Sunday, 5 February 2017

The Importance of a Nutritional Analysis on Your Pet's Raw Food- Part 1

My thoughts on feeding dogs falls somewhere in between "eh just feed them chicken backs and  toss in some organs here and there and they'll be fine" and "you must have a PhD and full access to a state of the art laboratory." There are a few things that a raw food diet must contain in order for a dog to be reasonably healthy and not run into issues caused by inadequate or an over abundance of certain nutrients. Without an analysis on the raw food there is really no way of knowing whether or not these key areas are being met. So what are the key things you should be looking for in an analysis of raw dog food?

Protein and Fat: Ideally the calories a dog gets from protein should be about equal to the calories a dog gets from fat. Remember that each gram of fat has nine calories whereas each gram of protein has only 4 calories. When you are looking at a raw food analysis the fat percentage should always be slightly less than the protein percentage. 

An appropriate amount of fat is essential for cell health, brain function and eye health. Fat is also a dogs main energy source. Too much fat, however, can makes cell membranes brittle, sluggish and inefficient (especially those in the brain) and can make cell membranes prone to oxidation and premature aging. High levels of fat are also associated with early retinal degeneration, obesity and can cause a lack of important vitamins and minerals in a diet.

The importance of high quality protein in a dogs diet cannot be overstated!

Protein is made of amino acids, many of which are essential, meaning that these amino acids are not produced by the body, they must be eaten on a daily basis in order for the body to function properly. Protein is responsible for oxygenating blood, enzymes in proteins are responsible for digesting nutrients, proteins balance and regulate hormones, break down waste products and provides the building blocks for every tissue in your dogs body, including muscles, organs, skin, veins, arteries, brain tissue etc.

The balance of protein and fat in a raw food diet is extremely important and often does not get enough attention. The levels of protein and fat are the building blocks for a healthy diet and too much of one and not enough of the other can have serious health consequences for your pet.

In my next blog post I am going to look at the importance of calcium in a raw food diet.

For a high quality, affordable, hormone and steroid free raw diet for your pet, check out our store!
(Calgary, AB and area)

Monday, 16 January 2017

Raw Feeding Puppies

Bringing home a new puppy is both extremely exciting and intimidating even for the most experienced dog owners. We all get the same feelings of mild panic and apprehension that if we aren't perfect, this cute little ball of fluff with sharp, pointy teeth will just implode. Fortunately for us, puppies are actually pretty hardy and forgiving. I get a lot of questions regarding feeding puppies a raw food diet, so I figured I would clear up a few of the commonly asked questions here to try to ease some of our (perfectly natural!) worries and questions.

How much and how often should I feed my puppy? 
You should feed your puppy 3 times per day until they are 6 months old, at 6 months of age they are typically done the majority of their major growth and can start being fed twice a day. Start out by feeding your puppy 2-3% of their expected adult weight divided into 3 meals. For example if your puppy is going to weigh around 50 pounds, feed one pound per day divided into 3 meals. If you do not know how big your puppy is going to be, start with feeding 10% of their current body weight (for puppies under 5 months) and adjust according to body condition. You should be able to feel your puppies ribs with the palm of your hand but their hip bones should not be protruding. This is very important! It is so much healthier for your puppy to be a good weight (not too pudgy) while they are growing, overfeeding causes a lot of extra strain on a puppies' vulnerable, growing joints.

What should I feed my puppy?
The first week you bring your puppy home, ideally you can get a sample of what the breeder has been feeding and continue with that for the first week. It is a very big change for puppies when they first come home, not only is it mentally stressful (which in itself often causes digestive upset) there is also a lot of new environmental things (like different bacteria) for their body to adjust to. After the first week home and they are settled in, start with something fully ground and low fat, chicken meal is usually the best choice. Stick with feeding the same thing for several days and when you feel confident that they are having no digestive issues, start adding variety. Start slowly and build up to feeding a variety of proteins. Variety is very important when feeding a raw food diet in order to make sure your puppy is getting all the nutrition they need, feed at least 4 protein sources and ensure that at least 1/3 of their diet is red meat.

Can I feed my puppy bones?
Once your puppy is eating a variety of protein sources you can introduce meaty bones into their diet. Chicken backs are the best to start with as they are soft, have lots of meat on them and are a good shape to encourage a puppy to thoroughly chew. Once your puppy has mastered chicken backs you can add in other bones, being caeful not to feed too many bones at once or multiple meal in a row as this will cause constipation and an over abundance of calcium. If your puppy likes bones and you enjoy feeding bones, you can switch your puppy to a diet of half meaty bones and half raw meaty bone balancer when they are done teething (I suggest waiting until after teething as eating bones can be difficult if their gums are painful and/or they don't have many teeth.)

What supplements should I give my puppy?
I always suggest adding fish oil to a puppies diet (and continuing as an adult), essential fatty acids are an essential building block for brain, eye, skin and cell health as well as an anti inflammatory. Fish oils are far superior for dogs compared to a vegetable oil, as dogs have to convert vegetable oils in to a usable form and they end up losing a large portion of the omega fatty acids in this process. Fish oils also tend to be significantly higher in omega 3 fatty acids instead of omega 6 fatty acids. Omega 6 fatty acids are already plentiful in a raw food diet, especially if you are feeding chicken. Other than fish oil there aren't any supplements that are needed, as long as you are feeding a variety of proteins and balanced meals (our ground foods all contain appropriate amounts of meat, bones and organs.)

What treats should I give my puppy?
For training treats, use something that is soft and easy to break apart. Remember if you are doing a lot of training, you may need to cut back on their food a little. Also keep in mind that a lot of training treats can be pretty rich, if your puppy has an upset stomach, too many treats may be the culprit. For longer lasting treats you can use hard biscuit type treats and chews such as bully sticks. You can also fill and freeze kongs with their raw food portion to keep them entertained for a little while. knuckle bones can also provide a good amount of chewing exercise for a puppy, take the bone away and put it back in the freezer for future use after about 30 minutes of chewing.

If you have any questions, we are always here to help! Feel free to give us a call, send us an email or message us on facebook. Don't forget to take lots of pictures and enjoy your puppy!

For a high quality, affordable, hormone and steroid free raw diet for your pet, check out our store!
(Calgary, AB and area)