I was brought up on a low quality kibble diet up until I was about two years old. However, for the last four and a half years, I have been eating a high quality, high bioavailable diet called the "BARF Diet", aka. Biologically Appropriate Raw Food.
Mum believes the BARF Diet is the ultimate diet for all canines since that is what our wolf cousins have been eating for thousands of years. Even though we have been domesticated for quite some time now, our digestive system still remains the same. Since our digestive tracts are much shorter than people, food gets passed along the tract at a faster rate. Therefore, optimal nutrient absorption is obtained via foods that are purest, and easiest to digest for our system. When amino acids chains (protein) are available in it's original form (same as what our muscles are made of), they are MUCH more bioavailable, which means they are better absorbed and utilized by the body. When heat is applied to the protein, the amino acid chains break down and the body have a harder time recognize them and even then, they are picked up in pieces instead of in it's original chain, hence, absorption is hindered. This is why my poop is so much smaller and I don't have to go as often as kibble fed dogs.
GRAPHIC SCENE AHEAD VIEWER DISCRETION IS STRONGLY ADVISED
Therefore, in mum's opinion, raw food is better than lightly steamed food, where steamed food is better than processed food or food with lots of carbs and fillers (ie, kibbles).
Another plus side to eating the raw diet is that it keeps my teeth clean. I am almost 7 years old and I have never needed to have my teeth cleaned by a professional or even by mum.
Teeth of a 7 year old, raw fed dog
My BARF diet is consist of between 16-20% raw organic "pulped" veggies and fruits, and about 80% organic or non-medicated raw meat and bones. The reason my vegetables and fruits are juiced is because us canines cannot properly breakdown cell wall to digest and absorb nutrients from vegetables like humans can. One experiment to try with your puppy is to give him raw carrots to chew on and then see what comes out from the other end - CARROT PIECES!!! Steaming vegetables break down the cell wall, makes them more digestible. However, nutrients tend to leak out due to breaking down of the cell wall so you lose nutrients.
Mum only feeds me "organic" or "non-medicated" meats, fruits and vegetables because she says she doesn't want my body to get the unnecessary growth hormones or pesticides that some human grade meats and vegetables/fruits get.
I weigh a muscular 64 lbs, and my diet usually consist of 100g of homemade pulped veggies or fruits, 200-400g of ground meat that mum buys in pre-packaged vacuum sealed packs, and 200-400g of "working food". Mum calls it "working food" because those are things I have to do a lot of chewing and gnawing. They are usually meal bones like chicken carcasses and stuff like that. Once a week, I also get about 500g of organic beef kidney and heart. Mum likes to add about a tablespoon or two of organic yogurt to my daily meals as well, she says it adds some good bacteria (probiotics) to my intestines which help maintain good intestinal flora.
It is optional whether or not veggies and fruits are added to the raw diet, some people choose to not use them at all and just do a diet consists of only raw meaty bones. Mum, on the other hand chooses to give me some fruits and veggies daily along with my meat and bones. She feels that I will benefit since fruits like mangos, papayas, and cherries are good for arthritis; while vegetables such as celery and dandelion greens are diuretics which provides a good cleanse for my secretary organs (ie, kidneys).
I get lots of varieties in my diet and the following is a list of the things I get:
- Pulped vegetables - every batch is different, but comes from five of the following: green kale, broccoli, collar greens, chard, green beans, zucchini, romane lettuce, green dandelion, celery, carrots, and yam.
- Pulped fruits - papayas, mangos, cherries, peaches, apples, and pears.
- Pre-packaged ground meats - chicken, turkey, pheasant, duck, rabbit, beef, lamb, venison, bison, elk, salmon and sardines. All the meats have liver ground in them, and all the white meats have bones in them, but not the red meats. So whenever I get fed ground red meats, mum always makes sure I get some bones from my "working food".
Label - notice 70% meat and organs 30% bones
- Working foods - most of these are "meal bones" which means the entire piece including the bone can be devoured: chicken carcasses, turkey necks, pheasant carcasses, large end beef ribs, beef necks, lamb shanks, lamb flanks, lamb necks, venison necks, and my favorite - the STINKY whole tripes!!!
Here are some pictures of my working foods
Me and my lamb flank
Large end beef rib
My FAVORITE - lamb tripe - this is the only type of food that mum will NOT let me eat inside the house no matter what. I don't understand it, it smells so GOOD and YUMMY, like the "sewage"!!!
Lamb neck - top view
Lamb neck - side view
Me using all my power eating my lamb shank!!
For more info on the Raw Diet, please check out the following websites:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ADTnutrition/ - online forum for raw fed Airedales or people looking for information re. Raw Diet. There are knowledgeable raw feeding ADT breeders on the list who are always happy to answer your questions.
http://www.patmckay.com/ - Pat McKay – over 20yrs’ worth of experience feeding raw.
http://www.drianbillinghurst.com - Dr Ian Billinghurst, Australian Vet – leader in Bones And Raw Food (BARF) movement.
http://home.earthlink.net/~affenbar - Kymythy Schultze’s site, Author of The Ultimate Diet.
http://www.living-foods.com/articles/rawpetfood.html - Feed Your Pets Raw and See Your Vet Bills Drop, Article by Shirley Lipschutz Robinson
http://www.rawmeatybones.com - Australian Vet – also a leader in BARF movement.
The following are some articles regarding commercial dog food:
http://www.belfield.com/article3.html - Food Not Fit For A Pet - Article by Dr. Wendell O. Belfield
http://www.iei.net/~ebreeden/kibble.html - Kibble Ingredients, by Mary Ellen R. Lunde
http://themeatrix.com/ - The "Meatrix" video!!