Raw food diet for pets – Shorts
Some pet owners who sought an alternative to processed commercial pet foods have turned to the bone and raw food (BARF) diet, Numerous websites have testimonials from breeders and pet owners who have seen definite improvements in their animals’ health since they have been on BARF. Kymythy R. Schultze, a certified Clinical Nutritionist and a certified Animal Health Instructor, has written a complete and easy-to-understand guide on feeding pets raw food called Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats – The Ultimate Diet (Hay House, Inc., ISBN 1-56170-636-1).
The vital importance of whole raw food for animal health was demonstrated by a ten-year experiment (1932-42) run by Francis Pottenger, Jr., MD. Kymythy Schultze says that the experiment, involving 900 cats, “was conducted within the most rigorous scientific standards of the day, and the pathological and chemical findings were also supervised by Alvin G. Foord, MD, professor of pathology at the University of Southern California.” Dr. Pottenger had noticed that cats fed on raw food enjoyed good health, as did their offspring. When the cats were fed cooked or processed food, their health deteriorated. These cats developed behavior problems, allergies, skin problems, parasites, nervous system inflammation, organ malfunction, and skeletal deformities. The third generation of cats fed only cooked food could no longer reproduce. It took four generations of cats eating raw food for those lines to regain health.
The BARF diet has no single formula; but in all of the information that I have read it is a mixture of raw muscle and organ meat, raw egg, pulped vegetable, and raw meaty bones. Raw edible bones, such as poultry necks, wings, and backs, are easy for an animal to crunch up and make up the bulk of the BARF diet. Kymythy Schultze recommends beginning with raw chicken or turkey necks “as they are mostly cartilage and very flexible.” Beef knuckle bones provide dogs with great entertainment and some nutrients, but they cannot eat the entire bone and miss some nutrients, according to Ms. Schultze. Cooked bones should NEVER be given to pets because cooking makes bone splinter and difficult to digest, which may cause internal damage or blockages.
Although many pets enjoy crunching up the bones themselves, some owners who feed the mixture of meat, pulped vegetables or fruits, and supplements prefer to grind the poultry necks, wings, backs, lambs ribs, and rabbit quarters that make up the meaty bone portion of the mix. Ms. Schultze warns against feeding pets a homemade diet that does not include some form of raw bone because nutritional deficiencies will result.: “Raw meaty bones provide nutritious marrow, amino acids! protein, essential fatty acids, fiber, enzymes, antioxidants and a vast array of species-appropriate minerals and vitamins, all in a usable form.”
Although humans are rightly concerned about the bacteria in raw meat (disinfect counters and utensils when working with raw meat to avoid cross-contamination), the short and acidic digestive systems of dogs and cats are designed to handle bacteria. “Bacteria is not a problem for a pet with a strong immune system,” Ms. Schultze asserts, “and a strong immune system is encouraged by eating species-appropriate raw food.”
Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats gives approximate amounts for pets who weigh 10 pounds, 50 pounds, and 100 pounds. The 50-pound pet food formula consists of 3/4 -1 cup muscle meat (plus organ meat or egg); 1 turkey neck or 6 chicken necks; 3 tablespoons pulped vegetables; 2 teaspoons kelp/alfalfa; 1 teaspoon cod liver oil; 2 teaspoons essential fatty acids; and up to 3-6 grams of vitamin C. In an article on meat grinders in The Whole Dog Journal, Mary Strickney of Cortland, Nebraska, has fed her toy rescue dogs (10 at present) and cats (4) homeprepared meals for 40 years. Her formula consists of 70% raw meaty bones, 10% organ meat, and 20% vegetables, fruit, eggs, and ricotta cheese. Neither she nor Kymythy Schultze recommends grains (a primary component in commercial dry pet food) because they contribute to allergies and digestive problems. For pet owners who would like to feed pets the BARF diet but do not have the time to mix it themselves, small pet food companies, which can be found on the web, sell BARF formulas in frozen packages.
Eskew, Susan. Good Grinders. The Whole Dog Journal. January 2003. 800-829-9165
Schultze, Kymythy R., CCN, AHI. Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats — The Ultimate Diet. Hay House, Inc. ISBN 1-56170-636-1
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