It is a proven and well known fact that most health problems in humans are caused due to the many mistakes we make with our diet. We either eat too much meat with too little vegetable or vice versa. Our bodies need a balance of vitamins, minerals, iodine, proteins and nutrients for us to be in prime health. Not following a balanced diet leads to deficiencies and diseases which are hard to get rid of. Come read the common mistakes made by raw-feeders in India.
So while we exercise to stay fit, what goes into our stomachs and the lifestyle we follow also play an important part in the circle of life.
It's the same with our pets. In fact, they are more vulnerable since their diet and life is in our hands mostly. They are what we feed them, and if you are a raw feeder, it's more critical that you pay attention to and not make the same mistakes that others tend to make when raw feeding a dog.
Let’s look at some common mistakes that we tend to make when raw feeding our dogs:
Strike a balance and know your basics:
If you've read my previous posts, you will know that I have always emphasized on 'knowing your dog'. I cannot stress enough that you also need to know his diet
- inside out!
One of the reasons that dog owners switch to raw food diets, is because they want their pets to be healthy or their pets are unhealthy. Therefore it's critical that when one switches their pet over to a raw food diet, they understand the basics of health and nutrition and food. It is not just about feeding some raw meat to your dog, you know. There is a lot of effort and thought that goes into it. If you think that dumping a combination of some raw meat into a stainless steel bowl means that your pet is on a raw diet, then think again!
The mistake that a lot of people make is that before they make the switch, they do not speak with either other raw feeders or a professional about what makes up a raw diet. If you don't do that, chances are that your dog might either lose weight, get depleted minerals and vitamins in their diet or you might overdo it with the vegetables and meat or supplements and thus do more harm to your pet than good.
Just because your dog doesn't show signs of deficiencies doesn't mean that he doesn't have
them. The symptoms of deficeincies step in 4-5-6 months down the line. We cannot, therefore, afford to be casual about what we're feeding them.
There are many well-intending pet-parents who prepare and feed diets that are unbalanced, some out of ignorance and, in some extremely rare instances, stubbornness.
There are some that feed only chicken with chicken liver due to procurment costs and thereby in doing so think that they have been feeding a perfectly balanced raw diet. Little do they realise that they have created a situation where in there is an imbalance of the Omega-6 and the omega-3's in their diets and which results in chronic inflammation and it is a precursor to a lot of other serious ailments. These type of DIY raw-feeders cause more harm than good and must really take the efforts to communicate with other raw-feeders and learn the basics of raw-feeding. If cost is a factor then don't get into raw-feeding just yet .... you are causing more harm than good for your dogs.
It's not just a raw meat Feast:
While Raw diets are primarily made up of meat and bones, they are also mixed with other additions. Most people go by the actual term 'raw' and think that feeding a whole lot of raw meat is the perfect raw diet. But that is not the case.
Lets look at the B.A.R.F diet. It contains Muscle meat, raw meaty bones, Organs, Offal, Fruits & Veggies, and even supplements. There is variety and a balance of calcium, minerals, proteins, and other ingredients that contribute to make your pet healthy.
In my post on Fruits and Veggies for dogs, I mentioned that wolf subspecies also eat fruits and grass and even vegetables and in the wild, they have been spotted eating even berries. So remember that a raw food diet is not just a plain meat feast. It has and must contain a host of other components names, organ meat, tripe (1-2 times per week), eggs, fruits, veggies, among other fresh foods.
Buying and Storage mistakes:
A lot of raw feeders make the mistake of buying and storing raw food incorrectly. In India, animals are normally slaughtered between 12am - 3am, de-skined and then transported (many times in non-insulated vehicles) to the butchers for sale to consumers. The ideal time to go and purchase the meat will be between 5am - 7amto get it 'fresh'. Later than that would mean inviting trouble. The butchers simply hang up the meat on hooks and they stand there for hours till someone buys the meat. Can you imagine the state of the meat by 11am?
Check this picture taken from a butchers shop.
Buying stale or slightly "off" meat and freezing the meat does not revive the quality of the meat. This is one of the glaring mistakes that need to be stopped and buying options ned to be revisited and planned so that you and your dog can get really 'fresh' meat.
Store your raw food correctly in the freezer and follow the FIFO (First In First Out) policy.
Not feeding Variety over time:
This is one part that is really important and all raw-feeders need to understand this. The pros in raw feeding know and implement this to the hilt. The vast majority make this common mistake.
There are some that feed only chicken with chicken liver due to procurement costs and thereby in doing so think that they have been feeding a perfectly balanced raw diet. Little do they realise that they have created a situation where in there is an imbalance of the Omega-6 and the omega-3's in their diets and which results in chronic inflammation and it is a precursor to a lot of other serious ailments. These type of D.I.Y raw-feeders cause more harm than good and must really take the efforts to communicate with other raw-feeders and learn the basics of raw-feeding.
Don’t over-rely on just one protein type, aim for 4 staple proteins, and then look for more.
The common quantities used for the PMR (all meat and bone) diet are Muscle Meat 80%, edible bone 10%, Liver 5%, other organs 5%. If this formula is followed with the rotation of proteins then it should be relatively fine but when the composition varies then it could mean some issues over the long term.
Someone once wrote to me saying that they fed 50% lamb heart as it was considered muscle meat. I would say that please look at the animal in whole to which you are feeding your dog. For example a lamb or a rabbit doesnt have 50% of its body composition made up of heart. So dont overfeed heart.
Not all dogs will require supplements. Some might not even need them because fortunately they're probably getting it from the diet you're giving them.
Some pet owners might therefore tend to overlook or completely ignore the value add that supplements bring to their dog's food.
If your dog doesnt take in to raw fish then Fish oil or krill oil are good supplements too.
A lot of raw feeders for lack of creativity or sometimes interest tend to feed the same types of meals day in and day out. They will use the same organs or offal or the same combination of meat, bone and organ, daily!
This is where the diet either gets imbalanced or stays that way. There has to be a variey which is where supplements come into the picture. Your dog has to have an adequate amount of zinc, copper, Vitamins E & D, iodine and other nutrients in his body to achieve a healthy body.
That you're a paranoid android!!
No! I'm not talking sci-fi here! I'm merely telling you that sometimes your own paranoia about raw feeding or incomplete information that we gather speaking with ill informed people will prevent you from giving your dog a healthy, nutritious diet.
If someone's telling you that feeding your dogs raw is a good invitation for Salmonella, E.Coli and other bacteria, please tell them that salmonella can be found in a large percentage of healthy dogs irrespective of the food they eat. Many animals naturally discard these organisms while defacating anyway because they naturally harbor them.
But, that doesn't mean you ignore safety too. Therefore you need to practice good hygiene and handle the raw food carefully because after all : Prevention is better than cure.
So if you're already feeding or are about to switch to a raw food diet for your four legged baby, I hope you will do your research well, speak with experienced raw feeders and avoid making the above mentioned mistakes. In case you want to try a pre-made BARF diet then:
If you still have any concerns or would like to share some of the mistakes that you've made, write to us. I will share it with our community. It will make for a whole bunch of happy, healthy owners and their dogs.