Raw Dog Food Nutrition and the Barf Diet for Dogs

Are you afraid to make the switch? Wonder if raw dog food is a fad or really good nutrition advice? Do the words barf diet leave you queasy? I agonized over it but devotion to my dogs made me brave.

Why you should take the plunge and serve raw dog food

I took the plunge and now I wouldn't have it any other way.

It’s like buying a new car. It's different, it's unique but after you get it you see them everywhere.

Feeding totally raw natural dog food is like that.

It's like moving to a new city. You're confused, don't know your way around and struggle at first. A year later you know the place like the back of your hand.

Feeding totally raw natural dog food is like that too.

A lonely road at first… 

I learned and so will you.


The Logic

We all know how dogs descended from wolves and are carnivores. I don't care if it's been 400 or 14,000 years. No matter what they look like on the outside, their insides remain the same. They don’t have molars to grind grains like we do. They have teeth to tear and crush and a short highly acidic gastrointestinal tract to break down large chunks of swallowed meat and kill bacteria at the same time. That is the nature of the beasts …which are our adorable pups.

Raw dog food or the barf diet makes perfect and logical sense. First of all it is Live Food. We should all be eating live food. What is it?

Unprocessed. The way it is before cooking, pasteurization or radiation.

We all know the more something is processed, the more vitamins and nutrients are killed right? Well there’s something else. Enzymes. Enzymes are what break down foods.  We need them for digestion.

The biologically appropriate raw food, or barf diet for dogs should be like the whole prey and consist of meat, bones, organs and glands of along with smaller amounts of eggs, fish and other vegetation.

It is not scientifically formulated; it is naturally formulated by Mother Nature herself. Awesome stuff.

 

Are You Afraid of Feeding Raw Dog Food?

Your dog is not like you. Bacteria (germs) are rarely a problem with our canine kids which is why we’re going to do a little raw dog food study. If your canine is perfectly well behaved indoors or is left in the yard without supervision, you may not have experienced any of this but I'm betting you have.

Have you ever run after your dog for grabbing something off the counter or the coffee table but just as you caught up to him he swallowed it whole and never looked back? Okay, maybe your dog wouldn’t do that but what about someone else’s manner less monster? Did he choke?  Did he get sick afterwards? Doubtful.

Ever seen the dog sniff something small and dead outside and to your utter horror he ate it? Swallowed it before you could get it from him? (Or while you were shrieking because you weren't going to touch it either.)

Has she ever buried something in the yard only to go back later and eat it? Yes, many dogs really do bury bones and come back when they are good and ripe.

It’s not that they have a stomach of steel, they have a stomach of acid and a short intestinal tract to get out any remaining bacteria before it causes a problem.

I should have had a clue about raw dog food back in November of 1987 when I heard a loud thump and came downstairs to find my 120 pound Great Dane having a field day with the 18 pound Thanksgiving turkey I left to thaw on the counter. Normally well behaved, the call of nature got to her.

And no, she didn't get sick. Only I did since I had a boatload of company coming over.

I have one other memory that makes me smile. As gross as this sounds I find it very funny. Living in rural Georgia I often passed a small house surrounded by woods where a big brown dog was always on the porch.

One morning he wasn't there so I slowed to look for him (yes I even get attached to dogs I don't know.)  Then I saw him trotting happily toward me down the middle of the country road carrying something huge and flat I can only describe as road kill. I'll never know what it was because before I got close enough he darted into the woods with his prize.

The next day he was back on his porch looking fit as a fiddle.


Raw Food Diet for Dogs and Where to Start

Where to start depends on your comfort zone and the size of your dog. What I mean is do you want to be able to throw whole chicken necks or leg quarters in the bowl or would you rather start with a homemade dog food blend so you don't hear the crunch?

Either way, please read all or most of the pages here to understand your dog's nutritional needs. Each page will open in a new tab for your convenience.

If you want to make your own nutritious blend in a batch and freeze for convenience, start with my raw dog food recipes.This is especially easy for small dogs.

It's important to understand why raw bones are good for dogs and when to serve beef bones and when not to.

The point of all these bones is that dogs need ten times the calcium we do but there are other sources of calcium for dogs as well.

For some ideas, read where to look for low cost raw meat for dogs and know the value of eggs which are awesome.

Once you're a seasoned professional, you won't want to live without green tripe but it isn't easy to find (or smell). If you happen to to live near the Twin Cities are of Minnesota, I often make a two hour drive to get tripe, beef and bones and I'm happy to share if we can plan it in advance.

More thoughts on raw dog food and how I started.

If you're feeling a bit overwhelmed and need more encouragement or want to know how all this junk food for dogs got started, here's a bit of history.


History of Commercial Dog Food 

If you are having second thoughts about switching to raw dog food. If you think the barf diet is too time consuming ...maybe this will help.

In the early 1900’s Ken-L-Ration introduced canned horse meat for dogs. It was meat that didn’t need refrigeration.  During World War II when metal was rationed and making canned foods was not an option, the production of pet food shifted to kibble so dog food could be in a bag and dog food manufacturers could stay in business.

By the late 40’s 85% of dog foods sold were kibble and marketed as convenient. The problem for dogs was that now their food had a huge amount of non nutritive starch.

In the 1950’s thanks to Purina, the extrusion process began where ingredients were cooked together in a liquid form, put through an extruder which expanded them and baked at high temperatures. This bulked them up so it appeared we were getting more for our money. Because it was basically nutrition-less, nutrients were then “added back” while fats and flavors were sprayed on to make it palatable.

Most of us know that the “added back” thing has nothing to do with food.

As more companies got on the bandwagon for this highly profitable business, new ideas for marketing emerged.

Hills Company (as in Science Diet) was bought out by Colgate (the toothpaste guys). Colgate got a bright idea. Since they’d done well selling toothpaste “recommended by dentists” they decided to do that with dog food and created what they called “prescription foods”. (If you read the ingredients, there’s nothing prescription about them but folks are gullible.)

And if you ever wondered where that warning about feeding table scraps to dogs came from, that would be the Pet Food Institute, whose members account for 98% of the commercial pet food market in the United States.

I don’t know what the figures are today but the Pet Food Institute says in 2008 US sales for commercial pet foods were 17 BILLION DOLLARS!

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I'll add pages as I think of them and I just did! Have you ever been scared by white dog poop? May sound like a funny question but I have and it had to do with raw dog food.

And I forgot to talk about canine probiotics when switching to raw so you might want to click over to that one.


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