Most of us eat healthy home grown fruit and vegetables when we can, and avoid processed foods. We pride ourselves for eating well. Many of us only eat organic knowing there are no sprays or harmful substances on the food we eat – because it’s been drummed into us for ages, that we are what we eat. Many processed foods have additives that can be endocrine disrupters, carcinogens, and allergens.
But when it comes to our pets – do we do the same?
It’s very convenient to drop into the local supermarket, and pick up some prepackaged cat/dog food for our pets, however, it’s far healthier for our pets if we gave them food that would mimic what they would have in the wild. If you consider the diet of a wild dog, they prey on grazing animals. They eat the whole animal, including the abdominal contents which will have large quantities of vegetable matter consisting of grasses and herbs. So providing raw fresh food is best for our pets, although it is impractical to offer it in quite the same way as in the wild. Prolonged storage, including freezing and refrigeration, will reduce the nutritive value of the food.
If we extend this concept of the "wild" diet it is obvious that cooking is unneccessary. Unfortunately, the idea that cooking is necessary is a myth that persists, encouraged by conflicting opinion amongst veterinarians. However, it is well known that cooking decreases the digestibility (i.e. utilisation) of food by denaturing protein, destroying vitamins, and inactivating enzymes. It is also a major cause of halitosis (bad breath) and flatulence (farting). However, cooking has the advantage of reducing spoilage and therefore extending storage life, and it often improves palatability. There are occasions when cooking is useful. It is preferable to cook vegetables and grains as this renders them digestible and mimics the fermentation process which occurs in the multiple stomachs of the herbivore.
Pet food manufacturers often include ingredients to provide palatability by including chemical ingredients that enhance the taste. These are not always good for your pets, and once they get used to having this, it can be hard to switch brands of pet food. Another reason you should, as much as possible, provide a varied fresh diet. They also can contain all or some of the following additives: preservatives, emulsifiers, stabilizers, extenders, humectants, and colourings.
Dogs use panting as a means of heat regulation and during the hot summer will lose a lot of water from the body through panting. On a comparative body weight basis they drink a lot more water than humans. Unfortunately our water is treated with chlorine and fluorine and I am sure this high intake of these chemicals affect the health of our animals. By collecting rainwater, allowing animals to drink from natural waterways (preferably running water), and filtering water through reverse osmosis or ion exchange machines, we can help overcome this pollution. Incidentally, the use of aluminium bowls for water or food may lead to excessive intake of aluminium. Stainless steel bowls are recommended.
How the body battles with this onslaught of chemicals and still remains reasonably healthy is surprising!
Meeting our pet’s nutritional requirements, but doing so with sub-standard quality and potentially toxic ingredients, can cause both short and long-term health consequences. For your pet’s sake, offer a diet of human-grade, whole-food-based ingredients early in life and minimize the consumption of dry and canned diets and treats.
What to look for in a dry/wet food:
Unless you have the time and motivation to prepare your own balanced diets you could be better off to use commercial foods and supplement these with raw brisket and household scraps.
You can economise by using household scraps (vegetable peelings, cores and left overs) and purchasing ingredients unsuitable for human consumption (bug-infested grain, damaged packets and butcher scraps). Don't use mouldy foods. Buying in bulk is often cheaper although consider the shelf life and possible deterioration of the quality over a long period of time. You can also save time by preparing large quantities which can be stored for a few days in the fridge. Using a pressure cooker (stainless steel) will reduce the cooking time and minimise the damage to the quality of the food.
The protein to energy ration should match the special requirements (growth, lactation, etc.).
Protein : energy (by volume)
75% : 25% - growth, late pregnancy, convalescence
50% : 50% - maintenance
40% : 60% - working
This is a simple guide only and should be discussed with your veterinarian. For simplicity I recommend rotation of the following menu, changing to the next when you have finished your store.
Raw chicken necks are a very easy meal or snack and balanced
Raw brisket provides meat, fat and bone – a complete meal. I suggest you remove the short piece of rib bone as it is too hard to chew
Fish is a healthy source of protein and is often included in commercial dog food as an alternative protein source. Fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may have health benefits such as decreasing inflammation, but also beneficial for skin and coat. Fish is also a good alternative for dogs with food allergies to more common ingredients, like chicken.
For a great recipe which is sufficient for a large dog.
425gm can mackerel
3 Cups cooked rice/potatoes/wholemeal bread
1-3 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp yeast powder
1 tsp kelp powder
1.4 cup cooked liver (optional)
Add 1tsp Joint Flex before serving.
1 C chicken mince preferrably cooked
¼ C cooked mashed veges (pumpkin, kumara, peas, carrots, beans)
2 C cooked brown rice/potatoes/wholemeal bread ( 1C for pups)
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil ¼ C cooked ox liver
2 tsp Joint Flex
Mix ingredients together. (Sufficient for large dog.)
1 C beef mince 1 C cooked veges
2 C cooked rice 1 C rolled oats
1 C rye flakes 3 raw eggs
1 tsp Joint flex
Mix all ingredients and store in fridge
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Dr. Chris Piper
Great & Small