Most of us want to give our pets the best possible diet, yet the effort and cost of feeding quality food can be intimidating. Heck, buying fresh, quality food for ourselves is costly enough! But we need to remember that feeding our pets a biologically appropriate diet does indeed save costs in the long run as this is a proactive approach to maintaining good health.
We all know a healthy pet = no vet bills and feeding a raw diet helps prevent common conditions & problems such as allergies, joint issues, obesity, cancers and arthritis.
Below we will discuss some foods that you can add to stretch your Raw Love meals to suit your purse. These are items most of us have in our grocery cupboards and fridges. Of course every animal is different, so it would be important to monitor the effect of your changes / additions to the meal, on your pet.
But first we need to understand the importance of balance!
An unbalanced diet can cause detrimental and long term health issues, especially in the developing years of your pet’s life. What constitutes a balanced diet?
- ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS
Your dog or cat has a fundamental dietary requirement for certain fatty acids that it cannot produce on its own. These essential fats (more commonly known as omegas) can only come from the food you feed your pet, thus the term essential.
Your pet needs a balance of both Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.
- Omega 3: found primarily in fish/krill oil, flax & hemp seeds
- Omega 6: found primarily in grains and certain veggies such as pumpkin
A Raw diet typically does not include omegas – especially Omega 3 – and it is therefore crucial that you make sure to add this component.
- MINERALS (CALCIUM & PHOSPHORUS)
Meat is very high in phosphorus. The main function of phosphorus is maintaining healthy bones and organs. It plays an important role in aiding the body’s utilization of carbohydrates and (essential) fats. Phosphorus also assists with muscle growth, maintains healthy functions of the kidneys, and helps with the regularity of your pet’s heartbeat.
Bone is high in calcium. It is used to help control muscle and nerve function, and also great for maintaining healthy gums, strengthening teeth and assisting with bad breath.
Fasting your dog is important AND saves money!
BUT NOTE: never fast your cat, nor puppies & kittens.
Your dog’s digestive system does much more than just digest food. Did you know approximately 80% of your dog’s immunity is found in his gut? The intestinal tract has the ability to identify and destroy substances such as bacteria, viruses, parasites and chemical toxins.
It also has a built-in memory to recall the specific type of invader so next time it presents a threat it can be eliminated before doing any harm.
That’s pretty interesting!
But it’s also true that during the process many healthy cells also get damaged and it is therefore highly beneficial to give your dog’s metabolic system time to recover.
Fasting = important!
Remember the Raw or BARF diet is all about replicating what our pets would have eaten in the wild. And in the wild predators are not served antelope, fox, or rabbit on the clock …nor are they whipping out a pan to fry their meat!
Kefir & Yoghurt
In a nutshell, kefir & yogurt aid a healthy balance of good bacteria in your dog’s intestines while keeping the bad bacteria to a minimum.
YOGHURT:- While some dogs are lactose intolerant (you will notice gas and runny stools if they are) yogurt in smaller doses is a great source of probiotics and potassium.
- Make sure to select yogurt that contains live cultures
- Greek yogurt is the best yogurt for your pet (less concentrated + more probiotics)
- Stay away from sweetened or low fat yogurts!
KEFIR:- This is one of nature’s wonders! One of the many great things about kefir is that it colonises in the gut and doesn’t merely pass through. Typically one tablespoon of kefir contains 5 billion beneficial bacteria.
As if that’s not enough, kefir also contains;
- A substantial amount of B Complex vitamins, Calcium, vitamin A, Vitamin D, magnesium, phosphorus
- As well as tryptophan, and essential amino acids
Best of all, kefir can be made at home at minimal cost!
Egg and fish combo
- Perfect as a healthy snack if your dog has lost his appetite
- Perfect for a treat if you battle to do a complete fast day
- Perfect as a cheap, easy and completely natural immune booster
Organic, free range eggs are not only a relatively cheap source of protein for your dog, but also one of the most complete and nutritious foods you could add to your pet’s meal. Eggs contain sulphur, amino acids, biotin, essential fatty acids, zinc and all the vitamins except vitamin C.
Fish is an excellent protein source for dogs whilst being relatively low in saturated fats and empty calories. Great for pets struggling with obesity! And as mentioned earlier, one of the best forms of Omega 3, which also aids with arthritis and dry or inflamed skin problems. (Pilchards = lower mercury levels than tuna.)
Add whole grains to stretch the meals
We do not include any grains in the Raw Love meals, but there may be reasons form time to time why you want to add a bit of grain to your pet’s Raw Love meals. The most common reasons are:
- To help stretch a tight budget
- To help a pet that needs it, gain a bit of weight
- To add a bit of variety for a fussy eater / dog who is bored with the menu
We recommend oats & brown rice:
- Oats is a tasty and healthy choice and, when served plain, has high levels of fiber, is low in fat, high in grain protein, and is a gluten-free alternative. Soak a cup in hot water for 5 minutes before adding to your Raw Love meals.
- Brown rice is high in fiber, rich in antioxidants and helps to stabilize blood sugar levels. Remember rice is packed with omega 6 and too much of it promotes inflammation and itchy skin, so a good balance is crucial especially when adding grains to the diet.
Extra supplements (from the household)
- Turmeric is great for reducing arthritis inflammation. Add a quarter of a teaspoon to each Raw Love meal.
- Black pepper is a natural internal parasite eliminator and aids gastrointestinal absorption of nutrients. Add two grinds to each Raw Love meal.
- Coconut Oil elevates the metabolism, improves your pet’s skin and coat and aids digestion. Depending on breed/size, add 1 tsp – 1 tbsp to your Raw Love meals.
Let’s conclude on budget and balance
While Raw Love is produced as complete meals, we understand there may be a need to deviate from feeding purely Raw Love per feed. With this blog we want to provide relevant information so that you may have context and framework when making decisions in this regard.
- Don’t worry if your pet loses appetite in summer – it’s natural. Don’t try to entice them to eat as you’ll end up wasting food that could have been saved for when they truly needed it.
- Fasting from time to time is important and even necessary – with the added bonus that it doesn’t cost anything!
- Healthy snacks (eggs/fish combo) can replace Raw Love meals from time to time.
- Stretch Raw Love meals by adding healthy whole grains (oats/brown rice) when necessary.
Remember feeding raw means your pet is getting food extremely rich with nutrients.
Here’s what some friends of Raw Love had to say :
“In summer I fast my dog on once a week. For variety I sometimes feed my dog a whole chicken carcass or a big pork bone on one day, then I skip meals entirely the following day.”
“I give my dog an egg with fish instead of a Raw Love meal once a week – I must say I use pilchards as they contain less mercury than tuna, which I try to avoid.”
Below is a quick and easy to understand info-graphic for easy reference.