In this second of 6 articles featuring the work of Dr Richard Pitcairn, author of the bestselling, Dr Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats. we’ll lay the foundations to Pitcairn’s approach to food. With 466 pages, the book covers a range of topics in some depth. In these articles we are taking an overview of key points. So, while space limits the detail we can get into here, I think the articles will serve as a helpful introduction to the important work of a leader in the field of holistic animal care.
Getting on the Right Path
Before diving in to our study, I’d like to make what I think is an important point. I happen to know wonderful, conscientious German Shepherd owners who use a higher grade commercial kibble, and their dogs seem to do fine on it. Others, however, have a GSD with a sensitive system, where no commercial food agrees with them. They’ve had the frustration of an unhappy, sickness-prone dog, and ongoing vet visits, trying to figure out the problem. Such experiences may lead to an owner experimenting with alternative diets. And often this is where they find the help they need as their dogs begin to amend and eventually flourish.
But life is busy and, beloved as our GSD’s may be to their humans, they are but one part of our multi-faceted livess, and each of us must try to assign the appropriate time to their care, including exercise, feeding, training and whatever other demands they may place on us. And usually it’s worth it for all that slobbering affection and unconditional love we get in return! But not everyone has time to do all the things we’d love to do in a perfect world – including making fresh, healthy meals for our dogs! Our job here is to try and present objective, useful information. The value of that information to each reader will vary. One may pick up a few useful tips, while another may lay hold of life-changing solutions for their dog.
So, we are not here to impose any one regimen, but rather to encourage all German Shepherd owners to be on a general move towards providing an optimum life experience for their German Shepherd, within the bounds of the time and other resources each of us has on hand.
Next time we’ll get into some of Pitcairn’s recipes. Therefore I believe this review of his ingredient choices, and rationale behind those selections will provide a helpful foundation. I’ve purposely written what follows in a format you can easily scan – facilitating a swift read-through now, and the ability to revisit a specific point later.
Pitcairn begins with the simple proposition that, while preparing a healthy diet for your dog takes more time and effort than a simple kibble diet, in doing so you are building the health of your dog, and with it the quality of life for him and you, since you’ll be reducing or eliminating many unproductive and inconvenient visits to the vet that go with poor health.
The most natural food for dogs
High in protein and other important nutrients
High chemical contamination
High cost to environment
Suffering to the livestock
Use meat as the main ingredient, but adding other nutritious ingredients. These include high-protein grains, legumes and dairy products. Pitcairn places meats into two categories, lean meats and fatty meats:
Lean Meats (interchangeable): Turkey and/or ¹giblets, liver (beef, chicken or turkey), mackerel, most chicken and/or ¹giblets, tuna, heart (beef, chicken or turkey), lean hamburger, lean chuck, duck (without skin), rabbit, or various fishes.
Fatty Meats (interchangeable): Roaster chicken (with skin), fatty beef heart, brains, regular hamburger, fatty chuck, sirloin steak, lamb, or pork.
Pitcairn maintains that an all-meat raw diet is too high for inactive animals, and is high in contaminants, especially if not organically raised.
EGGS & DAIRY PRODUCTS
Sources of high protein; eggs
Pitcairn has not observed problems with any of the recommended dairy products.
Eggs, cottage cheese are healthy dairy products that cost less than cheese or yogurt.
Give your dogs eggs raw. Sometimes for variety you can lightly scramble or boil eggs.
Best choice for eggs is free range, hormone-free and drug-free. Note that even these healthy eggs cost no more than commercial meat. Yet they are high in protein, without all the toxic ingredients.
Whole grains are a cost effective, environmentally sensitive way to provide quality nutrition to your dog.
By choosing whole grains the healthy qualities are retained.
Grains must be cooked in order for dogs to effectively digest them.
Combine one type of grain with another in order to greatly enhance the biological effectiveness of its protein.
To save time and energy use quick-cooking and economical grains; oatmeal, cornmeal, millet and bulgur.
Bulgar is very high in protein
Millet is very high in iron
Legumes provide a great deal of protein at a lower cost than any other food type, allowing you to reduce your dog’s meat consumption if you wish.
Some legumes have long cooking times.
Split peas and lentils both have lower cooking times than other legumes, which means less energy consumption and more convenience. Cooking times for all beans can be reduced by soaking for 3 hours. Pressure cookers can be used to further reduce cooking times.
Vegetables offer valuable additional vitamins, minerals and roughage to the diet.
Pitcairn does not see any negative implications in this area.
Some vegetables can be given raw, but should be finely grated to be digestible by your dog. Other types of vegetables are best cooked. Best-liked veggies that can be given raw to your dog: Chopped parsley, alfalfa sprouts, finely grated carrots with peel, finely grated zucchini and other soft squash, with peel; lettuce and mixed greens, green, red, orange, yellow or purple bell peppers; fresh corn, especially if chopped up – but dogs can gnaw on cobs; finely grated beets (don’t be alarmed when urine or stools turn pink!)
The following veggies should be cooked before feeding to your dog: Corn, peas, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, hard winter squash, any hard vegetable that cannot be grated or pulverized.
SNACKS & FLAVORINGS
Pitcairn maintains that up to 20% of your dog’s diet can consist of healthy snacks, adding both nutrition and appeal. He includes bones, biscuits, fruit, nuts and seeds, veggie burgers, flavorings, garlic and yeast sprinkle.
Space does not allow for more detail, but in his book he elaborates further on each item.
We’ll have to cover this area on another occasion. Pitcairn makes the point that many of the supplements he recommends for dogs are included in his recipes (in our February blog post I’ll be reviewing several of Pitcairn’s recipes).
Since many of his recipes include what he names, “Healthy Powder”, we’ll look at the ingredients of it here. A batch of Healthy Powder consists of:
Note: This recipe has been omitted pending the publisher’s permission to reprint, MM
the liver, heart, gizzard, and neck of a chicken or other fowl, usually removed before the bird is cooked, and often used to make gravy, stuffing, or soup.
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