WHAT’S SO GREAT ABOUT RAW?

Is It Worth All the Attention?

Is raw food for dogs really worth all the attention (including from us at GermanShepherdPlace)? To try and figure that out, let’s review the basics behind the idea of raw feeding our German Shepherds.

Back to Basics

The premise behind feeding dogs raw food is simple: It represents a purer, more nutritional – and therefore more health-promoting – alternative to commercial foods.

How does a food qualify as providing good nutrition? The answer is really quite simple: As much as possible, it will be fresh, unprocessed and nutrient rich. A well-fashioned raw diet is a good deal more healthy for our dogs than the great majority of mass-marketed commercial foods. When was the last time you heard of a sick dog changing from a raw diet to kibble and getting better? But cases of chronically sick animals getting well after switching to a raw diet are numerous! Veterinarian Dr Richard Pitcairn shares this experience:

In 1985 he opened The Animal Natural Health Center in Eugene, Oregon, where he treated patients solely with nutrition, homeopathy and herbs. In his book, Dr Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats, he describes how patients often had to wait to be fitted in to the clinic’s busy schedule. After booking an appointment, the clinic staff would give the caller a handout with dietary guidelines consisting of fresh, raw foods. Again and again people would call back prior to their appointment, to explain that their chronically sick animal, after switching to the healthy foods, was now well and that no consultation was needed!

Are all dogs on commercial foods unwell? We know that’s not the case – at least, not obviously so. Yet, the reality is that living bodies don’t always display outward signs of a compromised system – such as weakened immunity, or a developing cancer. Wholesome food creates strong, naturally resistant bodies that are better able to stand up against disease and infection.

Problems With Commercial Food

Many commercial dog foods only marginally meet nutritional requirements. And it must be realized that the manner in which their ingredients are sourced and processed often represent serious impediments to the goal of good nutrition.

Without exaggeration we can say that the incidents where veterinarians have established a connection between poor diet and the increase in chronic disease in cats and dogs are significantly increasing.

To learn more concerning commercial foods, please refer to the following articles on this site:

Food for Your GSD
Dog Food: The Ingredient Label

How Raw Food Addresses The Problem

Raw food is pure food, as nature intended. It provides optimal nutritional value, builds immunity, extends age, reduces incidences of disease, cleans teeth, exercises gums and enriches coats. Raw food is more easily absorbed by the dog’s body and more of it is digested and less eliminated compared to commercial foods. And remember, a healthy dog requires minimal veterinarian care, potentially saving thousands of dollars in the course of its life.

I realize that all this may seem like an effusively positive picture of the benefits of raw food; yet, I believe that anyone researching raw food for dogs, and reading case studies with an open mind will see that the enthusiasm is justified.

Nevertheless, to paint a balanced picture, it must also be pointed out that there is work, commitment and expense involved in providing a raw diet. Yet, not always to the degree you might expect. It’s a little like a good marriage – yes, there’s a cost in commitment and effort, but the rewards are well worth it! With raw food, it’s not an all-or-nothing proposition – More and more pet stores offer frozen raw food options. Then, there’s the freeze dried option (click here to read more). So, you may not even have to create the raw food meals yourself.

Getting great outcomes from a raw diet presupposes the use of well prepared and balanced raw food meals. We are not talking a random selection of butcher scraps, or merely chunks of raw chicken, beef etc. Such a regimen would not constitute a balanced diet. Dogs, like their human family members, have a range of specific dietary needs. Amongst these there’s muscle meat, organ meat, and meaty bones. To these must be added a variety of pureed fruits and vegetables and/or vitamins and minerals in order to round out what in the wild would come to them by consuming the whole carcass of their prey. An animal carcass, remember, also contains partly digested fruits and vegetables, plus brains, eyes and more.

What Else You Need to Know

In order to insure complete nutrition for your dog you need to provide the appropriate amounts and proportions of proteins and fats including taurine, along with a range of minerals and vitamins.This includes factoring in his or her stage of life – puppy, adult, lactating female, physical activity level, senior.

Choose one of the following approaches to giving your dog a great raw diet, one which is super-nutritious and balanced:

In the meantime, a good introduction to raw food can be found in the following articles:

Raw Food Diets for Dogs: Facts & Tips
Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food: Gimmick or Godsend?

Conclusion

Given what we know both about the superior nature of raw dog food, and of the problems inherent in most commercial foods, the matter of what we feed our dogs hinges, more than anything, on what’s the right fit for us as owners. I would suppose that for most GSD owners, the first question would be, “am I going to prepare the raw food myself, or buy a ready-made option?” The next question perhaps, would be: “What’s it going to cost?”

Finally, I’d like to say that if you made it to this point, having read the whole article, I congratulate you! For, I’ve not held back from laying out the hard facts – some of which are daunting. This is true concerning both the bad news regarding the substandard nature of commercial foods, and the realities concerning the cost and commitment involved in doing raw food. If you are even considering experimenting with raw, be kind to yourself. Consider first taking some baby steps – perhaps supplementing your current food with a freeze dried raw food. Or, begin to add a couple of chunks of fresh raw meat. Initial successes will provide building blocks on which to go further. Doing it in stages should ease the process in a couple of ways:

  1. It will help you not feel overwhelmed before even getting started.
  2. It will allow you to find your comfort zone concerning providing raw food for your dog. In the process, you can carve out a food budget, figure out whether it works for you to do all the prep yourself, buy ready-prepared foods and so on.

NOTES

1The term “commercial food” is used in this article to refer to heat processed foods and foods with processed ingredients.

FREEZE DRIED RAW DOG FOOD: SHORT INTRO

A Dog’s Second Best Friend – Food!!

At the bottom is a link to our full article on Freeze Dried Raw Dog Food; but to keep this blog post brief, here we’ll provide just a short introduction. Freeze dried food caught the attention of the military in WWII, and after that, space agencies and astronauts. And now, for many reading this, it can be found in a pet store near you!!

Much of what were once considered good practices concerning the care of dogs, have in recent times become subject to skepticism and a level of scrutiny. A healthy skepticism by companies or individuals in search of better solutions is often a step towards positive progress.

Recent years have seen changes in how we feed our dogs, exercise them, vaccinate and groom them. And there’s dog training, which now focuses on reinforcing good canine behaviors rather than punishing undesirable ones. It’s fair to say that most changes in these areas have been very positive.

Responding to Our Visitors!

If you’ve been following us here for any length of time, you’ll know that we are something of a crusader when it comes to encouraging folks to look at ways to provide healthier food to their German Shepherds – and for that matter, all dogs whatever their breed.

This emphasis has been largely driven by the fact that more visitors come to German Shepherd Place in search of information on food, than any other topic.

Freeze Dried is Getting Attention

Freeze dried raw dog food is an interesting feeding option for our German Shepherds, and is worth checking out. It’s getting a lot of interest and attention in the market place…but why? Let’s explore:

For the article, Freeze Dried Dog Food: Gimmick or GodsendCLICK HERE

RAW FEEDING YOUR DOG, DE-MYSTIFIED

It is encouraging to witness all the buzz surrounding raw feeding these days, because it demonstrates that many dog owners are questioning the long-accepted norms about how we look after our dogs, and in particular, how we feed them.

Thanks to this raw food revolution, there is a ton of info out there about raw feeding your dog. But it can be a little overwhelming, particularly if you are new to the game. So in this article I plan to bring clarity to the subject as I explain the basics.

First we’ll define the raw diet, within the commonsense framework of the “whole carcass model”. Next, we’ll look at the three major components – muscle meat; raw meaty bones and organ meat. And, finally we’ll talk about how to make up for things that may be missing from the raw foods available to us, in order to provide total balanced nutrition to our dogs.

The Whole Carcass Model

It’s probably accurate to say that, to one degree or another, every approach to raw feeding a dog derives from the whole carcass model. Advocates of this diet accept the premise that in the wild a dog consumes the entire prey; and thus, in raw feeding our dogs, we should seek to provide the same nutritional components that are found in the whole prey. To accomplish this requires going beyond simply feeding the dog whatever raw meat happens to be available at the local store. Continue Reading

5 PILLARS OF HEALTH FOR YOUR GERMAN SHEPHERD

As owners, we all should once in a while “take inventory” concerning our German Shepherds, to make sure we are providing him or her with the basic requirements for vibrant health and wellbeing.

I am basing this article on the book, Dr Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats (See end of article for details). The term “5 Pillars of Health…” is mine, not the author’s; but these five areas of focus that he discusses at length, concern the key factors impacting the health and wellbeing of your German Shepherd. While we have covered these matters in detail elsewhere on the website, here I’ll review them from Dr Pitcairn’s perspective; one which I find entirely sound, and backed by extensive study and field practice throughout a long professional career.

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PITCAIRN BOOK REVIEW ~ SUMMARY

We’ve pushed up the publishing schedule this month in order to get out our book review of Dr Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats ahead of the book’s release date which is set for March 21!

At 500 pages the newest – and 4th – edition represents a significant makeover from earlier versions. Here I’m giving the briefest overview, or summary, of some key areas of focus of the book, and we’ll provide a link at the bottom for those who’d enjoy seeing the full review. In addition,  we’ve arranged a very convenient tie-in with Amazon: To purchase the book – at a great price! –  just click the purchase link below.

Micro and Macro?

While most of us will approach a book such as Dr Pitcairn’s Guide’ with a view to some specific benefit to our pets, the author does a good job of broadening the topic in ways that add greater understanding, at the same time resisting the temptation to get off on an overly extended tangent. He keeps things relevant. The reader comes away with practical solutions for improved health for our animals that allow us at the same time to exercise an enhanced level of good stewardship over the environment beyond our immediate surroundings. Continue Reading

NUTRITIONAL FOOD INGREDIENTS FOR DOGS

Introduction

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. Continue Reading

CARE FOR YOUR CANINE, HOLISTICALLY

Learning from a World Leader in Holistic Pet Health

In the last post I introduced Dr Richard Pitcairn and his holistic approach to pet care. I was reminded recently of the extent to which he’s influenced a new generation of veterinarians as I read a couple of unrelated articles by holistic veterinary practitioners. Yet both authors cited Pitcairn as instrumental in their shift to a more natural approach to treating animals.

Perhaps this shouldn’t come as a surprise, given the reach of his book, Dr Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats (one of our recommended resources). Originally published in 1982, the book is due out in its fourth edition this March. In addition, in 1992 Pitcairn established the Professional Course in Veterinary Homeopathy, a year-long post-graduate training for veterinarians. By 2013, 500 had been trained in the program. Continue Reading

A VET DISCOVERS WHOLESOME FOOD

Something Missing

1“Tell your clients to feed their animals a good commercial pet food and to avoid table scraps” These words, according to Dr Richard Pitcairn summed up the instruction he’d received on pet nutrition for his entire time in veterinary college!

His first job found Pitcairn in a busy practice that handled small and large animals. It soon became clear that the optimistic predictions of great results from an arsenal of drugs and surgical techniques in which he was trained, represented a disconnect from what he was experiencing. In spite of his best efforts, many animal patients failed to show significant improvement.

Providence Intervenes

In search of answers, Pitcairn providentially received an offer to teach in a veterinary college. That move soon led to him resuming his own studies, digging deeper into the science behind veterinary practice. After 5 years, and getting his PhD degree, the answers he was looking for still eluded him. So began a lifetime pattern of reading broadly on matters of health, nutrition and immunity. He’d try out alternate approaches on himself; then with initial successes using a more holistic approach Pitcairn started using homeopathy and healthier, often raw, foods with family members and pets. Continue Reading

BONES FOR BUDDY & BELLA

Did You Know?

About Calcium…

Calcium deficiency is a big problem with commercially-fed dogs; one that contributes to health problems like hip and elbow dysplasia.

A nursing pup gets a good and balanced supply of calcium from his mother’s milk. But once weaned, he depends on his humans to provide it in a form that is easily assimilated and provides nutritional balance.

Commercial food claims to provide sufficient calcium, yet cases of hip and elbow dysplasia, common to domesticated dogs, are not known to wolves in the wild. The difference points to diet. Raw and unprocessed bones are nature’s perfect dietary calcium source. Plus, the meat that comes with them gives the potassium needed to metabolize the calcium. Continue Reading

A GERMAN SHEPHERD TRIES RAW FOOD

We recently heard from a Canadian visitor, Des (we have no last name – see Note 1) who wrote us through our  Comment box. The first of his two “comments” comprised 700 words. Clearly, Des was passionate about what he had to share! As I read it, It was clear that what he was recounting called for more coverage than the Comment section would afford. From my knowledge of our readers, it would be of interest to many of them.

So was born today’s article; Des’ words along with with some reduction and a few edits; but preserving the essence of what he wrote. The headings and bracketed items are ours.

Observations Before and After Feeding Raw Food to German Shepherd

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