From Behind The Till
By Neal Cooper
When new people walk into our pet health food store Growlies® they are usually looking for an easy and similarly priced fresh food alternative to the kibble they are feeding now. I usually start out by letting them know that the basic premise we work from is that fresh foods are always healthier than bagged, processed foods. The less processing that is done to the food before it is served the better. While there are many schools of thought on the different ways you can or should feed fresh food diets, ie: Prey, B.A.R.F., S.A.R.F etc, if people want to dive into the different feeding methods that is just rawsome, but those many different feeding models are not how people start feeding fresh foods. Commonly people start by looking for healthier alternatives to the commercial processed pet foods available at most pet food stores and grocery store shelves and they then see the benefits and dive into the subject matter of the varying styles from there.
The next thing we often discuss is that in kibble we are trained by the large pet food manufacturers that variety is bad and that what is in their one bag is balanced and complete. They also tell us we don’t know enough to feed our pets and without great education we should just trust them. Have you noticed that they never say balanced and complete in human foods? That is because they are not allowed to make that claim in any human foods. Why? Because it is not possible for a single food product to be balanced and complete when it comes to a complex topic like nutrition. We then go on to discuss how none of our single flavours, packages or manufacturers are to be considered complete diets; they are all just food. That means that through a variety of meals we get balanced and complete nutrition, never from just a single product or manufacturer. Each manufacturer has a different recipe and a different source for their products. With modern day farming practices being what they are we believe that farm animals cannot provide micronutrients they were never provided with in the first place. So switch it up on a regular basis, try different products and brands. Your pets will thank you. You will learn that your pet has some personal preferences and that’s good to know but all animals enjoy variety more than eating the same thing day in and day out.
One of the things I occasionally see with people new to feeding fresh foods is that they have this aura of negativity or concern around the foods. Believe me when I say our pets mirror us. So if you, the pet guardian, are repulsed by meat then so will your pet, however if you act excited to offer this fantastic new food, watch out it will be gone in seconds. Thankfully in our store we have many people who come to us who are Vegan or Vegetarian but recognize they own a type of Carnivore whether facultative like dogs or obligate like cats and ferrets. I like those critical thinkers. I have had to tell some people in a very direct manner, get out of the way of your pet and allow them to enjoy the food, stop getting in the way. Often pet owners get caught up in the complexities of fresh food diets and make it more difficult not only for the pet but for the pet owner too. This behaviour is one of the excuses some people use to stop feeding healthy foods. “It’s just too difficult” is a cop out, it is just food and you’re making more of it than you need to.
Fresh food diets are easy. Offer a variety of fresh foods from a variety of brands. Feed foods with bone-in at least 4 days a week and something with lots of muscle meat the other two or three days a week. If your pet’s stool is soft they need more bone, if it’s firm or white they need more muscle meats. One of the most important things is that your pet carnivore also get the chance to masticate through raw, soft bone bearing meat as this is a perfect toothbrush for them. Chewing is not only good for oral hygiene but it is good for their mental health too. Have you ever seen a dog or cat sitting there with their eyes rolled back chewing contentedly? It’s almost meditative. Your pets teeth are their most important tools and they are indicative of overall health. Healthy teeth often equals a healthy pet. In the wild when their teeth go they’ve lost their most valuable resource. Feeling guilty about not brushing your dog or cat’s teeth is ridiculous, just feed them what they are evolved to eat, a bone in fresh food.
We do recommend two very basic supplements for all dogs and cats. They are both fairly inexpensive and offer great benefits. One is a basic Kelp based supplement for a healthy source of iodine and a broad spectrum of minerals. We ask people to consider this because as I mentioned earlier we don’t believe our modern food animals are always given a full complement of micronutrients and so, it goes to reason, they cannot pass on what they were never given. Second is some kind of omega oil supplement. We prefer a salmon, pollock or sardine oil. For special needs dogs there are many other things available but for a normal healthy dog or cat these are the only two we ask people to consider.
We also recommend probiotics for pets who have been on commercial dry for diets for years or have had a recent prescription of antibiotics. Be sure to use ones designed specifically for dogs and cats. Some dogs and cats need digestive enzymes when their pancreas has been taxed from years of hard to digest foods. Digestive enzymes can offer immediate relief while probiotics are a long term solution encouraging healthy gut life for your pet. The last thing I want to mention about digestive aids is raw green tripe, not canned, dried or freeze dried tripe but raw green tripe. This is not the tripe you buy at the grocery store that’s been cleaned and bleached, it is stinky and alive with healthy gut life. I like to think of the smell as similar to the smell of a barn. It is like yoghurt but for dogs and cats. Feed raw green tripe as if it is a muscle meat. A healthy gut helps your pet pull out all they need from the healthy foods you provide.
Remember it does not take a degree in science nor nutrition to feed you or your child and it doesn’t for your pets either. With some basic rules and common sense you to can provide your pets a healthy fresh food diet that you feel good about giving to them. If you have any questions and are in Victoria, BC. drop by our store and talk to us, we’re happy to help.
For more info on our pet carnivores please see:
http://felinenutrition.org – I know this is for cats but it is a great site.
http://youtu.be/VMzXLdtAro – I really like Dr. Beckers videos, look for more, they are great.
http://rawfed.com/myths/ – old style site but great info.
http://rawmeatybones.com/ – Dr. Lonsdale the father of prey model pet diets.
For more info on our store see:
http://growlies.ca Our website.
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Http://twitter.com/Growlies – Our Twitter feed, we’re happy to chat.
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