By Robert Mueller, R.Pharm.
Often times I hear about pet owners that, for various reasons, decide it will be better for them to make a home-prepared raw dog food diet for their pet. I’ll admit that there may be some benefits to going this route but you’ll have to have plenty of time on your hands to make it happen…get it right.
While you may be able to save a few dollars by making it yourself (which is definitely something to consider) you must be sure not to skip, skimp or overload on any of the necessary ingredients. Remember…a raw diet is just like any other – it’s all about balance! This is even more important if you are creating a diet for a dog with severe food allergies to certain ingredients.
If you do plan on making raw meat dog food yourself, there are some things that are essential to your pet’s well-being and long life that you must pay attention to with regard to vitamin and mineral content.
Vitamins for Dogs
In terms of health, excessive supplementation is not a huge concern if the vitamins that are being over-supplemented are water-soluble, as any excess can easily be passed out of the body through the urine. However, my concern is the over supplementation or improper use of mineral and vitamin supplements that are fat-soluble. Vitamins A,D,K, and E are all fat-soluble vitamins which can become harmful to your pet if given in excess. An excess of certain minerals can also affect the absorption of other much needed nutrients in the body and should therefore be carefully monitored.
Calcium Supplements for Dogs
My other concern regarding homemade raw dog food diets is that in most cases, the recipes for these diets are not sent out to a proper lab for nutritional analysis. I have found several “BARF” dog recipes (in no way associated with BARF World) circulating the Internet that are shockingly unbalanced, and in fact, can cause skeletal issues in growing puppies. Veterinarians understand this very well, which is why you’ll often find them advising against a home-made raw food diet for dogs. Getting the calcium/phosphorous ratio right can be very tricky.
Even if the pet owner has a decent BARF dog recipe, it’s very common to find certain hard-to-source ingredients being replaced with inappropriate substitutes. The perfect example is raw green bones and their calcium/phosphorous content. The calcium/phosphorus ratio is the most critical ratio to pay attention to because the reversal of this ratio can cause long-term skeletal issues.
Many people making their own BARF diet have trouble grinding the green bone sources. What usually happens is that artificial calcium sources are used in place of the hard to grind bones…and the body can only marginally utilize this source of calcium.
Bone meal is another calcium source commonly used as a substitute in homemade raw diets. I strongly advise against this mainly because it is a product of the animal rendering process. Rendering plants (there are over 250 of them in operation in the USA today) are the scavengers. They collect, among other things, dead, diseased, and inedible animal remnants from slaughterhouses, grocery stores, animal shelters – even roadkill – and boil them down in huge vats to be used for various human and pet products. Meat By-Products and Bone Meal come from rendering facilities and are often staple ingredients in many commercial pet foods. So if you are making your own raw diet – please don’t replace your green bone source with bone meal or meat by-products.
At BARF World, we have vast experience, longevity, knowledge, and incredible success with our ready-made BARF Diet formula. To make sure of this, we send each BARF Diet® formula to a third-party testing facility for nutritional analysis. Why risk the chance to make a wrong decision on feeding your pet a biologically appropriate diet?
I commend you “homemade” BARFers out there who are doing it right! There is nothing healthier and more healing for your animal than a properly prepared raw food diet …made with the most important ingredient of all…. LOVE! My recommendations and suggestions regarding supplementation and balance when preparing and feeding a nutritious raw diet are based on 38 years of experience in this field.
Robert Mueller, BSc, Pharm. is a registered pharmacist, author of “Living Enzymes: The World’s Best Kept Pet Food Secret”, and co-developer of BARF World’s BARF diets patties, nuggets and supplements – the first company to make the Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods (BARF) diet conveniently available to animals everywhere. Click here to sign up for “The Intelligent Pet” weekly e-zine absolutely FREE!
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