A raw food diet isn’t just for people. In fact, it is considered the ideal diet for dogs since they are naturally equipped to consume and digest raw meat. We don’t have to tell our dog to pounce on a nest of live, baby mice or rabbits we unearth in the garden bed or grass. Mine swallows them whole like candy. Our dog constantly brings an array of bones and carcasses home. Often it is a huge cow bone she found in a field. During hunting season she gets her share of deer remains. Our dog’s motto is no bone left behind. However, dogs cannot live by bones alone and everything our girl drags home may not be good for her.
Commercial pet food is a relatively new way of feeding pets. However, since it has made the chore of feeding so quick and easy, we have forgotten that animals ate raw living foods for thousands of years before we decided to switch them to fast food feed.
What prompts most pet owners to try a raw, whole food diet for their pet is usually not this realization, but rather to relieve: allergies, digestive problems or weight issues usually caused by diets consisting of corn, wheat, rice, grain or soy, largely found in commercial feed.
What goes into a raw diet for dogs?
The nutritional needs of our pets vary according to weight, age and species. Vegetables and fruits such as sweet potatoes, peas, carrots, apples and bananas can be pureed in the blender. Fatty acids are important and can be fed in the form of sardines or salmon. Protein is essential. Meat sources should not be the same at every meal, but rotated: chicken, turkey, venison, and beef. Eggs and organ meats are also part of the typical raw pet food diet. To determine the most beneficial foods and amounts to feed your pet, it is important to research the topic thoroughly before implementing a raw diet.
Just because dogs love bones does not mean that all bones are safe or healthy for our dogs. Cooked bones left over from your pot of soup or after you’ve roasted a chicken or turkey are more apt to splinter, and could cause internal injury to your pet in various ways. In the book, Real Food for Healthy Dogs & Cats: Simple Homemade Food, Dr. Karen Becker, DVM and Beth Taylor offer this warning: “Do not cook bony meats! Don’t ever cook and feed whole bony meats (chicken necks, backs, wings, meaty bones). They become brittle and can harm your pet. If you want to feed a cooked diet, use the boneless recipes and add a bone replacement supplement.” Guidelines for feeding raw bones to pets are included in Dr. Becker’s book. Consult it or another professional guide source before offering raw bones to your dog.
How to Avoid Parasites in Raw Pet Food
As with any diet, there are concerns and research to be done in advance, as it is essential to know how to give our pets a balanced, species-appropriate diet.
Parasites are a concern in a raw meat diet. Licensed Veterinarian, Dr. Karen Becker and co-author of Real Food for Healthy Dogs & Cats: Simple Homemade Food offers this advice on her informative website, “Parasites – roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms – are passed up the food chain and wind up in the guts of animals. We don't feed guts to our pets! If you buy a commercially available raw food diet, you will not find guts in the formula because guts contain parasites. If you prepare a homemade raw diet for your dog or cat, you don't include guts. Do not feed the stomach and small and large intestines. Those are the parts of the prey we get rid of, because those are the parts that harbor parasites.”
“Muscle meat is the part of the prey used to prepare raw food diets. It is sterile except in rare instances when parasites escape the GI tract (guts) and travel there. Certain parasites, like toxoplasmosis, that get into muscle meat can make your pet sick, which is why you should freeze raw meats for three days before feeding them to your dog or cat. By freezing meats three days before serving (a lot like how sushi is handled), and by removing the guts of prey species, you can successfully avoid exposing your raw fed pet to parasites.”
Want a Raw Food Diet without the Fuss?
There are online sources and local retailers that carry frozen patties made with meat, eggs, bones, kelp, vegetables, cod liver oil and more for pets. Biologically Appropriate Raw Food www.barfworld.com is a good place to start.
In addition to the volume of informative pet care articles, Healthy Pets with Dr. Karen Becker at Mercola offers pet products such as dental bones, dog snacks and essential nutritional supplements.
This article serves as an introduction to a raw pet food diet. To ensure the health and happiness of your pet, please research the topic thoroughly and consult your veterinarian before changing your dog’s diet.
Consume a variety of nutritious whole foods daily to receive essential nutrients and further you on the journey to optimal health. How many of these superfoods do you enjoy?
This aquatic, perennial plant with a peppery flavor grows naturally along the edges of spring-fed streams. Watercress tops the list as the most nutrient-dense of all powerhouse fruits or vegetables according to researchers at William Paterson University in NJ. The foods were ranked by the amount of 17 critical nutrients each contained. Watercress ranks number one with a score of 100. It is rich in vitamins C, A, B, and K. It contains more calcium than milk, and more iron than spinach. It also contains magnesium, potassium and phytonutrients.
This delicious, creamy fruit is a super source of healthy, monounsaturated fats that help your body burn fat and maintain a healthy weight. It has the highest protein content of any fruit. It contains more potassium than bananas, and in a balanced ratio with sodium, making it heart healthy. It is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids which helps reduce the risk of heart disease. Avocadoes also help reduce the risk of diabetes as it helps stabilize blood sugar levels and reverses insulin resistance. It also contains beneficial vitamins A, B6, C, E, and K.
3. Wild Alaskan Salmon, Arctic Char, Norway Sardines
These wild caught fish are loaded with heart-healthy Omega-3 fats. It is antioxidant rich and an excellent source of protein. Fish also contain vitamins A and D, selenium, magnesium and phosphorous. Consuming quality, toxic-free sources of these fish also reduce the risks of various cancers, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and diabetes.
4. Blackberries and Blueberries
Both berries are rich in antioxidants, flavonoids, which lower risks of cancer, heart disease and stroke. Blackberries are lower in carbs and sugar than blueberries. Blackberries contain nearly double the amount of fiber than blueberries. Both berries are low glycemic foods and not prone to spike blood-sugar levels. Blackberries have a higher content of vitamins C and A than blueberries.
Organic eggs from free-range or pastured chickens, (receiving natural sunlight daily and raised outdoors on pasture), contain more nutrition than caged hens kept indoors, according to a study done by Mother Earth News. Eggs are a great source of protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A, B-complex, D, and some vitamin E, as well as folate, iodine, phosphorous, zinc, and iron.
6. Pumpkin and Sweet Potato
These highly nutritious, powerhouse foods contain potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron, and are low in sodium. Sweet potatoes contain more vitamins A and C, fiber, magnesium, and protein than pumpkin. Pumpkin contains less sugar and fewer carbs. While the sweet potato won a health food face-off against pumpkins by prevention.com, the William Patterson study ranked pumpkin at 33.82 above sweet potatoes score of 10.51 on the top list of powerhouse fruits and vegetables.
Tomatoes and tomato products contain the highest amount of lycopene than any other food source. When eating tomatoes, opt for cooked sauce over raw tomatoes to receive the most lycopene. Tomatoes are also an excellent source of Vitamins A and C. It also contains Vitamin B6, potassium, fiber, magnesium, calcium and iron.
8. Citrus Fruits
Oranges, Limes, Lemons and Grapefruit are excellent sources of vitamin C, dietary fiber, folate and potassium. Grapefruit is also high in vitamin A and known to suppress the appetite. Red and pink grapefruit contain the phytonutrient, lycopene. Citrus fruits contain important antioxidants and phytonutrients with numerous health benefits. All four were included in the William Patterson list of powerhouse fruits and vegetables.
9. Red peppers
Peppers are loaded with antioxidants and contain more vitamin C than citrus fruits. Red bell peppers contain more nutrients than green, yellow or orange bell peppers, because they remain on the vine the longest. According to webmd.com, red bell peppers contain almost 11 times more beta-carotene and 1.5 times more vitamin C than green bell peppers. Peppers are also a great source of vitamin A, B6, lycopene, potassium, magnesium, folic acid, and fiber. This nutrient-dense food ranked 41.26 on the William Paterson list of the top powerhouse foods.
The king of nuts, almonds are rich in antioxidants, vitamin E and selenium. Almonds are also great sources of potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, protein, calcium, iron, fiber and monounsaturated fats which help you to feel full longer to avoid overeating and unwanted weight gain. Regular consumption of healthy nuts has been shown to reduce the incidence of diabetes over those who rarely eat nuts.
About the Author:
Deborah Tukua is the editor of Journey to Natural Living and the author of the healthy fresh from the blender recipe book, Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. She is a freelance writer for the Farmers' Almanac and Chiropractic Economics magazine and author of the book, Marketing Strategies for Chiropractic Success. Check out Lowell and Deborah's super sturdy and handsome DIY Gardening Potting Bench Plans.
Horseradish is a vegetable native to Eastern Europe and Western Asia. It is in the same plant family as mustard, broccoli, cabbage, and wasabi. This coarse perennial plant with the pungent root has been grown in gardens since antiquity. It is mentioned in ancient Greek mythology as being worth its weight in gold. Horseradish has been revered medicinally in home remedies and in culinary dishes for centuries. Although the leaves are edible, the roots of the plant are most commonly used around the world today for its health benefits and in foods.
So what does this unsung hero in the cruciferous vegetable family offer in the way of health? It too is a highly nutritious vegetable that provides calcium, potassium, and vitamins B1 and B2. It has powerful antioxidant and natural antibiotic properties that work to eliminate toxins and infection, and to relieve sinus discomfort and respiratory illness. To relieve a persistent cough or hoarseness, herbalists mix a horseradish infusion with honey. A University of Illinois anticancer study involving the potential of cruciferous vegetables in cancer prevention has found that horseradish contains more than 10 times the amount of cancer preventing glucosinolates than broccoli.
Horseradish is a traditional Central and Eastern European food served for centuries in Poland, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Russia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Southern Germany, Serbia, Croatia, and in various regions of Italy, before it was introduced to England and the Western hemisphere. According to Susan R. Friedland, author of The Passover Table, grated horseradish is part of the Jewish Seder plate, served with gefilte fish (poached fish cakes) and brisket during the week of Passover. Fresh horseradish is peeled and grated and served either plain, or mixed with white vinegar, salt and sugar. In Poland, a red horseradish variation is made by adding beets or beet juice. In Southern Germany, horseradish is served in a lingonberry dip at traditional wedding dinners with cooked beef.
However you choose to use horseradish, the fresh horseradish root must be peeled and grated. When working with fresh horseradish, it causes the eyes to tear more so than onions, so you may want to grate in a blender or food processor, after peeling to avoid the vapors. Cover the grated horseradish with vinegar and store in the refrigerator, until ready to use.
Horseradish root can be purchased in the produce section of major grocery stores. Prepared horseradish is available in most grocery stores, but may not be as tasty or spicy as fresh prepared. It is an ingredient in commercially bottled spicy mustards and mayonnaise, and gives cocktail sauce its tangy flavor. Horseradish also gives a spicy bite to Bloody Mary cocktails. Prepared horseradish is served with fresh oysters on the half shell, or in a sauce with roast beef, fish or lamb.
Horseradish Mayonnaise (Blender Recipe)
Try this tasty spread on roast beef, brisket or barbecue sandwiches. Mix with boiled eggs for a zesty, egg salad.
Yields: 1 cup +
1 large pastured egg
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ tablespoon ground mustard, firmly packed
1 tablespoon prepared or fresh grated horseradish
Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste, opt.
1 tablespoon raw honey
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Crack the egg into a blender and add the white wine vinegar. Secure lid and blend briefly to whip the egg. Add the remaining ingredients except the olive oil. Pour about 1/4 cup of the olive oil into the blender and secure lid. Start blender on low and slowly increase variable 10 and then to high speed, if using a Vitamix. While blender is operating, remove the lid cap and slowly pour in the remaining olive oil. Stop the machine as soon all the olive oil is incorporated. The mixture should be the consistency of mayonnaise. (See photo above.) Transfer to a glass container with lid and store in the refrigerator. Use within 3 or 4 weeks.
Article and Recipe by Deborah Tukua.
About the Author:
Deborah Tukua is the editor of Journey to Natural Living and author of the healthy fresh from the blender recipe book, Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. She is a freelance writer for the Farmers' Almanac and Chiropractic Economics magazine and author of the book, Marketing Strategies for Chiropractic Success.
Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants by “Wildman” Steve Brill with Evelyn Dean, Hearst Books, 1994.
Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs by Claire Kowalchik and William H. Hylton, Editors, Rodale Press, 1998.
Articles and recipes by health and natural living author and freelance writer,
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