BARF Questions and Answers - Part 1

The following information serves ONLY as a guide to those who are new to feeding their pets Bones & Raw Food. Yes, COMPLETELY RAW FOOD (nothing cooked), INCLUDING RAW BONES. NEVER, EVER FEED COOKED BONES TO YOUR PET because cooked bones WILL splinter and cause severe internal damage, possibly even death. Each animal's needs are unique; therefore, YOU will need to make the ultimate decision what is best for your pet -- healthwise and nutrition wise.

These F.A.Q. are re-printed with permission from
BARFing Boxers by Bree

The questions and answers that appear on this page are the most frequently asked questions newcomers to BARF have asked, along with the corresponding suggested answer. This information comes directly from experienced BARFers, as well as the books written by Billinghurst, Schultze and Pitcairn. Again, this is ONLY a guide, and NOT a bible. They are in no particular order and I will do my best to update this page frequently. This page is NOT a substitute for medical advice. If you feel (use your gut instinct) that something physically may truly be wrong with your pet, don't hesitate to drop off a stool/urine sample to your veterinarian or even get your pet to an animal hospital ASAP.

How do I get started?

The first thing you should do is some reading/research on the raw diet. The books are: "Give Your Dog A Bone" and " Grow Your Pup With Bones," by Ian Billinghurst, and "Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats: The Ultimate Diet" by Kymythy Schultze. Both of them go into great detail about the diet and how to get started. Most dogs do better on a cold turkey switch rather than half-kibble and half-BARF. Remember to keep things simple for the dog when you are starting. You might start with chicken or turkey and feed wings, necks or backs for the first couple of days. Let their body get used to the new foods before you start feeding them a huge variety of foods. Some dogs might not know what to do with the bones at first, but they will get the hang of it. If you have a small dog or a dog that doesn't get the hang of it, you can try crunching the bone into smaller pieces, or holding one edge of the bone for them. For veggie meals, I would start with bland veggies with a bit of lean ground meat. Wait to add the richer foods, such as liver and eggs, for a few weeks. I would also wait to start adding any supplements until you are settled into a routine.

These are just some of the basics of the diet. Your research will provide you with more detailed information on how to get started. Good luck and happy barfing.

I'm really scared to start, and I feel so overwhelmed...can someone send me some encouragement?

Most of us felt the same way you do when we first started BARFing our pets. We thought it was very complicated (and maybe even more expensive), but have actually found it's much easier than kibble, or maybe that we all feel so good about what we're feeding them now--it just seems so simple now. Many of us believe the fact that BARF is less expensive than kibble too. Yes, it can feel very overwhelming at first, especially when thinking of supplements, how much to feed, meat-to-bone ratios, the veggies, and don't mix this with that, but once we finally relaxed and came to understand that it's a balanced diet OVER TIME, life got much easier.

Is it possible to see some sample meal plans? I really think seeing what I may be feeding will help alot!

Following are 4 sample meal plans (various size dogs) submitted by a BARFer who has been BARFing for 3 years. This is just a guide to help you get started as each dog is different and so is their activity level. What I suggest is to pick a weight closest to your dog's and feed a little more or less accordingly. As the days go on put your hand on your dog's rib cage and see if you press lightly you should feel ribs but not see them. If you can't feel ribs, your dog is too fat and if you can see ribs, your dog is too thin.

I feed 2x/day, so I split these amounts into 2 feedings but I am giving you a full day's worth for the RMB meal.

Golden Retriever - 55# - RMB meal - 1# chicken backs, or 12 chicken necks, or 8 chicken wings, or 2 beef ribs plus an egg or yogurt. You can feed lamb, but it is rich so I don't suggest it in the beginning. Even now after 3 years I will only feed lamb that I trim and only when I will be around to let them out more often. Lamb riblets (I think in Australia they are called lamb flaps) have soft very chewable bones and this is what I use if I can get it. Occasionally (like once every 2 weeks), I substitute fish - either canned mackerel or sardines as my dogs will only eat these. If yours eats other fishes then serve 'em up. I split one large can or 2 small cans among my four dogs

Offal - Offal (or organ meat, e.g. heart, kidney, liver, tripe, etc...) is usually mixed in with the veggie meal, because many dogs do not like the taste (some do). Just be careful not to feed too much, too quickly, as offal is very rich and too much will cause loose stools. Offal can be fed once or twice a week!

Veggie meal - This is for 1 meal not a full day's worth - 1/4 calves liver or an egg and I puree these veggies for about 3/4 cup worth. Mix and match veggies do not try to use all these at the same time - carrots, turnip, parsnip, green beans, yellow squash, zucchini, dark green lettuces, celery - I add a little - very little - of either spinach, kale, turnip greens, or broccoli. Now and then if I have a piece of cauliflower I toss that in too.

To most meals I add 1 teaspoon of oil (cold pressed flaxseed, or safflower or vegetable or olive but usually flaxseed for Omegas). To each meal I add 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast, 1/4 teaspoon kelp, 1/4 teaspoon alfalfa powder. Also I add Vitamin C (about 2000mg) but you need to start off slow and increase a little at a time so as to not upset the tummy. My golden gets 200mg Vitamin E 1x/day

Poodle - 35# - gets exactly half of the above recipe - sometimes he is very active so I give a little more than 1/2 of the above. Halve the vitamins of yeast, kelp, alfalfa and remember Vitamin C 100mg Vitamin E/day

Cocker Spaniel 20# - gets 1/4 of above recipe - he tends to gain weight easily so I take a little away or add a little from his meals constantly - as I said, adjust to each dog's activity level and metabolism. 1/4 the vitamins of yeast, kelp, alfalfa and remember the Vitamin C, Vitamin. E - cocker gets " most" of a 100mg capsule but a few drops goes into the Chihuahua's meal

Chihuahua 8# - very active little guy - 1 1/2 chicken wings, or 4 chicken necks or about 2/3 of 1/2 a chicken back (I break it in half and then take a piece off). For the veggie meal, which is 1 out of 2 meals a day, he gets about 1/4 cup of veggie mix with a little liver (about a square inch) or some egg or a tablespoon plain yogurt. Meat - for 1 meal - a little less than 1/4 cup of beef heart or gizzards. Remember a few drops of the Vitamin E and a little Vitamin C.

The easy way is to go by the Golden's meals - And don't be afraid to adjust as needed for YOUR dog. Halve it for a 35# dog, Quarter for 20# dog and about Eighth for 8# dog OR Double it for a large-breed dog.

TIP : Make a calendar - jot in on a ten day basis if feeding 1x/day 7 meals of RMBs, 2 veggie meals and 1 meat/offal meal I also throw in a fish meal now and then. As Dr. Billinghurst says - this is not etched in stone. If you have no RMBs one day - then take a few veggies and an egg or can of fish, puree and serve. Happy Crunching :)

Should I switch cold-turkey or is gradual better?

Most dogs do very well being switched over to BARF cold-turkey, but the change over should be done 'easy.' It is recommended that when you are ready to begin, don't try and rush things. Take is slowly. Try to keep the diet bland and simple at first. This is particularly important for older/middle aged dogs. Don't overload your dog with the 'good stuff' - he may not be able to handle it yet - particularly after a lifetime on kibble. Start with just some lean chicken or turkey necks or backs only for the first couple of days, keeping meals small to begin with and don't let your dog overdo it. Once the dog has settled into this, add some bland veggies with a bit of lean mince (ground meat).

The veggies do need to be pulped up using something like a blender, juicer or food processor. You are aiming for something a bit like the vegetable matter found in the stomach of a prey animal. The reason for this is that dogs can not digest cellulose. Cell walls of plants are made of cellulose, so for our dogs to get the nutrients out of them, we need to crush the cell walls. Chopping them up only crushes the cell walls on the outside, leaving the bit in the middle pretty much unavailable to them nutritionally. Cooking them will also destroy the cell walls, but as this also destroys a lot of the nutrients and enzymes in the veggies, it kind of defeats the purpose

You can start adding richer food like eggs and liver (and maybe leaving a little bit more fat on the chicken/turkey) after a week or two once your dog is used to the simple diet. And after you have got the hang of it for a few weeks, THEN start thinking about adding supplements, if you want to. Don't try to do it all at once. It is also suggested that with dogs new to the BARF diet that you stay away from the harder or fattier bones for at least a few months (and perhaps longer, particularly for older dogs). Give them time to develop some 'strength' in their digestive system first. I'm still researching

BARF, and am not quite ready to make the change. Can you recommend an alternative food that is just as healthy, in the interim?

Proper research can take several weeks or months, depending on your time and desire to feed a more natural & holistic diet. One should never embark on such a drastic diet change without doing the proper and necessary research.

Can I feed kibble AND BARF?

Yes you can, but seriously, why? OK, I know change can be difficult, so please allow me to explain. Kibble and raw food are digested differently, and should NEVER be fed together, in the same meal. If you feed dry kibble at the same meal as the raw meat, you are increasing the amount of time the food is in the body, and increasing the possibility of illness from microbes. So, if you want to feed half & half, feed kibble one meal, raw the next. Your dog will probably be the one who will let you know, before you do, that BARF is IN and kibble is OUT! :>) But, if you really feel the need to feed kibble (alone or in addition to BARF) or just haven't made up your mind to switch completely to BARF, you may seriously consider a super premium dog and/or cat food.

How much do I feed daily?

Billinghurst recommends 60% RMBs and 40% veggies, etc... however; 60% to 75% CAN BE RMBs and the rest should be a combination of veggies, organs (also known as offal, to include liver, heart, kidney, green tripe, etc...), ground meat (e.g. lean beef, chicken or turkey), eggs and supplements. If you are just starting BARF, remember to start slow by adding new food items every few days or even weeks, until your dog gets used to the new food (especially the richer foods like liver). This is only a guide to help get you started. If your dog is on the skinnier side, up the food (RMBs) and reduce the veggies....if your dog is on the heavier side, reduce the RMBs and up the veggies. To know if your dog is 'just right,' rub the back of your hand.....his/her ribs should feel the same. If you can't feel his/her ribs, then reduce the daily food intake

Multiply your dogs weight by 16 to get the number of ounces he weighs. Multiply that by .02, which gives you 2 % of his body weight. Multiply that by .6 to give you the weight of RMB you should feed. That is chicken necks, wings, backs etc. Go back to the 2% of his body weight again and multiply that number by .4 to get the weight in ounces of vegetable patty mix you should feed. For example: One of my Boxers weighs 70 Lbs. Here's the formula I used to calculate the daily food intake when I started. Remember this is only a place to start - adjust everything up or down, depending on your dogs condition.

  • 70Lbs x 16 = 1120 ounces
  • 1120 x .02 = 22.4 ounces of food per day
  • 22.4 x .6 = 13.44 ounces of RMB -----60% RMB
  • 22.4 x .4 = 8.96 ounces of Veg. Patty mix.-----40% Veg. Patty mix.

I'm a Vegetarian and do not want to feed meat to my pet. Can I still feed a raw diet?

Absolutely, you can feed your pet a vegetarian diet. But the most important thing you will need to remember, since your pet won't be getting any meat, is to feed high quality protein with the meals, just as you do. The amino acids in meat are essential nutrients, and if you're not feeding meat, your pet will get all the necessary amino acids from tofu, grains and beans. As you learn more about feeding a raw diet, you'll likely bump into many people who are totally against feeding grains. Feeding grains is a personal choice, and does work well for many. It is suggested that the protein be rotated because each and every protein source you choose has a different amino acid chain and concentration. It is also highly recommended to seek out organic grains and beans. Oils are also an essential ingredient in a vegetarian diet, so make sure these get alternated as well, once a week!

Putting together a proper and nutritionally complete vegetarian diet for your pet can be quite as complex as the traditional raw diet. You must do your research before plunging in! An absolutely EXCELLENT alternative, while you're researching and learning, is Dr.Harvey's. The foods come complete with organic grains, vegetables, herbs and some required supplements. All you need to do is add your protein source and essential oils...and you have a nutritionally complete meal for your dog or cat. The food is also an excellent choice for pet owners who want to feed a traditional raw diet with meat or who want the convenience of a home-cooked meal for their pets.

What exactly is the difference between Raw Meaty Bones & recreational bones? Which should I feed?

RMBs are soft enough for the dog to chew up and eat - things like chicken carcasses/backs/necks/wings, lamb necks, oxtails, turkey necks, etc..., which make up an RMB meal. Recreational bones, on the other hand, are larger bones that the dog will chew on but will not eat the whole bone - things like beef marrow bones, femurs, knuckle bones, etc... Weight-bearing bones can also be given (chicken legs/thighs), but they are a bit more difficult to chew (especially for a small animal). When giving chicken legs/thighs, remember to supplement with eggshell powder or bone dust, to even out the calcium/phosphorus ratio.

What is the best way to start my older dog on BARF?

It is best with an old dog to keep the diet fairly bland and low fat when changing over. probiotics to the diet to help restore good bacteria into the system to fight the bad bacteria and help increase immunity. You can do this by adding yogurt with live cultures in it to the diet or by getting some kind of probiotic supplement. If you are feeding grains, you may wish to either reduce the amount or remove them altogether, until your dog has adjusted to his new way of eating. Remember to start slow, adding a new food item every few up the number of items slowly as you and your dog begin to get the hang of it.

I'm really concerned about salmonella. Am I over-reacting?

When first starting BARF, many people were actually overly compulsive and obsessive with regards to possible salmonella poisoning. In fact, I was one of them. I wore latex gloves when handling the chicken and I never allowed one tiny piece of chicken to touch ANYTHING in my kitchen. I was totally neurotic. After a couple of weeks of BARF, I began to relax a bit. I now use my bare hands when handling and practice proper food handling techniques. Knock on wood, none of my dogs or family members have gotten sick. To this day though, I won't allow ANYONE into my kitchen when I'm wrapping 80 pounds of chicken backs....NOT UNTIL I'M DONE and everything's been wiped down with Mr. Clean, Antibacterial full-strength (yes, it even kills salmonella).

According to an FDA news release, " salmonella is not harmful to dogs" . The message? Salmonella is everywhere - not just in raw meats. Employ basic hygiene practices, wash your hands and keep surfaces clean - just as you would when handling your own food. Simple, really!

Is my dog experiencing detox?

When switching a dog over from commercial dog food to BARF, the dog's body may begin the process of ridding itself of toxins and impurities as it adjusts to the intake of proper nutrients. This process is called detox. Depending on the overall health of your dog, detox may last one week, one month or even several weeks...or not even at all. The most common symptoms of detox include vomiting diarrhea, bad breath and itchy skin. It is normal for any of these detox symptoms to get worse before they get better...just don't give up and hang in there. Keep your dog as comfortable as possible during this process. Go slow on introducing new foods, to make sure there are no allergies. Pure pumpkin in the can (not pumpkin pie filling) works magic to firm stools quickly. Provide plenty of fresh water, but limit excessive water intake immediately after meals, as your dog may regurgitate. Give plenty of Vitamin E and C (the C to bowel tolerance) to help boost his/her immune system.

Why is my dog drinking less water daily? Should I be concerned?

No, there is absolutely no reason to be concerned. Raw food is full of naturally occurring water! All the moisture needed to digest raw food is contained in raw food! Although a lower sodium intake is part of the reason that our BARFing dogs drink less water, the real reason is that raw food has not had the water removed like kibble has. The different between kibble and canned dog food is the water content...they leave the water in the canned and dry out the kibble. It takes a lot of water to re-hydrate those little nuggets!

How does one measure the food when switching from kibble to BARF?

I must admit I prefer the 'cold turkey' approach of switching rather than a slow switch. Try starting with around 2 to 3% of your dogs bodyweight (more for pups - up to about 10% for them) and adjusting from there. It is not an exact science and every dog is different so be prepared to adjust as you go along. Not getting it quite right is not really a problem as long as you accompany this with observation of your dog so you can watch for changes (losing/gaining weight).

Why do I need to separate certain food items, like RMBs, veggies and grains, and why can't I feed them together?

In Pat Lazarus book, " Keep Your Dog Healthy the Natural Way," under the topic of food combining he states:

"How you combine food groups can be crucial to your dog's health. Why? The digestive organs secret enzymes to break down food so it can be properly used by the body. When carbohydrates and proteins are eaten at the same time, the protein enzymes go to work first, and the digestion of carbohydrates must wait. While the carbohydrates are waiting around to be digested, they ferment and release toxins in the body.

Proper food combining might more aptly be called not combining foods: Give only meat (or other heavy proteins such as eggs or milk) at one meal; give carbohydrates (fruit & grains) for the other meal. Vegetables, though may be given with either grains or heavy proteins." He goes on to mention this can also help in preventing pancreatitus. Also, grains and meats should not be fed together but veggies can be feed with either, with no loss of nutrients. Fruits, except apples, should be feed alone and at least twenty minutes before or after anything else.

Is it o.k. to feed grains?

Grains are not a natural food for dogs. It is not something they would eat in the wild. Those grains they would have access to would be in small quantities eaten from the stomachs of prey animals who had (in the right season) eaten some grasses that had seeded. These grains would also not look like our modern grains - more like wild rice (check it out at the supermarket and compare to domestic types).

Grains are also full of carbohydrates which can be easily converted to sugars. Cancer cells feed on sugars and it is believed that by decreasing the amount of carbohydrate in the diet, we may greatly reduce the risk of cancer (which is a growing problem among modern dogs).

So, in answer to your question, yes, grains can be fed; however, please keep the following in mind (when feeding grains), taken directly from a Dr. Billinghurst seminar: grains are not a natural food for dogs; dogs do not, in fact, need carbohydrates; carbohydrates are easily converted into sugars which feed cancer. Remove the carbs and the cancer has less/nothing to feed on; and grains are one of the major causes of allergies in dogs, and can also cause flatulence (gas..PHEW!!!)! The page now includes a basic description of yeast infections, why they occur, what are the diet recommendations, why didn't my vet diagnose this problem.... as well as links on candida.

Do I really need to use supplements?

I haven't cut supplements out totally, although IMO a lot of people tend to over-supplement. This was something Billinghurst suggested too at a recent seminar here, and he mentioned that he only supplements his own dogs every now and again.

I think if you are providing a good varied diet you will be providing pretty much what your dog needs - all in a highly bio-available form. My first preference when looking to a certain vitamin/mineral will always be to provide it in its natural form first. So if I feel I need to provide more Vitamin B for example, I would consider what foods contain that vitamin first (e.g. liver) rather than reaching for an artificial supplement.

That said, I certainly see a benefit in supplementing those things that our dogs may be missing in the translation from a 'wild' diet to its 'modern' equivalent (i.e. BARF). As we don't necessarily feed the whole animal for example (eyes, brains, stomach and intestines etc etc as well) the addition of things like EFA's (e.g. flaxseed oil) on occasion can be useful. I would include yogurt in this category too - it contains good bacteria which a dog may otherwise have got from eating stomach contents/intestines etc (but green tripe can help here too). An excellent fish oil recommendation is OmegaRx, a pharmaceutical-grade fish oil supplement...for us too! OmegaRx is 100% purified and 100 times stronger than the most popular brands of fish oil on the market! My Boxers receive it regularly, just as I do!

I like to add a bit of Kelp every now and again for its trace elements. Modern soils have been depleted by over-cropping etc and Australian soils in particular are low in iodine. Kelp adds back these trace elements into the diet. I add Vitamins C and E every now and then for their antioxidant properties and their value to optimize health - particularly in our modern polluted environment. Vitamin C is particularly good in times of stress and I am more likely to include it then than at other times.

Now realize that while I do include these supplements, I do not include them every day. I don't believe they are necessary every day except some in certain circumstances and perhaps only for short periods. Of course every dogs and every situation will be different (if I lived in a city I might give more C and E for example to combat higher pollution). But remember you are providing a much more nutritious product to begin with with raw natural foods. They are probably getting more nutritional value now out of a varied BARF diet without the supplements that they ever did on kibble.

How do I know what supplement is for what, should I decide to supplement?

B and C vitamins are water soluable, which means whatever the body does not use are elminated in the urine. You basically cannot " overdo" the vitamins except too much can cause loose bowels (that's why you often see it recommended to supplement with Vitamin C " to bowel tolerance" ). Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat soluable and it IS possible to cause problems by over-supplementing - sometimes the problems can be as bad if not worse than UNDER supplementation. According to Kymythy Schultze in her book, " The Ultimate Diet" , she states: " Alfalfa contains vitamins A, B1, B6, B12, C, D, E, K AND U, plus beta-carotene, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, folic acid, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, protein, amino acids, trace elements and fiber. It reduces tissue damage from radiotherapy, helps bleeding disorders, has antibacterial action against salmonella and has a protein with known anti-tumor activity. It's used as a general tonic, to detoxify the body and to treat colon disorders, hemorrhages, diabetes, ulcers and arthritis. Use the alfalfa leaf and stem in powdered or liquid form. Do not use alfalfa seeds as they contain a natural toxin.

Kelp contains vitamins A, B1, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12, C and E, plus zinc, biotin, bromine, calcium, choline, copper, inositol, iodine, PABA, potassium, selenium, sodium and sulfur. Its iodine content is very good for glands and organs, especially the thyroid and liver. It can bind with chemical pollutants in the gastrointestinal tract and prevent their absorption by the body. It increases the contractile force of the heart, improves circulation and is often used for hair loss, goiter, ulcers, obesity and mineral deficiency. Equal parts of alfalfa and kelp in your dog's or cat's food provides a vast array of health-enhancing nutrients as a complete vitamin and mineral supplement.

Other green foods you may use include algae (chlorella, spirulina, blue-green), aloe vera, grasses and sea greens. Since these are plants, they should be fed to carnivores in fairly small amounts, proportionately." Raw meat, fish and eggs provide an array of amino acids/protein, enzymes, antioxidants, Vitamins A, C, D, E, K, B1, B2,B3, B5, B6, B12, biotin, choline, folic acid, inositol, iodine, pantothenic acid, paba, fatty acids, caldium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, potassium, chromium, copper, manganese, selenium, sodium, sulfur, vanadium, zinc and CoQ10.

Raw veggies provide enzymes, antioxidants, betacarotene, carbohydrates, fiber, phytochemicals, Vitamins vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, C, vitamin D, E, vitamin K, boron, choline, folic acid, inositol, iodine, paba, pantothenic acid, calcium, chromium, copper, iron, iodine, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, potassium, silicon, sodium, sulfur and selenium. Many of us are of the opinion that our dogs, who are healthy, get the vitamins they need from the varied diet they are fed. Many BARFers supplement and many do not. Again, the choice is yours.

What is ACV and what are some of it's benefits?

ACV stands for Apple Cider Vinegar. Of the 22 minerals essential for health, apple cider vinegar contains 19 in exactly the right amounts. *Some* of these minerals are potassium, phosphorus, sodium, magnesium, sulphur, iron, copper, silicon and pectin. ACV also contains natural malic and tartaric acids which are important in fighting body toxins and inhibiting unfriendly bacteria. There are claims that the additional acidity of ACV helps the digestion process. Many dogs like the taste of it, and it even makes the RMBs smell less raw meaty-like. Many people soak the RMBs in ACV prior to feeding, to aide with the digestion of bones. Remember in chemistry class, soaking a raw bone in vinegar? It turned rubbery! hummmm..some food for thought for those of you afraid of splintering bones. Again, the option to use ACV is purely another personal choice...some do and some don't. Oh, a teaspoon of ACV (daily) in your dog's food also removes tear stains (for those with very light-colored dogs). Results are usually begun to be seen in 7 to 10 days.

What is Ester C and bowel tolerance?

Ester C is a buffered form of Vitamin C, which is easier on the stomach than other C's (ascorbic acid). If you decide to use Ester C or any of the other buffered form of C (calcium ascorbate or sodium ascorbate), you will be able to provide a much higher dosage than you would with ascorbic acid. If you are providing a buffered form of C, you might want to start out with 500 mg and increase the dosage (splitting the dosage to twice per day) until you determine the bowel tolerance. From that point, you can then determine how much C you want to offer per day.

As you are upping the daily dosage of C and you notice that your dog's stools are becoming a bit loose, then you have reached Bowel Tolerance. Any higher dosage will cause loose/watery stools, and even diarrhea. Vitamin C is an immune booster and can be given daily. You can also UP the amount of Vitamin C during times of stress.

What are digestive enzymes and probiotics, and why is their use recommended?

Digestive enzymes break down food so that it can be absorbed and utilized by the body. Raw food has enzymatic activity, and the body has a limited supply also. When our pets eat the raw food that their physiology is designed to thrive on, they receive plenty of food enzymes, which aid digestion and nutrient utilization. When they eat cooked food, which is devoid of enzymes, they can deplete the body's supply, and the enzyme-producing organs must work overtime to compensate. It doesn't matter what you put into the body if digestion is not equipped with enough enzymes to break it down and put it to good use within the body. Supplemental enzymes can be beneficial in cases of digestive disorders and degenerative diseases. They replenish the body with the tools needed to utilize nutrients.

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria. They are normally present in a healthy intestinal system. Beneficial bacteria keep unwanted bacteria, fungi, and other bad guys from disrupting homeostasis. For example, U.A.S. labs have conducted studies showing non-dairy probiotics to be extremely successful at destroying e.coli bacteria. Beneficial bacteria is killed by antibiotics. Supplemental use of non-dairy probiotics can help re-establish normal intestinal function (lots of yogurt)

Both enzymes and probiotics can be purchased from a variety of sources including health food stores, vitamin shops, catalog, etc. Look for products with a large amount of active ingredient and no fillers, binders, yeast, dairy, sugar, etc. Use according to directions. Enzymes are most often sprinkled on food right before feeding. Probiotics, which should be refrigerated, are most effective if given between meals.

What are other natural sources of calcium, other than egg shells and the bones themselves, to supplement?

Personally I would stick with the eggshells, but I have heard people talking to their butcher/meat market and asking them to save bone " sawdust" from when they cut the meats down. This bone dust would be preferable to bonemeal because it would still be in its " raw" state. Eggshell powder can be made yourself, by saving the raw shells, drying and then running them through a coffee grinder. According to Pitcairn, there is 1,800 mgs. of calcium per teaspoon of eggshell powder. Bone Dust contains 8.74 % ash, (1/3 of which is calcium), 25.26 % fat, 13.42 % protein, and 52 % is water.

Fish? You mean I can really toss my dog a whole fish?

Absolutely...head, tail, body...the whole thing! Just be sure to check inside the fish for any hook that may have been forgotten to be removed. Fish is not a substitute for an RMB meal, but it can be fed a couple of times a week. One reason for this is the thiaminase enzyme in destroys thiamine (vitamin B1). Fish especially rich in thiaminase are herring, capelin, suckers, smelts and various carp species, a total of some 50 species, most of which live in fresh water. Extra thiamin can be fed when feeding fish. Feeding whole fish is also an individual's personal choice. Many are afraid of the bones getting problem, there are many varieties of nutritious canned fish on the market.

A special note with regards to those who live in the Pacific Northwest: salmon and trout can carry the rickettsia organism responsible for salmon poisoning. If your dog shows ANY signs of being ill within two weeks of feeding, get him/her to the vet, and tell them to look for salmon poisoning. This information is not meant to scare anyone, but it's extremely risky to feed raw salmon and trout from the Pacific Northwest.

When should I start introducing veggies?

They are probably the second thing I would introduce after some Raw Meaty Bones such as chicken (Oh, I may add some yogurt or probiotics first though). When to add them usually depends on your dog. If he handles the chicken RMBs well for a few days, you can try adding some bland veggie mix (with perhaps some lean ground meat to tempt). You can add it sooner if the dog is getting a little constipated, or later if things are still a bit soft and runny ;-). Either way, try and keep the diet fairly bland and low fat for a while when starting out.

What is the recipe for Dr. Billinghurst's veggie patties? Can I change this recipe?

Yes, this recipe can be adjusted to suit your dog's needs or tastes, at the time. It is based on raw crushed vegetables - at least half e.g. one kilo vegetables such as carrots, celery, spinach, broccoli, etc. The other half consists of lean mince - beef, chicken, lamb {pork} e.g. one kilo. To which we add such things as: yogurt - low fat and plain - half a small tub eggs - raw preferably free range - about 3 flax seed oil - 2 or three dessertspoons liver - raw - say a quarter of a lamb's fry garlic - 2 or 3 cloves kelp powder - up to 4 teaspoons B vitamins - a teaspoon of Troy Vitamin B PLUS OTHER HEALTHY FOOD SCRAPS e.g. small amounts of cooked veggies, rice, cottage cheese etc. Any surplus - not fed on the day - should be formed into patties, frozen, thawed out as required. copyright IAN BILLINGHURST.

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