Here is a little exercise for those who are having a hard time trying to sort out 'the big picture' when it comes to Raw Feeding. I hope it helps a little :-):
On the Raw Feeding list and other lists we talk in depth about our dogs diet. We break it down, dissect it, discuss certain aspects of it and analyse it. This is a great thing to do, as we are learning more and more about nutrition and how to help our dogs have a long and healthy life through diet. But, because we are breaking it down in to small pieces so much, sometimes things get a little confusing and we can forget that the diet is more than just the sum of its parts. A tree is more than what we see through a microscope. If we only ever looked at a tree through a microscope, what would we be missing? Would we really be seeing what a tree 'is'?
Ok, so lets try and step back and look at the Raw Feeding diet as we would look at a tree. Not through a microscope, but by standing back and examining/admiring it as a whole.
The simplest way to do this for starters, is to imagine a dogs diet as an animal. A prey animal perhaps.
Most of the animal is made up of meat and bones. A prey animal in the wild is a lean animal - not fat and plump like those raised domestically for meat. The amount of meat to bone is close to 50/50. Perhaps a little more meat than bone overall, but not overly much. (If you need to visualise a specific 'animal' for the exercise, try using a rabbit perhaps).
Then you have the organs. Imagine the amount of organs compared to the bones. It is a much smaller percentage of the whole animal than the bones and meat.
Now vegetable matter. In the animals stomach and intestines there will be things like grasses, herbs, berries, seeds and so forth. No grains really apart from some grass seeds in season. Lots of leafy green vegetable matter all pulped up. Again though, it is a smaller percentage than the amount of bones and meat
Now, visualise those three things making up the animal - meat/bones, organs, vegetable matter.
Ok, but that is not it is it? That is not all we are feeding, surely? Well, no. But back to our prey animal to explain that.
Imagine the prey animal living in an environment that is not overgrazed and has lovely healthy rich soil. The diet it is eating is full of nutrients and trace elements and has good levels of omega 3's. The prey animal is also a 'whole animal and includes the things most people don't buy commercially such as eyes and brain etc (things higher in omega 3's). To emulate this, we can include things like kelp/alfalfa and flax/fish oil.
In its stomach along with all those vegetables, it will also have some enzymes and bacteria. This is where things like probiotics (eg yoghurt) can come in to the picture.
So, here we have the basic 'animal' that forms the foundation of the diet. Picture all the bits together in the proportions you might find them in the animal. Now picture them in your dogs bowl.
Ok, but now we come to another question. Do I have to feed them this every day? Do I have to make the whole animal in my dogs bowl every day? To answer that I will ask a question - what is the likelyhood of a dog in the wild catching a and eating a whole animal every day?
Some days it may get the whole animal. Another day it may share in some meat/bones from a larger animal. Or it may feast on another part while someone else gets meat/bones. Overall however, while the balance may be over time rather than every day, the amounts of each type of food consumed are likely to stay similar to those found in a single animal. So, still think of the singe animal, but perhaps 'cut it into bits' and feed it over a number of meals.
Of course there are also other things 'outside' this basic visualisation. Things like fish or eggs for example, that can still make up a part of the diet. These things are a bit like the birds nesting in that tree I was talking about at the beginning ;-). Not part of the tree, but still part of the picture if you want them to be.
Well, I hope this helps some of you a little. Whenever you feel yourself overwhelmed by the detail you see under the Raw Feeding microscope, step back for a minute and take a look at your picture. Visualise your Raw Feeding 'animal' and see what it looks like.
Relax, keep things simple and sit back and observe from a distance for a while. That 'big picture' is quite a work of art :-).
To learn more about improving dog behaviour and how to be the leader of your pack using completely non aggressive methods, click here.