A fresh look at optimum diet for animals
The food your animal eats should provide all of the nutritional components which are necessary for all organs and systems of a healthy body
to perform in harmonious unison. A properly functioning body does an amazing job at preventing disease and healing itself, and to
do this it requires the energies and nutrients of a well-balanced diet.
I've seen amazing results and health improvement in my dog
Shasta, simply by switching
her diet from kibble/canned food to raw food. The raw food diet
strengthened her immune system dramatically. She no longer suffers
from allergies to fleas and at 11 years of age her health and vitality
are radiant." Shirley, author of this website. Shasta's homemade raw food recipe
About commercial pet food: In his best selling book, "Pet
Allergies: Remedies for an Epidemic", Alfred Plechner, DVM,
paints a dismal picture for the future of our pets: "The most common
and most visible symptoms of nutritionally caused deficiencies are
allergies of one kind or another. Because many commercial foods
are woefully deficient in key nutrients, the long term effect of
feeding such foods makes the dog hypersensitive to its environment.
It's a dinosaur effect. Animals are being programmed for
disaster, for extinction. Many of them are biochemical cripples
with defective adrenal glands unable to manufacture adequate cortisol,
a hormone vital for health and resistance to disease."Allergies
can be, and often are, unrecognized deficiency diseases.Recognizing
nutritional deficiencies will save you a great deal of frustration
and allow you to make the necessary adjustments in your dogs diet.
Dr. Karen Shaw Becker, DVM - "Contrary to popular belief,
not all dietary fats cause obesity in your pet. Just as in humans,
the good fats (omega-3 fats) enhance energy production in your dog
or cat, so they actually create less fat. Because most pets consume
an abundance of high carbohydrate, empty calorie dry foods (kibble),
the pet obesity issue is quickly rivaling the human obesity epidemic.
Omega-3s encourage the production of prostaglandins and leukotrienes,
compounds that help regulate inflammation, immune system response
and blood clotting activity in your dog or cat. They help to reduce
the inflammation associated with arthritis (including rheumatoid
arthritis) and conditions of the bowel such as ulcerative colitis
and inflammatory bowel disease. Research indicates omega-3 fats
may also prevent pet heart problems like arrhythmia and high blood
pressure, as well as decrease triglyceride and blood cholesterol
fats are also being researched for their potential to slow the
development and spread of certain cancers in pets, as well as for
their ability to prevent or alleviate auto-immune disorders, allergies,
and some skin conditions. A deficiency of omega-3 fats in your cat
or dog can result in stunted growth, eye problems, muscle weakness
and lack of motor coordination, as well as immune system dysfunction."
Fail to Give
Omega 3 Fat to Your Pets and You are Asking for Trouble...
Irradiated pet food endangering pets health, killing pets
The Australian government in late May ordered an immediate stop to sterilizing
cat food via irradiation after reviewing scientific studies pointing to food irradiation as the culprit behind illnesses characterized
by ataxia or paralysis of the limbs, especially the hind limbs.
Symptoms in the Australian cats first appeared three to six months
after they were exposed to the dry food, Child said. Some had eaten
the food for as few as three weeks; others for more than six months.
The problem affected 90 cats in Australia, of which 30 died, mostly
by euthanasia after they became paraplegic or tetraplegic, according
to Dr. Georgina Child, a neurologist at the Small Animal Specialist
Hospital and University of Sydney Teaching Hospital. The U.S.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also allows animal feed, including
pet food and treats, to be irradiated up to 50 kGy.
Make the BARF (Bones and Raw Foods) Switch easy on you and your dog with
this ebook guideline and instructions. The dangers associated with a commercial dog food diet is overwhelming – from immediate
effects like a dull coat and foul smelling dogs breath, to longer term effects like increasing the risk for canine cancers and a shorter
life span. And thats the sad truth that the commercial pet food companies dont want you to know. The amount of processing and additives
that go into the preparation of the commercial dog food contain
chemicals that are not optimal for your dog and may even make them
sickly and die early.
Meet Your Dog's Nutritional Needs The Natural Way with the B.A.R.F Diet Ebook
Raw Food Recipes Booklet
- For those of you who would like to make your own raw food diet, this booklet will give you some answers and ideas. It provides very
specific weekly raw diets for dogs based on their weight. It will provide some insight on how much variety to offer, how much to feed
and even discusses supplements!
* How much variety should I offer?
* How do I know what my dog needs?
* How much should I feed?
These dogs eat raw meat.
Left: This video shows the preparation for each meal.
Dr. Swift DVM explains Why it's not a good idea to feed
cooked grains to your pets:"Carnivores cannot maintain
long term production of the quantity of amylase enzyme necessary
to properly digest and utilize the carbohydrates. In addition,
the proteins in grains are less digestive than animal proteins.
As a result, the immune system becomes irritated and weakened
by the invasion of foreign, non-nutritive protein and carbohydrate
particles. Allergies and other chronic immune problems may
develop. The pets pancreas will do its best to keep up with
the demand for amylase. What does this pancreatic stress
do over a long time? I don't know, but it cannot be good.
I suspect that dental calculus may be another problem promoted
by grain consumption."- Russell Swift, DVM
Dr. Pottenger discovers Raw Food Link
Dr. Pottenger discovered quite by accident that cats degenerated unless they were fed raw food. In his 10-year study of 900
cats, he found the optimal diet for his cats was 2/3 raw meat and 1/3 raw milk plus a little cod liver oil. If either
the meat or the milk was cooked, the cats degenerated. And if both were cooked, the degeneration was much worse, and
the cats could no longer reproduce by the third generation.
Some of the problems Pottenger found in the cats fed cooked food were: heart problems; nearsightedness and farsightedness;
underactivity and inflammation of the thyroid; infections of the kidney, liver, testes, ovaries and bladder; arthritis
and inflammation of the joints; inflammation of the nervous system with paralysis and meningitis. And in the third generation,
some of the cats' bones became as soft as rubber. Lung problems, and bronchitis and pneumonia were also frequent. Moreover,
the females became irritable and even dangerous, and the males became passive and lacked sex interest.
Raw Recipes for Felines Step-by-step
pictorial and guidance to making and feeding RAW cat food produced
by Anne Jablonski. Read Anne's open letter to veterinarians
Feline Raw Diet Recipes
The cat is a creature who has total dependence on raw meat. Cats are obligate carnivores, and need a lot of meat
in the diet. I believe that the grain based commercial diets are killing our cats. Cats are now dying of kidney disease, get diabetes,
hyperthyroidism, IBD, etc. Commercial foods have only been popular for cats for the last couple decades. Before that, Fluffy was fed
a variety of people food, and got a chance to hunt for herself. While I truly believe cats belong indoors in today's world, it has
limited their diet. While indoor/outdoor cats can hunt and often choose that over commercial foods, indoor kitties aren't given that
option. It scares me to think that we may be slowly killing our felines. My raw-fed cats have great teeth (unheard of in many cases),
great coats, great condition, their coats gleam, they're incredibly soft. And VERY active!!! Even the vet has noticed a difference (not
that he's seen the younger 2 for anything besides routine care...)
own cats eat ONLY raw meat and, while this is not mandatory for good results in the diabetic
cat, it is a very good way to provide some of the natural, unprocessed nutrition the cat evolved to utilize best."
Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkins DVM
The closer we can approximate the raw diet that Nature has designed
felines to eat - a diet they have been eating successfully for eons
- the more natural, digestible and appropriate their diet will be.
And the closer we can come to modeling our cats diets this way,
upon Natures ideal, the more the natural benefits of eating this
way will impact their overall health and well being. A whole raw
foods, or prey model, diet for cats can be comprised of a combination
of a variety of whole, raw, small carcasses, (for example small
game hens, chickens, duck, quail, rabbits, mice, rats and/or fish)
along with a variety of different parts of other, larger carcasses,
(such as things like turkey, lamb, goat, pork, ostrich, emu, elk,
venison and/or beef) which are fed over time in the relative proportions
that are found in the average prey animal. The idea is that the
overall diet be comprised of a similar ratio of body parts that Nature uses to make up whole carcasses.
about salmonella and other bugs? The digestive systems of dogs
and cats are short, acidic, and handle bacteria well. This is why
they are not susceptible to salmonella, parasites, or e-coli from
tainted meat as humans are. Humans have very long digestive tracks
which allow food to 'linger' for 24 hours or more, thus allowing
more time for parasites to get into their bloodstreams. Some people
add Fulvic acids to their
pet's raw food diet. According to research, Fulvic neutralizes
toxins and can eliminate food poisoning within minutes.
When it encounters free radicals with unpaired positive or negative
electrons, it supplies an equal and opposite charge to neutralize
the free radical. fulvic acid acts as a refiner and transporter
of organic materials and cell nutrients. According to A. Szalay,
fulvic acid has the ability to dramatically detoxify herbicides,
pesticides, and other poisonsthat it interacts with – this includes
many radioactive elements. This detoxification process may extend to animals and humans.
about Zoonosis? "Zoonosis
is an infectious or parasitic disease, which is naturally passed from vertebrate animals to humans, and vice versa, e.g. tuberculosis,
rabies or brucellosis. "Dogs and especially cats can shed Salmonella organisms in both their feces and saliva, meaning that transmission
can occur via licking. A pet dog or cat licking your hand is a very common occurrence. Sometimes a pet may lick the face of a child,
helping germs spread more easily. Animal saliva contains many pathogenic agents.
from Shirley - I fed my former dog Shasta homemade grainless balanced raw food diet which included
raw meat, raw eggs, raw veggies, seavegetables, Chia seeds, etc.
(see recipe). My new dog, Kuuma, is very finicky and won't eat veggies, etc.
He only likes to eat raw meat such as chicken, pig feet, beef heart, etc. However, I won't feed my dog meat exclusively. I believe that
chia seeds or
eggs, greens and
are important to support a dog's health. Therefore I supplement
Kuuma's raw meat diet with healthy kibbles, which he seems to enjoy.
I discovered a new way of feeding my dog veggies. Instead of
storing my the pulp of my green juice
in the refrigerator or freezer until I am ready to prepare a batch
of raw dog food, I store the pulp in an airtight container at room
temperature. A month or two later, the pulpe is completely decomposed
or pre-digested by naturally occurring friendly bacterias. This is
"yogurt" for my dog, shock-full of nutrients and pro-biotics. It
smells like poop, and the dog loves it! Why
Do Dogs Eat Poop? Some people warn against feeding dogs broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower (cruciferous plants) because they claim that
it can produce gas, which may at some point cause a portion of their belly to invert, requiring euthanasia or surgery. Other people say
that broccoli and cauliflower should be lightly blanched (lightly steamed) in order to rid them of the harmful toxins. Shasta and
Kuuma have never had gas from their food, let alone an inverted belly.
I've also heard that an overuse of cruciferous plants can interfere with thyroid functioning in people and animals. I give Shasta small
amount of cruciferous plants. They have never suffered any adverse effects from these vegetables. I feed her mostly grounded or pureed
raw carrots and greens (the pulp from my green juice)
Do you have a question about Natural Animal Health or need assistance?
Call 323-522-4521 or 323-989-3372
Much Healthier On A Raw Diet: a Testimonial
I was born, grew up, lived and worked on ranches until I was 27 years old. We grew our own food: meat, veggies, and fruit. Our
dogs got to eat whatever didn't make it into the freezer or onto the table...raw food. I don't remember ever taking a dog to the
vet for anything. Our dogs lived to a ripe old age and worked cattle right along side us and our horses. It's kind of embarrassing for
me really. The fact is that I started feeding popular dog foods to my dogs after I moved to town. I should have known better. My
dogs were ill a lot, had bad, scratchy coats, allergy symptoms, icky teeth, really bad breath, some were fat, and some very, very
skinny. The thing I remember most is that my dogs tried to tell me...we call it finicky but it's really the dog telling us the food
isn't good for them. Has your dog turned his nose up at his food? You probably did the same thing I did. Add a little gravy! Who knew
that those dog foods were bad for dogs?! The dogs did!
Changes in our dogs after starting raw food:
- Kari our Golden Retriever, rescued at 8 years old, grew
young again! She lived to be 17 years old. She passed away quietly
February 2002 of old age.
- Bruno (born 1994), our rescue boy, grew sleek and strong,
his nose turned black, quit having bellyaches, and he can breathe
again. Bruno can hold his own at a full run all day long.
- Dancer's (born 1995) fear of thunderstorms lessened from
uncontrollable fear to wanting a hug and she changed from a
skinny minny to a beautiful girl with a gorgeous coat.
- Tilli (born 1996) lost her baby fat that just wouldn't go
away no matter how much she exercised. Now she has an svelte
figure. She's the Frisbee dog. Energy galore.
We've only been to the vet for rabies shots, an old tooth that needed
to come out, and a broken leg. Remember when Bruno broke his leg
a few years ago? Recovered quickly. Our vet just couldn't believe
it. Quick healing, perfect blood work, and clean teeth. Kari had
a broken molar when she came to live with us. At 16 it finally started
to bother her. The vet couldn't believe how perfect her blood work
was and even gave us a discount on the surgery because her teeth didn't need cleaning.
The Importance of Bones and Calcium, Phosphorous in Carnivore's Diet
Richard H. Pitcairn, D.V.M., Ph.D - "Dogs and cats, their kind
in the wild, eat a large amount of calcium. This happens because
they chew on, and swallow, bones which have large quantities of
calcium in their makeup. It is assumed that with time they have
adapted to having this kind of diet. It is not completely clear
that they must have this much calcium to be healthy. In other words,
perhaps they can adapt to lower levels. It certainly seems that
way for many of the animals I have known that, for one reason or
another, have had small amounts of calcium in their diets. They
often seem just fine. There is evidence that the growing animal
is the one most sensitive to calcium deficiency. This makes sense
if we remember that it is during this time that the bones of the
body are rapidly enlarging. They are made up primarily of calcium
and phosphorus. In any case, it seems wise to supply the amounts
of calcium that are typical of the natural diet and our recipes
are formulated with that consideration. To give you some idea of
how much more calcium is "required" by a dog compared to a human
being, consider this comparison. The amount of calcium the average
woman needs is the same as that required by a small 10 lb. dog.
A larger dog, say a 100 lb. German Shepherd requires about 10 times
as much as this average woman. It is difficult to find sources of
calcium that can add this much to the diet. The natural source is bones and we find
that this is also the most ample source with which to formulate diets."
"The common practice of feeding meat without bones (or bone meal) is nutritionally disastrous for dogs and cats. There are far too
many people giving eggs and meat to their pets without providing a balance to all the phosphorus they contain. Meat contains no calcium,
and lots of phosphorus; bones contain lots of calcium. Eggs contain lots of phosphorus; the shells contain calcium. That is nature's
balance. If we feed meat without bones or eggs without shells, or aren't sure of the correct ratios of those things to feed, we must
use something to replace them. It is a common and tragic mistake to give a diet far too high in phosphorus to cats and dogs."
Samples Recipes of Raw Pet Food
The following websites offer samples and recipes of raw food they feed their pets (the sample recipes may be at the bottom of these pages)
- Raw - Ready-To-Eat Safe, Healthy RAW Pet Food
John Miller, professional dog-fancier offers dozens of recipes. (they are not raw-food recipes but they are well worth looking at)
- Feeding a Natural Diet Christina Bredenkamp
- The home of Aniak Siberians -
Our dogs are fed a natural diet. A "Back to Basics" approach
- Bodhi's Natural Diet:
This is what I have found to work the best at this time for Bodhi and my budget, since he is retired from heavy training.
- Sample recipe of what Shirley (author of this website) feeds her dog Shasta everyday At 12 years of age, Shasta remains in good health.
She rarely has to see a vet because she is so healthy. She eats raw eggs, raw organically grown veggies, kelp, flaxseeds, raw
whole fish, raw bones, all sorts of raw meats including organ meats and I make sure that all meats I purchase for her at the
market is NON-IRRADIATED. I fast her on water every other day.
- Naturally Reared Afghan Hounds.
Mary and Peter Voss have been involved with Afghan Hounds (both breeding and rescue) since 1989. Their philosophy: "a dog will catch it's food and
devour nearly all of it...the flesh (good source of protein), fat (a good energy source), bone (high in calcium and helps
keep teeth clean), muscle and organ meats, and the stomach contents (filled with plant material consisting of herbs and grasses).
The philosophy behind the idea of Natural Rearing is to try and reproduce the way in which dogs feed in their natural state.
Natural-Rearing diets are based on fresh foods such as raw meats, raw bones, raw vegetables and herbs. Because dogs in the wild
would not eat every day, 1 day of fasting (only
for adult dogs) per week is also part of the Natural-Rearing diet. This allows the animal to cleanse it's body of toxins."
- Raw Feeding FAQ - step by step guideline
Feeding a Natural Diet
by Christina Bredenkamp
Making the change to feeding raw foods can be so very traumatic
... to the owner! The dog would be very happy to acquire some nice
raw beef or chicken. But we, as the owners, make all of those decisions
for our pups. My own diet, which varies with what is available, consists mainly of turkey and chicken necks. The turkey necks don't
have any fatty skins on them so I have to add fat to the diet. I do this by adding a few chicken necks which have lots of skin on
them. I also give chicken backs sometimes. They are very crunchy but also provide lots of fats. Remember that these fats are from
natural sources. They have not been degraded by heating, causing them to
become rancid and unuseable by the body. My 130# Dane bitch eats
2# of turkey necks and 3-4 chicken necks twice a day. I throw in
a chicken liver once a day or so. About every third meal I feed
a 1/2 pound veggie patty made according to Billinghursts' recipe.
My patties are packed and frozen in 1# weights (which for me provides
2 feedings) in sandwich ziplock baggies for ease of feeding. The
necks are packed and frozen in one gallon ziplock baggies with 4
- 5# of turkey and chicken necks in each. Again very easy to use.
I take what I need out of the freezer once a day and allow it to
thaw while the previous days' food is put into her 2 bowls for that
If for some reason she won't eat a meal, it isn't a bad thing.
Fasting helps the body rest. Don't
sweat it. Just pick up the food within 20 minutes and return it
to the fridge for the next timed feeding. They are usually hungry
enough to eat the next time. Of course, if your dog won't eat for
a two days, something else is wrong and you need to find out what.
A trip to the vet is in order. One thing I no longer really worry
about is bloat. I still practice the usual precautions, but since
I am not feeding cereals that will swell up in the tummy and take
more than three times the digestion time needed (unnatural for a
dog's short digestive system designed for raw meats), I don't worry.
I have experienced bloat in 3 of my dogs (before feeding BARF).
I still watch for symptoms, etc. But now I don't worry. YEAH! Raw
foods pass through the stomach in 4 hours, not over 12. The enzymes
are still intact for use by the body to convert the food into nutritional
building blocks. It gets to the intestines quickly rather than spoiling
in the stomach trying to be digested into something that the dog
still can't use. The changes you will see in your dog will amaze
you! Our allergies disappeared. Skin is smooth and supple with a
glossy coat. No greasy coats or infected ears. Wounds heal fast.
Fat turns to muscle. Stamina increases. Play increases. Vet bills
decrease. You have a happy, healthy dog.
Yes, you do need to watch for problems. Like turkey necks that
get thrown back up and re-eaten because they were so long! I cut
mine in half now because it grossed dear hubby to watch that. Too
large food chunks can also choke an animal, no matter what kind
of food is being fed. Do watch for bones being thrown up. They will
be undigested bones, nice and clean. Usually with grass. If your
dog wants to eat grass, then let it. They are doing it for a reason.
Usually because of a tummy upset. It also cleans out the colon.
The grass catches the bones in the tummy that don't digest and helps
bring them out one way or the other. This can be a sign that you
need to cut back on the foods with bones and feed more veggies or
less boney foods. Also, they can pass bones in the stool and sometimes
that can cause problems. I don't feed meats with large/long bones
in them, like turkey legs or chicken legs and thighs. These are
weight bearing bones and can splinter more easily. The necks have
small bones that can pass through if undigested. I feel better with
this. They also contain lots of cartilage which is a natural source
of glucosamine and chondroiton. NEVER feed cooked bones. They all
splinter and can pierce the gut, causing a lifethreatening condition.
Try going the healthier route and give your dog a raw bone!
"My animals diet, which varies with what is available, consists
mainly of turkey and chicken necks. The turkey necks don't have
any fatty skins on them so I have to add fat to the diet. I do this
by adding a few chicken necks which have lots of skin on them. I
also give chicken backs sometimes. They are very crunchy but also
provide lots of fats. Remember that these fats are from natural
sources. They have not been degraded by heating, causing them to
become rancid and intolerable by the body."
Christina Bredenkamp, Great Danes
A Healthy Alternative to Feeding Raw Food
One of the alternative to feeding pets raw food is Life's Abundance,
a natural kibble pet food for Dogs and Cats. Life's Abundance chicken
meal is made from chickens raised without hormones or steroids.
It contains only natural, wholesome ingredients and is nutrient
dense with vitamins, minerals, fats and fatty acids which are essential
for the optimal health of your dog or cat. It is free from
corn, wheat, dairy, by-products, artificial colors or flavors.
View the commercial dog food comparison chart
Premium Health Food for Dogs or Cats is formulated by Dr. Jane Bicks, a highly respected and nationally recognized holistic veterinarian.
Their chicken meal, fish meal and eggs
are derived from human-grade processing plants, probiotics for a healthy digestive tract, and is rich in powerful antioxidants from
fruits, vegetables, flax seed meal, and other natural sources.
Dr. Jane Bicks is the author of 12 minute FREE audio presentation
Do You Really Know What's In Your Pet's Food?
Learn about Life's Abundance and the Daily Nutritional Systems.
Minerals and vitamin deficiency
Our soil, plants, and especially commercial foods are woefully deficient
in key nutrients. Scientists theorize that mineral deficiency subjects
us, and our animals, to more diseases, aging, sickness and destruction
of our physical well-being than any other factor in personal health.
About prey eating (pp 15-16):
"In the wild, hair and underskin are part of a natural flesh diet
and supply essential roughage to exercise the strong muscles of
the digestive tract, acting also as a mild laxative....Animals in
the wild, after tearing off some outer skin and flesh of their victims,
unfailingly show a preference for certain organs of the body: first
the intestines, then the eyes. The intestines supply a good source
of demi-digested starch and green herbage.... The other chose organs
are the eyes, which animals gouge out with great eagerness. (Seagulls,
which are partly carnivorous, always greedily seek the eyes of drowned
bodies, animal or human.) It is no doubt some mineral salts which
attract the carnivorous animals, phosphorus and iodine normally
being present in the eye tissue.
Dr Weston A. Price....
states: '.... they know that the tissues forming the back part of
the eye are good for food. Science has recently demonstrated that
the retina of the eye is one of the rich sources of vitamin A.'.."
About eggs (p 38):
"Eggs from hens, ducks, or turtles are a rich source of mineral
salts and vitamins.... Eggs must be fresh, as staleness renders
them indigestible. They should be fed raw, because cooking causes
them to adhere to the digestive tract.... Eggs are quite a natural
food to the dog, for dogs will seek out and eat the eggs of sea-birds
and other birds, such as game-birds, which lay their eggs on the
ground. Eggs are very *unsuitable* food for sick animals because
of their highly fermentative properties. During the heat of fever,
for instance, they rapidly poison the body instead of strengthening
it. Egg-and-milk has long been the most misguided of orthodox medical-recommended
invalid foods; the giving of such food has done about as much to
spoil cures by orthodox treatment as has the popular use of the
destructive sulphonamide group of drugs. It is claimed that raw
egg-white harms health: I do not agree. Egg-stealers, such as
foxes, weasels, cats and rats keep very well, thank you!"
Learn more about Juliette de Bairacli Levy, an extraordinary women and champion for natural
health and well being of animals and children.
William Winter DVM:"Following my great success recommending
raw natural diets, I began to explore other aspects of Ms. Levy's
Natural Rearing. I explored
fasting. To this
day I do not believe that I have ever discovered a healing technique
quite as powerful. I have recommended fasting for 10,000 to 20,000
animals and have seen true miracles over these years of practice.
Ms. Levy says it is one of the TWO MOST IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF NATURAL
REARING. The other being a raw diet. It can be said that I will start every chronic patient
on a fast and begin recommending fasting for all animals beginning at about one year of age."
Bone of Contention: Are Dogs Natural Fruit Eaters?
By Nora Lenz
Some dogs are notorious for devouring almost any food put before
them, but if youve tried without success to feed fruit to your dog,
you may answer no to the above question. It turns out that personal
preference doesnt come close to settling the issue, however.
Whether or not fruits and vegetables are a natural part of the
canine diet remains a bone of contention among raw and home-feeding
Recent studies on the wolf, the closest living relative of todays
domestic dog, are shedding new light on the subject. Using telemetry
(satellite guided tracking), wolves can be followed so closely that
researchers can study exactly what they eat and when. One study,
Foraging and Feeding Ecology of the Gray Wolf, by Daniel R. Stahler,
Douglas W. Smith and Debra S. Guernsey tracked the eating habits
of wolves in Yellowstone National Park. Preliminary evidence suggests
that kill rates decrease as much as 25% in summer, when fruit and
other plant foods are available. Further studies exploring seasonal
changes in wolf predation are still underway.
Yellowstone wolves tend to be more selective than wolves inhabiting
areas with more natural predator-to-prey ratios. Nevertheless, they
sometimes went without fresh meat for up to several weeks, according
to the study. In summer, fruit was available to fill in the gaps,
but in winter they subsisted by scavenging carcasses consisting
mostly of bone and hide.
Although it differs by continent, studies on wolf scats have
shown evidence that wolves commonly eat a wide variety of fruits,
including berries, cherries, apples, pears, figs and grapes. Yes,
The dietary classification for dogs usually boils down to the
question: Omnivore or carnivore? Actually, both are correct. Dogs
belong to a class of species called facultative carnivora, meaning
that they have all the faculties of a carnivore, but are able to
survive on foods other than prey, when necessary, for extended periods.
In practical terms, this classification is not distinguishable in
any meaningful way from omnivorism.
While fruits seem to be a natural variable in the canine diet,
the same cannot be said for vegetables, as a whole. The difference
is digestibility. The nutrients in vegetables are encased in a tough
cellulose membrane and require the kind of teeth that can chew and
grind them. Dogs arent equipped with these, and they lack the digestive
enzymes that would do the trick in lieu of chewing. The only possible
exception to this is some starchy vegetables, which resemble overripe
fruit in composition when they are cooked. Examples would be yams,
sweet potatoes, squash and pumpkin.
There is no doubt that prey has been the main preferred food
source for dogs throughout their biological history. However, scarcity
of prey has featured prominently enough to hold important clues
for modern dog owners seeking to feed their pets properly. If we
want to truly replicate nature, we have to feed prey foods only
as frequently as dogs have historically had access to them, on average.
Lacking that precise data, all we can do is estimate a range, based
on the evidence. The frequency end of the spectrum will be easier
to pin down than the infrequency end, since the latter is based
on fragmented information and will represent the elusive mean average
of all those occasions when dogs experienced prey scarcity. Giving
great consideration to widely varying individual factors like size,
condition and activity level of the dog being fed, optimal is likely
somewhere between 2-4 times weekly to a few times per month.
Wolves have been known to go as long as 6 months without a kill.
This is probably rare, admittedly, but it would be just as uncommon
for a wolf to eat his fill of prey everyday for days and months
on end, like many domestic dogs do. And it must be noted that wolves
are extremely physically active, unlike most domestic dogs.
Domestic dogs that are fed prey foods too regularly are often
overweight, sluggish, and symptomatic in one way or another. This
is true regardless of whether the food is raw or cooked, commercial
or home prepared, although dogs fed a homemade raw diet will have
far fewer health problems, of course. Often, these dogs will not
eat fruit. There is no reason for a dog to eat a secondary food
like fruit if primary foods are fed with such regularity as to produce
the conditioned expectation of getting them. When owners switch
to feeding prey foods on a more infrequent or random basis, and
particularly if appropriate fasting days are thrown in, they often
find that their dogs will eat fruits readily even though they shunned
When this kind of ‘rotational feeding plan is implemented, owners
almost always see positive changes in their dogs as well, like increased
energy, shinier coat, better digestion and symptom cessation, especially
if only one type of food is fed per day (as opposed to mixing foods
together, which complicates digestion) and the foods are raw and
Feeding fruit regularly is beneficial not only because it simulates
the gaps in primary food availability that a dog would experience
in nature, but for what fruits dont contain: namely, excess fat,
stored toxins, nutrient imbalances, etc. Even when dogs are raw-fed,
the foods that are produced in the modern meat industry cant ideally
meet their nutritional needs because they dont precisely resemble
what wild dogs have eaten throughout their history. For example,
humans have developed methods that produce food animals with a higher
than natural ratio of muscle to bone. Wild birds that are capable
of flying hundreds of miles have tiny breast muscles, while modern
domestic poultry that cant fly at all have huge mutated chests that
are only good for one thing – feeding humans. These manipulations
create nutritional excesses or imbalances in those who eat them,
even when the consumer is a carnivore.
In addition, producers often feed indigestible, inappropriate
foods and toxic substances that get stored in food animals fatty
tissues and cause problems when eaten by dogs. There are other problems,
too, like the lack of freshness, unavailability of whole animals
and finding food animals with bones that are small enough to either
be ground or chewed and consumed by small or medium-sized dogs.
Dogs need the entire bodies of prey, not just muscle meat.
So for civilized dogs, fruit represents a valuable break from
the excesses inherent in modern foodstuffs. Fruit, in fact, is so
easy for a dog's body to break down that a day of only fruit allows
almost as much rest for the digestive tract as a fasting day. And
with modern dog owners being as reluctant as they typically are
to employ the crucial ‘famine part of the natural feast-and-famine
cycle that dogs are adapted to, fruit can provide the emotional
satisfaction of feeding while allowing digestive rest at the same
The idea that plant foods actually represent a larger proportion
of a dog's natural diet than previously supposed would explain the
anecdotal success that some people are enjoying raising vegan and
vegetarian dogs, as well. For dog owners wanting to minimize the
use of animal products for ethical, ecological or financial reasons,
feeding meat less frequently in favor of fruit and other appropriate
plant fare offers this opportunity while not compromising the health
of the dog. Even if owners are not constrained by such concerns
and wish only to keep their dogs in optimal health, fruit can be
an important piece of the puzzle.
- "Foraging and Feeding Ecology of the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus):
Lessons from Yellowstone National Park", Daniel R. Stahler, Douglas
W. Smith and Debra S. Guernsey
- "Wolves: Behavior, Ecology and Conservation", L. David Mech and Luigi Boitani
- "The Wolfs Natural Diet – A Feeding Guide for your Dog?" Mogens Eliasen
About the author:
Nora Lenz is a 10-year practicing natural hygienist and specialist
in transitioning to a raw food diet for humans and dogs. She has
been teaching people how to avoid and reverse disease through removal
of cause for 6 years via classes, private consultations and her
websites, www.RawSchool.com and www.NoMoreVetBills.com
Do you have a question about Natural Animal Health or need assistance?
Call 323-522-4521 or 323-989-3372
groundswell of nutrition conscious veterinarians are beginning
to recommend to their clients that they supplement their animals
diet with a daily dose of flaxseed oil and other important nutrients.When
the diets of animals were fortified with flax, within three weeks
their coats developed a beautiful sheen, and dandruff was greatly
diminished. There are amazing testimonials about animals recovering
from cancer, diabetes and other severe degenerative illnesses with
a nutritional product called Transfer Factor. My colleagues and
I have found this product (transfer factor) to be very effective
in modulating the immune system. Transfer factor is a "soup" of
immune-modulating factors, which contains a leukocyte-type molecule
that can passively transfer immunity from one mammal to another
by stimulating cell-mediated immunity and is antigen specific. Richard
Bennett, Ph.D., an Infectious Disease Microbiologist and Immunologist
from the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine,
believes this could be the most significant development in animal
health care in decades. We have a great number of veterinarians
and clients who are experiencing very positive results in a broad
area of disorders, including periodontal. "Charles W. Brown, DVM
Wendell O. Belfield, D.V.M. "Their pets may have diarrhoea,
increased flatulence, a dull hair coat, intermittent vomiting or
prolonged scratching. These are common symptoms associated with
commercial pet foods." In 1981, as Martin Zucker and I wrote How
to Have a Healthier Dog, we discovered the full extent of negative
effects that commercial pet food has on animals. In February 1990,
San Francisco Chronicle staff writer John Eckhouse went even further
with an exposé entitled "How Dogs and Cats Get Recycled into Pet Food."
Holistic Animal Health and Optimum Pet Nutrition
A growing number of veterinarians state that processed pet food
is the main cause of illness and premature death in the modern dog
and cat. In December 1995, the British Journal of Small Animal Practice
published a paper contending that processed pet food supresses the
immune system and leads to liver, kidney, heart and other diseases.
Dr. Kollath, of the Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm, headed a study
done on animals. When young animals were fed cooked and processed
foods they initially appeared to be healthy. However, as the animals
reached adulthood, they began to age more quickly than normal and
also developed chronic degenerative disease symptoms. A control
group of animals raised on raw foods aged less quickly and were
free of degenerative disease. For a return to health, pets require
a diet which strengthens the immune system and most closely resembles
that which they would get in the wild. It's really easy to do.
Do you have a question about Natural Health or need assistance?
Call 323-522-4521 or 323-989-3372
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