Part two: Raw Food Diet plus healthy treats.
In this blog, I'll talk about what a raw food diet is - or BARF (bones and raw food) - why it came recommended and what my two goldies think about it. I'll follow this by talking about dog treats which are brimming with goodness to aid keeping our pups happy and healthy.
Before we had Poppy, we'd never heard of a raw food diet. However, that all changed when we met Ann and James Price and their beautiful golden retrievers. By their recommendation, we've used both Wolf Tucker and Natural Instinct.
Natural Instinct provide a list of the benefits from a BARF diet. These benefits include:
Lots of energy
Healthy digestion and bowels
Dense muscle structure
Strong bones, teeth and joints
More resilient immune system
Stools reduced & easier to clean up
The reason why our girls are raw fed is because of Ann from Palton Retrievers. Her wealth of knowledge and experience in golden retrievers left us in no doubt as to what diet our dogs should be on. Both our pups were weaned on raw food and both were full of inquisitive mischief, had shiny eyes, wet noses and beautiful soft coats - basically they were in the best possible condition. So, why change what was working so well?
We buy the multi pack from Wolf Tucker, so that our girls have a good variety. The multi pack is made up of twelve 500g packs :
Beef & Tripe, (4 packs)
Chicken & Beef, (3 packs)
Chicken & Tripe (3 packs)
Primal Chicken [Primal Chicken includes tripe, heart and liver] (2packs)
I've noticed that Poppy has had very few stomach upsets, whereas Devon - bless her - will eat all sorts from
out of the garden and forest so the upsets she's had have been nothing to do with her BARF diet. As for their energy levels, well, Poppy is like a whirlwind when around the forest and across the fields. For a big, heavy set dog, she is very quick and agile.
One of the features I especially like about the BARF diet is that it includes these two ingredients:
1. Flax oil - this provides omega 3’s and 6’s which are good for the skin and coat, eyesight, supple joints and strong bones.
2. Kelp - this provides a healthy level of iodine which is important for controlling the thyroid gland and good for maintaining a good coat.
When we collected Poppy from Ann's back in January 2016, she was a twelve week old big cream fluff-ball. Along with our adorable pup, Ann gave us a box filled with goodies and info. This included details about a raw food diet which I found fascinating. I'll share this with you now:
First and foremost, it's important to make sure that the raw food is defrosted.
All the meals arrive frozen in tubs so before using, always defrost either in the fridge or at room temperature. The food will then last in the fridge for up to three days
Feeding your dog a raw food diet promotes good health and avoids harmful additives and preservatives (I looked this up and found that this included - butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), tert-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ), propyl gallate, and ethoxyquin,).
From the age of 5/6 weeks, Ann's puppies had been weaned from their mum so they had not received any further milk. A little natural greek yoghurt before settling down for the night can be given though. This provides a little added calcium and helps digest the meat during the night.
Fruit, vegetables and kelp is included in the BARF method. Ann recommends this diet because it is a natural way with no added preservatives. Extra vitamins such as Yumega oil and Salmon oil can also be added if prefered.
To quote Ann's motto: 'Don't fix what isn't broken.'
What is a healthy alternative to conventional dog treats and biscuits?
When we brought Poppy, I looked into recommended healthy dog treats. In the past, I'd bought boxes of dog biscuits from the pet shop thinking these were OK. Yes, they were, but they were far from the healthiest of treats. I also discovered that what we humans class as treats such as pizza, bread and chips is in fact very fattening for our doggos. I recently found out that one slice of toast for a dog, is the equivalent to a plate of chips!
So, instead of handing out biscuits, crusts and crisps, Poppy and Devon eat raw carrots, broccoli, strawberries and bananas. I also treat them to dried beef hearts and sprats (which they love but smell awful!)
I spent considerable time researching - which is something I love to do. I've trawled through many websites and articles from places like: Redbarn, Dogs Naturally magazine, Falls Village Veterinary Hospital, Wolftucker, The Dog People, Animal Wellness Magazine, Natural Instinct to name but a few.
This is what I learned about the nutritional benefits of these treats:
Carrots - a great source of vitamin A and beta-carotene (good for their eyesight, healthy skin, coat, liver, kidneys and lungs). Good for their teeth, they are low in calories and fat, high in soluble fibre. To prevent a choking hazard, it's always best to chop the carrot up into sizeable pieces.
Broccoli - in small quantities. They can be raw, roasted, or steamed but not seasoned. This vegetable provides vitamin K (promotes strong bones), calcium, and potassium. It also includes sulforaphane - which boosts the protective cellular enzymes and flushes out cancer causing toxins.
Runner beans - fibre, magnesium, vitamins A, C, and K, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, folic acid, iron, potassium, and beta-carotene.
Strawberries - This low fat sweet treat contains vitamin C, antioxidants and is high in fibre.
Blueberries - these delicious berries are low in calories and high in vitamin C, fibre, and
phytochemicals (natural compounds found in fruits and vegetables). Phytochemicals help protect against the causes of many diseases such as cancer. Believe it or not, I have only just discovered blueberries for myself. They are now a particular favourite of mine too. One of my favourite breakfasts is natural greek yogurt, strawberries, banana and blueberries with a drizzle of honey - delicious! Poppy and Devon get excited when they see me eating this too. That's because they know that I'll share! Another benefit of blueberries especially in senior dogs, is the presence of antioxidants. These have been noted to reduce the effects of brain aging.
Bananas - these are bursting with potassium, vitamin C, B6, manganese (helps to digest and absorb proteins and carbohydrates), biotin (vitamin B7), and copper. I do make sure that my goldies don't eat too much though. As beneficial as this delicious fruit is, too much can make then constipated.
Apples - good source of vitamin A, C and fibre. They are also great for keeping your dog's teeth clean and to freshen breath. But remember never to let your pooch eat the pips - they're toxic. I've also recently found out that frozen slices of apple are also good for pups who are teething.
Watermelon - this thirst quenching fruit contains vitamins A, B6 and C, and also potassium and fibre. But, remember to remove any seeds, and don’t give your dog the rind.
Cucumbers - these are especially good for overweight dogs because have hardly any carbohydrates, fats, or oils. They’re full of vitamins K, C, and B1, potassium, copper, magnesium and biotin.
Sprats - these small fish contain high levels of polyunsaturated fats including
eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). According to Nurturing by Nature, a company based in Dorset, sprats are not only high in Omega-3 but also good for: Heart health - sprats help to boost and maintain a healthy heart, coat & skin - Feeding sprats a few times a week can also help to relieve itchy skin conditions. Reduces anxiety & hyperactivity. Arthritis relief - A diet which includes sprats can help reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms.
Dried beef hearts - these are a high quality protein. They provide essential vitamins and minerals, iron, phosphorus, selenium and zinc amongst others. Not only this, but the dried beef hearts we buy from Wolftucker are gluten and grain free with no nasty additives or preservatives.
There is a lot to digest (sorry, awful joke I know) but I find all of this fascinating and if it aids in keeping our doggos in the peak of good health, then I reckon it's definitely worth a try. Fortunately, my girls are not fussy eaters - only this morning Poppy hungrily tucked into a fresh pile of horse poo - so maintaining a good, nutritious diet is not too difficult. However, for the more fussy eater then I imagine more patience and perseverance is needed. But, if it means keeping our fur-babies healthy, then it's without question something worth working on.
This list is only a few of the many, many healthy foods out there. Those I've mentioned above are the favourite foods of my two girls. I hope you've found this interesting. Ideally, it is best to speak to your veterinary surgeon, dog nutritionist or dog breeder for a more detailed and comprehensive list.
Writing this has certainly wet my appetite - not for dried beef hearts or sprats - although Poppy and Devon get very excited and silly whenever they see me take the packet out of their cupboard - no, I'm referring more to the strawberries, blueberries and watermelon.
So, I think I'll go raid the fridge for some healthy snacks.
Speak soon and take care all.