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Case for Raw Food Diet
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Benefits Buying Organic
NY Times, 06/17/2007

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 FoodNews.org, 10/03
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Organic Food Reduces Risk of Heart Attacks,
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Scientific Analysis: Organic Food vs Supermarket Food, Jour. Applied Nutrition, 1993

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Frequently Asked Questions about
Biologically Appropriate Raw Food
or the B.A.R.F.diet for pets.

Compiled from various web sites - see BARF links page.

How do I get started?

The first thing you should do is some  reading/research on the raw diet. Here are a few recommended books you can purchase at Amazon. There are more on the right.

Most dogs do better on a cold turkey switch rather than half-kibble and half-BARF. Remember to keep things simple for the  dog when you are starting. You might start with chicken or turkey and feed wings, necks or backs for the first couple of days. Let their body get used to the new foods before you start feeding them a huge variety of foods. Some dogs might not know  what to do with the bones at first, but they will get the hang of it. If you have a small dog or a dog that doesn't get the hang of it, you can try crunching the bone into smaller pieces, or holding one edge of the bone for them. For veggie meals, start with bland veggies with a bit of lean ground meat. Wait to add the richer foods, such as liver  and eggs, for a few weeks. I would also wait to start adding any supplements until you are settled into a routine. These are just some of the basics of the diet. Your research will provide you with more detailed information on how to get  started.  Good luck and happy barfing.   

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I'm really scared to start, and I feel so overwhelmed...

Most people feel the same way first starting to BARF our pets.  We thought it was very complicated (and maybe even more expensive), but have actually found it's much easier than kibble, or maybe that we all feel so good about what we're feeding them now--it just seems so simple now.  Many of us believe the fact that BARF is less expensive than kibble too.  Yes, it can feel very overwhelming at first, especially when thinking of supplements, how much to feed, meat-to-bone ratios, the veggies, and don't mix this with that, but once we finally relaxed and came to understand that it's a balanced diet OVER TIME, life gets much easier.        

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Is it possible to see some sample meal plans? 

Click here to see some sample meal plans for various sizes and breeds of dogs (submitted by a BARFer who has been BARFing for 3 years). This is just a  guide to help you get started as each dog is different and so is their activity level.  Pick a weight closest  to your dog's and feed a little more or less accordingly. As the days go on put your hand on your dog's rib cage and see if  you press lightly you should feel ribs but not see them. If you can't feel ribs, your dog is too fat and if you can see ribs, your dog is too thin. If you feed 2x/day, split the amounts into 2 feedings. The easy way is to go by the Golden's meals and adjust as needed for YOUR dog.  Halve it for a 35# dog, Quarter for 20# dog and about Eighth for 8# dog OR Double it for a large-breed dog.

TIP : Make a calendar - jot in on a ten day basis if feeding 1x/day 7 meals of RMBs, 2 veggie meals and 1 meat/offal meal. Throw in a fish meal now and then.  Remember, this is not etched in stone.  If you have no RMBs one day - then take a few veggies and an egg or can of fish, puree and serve. 

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Should I switch cold-turkey or is gradual better?

Most dogs do very well being switched over to BARF cold-turkey, but the change over should be done  'easy.'   It is recommended that when you are ready to begin, don't try and rush things. Take is slowly. Try to keep the diet bland and simple at first. This is particularly important for older/middle aged dogs. Don't overload your dog with the 'good stuff' - he may not be able to handle it yet - particularly after a lifetime on kibble. Start with just some lean chicken or turkey necks or backs only for the first couple of days, keeping meals small to begin with and don't let your dog overdo it. Once the dog has settled into this, add some bland veggies with a bit of lean mince (ground meat).

The veggies do need to be pulped up using something like a blender, juicer or food processor. You are aiming for something a bit like the vegetable matter found in the stomach of a prey animal. The reason for this is that dogs can not digest cellulose. Cell walls of plants are made of cellulose, so for our dogs to get the nutrients out of them, we need to crush the cell walls. Chopping them up only crushes the cell walls on the outside, leaving the bit in the middle pretty much unavailable to them nutritionally. Cooking them will also destroy the cell walls, but as this also destroys a lot of the nutrients and enzymes in the veggies, it kind of defeats the purpose.

You can start adding richer food like eggs and liver (and maybe leaving a little bit more fat on the chicken/turkey) after a week or two once your dog is used to the simple diet. And after you have got the hang of it for a few weeks, THEN start thinking about adding supplements, if you want to. Don't try to do it all at once. It is also suggested that with dogs new to the BARF diet that you stay away from the harder or fattier bones for at least a few months (and perhaps longer, particularly for older dogs). Give them time to develop some 'strength' in their digestive  system first.    

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I'm not quite ready to make the change.  Can you recommend an alternative?

Proper research can take several weeks or months, depending on your time and desire to feed a more natural & holistic diet.  One should never embark on such a drastic diet change without doing the proper and necessary research.  One alternative alot of BARF’ers recommend is Flint River Ranch or HealthyPetNet , both 100% all natural & holistic foods for dogs & cats, made of 100% all natural, human-grade ingredients.  Flint River Ranch is also listed in the top ten dry dog foods in the Whole Dog Journal , a monthly guide to natural dog care and training.  Flint River and HealthyPetNet also carry a line of all natural & holistic cat food, and other natural products and accessories.  Click here for side-by-side comparison chart. 

Can I feed kibble AND BARF?

Kibble and raw food are digested differently, and should never be fed together, in the same meal.  If you feed dry kibble at the same meal as the raw  meat, you are increasing the amount of time the food is in the body, and increasing the possibility of illness from microbes. So, if you want to feed half & half, feed kibble one meal, raw the next. If you really feel the need to feed kibble (alone or in addition to BARF) or just haven't made up your mind to switch completely to BARF, you should seriously consider a super premium dog and/or cat food, such as Flint River Ranch or HealthyPetNet , both which contain all natural and human-grade ingredients, and no preservatives.  

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How much do I feed daily?

Billinghurst recommends 60% RMBs and 40% veggies, etc... however; 60% to 75% CAN BE RMBs and the rest should be a combination of veggies, organs (also known as offal, to include liver, heart, kidney, green tripe, etc...), ground meat (e.g. lean beef, chicken or turkey), eggs and supplements.  If you are just starting BARF, remember to start slow by adding new food items every few days or even weeks, until your dog gets used to the new food (especially the richer foods like liver).  This is only a guide to help get you started.  If your dog is on the skinnier side, up the food (RMBs) and reduce the veggies....if your dog is on the heavier side, reduce the RMBs and up the veggies.  To know if your dog is 'just right,' rub the back of your hand.....his/her ribs should feel the same.  If you can't feel his/her ribs, then reduce the daily food intake.

Multiply your dogs weight by 16 to get the number of ounces he weighs.
Multiply that by .02, which gives you 2 % of his body weight.
Multiply that by .6 to give you the weight of RMB you should feed. That is chicken necks, wings, backs etc.
Go back to the 2% of his body weight again and multiply that number by .4 to get the weight in ounces of vegetable patty mix  you should feed.

Here's one formula you can use to calculate daily food intake:

70Lbs x 16 = 1120 ounces
1120 x .02 = 22.4 ounces of food per day
22.4 x .6 = 13.44 ounces of RMB -----60% RMB
22.4 x .4 = 8.96 ounces of Veg. Patty mix.-----40% Veg. Patty mix.

Remember this is only a place to start - adjust everything up or down, depending on your dogs condition.   

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What exactly is the difference between Raw Meaty Bones & recreational bones? 

RMBs are soft enough for the dog to chew up and eat - things like chicken carcasses/backs/necks/wings, lamb necks, oxtails, turkey necks, etc..., which make up an RMB meal.  Recreational bones, on the other hand, are larger bones that the dog will chew on but will not eat the whole bone - things like beef marrow bones, femurs, knuckle bones, etc...  Weight-bearing bones can also be given (chicken legs/thighs), but they are a bit more difficult to chew (especially for a small animal).   When giving chicken legs/thighs, remember to supplement with eggshell powder or bone dust, to even out the calcium/phosphorus ratio.

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What is the best way to start my older dog on BARF?

It is best with an old dog to keep the diet fairly bland and low fat when changing over. Add some probiotics to the diet to help restore good bacteria into the system to fight the bad bacteria and help increase immunity. You can do this by adding a probiotic supplement like BrainGarden’s Dynamic Flux.  If you are feeding grains, you may wish to either reduce the amount or remove them altogether, until your dog has adjusted to his new way of eating. Remember to start slow, adding a new food item every few days...build up the number of items slowly as you and your dog begin to get the hang of it.       

What about salmonella?  

According to an FDA news release, "salmonella is not harmful to dogs". Salmonella is everywhere - not just in  raw meats. Employ basic hygiene practices, wash your hands and keep surfaces clean - just as you would when handling your own food.   When first starting BARF, many people are overly compulsive about possible salmonella poisoning.  They wear latex gloves when handling chicken and never allow one tiny piece of chicken to touch ANYTHING in the kitchen.  You can get totally neurotic.  Relax - it’s safe to use bare hands when handling and practice proper food handling techniques.  Just take normal precautions and wipe down everything with an antibacterial cleaner when done with your food preparation.

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Is my dog experiencing detox?

When switching a dog over from commercial dog food to BARF, the dog's body may begin the process of ridding itself of toxins and impurities as it adjusts to the intake of proper nutrients.  This process is called detox.   Depending on the overall health of your dog, detox may last one week, one month or even several weeks...or not even at all.  The most common symptoms of detox include vomiting, diarrhea, bad breath and itchy skin.  It is normal for any of these detox symptoms to get worse before they get better...just don't give up and hang in there.  Keep your dog as comfortable as possible during this process.  Go slow on introducing new foods, to make sure there are no allergies.  Pure pumpkin in the can (not pumpkin pie filling) works magic to firm stools quickly.  Provide plenty of fresh water, but limit excessive water intake immediately after meals, as your dog may regurgitate.  Give plenty of Vitamin E and C (the C to bowel tolerance) to help boost his/her immune system. 

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Why is my dog drinking less water daily? 

Don’t worry - there is no reason to be concerned.   Raw food is naturally full of live water!  All the moisture needed to digest raw food is contained in raw food! Although a lower sodium intake is part of the reason that our BARFing dogs drink less water, the real reason is that raw food has not had the water removed like cooked food or kibble has.  The different between kibble and canned dog food is the water content...they leave the water in the canned and dry out the kibble. It takes a lot of water to re-hydrate those little nuggets! In addition, the excessive toxins in processed foods require more water for the body to eliminate...without those toxins, your dog will need less water.

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How do you measure food when switching from kibble to BARF?

Try starting with around 2 to 3% of your dogs bodyweight (more for pups - up to about 10% for them) and adjusting from there.  It is not an exact science and every dog is different so be prepared to adjust as you go along.  Not getting it quite right is not really a problem as long as you accompany this with observation of your dog so you can watch for changes (losing/gaining weight).

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Why do I need to separate  certain food items, like RMBs, veggies and grains?

This is basically the same as using food combining principles for people. How you combine food groups can be crucial to your dog's health. The digestive organs secret enzymes to break down food so it can be properly used by the body. When carbohydrates and proteins are eaten at the same time, the protein enzymes go to work first, and the digestion of carbohydrates must wait. While the carbohydrates are waiting around to be digested, they ferment and release toxins in the body. Give only meat (or other heavy proteins such as eggs or milk) at one meal; carbohydrates (fruit & grains) for at another. Vegetables, though may be given with either grains or heavy proteins. Also, grains and meats should not be fed together but veggies can be feed with either, with no loss of nutrients.  Fruits, except apples, should be feed alone and at least twenty minutes before or after anything else. 

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Is it o.k. to feed grains?

Though grains are used as a cheap filler in commercial pet foods, it isn’t because they are good for your pets...it’s to make more profit, usually at the expense of your pet’s health. Grains are not a natural food for dogs. It is not something they would eat in the wild. Those grains they would have access to  would be in small quantities eaten from the stomachs of prey animals who had (in the right season) eaten some grasses that  had seeded. These grains would also not look like our modern grains - more like wild rice (check it out at the supermarket and  compare to domestic types). Grains are also full of carbohydrates which can be easily converted to sugars.  Cancer cells feed on sugars and it is believed  that by decreasing the amount of carbohydrate in the diet, we may greatly reduce the risk of cancer (which is a growing  problem among modern dogs) and grains are one of the major causes of allergies in dogs, and can also cause flatulence. Read more on grains at the Grain Free Pets website.   

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Do I really need to use supplements?

I think if you are providing a good varied diet you will be providing pretty much what your dog needs - all in a highly  bio-available form. When looking for a certain vitamin/mineral, try to provide it in its natural  form first. If you need to provide more Vitamin B for example, consider what foods contain that vitamin first (e.g. liver) rather than reaching for an artificial supplement. That said, there can be a benefit in supplementing those things that our dogs may be missing in the translation from a 'wild'  diet to its 'modern' equivalent (i.e. BARF). As we don't necessarily feed the whole animal for example (eyes, brains, stomach  and intestines etc etc as well) the addition of things like EFA's (e.g. flaxseed oil) on occasion can be useful. Probiotics are also in this category, providing bacteria which a dog may otherwise have gotten in the wild by eating stomach contents/intestines etc. You can also add a bit of Kelp every now and then for trace elements.  Modern soils have been depleted by over-cropping etc  and Australian soils in particular are low in iodine. Add Vitamins C and E every now and then for their antioxidant properties and their value to optimize health - particularly in our  modern polluted environment. Vitamin C is particularly good in times of stress.Normally, supplements aren’t need on a daily basis, bu of course every situation  will be different (if you live in a city you might give more C and E for example to combat higher pollution). But remember, you are providing a much more nutritious product to begin with with raw natural foods. They are probably getting more nutritional  value now out of a varied BARF diet without the supplements that they ever did on kibble even with vitamins.

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How do I know what supplement is for what, should I decide to supplement?

B and C vitamins are water soluable, which means whatever the body does not use are elminated in the urine. You basically  cannot "overdo" the vitamins except too much can cause loose bowels (that's why you often see it recommended to supplement  with Vitamin C "to bowel tolerance").  Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat soluable and it IS possible to cause problems by oversupplementing - sometimes the problems can be as bad if not worse than UNDER supplementation. According to Kymythy Schultze in her book, "The Ultimate Diet", she states:

"Alfalfa contains vitamins A, B1, B6, B12, C, D, E, K AND U, plus beta-carotene, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, folic acid,  calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, protein, amino acids, trace elements and fiber. It reduces  tissue damage from radiotherapy, helps bleeding disorders, has antibacterial action against salmonella and has a protein with  known anti-tumor activity. It's used as a general tonic, to detoxify the body and to treat colon disorders, hemorrhages,  diabetes, ulcers and arthritis. Use the alfalfa leaf and stem in powdered or liquid form.  Do not use alfalfa seeds as they contain a natural toxin.

Kelp contains vitamins A, B1, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12, C and E, plus zinc, viotin, bromine, calcium, choline, copper, inositol, iodine,  PABA, potassium, selenium, sodium and sulfur. Its iodine content is very good for glands and organs, especially the thyroid  and liver. It can bind with chemical pollutants in the gastrointestinal tract and prevent their absorption by the body. It  increases the contractile force of the heart, improves circulation and is often used for hair loss,  goiter, ulcers, obesity and  mineral deficiency. Equal parts of alfalfa and kelp in your dog's or cat's food provides a vast array of health-enhancing  nutrients as a complete vitamin and mineral supplement.

Other green foods you may use include algae (chlorella, spirulina, blue-green), aloe vera, grasses and sea greens.  Since these  are plants, they should be fed to carnivores in fairly small amounts, proportionately"

Raw meat, fish and eggs provide an array of amino acids/protein, enzymes, antioxidants, Vitamins A, C, D, E, K, B1, B2, B3,  B5, B6, B12, biotin, choline, folic acid, inositol, iodine, pantothenic acid, paba, fatty acids, caldium, phosphorus, magnesium,  iron, potassium, chromium, copper, manganese, selenium, sodium, sulfur, vanadium, zinc and CoQ10 (see pg 26 of "The Ultimate Diet").

Raw veggies provide enzymes, antioxidants, betacarotene, carbohydrates, fiber, phytochemicals, Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, C, D, E, K, boron, choline, folic acid, inositol, iodine, paba, pantothenic acid, calcium, chromium, copper, iron, iodine,  magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, potassium, silicon, sodium, sulfur and selenium.

Many of us are of the opinion that our dogs, who are healthy, get the vitamins they need from the varied diet they are fed.  Many BARFers supplement and many do not.  Again, the choice is yours.        

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What is ACV and what are some of it's benefits?

ACV stands for Apple Cider Vinegar.  Of the 22 minerals essential for health, apple cider vinegar contains 19 in exactly the right amounts. *Some* of these minerals are potassium, phosphorus, sodium, magnesium, sulphur, iron, copper, silicon and pectin. ACV also contains natural malic and tartaric acids which are important in fighting body toxins and inhibiting unfriendly bacteria.  There are claims that the additional acidity of ACV helps the digestion process.  Many dogs like the taste of it, and it even makes the RMBs smell less raw meaty-like.  Many people soak the RMBs in ACV prior to feeding, to aide with the digestion of bones.   Soaking a raw bone in vinegar kmakes it softer and less prone to splintering.   Also, a teaspoon of ACV (daily) in your dog's food also removes tear stains (for those with very light-colored dogs).  Results are usually begun to be seen in 7 to 10 days.        

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What is Ester C and bowel tolerance?

Ester C is a buffered form of Vitamin C, which is easier on the stomach than other C's (ascorbic acid).  If you decide to use Ester C or any of the other buffered form of C ( calcium ascorbate or sodium ascorbate), you will be able to provide a much higher dosage than you would with ascorbic acid.  If you are providing a buffered form of C, you might want to start out with 500 mg and increase the dosage (splitting the dosage to twice per day) until you determine the bowel tolerance. From that point, you can then determine how much C you want to offer per day. As you up the daily dosage of C and notice that your dog's stools are becoming a bit loose, then you have reached Bowel Tolerance.  Any higher dosage will cause loose/watery stools, and even diarrhea.

Vitamin C is an immune booster and can be given daily.  You can also UP the amount of Vitamin C during times of stress.

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What are digestive enzymes and probiotics , and why is their use recommended?

Digestive enzymes break down food so that it can be absorbed and utilized by the body. Raw food has enzymatic activity,  and the body has a limited supply also. When our pets eat the raw food that their physiology is designed to thrive on, they  receive plenty of food enzymes, which aid digestion and nutrient utilization. When they eat cooked food, which is devoid of enzymes, they can deplete the body's supply, and the enzyme-producing organs must work overtime to compensate. It doesn't matter what you put into the body if digestion is not equipped with enough enzymes to break it down and put it to good use  within the body.  Supplemental enzymes can be beneficial in cases of digestive disorders and degenerative diseases. They   replenish the body with the tools needed to utilize nutrients.
 

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria. They are normally present in a healthy intestinal system. Beneficial bacteria keep  unwanted bacteria, fungi, and other bad guys from disrupting homeostasis. For example, U.A.S. labs have conducted studies  showing non-dairy probiotics to be extremely successful at destroying e.coli bacteria.   Beneficial bacteria is killed by  antibiotics. Supplemental use of non-dairy probiotics like Dynamic Flux from BrainGareden can help re-establish normal intestinal function as well as provide tons of great predigested enzymes, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and more. Probiotics should be  refrigerated and are most effective when given between meals. 

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What are other natural sources of calcium , other than egg shells and the bones themselves, to supplement?

Most people stick with eggshells, but some talk to their butcher/meat market and asking them to  save bone "sawdust" from when they cut the meats down. This bone dust would be preferable to bonemeal because it would still be in its "raw" state.  Eggshell powder can be made yourself, by saving the raw shells, drying and then running them through a coffee grinder.  There are 1,800 mgs. of calcium per teaspoon of eggshell powder.  Bone Dust contains 8.74 % ash, (1/3 of which is calcium), 25.26 % fat, 13.42 % protein, and 52 % is water.   

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Can really give my dog a whole fish?

Absolutely...head, tail, body...the whole thing!   Just be sure to check inside the fish for any hook that may have been forgotten to be removed.  Fish is not a substitute for an RMB meal, but it can be fed a couple of times a week.   One reason for this is the thiaminase enzyme in fish...it destroys thimaine (Vitamin B1).   Fish especially rich in thiaminase are herring, capelin, suckers, smelts and various carp species, a total of some 50 species, most of which live in fresh water. Extra thiamin can be fed when feeding fish.   Feeding whole fish is a personal choice.  Many are afraid of the bones getting stuck...no problem, there are many varieties of nutritious canned fish on the market.

A special note with regards to those who live in the Pacific Northwest:  salmon and trout can carry the rickettsia organism  responsible for salmon poisoning.   If your dog shows ANY signs of being ill within two weeks of feeding, get him/her to the vet, and tell them to look for salmon poisoning. This information is not meant to scare anyone, but it's extremely risky to feed raw salmon and trout from the Pacific Northwest..

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When should I start introducing veggies?

They are probably the second thing to introduce after some Raw Meaty Bones such as chicken. When to add them usually depends on your dog.  If he handles the chicken RMBs well for a few days, you can try adding some bland veggie mix (with perhaps some lean ground meat to tempt).  You can add it sooner if the dog is getting a little constipated, or later if things are still a bit soft and runny.  Either way, try and keep the diet fairly bland and low fat for a while when starting out.       

What is the recipe for Dr. Billinghurst's veggie patties? 

This recipe can be adjusted to suit your dog's needs or tastes, at the time.  It is based on raw crushed vegetables - at least half e.g. one kilo vegetables such as carrots, celery, spinach, broccoli, etc. The other half consists of lean mince - beef, chicken, lamb {pork} e.g. one kilo.  To which we add such things as: yogurt - low fat and plain - half a small tub eggs - raw preferably free range - about 3 flax seed oil - 2 or three dessertspoons liver - raw - say a quarter of a lamb's fry garlic - 2 or 3 cloves kelp powder - up to 4 teaspoons B vitamins - a teaspoon of  Troy Vitamin B PLUS OTHER HEALTHY FOOD SCRAPS  e.g. small amounts of cooked veggies, rice, cottage cheese etc. Any surplus - not fed on the day - should be formed into patties, frozen, thawed out as required.  copyright IAN BILLINGHURST

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Help, my dog won't eat his veggies!

For 3 days feed veggie meals...and let him refuse to eat. Every meal, give him a fresh meal with maybe 2 tbsp. of veggie mix and the rest ground beef/mackerel/salmon, etc. Leave it down for 10 minutes and then calmly pick it up. After about 3 1/2 days, your dog will probably get hungry enough to eat his whole veggie meal. and ytou should never have the problem again.

This approach might be worth trying as long as you know your dog is healthy and has no reason other than "stubbornness" not to eat a particular meal, this is an option for you. Yes, it can be stressful and frustrating, however, in the long  run you have very few "battles" after that and happier mealtimes.

Here are some suggestions to try to tempt him in his veggie meals:

Mix veggies with canned fish (mackerel, tuna, sardines) or ground meat
Parmesan cheese on top
Grated Cheese in the mix
1 - 2 tsp. of molasses
Garlic powder or regular garlic
raw egg
baked beans
yogurt or cottage cheese
chopped raw liver or kidney
vegemite mixed with warm water (probably not relevant for the USA lol)

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Why can't I just chop up a veggie , or even give it whole?

The veggies need to be pulped up using something like a blender, juicer or food processor. You are aiming for something a bit like the vegetable matter found in the stomach of a prey animal. The reason for this is that dogs can not digest cellulose. Cell walls of plants are made of cellulose, so for our dogs to get the nutrients out of them, we need to crush the cell walls. Chopping them up only crushes the cell walls on the outside, leaving the bit in the middle pretty much unavailable to them nutritionally. Cooking them will also destroy the cell walls, but as this also destroys a lot of the nutrients and enzymes in the veggies (even canned veggies), it kind of defeats the purpose.  Freezing the veggies and then thawing can also break down the cell walls.       

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Is it ok to mix the veggie mush with ground meat?

Yes, you can mix the ground meat in with the veggies :-). If this is purely muscle meat and not ground Raw Meaty Bones, it is  best to limit the amount you are feeding though.  Remember that 60 to 80% of the diet should be raw meaty bones.  Of the  remainder, less that 1/2 should usually be additional muscle meat without the bones. If you can try and make sure there is at least the same amount if not more veggies and other stuff than the ground muscle meat in your veggie mix. Of course if you are just introducing the veggies and that is the only way they will eat them, mixing a small amount of veggies  in a larger amount of meat will sometimes help. You can gradually decrease the amount of meat and increase the veggies as they get used to it.        

My supermarket frequently has chicken leg quarters on sale.  Are these o.k. to use?

Yes - but they don't contain the proper calcium:meat ratio; plus they are load-bearing bones and are naturally harder (and  harder on your dog's teeth over the long haul). If you DO decide to use them, you will need to supplement with additional calcium (in the form of eggshells or bonemeal).  

My dog literally inhales her food, and it scares me to near death.  What can I do to get her to slow down?

Many dogs have a tendency to gulp their food, without chewing, and this can be a very scary experience for an owner new to feeding raw bones.   To teach the dog to chew before swallowing (yes, your dog needs to learn how to chew), try larger RMBs like chicken backs and turkey necks.  Avoid all the smaller RMBs (chicken wings, chicken necks, etc...) until your dog learns to chew her food.   Another option (submitted by a BARFer) is, "instead of giving  her bigger things to chew on, I hand  fed my dog, and made him pull the meat off the bone. I did this for about a week, and afterwards everything was fine. For people who have bigger dogs, and are afraid of getting their hand chopped off, they should teach their dog to respect their hand, and the meat that's in it."    

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I thought RMBs were supposed to be given whole ...why are some people grinding them for their dogs?

Yes, RMBs should be given whole (not ground up or smashed), as chewing the entire RMB provides several benefits.  Chewing RMBs provides superior jaw and upper body muscle exercise, as well as those pearly whites we've read so much about.  Puppies who chew their RMBs satisfy their natural chewing desires, rather than chewing on your furniture or shoes.  On the other hand, ground RMBs still provide all the nutritional requirements that are so crucial to your dog's health.   There are people who choose to grind (or even smash up the RMB) for various reasons, examples are: feeding an older dog with few teeth left, the dog is a chronic 'gulper,' OR just for an owner's peace of mind that their dog won't choke on the bones (until they feel more comfortable feeding raw meaty bones).  To grind or not to grind is purely an owner's personal choice.  Unless there is an underlying medical condition, RMBs should be fed whole.     

I've heard so much about the Maverick Meat Grinder, where can I buy one?

You can purchase the Maverick Grinder directly at Pierce Food Service Equipment, Inc. currently still on sale for $99.00.  This site does not endorse this grinder, nor any other grinder...again, it is purely a personal choice to grind or not to grind.  Their website claims, " Grind Up CHICKEN QUARTERS and Backs of Chicken. We Are Told people Go Buy Raw Meat From Places and Grind up & serve Raw to their pets! "  Please use your utmost discretion before purchasing ANY grinder.       

How do I go about finding a Raw Meaty Bone supplier?

The best place to find a supplier for your raw meaty bones is in your phone book.  Look up Butchers and Wholesale Poultry Distributors in the Yellow Pages.  You can also search the International Purveyor Index using your zip code to find a supplier near you.       

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How much can I expect to pay for RMBs?

On the average, staple RMBs (chicken wings, chicken backs and turkey necks) can be purchased from a wholesale supplier in 40-pound cases for about .89 cents a pound, .29 cents a pound and .39 cents a pound, respectively (in US Dollars).   Prices vary by state and supplier, and these are just average prices.  These staples, and other RMBs, can also be purchased in your local supermarket(s), at a bit higher price per pound.  If you are BARFing more than one dog, it will certainly 'pay' for you to shop around for the best prices and even invest in a chest or upright freezer.        

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I've heard about trichinosis and pork .   Is it safe to feed pork?

As with many other food items, feeding pork is purely a personal choice.  But yes, it CAN be fed, safely.  Some dogs do very well on pork and others don't (loose stools).  If you'd like to feed pork but are afraid of possible trichinosis, it is recommended that the pork be frozen, at Zero degrees F for 3 weeks, to kill the flukes.  The incidence of trichinosis is actually fairly minimal in most places now (particularly in inspected meats).  Many have fed fresh pork (pork necks, being a favorite) without any ill side-effects.  Be aware of smoked pork necks, as they are slighly cooked from the smoking process.  Pigs feet can also be fed, but are very high in fat...something you may want to avoid if your dog needs to lose a pound or two.

What is the bone to meat ratio?

Ideally, it is anywhere from 1:1 to 2:1 calcium:phosphorus (bone/eggshell:meat). 

Aside from natural calcium , what other nutrients do RMBs provide?

Raw meaty bones provide nutritious marrow, amino acids/protein, essential fatty acids, fiber, enzymes, antioxidants and a  vast array of species-appropriate minerals and vitamins all in a usable form.        

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I've noticed my dog pooping less and it's white.  Is this normal?

Yes, this is completely normal for a BARFing dog.   The reason your dog is pooping less is because most of the food he is now ingesting, is being digested and properly utilized by the body...thus, less waste.   The RMBs account for it turning white.  If you notice your dog straining while pooping, you can up the veggies a bit; however, straining a little bit can help express the anal glands, which would normally be done by your vet, at a price!  Read more about Chalky White Poo .

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My dog is constipated .  How can I help him?

Pure pumpkin in the can (not pumpkin pie filling) helps both loose stools and constipation.  You can also reduce the RMBs and up the veggies a bit, or even add liver to the meal.      

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Help!!!  My dog has diarrhea!!!

If you're just starting to BARF your dog, the diarrhea may be brought on because of the normal detox process (cleansing out the toxins and impurities) OR because you may have added one too many things too quickly.  Pure pumpkin, in the can (not pumpkin pie filling), will immediately halt the diarrhea.  If the diarrhea is because of the possibility of a reaction to a new food item, you'll need to start an elimination diet.   Basically, go right back to feeding one thing only for a time (no supplements or anything else,  including treats) and then gradually add things back one at a time and watch for a reaction.   As every dog is different, this is the only way you will know for sure what your particular dog is reacting to.  In the meantime, keep his food bland until he is feeling better (you too)!  You can add applesauce, honey and even Slippery Elm Powder (an herb) to help settle his tummy.

If you feel detox or a new food item may not be the cause of the diarrhea, do not hesitate to drop off a stool sample to your veterinarian to check for parasites, worms and even unfriendly bacteria.  If your dog is put on antibiotics for his/her gastrointestinal upset, make sure you give him plenty of probiotics, Vitamin C & E, during the recovery process.

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Why is my dog's stool wrapped in mucous at times? 

Believe it or not, mucousy stools can appear any time, no matter how long one has been BARFing, and is generally no reason for concern.   When first starting BARF, this may be a sign that the digestion track is ridding the junk out of it's system (normal part of detox).  Mucousy stools can also be related to feeding dairy products.  If you are feeding dairy, try cutting them out for a few days and see if this was the culprit.  It can also mean an inflammation of the intestinal track.  If you notice traces of blood, along with the mucousy stool, a trip to the vet is encouraged.  Mucousy stools are also a sign of coccidia (a parasite commonly found in puppies), so you might want to drop off a fecal sample to your vet, and begin treatment.  Again, use your judgment...if dog appears ill (gums may be white and not the normal pink/rose color) and is also having frequent bouts of diarrhea that last 24 to 48 hours, call your vet.

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My dog is vomiting.  What can I do?

There are several reasons a dog may vomit, and it is up to you to determine why.  If the vomit is yellow bile, this means the dog's stomach is completely empty (and hungry!).  Feed that poor baby.   If the vomit is clear with white foam or mucusy globs, it is from drinking too much too fast (possibly on an empty stomach). I'd remove the water and, again, feed that baby!

Vomiting is also a symptom of the normal detox process.   You can  add applesauce, honey and even Slippery Elm Powder (an herb) to help settle his tummy, while he is getting accustomed to his new way of eating.  The vomiting may also be the result of a new food item that does not agree with him.  And yes, a dog new to BARF will occasionally regurgitate his food, and then begin to eat it again...probably more slowly this time, as he 'gulped' it the first time.  This IS normal.

Sometimes pieces of bones stay undigested (may have been stuck in the stomach for a while) and cause a bit of blockage, which can cause quite a noxious odor on both ends. Increasing probiotics/digestive enzymes may be a good suggestion. 

Dogs can also ingest various foreign objects (e.g. socks, toys, plants, etc...), so keep an eye on your pet if you suspect this type of ingestion, and your dog hasn't thrown up or passed out the foreign object within 24 to 48 hours.

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Do I have to fast my dog on occasion?

No, you do not have to fast your dog .  In nature, canines (wolves, feral dogs, etc.) don't eat everyday. The theory behind   fasting our dogs is that it gives their digestive systems a chance to rest.   Most people who fast their dogs do it once a week.  Many people give recreational bones or liquid meals on fast days to help their dog get through the fast day.  The choice to fast is a personal decision.  Many, many BARFers fast usually on days that would be stressful like traveling, vet days, and so on. Many dogs will fast themselves and we must listen to them.

Now, if your dog pooped numerous times after fasting, this is good as he/she must have had some build up to get rid of and with the daily meals his/her system wasn't getting around to it.  As long as they were not extremely loose from the start, then he/she sounds fine.          

When thawing, is there a point where the food is considered dangerous and should be thrown out?

When the smell of the meat is bad.  That usually takes a quite a number of days of being thawed out in the fridge.  If it smells a little 'gamey' (a few days old) some people will still feed it - wild dogs would eat it, too! With a dog new to BARF, try and keep the meat fairly fresh for a while though.  Easiest way is to thaw slowly in the fridge, or to thaw for a few hours or overnight in a container on the kitchen counter. Just thaw as much as you need for one day at a time.

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Can I use my microwave for thawing RMBs? 

When using a microwave to thaw RMBs, you must be extremely careful, as the microwave can begin to cook the food from the inside (the bones) out.  Thawing RMBs in the microwave is NOT the recommended method.  NEVER, EVER give your dog a cooked bone, as it can splinter and cause severe internal complications.   The safest method of thawing is room temperature or, if you're in a bit of a hurry, soak the RMBs in cold water in the kitchen sink.      

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Is it possible that my dog is allergic to the Omega oils?

Yes, it is possible. Some dogs have been known to react to Flaxseed oil. If this is what you are using, you may want to try Fish Oil (not cod liver oil) as an alternative source.         

Can I still BARF my dog while traveling?

Yes, you can.  When you travel, freeze RMB meals in separate portions, keep them in a cooler and take one  meal out at a time. Try to use a separate cooler for RMB so it isn't opened as much. YOu can also freeze the RMBs a week or two in  advance so they stay frozen longer. If you don't have a lot of extra room for a cooler, some options are:
1. Shopping when you get to location (although this can be pricey and isn't always an option)
2. Canned mackerel/tuna/salmon
3. Cottage Cheese
4. Natural Applesauce
5. Canned green beans and other canned veggies

In terms of feeding the "correct balanced diet", remember that you are looking at the diet "over time" versus a daily diet. Don't  try to bring veggie mix - it doesn't work too well and gets messy.

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What are proper food safety techniques?

Basic food safety techniques are really not much difference for handling dog food as they are for people food.  Basically they involve washing your hands after handling meat etc, making sure cleaning cloths are clean and washed regularly (or use paper towels) and washing down benches with soap and hot water to curb bacteria growth (I use vinegar too).  Some people do additional things, but these are the basics.       

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What are Satin Balls? 

Satin balls are not treats. They are a recipe that was  developed to assist with putting weight on dogs. They were not developed as part of the BARF diet, but independently from it  and are used by people who feed kibble as equally as those who feed home cooked or raw natural diets. The fact that they can  be served either raw or cooked is the main factor that makes them 'acceptable' for all these.  When it comes to the BARF diet  though, there are some aspects about them that you may not like (the cereal for one).           

How can a BARF diet reduce t he chances of my dog bloating?

The chances of bloat are much less than on kibble. It is quite rare for a dog to bloat when they are eating a raw diet, for a  couple of reasons. First, raw food doesn't swell like kibble which can sometimes cause problems. Second, most dogs  eat more slowly when they are eating raw food compared to the familiar "inhale" style eating that dogs use when they are eating kibble. Because they aren't inhaling their food, less air is sucked into the stomach. Another reason is that chewing allows the dog's body to prepare for digestion. The necessary juices and acids are released slightly prior to the "deposit" of  food into the stomach.        

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I think my dog is allergic to BARF ...how can I be sure?

If you are truly concerned that something in the diet is causing a problem, the only true way to identify it and remove it is  with an elimination diet.  Basically, go right back to feeding one thing only for a time (no supplements or anything else,  including treats) and then gradually add things back one at a time and watch for a reaction.   As every dog is different, this   is the only way you will know for sure what your particular dog is reacting to. If it is not a food-related allergy, changing the diet around - for a dog already on BARF that is - is going to have minimal  impact.  Basically, if the cause of the allergy is still around, your dog is still likely to react to it no matter what you feed.

That said, BARF can have a positive (if not always total) effect in relation to non-food related allergies. This effect, however, is generally LONG TERM.  Basically BARF helps to build the immune system which allows your dog to fight off the  allergies when they occur. Over time, as the immune system strengthens, this can help to lessen their impact. While some effects may be immediate when switched to BARF, some dogs continue subtle improvements over a number of years.  In simpler terms, allergies are an over reaction of the immune system usually brought about by a weakness or imbalance in the body (such as vaccinations, a chronic illness, virus,  food, environmental, or thing(s) she/he comes in contact with).   You can help boost your dog's immune system by increasing Vitamin C (to bowel tolerance) and adding Vitamin E.  The herbs Echinacea and Goldenseal Root also help to boost the immune system.

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Will feeding raw meat  make my dog vicious/mean and create a "blood lust?"

This IS a myth. There is no causal relationship between eating raw meat and wanting to kill animals. It has  nothing to do with what a dog is fed and has everything to do with natural prey drive, training and socialisation.  Some breeds like the husky can have a very high prey drive.  If raised around animals and trained not to chase them, a lot of them will have no problem co-existing happily NO MATTER WHAT THEY ARE FED. With a lot  of dogs, the instinct is a very ingrained primal one and the sight of an animal running can bring this out in them NO MATTER WHAT THEY ARE FED.  Dogs can easily distinguish between what they are protecting and what they are eating.

Remember that kibble has not been around that long.  For generations man has been feeding raw meat and bones to their dogs. I do not think in the hard reality of life dogs would have lasted too long as man's helpers in the field, on the farm or elsewhere if eating raw meat gave them a blood lust for the other animals around. Imagine an outback station owner for example.  The dogs eat the foods the producer produces - the leftover cuts of the animals they slaughter for themselves or the old culls. The nearest town is a couple of hours by light plane or perhaps a 10 hour drive down the track.  Before transport  such as this, it may have taken a couple of days to get to the neighbours place.  Now imagine if all the dogs they use to help  them with the stock killed their stock because of the raw meat they were eating.  Do you think they would still keep dogs?   Would the Australian Cattle Dog or Kelpie have been developed as a breed?  I doubt it - they would have all been shot a long  long time ago.  Yep, some dogs may turn out to be 'stock killers'. This happens.  But as we have found, even kibble fed dogs   can be stock killers.                

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Remember, this information is intended just to get you started educating yourself. When changing your pet’s dietary routine, please do as much research as you can so that all your choices are informed!

If your pet has any medical conditions, be sure to discuss dietary changes with your veterinarian. One thing I believe for sure, our pets desperately need alternatives to toxic commercial pet foods. Whole, live, raw food may be part of the solution for many pet owners!

Keep in mind that raw food for pets is controversial among some vets and professionals, so do your homework and decide for yourself.

Too many pet owners jump into raw food without properly educating themselves. It is easy to make mistakes and reduce the health of your pet! Nutrition is not intuitive - it is a science. Animals have different nutritional needs than people. Complete nutrition for an animal takes a lot more work to provide than simply opening a can or a bag. Raw products can vary greatly in quality and nutritional density depending on their source (organic sources are usually best).

If you don’t have the time to learn how to do it properly, please consider just changing your pet’s diet to fresh, home-cooked meals or organic prepared foods instead of toxic commercial foods. That alone will make a huge difference for your pet’s health and happiness.

You can check out what the detractors say at this web site, for their point of view. But remember, many of the problems they are talking about come from not taking the time for proper education or preparation.

Second Chance Ranch

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Robert Alan Ross
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* RawFoodLife.com does not offer medical advice or "treatments." I believe your body has the inner wisdom to naturally achieve optimal health and heal itself when supported with a diet of whole, live raw foods. If you have any medical conditions or questions, please ask your health professional to review the extensive information & research on the web and this site before making any major lifestyle or dietary changes. Click Here to read more about this.

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