Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Put three raw feeders in a room...

and you'll get 17 different opinions on how to do it correctly.

Okay, that is a bit of an exaggeration. But if there are a lot of debates around commercial food, there are just as many debates about homemade.

The big one - BARF vs. "whole prey" model.

BARF stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food, and was developed mostly by one person, Dr. Ian Billinghurst. It specifies a diet of ~60-80% meat and bones, and the rest fruits, vegetables and dairy products such as cottage cheese. The theory, as far as I know, is that the fruits, etc. provide vitamins, minerals and probiotics that are either required or beneficial to the dog.

This diet can get quite complicated, at least to start, in my opinion.

And complicated diets can sell a lot of "cookbooks". Do a search on any on-line book store, and you will get hundreds, if not thousands of results.

Then there is the "whole prey" model. The theory here is Mother Nature knows what she is doing, and provides everything a wolf (and therefore a dog) needs in it's appropriate prey. Being as most of us either do not have access to whole prey, or are unwilling to have a deer carcass in the back yard for a few weeks for the dog to gnaw on (what would the neighbours think??!!), it can be summed up as 80% meat, 10% bone, and 10% organ (5% of which should be liver).

It's less complicated, but there are still things to work out - do you try to balance those proportions every meal? Every day? A few days? A week? How much fish is too much? How many raw eggs are too many?

So, what do I think? Wolves are carnivores, but they are also opportunistic scavengers. So, they will not pass up ripe fruit if they find it in the wild. However - just because they eat it, doesn't mean they require it. And wolves definitely do not eat any dairy products.

I know, I know. Dogs are not really wolves. But, they are. Their dentition, their guts, etc. - as much as the outward appearance has changed, the innards are the same.

So, I'm a "whole prey" model proponent - and not just because it's easier. To me, it makes biological sense. However, there are "whole prey" people out there that are adamant that dogs should eat NO fruit/veggies, etc. I don't go that far. Kip loves apples and pears. Does that mean he has one every day? No. But if I'm eating one, I'm going to continue to give him a piece. Same with carrots, green beans, etc. I look at them as treats. And, they are not bad for him - simply "not required", the same way chocolate isn't "required" for healthy humans (mentally healthy though... that's a different story!).

And why this post? To let you know, and to reinforce it in myself, that there are MANY ways to feed your dog. And, as long as your dog is healthy, there is NO wrong way. There is a way that is right for me and my dog; that doesn't mean your way is wrong. If you ask my advice, I'll give it, but I will NEVER tell you what you are doing is wrong!

Now go give your dog a chicken wing :)

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