by Tasha Ardalan:
Succinctly put, the raw diet as it pertains to dogs and cats is an anthropological approach to feeding our domesticated four-legged friends. The main objective of the raw diet is to provide nutritional well-being with foods that would have been consumed by dogs and cats prior to commercial pet food, even prior to domestication. Proper nutrition is paramount in ensuring your pet’s quality of life. “Going raw” is an easy, cost-effective option to give your beloved pet a healthy and happy life. And, by making the food yourself, you eliminate nutritionally void fillers such as corn, wheat, mystery “meat by-product,” artificial colors, artificial flavors, and preservatives.
Puppies under 12 months of age: Feed a total of approximately 10% of their body weight, divided into three or four meals throughout the day. Adult Dogs: Feed 2-3% of body weight, divided into two meals. Very active dogs may need to eat more. Eating smaller portions prevents dogs from eating too quickly, reducing the risk of bloating (also known as gastric dilatation), a deadly condition.
Freeze meat or fish for 2 days (to kill any parasites that might be present) and defrost overnight in the refrigerator to ensure food safety. To save time and make feeding more convenient, prepare and measure meals ahead of time; store individual meals in the freezer; then defrost over night in the fridge as needed. Basic Ratio: 3 parts meat, 1 part vegetable, 1/8 part organ meat*.
Raw Diet Basics: Protein source (chicken, beef, lamb, fish**, eggs), vegetables (cauliflower, carrot, red cabbage, peas), fat (avocado/avocado oil, grapeseed oil***, olive oil, wild salmon oil), calcium (powdered goat milk, goat milk yogurt, cottage cheese).
Tools you will need to get started:
- grapefruit seed extract ~ excellent disinfectant, great natural antimicrobial agent
- large mixing bowl
- large spoon
- sharp knife
- wooden cutting board ~ more sanitary than plastic****
- Optional: food processor
Recipe #1: The Introduction
3 parts meat, 1 part vegetable
beef chuck or fish
red cabbage, shredded
sweet potato, steamed and mashed
¼ c. oatmeal, cooked
3-5 strawberries, mashed
½ tsp. cinnamon (digestive aid & regulates blood glucose)
Yogurt with live cultures, goat milk if available
Cut meat into small chunks or put in food processor. Mix all remaining ingredients together. Divide into portions appropriate for your dog’s size. Serve with a dollop of yogurt or cottage cheese, and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast.
To Sanitize Utensils and Mixing Bowl: After washing, fill bowl with hot water and add a few drops of grapefruit seed extract. Place utensils into hot liquid solution and let sit for 5-10 min. Drain and air dry.
Pet Do Not Consume List:
- Raw Pork ~ risk of trichinosis
- Onion/Garlic ~ causes hemolitic anemia: kill dose varies from pet to pet
- Grapes/Raisins ~ causes acute renal failure
- Chocolate ~ theobromine is the toxic component of chocolate. White chocolate is generally safe because it is made from cocoa butter, which has a very low concentration of theobromine.
- Macadamia Nuts ~ consumption results in macadamia nut toxicosis. Symptoms: inability to stand, ataxia (walking wobbly), depression, vomiting, muscle tremors, hyperthermia (elevated body temperature), weakness, and an elevated heart rate.
- Xylitol ~ found in sugar free candy, can cause liver damage and death in dogs
Immediately call the National Animal Poison Control Center (1-888-426-4435) if your pet ingests any of the aforementioned foods.
*Organ meat should be fed only 2 -3 times/week. Liver and heart are so nutrient rich that they need not be eaten daily.
**Do not feed raw salmon to your pet unless it is sushi grade. Salmon Poisoning Disease is a lethal parasitic infection.
***Grapeseed oil has not been shown harmful to pets even though grapes and raisins are very toxic to them.
****iv Park, P. K., and D. O. Cliver. 1997. Cutting boards up close. Food Quality 3(Issue 22, June-July): 57-59.