Rawsome

A wise director of a global pet food manufacturer once said to me “The best diet for a dog is a properly formulated raw diet, but the worst diet for a dog is a wrongly formulated raw diet“.

I have to take deep breaths and count to ten when people say stuff like “If you can’t feed a dog properly you shouldn’t have a dog. Chicken necks all the way.

I hear this surprisingly often, and a sole diet of chicken necks is arguably worse than feeding a cheap dry food.

Feeding raw isn’t about giving your dog raw meat every day, it’s about feeding a variety of meats, organs, bones, and fresh foods. A dog has a variety of nutritional needs so a raw diet must cover the whole nutritional spectrum.

If you want to feed raw, and credit to you if you can, then make sure you research thoroughly. I won’t cover raw feeding in depth here as I don’t believe I could cover all the bases, but thankfully there’s a wealth of information on the web and in books.

Make sure you research well, and keep in mind a simple and always overlooked principle – variety.

Where do I start?

Have a browse of The Raw Feeding Community as an excellent starting point, and have a go at some of the many raw dog food recipes on Google, YouTube, et al.

It may seem daunting, but there’s a huge and rapidly growing community out there. Who knows, you’ll probably learn a fair bit about your own nutritional needs as well!

Considerations

Dogs are geared to digest raw meats, even rank meats, and they’re better equipped to tackle bacteria. It’s still worth being sensible with your meat sources and shelf lives.

It may sound like common sense, but wash your hands after handling raw meats. Another good tip is don’t let your dog lick you after eating raw meats. My dog tries, but I politely inform her I will not be licked with raw chicken tongue.

Raw bones are soft, but can still cause choking. Feed appropriately sized bones dependent on the size of your dog, and make sure you’re with them while the eat.

This is especially necessary if your dog’s a gulper. If you have more than one dog they may attempt to swallow the bones quickly from threat of the competition.

No time, have money

Pet food ranges in price considerably. Cheap foods are cheap for a reason, usually because they’re made of GMO grains, by-products from grains, with a token meat content from poor quality sources, rendering plants, and 4-D animals (Dead, Dying, Disabled, Diseased). Doesn’t sound good does it, but this accounts for the majority of pet foods on the shelves.

Fortunately a select number of more “ethical” manufacturers sell better quality foods, but they’re few and far between.

Most dry foods are high in carbs, ranging from 40 to 50%, and given all carbs impact blood sugar this isn’t a good thing. It’s been proven high carbohydrate foods are damaging to dogs, but manufacturers don’t want you aware of this – well, duh, their foods are high in carbs (and carbs are cheap).

Recent years have shown the development of some excellent alternatives. They’re pricier, but in some cases you get what you pay for.

Enter Freeze Dried and Air Dried Raw Diets. A much more natural, species appropriate raw diet, with the convenience of dry food. Rawsome!

Freeze Dried

Back in World War 2 (and possibly World War 1), soldiers carried freeze dried foods because they wouldn’t spoil. The reason for this is moisture has been removed – moisture causes food to go off.

Skip to the present day and freeze-dried dog foods are emerging. This technique offers two excellent benefits:

  1. Nutrition stays intact. No cooking is involved.
  2. Shelf life is greatly extended, which means the food will keep as long as dry food does (or longer).

This means we can offer our dogs a highly nutritious properly formulated raw diet with the convenience of dry food. All you need to do is soak it in water for a few minutes before feeding. No real knowledge of raw feeding required.

So what’s the catch?

If you look at the cost per kilo it appears much more expensive than dry food. In truth it isn’t as expensive as it would seem as your dog would need to eat less to absorb the nutrition they need, and it’s far less damaging than the high carbohydrate dry foods we discussed earlier.

Have a look at K9 Natural and Frontier Pets (in Australia).

Air Dried

Air dried is similar to freeze dried, but the food is dried in… well, air. Warm air.

The nutritional value is still largely retained, although not quite as well as freeze dried. It’s still very good, and far better than processed dry foods.

The benefit with air dried is you can poor it into the bowl as you would a dry food. You don’t need to reconstitute it with water like you do freeze dried.

Have a look at ZiwiPeak, Balanced Life (in Australia), and Sunday Pets Raw Chow (in Australia).

Help, I’m on a budget

Let me get one thing out of the way – most dry foods are highly processed convenience foods and not as nutritious as the packaging says. They’re high in carbs (aka sugar) and bulked up with fillers. If you feed a dry food then at least take time to read the ingredients and get an understanding of it.

Refer to Dog Food Advisor (US), my website Pet Food Reviews (Australia), or Pet Food Ratings (US) for info on most dry dog (and cat) foods.

There are great (and cheap) ways to supplement a dry food diet to greatly improve the health of your pet, such as supplements from the pet store or fresh foods from the supermarket.

3 Simple Supplements

Well respected Wellness Vet Dr. Karen Becker recommends the following 3 supplements to a dry diet:

  1. Sustainably sourced Krill oil as an excellent source of marine omega 3 fatty acids.
  2. Digestive enzymes to help break down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, and absorb nutrients.
  3. Probiotics as beneficial “good” gut bacteria to help maintain gastrointestinal health.

Supermarket Bargains, Fresh Meats, Fresh Foods

Lots of pet products are poor quality with inflated prices. “Pet grade” meat is illegal to sell as human food for the simple reason it’s worse quality. So why not buy “Human grade” meats? It can work out cheaper!

If your local supermarket is like mine you’ll always find meat and meat products reduced for quick sale, so when you’re doing the weekly shop why not look for meaty bargains your dog would love?

All of these are cheap and great for dogs – chicken necks & framesliverskidneyshearts, meaty bones, brisket bones.

Breast meats and prime cuts are also great, especially when they’re yellow stickered at 50% off.

The occasional tin of tuna or sardines (in springwater) is another cheap option, and I often find these much cheaper than the lesser quality equivalents in the pet food aisle.

The meat and fish counter at my local supermarket is currently selling basa fillets at AUD $5.50/kilo. I bought 5 fillets for $4, so a cheap healthy dinner last night for myself, my two dogs, and my cat.

Your local butcher might stock green tripe which is astoundingly nutritious if you can hack the smell.

We often hear “grains are bad” for dogs, but it’s not strictly true. Cheap grains cooked at high temps into a grain heavy kibble are definitely bad, but home cooking your dog ricebarleyoats, along with a mince such as turkey, chicken, beef, or kangaroo is a great idea. Throwing in some veg wouldn’t go amiss either. All of these ingredients are cheap, and it doesn’t take long to cook up a batch for the week.

Supplementing a dry food with any of the above will greatly improve the ongoing health of your dog, and it doesn’t need to be expensive.

To Cook or not to Cook?

Dogs can stomach raw meats, but use caution. Bones should always be fed raw.

Generally I offer my dogs any red meats raw, but other meats such as pork, or fish I’ll cook or boil. I feed chicken necks and frames raw, but generally with chicken breast I’ll boil it and cut it into squares as excellent nutritious treats.

For the more adventurous you could buy an air drier and make chicken or beef jerky treats which keep for ages.

Variety

Dogs are often fed a monotonous diet, a misconception led by corporate marketing. Over the last 20+ years we’ve seen an alarming increase in unhealthy pets, from itchy skin to cancer.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – variety is as important for our pets as it is for us.

Feeding Strategies

There’s a mega-spectrum when it comes to feeding a dog. It depends on budget, but also lifestyle, situation, and where you live.

Feeding a brand of dry food to a dog every day of their life is a huge misconception which arose from corporate marketing. Manufacturers want you to feed their product all the time. This is about profit not your pet. Variety is as important for our dogs as it is for us.

Keep that word in mind – variety.

If you can feed a carefully considered raw diet that’s awesome, but if dry food on a budget  is your only option then don’t feel dismayed – I’ll give you cost-effective tips!

I’m an advocated for varied homemade raw/fresh diets, but as someone who works all the hours under the sun I appreciate the convenience of feeding dry food. I always feel slightly guilty feeding dry food, even ones I know are pretty good, so I mix it up with all the fresh tidbits and meats as and when I can.

Remember, you can only do your best, and seeing as you’ve found this website you’re on the right path.

Let’s begin…

If you’re on a budget and supermarket dry food is your only feasible option, then here’s some quick tips on supplements and fresh foods to greatly improve the health of your dog:

 Strategy #1 – Help, I’m on a budget 

For those of us who’re time poor due to a busy work life there are ways to feed a dog a natural diet without all the efforts of studying raw and making all your dog food.

This strategy covers emerging freeze dried and air dried foods which offer you a formulated raw diet with the convenience of regular dry food:

 Strategy #2 – No time, have money

Raw feeding is a huge topic and needs research. It’s not about giving your dog a chicken breast every day. This strategy offers guidance, tips, and a starting point for those who wish to feed their dog the way nature intended:

 Strategy #3 – Rawsome 

I love this food. It’s so goooood!

  • Because a dog eats a food, laps it up, runs around in excitement at feeding time, doesn’t mean the food is good

So far I’ve talked about McDonalds a fair bit, so let’s talk about kids and cake for a while.

Kids friggin’ love cake! If you feed your kids cake all the time they would love it!

Dogs are no different and will eat whatever you put in their bowl. Kids and dogs don’t know the importance of nutrition, but we do, and therefore their health is our responsibility.

If you put a Big Mac and fries in your dogs bowl, would they love it?

If you put Sugar Coated Corn Pops* in their bowl they would love that too?

Given Sugar Coated Corn Pops are full of sugar, food colourings and humectants, I’m pretty sure your dog will easily become addicted (sorry, I mean “love it”).

Q. Because a kid loves a food, does it mean it’s nutritious?

Of course it doesn’t. Foods aimed at kids are high in sugar, because that’s what kids love. Lot’s of dog foods use similar techniques, with ingredients designed to make your dog “love” the food. These ingredients are called palatants, or palatability enhancers.

A palatant can be anything from salt to fatty broths skimmed off the top of a vat of boiling maggoty chickens.

Spinach isn’t very palatable, but chuck on some bacon dressing and it’s a different story.

What if you chucked bacon dressing on a bowl full of soy bean hulls? That sounds less appealing, but I’m sure your dog would seemingly love it.

Now we’re more in the ball park of many brands of dog food sold and fed in the millions.

Because your dog eats a food, even enthusiastically, doesn’t mean the food is good, and it definitely doesn’t mean it’s healthy.

* Sugar Coated Corn Pops are a made up cereal. I don’t wish to mar a brand name unnecessarily.

Here’s a picture of what I imagine Sugar Coated Corn Puffs to look like. Food colouring’s have been added to make the food look appealing to us humans. Our dogs don’t care, they can only see in black and white.

 

<- Previous chapter – “Please don’t change my diet, I’ll be sick”

<- Back to “Dispelling Myths”

 

Please don’t change my diet, I’ll be sick

  • Changing a dog’s diet isn’t the cause of sickness and diarrhoea

The picture below shows a clause on the back of a supermarket brand of dog food. It reads “Your dog may have a sensitive stomach. A rapid change in diet may cause them to become suddenly ill, which may result in vomiting and / or diarrhoea.

This is true, but it’s very misleading.

Let’s discuss humans for a second. If you were to eat Wheat-bix morning, noon, and night, and nothing else, for months (or even years). What would happen to your guts if one day you ate some lentils?

Your guts would probably explode!

The room would be full of toxic gas!

Your toilet seat will become your closest companion, and you’ll feel a bit down in the dumps about the pains and groans in your belly.

Our pets, just like us, develop intolerance if (a) we eat the same thing for a long period of time, or (b) we cut something from our diet for a long period of time.

If grandma sucked on some eggs, if she hadn’t had eggs in years, she’d probably have a few bowel movements.

Something I hear all the time is “This new food’s making my dogs sick, I’m taking it back to the store to complain“.

Regardless of whether a new food is good or bad, the sickness and diarrhoea probably isn’t caused by the new food (although don’t rule it out). It could be the old food, or more likely it could be because the dog hasn’t eaten anything different for so long they’ve become intolerant of other foods.

That’s not a good thing, and the worst thing you can do is put him back on the old food and forget about it.

Why do we believe a dog should eat the same food all the time and develop intolerance, when we know it’s really not a good thing for us humans?

I’ll tell you why:

Pet food manufacturers have trained us to believe changing foods is bad. The reason is simple, and it’s nothing to do with nutrition. They want you to feed their product for the entire lifespan of your dog.

Next chapter – “I love this food, it’s so goooood!” ->

<- Previous chapter – “Same shit, every day”

<- Back to “Dispelling Myths”

Same shit, every day

Would you feed Mr Pooch McDonalds, every day?
  • Dogs shouldn’t eat the same food every day…
  • …and they definitely shouldn’t eat the same shit every day.

Let’s talk about McDonalds.

I’m not saying McDonalds food is shit. When I’m late for a gig or a jam with the band I’ll pick up a Big Mac on the way. I realise it’s unhealthy, but the odd burger really isn’t going to affect my health or my gut, is it?

Go on, look at it! It looks tasty, doesn’t it?

But what if I swung by Maccas every morning on my way to work, and every evening on my way home? I’d look like Santa by Christmas.

* Graphical representation of what I could look like by Christmas
* What I’d look like by Christmas

Fortunately I have an active life and love running around the park and playing ball games… (yep, I’m a bit like a dog, aren’t I?)

Despite my diet my lifestyle would keep me trim, and I’d be more reminiscent of Marathon Santa and his hareem of foxy elves.

I can look good anyway, so who cares?
Healthy Santa….?

But I’m sure you’d agree, as would McDonalds CEO Steve Easterbrook, that my insides would be pretty screwed up after months of burgers and fries.

So let me be far flung out and radical for a second….

 

Why would you feed worse to your dogs every single day?

 

You may not believe pet food is worse than the infamous MacDonalds beef patty, but consider this:

Even McDonalds can’t legally sell “pet grade” meat.

We live in an age where people feed their dogs very poor quality food, and they feed it every single day.

Maybe that’s why 3 in 5 dogs (and 1 in 3 cats) end up with cancer?

Next chapter – “Please don’t change my diet, I’ll be sick” ->

<- Previous chapter – “I’m a dog and I eat corn flakes”

<- Back to “Dispelling Myths”

I’m a dog and I eat corn flakes

Corn Dog

This is nothing radical, and it’s a topic which has been widely discussed in pet circles worldwide for years. It revolves around this:

Q. I’m a meat eater, what should I eat?

  1. Rice Puffs
  2. Wheat-bix
  3. Corn flakes
  4. Meat

Please select only one answer.

Did you pick Meat?

If that’s the case, why are most dog foods made mostly from rice, wheat, and corn?

Dogs have a dental structure and digestive system geared towards eating and digesting meat. Their digestive tract is shorter than ours, which means they can efficiently digest meat and meat proteins, but other types of proteins (i.e. from grains) are harder to digest or even wasted. Carbohydrates, especially when we’re talking about high carbohydrate foodstuffs, are hard for a dog to digest and even damaging.

So why are most kibbles high in carbohydrates and bulked up with protein sources other than meat?

Next chapter – “Same shit, every day” ->

<- Back to “Dispelling Myths”

Dispelling Myths

Dispelling myths

It’s staggering how easily we’ve been led by corporations, consumerism, and really clever marketing. I deal with people all the time who know the answer because they’ve been *told* the answer, but it only takes a gram of consideration to realise how glaringly wrong that answer is.

In this section I wish to discuss myths around dogs and how to feed them.

I’ll cover a few very common myths and misconceptions which are thoroughly believed worldwide, and in simple terms explain why they’re wrong.

Firstly, a dog is a carnivore. Fair enough, they’re scavenging carnivores and will happily eat what ever you give them, or to put it another way they’ll allow you to nutritionally abuse them, but they’re still carnivores with a dental and digestive system designed to eat meat.

Dispelling Myths #1 – I’m a dog and I eat corn flakes

Millions of people pick a brand of pet food when their dog’s a puppy, or continue to feed what the breeder fed them, and that’s what they give their dog for life. Why?

Dispelling Myths #2 – Same shit, every day

Every now and then, for whatever reason, people decide to start feeding their dog a different food, only to find the new food makes their dog sick. Or does it?

Dispelling Myths #3 – Please don’t change my diet, I’ll be sick

I often hear people say a food is good because their dog “LOVES IT!”.

Why do they love it? Kids love McDonalds. I love beer. Would you say McDonalds and beer are a nutritionally sound diet?

Dispelling Myths #4 – I love this food, it’s so goooood!