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Natural Rearing

Raw Feeding Diet

Think about it.  Doesn't it make sense to feed fresh wholesome foods? 
Veterinarian Alfred Plechner in "Pet Allergies: Remedies for an Epidemic" states; 

"There is mounting evidence that a lifetime of eating commercial pet foods can shorten your pet's life, make him fatter than he ought to be and contribute to the development of such increasingly common disorders as cystitis and stones (in cats), glaucoma and heart disease (in dogs), diabetes, lead poisoning, rickets and serous vitamin-mineral deficiencies (in both dogs and cats)." 

Dogs are physiologically the same as wolves. They differ in their gene sequences by only 1 - 2%. Their digestive tracts have not changed in the last 60 or 70 years since the dog food manufacturers have come on the scene. Designed to eat various prey species they have very strong stomach acids (dogs have a pH of 1 with food in the stomach compared to a human's pH of 4 - 5) and a short digestive tract. The dog's digestive tract is 1/3 to 1/2 the length of a humans. This is because they are designed to eat raw meat and bones, not grains like an herbivore such as a cow, or an omnivore, such as a human. If dogs were meant to eat corn, wheat, soy or rice, they'd be built internally like a cow or sheep or even a human, with a long digestive tract. Besides, did you ever hear of a wolf building a little campfire and cooking their venison before they ate it? And they don't leave little skeletons lying around either. They eat the bones too. 

Raw food is full of enzymes, vitamins, minerals and stuff the scientists haven't even discovered yet. All commercial kibble, by nature, is cooked. Cooking destroys these vital nutrients. Sure the dog food companies try to add them back in, as evidenced by the long list of vitamins and minerals added to each dog food, but that is a pitifully small amount compared to what they took out in the processing of the food. It can never replace the nutrients found in raw food. 

That is assuming they started out with wholesome, nutritious meat to begin with. Ever read a dog food label? Notice how many times, corn and corn products, rice and rice products, wheat and/or soy are mentioned? The dog food manufacturers do something very clever. They break the grains down into several components, then list them each separately. Why? Because they are required by law to list the ingredients in order of volume. If they didn't break the total volume of grain down into smaller parts, the grains would be listed first, second, third, etc. and the meat would be WAY far down the list because the quantity is so small compared to the amount of grains. Of the first 5 ingredients, I bet the majority are grains anyway, even using this method. Another problem with a grain based kibble is that the amino acids (the building blocks of protein) are not the same as the amino acids in meat. Essential amino acids are lacking in grains. This is a tragedy for your dog as he cannot make these amino acids, he has to get them from his diet. 

Pat Lazarus, in her book, "Keep Your Pet Healthy the Natural Way", says; 

"To begin with, let us look at what commercial pet foods are composed of in general. The Pet Food Institute says; "Forty percent of all pet food is meat by-products and offal (wastes)." One would think that the other sixty percent would have to be better than that, but the Pet Food Institute goes on to say that the other sixty percent is grain and soy meal not used for human consumption because of foreign odors, debris, germs, etc." 

Dog food takes about 15 hours to digest. Raw meaty bones (RMB's) take about 4 - 6. Why? Because dogs were not designed to eat grains. They have a very difficult time breaking down the complex carbohydrates found in grains. In fact, most pass through undigested resulting in large, smelly stools. Yeast thrives in an environment supported by grains. Most chronic ear infections will clear up if all grains are removed from your dog's diet. Your dog's system has to work overtime to extract the nutrients it needs to survive. This eventually can lead to kidney and liver problems, chronic ear infections, diabetes, chronic skin problems, teeth and gum problems which can cause heart disease. Even cancers are attributable to diet. 

So first of all, the dog foods contain way too many grains. (Dogs should be fed a grain free diet.) Secondly, the little bit of meat that is in kibble is cooked, removing what little nutrition it had. If that isn't bad enough, the meat is of extremely low quality. Did you see the phrase "meat by-products" on the label? That can mean almost anything and literally does. By-products include heads, beaks, feathers, feet, guts, euthanized pets... What? Euthanized pets? Yes, rendering companies pick up the dead bodies from your vet's office and animal shelters and throw them in the vat too. This includes their flea and tick collars and the plastic bags they are in also. It includes the drug used to euthanize the animal. This drug is not destroyed by heat. Which means that the kibble you are giving your dog is giving him a low dose of a fatal drug daily. What are the long term effects of this? Just look at all the chronic diseases our dogs suffer from and you will begin to get an answer. 

Ann Martin, in her book, "Food Pets Die For", states; 

"The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) states that there are no restrictions limiting the use of animals for meat meal, tankage, and digest. AAFCO does not prohibit rendered companion animals in pet foods or livestock feed-it is a source of protein." 

Oh and don't forget the spoiled meat from the grocery store. That goes in there too, along with the Styrofoam tray and plastic wrap. Yum. It would be too labor intensive to remove the wrappings. And what about all the meat that didn't pass inspection for human consumption? The cancerous tumors, the diseased carcasses, the sick and dying animals, that all goes in your pet's food too. And then there's all that lovely fat from the fast food places. If you look out back behind any McDonald's or Wendy's for example, you will always find a large vat of the oil that is used for deep frying. This sits outside until the vat is full (regardless of weather) and then is picked up by the dog food companies. This is spoiled, rancid oil. That is what is used to coat the outside of the kibble so that your dog will eat it. Now that's nutritious hey? 

Preservatives are also a concern. Ethoxyquin, BHA and BHT are all known carcinogens. Ethoxyquin was developed as a rubber preservative! From Ann Martin's book, "Food Pets Die For"; 

The Farm Chemical Handbook lists Ethoxyquin as a pesticide. Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, list Ethoxyquin as "Hazard: Toxic by ingestion." The Consumers Dictionary of Food Additives lists Ethoxyquin as a "yellow liquid antioxidant and herbicide. It has been found to cause liver tumors in newborn mice." Ethoxyquin is sold by PennWalt under the name of Deccoquin and has a very prominent skull and crossbones on the label that reads "Caution/-Poison" in large print.
Pet food companies need not state on the label that Ethoxyquin has been added to the food unless the pet food company itself added the substance. If it is added to the fat at the rendering facility, or added to the grain as the feed mill, or added to any pet food ingredient before it arrives at the pet food company, the label does not need to list Ethoxyquin. 
Many of the grains used in commercial pet food contain levels of herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides that are cancer-causing agents. Little, if any, testing or research is undertaken in this area as data are limited. 

If you see any of these on a label, DON'T buy the product. Unfortunately, these chemicals can be in the dog food without being listed. So one never really knows if they are present but chances are, unless you are buying a very expensive human-grade ingredient kibble, they probably are in the dog food. 

Other hidden hazards in pet foods are; Penicillin, (used extensively as an antibiotic in livestock), Chloramphenicol, (another, very powerful antibiotic, linked to aplastic anemia in humans), Sulfonamids, (another antibiotic), growth hormones (Bovine Growth Hormone), insecticides (used on grains and also on livestock, are stored in fat, some are more toxic than DDT), salmonella and E-coli, mycotoxins (some of the most toxic substances know to man), and lead (canned cat foods can contain up to 2.4 times the amount of lead considered unsafe for a child). 

Sorry if I'm grossing you out. But it's important that you realize just what's in that beautifully packaged bag of dog food. It is literally garbage. Don't be fooled by the advertising hype. You can't take rotted, diseased product, cook it for 2 days, add in a few vitamins and minerals and think it is nutritious. It just can't be. But don't take my word for it, for more information, read Ann Martin's book, "Food Pets Die For". 

So what to do instead? It's not difficult so don't be dismayed. Dr. Tom Lonsdale, Dr. Ian Billinghurst, Kymythy Schultze, Dr. Richard Pitcairn, Wendy Vollard and others, have all written a wealth of information on diet. It's a good idea to read as much as you can as opinions do differ. Which is not a bad thing because so too do our dogs differ. I don't think there is a one size fits all diet! But that is the beauty of preparing your dog's food. You can custom tailor the diet to his individual needs. 

Just to give you an idea, this is how we feed our dogs. This is what has worked well for us but I am not an expert, this is just my opinion. I have noticed that there are many, many ways to feed a raw. I use pre-made frozen raw by Natures Variety, Northwest Naturals and Steves. I also give chicken wings, legs and cow leg bones to help keep the teeth clean. There are many to choice from. 

I also use various supplements only because I believe that our soils have been depleted of many important minerals and therefore our foods are lacking in nutrients. I add Vitamin E, salmon/fish oil,cod liver oil, kelp and Vitiam C scorbate. 

Don't worry about salmonella or e-coli. Dogs have high levels of stomach acids and short digestive tracts. This design moves food quickly through the dog's body before bacteria have time to multiply and become a problem. The high concentration of hydrochloric acid, which breaks down the proteins in meats also, kills any dangerous bacteria. Dogs who have been fed kibble a long time do need time to build up these stomach acids again. When switching to raw, give digestive enzymes and probiotics and take it slow at first. I've been feeding this diet since 1992 without a single case of diarrhea. We also fed all our foster dogs this diet and none of them had any problems either. 

You will notice that your dog drinks a lot less water on this diet. That's because there is a lot of water in the food itself. And kibble soaks up water in your dog's stomach, causing him to drink more. Dogs also poop less, a lot less, when on this diet. That's because there are no fillers such as beet pulp, nor grains that are mostly undigestable. The poop has almost no odor. It is hard and dries up into white powder in a day or two. If your dog previously had trouble with impacted anal glands, he will no longer on this diet. That's because your dog's poop will be firmer to naturally express the anal glands. In a couple of weeks the tartar will be off your dog's teeth and you will rarely, if ever have to clean them again. Your dog will have more energy and stamina. Old dogs act like puppies again. If he has bad hips or arthritis, his symptoms will lesson or even disappear. Eventually you'll notice that your dog has very little "doggy" odor. What we have come to consider as "natural" doggy smell is actually the body trying to expel toxins through the skin. The skin is our biggest eliminative organ. It is constantly filtering waste from our blood stream. Once the toxins from kibble are out of your dog's system, he will need less bathing. 

Some dogs go through what is known as detox. This means that the body, now getting proper nutrition, is strong enough to expel the build up of toxins from the kibble and is literally "detoxifying" itself. Detox can show up as skin problems, weepy eyes, hot spots, itchy feet, red ears, etc. Don't panic. This is a good sign. Let all the gunk come out and then your dog can be healthy. Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better. Of course if you start with a puppy raised on SARF, (Species Appropriate Raw Food) they will never go through detox. 

People new to this diet are always concerned with bones perforating an intestine or causing an impaction. This is a valid concern when you are talking about COOKED bones. Cooking dries out the bones and makes them brittle and susceptible to splintering. Raw bones are softer and easier to digest. That's not to say that no dog on the BARF diet never perforated an intestine or had an impaction. It is very rare though. Choking is another worry that people have. Well, plenty of dogs have choked on kibble. Lots of people have choked on food too. Life is not risk-free no matter how careful you are. The benefits of this diet far outweigh the risks. 

If this all seems overwhelming, it really isn't. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to feed your dog a raw diet. We don't fret this much over our own diets for heaven's sake! The dog food industry has us so brain-washed that we feel we couldn't possibly be intelligent enough to formulate our dog's diet. Phooey! If you feed wide variety of ingredients your dog will receive all the nutrients he needs. It's "balance over time" as Dr. Billinghurst says. Each individual meal does not have to be balanced. Do some reading, it's not that hard, really! 

This diet will build a strong, healthy immune system. This translates into fewer trips to the vet. It does take more time to feed your dog this way, but I'd rather spend my time in the kitchen, than the vet's office. I get so many compliments on the coat condition and muscle tone of my dogs. It has helped in the show ring too, even judges comment on the condition of my dogs! Until you see a dog fed a raw diet you can not imagine how healthy they are. They almost glow! 

References and Recommended reading; 
"Food Pets Die For" by Ann Martin 
"Give Your Dog a Bone", "Grow Your Pup With Bones" and "The BARF Diet" by Dr. Ian Billinghurst 
"The Ultimate Diet" by Kymythy Schultze 
"Raw Meaty Bones" by Tom Lonsdale 
"Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats" by Dr. R. Pitcairn 
"Holistic Guide for a Healthy Dog" by Wendy Vollard & Brown 
"Keep Your Pet Healthy the Natural Way" by Pat Lazarus 
"Natural Healing for Dogs and Cats" by Diane Stein 
"Dogs-Anatomy of a Carnivore and Dietary Needs" by Lew Olson 
Internet list; 


There is a lot of controversy surrounding the vaccination issue. And if you've never had a vaccine reaction in a dog you probably can't see what all the commotion is about. I first began researching the issue in 1992, when I began feeding a raw diet. The two go hand in hand in my opinion as you can't have an optimal immune system in a kibble fed dog. The more I read, the more upset I became. To begin with, I highly recommend reading Catherine O'Driscoll's book, "What Vets Don't Tell You About Vaccines". She personally lost 2 dogs to vaccine reactions. Yes, they died. Her book is thoroughly researched and documented. Vaccination reactions are much more common than most people think. And just because your dog didn't have a reaction last year doesn't mean he won't this year. That's the scary part.

Reactions can be as minor as the dog being sleepy and lethargic for a day or two. Or they can include vomiting, diarrhea, staggering gate, loss of balance, seizures, fever, change in behavior, (usually seen as aggression), autoimmune diseases such as lupus, sarcomas, encephalitis, kidney and liver damage, cardiomyopathy, colitis, allergies and even death. These reactions can occur within minutes or hours of the vaccination. Of course, these are most likely to be attributed to the vaccine. Or they can occur weeks or months or years later. Most vets will not make the association in the latter cases. This means that many, many cases are never reported.
The sad part is that annual boosters are not necessary. People don't need annual boosters so why should our pets? Dr. Ron Schultz, a veterinary immunologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in his article in the 1992 edition of Current Veterinary Therapy, along with his co-author, Dr. Phillips state;
"A practice that was started many years ago and that lacks scientific validity or verification is annual vaccinations. Almost without exception there is no immunologic requirement for annual revaccination. Immunity to viruses persists for years or for the life of the animal. Successful vaccination to most bacterial pathogens produces an immunologic memory that remains for years, allowing an animal to develop a protective anamnestic (secondary) response when exposed to virulent organisms. Only the immune response to toxins requires boosters (e.g. tetanus toxin booster, in humans, is recommended once every 7 - 10 years) and no toxin vaccines are currently used for dogs and cats. Furthermore, revaccination with most viral vaccines fails to stimulate an anamnestic response as a result of interference by existing antibodies (similar to maternal antibody interference). The practice of annual vaccination in our opinion should be considered of questionable efficacy unless it is used as a mechanism to provide an annual physical exam or is required by law (i.e. certain state require annual revaccination for rabies)." 

Dr. Chistina Chambreau, DVM feels; "Routine vaccinations are probably the worst thing that we do for our animals. Repeating vaccinations on a yearly basis undermines the whole energetic well-being of our animals. Animals do not seem to be decimated by one or two vaccines when they are young, and veterinary immunologists tell us that viral vaccines need only be given once or twice in an animal's life. First, there is no need for annual vaccinations, and second, they definitely cause chronic disease"

If you want to check the level of your pet's antibodies to a specific disease, you can do titers. Most people find that their pets have adequate protection 3, 5 even 10 years after their last shot. However, keep in mind that titers simply measure circulating antibodies. Which means if your animal was recently exposed to the disease, the titer numbers will be high. If not, they will be low. But any number over zero shows immunity. Low numbers simply mean there was no recent exposure. Many vets feel that immunity lasts for a lifetime. Dr. Don Hamilton has an excellent chapter on vaccines in his book, "Homeopathic Care for Cats and Dogs, Small Doses for Small Animals". I highly recommend it. The chapter on vaccines alone is worth the price of the book.

Parvo, distemper and rabies are the only diseases we need to be worried about. All three can be fatal. There is no sense in vaccinating for things which are not life threatening, such as kennel cough. A dog with kennel cough will recover with good supportive care. And the vaccination for kennel cough covers only a few strains of the virus. So chances are, the vaccination would not help prevent the disease in your dog anyway. The same applies to lepto and coronavirus. They are not worth vaccinating against as there is greater risk of the vaccine causing damage than of your dog contracting the disease. Remember, vaccinations are not 100% effective. Many dogs come down with the very disease they were vaccinated against shortly after receiving their shots.
So how do you protect your dog? The best defense is a good offense in the form of a good diet. Feeding a raw diet will build your dog's immune system so that he can withstand most, if not all, diseases he will come in contact with. Stop pumping him full of chemicals each month with heartworm and flea products. Get him strong and healthy with diet and exercise. Then, stop vaccinating him. Every time you vaccinate your dog you are lowering his resistance and weakening his immune system. This is because the vaccines overwhelm the immune system. Then, find a good holistic veterinarian. Homeopathy, herbs, acupuncture etc. can cure many diseases thought "incurable" by conventional medicine.

Dr. Russell Swift, DVM states;

Think of the body as a castle. The immune system consists of the moat surrounding the castle, the walls of the castle, the secured entrances, and the army of soldiers. In our body, it is the respiratory and digestive systems primarily. The enemy is a foreign invader such as a bacteria or virus. Imagine, the enemy, in this case, a virus, attacking the castle. Our immune system; the moat, walls, barricaded gates, and soldiers all work together to stop the invaders. In our bodies, the mouth, lungs, digestive system etc. would work to prevent the virus from getting deeper into the body. If the virus would get into the bloodstream, we would be in serious trouble. But if our defenses are strong, the body is successful in fending off the disease. 

Now imagine, if the enemy could bypass the moat, walls, secured entrances and soldiers, via a secret passageway into the castle and go directly to our king. If that happened the king would most likely be killed and the battle lost to the enemy. Think about what we do when we vaccinate our dogs. We bypass the natural defense mechanisms of the body, the respiratory and digestive tracts, and inject the foreign invaders directly into the bloodstream. This is the last place the virus or bacteria should be. This totally overwhelms the immune system. Now our king is in big trouble. And if that isn't bad enough, we don't usually inject just one foreign invader, we give combination shots, of 5, 6, 7 or even 8 way vaccines! How can any dog NOT be adversely affected by this? It is just too much for the immune system to handle. This is one of the reasons we are seeing a rise in autoimmune diseases in our dogs.
Homeopathic veterinarian Charles F. Loops, DVM wrote;

"Homeopathic veterinarians and other holistic practitioners have maintained for some time that vaccinations do more harm than they provide benefits. Vaccinations represent a major assault on the body's immune system. Attentuated organisms or chemically killed viruses or bacteria are injected directly into the blood stream, an unnatural route of infection. This profound insult, avoiding the body's first line of defenses, and flooding the system with millions of organisms or viral particles, stresses the immune system in a way not of nature's design. This insult causes irregularities and abnormalities in the immune system which then manifests as chronic diseases in animals. These chronic diseases range from life-threatening conditions such as auto-immune crises to conditions destroying the quality of life of an animal as in chronic skin allergies."

In addition to acute vaccine reactions, your dog may suffer from chronic symptoms. Dr Dee Blanco DVM wrote this; "Unfortunately, adverse reactions to vaccines have been considered to be the immediate hypersensitivity reactions of anaphylaxis. This severely limits the types of reactions that are ever even considered to be related to vaccines. Other problems surface which make accurate tallying of adverse reactions difficult. At present time there are no easy or effective reporting systems; many vets are reluctant to report even those where an animal dies, and the cause-effect relationship is not always clear. Even to those who believe that many of the illnesses we see, both acute and chronic, are directly related to over-vaccination, it is still at times difficult to show how this works. There are many situations where the perfectly healthy puppy is taken at 6 weeks for his first vaccines. Maybe he has a slight fever or lack of appetite and energy for a day or so. Then he is returned 2 to 3 weeks later for more vaccines. Maybe he will show another fever or maybe a day of diarrhea. Then he is returned in 2 or 3 weeks for more vaccines. Maybe he starts to itch a bit. Often by the time the pup is 6 months old he has several problems going on. He often has loose stools and he itches, but there are no fleas. Thus begins the first stages of chronic illness brought on by the vaccines.

When a perfectly healthy individual is given viruses that cause illness, the animal is going to manifest illness-related symptoms. This healthy individual is asked to maintain a low-level stimulation of a state of distemper, a low level state of parvo, a low level state of rabies, and so on. As long as you are in a low level state of illness you are not in a high level state of health. Therefore, the vaccines provide protection by keeping the body in a diseased state of health. Often the animal will not manifest the illness it is vaccinated for, at least not in its acute form, but it will manifest in other conditions. Usually these conditions are inherited weaknesses.

Chronic symptoms look very much like the acute illnesses but they are often not life-threatening unless allowed to continue for years and years.

For distemper we often see:
Watery fluid dripping from the nose
Conjunctivitis, eye discharge,
Chronic gastritis, hepatitis, pancreatitis,
appetite disorders
Recurrent diarrhea
Sensitivity to food with resultant diarrhea
Epilepsy, rear leg paralysis, spondylitis
Lip fold dermatitis
Excessive licking of feet, eruptions between the toes,
Kennel cough, chronic bronchitis
Chronic skin eruptions, especially lower half of body Failure to thrive, abnormally thin

For rabies we often see:
Restless nature, suspicion of others,
aggression to animals and people
Changes in behavior: aloofness, unaffectionate, desire to roam, OR clingy, separation anxiety, 'velcro dog'
Restraining can lead to violent behavior and self-injury
Self-mutilation, tail chewing
Voice changes, hoarseness, excessive barking
Chronic poor appetite, very finicky
Paralysis of throat or tongue, sloppy eaters, drooling
Dry eye, loss of sight, cataract
Eating wood, stones, earth, stool
Destructive behavior, shredding bedding
Seizures, epilepsy, twitching
Increased sexual desire, sexual aggression
Irregular pulse, heart failure
Reverse sneezing

For more information see; Vaccines - Are They Safe for Your Dog?

As you can see, vaccines set your dog up for a life time of suffering. If you do not feel comfortable with not vaccinating, at least consider going to a 3 year schedule while you do more research. Please remember as Dr. Charles E Loops, DVM has said; "The first thing that must change with routine vaccinations is the myth that vaccines are not harmful… Veterinarians and animal guardians have to come to realize that they are not protecting animals from disease by annual vaccinations, but in fact, are destroying the health and immune systems of these same animals they love and care for."
So please think carefully before you make that next vet appointment for those booster shots.

Do as much reading as you can. Some good books are;

"Homeopathic Care for Cats and Dogs, Small Doses for Small Animals" by Dr. Don Hamilton DVM
"Keep Your Dog Healthy the Natural Way" by Pat Lazarus
"Nature of Animal Healing" by Dr. Martin Goldstein DVM
"What Vets Don't Tell You About Vaccines" by Catherine O'Driscoll
"Natural Immunity, Why You Should Not Vaccinate" by Pat McKay
"Vaccine Guide for Dogs & Cats, What Every Pet Lover Should Know" by Catherine J. M. Diodati, MA

Used with permission from - Sheryl Kaminski