It’s Friday again and, as promised, I return with the penultimate instalment of our guide to the Barf diet. After previously concentrating on meat, offal, bones, fruit and vegetables as the main components of raw feeding, it is time to discuss an ingredient that could be included in the meat category, but I prefer to deal with separately: fish.
Fish is a healthy, vital ingredient to a healthy human or canine diet alike. It is low in saturated fat and high in protein but, more importantly, it contains omega-3 fatty acids. These are essential ingredients for leading a healthy life and have proved extremely beneficial in reducing heart disease and the risk of developing cardiovascular problems, preserving brain health and fighting depression and cancer. However, the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids (or fish oil) are so many that volumes can be written on this subject alone. If you’d like to read more about why you should feed yourselves, your family and your dogs fish, here’s a website I found extremely helpful in my research on the subject.
The fish we feed George includes: mackerel, tuna, sardines, salmon and any other type of fish we choose for our own dinner. Mackerel is by far our favourite choice, as it is very oily (i.e. rich in omega-3 acids), has smooth flesh and a sweet taste, does not have too many bones, lives in the sea (i.e. is not farmed), is locally sourced and hardly costs anything. If you reduce it all down to only one type of fish to feed your dog, I’d go for mackerel.
Salmon is George’s other big favourite, but is too expensive to feed on a regular basis, as least in the form of fillets. However, my friend at littledogsonlongleashes has come up with the great idea of buying salmon bones, cooking them and scraping off the meat. A great and much cheaper option if you insist on making salmon part of your dog’s diet.
George’s tuna and sardines come from a tin and are not always a big success. For some reason, sometimes he can’t have enough of them, whilst at other times they end up in the bin. For this reason, they don’t always find their place in our shopping trolley and we choose to rely on the fresh fish we regularly buy. If you’re asking which type of tinned sardines are best, all I can tell you is that there are dogs who prefer them in spring water (like George), dogs who like theirs in olive oil and dogs who will only eat them in a tomato sauce. It’s just a matter of asking your fur babies what they prefer.
There is one last type of fish I’d like to mention: sprats. They’re small, they’re oily, they’re super tasty, they’re very cheap and they’re very often overlooked. Sprats find their way on our table and in George’s food bowl in the summer, as there’s a holiday feel about them roasting away on the barbecue. George gets them whole, as little finger treats to munch on in the garden. If your dog is a fan of ice-cream and you’re feeling experimental, you could offer him a little sprat icicle fresh from the freezer to cool him down. I’ve heard of a few people who use this rather successfully, and I’ve got it on my list to try it with George this summer.
The good news is that fish comes in a great variety of species, textures and sizes which gives you choice. There’s bound to be one type of fish to suit every dog’s taste. The even better news is that, whichever you go for, it will be packed with goodness that will work wonders for your pets, regardless of whether you are ‘risky’ enough to feed it raw or would rather cook it first. There’s no excuse for denying our dogs the benefits of fine dining!