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How Can You Provide a Well-Rounded Raw Diet for Your Pets?
Is Raw Food Best for Your Pets?
Raw Homemade Adult Dog Food
Mix the following ingredients together in a large bowl:
1 ½ cups ground or cubed raw beef, lamb poultry, venison or whole poultry necks
1 ½ cups mixed cooked grains – if your animal will tolerate grains at all (oats, bulgar, cornmeal, rice, etc)
3 cups chopped or grated, assorted raw vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, kale, spinach, potatoes, or whatever your animal likes)
Essential Fatty Acids such as cod liver and flaxseed oil
Vitamin and mineral supplements, used as directed by manufacturer
(human food quality only)
Raw Homemade Adult Cat Food
Mix the following ingredients together in a large bowl:
- teaspoon baked eggshell powder or 1 teaspoon steamed bonemeal
- cups ground or copped raw beef, lam, chicken necks, mackerel,
- clams or venison
- ¼ cup three or more mixed cooked grains—this can be omitted if you choose.
- ¾ cup chopped or grated assorted raw vegetables (broccoli, cabbage,
- kale, spinach, potatoes or whatever your animal prefers)
- teaspoon baked eggshell powder or 1 teaspoon steamed bonemeal
- (human quality only)
Essential fatty Acids such as cod liver or flaxseed oil
Amino Acids (especially taurine)
Vitamin and mineral supplements, used as directed by the manufacturer.
Mixing together a rounded diet for your dog or cat is easy and affordable and the meat, grain and vegetable proportions of the diet can be loosely estimated, but be generous with the meat ingredients. For instance, a heaping handful of raw meat to two smaller handfuls of cooked grains and chopped vegetables. A recipe can be made up in bulk quantities and divided into portion size and frozen in plastic bags until used. Let it thaw to room temperature before feeding and do not microwave, as this tends to change the molecular structure of the food you’re about to feed your animal.
Ideally dogs and cats should be fed three or more times per day, but in morning and afternoon is fine too when work keeps you out of the home during the day.
One of the most frequently expressed concerns from animal lovers who are thinking of switching to a raw diet stems from a fear that raw meat might introduce bacteria or parasites. It is true that dogs, cats, ferrets and other meat eaters may pick up coliform bacteria, salmonella, or worms from raw meat, such occurrences are rare. Dogs and cats are naturally designed to eat and digest raw meat and have been doing so for millions of years, therefore they have also been ingesting various pathogens.
The bigger question is whether our dog is healthy enough to eat what they should be eating—raw meat. If your animal has a sluggish immune system or digestive flora that has been severely compromised by antibiotics or chemotherapy, raw food might cause problems. But generally speaking, food-born illness is of little concern with healthy animals—unless the meat is rotten or severely contaminated.
The first indication of digestive imbalance with a raw meat diet is usually diarrhea or vomiting. If this happens or you think raw meat is going to be a problem, feed just a little bit at each feeding and increase the portion slowly over a period of several weeks. This allows the animals digestive system to adjust to any new pathogens it may be dealing with. Since raw meat and dry dog food digest at different rates, they should not be fed at the same time. Digestive enzymes and probiotics such as acidophilus may help and perhaps change the type of meat you are feeding your pet to determine if that is the problem.
The holistic approach to ensure maximum nutrition is feeding a diversity of whole foods.
Essential Fatty Acids are important in the development and maintenance of a healthy brain, liver, heart and immune system. As a matter of fact they are so important that animals and humans cannot live without them.
Flaxseeds, borage seeds and evening primrose seeds contain the riches plant sources of essential fatty acids. Cod liver and other fish oils are also rich sources of EFAs. Flaxseed oil or fish oil can be added directly to your pet’s food.
Digestive enzymes and an a variety of beneficial bacteria and yeast (probiotics) are needed to break down and transport nutrients in the body. Raw whole foods contain variable amounts of natural enzymes and probiotic organisms but heat destroys them. A good enzyme supplement increases the nutritional value of any natural diet by optimizing digestion and absorption of nutrients. There are several excellent brands available.
Vitamin A aka beta-carotene, provids powerful antioxidant protection against environmental and carcinogens from food and is essential in developing and maintaining good eyesight.
Vitamin B1 aka thiamine is necessary for carb metabolism in the body, nervous system and digestive functions.
B2 aka riboflavin plays a critical role in fat and protein metabolism and the formation of enzymes that allow transportation of oxygen to the cells
B6 is important for the health of skin and nervous system. It helps in absorbing and converting of many types of amino acids and is critical for a healthy immune system and blood production. Vitamin B6 must be present for the absorption of vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 is absolutely necessary for building and maintaining function and structures of the nervous system. One of the richest natural sources of vitamin B12 is contained in spirulina and other blue-green algae.
Biotin is a component of the B complex and acts as a coenzyme that plays a role in the metabolism of fatty acids and other nutritional factors.
Choline is important for the development and maintenance of cell membranes and development and function of the nervous system and transports fat from the liver. Sources of Choline include any food rich in lecithin such as organ meats, eggs, and dandelions, particularly the flowers.
Folic acid works with B12 to metabolize amino acids and proteins synthesis. It is necessary for healthy skin, coat and normal pigmentation.
Para amino benzoic acid or PABA is part of the vitamin B complex and is needed in the formation of folic acid. It is also required for protein sythesis.
Pantothenic acid is a component of coenzyme A that is imperative in the metabolism of various fatty acids. It is also important in the production of natural steroids.
Niacin is important in fat metabolism and influences the maintenance of healthy skin, digestive and nervous systems and blood.
Vitamin C is essential to an animal’s ability to deal with metabolic stress. It plays a valuable role in the body’s immune system, helps prevent joint disease, serves as an antioxidant in the bloodstream, and speeds recovery from illness or injuries. Most vitamin C supplements are tart and acidic and may cause digestive upset in some animals. However, a certain formulation of vitamin C is sold under the trademark Ester C will alleviate that problem and is a better option for your pets.
Vitamin D is needed for proper absorption of calcium and phosphorus and to promote and maintain proper bone structure.
Vitamin E is needed for muscle and reproductive system development, repair, and maintenance. It also plays a role in the immune system. Vitamin E deficiency can cause muscle tissue breakdown, reproductive failure and impairs the immune system.
MINERALS AND TRACE ELEMENTS
Calcium is a critical element in nutrition that must be kept in balance with phosphorus and other nutrients contained in raw meat diets. A raw meat diet actually depletes an animal’s body of calcium because the ratio of phosphorus to calcium, so calcium rich foods must be added. Too little calcium and you will have poor bone development and weakness. Too much calcium can lead to kidney and bladder stones, particularly, if it is poorly digested by the pet. For this reason, feed your pet whole or coarsely chopped chicken or turkey necks whenever possible.
The bones are relatively soft and they provide a good balance of calcium, phosphorus, fat and protein. If the meat you are using does not contain bones (ground meat usually does contain bones) a small amount of steamed bonemeal or ground up eggshells (high in calcium carbonate) can be added to the pets’ food. Here’s a great recipe for baked eggshell powder; save your eggshells and bake them in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Crush into a fine powder. Each eggshell provides a teaspoon of powder, which is equal to 1800 milligrams of calcium. The ratio of calcium to phosphorus for dogs should be between 1:1 and 2:1, and between 1.1:1 and 1.3:1 for cats.
Dark green vegetables such as kale, broccoli or Swiss chard are also rich sources of calcium. Do not rely solely on milk or dairy products to fill your animals need of calcium.
Phosphorus works in tandem with calcium to build strong bones and connective tissues. Too little will result in problems related to calcium excess and too much phosphorus leads to calcium deficiency. The reverse holds true for calcium. This problem can be solved easily by feed raw meaty bones. No COOKED Bones.
Potassium is necessary for maintaining muscle tone, brain and cardiac functions. Dark green leafy vegetables are an excellent source. Dandelion leaf and nettle contain large percentages of potassium
Sodium, aka salt. Do not add salt to your homemade raw pet food.
Magnesium is required for bone and soft-tissue development. Many commercial cat foods, typically, contain too much magnesium and leads to chronic urinary tract problems.
Iron is a trace mineral that is necessary for healthy blood and oxygen transference throughout the body. Raw meat and green vegetables are rich sources. Iron intake must be accompanied with selenium and vitamin E, otherwise anorexia, weight loss and other chronic disorders can develop. Dogs and cats who continually receive iron-rich organ meats (especially liver) that are cooked and depleted of vitamin E may have problems later in life.
Copper is a trace mineral that aids in bone formation, blood production and healing throughout the body.
Iodine is a trace element that assists with thyroid function and regulation of energy throughout the body.
Zinc assists in immune system functions and various protein-related functions throughout the body.
Manganese is a trace mineral that assists with bone formation, fat and protein metabolism and energy production.
Amino acids serve as the functional components of various enzymes and proteins throughout the bodies of all animals. They provide the metabolic links between energy, nutrients and the production of body structures. Without a full array of these vital components, a body cannot grow, resist disease or deal with the effects of aging. Some amino acids are produced by the body, while others must be ingested through the diet. A diversity of good foods must be going into the body for the body to construct the amino acids it requires and a full complement of supplemental amino acids must be present to provide what the body cannot produce.
Cats have a special requirement that should always be met at feeding time. The amino acid taurine must always be present in cat food because cats are unable to produce it. A deficiency of taurine leads to reproductive disease, heart problems, and most markedly, retinal degeneration and subsequent blindness. Include mackerel, clams or raw heart meat (beef, lamb or poultry) in his diet. Taurine is destroyed by heat, so if you are cooking for your pet and using a supplement that contains taurine it must be added after the food is cooked.
USING NUTRITIVE HERBS AS DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS
Many herbs are foods, and some provide nutritional qualities in such abundance that they can be used as nutritional medicines or dietary supplements. Herbs provide minerals, vitamins, fatty acids and other nutritional components in a form the body can fully utilize without becoming burdened with excess. Dandelion leaves contain impressive amounts of potassium and iron but not so much as to risk toxicity. With nutritive herbs, the body is given a chance to take the nutrients it needs and easily eliminate what it does not, unlike many highly concentrated vitamin supplements that force the liver, kidneys and digestive tract to work overtime to eliminate the excess.
Many herbs can be used as nutritional adjuncts to a good diet. Finding which nutritive herbs are best for the needs of an individual animal comes from the one-on-one experience between you and your pet, however here is a simple dried herb formula that can be used for most dogs, cats, horses, ferrets and other animals:
A General Herbal Dietary Addition
Combine equal parts of the following herbs:
Feed 1 teaspoon per pound of food fed daily, ½ teaspoon daily for cats. It may not fill all of an animal’s supplemental nutrition needs but it will complement his diet with foodlike concentrations of fully assimilable proteins, vitamin C, B complex, including B12, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids.
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