The Raw Pride of Wirral
The Dog's Diner Moreton Wirral
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Vet's Blog

Our Vet's Blog

This is a copy of our Veterinary Advisor Graham Hines' Blog which hopefully has some useful information

Next Vaccicheck Clinic on the Wirral


Saturday May 7th 2022 10.00 to 1pm


Our next Titre testing cinic at the Dogs Diner on the Wirral is on the above date.

Ring the Diner on use their facebook site to book

The Dog's Diner Ltd, Tarran Way North, Moreton Wirral CH46 4UB

0151 678 2588

Prices £35.00 per dog

What is Titre Testing?

You can read all about vaccinations and titre testing on the my website at

Basically we will take a blood sample from your pet, take it to our lab and using an antibody test kit measure to see if she has antibodies to Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus. If she has you don't need to vaccinate her. If not it may be advisable.

We use the "Vaccicheck" brand of test kit 

which is described here.

When should I have my dog tested?

  • Leave 3-4 weeks after puppy vaccinations and do then.
  • Before your pets annual vaccine is due
  • Before going to kennels or having treatment

Why should I have my dog tested?

If he has antibodies to a disease he does not need to have a vaccine but you can still rest easy and feel he is safe. Why vaccinate if it is not needed?

Email or phone if you need more information if you want to speak to me.


Evidence for the value and benefits of raw feeding increases...


 I would like to share with you some recent research which I was privileged to hear about on webinars and reading over the past month or so.

Should dogs and cats be fed a high carbohydrate diet?

1. Comparing Wolves and Dogs natural starch consumption

Dogs genomes are different to wolves in a number of aspects including the fact they have genes which allow them to produce amylase (the enzymes which the gut uses to digest starch. Does this mean they can therefore be fed high levels of carbs?

Research has shown that wolves diet consists of approximately 50:50 fat and protein and only 1% starch 

Domestic dogs of a wide variety of sizes and breeds if allowed to self select foods choose to eat 4-7% starch. 

(Feral) Cats naturally eat about 2% starch and natural would choose to avoid more starch if given a free choice.

Wild animals will by the laws of natural selection will eat the foods that give them the best chance of survival.

So why do Commercial cat foods contain as much as 40% starch can we find research to back this up and disagree with the above assumptions. Yes there is a study Hall et al 2018 which found cats would choose t eat more starch than that...

How did they get this figure that is so different - They used as protein sources total un-natural foods such a pea and wheat protein as their food sources because as you can see on the slide and cats like chicken better.
What?!!! Guess who sponsored this research HILLS

There are similar studies in the dog...

Above dogs should to eat less than 10% starch if given the choice and no surprise there is a studies sponsored by H*** Pet Nut*** attempting to dispute this ad again they chose to add to the diet a chicken flavour enhancer to all the diet from which the dogs could chose. They found dogs ate significantly more starchy carbs:

Why do the commercial food guys add carbohydrate? 

1. Its a much cheaper source of calories

2. You need to use starch to bind the kibble and form the dry foods

We have shown dogs and cats would not chose to eat very much starch but is it harmful?

There is increasing evidence to support observations myself and other holistic vets have been seeing for years that pets do much better on a raw based, minimal starch diet or even a cooked home prepared diet if they are balanced of course.

1. a small study compared the number of Toxocara canis egg in dogs fed on raw and processed diet found drastically less worm eggs shed in raw fed dogs:

It would seem the immune system of dogs that are naturally fed are much better able to defend themselves against this intestinal worm. 

A small study on the gene expression of white blood cells - the immune system cells macrophages and found differences in transcriptome expression. Basically within 3 weeks of changing between raw and processed diet there was an increase in inflammatory cell expression. Kibble causes chronic inflammation.

Studies in Finland I think I have written about before show that raw foods are dramatically protective in preventing Canine Atopy Dermatitis CAD in dogs fed a raw diet in the pre-natal period. The lowest levels of CAD in young adults was in the cohort in which the dam was raw fed and pups weaned on to raw food with intermediate level were pups were raw fed soon post weaning.

In other words an ultra processed carbohydrate based diets are a major risk factor in CAD 

(Atopy is inflammation of the skin caused by allergy and extremely common in practice.~)


Newer studies I think are getting us a step closer - it's the microbiome. There are dramatic differences in the bacterial populations in the gut and stool of raw fed low starch diets. There are increases in the variety of bacteria found in raw fed animals.

There are dramatic changes in the numbers and types of bacteria in not only the faeces but also the skin microbiome. We do not know what each type of bacteria does as yet and there is a lot more to learn. 

I will tell you more as I learn it.

Anti raw campaigners will use figures such as an increase in E. Coli spp. & Clostridium spp to berate raw and cite it as evidence raw is dangerous. But there are many sub-species or strains of these bacteria and increasing evidence in fact increased levels of clostridiceae is associated with faecal health and low faecal volume and a healthy microbiome.

The other measure is of the metabolome - chemicals in the body -  Kibble fed dogs have higher levels of methionine and cystathionine chemicals associated with inflammation and bile acids are higher which has in man been associated with colon cancer.

Another small study measured transcriptome in the skin of a small number of Staffies comparing the raw fed to the kibble fed and there are some evidence of an improved immunity and reduced oxidative stress

Most of these studies are very small numbers of animals and of course will be criticised by Big Kibble - Mars, Pedigree , Nestle and other pet food manufactures. 

The micro biome research is very new and I am sure we will learn more over the next few years to support our observations in practice.

If you want to read more then may I suggest reading my Irish Colleague Conor Brady's excellent book

The RFVS Raw Feeding Veterinary Society

We are trying to sponsor our own research into the benefits/risks of Natural Feeding to be able to challenge Big Kibble if you can donate anything please do

Donation Page

References - see images and more available on request.

D. Knueven DVM (personal communication )


Coconut Oil - Is it good for your Dog?


 Coconut oil is a fashionable addition to the diets of both people and there pets. 

Is it good for your dog? NO stick to an species appropriate diet

Not according to these researcher. Unless your pets microbiome is used to these forms of oil it can cause more problems than it helps.

Have a listen to this youtube interview:

You can really upset the delicate balance of your pets gut flora and cause inflammatory chemical to leak out of the gut with coconut oil and many other novel foods which pets are not used to or evolved to consume. Read more about the microbiome on my website.

The microbiome is the population of micro-organisms which live along side us in or gut and elsewhere and I think is the reason a raw diet helps so many of my patients.


Raw Feeding Research an Update


 This weekend I attended a seminar on raw feeding from  RAW FEEDING VETERINARY SOCIETY

I would like to share some of the results with you

Raw Feeding and Allergies

Vets who advocate Raw Feeding will confirm that they see a reduction in the severity of skin allergy (atopic dermatitis) and IBS (Inflammatory Bowel Diseases) when they change a dog onto a raw diet.

This has been confirmed in research presented to the conference by a Finish Group led by Anna Hielm-Björkman DVM, PhD in Finland 

When a breeding bitch is fed a raw diet and her puppies are fed raw for the first few months of life the incidence of Canine Atopic dermatitis is 3 times 300% less likely to occur. There are other factors such as genetics but diet has a huge affect.

Similar results abut the development of IBD in later life is found

You can have a look at the studies at 

Anna and her team run DOG RISK in Finland and need funds to improve the data and run more studies. If you feel you can donate so we can gain more evidence to fight back against Mars Nestle and the like please make a small donation


Should you neuter your pet? New study shows how complex the decision is.


Neutering (including spaying) of male and female dogs in the first year after birth has become routine in the U.S. and much of Europe, but recent research reveals that for some dog breeds, neutering may be associated with increased risks of debilitating joint disorders and some cancers, complicating pet owners' decisions on neutering. 

 The joint disorders include hip dysplasia, cranial cruciate ligament tear or rupture, and elbow dysplasia. 

 The cancers include lymphoma, mast cell tumor, hemangiosarcoma, and osteosarcoma Neutering previous studies on the Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever and German Shepherd Dog, neutering before a year of age was associated with increased risks of one or more joint disorders, 2–4 times that of intact dogs 
 There were major breed differences in vulnerability to neutering, both with regard to joint disorders and cancers. In most cases, the caregiver can choose the age of neutering without increasing the risks of these joint disorders or cancers. 
 Small-dog breeds seemed to have no increased risks of joint disorders associated with neutering, and in only two small breeds (Boston Terrier and Shih Tzu) was there a significant increase in cancers. To assist pet owners and veterinarians in deciding on the age of neutering a specific dog, guidelines that avoid increasing the risks of a dog acquiring these joint disorders or cancers are laid out for neutering ages on a breed-by-breed and sex basis.


from Avidog 

Certainly I recommend you DO NOT have a larger breed dog >25kg adult weight neutered until she is fully developed physically - which can be well over a year

Consider sterilisation: vasectomy or surgery to remove uterus but not the ovaries if you want to avoid unwanted pregnancies 


Raw Hide Chews, Dentastix and other treats


Raw Hide Chews - Perhaps the Most Dangerous Chew on the Planet

This diagram shows how they are made - they are really processed leather

How can one of the most popular chew sticks on the planet be so dangerous for your pets, you ask?

I mean, most dogs chew on rawhide for hours on end, and not only does it keep them busy, but they seem to last forever.

Well if you understood what it took to make this toxic “raw” leather stick, you would quickly understand what the problem is.

Aside from the horror stories circulating all over social media these days, of pets needing emergency surgery after consuming rawhide, the majority of pet parents today, especially the newbies, believe that this chew is some sort of dried up meat stick.

Let me debunk that myth right away!

A rawhide stick is not the by-product of the beef industry nor is it made of dehydrated meat. Rather, rawhide is the by-product of the “Leather Industry”, so theoretically it is a leather chew.

How It’s Made

“Producing rawhide begins with the splitting of an animal hide, usually from cattle. The top grain is generally tanned and made into leather products, while the inner portion, in its “raw” state, goes to the dogs.”

So, how does this leather, which is conveniently rolled up into pretty shapes, actually get made into those rawhide chews?

Follow along my friends and I will enlighten you on how this hide travels through a leathery process where it transforms from hide to a not-so beautiful, colorful, chew stick. Here is a paraphrased tutorial that was explained by the whole dog journal several years back:

STEP 1: To The Tannery

Normally, cattle hides are shipped from slaughterhouses to tanneries for processing. These hides are then treated with a chemical bath to help “preserve” the product during transport to help prevent spoilage.

(No one wants to purchase a black, spoiled rawhide stick!)

Once at the tannery: the hides are soaked and treated with either an ash-lye solution or a highly toxic recipe of sodium sulphide liming. This process will help strip the hair and fat that maybe attached to the hides themselves.

(No, no one wants to see a hairy hide…)

Next on this glorious journey, these hides are then treated with chemicals that help “puff” the hide, making it easier to split into layers.

The outer layer of the hide is used for goods like car seats, clothing, shoes, purses, etc. But, it’s the inner layer that is needed to make the rawhide. (Oh and other things like gelatin, cosmetics, and glue as well!)

STEP 2: Cleansed In Chemicals

Now that we have the inner layer of the hide, it’s time to go to the post-tannery stage! Hides are washed and whitened using a solution of hydrogen peroxide and/or bleach; this will also help remove the smell of the rotten or putrid leather.

When I was involved in Port Health work in London Ports we would regularly test chews and find Salmonella and reject them, perhaps this is why they treat so throughly

STEP 3: Make It Look Pretty

Now it’s time to make these whitened sheets of this “leathery by-product” look delicious! So, here is where the artistic painting process comes in.

“Basted, smoked, and decoratively tinted products might be any color (or odor) underneath the coating of (often artificial) dyes and flavors. They can even be painted with a coating of titanium oxide to make them appear white and pretty on the pet store shelves.” –

“…the Material Safety Data Sheet reveals a toxic confection containing the carcinogen FD&C Red 40, along with preservatives like sodium benzoate. But tracking the effects of chemical exposure is nearly impossible when it’s a matter of slow, low-dose poisoning.”–

Ok, now that these hides have been painted, it’s time for the final process.

Think this is bad? Check out what’s in your dog’s kibble… Click here!

STEP 4: Getting It To Last Forever!

When tested: Lead, Arsenic, Mercury, Chromium salts, Formaldehyde and other toxic chemicals have been detected in rawhides.

So it’s safe to say that any sort of glues can be used as well!

Finally, it’s time to package and attach all the glorious marketing labels to the product.

Check out the fine print warning that’s attached with some of these rawhides:
Choking or blockages. If your dog swallows large pieces of rawhide, the rawhide can get stuck in the esophagus or other parts of the digestive tract. Sometimes, abdominal surgery is needed to remove them from the stomach or intestines. If it isn’t resolved, a blockage can lead to death.

(Oh, how lovely…)

And there it is! It’s now ready to be shipped to store shelves where it can be purchased for our loving animal companions.

How do proactive veterinarians feel about these chews?

Dr Becker:

“The name ‘rawhide’ is technically incorrect. A more accurate name would be processed-hide, because the skin isn’t raw at all. But the term “rawhide” has stuck.

Rawhide chews start out hard, but as your dog works the chew it becomes softer, and eventually he can unknot the knots on each end and the chew takes on the consistency of a slimy piece of taffy or bubble gum. And by that time your dog cannot stop working it — it becomes almost addictive.

At this point, there’s no longer any dental benefit to the chew because it has turned soft and gooey, and, in fact, it has become a choking and intestinal obstruction hazard.”

P.S. Ready for the jaw dropper?

In the USA an investigation by Humane Society International stated in their report, “In a particularly grisly twist, the skins of brutally slaughtered dogs in Thailand are mixed with other bits of skin to produce rawhide chew toys for pet dogs. Manufacturers told investigators that these chew toys are regularly exported to and sold in the US


Let the picture do the talking:

So what is safe, healthier?

the treats

Have a look at our range of healthier treats.


Raw Feeding Veterinary Society: Benefit, Bugs, Balance and Bones


Many and varied are the arguments presented against Biologically Appropriate Raw Diets for Pets.

It is worth looking behind those arguments for vested interest. The RFVS has produced a brilliant rebuttal of those criticisms which you can find by following the link here.

As a veterinary surgeon I have been advising Raw Feeding for over 15 years, to the benefit of of our patients, and would never go back.

These are reason, researched arguments for feeding BARF diets to our cats and dogs.



How to make Golden Paste


This is the basic recipe to make golden paste for yourself or your pet

Basically we have the herb Tumeric, with some black pepper which helps it to be absorbed from the intestine and some healthy oils. Use for arthritis in particular and to boost the immune system perhaps if cancer is a problem in your companion.


  • 125 ml / 60g turmeric powder
  • 250 ml plus extra water in reserve, if needed
  • (70 ml) coconut oil (use raw, unrefined, cold-pressed)
    OR linseed oil (flaxseed)
    OR olive oil (use virgin / extra virgin)
  • 2 teaspoons freshly cracked (ground) black pepper
  • Omit pepper if you cannot tolerate it. The absorption of turmeric will still be improved by cooking it and adding oil, but it will be less effective without the pepper.

    Cracked pepper and ground pepper refer to the same thing. How finely it's ground is up to the user. If you like to have crunchy bits of pepper in your golden paste, then grind it less finely. If you don't (and that's probably most of us), grind it more finely.


1) Bring the turmeric and water to a boil in a saucepan, then lower heat and simmer until you have a thick paste. This should take about 7-10 minutes and you may need to add the extra water along the way for good consistency.

2) Add the freshly cracked (ground) pepper and oil AFTER cooking, when it has been removed from heat and cooled down (still warm to touch but not burning), about 10 minutes later.

3) Stir in well to mix the oil in everywhere and allow to cool again (if coconut oil is hard, it should melt in the mixture).

Do not use pre-made pepper meal (pre-ground pepper that you buy for pepper shakers). The active ingredient in black pepper (piperine) is oxidised when exposed to the air and also degraded by light, so not much is left in the pre-ground pepper purchased in the store.

Start with 1/4 of a teaspoon, twice a day (with food and water), and build up to 3 - 4 times a day, for the first 4-5 days.

If you need more effect, increase to 1/2 - 3/4 of a teaspoon 3 - 4 times a day depending on the size of the patient. You don't need much. Some people and larger dogs move on to a full teaspoon for even more effect. See what your body needs and feed small amounts routinely to keep it in your system. 

When adding turmeric to the diet for the first time, if there are any signs of loose stools or upset stomach then you may wish to reduce your serving to 1/8 tsp or so, and remain at a lower amount for a longer period. It will eventually pass and your gut microbiome will soon benefit.

It will keep in the fridge for 2-3 weeks or you can freeze it and thaw a bit at a time.

Some dogs may smell a little like cat pee after starting Golden Paste. We're not exactly sure why, but it will eventually go away. One way to eliminate or at least reduce the odor is to add Ceylon cinnamon to the golden paste.


Raw Feeding - How safe is it??

You may have seen articles in the press recently questioning the

Evidence for the benefits of Raw Feeding Pets

The Safety of Raw Feeding both to the pet and the owner

See this article in the Veterinary Record

I listen to the seminar or webinar given by Mike Davies MRCVS a vet with much experience of pet nutrition, having worked for Hills

He pints of the risks of raw feeding to be

Bones - getting stuck in the gut or perforating the gut

Food poisoning - He quotes the fact that the following bacteria as well as some viruses are found in raw meat and could give both pet and carer food poisoning:


E Coli



as some rarer bugs

Raw meat for the butcher or frozen pet foods do have bacteria on the surface and in the case of ground up products the surface contamination is mixed into the substance of the package.
So yes there is a risk. Freezing does not kill all bacteria, it does most worms and protozoa and reduces the number of bacteria.

Reputable pet food manufacturers will test to ensure levels are as low as possible and than they would be acceptable as human foods but this cannot prevent all bacteria.


Buy from a reputable source

Keep frozen until used

Do not store thawed out meals for over 24 hours and even then store refrigerated. Always store and prepare separate from human foods in particular foods which will not be throughly cooked before use.

Use separate utensils for raw and cooked foods

Wash hands between handling with antibacterial soaps.

Be extra careful if you have someone in the family with immune system problems.

But there are very, very few incidents of food poisoning from raw pet foods and examples of food poisoning from dog treats and kibbles. Have you seen those cooked bones in an unfridgerated pet shop or market stall shelf, Salmonella in raw hide chews. There are many risks in the kitchen but be aware and take care.

Large knucke type bones - can crack teeth take care - No bones though = dirty teeth rotting with periodontitis

Large lumps of bone can get stuck. It is in my experience that other objects, balls, carpets, rubber toys and much more commonly removed from dogs with forgeign bodys in the gut.

Feed soft chewable bones Chicken wings, necks except to very small dogs rib bones, tracheas, feet. Avoid cooked bones completely. Avoid 'chop' bones
or just feed ground up minced bone

Evidence raw diets are better

There may be no Randomly controlled trials to say they took 500 dogs; feed fed half a balanced raw diet and half a kibble and looked for evidence of disease in each subset over the dogs lifetime but just try feeding raw to your pet and see how his health improves..

Raw diets may not be balanced

Mr Davies quoted anecdotal reports that raw feeding gave rise to dogs with rickets, cats with heart disease and other deficiencies in their diet causing problems.

Yes I can see people may make errors and YOU MUST LOOK INTO A CORRECT BALANCE OF FOODS and follow it but if you can feed yourself and your children a balanced diet why can you not your pet?

Here are some of the common pitfalls form a veterinary surgeon

Diana Bocco for PetMD, discusses five mistakes dog parents often make when switching their pets to a raw diet.

Mistake No. 1: Not Understanding the Basics of Canine Nutrition
Many (and I would say most) homemade and prey-model diets and even some commercially available raw diets are nutritionally unbalanced. This can cause dogs to become deficient in antioxidants, or the correct amounts of trace minerals and vitamins, or the right fatty acid balance for appropriate and balanced skeletal growth, and organ and immune health.
Just because nutritional deficiencies aren't obvious in your dog doesn't mean they don't exist. A considerable amount of research has gone into determining what nutrients dogs need to survive. At a minimum, we do a disservice to dogs by taking a casual approach to ensuring they receive all the nutrients they require for good health.
What's sad and somewhat interesting to me is the number of lay people arguing about basic nutrient requirements to just sustain a dog's existence. We have proven (through experiments I hope are never repeated) the bare bone nutrients needed to sustain life in a puppy and kitten. Nutritionists did this decades ago, which is how we came up with "minimum nutrient requirements," which means we've proven the minimums necessary to sustain life. 
Research is clear on what happens when you deprive dogs of calcium, iodine, selenium, magnesium, copper, iron, manganese, vitamins D and E, potassium and a whole range of critical nutrients necessary for cell growth, repair and maintenance. There's no reason to run these experiments again from your own kitchen; it will cost you your dog's health.
There should be four primary components in a raw diet for dogs: meat, including organs; pureed vegetables and fruit; a homemade vitamin and mineral mix (in most cases); and beneficial additions like probiotics, digestive enzymes and super green foods (these aren't required to balance the diet, but can be beneficial for vitality).
A healthy dog's diet should contain about 75 to 85 percent meat/organs/bones and 15 to 25 percent veggies/fruits (this mimics the GI contents of prey, providing fiber and antioxidants as well). This "80/10/10" base is an excellent starting point for recipes, but is far from being balanced and is not appropriate to feed long term without addressing the significant micronutrient deficiencies present.
Fresh, whole food provides the majority of nutrients dogs need, and a micronutrient vitamin/mineral mix takes care of deficiencies that may exist, namely iron, copper, manganese, zinc, iodine, vitamins D and E, folic acid and taurine. If you opt not to use supplements, you must add in whole food sources of these nutrients, which requires additional money and creativity.
If you're preparing a homemade diet for your pet, I can't emphasize enough the importance of ensuring it's nutritionally balanced. Making your dog's food from scratch requires you to make sure you're meeting macro and micronutrient requirements. Do not guess. Follow nutritionally balanced recipes. The good news? Dr. Mercola/Healthy Pets is releasing a human-grade vitamin/mineral mix for homemade meals in a few months that will make balancing homemade meals a snap.

Mistake No. 2: Feeding Only Raw Meat

Many well-meaning pet guardians are confusing balanced, species-appropriate nutrition with feeding hunks of raw muscle meat to their dog. Although fresh meat is a good source of protein and some minerals, it doesn't represent a balanced diet. Feeding a basic "80/10/10" diet is also nutritionally unbalanced and will cause significant issues over time.
Wild canines eat nearly all the parts of their prey, including small bones, internal organs, blood, brain, glands, hair, skin, teeth, eyes, tongue and other tasty treats. Many of these parts of prey animals provide important nutrients, and in fact, this is how carnivores in the wild nutritionally balance their diets.
An exclusive diet of ground up chicken carcasses, for example, is lacking the minimum requirements for a number of vital nutrients in comparison to a nutritionally complete whole prey item, and falls grossly short of almost all nutrients to meet even AAFCO's minimum nutrient requirements (which isn't saying much).
These include potassium, iron, copper, manganese, zinc, iodine, selenium and vitamins A, D, E, B12 and choline. The vast majority of prey model diets fall into this category, which is why so many vets are opposed to them; they grossly undernourish animals, despite delivering sufficient calories, which is a recipe for disaster over time.

Some people are shocked to discover higher fat meats (such as ground beef at over 20 percent fat) will fail to meet a dog's basic amino acid requirements. You may also hear some people say that feeding a meat-based diet can make your dog mean. Research demonstrates that indeed, feeding a tryptophan (amino acid)-deficient diet (which is what happens when fatty, less expensive meats and carcasses are used as the mainstays in homemade diets) can result in behavior changes.
In addition, many homemade raw diet feeders create diets that are predominantly chicken-based, because chicken is cheap. Chicken meat must be balanced with omega 3-rich foods to control inflammation. Ground up whole chicken fryers have an omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio of 20:1! That's a lot of inflammation to feed to your dog! I recommend making sure foods don't cross the 5:1 ratio, and the goal would be to a 2:1 ratio.
Some conditions brought on by nutritional deficiencies can be corrected through diet, others cannot. And don't make the mistake of thinking all you need to do is throw a few fresh veggies in the bowl or a little bit of liver to make up the difference. Balancing your pet's food to provide optimal nutrition is a bit more complex.

Mistake No. 3: Forgetting Roughage
Maned wolves have been reported to consume up to 38 percent plant matter during certain times of the year. We know domesticated dogs voluntarily graze on grasses and plant matter for a variety of reasons, including meeting their body's requirements for enzymes, fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients.
Providing adequate amounts of low-glycemic, fibrous vegetables also provides prebiotic fibers necessary to nourish your dog's microbiome and contributes to overall gut and colon health.
Some fruits, for example, blueberries, are rich sources of antioxidants, so it's important not to overlook them when planning your dog's nutritionally balanced raw diet. You can puree fruits, along with appropriate veggies, and add them into the raw mixture; you can also offer them whole in small pieces as treats or snacks as long as your dog has no problem digesting them. A good rule of thumb is to keep produce content less than 25 percent of the diet.

Mistake No. 4: Ignoring the Potential Need for Supplements
There are only two options for assuring nutritional adequacy in homemade diets: feeding a more expensive, whole food recipe that contains a significant number of diversified ingredients necessary to meet nutrient requirements, or using supplements. I'm not going to list the third and most common choice here (feed an unbalanced diet) because this shouldn't be an option, in my opinion.
After seeing countless people unintentionally harm their pets by guessing at recipes and telling me, "They look fine to me right now. I wish you'd quit harping about balance," only to call me three years later to say, "I realize now what you were talking about, and I'm so sad I didn't believe you." I cannot ever endorse feeding an unbalanced diet for longer than about three months (for adult animals), because I know the power of nutrition. Our soils are nutritionally depleted, therefore our foods are nutritionally deficient.
I know some people don't understand or care about supplying the "bare bones" minimum nutrients necessary to sustain life without negative biochemical changes, much less having a burning desire to provide the vast nutritional resources needed to amp up detoxification pathways necessary to upregulate biochemical pathways required to cope with the overwhelming number of chemicals we put into our pet's bodies (dozens of unnecessary vaccines, topical pesticide applications, toxic cleaning supplies and lawn chemicals, etc.), so they don't.
And the body becomes nutritionally depleted and can no longer do its job excellently. I believe if we take on the task of preparing homemade meals for our pets we have a responsibility to make sure the food provides the basic nutrients necessary for normal cellular repair and maintenance.
Most homemade diets lack the correct calcium and phosphorus balance as well as essential fatty acid balance. Adequate amounts of whole food sources of zinc, copper, iodine, manganese, selenium, vitamin E and D are also hard to come by using whole food sources.
Some "superfood" powders, such as microalgae and spirulina, can provide a very small (inadequate) amount of these critical nutrients to the body, but not enough to call them sufficient "whole food multi-vitamins." Not even a pound of spirulina added to a pound of fresh meat provides enough trace minerals for dogs.
Likewise, there's not enough copper in chicken livers to meet a dog's copper requirements without throwing off the balance of other nutrients. So when I hear someone say, "I've added chicken livers to meet trace mineral requirements" I know they haven't seen the numbers to realize how deficient the diet will be if they do this.
When evaluating a recipe for nutritional adequacy, a good place to start is with these hard-to-come-by nutrients. Are there nuts or seeds added as a whole food source of vitamin E and selenium? Is kelp added as a source of iodine, and if not, is there a supplement added to meet iodine requirements?
Adequate levels of zinc are found in oysters, but not a lot of other foods at the levels required to adequately support a dog's body, hence the addition of a zinc supplement to healthy recipes. Adequate vitamin D is found in sardines and some pasture-raised livers (but not factory farmed livers).
If the recipe lacks richly colored vegetables, then there should be an alternative source of manganese and potassium included in the recipe as well (unless you want to feed red rodent hair, which is a rich source of manganese in the wild). Here's an easy recipe I created that shows where the nutrients come from to make the meal nutritionally balanced. And here's a raw, balanced, chicken recipe. The more variety you feed, the better.
The problem is that most raw feeders get stuck feeding the same blends of meat, bone and organ over and over, which is where the bulk of problems come in and why most vets discourage fresh food in the first place.
If you don't see ample amounts of a variety of whole foods listed in the recipes (or amounts of these supplements to add) then the diet is probably nutritionally inadequate. Feeding an unbalanced meal now and then is fine. Feeding unbalanced meals day after day is what causes problems over time.
And because "nutrition (deficiency) is never a crisis," as Dr. Richard Patton says, many well-meaning pet lovers end up unintentionally creating degenerative issues that could be avoided through feeding a balanced diet. Recipes provided by nutritionists or knowledgeable fresh food advocates provide a nutritional breakdown that shows you the amounts of nutrients found in the recipes.

Two months ago, I saw a Wheaton Terrier who had been on an unbalanced raw diet for a year. Six months ago, she visited the dermatologist for a non-healing crack on her footpad that was creating discomfort for her.
After spending hundreds of dollars on biopsies, drugs, creams and bandage changes, the owner visited me for a third opinion. We discussed the micronutrients missing from the dog's diet needed for normal cell repair and healing and added them in. Two weeks later the dog was able to be liberated from her e-collar for the first time in months because her foot pad was finally healing.
Some dogs benefit from additional supplements to support specific organ systems, such as joint support for seniors. The supplements that may be best for your dog depend on a variety of factors, including breed and disease susceptibility, age, weight, activity level, sterilization status, chronic health conditions and more. It's important to work with your veterinarian to determine what supplements, in addition to those added to the food to balance the diet, your dog may need, how much to give and how often.

Mistake No. 5: Letting Safety Concerns Scare You
There are a number of organizations, including conventional veterinary groups, government agencies and of course the processed pet food industry, that have taken a public stand against raw pet food diets. Sadly, the fear mongering has had an effect. If you're worried about raw food pathogens, it's important to note that there's a whole class of raw pet foods currently available that are sterile at the time of purchase.
Just as a significant percentage of the human meat supply has been treated with a sterilization technique called high-pressure pasteurization (HPP), many raw commercially available pet foods have also opted for this sterilization technique to reduce potential pathogens.
As for "non-sterile" raQw diets, the meat used in commercially available raw food is USDA-inspected and no different from the steak and chicken purchased for human consumption from a grocery store. It should be handled with the same safety precautions you use when you prepare, say, burgers for your family.
It's all the same meat. Your counters, bowls, cutting surfaces and utensils should be disinfected whether the raw meat is intended for your pet or human family members. Most adults understand that handling raw meat carries the potential for contact with pathogens, which is why appropriate sanitary measures are important whether you're handling your pet's raw food or your own.
Despite the inherent risks associated with handling raw meat, pet parents have been feeding raw diets to their dogs for decades, and to date, to my knowledge not one documented case of raw pet food causing illness in humans has been reported.
If you're already successfully feeding your pet a balanced raw diet, I hope you'll disregard misguided warnings and continue to offer your dog or cat real, fresh, living foods. If you're feeding an unbalanced diet, please take the time to source nutritionally complete recipes and follow them to assure you're feeding your pet everything they need. Or switch to a commercial raw diet that's done the balancing for you.
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