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Fresh Food Feeding:
The Natural Choice for Your Dog's Nutrition!

Fresh food feeding (a.k.a. raw feeding) refers to providing your dog with a nutritionally complete, species-appropriate diet that includes a balance of minimally processed meat, organs, and bones accompanied by functional foods such as vegetables, fruits, eggs, seeds, and nuts.

chopping board with fresh meat, chicken, bones, eggs, broccoli, carrot, blueberries.jpg

A dog’s anatomy was designed to eat animals; there is no question about that.  They are scavenging carnivores, that would naturally consuming a variety of small mammals, insects and birds in the wild.  Sure, they have developed an ability to process small amounts of plant matter, albeit not very effectively. Still, their bodies will only thrive if they are provided with a diet consisting predominantly of animal products.

Raw feeding is taking the global pet food scene by storm, as pet owners increasingly seek superior nutrition for their furry friends. People are becoming more aware of the advantages of a raw diet and the shortcomings of typical commercial kibbles.

The fresh feeding domain is still a hotly debated topic, with experts weighing in about the importance of providing balanced and complete meals or balancing over time.  Then there are those that feed mostly animal products (Prey Model Raw) and others that include more functional plant content (B.A.R.F.).  Not to mention the cooked versus raw debate.  As you can imagine, there are lots of choices to make, and it will be a personal choice that suits your dog, lifestyle and budget the best.  Feeding your dog a high quality diet can be as easy or as complicated as you like.  It can also be as affordable or as pricey as you like.

three happy dogs with food bowls of fres

It's important to look at this from a pragmatic approach.  Each dog is an individual; therefore, it will require an individual dietary plan.  There are many factors to take into account regarding your dog before deciding which method of fresh feeding will suit best.  Let's look at some of the basics of fresh food feeding:

Prey Model Raw (PMR)

Prey model raw is a type of raw feeding diet for dogs that aims to mimic the natural diet of a wild carnivorous animal. It is based on the concept that dogs are biologically designed to eat a diet that primarily consists of whole prey animals. In the prey model raw diet, dogs are fed a variety of raw meat, bones and organs. The diet typically consists of approximately 80% animal protein, 10% raw bone, 10% excreting organs such as liver, kidney, heart and spleen.  You may sometimes hear of this being the 80:10:10 ratio diet.  This type of diet is believed to provide the essential nutrients and enzymes that dogs need for optimal health. It is important to note that prey model raw feeding requires careful balance and supervision to ensure that dogs receive all the necessary nutrients.

B.A.R.F (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food)

BARF is another type of raw feeding diet for dogs. Similar to the prey model raw diet, BARF aims to provide dogs with a natural and species-appropriate diet. It includes a variety of raw meat, bones, organs, and some plant matter. The main difference between BARF and prey model raw is that BARF allows for a slightly higher percentage of plant matter in the diet, typically around 10-20%. This can include fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based ingredients such as seeds and nuts. The BARF diet is based on the belief that dogs can benefit from the nutrients found in these plant sources. However, it is important to note that the majority of a dog's diet should still consist of animal protein. Like prey model raw, the BARF diet requires careful balance and supervision to ensure that dogs receive all the necessary nutrients for optimal health.

Balanced and complete meals v’s balancing over time

The main argument for providing balance in every meal (like in commercial petfoods) is that it’s easy to get raw feeding wrong if you are not following the basic principles of providing your dog with the correct proportions of meat, organs and bones.  If you exclude any of these groups, or get the proportions wrong, then nutritional deficiencies can arise over time.  This is one of the main concerns a vet will have about feeding a homemade diet.  They are the ones who see the consequences of nutrient deficiencies; therefore, it’s crucial to get it right.

Firstly, pet food manufacturers often use the term "complete and balanced" to imply that their products provide all the necessary nutrients for a dog's health. However, this term can be misleading. In reality, commercial pet foods, especially dry kibble, may fall short in providing the optimal nutrition that dogs need. The concept of "complete and balanced" is more of a marketing gimmick rather than a guarantee of nutritional adequacy. It's important to understand that a fresh, raw diet that includes a variety of high-quality ingredients is a more biologically appropriate and nutritious option for dogs.

balance scales with fresh meat, chicken, vegetables, blueberries.jpg

Trying to balance a homemade diet in every meal is labour-intensive and, in my opinion, just not achievable, even with a so-called ‘complete and balanced’ recipe. The smallest alteration to the recipe can throw it out of balance, leading to a parent becoming overwhelmed and dissuading them from creating homemade meals at all.  

Balancing meals over time is a more effective approach than trying to balance each meal. That’s what dogs would do in the wild, where no one meal would contain all the nutrients they need. However, balancing over time doesn’t mean you can’t strive for a balance of nutritionally diverse foods in one bowl. Once you get your head around the basic ingredients and proportions of formulating a nutritionally complete diet, you’ll be able to mix it up each day, week or month to balance things out.  Variety is key to meeting our dog's nutritional needs and supporting their overall health.

Raw v’s Cooked

When it comes to feeding dogs, raw food is generally considered more biologically appropriate and beneficial compared to cooked food. Raw food retains its natural enzymes, vitamins, and minerals, which can be lost during the cooking process.

Cooking can also alter the nutritional composition of certain ingredients. Raw food, on the other hand, closely mimics what dogs would eat in the wild and provides them with essential nutrients in a more natural form.

Although raw food is the ultimate goal with homemade meals, there are some instances where lightly cooked meals are better suited.  Some reasons include:

  • Young children or immunocompromised people living in the house – Raw foods can contain pathogens that can be passed on to humans; therefore, handling raw food safely and maintaining proper hygiene to minimise the risk of bacterial contamination is paramount.  Lightly cooking the food can decrease the risk of passing on any harmful pathogens. 

  • The digestive tract in older dogs may be slightly less tolerance to raw food, therefore lightly cooking can help them digest it.   

  • Dogs transitioning to a raw diet can sometimes find it easier to go from a predominantly dry food diet to fresh homemade food if it is lightly cooked.

  • Fussy eaters will find cooked food more palatable, but the end goal would be to reduce the amount of cooking time as the dog gets used to freshfood.   

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