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Feeding Your Dog

My dogs have been fed a raw food diet (sometimes referred to as the "Bones and Raw Food", or "BARF", diet) for many years. Although I am not a veterinarian nor a health care professional, I believe the switch from commercially prepared dog food has improved their overall health and lives.

Feeding a raw species appropriate diet can be a controversial topic. If you are interested in feeding this way, do your own research first. Read as many books and articles as you can, talk to successful raw feeders, and use your own judgment and gut instinct. While there is a large movement toward feeding the raw diet, if you are not comfortable with it, don't do it!

Dogs are designed to eat raw whole foods and have done so for thousands of years. Raw foods are full of enzymes, protein, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. Most raw feeders report healthier dogs, full of energy and vitality, with clean white teeth and fresh breath. I have yet to meet an overweight dog that was on a raw food program.

Early on, I was very concerned over what to feed, and if I would be able provide a balanced diet. After a lot of reading and talking to people who already fed a raw diet, I became comfortable with knowing that it was not necessary to balance each meal, but rather to rotate a variety of fresh ingredients each day and aim to balance the diet over time.

As you research raw feeding, you will notice that some versions feed meat and bones only, some include veggies or fruit, and a few incorporate limited grains. While raw chicken, bones included, is the base of my feeding program, pork, turkey, venison, ground beef, sardines, mackerel, liver, raw eggs with the shell, small amounts of veggies (ground in a food processor to help digestion), and ripe fruit are also included. Occasionally, I feed a meal of cooked oatmeal with yogurt or cottage cheese mixed in. They love it all!

NEVER FEED COOKED BONES! Cooking bones changes their molecular structure ... they become brittle and may splinter and injure or kill your dog!

While raw feeding was expensive at the start up, I now find the cost to equivalent to feeding a super premium dog food. By purchasing chicken in bulk and buying other meats on sale, including the "must sell today manager specials," the freezer stays full at a minimal cost.

Some great informational resources about the raw diet are Raw Meaty Bones Promote Health, and Work Wonders: Feed Your Dog Raw Meaty Bones, both by Dr.Tom Lonsdale. Natural Nutrition for Dogs & Cats by Kymythy Schultze, Raw Dog Food by Carina Beth McDonald, and Give Your Dog a Bone by Dr. Ian Billinghurst. Also, Yahoo has lots of raw feeding and dog nutrition lists such as NJ-BARF. It’s a great way to read about the experiences, problems and successes that people have with a raw diet. There are also many anti-raw folks out there, so be prepared to wade through the controversy and make up your own mind.

Feeding dogs a raw food diet is not for everyone. If a commercial kibble diet is what suits you, please read the article Dog Food Reviews by Brand to compare what is available. Try to avoid foods that are preserved with BHA, BHT or Ethoxyquin (artificial preservatives), as they are a sign of low quality food.

I hope you and your dogs enjoy many healthy years together!