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Monday, February 26, 2007

Feeding Your Pets

Jimmy Moore had a post on his blog a few days back about low-carbing for pets. I feed my dog Layla a raw meat and veggies diet, what is affectionately termed BARF (Bones And Raw Food). That is the last time I will use that term because it doesn't really strike my fancy. Anywho, when we first got her a few weeks back, she was on standard kibble as I hadn't gone to the butcher to get real food for her. She would sometimes eat it all and usually not. I'd let her eat what she wanted, then mix in some applesauce to get her to finish it. Now, she's only 5 months old, so she was obviously still quite active on that diet, but I tried out adding in some other stuff to see how she reacted. Raw buffalo roast scraps, raw beef liver, sardines, tuna, a lamb bone - she made short work of all of them. Well, not the lamb bone, but she gnawed on it for hours getting every scrap of meat off. Maybe 2 weeks ago, I switched her to a diet of raw chicken necks and "veggie slop". As of now, she's eating 4 chicken necks at each of 2 meals per day (sometimes I feed her three meals on the weekends cause she's quite the eater) and 3-4 spoonfuls of veggie mix. The mix this week was made with a stalk of celery, garlic, 4 or 5 carrots, some spinach, a pound of raw liver, 3 eggs (including the shell for calcium), broccoli, 2 apples, coconut oil, and fish oil. The veggie mix is intended to mimic the remnants of food that a dog would encounter when digging into a kill's digestive tract. She eats it up and continues licking the bowl like she's trying to take the shine off. Once she gets a touch bigger, I'm going to move her to chicken backs.

So what's my point, right? The point is that you take care of your own health and eat a natural, whole foods-based diet that is in line with your evolutionary heritage as a meat-eating omnivore. Why do you not give your pet the same pleasure? With the amount of money many people spend on pampering their little darlings, it amazes me that they settle for standard mass-produced dog or cat food. The big problem with nearly every commercial pet food is that they contain grains. Dogs and cats are not, and have never been, grain eaters. Dogs are omnivorous, much like humans, but with an even greater shift towards the carnivore end of the scale. Cats on the other hand, are pretty much obligatory carnivores. Cats eat meat, meat, meat. Dogs eat meat and a little bit of other stuff. Now the dog food commercials say such asinine things as "plenty of carbs to give him energy" in reference to your dog. It's marketing! Dog's don't need carbohydrates. Cats especially don't need carbohydrates. I have my doubts about the types of protein and fat used in those feeds as well. Some people's dogs thrive on some of the higher end brands, but the low-end stuff is probably not going to be very good for your dog/cat.

People talk about the dangers of a raw food diet and, no doubt, there are some. But dogs can and do choke to death on kibble as well. The risk-reward tradeoff to have a dog that doesn't spend its last few years with arthritis and overweight is well worth it. Once your dog learns to chew properly and is acclimated to a diet of raw meat, which may require some work to get him/her back to a natural gut environment, the risk is minimal. My dog's coat is shiny and soft and she loves feeding time now. She's still playful as can be and loves to go out for a run. Here is a link to Dr. Billinghurst's website: He has written a couple books about this type of diet. Check it out...your dog or cat will appreciate getting back in tune with his or her wild side.