As promised in last Friday’s post, I return with a guide to the raw diet we feed George on a daily and weekly basis. Naturally, the first stop must be meat.
There are different opinions about how much meat dogs should eat and what percentage of their food intake should be represented by meat. Some people advocate a diet based on 40% meat, 30% vegetables and 30% starch. I think these percentages are wrong and play into the commercial dog food producers’ hands. Others consider that the meat content should be as high as 70 – 75%. I tend to agree with them more.
Dogs are carnivorous, therefore meat must form the base of their diet. Meat contains protein ( i.e. essential amino acids) and fat, plus some minerals, and it’s what will give your dog energy. Besides, however much he may like fruit, vegetables, rice or wholemeal biscuits, George will not eat food that consists mainly of these ingredients and does not contain enough meat, and that to me is an indication that more meat is better than less – although we must remember that a meat-only diet is unnatural, unbalanced and harmful in the long run.
Raw meat can be fed either in chunks – to encourage the dog to bite, tear and chew – or minced. We opted for the latter alternative for three simple reasons: 1) minced meat is widely available at more reasonable prices (an important criteria unless you keep your own livestock or money is no issue); 2) we cannot feed chunks of meat indoors in the winter without them being dragged all over the house, and 3) minced meat can easily be mixed with vegetables, kibble and supplements to form a complete meal.
George gets a variety of minced meats, his favourites being beef, lamb and green tripe. Beef is rich in iron, contains a reasonable amount of zinc and has low sodium content. Lamb is fatter and ideal if you’re trying to put a bit of weight on your dog. Green (unbleached) tripe has often been described as a wonder food for dogs because of its numerous benefits to puppies and adult dogs alike, and I cannot praise it enough. You can read about it in this article: http://www.globaldognaturalpetproducts.com/july_2008
Chicken and turkey are also good, but George is not too keen on these if they’re minced, probably because of the sloppy, sticky texture. Although a favourite, rabbit is a once in a while treat, since we have to buy it from the market and is not in season all year around. It would be easier if our whippet did what he’s designed for and caught his own, but he’s too much of a pampered boy to do that.
Although some dogs eat pork on a regular basis, I hardly ever feed mine this type of meat, and never raw. Although pork is a good source of potassium and has a high level of essential fatty acids, I think the risk of trichinosis is too great. Some sources state that trichinosis is not dangerous to domesticated animals, but I am not willing to take any chances.
Cooked meat does, once in a while, find its way into George’s food bowl, but not too often. He loves his share of roast free-range chicken from our Sunday dinner, as well as a few homemade sausages once in a while, but I don’t make a habit of feeding cooked meat, since its benefits are much reduced. There is, however, one type of meat that I always have to cook for George because it doesn’t suit his system if fed raw: offal. I will tell you all about how, when and how much offal I feed my furry boy in next Friday’s post.