By Celeste Yarnall, Ph.D http://www.CelestialPets.com
As a holistic practitioner and the author of Natural Dog Care, as well as Holistic Cat Care, with Jean Hofve, DVM, I am often asked a very important question: How can I help my dog to live a longer and healthier life?
I answer that all important question the same way I answer it when my human clients ask me how to do this for themselves or for their children. My answer is to always start with love as your guide and then to remember that age old adage, “We are what we eat!”As Hippocrates said so eloquently, “Let thy food be thy medicine,” and no matter what species we belong to those are perfect words to live by. In that spirit let’s perfect not only our own diets but our beloved canine companions’ diets as well!
Human nutrition has several schools of thought, and each group is passionate about their own nutritional paradigm, but with dogs, it’s simple. Since I have already written a blog both here at my CelestialMusingsBlog.com https://celestialmusingsblog.com/2012/07/25/celestial-musings-blog-shares-how-to-make-homemade-food-for-cats/ blog and also for Care2 for my Celestial Musings blog on homemade food for felines there, it is now high time to give our canine companions equal time!
Dogs are carnivores plain and simple, and anyone who tries to twist this basic truth by feeding dogs a vegan diet, because of their own philosophy or belief system, is committing animal cruelty. Sorry folks, if you let your dogs out to hunt, they are not going to brings home a radish! I don’t mean to be harsh but, none of us are qualified to change the grand design of this planet no matter how much we abhor the meat industry and would personally like all animals to die of old age.
My heart breaks at the thought or sight of anything dying and I totally agree with everyone who points out the horrors of factory farming. The entire factory meat and dairy industry needs a total makeover, for sure! So let me make it perfectly clear that I recommend and only endorse the small local farmers who raise their animals humanely, on grass pastures and stand behind every aspect of organic local farming. I am a huge fan of a new movement featured in a film called Fresh. This film demonstrates all too clearly that this is indeed a very important issue (I don’t mean to give it short shrift here, but this issue is not the subject matter of this post).
We are going to learn here how to make a properly prepared homemade and properly supplemented state of the art, raw meat and raw bone canine diet. Yes I know, that’s a big statement and a big claim on my part, but this is my particular area of expertise and after over 20 years of making this food and teaching others how to do it professionally, I think I have earned my stripes and the right to make that claim. Now if you are one of those people who truly believe a dog can or should be fed a vegan diet and do not want to consider otherwise, and/or the thought of handling raw meat ruins your day, then please read no further. I do not wish to debate this issue here at this time, nor do I have the space to discuss every aspect of the canine’s body to clearly demonstrate that their teeth and digestive tract tell us very clearly exactly what they are, (carnivores) and what they must eat to enjoy optimal health and well being. What we are going to learn here after you have hopefully conducted your own research on the horrors of what goes into most pet foods, is how to make homemade food for dogs. And we are going to learn that all about species-specific nutrition for our best friends!
Our dog food has to be comprised of raw meat and raw bones!
The first question you will most likely ask, is why Celeste, does it have to be raw? Here is why in a nutshell! The value of a raw meat and raw bone diet lies at its core in its content of enzymes which are undamaged by the heat of cooking. Enzymes are responsible for every metabolic reaction that takes place in all of our bodies, whether it is the blinking of our eye or the functioning of our liver. Thus, when we run out of enzymes eating nothing but cooked food, as most of the domesticated dogs (and a lot of people) in this country do, we’re out of vitality; in fact, we’re out of life. Our enzyme making ability is cut short this way because we simply use it up.
It’s been said that we’re all born with a checking account filled with enzymes. Some people watch every check they write very carefully, and others are frivolous with theirs. Think of enzymes like this: when you eat an apple turnover at that fast food restaurant under the golden arches, you’re virtually writing a very big check from your enzyme bank. When you eat an apple, you’re writing a much smaller check, and that is a very good thing to do, as it conserves the precious resources your pancreas has available to sustain life, just like a savings account. This applies to our kids and our companion dogs and cats too.
Pet food manufacturers cook their meat (if you want to call it meat – it’s really the waste and trimmings at the meat plants that cannot be graded for human consumption that would normally be dumped as garbage but for these clever folks having found a secondary market to sell it too) to allegedly sterilize it with high heat, which is supposedly done to prevent disease (they also add chemicals to further ‘sterilize’ and preserve this so-called meat), but this is necessary only because they’re using inferior and spoiled animal remains, at best, to begin with (I could write 10 pages on what goes into pet food, but again, we do not have the space to cover this exploration). To offer an example, when animal fat is cooked, it becomes grease, which isn’t any better for your animal’s arteries than it is for your own. Cooking food also alters the proteins and renders them much more difficult to digest. Therefore, your dog(s) require raw meat and raw bones as the base macro-nutrients in their diet. Proper handling is a must but the safety issues are greatly inflated, see below:
Note: If you seen the news lately about the AVMA taking shots at us raw pet food feeders, take a look at the great post my writing partner Jean Hofve, DVM has done on the so-called dangers of raw meat feeding here and she addresses the issue of the safety of raw meat feeding, as well: http://www.littlebigcat.com/blog/avma-vs-raw-food-action-alert/
Plain and simple, cooking destroys the valuable enzymes found in raw meat and/or vegetables. This is also a good reason, if you do eat meat (hopefully it’s pasture raised), to eat it cooked rare. Enzymes break down foods and also play a role in the process of absorption of substances. Several enzymes are essential transporters of nutrient substances. Commercial bagged and canned dog and cat foods are essentially “dead” and rely totally on your companion animal’s own digestive enzymes to uptake any nutritional value at all. When the digestive enzymes are overworked, the body identifies the incompletely digested food molecules as foreign antigens (bad guys). Metabolic enzymes are then called upon to mobilize macrophage leukocytes (good guys that come in to clean up the garbage) to digest the food. The problem is that the good guys are taken from their immune system duties, and as a result, the immune system is weakened. See what happens when we don’t adhere to what Mother Nature provides in the infinite wisdom of her species-specific nutritional program for all life on this planet?
The answer to all this is to simply learn how to make a properly prepared and properly supplemented homemade raw meat and raw bone diet. I’m going to go way out on a limb and even recommend specific supplements to help you do this the way I do it myself. Since most veterinarians get very little nutritional training (if any) in vet school, and the only people that give them continuing education on nutrition are commercial pet food companies, they don’t usually adopt this method of feeding. Though you will find more and more holistic vets testifying to the benefits of the homemade raw meat and raw bone diet. I suggest you find one of them, unless you don’t mind getting attitude when you explain that you have joined the ranks of the raw meat and raw bone feeders! I welcome people to contact us at Celestial Pets for help and guidance in preparing this recipe, which we gladly offer free of charge.
In that spirit, here is the basic recipe I’ve used and recommended quite successfully in my holistic nutritional practice over the past 20 years and continue to do so. Therefore, if you have heard about or have been thinking about switching your dog to a homemade raw meat and raw bone diet, here is the one I offer my clients in phone consultations, or that you will find on my website and in my books. It is an easy-to-follow recipe that will ensure you that you are not missing any important nutrients for your dog, be it a large breed or small breed dog (we love cats, too!). We are happy to share our wealth of knowledge about this method of feeding. You see, the truth as I see it is that although there are vast differences in the size and appearance of dogs, they are all wolves on the inside! We start with the basics on the next page.
Note: Please read through this recipe carefully before you begin to prepare your dog’s first homemade meal. I know at first this may seem complex but I am trying to answer the most frequently asked questions that may also come to your mind as you read through it. For your convenience, a reasonable facsimile to this recipe can be downloaded and printed out from my website. There you will find one for dogs and one for cats. After you make this recipe a few times it will become so easy you won’t believe it took you so long to make your dog’s food at home in the safety and comfort of your own kitchen. Here is where you add love as an ingredient, as your dog(s) wait for you to complete this labor of love!
Raw Meat and Raw Bone Properly Supplemented Recipe for Dogs
Yield: Approximately two-three days worth of food for a 20-pound adult dog. Increase for larger dogs, as well as puppies and pregnant or lactating females. Make up large batches and freeze in serving sizes appropriate to your dog(s).
1 lb (0.45 kg) raw coarse ground pasture raised beef or free range, poultry with up to 25 percent fat.
I have always preferred to not use pork or fish but there are folks who do. Lamb is a wonderful option, however keep in mind it is fattier than most other meats, so I recommend another meat be used with it, such as beef or venison, elk, bison, ostrich, quail, chicken, or turkey. It is fine to alternate or combine meats for variety unless you are dealing with a known food allergy or aversion.
1/4 lb (100 g) raw, diced pasture raised, organic, organ meat such as liver, kidney, gizzard, spleen, etc., preferably from turkey, chicken, beef or lamb.
If you can find a butcher who will do a grind for you that includes organ meats, that is optimal. Kosher butchers are great for doing a grind that can even include some of these organ meats, but most dogs prefer some bite size chunks of meat and organ meats in their food. Look to the size of the dog’s jaw to determine the bite size. Cut the organ meats into appropriate sizes for your dog’s jaw. Again, for the toy breeds and smaller species, cut pieces of meat into smaller bite-size chunks. Liver can be cut into chunks partially frozen. I still like to include, as often as possible, the ground meat mixture with the chunks and pieces to be sure that our state of the art supplements I recommend next all amalgamate, which insures proper balance for the diet.
4 drops of grapefruit seed extract (GSE) liquid concentrate mixed thoroughly in 8 oz (250 ml) purified water.
Note: Never use grapefruit seed extract straight (internally or externally), as it will cause serious chemical burns. It must always be properly diluted as above, and then it is quite safe to use. I carry this product for the convenience of everyone who works with us directly, but most health food stores carry it as well. Just remember to never use it straight, always dilute it first according to the directions.
2 level tablespoons (20 g) of my proprietary Celestial Pets VM+ which is a vitamin/mineral mix I have made for a homemade raw meat diet containing organic bonemeal, from New Zealand and other whole foods supplement ingredients
It is very important to use a properly formulated whole food supplement to balance your homemade raw meat and raw bone carnivore diet, and I have formulated my Celestial Pets VM+ product with Russell Swift, DVM to make sure everything we need is included. I found trying to supplement the homemade diet so daunting when I began this process of making home prepared meals for my dog and cats over 20 years ago that I was compelled to fill this need myself in the market place because nothing acceptable to me existed. I have used this formula successfully for many years, you can explore my Celestial Pet’s formulas at my Celestial Pets website http://www.CelestialPets.com.
Cut the amount of Celestial Pets VM+ supplement in half, if using ‘bone-in’ ground meat. You can also add a pinch of spirulina and/or chlorella, if you are using primarily meat on the bone. I also like a product called BioPreparation by Optimum Choices for an extra nutritional boost. One capsule per pound of meat works well. I take the human product myself, which is called BioSuperfood. This can be used instead of spirulina or chlorella and can be used nicely with my Celestial Pet’s supplement mix, as well.
Probiotics (friendly, beneficial bacteria which are the exact opposite of antibiotics, which are supposed to target harmful bacteria that grown out of control) are also a wonderful addition to your dogs diet. I like Geneflora by Cycles of Life. We stock this product for people and pets, too or you can find it at most health food stores. I take this every day and it is in every batch of homemade food we make here at Celestial Pets!
I also feel digestive enzymes are critically important for us all. When it came to recommending a good digestive enzyme and we have our own which is called Celestial Pets Digestive Enzymes. Simply follow the amounts recommended on the label. Digestive enzymes are of critical importance but most especially when making any change to your dogs diet.
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon Celestial Pets digestive enzyme supplement.
Note: Digestive enzymes and probiotics are two entirely different types of products. Don’t get them confused. We and our dogs and cats benefit greatly by both of them!
One small tin of organic sardines in extra virgin olive oil, or my Celestial Pets EFA oil, which is an essential fatty acid supplement, or both for finicky dogs who need some extra flavor to entice them to their new food along with One organic, super organic, cold extracted, Omega-3 Moxxor capsule see http://www.MoxxArt.com for how to order it. See my blog https://celestialmusingsblog.com/2012/06/18/what-on-earth-is-a-greenlip-mussel/ for all the reasons I love MOXXOR and take it myself everyday!
Moxxor is a proprietary blend of 18 Omega-3 EFA’s which are comprised from powerful anti-inflammatory marine lipids and potent antioxidants from New Zealand cold extracted, organic, greenlip mussel oil as its primary ingredient — this oil is naturally preserved with by their use of a super antioxidants from organic Sauvignon Blanc grape seed husk extract which also provides an immune boost due to its high ORAC rating. Moxxor’s third and final ingredient contains all 8 natural forms of vitamin E from organic Kiwifruit seed oil. No fillers or excipients are used in Moxxor.
Note: The organic sardines, the Celestial Pets EFA oil and the Moxxor are a very helpful combination protocol for dogs who itch and scratch themselves a lot. Itching and scratching offers us a clear symptomatic picture, generally indicating that the dog is most likely deficient in essential fatty acids, namely Omega-3s which are anti-inflammatory. This condition also responds beautifully to homeopathy along with my diet protocol. See my Care2 post on homeopathy for pets for more information.
One drop Kyolic liquid aged garlic extract.
Note: I do not recommend raw garlic. I only recommend the Kyolic brand, as garlic in some dogs with certain health conditions can experience serious health consequences. I have never had a problem using Kyolic aged liquid garlic extract. Do not over supplement with the Kyolic. Use only one drop per pound of meat. I also stock this product at CelestialPets.com, but most health food stores carry it as well.
One 500 milligram taurine tablet or capsule.
Note: we have taurine powder in our Celestial Pets VM+ supplement, so therefore, there is no need to add more Taurine when using my supplement.
Raw whole chicken necks stripped of excess fat for small dogs. Raw whole turkey necks and wings, lamb shanks, or beef knuckle bones for larger dogs.
You can have your butcher grind chicken backs and necks – or even a whole chicken if you wish. Be sure the butcher runs them through the grinder at least three times. You could also purchase your own meat grinder and grind your own meats and poultry.
Some people like to feed whole chicken and turkey parts, such as backs and necks, or halved game hens; it all depends on the size of your dogs. Some people like to use a mallet to crush whole chicken necks or turkey necks and cut them up and put them into their dogs food, because they are nervous about feeding them whole. I prefer the combination of the ground meat mixture as described being made and mixed with supplements and then feed the raw bones along with the rest of this recipe. Getting some food into your dogs gut before they gnaw on the bones, provides a cushion in the stomach before the bones get there. Remember wild dogs eat the bones last when there is already food in their stomachs.
Large dogs really relish a raw knuckle bone to gnaw on after a meal. Raw bones are a true canine desert and keep their teeth wonderfully clean!
You can let your raw meat defrost in the diluted grapefruit seed extract (GSE) solution (see above for how to do this) with your supplements included, placing it in the refrigerator, but do not drain off this liquid. The raw bones can marinate in this solution as well rendering them a little softer.
The question here is usually, Why then do we need all those supplements? And that is a good question. You may be able to use less in the food when the whole carcass, bones and all are prepared this way, but I personally specialize in anti-aging for people and animals and find these whole food supplements to be a helpful strategy to truly accomplish that goal. The protocols offered here are actually quite similar to the protocols I offer my human clients. Both animals and people need the extra edge that whole food supplements which can be thought of as super foods to combat oxidative stress! Stress places extraordinary demands on dogs, cats and people. Therefore, we all can benefit from state of the art clinical nutrition, and that is what you are getting in these guidelines that I have tailored here specifically for our dogs. I know I am partial to the supplements I have suggested here, but these are what I use every day of my life and have spent years to either create or find from much trial, error and cost. I am now sharing them with you as I would with any good friend.
We have also found that many dogs do quite well with a new super antioxidant supplement made for people called Protandim and one tablet a day is great for dogs, too! You can see the ABC special on what this supplement does for people and make the leap to how it can help your dogs (the jury is still our on if it is safe for cats so better not give it to them until I see more on that safety issue). http://www.abcliveit.com/site/ABC_Primetime_Report.html Protandim can be ordered at http://www.mylifevantage.com/LVHealth
24 oz. food-processed raw zucchini (some dogs love organic carrots included here too), also food processed raw organic yams (no corn or white potatoe). Quinoa can also be used to stretch the food budget.
Note: This recipe is grain-free. Quinoa is actually a seed and not a grain, and these optional ingredients can be used for fiber. You will want to make the food the consistency of a thick chili for very small dogs, young puppies and toy breeds.
Add in all supplements and, if using them, add the veggies now.
Mix all ingredients thoroughly.
Raw Food Recipe Notes
Switching foods can be dicey. Many dogs and puppies immediately love their new homemade diet. It’s a good sign to have a dog with a hearty appetite. However, for others it takes a bit of strategy to accomplish this goal. Here are some tips for making this transition.
For dogs who have had dry food available day and night (free feeding), the first step is to go to a timed meal schedule where you leave the food out for an hour in the morning and again for an hour in the afternoon or early evening but put it away the rest of the time. Believe me, your dog will not starve to death in 12 hours. The fast “woofing” down mode of eating is more natural to carnivores, and it gives them time to digest between meals. The other big advantage of timed meals is that your dog will be hungry at mealtime, and thus more willing to try new things. This is particularly critical when switching from dry food to real species-specific foods appropriate for the canine.
Increase portions only slightly or feed another small meal if your dog still acts hungry and wants more. Let him digest what you have fed him. You don’t want to overfill their stomach, which may cause them to vomit up their stomach content. Amounts can vary from meal to meal. Feed a bit less than you are currently feeding with dry or canned food, as raw meat and raw bones are much more nutrient dense. You may increase the servings per day to three to four times per day for pups, during pregnancy, and during lactation. Do not overfeed puppies at any one meal. It is much better to feed them more often than risk an overly filled stomach.
Do keep in mind that dogs and puppies — just like us humans — don’t always want to eat every meal you serve them. Give them a little flexibility to make their own decisions. Just like us, sometimes we are not so hungry. But do keep an eye on what goes in to their tummies and what comes out the other end! Digestion of raw meat usually takes no more than four hours and makes its first appearance in the small intestine in about two minutes. Dry food takes between 12 to as long as 24 hours to be processed through the dog’s gut. This is more like putrifaction than actual healthy digestion and is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria.
Leave this homemade food down to begin with for approximately an hour. If it’s too warm in your home, or if flies are a problem, shorten the time. Many people — myself included — have left the food out for hours, even all day without incident. Err on the side of caution and do what you feel comfortable doing.
Dogs like their food fresh just like we do. Therefore, keep food in the refrigerator for no more than four days. I recommend that it be stored in glass bowls with tight fitting lids. Plastic off-gasses dangerous organochlorines, which are toxic to people and pets. Always defrost meat in the refrigerator, not on the kitchen counter, and never microwave it (that is a whole other post to explain why not to microwave food, but suffice it to warn here not to do it in order not to destroy the raw foods valuable enzymes).
Safe handling of raw meat is imperative. Wash hands, dishes, and utensils in hot soapy water. Clean surfaces with environmentally safe cleaning products, hot soapy water or a solution of 1 drop of (GSE) grapefruit seed extract per ounce (30 ml) of water. Or diluted food grade hydrogen peroxide.
Please remember that there is nothing better than a properly prepared homemade diet, but nothing worse than an improperly prepared one! You may have already worked all this out for yourself, but if not and need help, experienced nutritional practitioners and consultants—like the Celestial Pets team—are available to help you.
Last but not least, the most important ingredient and component of preparation for your dog’s meals is love!
Bearded Collie, and all artwork included here in this post is by Nazim Artist see: http://www.NazimArtist.com
Don’t forget we have a protocol for cats, too!