Eating a bone
What to feed your best friend?!
When I got Bodeus, I started him on dry food but then I began to find out about other foods, supposedly more natural commercial foods, frozen foods and BARF. Many of our club members fed their dogs raw food and their dogs were in great condition, so a friend helped me get started.
My working dogs get 1.5 - 3lbs of meaty bones per day (depending on how they looks and their work level) such as chicken or turkey necks or wings, lamb ribs, or whole rabbit. They also get beef, deer or buffalo chewing bones once or twice per week. I grind up a veggie mix with organ meat once per month and feed about 1 tablespoon per meal with added yoghurt, an egg, ground beef, and supplements.
The supplements I currently feed are B-Naturals Green Blend and Immune Blend, Salmon oil and Glucosamine with Chondroitin. I feed half the recommended amount of Immune Blend as it is a good mix of vitamins, enzymes and probiotic, and I feel that it has improved the condition of my dogs' skin and coats. I find that Salmon Oil seems to keep the skin more hydrated than a basic fish oil blend.
I have fed satin balls and other various fattening foods to keep weight on dogs when they are doing a lot of work. Oatmeal, olive oil and peanut butter can all help to put on weight. I have also fed Natures Variety Lamb and Green Tripe while I was in the US. There are several suppliers who deliver via co-ops around the country. In the North East, I have been using Raaw Energy, they have a great range of different meats, bones and mixes. I also found an excellent supplier in the UK, who packaged everything in 1lb bags and delivered to my house (Landywoods Pet Foods). They have an extensive range of meats including whole chicken carcasses and wings, lamb breasts and also very convenient ground mixes with tripe and vegetables.
When my dogs are working and trialling, they get K9 Go Dog in "shake" format (mixed with water). It is useful because many dogs don't seem to like to drink water when they are away from home, but they love this. It also seems to help them recover from rigorous activity.
One of Bodeus favourite treats is a frozen Kong filled with BARF goodies and yoghurt. Perfect for the hot Texas summers. See the link below for the recipe.
BARF takes a little more effort than choosing, buying and opening a bag of food, but it is great to know exactly what your dog is eating, to adjust individual ingredients to take into account specific health problems, and to see how happy they are, eating a whole rabbit or wrestling with beef ribs! If you are considering feeding BARF, start with a little research, see the links below for more information.
The main problem with BARF research that I have found, is the proliferation of websites on both sides of the fence, they use anecdotal evidence and hearsay to promote their side of the argument. They use emotive language and try to baffle you with long words and jargon to make them look like experts. This makes it very tough to make the right decision for your dog. Basically dogs 'can' die from choking on bones or toys, they 'can' die from bloat (which 'can' occur in both BARF and kibble fed dogs), humans and animals 'can' die of salmonella poisoning from eating contaminated food. Kibble is not an exception to this, we unfortunately hear quite often, of contaminated batches of pet food that have killed dogs and cats. All kinds of chemicals in our food and environment can give us and our pets cancer. At the end of the day, only you can decide what you are comfortable feeding. I chose BARF, I have been feeding it since 2001 and am happy with the results so far.
Books to get you started: