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Wild Diets

Puppy with Bone

Our domestic dogs and cats are carnivores and have evolved from wild canines and felines. In the wild these animals will eat a whole carcass, which includes all muscle, bone, skin, nervous tissue, organs and gut contents of the prey animal. In this way carnivores get the protein, fat, essential minerals, vitamins and micronutrients that they need for optimum health. The aim of feeding a raw food diet is to mimic as closely as possible the diet of a dog or cat hunting and eating wild prey. In practice this is most easily done by feeding a combination of a variety of fresh raw meat on the bone (usually referred to as raw meaty bones), fresh raw pulverised fruit and non-starchy vegetables, fresh raw organ meat (offal), and added supplements if needed. If we do this we can be confident we are giving an overall balanced diet, but certain guidelines need to be followed, including some important differences between feeding dogs and cats.

Neither dogs nor cats have a requirement for carbohydrate in the diet. They obtain energy for metabolism from the breakdown of raw fat and protein. They are able to tolerate small amounts of carbohydrate; this varies between individuals, but it should not be a staple in the diet. Most commercial foods have far too high a carbohydrate level for optimum health for dogs and cats. Often the list of ingredients will reveal how small the actual meat content is in many of these foods, and high temperature cooking damages many essential nutrients.

Feeding raw meaty bones provides most of the protein and fat required by dogs and cats, as well as calcium, phosphorous and other essential minerals. The basic principle is to feed roughly 60% (dogs) and 75% (cats) raw meaty bones as a percentage of the total diet. It is important to note that bone contains most of the calcium (and meat most of the phosphorous) that is needed for healthy development. It is essential to feed both in order to balance these minerals. The meat is chewed off the bone, which exercises the teeth, jaws and jaw muscles, and stimulates saliva and digestive enzyme release. NEVER feed cooked bones. They are far too hard and can cause serious problems internally as they are poorly digested.

Dogs are carnivores, but in the wild will graze on available fruit and vegetable matter and scavenge dead carcasses, as well as hunting live prey. They also eat faeces and soil, which provide vitamins, plant fibre, probiotics and trace minerals. Good nutrition for dogs will include feeding about 60% raw meaty bones, 20% non-starchy vegetables and fruit, and 10% offal, plus supplements as needed.

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that for good health most of their diet must be meat. They are not scavengers and require a very fresh diet. Compared to dogs they need more protein and fat, more offal, less bone and less vegetable food in their diet. The amino acid Taurine is an essential dietary requirement for cats and is found only in raw meat. A good raw diet for cats will include about 75% raw meaty bones, 15% offal, 5% vegetables and fruit, and supplements if needed.

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