Copyright 2012 Digby Van Winkle. Powered by Blogger.
Wednesday, 18 July 2012
What does Digby eat?
Disclaimer: This post is based entirely on my opinion and my own research into dog nutrition. Please read this post with an open mind and know that I am not judging anyone who disagrees with me. We all want to do what's best for our pets.
I wasn't going to make this post considering the controversial view some people have on the subject - however, I would however like to give you some insight on what raw feeding is, how to go about doing it, and the great benefits that come with the territory.
Dogs are carnivores. They have teeth identical to wolves, who are, with no doubt, carnivores. While they may take advantage of seasonal windfalls and eat berries etc they do not rely of berries in order to live. They don't have any nutritional need for corn/grains/vegetable matter and in fact can't effectively digest non-animal matter. Raw fed dogs are leaner, have cleaner teeth and shinier coats than dogs fed a diet of predominantly kibble. Most importantly, your dog will not get sick from eating raw (even raw chicken)! Dogs have a shorter gastro intestinal tract than us humans and have a
higher acidity in their stomachs so are not prone to illness from
bacteria such as salmonella and E.coli.
Raw fed dogs have cleaner teeth as a result of crunching through bones, ripping through meat and flossing their teeth when chewing on sinew/connective tissue. They don't inhale their dinner in record time and depending on the size and shape of the meal need to stop and think about the best way to eat their food. Digby routinely takes half an hour to eat his dinner (which is annoying when we want to go to bed but he's always exhausted afterwards).
There are many different "flavours" of raw feeding - ranging from pre-made dehydrated raw food to diets made up of fresh meat, bones and organs. All of these diets are very different but follow the same basic idea: to feed your pet what they were biologically designed to eat.
Essentially, they can be broken down into four main methods of feeding:
Commercially made dry raw food (K9 Natural and ZiwiPeak to name just two of them) is manufactured with the convenience of kibble or canned commercial food in mind. While nutritionally beneficial, they offer little in the area of mental and physical stimulation.
Pre-made ground mixes can be great, if you know what's in them. They are generally made up of a mixture of meat, bones and offal. I use them to stuff a kong when we go to work in the morning and they do the trick but I am aware of the fact that feeding too many ground mixes with bone included can cause issues. Too much bone leads to constipation, and besides - dogs only need 10% bone in their diet which really isn't much and I'd much prefer my dog to get the benefits of chewing on a bone in piece of meat.
the B.A.R.F (Bones and Raw Food) diet is something I don't know a great deal about because honestly it doesn't really make sense to me but from what I gather it puts too much emphasis on bone for my liking, and advocates feeding vegetable matter & fruits to our carnivores.
Prey Model Raw (the model I most closely follow) aims to emulate the diet your dog would be eating in the wild - though that does not mean going outside, slaughtering a cow and presenting it to your dog. With that said, whole species appropriate prey such as rabbit is a great thing to feed and an option many raw feeders embrace. It's far more common though to feed what is referred to as "frankenprey". Prey Model Raw dictates a diet of 80% meat, 10% edible bone and 10% organs - of which 5% MUST be liver. It's non negotiable. Frankenprey is basically any combination of animal parts to make up that percentage and aiming for balance over time. For example, a whole chicken is 33% bone, 67% meat, so if you're feeding a chicken quarter (or a whole chicken!) you'd be aiming to ensure that your dog gets a little extra meat, too, and some organ.
I guess I should address why I disagree with the concept of feeding Kibble - even the grain free kinds. Below is an example of what you'll see if you look at the ingredients on the bags, and bolded are the ingredients that I would actually feed:
As you can see I did struggle to find an actual ingredient in there that I'd feed but it is a good representation of how simple feeding our pet carnivores really has to be. I'm sure that you're wondering why I have left the vitamins out of my "acceptable ingredients" and there is a good reason for that. We all know that certain vegetables when cooked for us humans lose some of their nutritional value and are better eaten raw. It's the same for our dogs - cooked protein is very different from the raw equivalent and dogs do just fine in getting the nutrition they need from raw meat.
I could go on about this for days but I'll leave you with some excellent resources that have helped me in learning more about what I can now see is a natural way of feeding.
The Many Myths of Raw Feeding and RawLearning.com are both excellent resources to check out if you are interested in making the switch with your dogs. I can't stress enough how easy it is once you get the basics down. If you have any questions or want me to elaborate on anything at all, please leave a comment and I'll do my best to answer or point you in the direction of someone who can.