite or chew the bone, which could crack his teeth. If your dog is just chewing the meat off the bone that is fine, but if he is a bone breaker, stick to chicken bones.
If your dog has gum or tooth problems, pockets around the gum line can occur where food and debris can get caught. Tiny ground bone slivers can wind up in these pockets and cause irritation and infection, so always have your pet's teeth and gums checked. If your dog is old or pockets in the gums are present from a poor history of nutrition, you should make Bone Broth instead of feeding the raw chicken bones, brush their teeth every day, and offer Mercola Dental Bones as a substitute for raw bones.
Bone Broth - This broth is great for both healthy and ill pets as it contains lots of minerals and nutrients. Also good for dogs that are fasting, or unable to eat solid foods. Best to do in a slow cooker or crock pot. That way you don't have to leave a pot on the stove overnight. ORGANIC FREE-RANGE BEST! Place a whole chicken (or beef bones with meat on them) in a large crock pot and cover meat with water. Add about 2 tablespoons of vinegar (this helps leach out the minerals from the bones). Bring to boil and then simmer for 3-4 hours until all the meat falls off the bones. Take most of the meat out of the pot and set aside. Keep putting bones back in until all meat is off. You can take some of the broth out and feed to your dog or cat after it cools, but then add more water and vinegar to the pot. Continue cooking for 24 hours, or until all bones have literally dissolved. Cool and strain out all bone fragments. The broth remaining is high in nutrients, vitamins and minerals and should be cooled, then put in a bowl for your pet. Always have fresh water available as well. Any bone fragments you have been collecting can be pureed into a mush and fed to your dog or cat in their dinner along with the meat.
If your dog does not like or tolerate raw meat, it's fine to cook it by browning it in water [do not use oil as oil turns to grease when heated]. You can add a few spices like powdered garlic, sea salt, organo, etc. NO onions. Remove all bones if cooking the meat.
I buy whatever is on sale and as much as I can. If you want to make your own ground meat, make sure you grind up bones and all (beef bones are a little harder to grind up so choose meat with smaller bones and grind them finely). Bones are an essential part of the diet and contribute much-needed calcium and bone meal, which also help keep stools firm. Sometimes you can find whole chickens on sale for .99 cents/lb. or less, but they are usually not the Free-Range Organic chickens. [see article on Food Allergies ]
If you own a medium-to-large dog, use a meat cleaver and chop raw chicken bones into pieces large enough for him to chew, depending on the size of the dog. I often give my high-content wolfdogs whole or half chickens which forces them to tear off pieces and chew slowly and more efficiently. For smaller dogs, cut the chicken into smaller bite size pieces, bones and all. Give your dog about a handful of the chopped chicken, along with my raw turkey recipe [ground meat, yam, veggies, vitamins, etc.] for those important nutrients and to add extra cushion in the stomach. Always monitor your dog while eating to make sure they are not swallowing large pieces without chewing properly. If they are eating fast and swallowing large pieces, chop the pieces into smaller ones.
But here’s the rub – if you’re going the homemade route, you must do it right. And by right, I mean balanced. A growing problem is pets with compromised health as the result of being fed an unbalanced homemade diet which can cause many problems. ALWAYS ADD SUPPLEMENTS TO THE DIET!
Keep in mind a few things: Pork, rabbit and fish may harbor E. Coli bacteria and are more likely to contain Trichinosis and Cystocerca (tapeworms), so these meats need to be cooked thoroughly. I usually avoid these meats (except I do poach some salmon or white fish occasionally for my dogs, carefully removing all bones). My dogs love pork so slow cook with a little water in crock pot until well done. A pork shoulder can feed one dog for 4-5 days.
With the other meats - beef, lamb, chicken, turkey - I always feed raw, but you can put a little water (not oil) in the pan and brown it a bit if it makes you feel more comfortable (some people are adverse to feeding raw meats). Some dogs are not used to raw meat or may have some digestive problems, so start out with medium-cooked meat and see if they can tolerate raw by adding a little into their dinner over time.
If your dog is having diarrhea from the change of diet ... You can add some slippery elem to his dinner, or give him a hard-boiled egg or two (not more than three times a week). Or, you can boil up some chicken soup with carrots and celery. Remove the bones. Chop up the meat and veggies and mix with a little cooked sweet potato or pumpkin. Squirt a little Bragg's Liquid Aminos or iodized sea salt ... A recipe that has been used for centuries! You can even give him some of the broth if he likes. You can also make the Bone Broth above. Adding some doggie probiotics with digestive enzymes may also help him if he is having difficulty digesting new foods.
Remember, no one cooks for the animals in the wild! Poultry and rabbit are actually the easiest meats for canines to digest and are a part of their natural diet in the wild, but when feeding rabbit or any wild game I always cook well becasue of parasites. I don’t feed road kill as it too usually contains parasites, although if you have a pack of Wolves you may have to resort to donated food sources, so it should be cooked thoroughly or give them antiparasitic herbs regularly. A healthy dog reared on a natural diet will have a strong immune system and shouldn't have a problem with low doses of salmonella which is sometimes found in raw meat. For the past 27 years I have fed all my animals and rescues a natural diet with raw meat, vegetables and supplements, having much success with rehabilitation. Also, it's easier to eliminate parasites from time to time, than curing a disease from harmful cancer-causing chemicals and byproducts which are found in processed, commercial pet foods. I have my canines checked for parasites every 4-6 months [just a stool check - which is inexpensive], as well as watch for parasites daily. If your dog is ill or his immune system is compromised, feed him cooked meat and veggies instead of raw until he recovers. Be sure to add in the much-needed supplements.
Avoiding parasites - You can always add anti-parasitic items into your dog's dinner that will help create an internal environment that is difficult for parasites to live in. They should not be given every day over a long period of time since they also kill bacteria - that means good bacteria as well as the bad. Consult your holistic veterinarian to find out how long you want to give these remedies. Then give your dog Probiotics and/or Colostrum which will help bring back balance to the intestinal flora, and improve digestion and immunity. FidoNutrients (a liquid vitamin supplement) contains some anti-parasitic herbs but it does not contain probiotics. A wonderful remedy for low-infestation of internal parasites (like from eating a rotten squirrel or meat) is Cleopatra's Organic Diatomateous Earty (DE). It's formulated for humans but great for the dogs evey now and then.
Here are just some herbs and foods that are quite effective against parasites:
Raw Organic Pumpkin Seeds - ground or whole, keep refrigerated; Garlic Powder; Fennel Seed; Grapefruitseed Extract [GSE]; Diatomaceous Earth - buy organic in capsules [Cleopatra has organic DEA]; small amounts of freshly minced organic Garlic [not the stuff in jars!]. Contact your Holistic Vet for dosage amounts, as size, age and health condition of your pet is extremely important to take into consideration. Note: Some dogs are sensitive to fresh garlic - or even allergic - so monitor your pet anytime you are giving garlic and discontinue if discomfort is noticed. Even if the dog tolerates it, allow your dog to have a few weeks off from fresh garlic every now and then.
Turkey bones are more dense, so avoid large Turkey bones to be on the safe side as sometimes they are too hard for most canines to chew up properly. Raw turkey necks are fine. If you are chopping the raw turkey into bite-sized pieces that is fine. I prefer giving them raw chicken as it is easier for them to digest. I use mostly the backbones, ribs, necks, wings, and other small bones until the dog is chewing carefully and eating slowly. I avoid the larger, harder bones (like the legs and thigh bones) with the younger, older, or smaller dogs, or dogs that don't chew their food well. For High-content and pure Wolves, I often give whole, raw chickens, but I observe them closely to be sure they are not “wolfing” down their food, i.e. swallowing it in large chunks or eating too fast. Instead they should be chewing and tearing it methodically, consuming smaller pieces at a time, eating slowly and calmly. If you find your Wolf is wolfing [pardon the pun], get out the meat cleaver and chop the chicken into pieces that he can chew up, but not too small that he will swallow whole. Years ago, I almost lost a pure wolf to Bloat because he swallowed two whole chicken breasts without chewing. Of course it was a Saturday night with no emergency clinic available. I massaged his stomach from head to tail, and walked him around slowly. Luckily he vomited both of them up. Had it been any longer he would have died. Canines can die from Bloat or Twisted Bowel from 30 minutes to a few hours. See more info on our link Bloat/Twisted Bowel. For medium and large breeds always feed two smaller meals a day rather than one large meal. If your dog is eating too fast, then feed three smaller meals or try hand feeding. [Note: canines between 4 and 8 months old should eat three meals a day. See Puppies ]. Adjust volume according to weight gain.
Feed your canines separately - Feeding in the same room [even if they are separated] often causes them to eat faster than normal for fear of the other dog eating their food. Even if you feel that they are "so good together," there could be an anxiety factor that is disruptive to the digestive system. Observe their behavior and discourage eating too fast. On the other hand, I find that my picky eaters who don't eat well will sometimes eat better when another dog is around! I call them "pack eaters" :)
Supplements - VERY IMPORTANT!
Lots of bones in each meat meal [on a daily basis] can give them too much calcium, so go easy. A handful of chopped chicken with bones is plenty mixed in with the rest of his meal but remember - make sure your dog does not have any dental problems, i.e. pockets, bad teeth or gums, is too old to chew properly or one that will wolf his food down in large pieces which can cause bloating.
Add some doggie vitamins. Here's a few recommendations:
Dr. Bob Goldstein's Health Nuggets is a good vitamin supplement to add and can be found in most pet-supply stores. It does contain kelp so be aware. If your dog is suffering from any thyroid problems, avoid kelp and seaweed altogether. You can also give your dog a good doggy vitamin every day. Make sure it does not contain iron, and the Vitamin A should only be from Beta Carotene. Digestive enzymes are especially important for older canines, dogs with allergies, and those that need digestive help or healing. Probiotics are also a necessary daily supplement, especially if the dog has been taking any kind of drugs, antiparasitics, or antibiotics (give after treatment is completed). Glycoflex III is an awesome supplement for joint and muscle health but unfortunately it does contain cellulose and silicon dioxide. Cosaquin is another good formula for joint health and healing injuries. Omega 3 oils - very important and can be obtained in capsule form, or feed sardines and/or mackerel. Avoid flaxseed and substitute with fish oils. I use K9 Liquid Health Fidonutrients. I often alternate with other vitamin sources but be sure you are not doubling up on the kelp. Kelp can give your dog too much iodine if given over a long period of time, which is not good for the thyroid]. Spirulina is a great green source and a whole food. Check out Mercola's Spirugreen.
Unfortunately, a growing number of well-meaning pet owners are confusing balanced, species-appropriate nutrition with feeding hunks of raw muscle meat to their dog or cat. Although fresh meat is a good source of protein and some minerals, it doesn't represent a balanced diet. We're seeing an increasing number of pets with skeletal problems, organ failure and endocrine abnormalities caused by dietary deficiencies of essential nutrients.
In the wild, canines and felines eat nearly all the parts of their prey, including small bones, internal organs, blood, brain, eyes, tongue and other tasty treats. Many of these parts of prey animals provide important nutrients for dogs and cats. This is how carnivores in the wild nutritionally balance their diets.
An exclusive diet of raw chicken muscle meat is lacking the minimum requirements for a number of vital nutrients . These include potassium, iron, copper, manganese, zinc, iodine, and vitamins A, D, E, B-12 and choline, the essential fatty acid ratio (omega 6s to omega 3s). It is unbalanced, and there's a complete lack of phytonutrients, antioxidants and enzymes.
When your dog or cat is fed only muscle meat, he's missing out on a variety of essential nutrients and sooner or later, he'll develop serious health problems as a result. Some conditions brought on by nutritional deficiencies can be corrected through diet, others cannot.
And don't make the mistake of thinking all you need to do is throw a few fresh veggies in the bowl to make up the difference. Balancing your pet's food to provide optimal nutrition is a bit more complex.
How to Make Sure You’re Feeding Balanced Nutrition to Your Cat or Dog
There should be four primary components in a nutritional program for your dog or cat, including:
A healthy dog’s diet should contain about 75 percent meat/organs/bones and 25 percent veggies/fruit (this mimics the GI contents of prey, providing fiber and antioxidants as well). For healthy kitties, the mix should be about 88 percent meat/organs/bones and 12 percent veggies.
Fresh, whole food provides the majority of nutrients pets need, and a micronutrient vitamin/mineral mix takes care of the deficiencies that do exist, namely iron, copper, manganese, zinc, iodine, vitamin D, folic acid, and taurine and Biotin (for cats). I like K9 Liquid Health Fidonutrients which can be bought on the internet or at Scraps Dog Bakery.
Keep in mind that just because nutritional deficiencies aren’t obvious in your pet doesn’t mean they don’t exist. A considerable amount of research has gone into determining what nutrients dogs and cats need to survive. At a minimum, you do a disservice to your pet by taking a casual approach to insuring he receives all the nutrients he requires for good health.
If you’re preparing homemade food for your pet, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of insuring the diet you feed is nutritionally balanced. It doesn't matter whose recipe you follow, but it does matter that it's balanced. You can accomplish this by using balanced pet food recipes you prepare at home [see Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide for Natural Health for Dogs and Cats], or by feeding a high-quality commercially available pet food.