What I Choose to Feed My Dogs and Why
In February of 2012 my daughter checked two books out of the local library (THE BARF DIET and GIVE YOUR DOG A BONE) as she enthusiastically shared with me what she was learning I decided to read the books cover to cover for my self. As I voraciously devoured each chapter I found my self increasingly impressed by the thoroughness with which the author conveyed the information on the topic and the ease with which it could be understood. With the library copies I could only take notes so I soon ordered a copy of each for myself online at “Dogwise”. Once in my possession I read, reread, underlined and made notations gaining the confidence and motivation to embark on a totally new way of feeding my three dogs.
By the end of March 2012 my dogs were being fed a biologically appropriate raw food diet based on evolutionary principles. Considering the bounty of whole natural foods which nature has to offer our canine companions to describe this way of feeding dogs is “simply beautiful”. The vast variety of wholesome foods is obtained from a broad spectrum of nutrient, mineral and vitamin rich sources found within both the plant and animal kingdoms.
The domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) is scientifically proven to be of gray wolf (Canis lupus) stock with a genetic makeup that differs by a minimal .2%. So the domestic dog from the smallest to the largest has a 99.8% genetic makeup of the gray wolf. The domestic dog is classified as a subspecies of the gray wolf; they can interbreed and produce fertile offspring. Dogs are naturally designed to not only survive but to thrive on their natural ancestral diet. This is the model upon which I now base my dogs diet.
The five basic ingredients and proportions of the BARF diet are as follows:
1. Water – Raw foods naturally contain a large percentage of water, a main source for wild canines supplemented with access to some fresh water sources.
(Note: Dogs which are fed a high proportion of dry kibble need to drink copious amounts of water to rehydrate the food in order to be able to digest it.)
2. Raw Meaty Bones – 60%
The majority of energy requirements are met by feeding raw meaty bones which provide water, protein, fat, minerals, vitamins, enzymes, antioxidants and anti-aging nutrients.
Some sources- chicken, turkey, lamb, pork, beef, venison, moose.
(Note: it is advantageous to source the bones of larger animals from those which are not too old.)
Raw meaty bones are best fed as is however for very young, senior, or for dogs who tend to gulp their food this food item can be ground, as the dog is able to eat and digest the consistency can be gradually left coarser. Ideally progression to chewing the actual bones is most desirable provided there are no underlying health concerns, such as a lack of teeth.
Raw meat from the above sources is added to adjust proportions of the diet when more protein and less fat may be desired for a time. This can be ground with bones.
Previously frozen raw trout, salmon, and halibut can also be used in the diet, particularly beneficial to the Nordic type breeds and mixes of dogs.
3. Raw Fruits and Vegetables – 15%
Fresh whole, raw, predominately non-starchy fruits and vegetables. These are prepared in the food processor to mimic the partially digested stomach contents of prey animals a natural source for wild canines as cellulose is indigestible unless it is thoroughly crushed at the cellular level.
Examples – green leafy vegetables including spinach, romaine, kale, celery.
- lesser portions of the cabbage family such as broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy,
herbs such as parsley.
root vegetables including carrots, sugar beets, as well as fruit type vegetables such as tomatoes, red, green or yellow peppers.
some yams or sweet potatoes.
most any fruit is okay but keep the content to 5%.
4. Offal – 10-15%
internal organs such as liver, heart, kidney and green tripe.
Healthy oils such as cod liver, salmon, olive and grapeseed.
Others such as natural yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs including the shells, natural peanut butter.
Note: Before using medicinal supplements refer to the BARF DIET and GIVE YOUR DOG A BONE. Each dog is an individual and correct and appropriate supplementation can be beneficial however incorrect, inappropriate or over supplementation can cause adverse effects.
This program of feeding my dogs gives me the ability to balance their diet over time which is a natural way of eating rather than attempting to “balance” every individual meal which is completely unnatural. Some ingredients when combined can actually negate the benefits of other ingredients and some combinations of foods can cause digestive upsets and limit or prevent the absorption of certain nutrients.
For example don’t combine proteins with starches as it will inhibit productive digestion.
Do combine starches with fruits and vegetables. Do combine offal and fruits and vegetables.
Some cooked items can be offered and some ingredients require cooking in order to be digested. Rice must be cooked with lentils as in the absence of the other they are not thoroughly digestible. Quinoa and oatmeal also need to be cooked.
I occasionally offer a few select choices of canned food, the main two I purchase have a minimal number of natural ingredients with no artificial additives. One is meat based the other is tripe based. Canned sardines, tuna, and salmon preferably in water can also be fed occasionally.
Reasons I have decided to feed my Dogs the BARF DIET.
1. I have no control over the quality, consistency or the ingredients which go into commercially prepared foods. Twice in the past ten years the recipe for the kibble I fed was changed both times my dogs experienced negative effects as a result.
2. I have complete control of the quality, consistency, proportions and ingredients I offer to my dogs now.
3. I have witnessed the visible improvement of health and vitality in my dogs. Particularly with my oldest dog whose digestive issues have been resolved as well as his mobility has vastly improved, his joints move freely and his energy levels are back to those of a younger adult. This past summer he exhibited none of the usual skin problems or allergies to dust and pollens.
4. For all three dogs the following are noticeable:
bright clear eyes
consistent well formed, limited odor feces consisting of simple organic matter which naturally decomposes. I dispose of it out of the way on the property.
fresh breath and clean teeth.
minimal to no flatulence
I feed a morning meal and a second meal around 5-6:00 p.m. The dogs appetites appear to be satisfied in between and they are eager to consume their next meal.
body weight remains consistent overall with normal minimal seasonal fluctuations.
I find this method of feeding to be cost effective.
every forth or fifth meal I slice, dice, food process or cook, the rest of the meals are simply thawed and at the most portioned with a meat cleaver. (note: I take extra care in cleaving the turkey necks into one inch rounds and then in half, due to the higher choking risk.)
I stock my deep freeze bi-weekly which is quite convenient. If I need fruits or veggies I can always stop at the grocery to pick more up.
Observing all of the benefits of the BARF DIET brings to me a sense of satisfaction and peace of mind knowing that I am able to knowledgeably and purposefully contribute to the optimal health and well being of my dogs.
Lastly the excitement in their eyes, the bounce in their step and the smiles on my dogs faces continue to be great motivating factors for me to continue on feeding them what nature designed them to eat.
Final note: There are some foods which are harmful or even poisonous to dogs. Three that come to mind are pure chocolate, macadamia nuts and onions. If you are in anyway unsure of the appropriateness of feeding a certain food item or supplement consult your dog’s health care provider prior to introducing it into your dog’s diet.
This article is intended to convey my experience with my choice to feed my dogs the BARF DIET, it is in no way intended or implied to be advice, professional or otherwise on how you should feed your dog.
Middle Earth Canine Academy
THE BARF DIET
DR. Ian Billinghurst
B.V.Sc.[Hons], B.Sc.Agr., Dip.Ed.
Printed in Australia by SOS Printing Pty Ltd
PO Box 411 Alexandria 2015 N.S.W. Australia
GIVE YOUR DOG A BONE
Dr. Ian Billinghurst
B.V.Sc. [Hons], B.Sc.Agr., Dip.Ed.
WARRIGAL PUBLISHINGP.O. BOX 9064 BATHURST
N.S.W. AUSTRALIA 2795