Organs, muscle, and bones, oh my!
Celebrating National Raw Feeding Week
The idea of feeding a raw diet can spark some heated debates. In this blog, we will talk about a couple of key topics to give you a basic idea of what a raw diet is and how it could benefit your dog.
*Note: This is not meant to be a complete guide to feeding a raw diet. Please contact your vet or a pet nutritionist for a complete explanation and specific feeding plan for your dog.
About six years ago our dog, Lucas was diagnosed with congenital liver disease. It was discovered during a routine blood test to prepare for a dental cleaning. His numbers were elevated and the doctors were concerned. At that point, we were sent to a specialist, did a lot of additional tests, and discussed the various options. All agreed that at his current condition, a wait-and-see approach was best. Of course, that was not enough. We had to be proactive. We found a pet nutritionist, Heather Macfarlane who analyzed his test results and recommended a raw diet with supplements specific to his issue. Within three months his numbers went way down and the doctors were pleased and surprised. They don't really recommend raw diets, but they couldn't deny the results.
So what exactly is a raw diet?
Raw diets emulate the way your dog's ancestors used to eat before the existence of commercial dog food. It is more nutritionally appropriate to your dog's nutritional needs. You can feed a raw diet in many ways. It can be homemade, store-bought, freeze-dried, or dehydrated.
Raw food diets typically consist of:
organ meats like liver and kidneys
bones, either ground or whole
fruit like apples
vegetables like broccoli and spinach
dairy products like yogurt
Benefits of feeding a raw diet
By feeding a raw diet, it removes the cooking and processing from your dog's food. Cooking and high-pressure processing destroys the vitamins and vital enzymes found in food. Processed dog food may be convenient, but does not provide the nutrition they need.
Benefits of a raw food diet:
decreased doggy breath
stronger immune system
healthier skin and coat
better teeth and gum health
Myths about raw diets
1. Raw food is dangerous for people
The meat in a raw food diet is not different than the meat you handle when making your own food. You just need to wash your hands and sanitize surfaces.
2. Bones are bad for dogs
It is true that cooked bones are dangerous for dogs. The bones in a raw food diet are uncooked and have a more rubbery consistency, unlike cooked bones that break into shards.
3. Raw diets are expensive
While the food might be more expensive than processed dog foods, you can save
money on vet bills by improving your dog's health
4. Raw diets are complicated and inconvenient
Preparing a homemade raw diet can take more time, but there are lots of prepackaged options available now. They have done the research on the proper mix of ingredients and supplements to ensure that your dog gets everything that they need. If you have the time to go the homemade route, there are lots of online resources for recipes, but first, check with your vet and pet nutritionist.
*Reminder: This is not meant to be a complete guide to a raw food diet. I am not a veterinarian or pet nutritionist. This article has been reviewed by pet nutritionist, Heather Macfarlane for accuracy. Please consult your dog's vet or nutritionist.
Meet Heather, Lucas' nutritionist
Heather Macfarlane has been deeply involved in animal nutrition since she was a teenager. She cared for the family pets and eventually started volunteering at a local vet office at the age of 13. During appointments, Heather noticed that no one ever discussed what foods the pets were eating nor did they believe that food made a difference in their health. Since healthy food was so important in Heather's family and upbringing, she began her quest for more information regarding food for dogs and cats. She has studied with some of the top doctors in the veterinary, holistic, pet nutrition and naturopath fields in the Portland area. Her greatest influence was Dr. Jeffrey Judkins, a pioneer of holistic veterinary health in Portland. He became her teacher and mentor for ten years while she worked as an assistant at his vet clinic. In addition, she worked for and with Dr. Donna Starita, who taught her energetic and vibrational medicine.
In 2009, Heather opened her pet nutrition consulting business, Balanced by Nature and it has been growing ever since. While running her business she also worked in the pet retail industry learning how to run a successful retail store. In 2017, she made the leap and opened her own retail and consulting location, Wild Pet Provisions . There you can get a consultation to create a customized diet and supplement plan for your pet and shop for everything you need all in one location. Currently, she is offering video consulting via Zoom, which you can schedule directly from her website. You do not need to live in Portland to consult with Heather as she has clients all around the world. Her nutrition plans range from Puppy/Kitten Health & Wellness Plans to start them out on the right paw, to Medicinal Nutrition Plans, in which she uses food as medicine, as well as intuitive/energy medicine, for dogs and cats who have disease/illness.
If you are looking for more information about feeding a raw diet or would like to schedule a consultation, Lucas and I highly recommend that you stop by the store or schedule an appointment. Heather has a very knowledgable staff that can assist you in getting started with a raw food diet or making a consultation appointment for a more detailed plan.
To learn more about Heather and Wild Pet Provisions, check out her interview on the PDX Pet Connection podcast.