Hey, fellow pet lovers!!
I’m still incredibly ill with this awful cold but refuse to let it get in the way of me providing you and your furry friends with some quality content. Today’s post is the final in our three-part mini-series and is all about the importance of nutrition for our canine and feline friends.
Let’s jump straight in and learn all about the importance of nutrition for our companion animals.
The Importance of Nutrition
epoch.pet’s roots are in promoting a healthy diet for our companion animals and there are many options to choose from. As most of our followers already know my partner and I feed all three of my girls a species appropriate diet and dabble between the BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Feeing or Bones and Raw Food) method or the Prey Model Raw (PMR) approach.
Both are really great methods and have a few differences that I will briefly mention in today’s post. I have written many raw feeding related posts on the blog and also we have a Raw Feeding Section that you can check out if you’re interested in learning more or are considering starting your pet on a species appropriate diet.
A lot of what I am going to talk about has already been covered in greater detail in some of my previous posts so for our weekly readers you are getting a little recap to brush up on your raw feeding knowledge but for you newbies to the blog you have plenty of follow-up reading to help you understand the topic in greater detail.
So let’s get started and learn all about the importance of providing our companion animals with the correct diet to ensure they are getting all their nutritional requirements and are able to live a long, happy and healthy life with many years by your side.
So what are the best options for our canine and feline companions when it comes to diet?
My gorgeous girls <3
We all know how important diet is for having an optimally healthy life and the world we currently live in is a minefield of sugary temptation, fast food delight with minimal healthy options.
However, there are plenty of options when it comes to feeding our canine or feline friends and some are certainly more suited to their genetic makeup than others. Below I have briefly touched on the best feeding methods for our pets to ensure they are getting all their nutritional requirements and can live a truly optimized life.
The BARF Approach.
The BARF approach of raw feeding is the simplest out of the two, it is what we started Nia on and is super easy to understand.
BARF is an acronym for Biologically Appropriate Raw Feeding or Bones and Raw Food and as we learn more about our pets nutritional needs, I feel that using the BARF approach is the better way to feed as you are less restricted by dietary ideals based on a groups opinions of how our pets should be fed. As an example, if we where strict whole-prey feeders then we would be missing out on the option to include healthy additions such as goats dairy and phytonutrient rich berries.
How to feed a BARF Diet?
So something that puts a lot of people off raw feeding is working out your pets feeding percentages but I have mentioned this many times on the blog and it is actually so simple!! The basic percentages for feeding your pet is worked out in relation to their ideal expected body weight.
You should feed your pet 2-3% of their ideal expected body weight per day.
My girl Nia’s ideal body weight is about 15/16 kilos.
1% of 15 kilos is 150 grams x 2 is a total of 300 grams a day.
1% of 16 kilos is 160 grams x 3 is a total of 480 grams a day.
Therefore, she gets between 300 and 480 grams a day, it all depends on how much exercise she has done and also how lean or plump she is looking.
For the BARF model of raw feeding, you will feed your pet,
70% Muscle Meat.
10% Raw Meaty Bones.
10% Organ Meat (5% of this must consist of liver!)
10% fruit, veg or dairy such as kefia, goats milk or other appropriate diary sources, not cows products.
I love the BARF method of raw feeding and think it is the perfect raw feeding model, especially if you’re just starting out as you can purchase commercially prepared raw food online from pet food manufacturers such as Durham Animal Feeds or even Pets at Home.
Prey Model Raw (PMR).
Prey Model Raw is the other main method of raw feeding and this model is way more strict than the BARF approach, sometimes this method can seem more of an idealism giving it almost extremist qualities.
The ethos of this model is to attempt to resemble what our pet’s ancestors would eat in the wild, which we know includes whole prey. If you haven’t guessed already this is when you feed your pet the whole animal.
An example of this is feeding a whole Rabbit, Pheasant or Squirrel.
This method of feeding idealises a wild dogs diet and simplifies it to the fact that all a wild dog or wolf would eat, would be whole prey in naturally provided perfect ratios.
However, in reality, if we look at the diet of the Grey Wolf this is usually not the case. Pack hunting to subsist mostly on large ungulates and dividing the carcase between the pack to avoid fighting is the main way of feeding, but this will also be subsidised by individuals hunting small prey, scavenging and also eating available vegetation including berries and grasses.
Think of it like this, among us modern-day humans there is currently a dietary trend to go paleo, eating meat and vegetables low in carbohydrates whilst avoiding grains this is undoubtedly a healthy lifestyle choice, however, our palaeolithic ancestors would have had a diet very different to this and would have certainly eaten anything and everything that was available to them.
We as raw feeders should not only try to mimic our pets’ ancestors diets but we should try to improve and build upon that to meet their nutritional needs, For this reason, I do feel that some amount of whole prey is necessary for an optimum canine and feline diet.
There are vital dietary parts of an animal including fur, brains and excreting glands that you just wouldn’t get without whole-prey inclusion.
For our domesticated cats otherwise know as Felis catus their ancestors are thought to be Felis silvestris lybica, the African Wild Cat and for our dogs Canis lupus familiaris their ancestors are the Grey Wolf.
How to feed a Prey Model Raw Diet?
Just like we mentioned above in the BARF section, you need to work out your pets ideal body weight and then follow the Prey Model Raw feeding percentages which are slightly different from the BARF approach.
For the Prey Model Raw method of raw feeding, you will feed your pet
80% Muscle Meat.
10% Raw meaty bones.
10% of Organs (5% of this must consist of liver!)
So what are the differences between a BARF and Prey Model Raw Diet?
There are a few small differences between a Prey Model Raw and BARF diet and that is because the Prey Model Raw method of raw feeding excludes
And limits supplementation.
As a result, the raw feeding percentages differ and depending on what method you opt for depends on what you can and cannot feed your pet.
There is no doubt in my opinion that providing our companion animals with a diet that is easy for them to digest, is suited to their genetic makeup and is as close to what they would be eating in the wild is the smarter option, rather than feeding them an overly processed commercial diet filled with a myriad of nasty ingredients. Feeding a Prey Model Raw or BARF diet is the best approach for ensuring our beloved pets live a happy and healthy life.
If you want to learn more about the benefits of raw feeding then check out some of my previous raw feeding posts.
Now that we know all about raw feeding it is time to move on and talk briefly high-quality kibble. Now I don’t think to feed your pet kibble is the best approach for ensuring they are getting all their nutritional requirements but I do understand that not every pet is able to eat a raw diet and therefore we need to look into all options.
Firstly, I will say that feeding kibble will never match raw feeding for an appropriate diet and if you do feed ‘the best’ you will likely be paying more for this than you would a raw diet. However, I do understand that not everyone can be persuaded of this and there are various factors that would put a person in a position where they simply could not raw feed.
If you do decide kibble is right for your pet then please do your research before buying, there are stacks of options from big commercialised brands who use catchwords such as ‘grain free’ to draw you in and in reality however these foods are often low in good nutrition and high in carbohydrates.
Being low in nutritional fats is also an issue with kibble, since fats have a shorter shelf life due to their tendency to go rancid many of these commercial foods will have less than sufficient amounts, so if you are going to feed kibble I would recommend the addition of things such as cooked oily fish like sardines and mackerel and also an omega 3 oil supplement.
Once you have decided what the best diet for your pet is, another great thing to do is to start making your own homemade treats.
Homemade Raw Feeding Friendly Treats
As most of you guys already know I make all my girls treats at home and really enjoy doing so. There are so many great things about making your furry friend homemade treats but by far the best of all is knowing 100% of what is inside your pets treats.
I have mentioned so many times that a lot of the mass-produced treats on the market these days contain a myriad of nasties that our pets just shouldn’t be consuming and this is something that you can easily solve by making simple homemade treat recipes for your pet.
Below are a few of my girl’s favourite treat recipes that you could have a go at making over the Christmas holidays and if you do don’t forget to tag us in a social post.
These simple but delicious dehydrated chicken hearts are so easy to make and my girl Lily loves them!! Unfortunately, Nia cannot have chicken since we found out it is a potential allergen after getting her Easy DNA Allergy test results back a few months ago.
These treats are made using lamb tongues which are a super cheap cut and all you have to do is trim off any excess fat, thinly slice, then stick them in the dehydrator and wait till they’re done. To read the full recipe simply follow the link above.
To check out our other treat recipes simply search homemade treats in the search bar above, now it’s time to talk all about the importance of supplementation.
The Benefits of Supplementation?
When really trying to optimise ours and our pets’ diets one tool that we should not be shy of is the addition of nutritional supplements. Due to a large portion of modern-day agriculture using salt based fertilisers that are nothing but remnants of WW1 and frivolously spraying pesticides everywhere, the soils we grow our food in are becoming increasingly void of vital nutrients and microbiology, this leads to crops lower in nutrition, an issue that subsequently works its way up the food chain.
Because of this the foods we eat and feed now have less of the vitamins and minerals we need, than the food of our ancestors. to work our way around this problem we can try our best to feed as much wild and organic foods as we have at our disposal and the addition of a good vitamin and mineral supplement will make sure we have our nutritional bases covered.
As well as making sure we cover the basic nutritional requirements supplements can be used to advance health, prevent the decline of health and also to support and meet athletic performance goals.
Here are some of our previous posts on specific supplements and hopefully in the future this list of content will grow,
For a more in-depth read on specific nutrients and their benefits please check out the brilliant book and a valuable resource for myself, Canine Nutrigenomics.
*By purchasing through these links you are supporting epoch.pet as we get a small amount of commission, with no extra cost to you. This money helps keep the blog up and running and allows us to purchase pet products to review on our site. I only ever review products that are tried and tested by my girls and I think are great!
If you enjoyed today’s post then let me know by hitting that like button and giving it a share so other pet owners can learn all about the importance of nutrition for our canine and feline friends. I just want to quickly thank my partner for helping me out with today’s post, I’m incredibly ill and without his help, you guys wouldn’t have got such a great post!!
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