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A sceptic’s guide to raw food – 3

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01 June 2014, at 1:00am

Nick Thompson continues his series on the feeding of dogs and cats with raw food with a summary of ways of creating such a diet as well as how not to do it and ingredients not to use.

CREATING a raw food diet is easy. Doing it badly is even easier.

Some people insist on this, which is a shame as creating a safe and complete diet regime takes a little work, but is far from difficult.

As mentioned in the last piece, there are now companies producing frozen raw food, according to PFMA guidelines, who do all the work for you, so if you have a hankering to feed raw or advise on raw, they do the work for you.

In this article we will look at the individual ingredients of a raw food diet and then put them together to form a whole.

First the meat. There is a plethora of choices of species, minces/chunks, quality and welfare standards. My advice is to find a company you like, avoiding battery chicken, and stick with them to keep things simple.

I like to use rabbit, duck, venison, lamb, turkey, tripe and sh. I do advise beef and chicken, but find they are the most allergenic of all the meats (many cats and dogs are fine on beef and chicken, but I don’t start animals with known or suspected sensitivities on them initially).

I actively deter people from getting a “bag of meat” from the butcher as you don’t know what species/organ/ quality of meat goes into it. This is especially true of dogs with bowel or skin conditions.

Equally, I deter people from buying their meat at the supermarket. This comes as a shock to most as they think it is the best quality. I explain that the best meats for cats and dogs are those minces that contain ground bone as this allows a more complete base to the diet.

Pure meat minces need additional mineral supplementation to make up for the lack of bone. It seems foolish to me to add supplements to a meat when one can buy meat with bone particles as part of the package.

The meat/bone component of the diet for dogs makes up 50-100% of the diet, depending on which raw meaty bone guru you happen to read. I go for the middle ground, about 70%, not liking extremism in most spheres of life. For cats, this figure rises to 90-95%. The rest of the diet is mainly vegetable material, with some fruit, herbs and supplements.

Vegetables for dogs can be anything raw. To clients I say “Anything you can eat raw, you can feed the dog raw”; for example, you can feed raw cauliflower but not raw potato. You can feed raw oranges but not the peel. The easiest veg are cabbage, peas, carrots, swede, broccoli and “anything in season”. Onions must be avoided.

Garlic is, technically, as toxic, but in 22 years’ practice, I’ve never seen any garlic poisoning. On the contrary, many of my clients feed a little raw garlic daily to their dogs. Brassicas (e.g. cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and brussels sprouts) are considered goitrogenic, so not to be used repetitively for any length of time.

All vegetables (approximately 30% of the total diet for dogs, 5% for cats) should be blended to a coleslaw consistency or even a smoothie consistency; determined by the palate of the dog, usually. This is to break down cellulose cell walls to liberate nutrients.

Cats can have similar veg, but I advise pureeing the veg/fruit mix and pouring into ice cube trays to store in the freezer for convenience; 10-20% fruit as part of the “veg component” is fine, in my experience. 

My rst choice for fruit would always be berries (blackberries, red currants, etc. – best bought as “summer fruits” in the freezer section of your local supermarket), but apples, pears, oranges or kiwis are very good. Add herbs such as mint, parsley, sage, thyme, etc., depending on what’s in season.

Do not feed grapes or raisins. Many clients do, especially to toy dogs, but I strongly warn against it in light of the cases of reported renal failure.

To this meat/veg/fruit/herb mix I will add sh oil, the best you can buy. Not cod liver oil as this tends to be very high in vitamin D and I believe cod stocks are still in decline. I avoid farmed salmon, but highly recommend wild salmon oil or low-mercury sh oil combinations like sardine, anchovy and mackerel.

I do add minerals and vitamins to home-prepared diets. I think the chance of hypervitaminosis is very small, but creating deficiency, although distant, is more worrying. My current favourite is Wickedly Raw Superfoods by Din Dins.

When presented with the above, some clients rapidly review their thoughts on buying a complete frozen raw food package. Many clients are delighted they can do so much for their pets. 

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