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Nutrition:  
    I would like to introduce you to some ideas about feeding your dog or cat that you may not have heard of before. You really should have been told that by your vet and breeder if you had one, but the truth is this information does not bring money to anybody (except maybe the grocery store or the butcher) so it rarely gets passed along :( . Quebec is still very far behind on the subject, but if you understand English, you will be able to find lots of info and support from the US, Australia, Europe, and even our neighbours in Ontario. I do not make money on feeding your pooches (I train dogs for living) and all I say here I do beacause I believe it is the best for the animal.
  I will give you all the information I know about the subject and lots of good links. Let me explain to you how I got to feeding my animals the way I do now and how it has worked for us. I hope you will look trough it, maybe think about it seriously and go ahead and read and get ready to start feeding that way to give the best you can for your pets. If not, I hope at least I will have planted a seed in you that you will be able to dig out and use one day when circumstances force you to think about changing something in your pet's lifestyle, be it health, appetite, or behaviour. If you have any questions, feel free to email us.                                                                                      
Tina at 16 years old - rich but ill pets
- working with commercial  food               
- how I started thinking  real natural diet
- basic and very useful  links
- testimonials of people feeding this way
- vaccination questions and  links
Zorro gnawing a veal bone
   

  Perhaps I should start by the beginning. I was born in a country where dogs often roamed around, fed on garbage or whatever they felt like eating and when they came back home (usually at supper time:)) they got fed whatever their humans where having, with an occasionnal bone from the butcher. And all was fine.
  We then moved to Canada and had a cat, Tina, who is still with us, we were told about cat food, spaying and vaccinations and even that cats do better indoors (what?!). All that was quite new to us and we did spay our cat and bought her cat food (she hated the dry food so we fed her canned), but she did eat human food as cats in our country did, and had the chance to go exercice outside and hunt mice in the garden. We did vaccinate her the first years and then we forgot about it and soon it was years since she has seen a vet. She has always been as healthy as a cat can be.

  For many years we did not get a dog and I missed playing with all the strays I met walking down the sreet back home. So I went to work part-time at a groomer's studio. There I could see and handle many dogs and I loved it. Soon, I noticed how the dogs were loved and pampered on this side of the ocean, but also how many of them were sick: ear infections and allergies were so common that nobody was surprised when a dog had them, anal glands problems were present, and tumors, cancer, eppilepsy...list went on not to add general short life span. But these were all loved dogs owned by people who could afford grooming services and veterinary care! What was wrong???
  I still had close family in my country and would often go there for vacations. Many friends and family had dogs there and I could chat with a local vet. He would not believe me when I told him about all the health problems dogs experience in Canada. How come dogs appeared healthier in a place where many people could not afford vets? Fleas and ticks were common, and sometimes a dog had to be put down if he got very sick because owners could not afford the medication. But where were all these allergies, infections, rotten teeth and cancers?? Old dogs still had their theeth there and nobody was thinking about brushing their dog's theeth with a thooth brush and flavored chicken paste ("you are kidding me, they do that??" it was quite funny telling them about Canada :).

  After working at the groomers I went on and worked at a pet supply store. We did not sell animals, just food, toys, leashes, crates. They told me all about the foods and what are the differences and that I should recommend the home brand which was pretty well priced compared to others of that quality. Reps from different companies came every month and gave us little nutrition lessons and tried to tell us why their dog or cat food was best. There were many treats, some for allergic pets, others that were 'diet' because many dogs and cats were overweight, and many that claimed give a better breath or clean tatar from the theeth. For almost 3 years, I could meet hundreds of dog and cat owners, meet their pets, talk about them, listen to thier stories and try to help them with whatever trouble they had. This is when I learned that cats should go on a 'senior' diet at the age of 7 and that most never lived past 9-12 years old. They all had urinary tract infections, and we sold more of "weight reduced" formulas of dog and cat food that any other. My cat was then 15 years old, ate as much as she wanted and never got fat, and acted well as if she was going to live another 10 years. What was wrong with all these cats? I already knew there was trouble with the Canadian dog populations, but cats to?
  The longer I worked and talked with reps, the less I liked what I saw and heard. A salesman of one company would tell us why his p
roduct is really really good, but then 3 months later the company would make a new formula and now he was telling us how this one was the healthiest and why. But I thought the other one was already pretty healthy? It really knocked me out when one rep changed companies he was working for, so now he was promoting another brand then last year, with the same arguments and confidence. I started to not believe him that much anymore...and talking with the reps you could also learn stuff that maybe they were not supposed to tell the public, like where ingredients came from, or what the stuff on the package really means " No, don't worry there is no beef in there, it just says 'with beef' on the package but you don't need to put lots of it to be allowed to write that" - attitude was pretty scary.
Tina at 16 years old
But if I said my cat ate some of my meals if she liked it I was frowned upon because it is supposely very bad for her. Even worse was that she was going outside, but eh, exercice is what is supposed to be good for us humans, so why not a cat? She ate as much of whatever she wanted on top of her cat food and was never obese like all these cats kept strictly on 'weight managment' kibble.

  Then came the dog in my life :) Zorro. By then I knew that there was something really wrong with all this pet industry and I have reasearched and knew which brands I would rather not pay for and which I could try feeding him (only one from the ones we sold). I also knew that I rather do like back in my country and feed some human food to my pet, since it has worked so well for all these years for my cat by then 15 years old, and it has always worked for the dogs back home. My dog ate kibble but without appetite. He was a nervous rescue and when excited or frightened (which was few times a week at the beginning) he would get really soft stools, gasses. He also had horrible yellow and brown theeth, even if he was around 2 years old by a vet's guess. He smelled dog and shedded everyday like most dogs around.
  By that time, things have changed in my country. Modernisation was everywhere and pet buisness went there also. People were now feeding kibble to their cats and dogs in the cities. I again met with my family's vet and we had a long talk. He told me he now believes me about all that bad health in Canadian's dogs. He said it is starting at home also. There it was, a direct cause and effect. Big companies of food, treats and pharmaceutic products walked in and started 'educating' pet owners and even vets on how to feed and take care of their very best friend. And their dear companions started having allergies, ear infections, anal gland sacs problems, some cancers began... Thank God many people are still set in their old ways or cannot afford kibble!
  I knew something had to be changed. It was pretty impossible to go back to what I knew as a kid and just let the dog eat whatever he wanted, not any more, not after all that 'education' about what a balanced meal was and how important it was, having all that awarness of the responsability. There had to be another way.
  Then we went camping and my love left the cooler wide open while we took a nap after a night driving. When we woke up, Zorro had eaten the 8 porc chops that were waiting to be cooked :). Boy was he happy!! I thought fast about salmonella from raw porc, indigestion...oh well, I remembered how he had eaten chipmunks and mice and frogs when he caught them and he hasn't been sick and we were on an island in the middle of nowhere. It reminded me of back home and stray dogs that we could feed whatever and nobody was getting upset, I realised my cat has stolen little pieces of raw meat at home often over the years and never had a problem.So I hoped for the best and was happy we had other stuff to eat, but I decided to not feed Zorro for 2 days to let his very full stomach rest. And something funny happenned. His stools for a few days were not stinky and soft as they were often at home. My love who always complains about dog hair and smell noticed on our way back that Zorro smelled less in the car on our way back. And it was true. This is when I remembered reading on a forum on internet something about feeding raw meat to dogs...
  I found the info and started researching: where was that information all these years?? It talked about feeding a specie it's natural food, what they were made by nature to eat. It showed so much logic and made perfect sense: a dog should eat what he has evolved to eat and has eaten and survived on for centuries: raw meat, bones, organs: prey! Kibble and canned food exists for a very short time, a few decades here, a couple of years in other countries: not enough time for the digestive systems of dogs or cats to have evolved to eat processed dry foods. How to feed a dog or cat well? For sure my meat with sauce and salt is not very good either, how would nature feed that dog? How do wolfs, jackals, coyotes or foxes feed? The wolf is indeed proven to be the closest to our dog, his interiors are still the same varying only in size.(Every dog is actually closer genetically to a wolf then some of the dog breeds between them) .
I can't feed moose and beaver to Zorro, but what can I do?
  I will list here many links where you will find the info I did, I selected over the years the best sites and articles that have relevant information and will not get you confused. I hope you will find the time to read some of them, even if you do not want to even consider changing your pet's diet. I have found it so easy and good, I will never go back to commercial foods! You may change your mind one day and help your dog or cat companion live healthier. I do not know of anybody who, once started raw feeding for their dogs or cats, ever went back to commercial food.            Enjoy the read!


Commercial Pet Food:

http://www.naturalrearing.com/J_In_Learning/Diet/Food/InTheBag.htm
tells you some of what you should know about the commercial pet foods. From working with people from the field I have to sadly say, it is true.

RawFAQ:
http://www.rawlearning.com/rawfaq.html
the best site to start! An easy summary that will explain the logics and basics of the whole concept.

RawFeeding:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/rawfeeding/
this is a YahooGroup. It is free to subscribe as long as you have a Yahoo account (which is free and you don't even have to use it). This is the best forum to read and ask questions to people around the world who are interested in feeding their pets naturally.Hundreds of membres include very experienced breeders or owners who had been feeding that way for decades. They are very nice and welcome all silly questions so don't be shy :).

FAQS start:
http://www.njboxers.com/faqs.htm#started
another great Question and Answer reading good for any beginner's questions.

Raw food Recepies
http://www.rawfeddogs.net/Recipes.php
some examples how feeding this way is fast and simple.

Raw Food For Dogs: the best refrence I finally found to really learn everything about a natural diet for dogs.

The Wolfs Natural Diet: another very good text to help understand the similarities, differences and what to do with them of a Wolf and Dog digestive needs.

Here is what a Collie breeder ( you can visit her at: http://willowyndcollies.tripod.com/Index.htm ) has to say about her experience with a raw diet for her pack after trying it for two and a half months:
    Thought this may be of interest to newbies in feeding raw. I had went from feeding kibble, to a "natural" kibble with few ingredients, to Natural kibble and raw and then finally to total raw. I wanted to share my experiences with total raw. It has now been 2 and a half months. When I started I had dogs in various stages of throwing coat. All the 11 dogs of various ages took to it well, but they had been eating some raw before we started. I started with the 2% of body weight for amount to feed each day. That worked fine for most of the girls (actually it was a bit much for my older girl), and a couple of the older males. The 8 mo old pup needed more, as did the male teenage pups (about 18 mos). We have finally gotten the amounts adjusted and everyone is about at perfect weight/body fat. I have collies, so I use the scale for the roughs, as when in full undercoat- feel can be deceiving.
   We did go though a period of detox, some were only a couple days (running eyes, soft stools, rash on one) the longest was 5 days. After that stools were solid and when picked up would crumble. We started adding organ meats at that point a day or 2 a week. We did learn that some dogs love the organs and will eat more than they can handle. One girl in particular likes them so much she will steal some from another dog if given the change and vomit it up later (nothing smells worse than vomited liver and kidneys), we now make sure she is crated or penned seperately for organ nights. I have not seen diarreah from organ meats, but the gas produced if given a bit too much will send you from the room. I think we finally figured out what each dogs "ideal" amount is on this. We also added in fish 1-2 times a week and ground up veggies as we think of it maybe a spoonful once or twice a week. Sometimes we give ground up apples when I have an overload from the apple tree and core some more and let them have them in the kennels- sometimes they eat them- sometimes not. They do like chewing and playing with them though. We then added raw eggs and ground red meat once a week. We have not added any supplements other than a sprinkle of garlic on thier food.
   Here is what I have seen for results. Eyes are clear and bright, coats are lovely with proper texture and color in all. In the one dog who has heartworms (was moderate, - put on heartguard monthly yr round -last test this summmer was mild) he is now acting like himself again- he is the most dramatic change I have seen. For the first time in 18 months, he wants to play fetch again. He is back to his old spoiled, bratty self :) Hubby commented on it tonight- said he was acting like a puppy again, asked what happened. I told him it was the result of feeding raw and getting his HW under control- maybe he is clear now. My one girl who was always pretty exciteable has mellowed- possibly due to maturity- possibly diet. But just saw that happening over the last couple months. Teeth are now clean and kept 99% tartar free on all the dogs. My oldest boy had gum disease- bad enough that he had a couple loose teeth, even though I scale my dogs teeth regularly, getting under the gum line as far as I comfortably can, it didn't make a difference. We had a deep scaling scheduled, but canceled- his gums are now light pink and firm- his teeth are solid. I scraped off the little remaining tarter and we have not looked back. One of the dogs who would not eat well unless fed with another dog (needed competition, I thought), now eats all her food each night and is fed alone. Another who would just eat enough to stay thin, is now finishing whatever I give him and is normal weight.
   It is not as difficult to feed total raw as I thought. Actually pretty easy. Nor as expensive. I am spending about the same as I did for kibble and don't have to worry about making it to the pet supply store before they close. If I forgot to stop and grab chicken quarters, etc- no biggy- I pick up some canned salmon and mackerel when I stop to grab our dinner. My mom will now drive to the butcher and pick up liver and kidneys for me and drop it at my house, if I order some extra liver for her - and she lives 45 mins away. Much cheaper for her than buying liver in the grocery and much fresher and tastier she says (I will take her word for it- I haven't eaten liver personally since she forced me to eat it when I was 7 yrs old LOL). This spring we will be adding rabbit to the dogs menu, as I am going to start raising them again.
   I know I will never go back to kibble. I truly beleive this is the best I can do for my dogs and it doesn't cost anymore than feeding kibble- actually it is costing me less when you factor in dental cleanings alone. Can't wait for my first raw fed litter :)

Willow

Willowynd Collies
Http://willowyndcollies.tripod.com/Index.htm

 
        So now my Zorro eats raw meat, raw bones, some raw organs and some chosen table scraps from time to time. He doesn't shed all year any more, only a week in spring and some in fall. He doesn't smell 'dog' that much anymore. After a couple of months of eating raw, his theeth that were yellow with brown spots cleaned themselves and are now white with yellow spots. These spots keep getting smaller and smaller :). All this without ever brushing his theeth.
  His diaherreas stopped completely. He doesn't have gasses as he used to. He is full of energy but in a healthy way: he sleeps well and can calm down. He is especially calm after a meal, you can see the satisfaction in his eyes.

  Tina, my now over 17 years old cat feels better then ever after I took out the cat food from her menu and added raw meat and organs, with some ground egg shells for calcium to replace the bones she will not chew (I wish I would have switched her when she was younger and was more flexible to changes!). She had started to slow down and took her time to jump up on a chair. She now jumps up the table directly without effort, her fur  is beautiful and soft like a kitten's. She recently caught a hare as big as her and brought it home and is active like years ago. I am so happy because now I see she will be able to live as long as the cats I used to know back home that would die at 24, 30 years old :)!

  I have recommended this diet to all I meet. Some have tried it and none from these regret it. There are cases reported of better dental health, nicer fur, considerable less shedding, no more anal gland problems because the stools are firmer and squeeze them naturally every day like they are supposed to, allergies are either inexistant with real food and no cereals for fillers, or are easy to control, intolerances to food in dogs previously fed on veterinary diets now have none of the past problems , epillepsy seizures drop in frequency or stop completely from not having to deal with all the stress of bad nutrition, hip dysplesia and other bone/joint problems are helped by feeding raw bones and marrow, large breed puppies grow slower and safer into really beautifull adults...

I hope you can try giving what is best for your companion. Bone appetit!

  To all this I would like to add vaccinations...
It is now proven that for exemple rabies vaccines are effective for many years if not for a lifetime when given around 1 year old. Over vaccinating may explain allergies and other such reactions: booster shots do not boost the immunine system if it already has the immunisation: it can only harm it. My cat has not been vaccinated since 15 years. She goes outside, hunts and fights with racoons: she still have all the antibodies needed. We do not vaccinate our kids every 2 years, why should we our dogs or cats? So the companies and vets make a fortune? Just something to think about it...

You may be interested in these articles:
http://www.caberfeidh.com/PuppyVax.htm

http://www.caberfeidh.com/Revax.htm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3588457.stm

http://www.nbc4.tv/news/4448558/detail.html

http://www.thedapperdog.com/vacc1.html

http://www.volhard.com/holistic/artbywv.htm