William Wallace, the Scottish hero who set out to free Scotland from British rule in the 13th century had his work cut out for him. The movie version, Braveheart, though rife with historical inaccuracy, saw him resourcefully taking on the dominant culture with little more than hurled rocks and sharpened poles fashioned from young trees.
Outthinking his oppressors was central to his success, as his band was bested in manpower, horses, and weaponry. But bravery must have played a large role as well.
When You’re Made to Feel Incapable
Dr. WhiteCoat and the monstrously huge pet food industry (sales of $20+ billion per year) would like you to believe you can’t possibly make a raw diet for your pets. They are invested in selling you bags of kibble, cans of mucky meaty glop, and the best marketing of all, “prescription diets” for those health challenges your animals may confront.
When you read the labels on these products, is it any wonder you may feel inadequate to make your own recipes and successfully nourish those in your charge?
From the very names themselves [Hill’s Prescription Diet D/D, K/D, C/D, Z/D or Science Diet], to the long list of ingredients, many of which are unrecognizable and unpronounceable, to the sellers [many sold only by veterinarians], you might quickly surmise, “These guys know what they’re doing! What do I know? How could I possibly compete with their scientific understanding and feed my dog or cat a raw diet?”
So, with this background message from vets and their food industry, you hesitate. You question your ability to make food that serves your animals well.
But you’ve also been reading, here and elsewhere that these carnivores in your home are closely related to their wild ancestors and still have the same digestive systems. And people feeding raw diets to their dogs and cats swear by it, and my healthiest patients are the ones who eat this way and I rarely see them.
But, damn, you really don’t want to get this wrong and cause harm, right?
Summon Your Bravery, Pick Up Your Rock, and Charge!
I’m here to help you test the waters, gather courage, and see how you can get started on a raw diet without harm and, more importantly, with measurable benefit.
Find a healthy kibble that you feel you can trust. Be a label detective, on the lookout for a few “no-no’s” you’ll avoid:
- Byproducts or non-specific meat sources. Examples include the byproduct word itself or just “poultry” or “meat” instead of chicken or beef or lamb, an animal you’d recognize.
- Preservatives in chemical form. Examples include ethoxyquin, BHA, and BHT (in which the T stands for toluene, look that one up!)
- “Sucker” ingredients, like blueberries or cranberries listed after about 20 other ingredients, many of which you can’t pronounce. How much berry goodness does that equate to in your dog’s bowl? Way less than a pinch, you can bet on it.
Okay, you’ve got a kibble you’re happy with? Here’s one I trust. You have many choices.
Throw Eggs At ‘Em!
First, a really simple step is to crack an egg on that kibble. Raw. Yolk and white together. Optional: scramble it up first, then pour it on (still raw, just beaten up to mix yolk and white).
Do this every meal for a week and see what you see.
First, your Spot or Puff is likely to take much more interest in that bowl of food! Polish it off and look up expectantly!
“Wow, thanks Mom!”
You might see a soft or loose stool an hour or several later after a vigorously enjoyed meal like this. Cause for concern? Nah, completely normal (though if it’s 2-3 days of loose stools after one meal, see your veterinary homeopath. That’s a symptom, though not one to be afraid of).
Do this for three weeks now. Cholesterol worries? No, not true in humans nor a concern for dogs or cats, who’d eat eggs in their wolf or bobcat bodies in a heartbeat. As often as they could.
Victorious Outcomes of Your Bravery
Now what do you see, after three weeks of this feeding?
I predict you’ll see:
- a cleaner, brighter set of eyes looking up at you
- a sweeter smelling mouth getting in your face
- a softer, more luxurious coat, with less shedding
- perhaps more pep in her step
Any damage done? No. Trust what you see in the improvement list and clearly know you’ve done no harm.
That enemy is conquered. You can feed raw food and only help, not hurt, your furry friends. On to the next step.
Take It Up a Notch. Sharpen That Tree.
So, let’s take it further. Instead of a baked kibble, which takes starch of some sort to keep the pieces together (well, maybe not in all cases, but most), let’s shift over to dehydrated food. It’s not technically raw, but neither is it cooked at the high temperatures and pressure that it takes to make kibble, so it’s much closer to raw, certainly. Here are some choices, but again, there are several out there.
Check the ingredient list: many fewer ingredients, right? And none that you don’t recognize as foodstuffs, I’ll bet.
Feeling even better?
Yes. That’s it. You could eat this and know it’d be good for you!
Now, add some raw stuff to this. Sojo’s and others are made to do just this, and in fact, encourage you to do it. Raw could include your cracked egg, some raw hamburger, raw chicken, raw turkey, any kind of raw meat.
“Wait. I thought these things were crawling with salmonella!?”
Ah, your bravery meets another challenge, coming once again from the pet food industry and probably Dr. WhiteCoat. Raw diets have been pulled off the market because of contamination with this bacteria called salmonella. And poultry itself has been recalled for salmonella contamination.
Time to get some defenses in place, so your bravery is shored up. Facts will help:
- Salmonella is also in dry kibble, quite often. Not made such a big deal of by the media, but search it out, and you’ll see dry kibble recalls as well.
- Salmonella typically does not affect the animal eating it, unless they are ill to start with. It passes right through, and ends up in the stool.
- People can get sick from salmonella, so use good hygiene in and around food and especially stool handling. This is more critical if the people who contact pets or their stools are immune compromised.
Be smart, and let learning subside your fears.
Full Out Battle Gear in Place: Charge!!!
If you want to take on the bullies of raw feeding fears fully, learn how to make balanced raw diets yourself! It’s not difficult. Last week’s Vital Animal News had my simple take on how you can make “prey in a bowl” rather simply. When you join my Vital Animal Pack, you get Vital Animal News free, and can access the newsletter archives and read this approach, which I share with my new clients who want to get started feeding raw.
This magazine (highly recommended, btw) offers a nearly free course on how to raw feed. Here’s where you can access that, last I checked, for a buck (scroll down to find the Academy offering of courses):
Battle weary? Set down your sword and pick up your keyboard.
There’s an easier choice to do full on balanced raw diets. My go to choice for balanced raw food that comes delivered to your door is Steve’s Real Food, brought to you by RawPetFood.com. No muss, no fuss, no lugging it home even. Made by one of the original balanced raw food companies and made well, so you don’t have to think about it if you don’t want to.
Want to start slowly with that? Totally fine, thaw it and add it to your healthy kibble or dehydrated food, as discussed earlier. When you’ve seen the good come of that and you’re ready notch your bravery upwards, drop the dry and carry on. Steve’s is complete. As are many others in the ever growing array of natural pet shops that are springing up like so much healthy foliage.
So, don’t let the large forces of industry and conventional vet medicine scare you into thinking you can’t do this raw diet for your animals. Summon your bravery, join the others in your far flung clan who’ve done this for years, and get started. You’ll soon see results that will make you wonder why you’ve hidden out in your hut for so long.
Aye. And those animals who partake will come smiling up to you when you head to the kitchen.