Natural Diets and Natural Feeding
The first point to be very clear on is any change to a natural diet should be introduced and made slowly. The second point to make is that any natural diet must be balanced. In that it needs to supply all of the necessary vitamins and minerals critical for healthy growth and development.
Secondary to this, you should also decide whether you would like to switch over entirely to a natural raw food diet. Or if you would like to improve your dog’s diet by feeding either home cooked foods or commercial real food preparations. Or if you would just like to supplement your dog’s dry food with some raw real ingredients.
Switching Entirely to a Natural Diet
If you would like to switch entirely to an ancestral raw food diet, it is important that you take the time and effort to balance the diet appropriately. This includes adding the right amounts of varied vegetable matter and organ meats. Or you can add a nutritional supplement to take the guesswork out of it and provide those necessary nutrients.
A Guide to a Raw Food Diet
The menu for a raw food diet would then look like this:
Animal protein – (70% of the diet) chicken, turkey, lamb, beef, pork, kangaroo, fish, heart meat, tongue and eggs. Also cheaper cuts of meat include important connective tissue and fats are better than lean fillet steak.
Edible bones – (10% of the diet) chicken necks, wings, frames, brisket bones and rib flaps. These should be consumed entirely and provide essential calcium. Most beef bones are too large and hard to be eaten and digested. These bones are considered recreational or dental bones. Puppies also need a bit more calcium for growth, so edible bones are a great source of calcium for your pup. If inter dog aggression or previous medical problems with bones prevent feeding edible bones then get them ground into pet mince.
Organ meat – chicken, lamb or beef liver (5% of the diet), kidney, pancreas, tripe, lung (a further 5%).
Other – (10% of the diet) Variety of vegetables, kelp, seeds that have been lightly steamed, shredded or pureed to allow dogs to extract their nutrition.
Wellbeing Essentials – a nutritional supplement to ensure the balance is correct.
If you don’t feel comfortable feeding raw meat and offal to your dog thats ok. You can still greatly improve your dog’s nutrition by feeding home-prepared or commercially prepared wet diets. Any home-prepared diet should include a nutritional supplement to ensure it is balanced according to current pet food standards.
A Guide to a Real Ingredients Diet
Taking a ‘real ingredients’ approach, follow these guidelines:
Meat (>50%) made up from cooked or raw beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, kangaroo, fish; Leftover meat dishes from your table (minus any cooked bones); roast dinner, most barbequed food, bolognaise sauce, meatloaf, mince.
Vegetables (25%). Include as much variety as possible and puree or lightly cook them. Leafy greens are also important and add a variety of colour to the diet. Consider spinach, silverbeet, broccoli, carrot, sweet potato, zucchini, tomato, mushrooms, eggplant, peas, corn and beans.
Carbohydrates such as rice, pasta and potato have no natural place in the canine diet. However they do provide a very inexpensive way to add bulk and energy to a dog’s diet. If the cost of a pure protein diet is not achievable, carbohydrates should be limited to no more than 25% of the diet.
Wellbeing Essentials to provide the essential vitamins and minerals that may easily be lacking in a home-prepared diet.
Almost any dish that is healthy enough to be fed to your family is good enough for your dog. Roast dinners, meat and veg, pasta and meat sauce, meatloaf, mince, left over BBQ (without the cooked bones), casserole and stew are all readily enjoyed by dogs. Limit rich sauces, curries, onions and garlic. Also do not feed chocolate, caffeine or alcohol. Avoid sultanas and grapes. Some people like to just cook larger family meals for all members. Others prefer to cook up a large stew and freeze portions for the dog. Which ever method you choose, your dog will love it.
What Can We Provide?
Bentons Road Veterinary Clinic also stocks a wide range of high quality commercial preparations of natural cooked diets. You can always drop in and see what’s available and also talk to our lovely vets and nurses about what is best for your dogs wellbeing. Starting a natural diet can be daunting, but have no fear we are here to help. If you would like to know more about pet nutrition and diets, we strongly recommend that you drop into the clinic, give us a call or make an appointment with one of our friendly vets.