Biologically Appropriate Raw Food for Pets
Once you have made the decision to change to a raw diet for your pet you may be confronted with a fair amount of ignorance and misinformation regarding raw food. Unfortunately a lot of this may come from your vet. We would hope that vets today would see the sense in feeding a species appropriate diet, but sadly this is not the case and most vets in South Africa still advocate feeding commercial food in the form of kibble and may try to scare you off feeding raw.
These are a few of the myths you may be challenged with:
Partly true. There are a few factors to consider here. Firstly, quality is a major consideration, if you feed your pet rotten or unclean offal there is a chance they will get Salmonellosis, if the meat contains Salmonella in sufficient number. In South Africa, if you sell raw pet food to the public, you need to test for E. coli and Salmonella, there is an acceptable range for E. coli, and Salmonella cannot be present. So essentially the raw pet food you purchase for your pet must be free from Salmonella in order to be on the market (and remain on the market).
Secondly, dogs and cats have an extremely short digestive tract in comparison to say humans or rabbits. They also have a stomach pH of between 1 and 2 – this is extremely acidic (for digesting meat). What these two factors mean is that dogs and cats have a higher level of resistance to bacteria like Salmonella, the short digestive tract means the bacteria do not have as much time to colonise as they move through the animal and the acidity of the stomach tends to kill a fair amount of bacteria before it even gets there. They can get ill, but often we may not even notice – not like if we were to become ill from Salmonella bacteria. It is very important therefore that when we handle any raw meat, dog food or human food, that we are conscientious about washing our hands afterwards. The primary danger Salmonella presents is to us and we should handle all raw meat with this in mind.All the ingredients we use (aside from our 100% Green Tripe) are human food grade and dressed for human consumption.
Research suggests that up to 70% of dogs shed Salmonella regardless of what they are fed, suggesting it is a naturally occurring bacteria in the GI tract of dogs. This brings into question the few studies regarding the shedding of Salmonella by raw fed dogs vs kibble fed dogs.
Not true. There are a number of reasons we would argue this is untrue. The first is experience, in all of our years of feeding our dogs a raw diet (of varying quality over the years) we have never had a single one of them get worms or need deworming. Our dogs have been checked on a regular basis by a more than competent specialist vet who microscopically checks for parasites in their stools. Some would argue that this is not a reliable way to check for worms, but we believe if you use a vet with ample histological and clinical experience, it is a reliable way to check and means you can avoid dosing your pet with a chemical dewormer every three months. It is important that your dog show no signs of any kind of parasitic infestation, if they do a fecal float will often confirm this.
The second reason has to do with how the food is processed and highlights the importance of freezing the food for an adequate period of time before using it. Toxoplasmosis is an example, the oocytes from this parasite are killed once the meat has been frozen for more than 72 hours. If this is done, this parasite along with many others no longer presents a risk. The same is true for bacteria, many bacterial numbers are reduced through freezing, either eliminating or deactivating them. We’ve heard of cats and dogs becoming ill from butcher bought minced chicken breast and are strongly of the opinion that this meat is never frozen and is fed fresh which we do not recommend.
The third reason doesn’t apply to all dogs, but for those who eat their own or other dog’s poop it is relevant. Some dogs may be prone to picking up parasites because of this habit, meaning they would require continual deworming. Raw fed dogs tend not to eat their own or other raw fed dogs poop, the reason for this is because the faeces of a raw fed dog contains very little left over fibre and nutrients. Raw fed dogs tend to absorb and utilise almost everything they are fed resulting in small, compact stools that turn to chalk within hours. This type of nutrient poor poop has little appeal to dogs who are poop eaters, thus reducing the possibility of them consuming poop which contains parasites or their eggs. Kibble fed dogs produce remarkably large stools in comparison and there is still much food residue left in the stool which makes a tasty snack for most dogs. The same applies to dogs who eat cat poop. Raw fed cat poop is also rather unappealing to dogs. So a big reason to encourage everyone you know to feed raw!
If you have cats who hunt their own raw meals (which isn’t advisable if you can help it), then it may be necessary to deworm your pet. Rather than using one of the chemical deworming products on the market, we recommend that you feed a hunting animal a daily dose of Diatomaceous Earth. If they have a bad case of a specific parasite, then a chemical dewormer may be in order to get rid of it initially, but we’d the recommend you maintain a schedule using Diatomaceous Earth. Do not compromise the health of your pet, if they are in noticeable distress it is important you consult a vet.
It depends on how you do it. Some raw diets are based on the traditional BARF principles, requiring the feeding of raw, meaty bones in addition to a BARF meal consisting of offal, vegetables and fruit. If you feed one of these types of raw food, then unless you are feeding a good portion (around 60%) of raw. meaty bones then there is a strong possibility that your dog’s diet is not rich enough in certain minerals, like calcium which is important for bone development, alkalinity and even thyroid function.
At PaleoPet Pure™ our foods are designed not only to offer variety, but also the right balance of protein, fats, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. When the Classic Complete Meals are used as the basis of your dog’s diet, with supplemental foods from the 100% range added on occasion, you can be sure that your pet’s nutritional needs are more than adequately met. Our food contains no fillers or bulkers and everything we put into it your pet gets out of it!
True. When we consider this we have to think about a few things. The kinds of bones we often feed our dogs have been cut by a bone saw to be a size that may not be found in nature – dense and small. Most dense bone is part of a larger bone and it is these bones that can be problematic in terms of choking or creating obstructions in the bowel of your dog. For this reason we have a few rules when we feed bone to ensure that it does not present any kind of danger to your pet.
We size our bones to be appropriate to the size of the dog, large and giant breeds should eat extra large bones, medium breeds should eat large bones, small breeds should eat medium sized bones and toy breeds should eat small bones. This ensures that the bone is never too small to be attempted to be swallowed whole or for a large section of it to be bitten off and swallowed. A good rule of thumb is that the bone should be wider than the muzzle of the dog. You should supervise your dog when they eat bones. If you are uncomfortable with feeding whole bones like beef, you can feed chicken bones in the forms of carcasses or necks (depending on the size and proficiency of your dog). Chicken bones (when raw) are soft and easily digested by a dog who has some experience eating raw food. Novices should stick to the 100% Chicken which has the bone minced into the product.
Some dogs require some time learning to digest bone if they have eaten a commercial diet for a long time, usually mixing the 100% Chicken with their regular food for a few days will help them adjust. Bone is a very important component of your dog’s diet – remember they are primarily scavengers and the bones are what are left when the other predators are finished, so feed bone responsibly or feed a product which has minced bone instead.