I started feeding a raw diet based on Dr. Billinghurst's Bones and Raw Food (BARF) diet in August 1998. The specific feeding schedule has varied over time as I have worked with the diet to find the program that best suits my dogs and my schedule. I am now feeding a program similar to
the one described by Kymythy Schultze in Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats: The Ultimate Diet. There is a great deal of flexibility when feeding a raw diet, and many different programs produce excellent results. However, feeding raw foods does contain some risks. For more information, including an article on the safety issues involved in feeding meat and raw bones, see the Holistically Healthy Dogs and Cats page.
My dogs currently eat once daily in the evening. I feed a small "veggie" meal made from pureed raw vegetables, chicken livers, sometimes fruits, and sometimes eggs. I add supplements appropriate for each dog to the veggie meal at the time of feeding. After the dogs have finished the veggie meal, they get chicken rib cages, backs, or leg quarters. Once or twice weekly, I feed beef heart. I occasionally feed beef knuckle or rib bones for variety.
Top of page
Before feeding, I warm all food items to room temperature. I warm meat and bones in a series of hot water baths. I usually add vinegar to the last bath to reduce bacterial levels. I warm a container of thawed but still cold veggie mix in a hot water bath (not
a microwave, which destroys vitamins and antioxidants).
Each whippet (26 to 42 pounds) eats about 1/2 cup of veggie meal plus 1/2 to 1+ pound of chicken per day. The amount of veggie meal remains constant, but I vary the amount of chicken with the activity level of the dogs to maintain healthy body weight.
Veggie Mix Preparation
Top of page
Note: In February 2006, I ordered the book Wild Fermentation and began investigating the possibility of fermenting raw vegetables for myself and my dogs. Fermented vegetables are "predigested" and would not need to be processed in a Vitamix or food processor.
Since 1998, I have been using one of two approaches to veggie meal preparation.
One approach is to prepare veggie meals in batches and freeze the mix in containers that hold one meal's veggie mix. Using a Vitamix, I can prepare a 2-week supply for four whippets in about 2 hours. I used this approach the first several years I fed a raw diet.
One batch of my veggie mix is made of
8 to 10 cups of pureed vegetables, which includes about 1 cup fruit
about 2 cups of chicken livers
6 large or extra large eggs
1/2 cup organic, cold-processed flaxseed oil (omitted if I am using fish body oil or cod liver oil to supply omega-three fatty acids)
A second approach is to make veggie meals each night, which is what I started doing when I switched to a job with a long commute each day. I found it was easier to find a few minutes each evening than a couple of hours on a weekend. For three whippets, I put in the Vitamix
- 3/4 cup of water
- ~1 cup of chopped vegetables/fruit, frozen or fresh
- 3 chicken livers
- flax oil or cod liver oil
- 1 egg, occasionally
Top of page
The amounts given are daily doses for my whippets, who weigh 26 to 42 pounds.
Perfect Food Super Green Formula powder by Garden of Life. A human supplement made from grass juices, algae and seaweeds, young grasses, ancient grains, seeds, and antioxidant-rich vegetables. Garden of Life products are use fermentation to enhance nutrient availability and are processed at low temperatures that preserve all vitamins and enzymes (learn more). 1 to 2 teaspoons daily
Green Powder that I make containing kelp, Source (seaweed meal for horses), alfalfa powder, bee pollen, garlic powder, lemon peel granules, and spirulina. 1 to 2 teaspoons daily
Primal Defense powder by Garden of Life. This is a high-potency human probiotic contains soil microorganisms that are normally found in both the large and small intestines and that boost immunity and protect the body from disease-causing organisms (learn more). About 1/16 teaspoon per dog per day (or less).
Garden of Life products are available from many health food stores and, at a discount off suggested retail, from The Vitamin Shoppe. Some Garden of Life products are the "#1 selling" products in their category, for good reason. I take Primal Defense and Perfect Food (tablets) myself and I can feel the difference.
Vitamin E. 400 IU three times weekly (6 to 7 IU per pound or 3 IU per kg daily). I use only all-natural d-alpha tocopherol (which usually also has mixed tocopherols). Synthetic supplements have dl-alpha tocopherol, but the body cannot use the l form.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Flax seed oil: 1 teaspoon per 50 pounds daily (about 1 ml per 5 kg). I use only organic, cold-pressed, flax oil that was refrigerated in the store. Instead of flax seed oil, I sometimes use cod liver oil (half the flax oil dose).
Top of page
Since I started feeding Perfect Food and Primal Defense, I no longer feel the need to give as many individual supplements as I have in the past. I use the following supplements on an occasional basis as warranted by the situation.
Because the omega-3 fatty acid DHA is vitally important to nervous system development and immune function, I feed a pregnant or nursing bitch a vegetarian DHA supplement (from marine algae), instead of flax seed oil, to supply about 2 to 3 mg per pound of DHA daily (50 to 100 mg for a whippet). Supplementation begins at the onset of the heat cycle at which the breeding is planned. Depending on the weight of the bitch and the supplement available, you may give DHA on alternate days or three times weekly to give the appropriate daily dose.
Vitamin C: 250 mg daily. I use sodium ascorbate powder or Ester-C.
Dog Bloom VM250: 3/4 to 1 tsp daily. Multivitamin-mineral supplement I started using with everyone when the pups were about 2 months old (summer 2003). The toenails of two adults, which had tended to splinter, quit splintering after I started this supplement. Available from Nature's Farmacy in Georgia (1-800-733-4981).
Spirulina, a blue-green alga, is a whole-food supplement that promotes energy and endurance. I believe it is particularly important for performance dogs and for animals who are stressed. Start spirulina slowly and gradually work up to a maintenance dose. Spirulina is a key ingredient in my Green Powder mix.
I sometimes give B-complex vitamins during hot weather (about 1 mg per pound daily).
Top of page
For training treats, I use Balance Diet Supreme-V, a soft-moist commercial kibble that is fermented, not heat-processed, and contains no grain. Because Balance Diet Supreme-V is fermented (very rich in probiotics) and contains no chemical preservatives, I store it in the freezer.
For around-the-house training, I keep a small jar of Balance Diet Supreme-V in my kitchen freezer.
Top of page
Twice each month, for 3 consecutive days, I treat my dogs with an herbal antiparasite protocol to reduce/eliminate intestinal parasites. I use a variety of protocols on a rotating basis.
Because I live in a neighborhood with a very high heartworm risk, I use a conventional heartworm preventative.
Top of page
All my dogs receive constitutional homeopathic treatment to promote the highest level of health possible and boost natural resistance to infectious disease. My dogs, who participate in performance events, receive chiropractic adjustments on an as-needed basis. Any medical condition is treated with homeopathic medicines, herbs, and/or therapeutic nutritional supplements. Conventional medicines are used only as a last resort.
INFECTIOUS DISEASE PREVENTION
Top of page
I believe that the best defense against infectious disease is a strong immune system. I rely on my multifaceted health maintenance program, rather than annual vaccination, to build resistance to infectious diseases naturally. To document response to prior vaccination for dog training centers, I send blood for parvo and distemper titer testing to the diagnostic laboratory at the veterinary school at Cornell University.
My dogs receive rabies vaccinations as required by North Carolina state law. They receive homeopathic medicines after every vaccination to prevent vaccine-induced health problems.
Homeopathic physicians first recognized vaccine-induced health problems, and learned to treat them successfully, in the 1800s. Contemporary homeopathic veterinarians routinely treat acute and chronic medical conditions triggered by vaccinations. See The Nature of Animal Healing: The Path to Your Pet's Health, Happiness, and Longevity, by Martin Goldstein, DVM for more information.