Hey, fellow pet lovers!!
Today’s post is all about five healthy additions you can add to the BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Feeding or Bones and Raw Food) diet to help optimise your canine companion’s overall health and wellbeing.
As most of you already know a massive aim of epoch.pet is to promote raw feeding for our companion animals, whether that be a BARF diet or Prey Model Raw (PMR).
Let’s jump straight into today’s post and learn all about five healthy additions to add to your pet’s species-appropriate diet.
Five Healthy Additions to the BARF Diet
If you’re a frequent visitor to epoch.pet then you should know what the BARF diet is by now but for those of you that aren’t aware I’ll quickly recap. The BARF diet is one of the two main models of raw feeding and it is an acronym that stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Feeding.
It is the less strict model out of the two as BARF feeders add some veg, fruit and dairy into their pet’s diet, whereas Prey Model Raw Feeders believe this is unnecessary. The percentages for both models differ slightly due to Prey Model Raw feeders choosing to not feed their pet any veg, fruit or dairy.
However, if you wanted to start your pet on a BARF diet then you would feed them following the basic percentages such as 70% Muscle Meat, 10% Edible Meaty Bones, 10% Organ Meat (5% of this much consist of liver!!) and lastly, 10% veg, fruit or appropriate dairy such as Goats milk or kefir.
Before you start your canine or feline companion on either model of raw feeding you need to work out how much they need to eat each month and this is worked out in relation to their ideal 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.
So now that we know all about raw feeding, it’s time to move on and learn what healthy additions you can add to your pets all natural diet to help them stay fit and healthy.
If you’re a follower of epoch.pet then you should already know what kefir is as we’ve written some previous posts all about the many health benefits of kefir for your canine companion. However, if not kefir is a great addition to add to your pets BARF diet for many reasons.
Kefir is a fermented drink that is similar to liquid yoghurt and is full of beneficial yeasts and bacteria as well as being high in lactic acid to help support a healthy gut microbiome and immune system. Kefir comes in two different forms you can get milk kefir which is what I am going to focus on today, or you can get water kefir which I am yet to try. Both are filled with countless beneficial bacteria known as probiotics and are a great addition to yours or your canine friend’s diet.
There are so many health benefits of kefir and I have been adding it into my girl’s diets for a little while now, as well as my own. Below I have added three benefits from our previous post, to learn more simply follow the link and read the full post, Health Benefits of Kefir for your Canine Companion.
Kefir Improves Digestive Health due to its High Amount Of Probiotic Bacteria.
The most obvious benefit of adding kefir into your pet’s diet is improved digestive health, I’ve mentioned many times that having a healthy digestive system will help support a healthy immune system and so on. By adding kefir into your dog’s diet you are supplying them with an array of good gut bacteria known as probiotics which are live microorganisms that provide many health benefits when consumed.
Kefir is filled with an array of probiotic bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus delbrueckii subspecies Bulgaricus, Lactobacillus helveticus, Lactobacillus kefiranofaciens, Lactococcus lactis and Leuconostoc species.
Kefir Is Low in Lactose.
Another great thing about kefir is that it is low in lactose which is a natural sugar that is found in normal dairy foods such as milk, cheese and yogurt. However, many people suffer from lactose intolerance and most dogs are unable to consume dairy products with a high lactose content.
This is because for a dog to digest milk or other high lactose dairy products, the lactose needs to be broken apart into two basic easy to absorb sugars and this is where the problem lies. Most dogs are unable to produce the lactose-splitting enzyme know as lactase and therefore are unable to breakdown and digest high lactose dairy products.
Thankfully, kefir is low in lactose which means it can be easily broken down by your pet and this is because the lactic acid bacteria that are abundant within the kefir turn the lactose into lactic acid which means there is far less lactose present.
This organic compound that we call lactic acid has positive benefits in the gut-associated with a buffering effect of the negative compounds produced by bacteria that feed on amino acids, this may be important when we are talking about the canine diet and canine microbiome which includes a great deal of animal matter and may explain in part the anti-cancer effects of Lacto fermented foods such as kefir.
Kefir Is Full of Goodness!!
The last thing to mention which must be apparent by now is that kefir is full of goodness and is certainly something you should consider adding into yours and also your pet’s diet to help support a healthy gut microbiome and immune system while decreasing digestive issues, as well as much more. My girls love kefir and after writing today’s post I am certainly going to be adding more into my diet after learning about the many health benefits it has to offer.
If you would like to make your very own batch of homemade kefir then check out one of our most recent posts, Homemade Kefir Recipe for your Canine Companion.
Next to talk about is fermented veggies and I am yet to make another batch of sauerkraut as I think I added a bit too much salt in the last one, however, it still worked out and tasted fine, just a tad too salty.
Fermented veggies are great for ourselves but also our canine companions as they contain essential nutrients that our dogs are unable to get from their everyday diet and for my girls, this consists of fresh muscle meat, raw edible meaty bones, liver and other secreting organs, as well as the odd bit of low sugar fruit or goats dairy products.
By fermenting various veggies for our dogs we are making sure they are more digestible which means they are able to get essential nutrients that they otherwise couldn’t obtain from eating normal veg. Cats are obligate carnivores and don’t require any vegetable or fruit matter in their diet to be in an optimum state, however, they will consume some pre-digested veggies that are in the GI tract of their prey.
Just like for kefir above I have added three benefits from our previous post that talks all about the many benefits of fermented veggies for our canine friends to learn more simply follow the link and read the full post, The Benefits of Fermented Veggies for our Canine Friends.
Filled with plenty of probiotics to help support a healthy gut microbiome.
When fermenting veggies for both our dogs and ourselves we are recruiting the help of billions of microscopic bacteria in a process we call Lacto fermentation, in the anaerobic conditions of your jar filled with veg and brine these bacteria start the process of digesting the plant matter and producing lactic acid to create an environment in which only these good bacteria can thrive.
Just as in the jar, when we consume this good bacteria, they make themselves at home in our guts helping to produce an environment that promotes more good bacteria and helps to keep any that might be harmful at bay. When we take a high protein diet into context such as that of our canine friends we can assume that their guts are teeming with bacteria that feed on amino acids and these bacteria produce compounds that can be harmful to the body, consuming lactic acid-producing bacteria from fermented foods helps to buffer these negative effects and keep our microbiome in harmony.
By fermenting veggies, you are making them more bioavailable for your canine friend.
If you keep up to date with epoch.pet or you have done your research on canine physiology then you should know by now that your non-obligate carnivore is not so able to digest their veggies as their omnivorous owners are, this is due in part to the lack of the enzyme amylase in their saliva.
Although they are able to produce some of this starch-digesting enzyme in the pancreas they do still struggle to unlock all of the nutrients bound up by the cellulose in fruits and vegetables. When we ferment vegetables we are recruiting bacteria that has the ability to produce amylase, this means that any veg we ferment is already partially digested and all of those nutrients that were locked in now become more bioavailable.
Filled with various vitamins and enzymes that all support healthy metabolic function.
On a meat only diet, our dogs would be missing out on many micronutrients and phytonutrients. Nutrients such as antioxidants play a large role in keeping a body healthy by switching on genetic pathways that help to maintain an environment that can help to keep disease such as cancer at bay. By pre-digesting these vegetables for our dogs, we are ensuring they have access to a whole array of bioavailable nutrients that will play a large role in keeping them healthy well into old age.
Low Sugar Berries
My girls love berries their favourites being Blueberries, however, low sugar berries are something they don’t get as often as kefir or fermented veggies as they such always be fed in moderation.
Blueberries are full of goodness and make a great treat.
Blueberries are not only a super easy and tasty treat for your four-legged friend they also contain various vitamins such as vitamin A, E and C and are a great source of antioxidants. However, always feed in moderation when it comes to fruit but my girls have always been fine with a few blueberries here and there.
If you would like to check out one of our previous treat recipes that Nia and Lily really love then simply follow the link to read the full post, Homemade Yogurt and Blueberry Frozen Bones, treat recipe.
I remember when I was first making the girls some treats using cranberries and I was so surprised that they actually like the taste of this super tart berry. Cranberries are another beneficial berry that you can give to your canine as a treat in moderation. They have a lot of benefits, one being that they promote a healthy urinary tract function and can help your pet if they are suffering from a water infection.
As well as this they are believed to have various anti-cancer properties and have shown to inhibit the growth of various cancer cells. If you would like to treat your canine friend and make them some homemade jerky using cranberries then check out one of our previous treat recipes from Christmas, Merry Christmas from epoch.pet!
Cruciferous vegetables are full of goodness and make a great addition to ours and our canine companion’s diet. Cruciferous veggies are vegetables of the family Brassicaceae and include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, cabbage and Bok choy.
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli contain some but not a huge amount of complex carbohydrates making at least a small amount a nutritious addition to your dog’s diet regardless of its energy demands, broccoli has around 6 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams and contains the phytonutrient Sulphurifane which has potent anti-inflammatory, anticancer and healthy microbiome promoting effects. Other cruciferous vegetables to include are Brussel sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower.
Due to the difficulty, your dog’s body will have to break down the plant cell walls in vegetables it is best to steam then run them through a food processor making all of those nutrients more available. Appropriate leafy green vegetables such as Kale can provide a little more carbohydrates at around 9 grams per 100 grams, this is an absolute powerhouse of nutrition but it should be fed in moderation due to naturally occurring oxalates.
Cruciferous Vegetables contain potent cancer-protective and fighting properties.
Cruciferous Vegetables contain potent cancer-protective and cancer-fighting properties and have been shown to inhibit the growth of various cancer cells for breast, uterine lining and lung cancers, as well as many more.
A really great addition to your pet’s diet is broccoli sprouts as they contain a very high amount of the phytochemical Sulforaphane which has been shown to stimulate enzymes in the body that detoxify carcinogens before they are able to damage cells. By adding a small number of broccoli sprouts into your pet’s diet you are able to prevent cell damage and help protect them against various cancers.
I think I will do a post on broccoli sprouts in the next month as they are super easy to grow at home and one broccoli sprout contains more Sulforaphane than whole broccoli plant, which is pretty amazing!!
Cruciferous Vegetables are rich in antioxidants.
As well as the beneficial anti-cancer prevention and fighting properties cruciferous vegetables provide they are also packed full of antioxidants that will benefit your pet massively.
To learn more about carbohydrates and cruciferous vegetables for our canine companions then check out one of our previous posts, The Role of Carbohydrates within our Dog’s Diets. Also, check out a great book that has helped me learn all about the many benefits of cruciferous vegetables called Canine Nutrigenomics.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The last healthy addition to mention is omega-3 fatty acids and there are various ways in which you can ensure your pet is getting their adequate intake.
Your dog is a fat burning machine and unless your dog suffers from an illness that requires them to be fed a low-fat diet then fats and oils should be seen as a vital and integral part of a functional and healthy diet. Providing high energy and supporting many of the body’s functions, this is an important food group that your dog does not want to miss out on.
Below I will mention three benefits of supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids from our previous post and if you would like to learn more simply follow the link and read the full post, Omega 3 fatty acids, the importance of fish oil for your dog.
Inflammation is often the root cause and direct effect of many diseased states, through the mediation of certain gene expressions omega three fatty acids can produce a powerful anti-inflammatory effect which will benefit any dog and in particular those with conditions such as osteoarthritis. Keeping unwanted inflammation at bay is key to keeping your dog in the best of health and will have positive effects throughout their whole body.
You might think that feeding fats would have a negative effect when fighting obesity due to the popular health culture over the last few decades of low-fat high carb diets to tackle that waistline, being high in calories you can see why this assumption might have been made ( industry bias aside ). However, we now know that the consumption of fats and in particular omega three fatty acids actually activate genes that play a vital role in fat
Cancer seems to touch all of our lives at some point or another whether human or canine it is important to find ways of reducing this likelihood, omega three fatty acids have been shown to induce apoptosis or ‘cell death’ in cancer cells. This inhibits the formation of tumours and helps to prevent them from mastesising or spreading.
I hope you all enjoyed today’s post and if you did be sure to hit that like button so I know or give it a share so other pet parents can learn all about healthy additions to add into their canine friend’s raw diet.
Thanks for checking in and be sure to follow/subscribe to the epoch.pet to never miss a post and follow us on social media, or get in touch with us on Facebook @epoch.pet
Weekly posts every Tuesday and Saturday!