Good nutrition is first and foremost in helping your pet to stay healthy as it provides the basic building blocks that the body needs to function optimally. After changing to this diet many animals show a remarkable improvement in their condition and often, chronic ongoing health problems begin to resolve.

DOGS:
• 50 – 70% good quality raw meat like chicken, mutton, lamb, fish or eggs.
• 30% vegetables (and fruit), variety is best. These can be lightly steamed or blended up.

Carbohydrates like pasta, rice (brown, ideally), whole-wheat bread and muesli may be used to bulk up the food BUT many dogs do better without gluten and corn in their diet as these can contribute to health issues.
RAW chicken necks or RAW marrow bones should be a part of the raw meat component at least 3 times a week.

CATS:
• 10% vegetables - yes, most cats eat vegetables! They can be steamed and mashed up.
• 90% good quality raw meat, ideally RAW chicken wings/necks, whole fish, heart or eggs.
Organic and Free Range products are best wherever possible.

The amount to feed varies according to the activity level and health of the animal but is usually 2 - 3% of bodyweight per day i.e. a 5kg cat or dog should get 100-150g per day. Watch your animals' condition and adjust the amount accordingly i.e. feed less if they're gaining weight and more if they're losing condition.

RAW bones are very important to provide important minerals (especially calcium) and vitamins as well as keep animals' teeth clean.

Egg yolk should ideally be fed raw to preserve vitamins and important fatty acids, but eggs in any form are a valuable asset to an animal's diet.

Organ meats such as liver and kidney should be fed as about 1/5 of the meat component. Heart mince is very important, especially for cats as it contains high amounts of taurine (essential for cats) as well as other valuable nutrients.

High quality vitamin, mineral and essential fatty acid (EFA) supplements are usually recommended for optimal health. A good all-rounder is "Mybeau" which is high in vitamins and essential fatty acids together with whole green foods such as Spirulina, Barley Grass, Wheat Grass and Chlorella supply valuable minerals and phytonutrients.

Other supplements can be very valuable aids in many health conditions eg. Glucosamine for arthritis, co-enzyme Q10 for heart conditions, etc.

Good quality commercial foods can be used to supplement the above good diet but in some cases may need to be avoided altogether. Avoid cheaper commercial foods that are generally deficient in valuable essential fats and vitamins and often have poor quality ingredients as well as preservatives and other chemical components.

Red meats (beef, venison and lamb) muscle meat may need to be avoided, as they are often associated with allergies and other health problems.

Foods to avoid that are potentially toxic include: raisins, grapes, onions, macadamia nuts and chocolate.

Some issues concerning the feeding of raw food are:

The safety of feeding bones – these are usually OK as long as the bones are raw (cooked bones splinter) but for those animals who tend to gulp down their food it is recommended that the bones be either too big for them to swallow (only chewed) or that they be crushed up in the food. Occasionally some dogs don't seem to tolerate bones (they can vomit or get a sore tummy), in these cases bones may need to be crushed up and introduced to the diet gradually.

Bugs like E.coli and Salmonella, which are not a problem if the meat is fresh or frozen. Cats and dogs also have a greater tolerance for these organisms than us humans.

Parasites such as hydatids are killed after freezing raw meat for 3 days at –20 degrees Celsius or -10°C for 7 days. It is illegal to feed raw offal to dogs otherwise. Hydatids can be avoided altogether by feeding chicken, which don't harbour hydatids.

Some further points:

Heat destroys vitamins, and antioxidants contained in raw food, which are very important for good health. Heating may also damage essential fatty acids in raw food, which can be transformed into substances that can damage the body.

Cooked foods take longer to digest as they're not the natural way their gastro-intestinal tract has evolved to digest them, thus requiring more of the animal's energy. In most cases dogs and cats do best on uncooked food but there are exceptions.

Nature knows best!

Pet Essentials and The Holistic Animal Centre stock a great variety of good quality raw food options for your pet. They'll also make a plan to courier food out to you.

Pet Essentials, Tauranga - 1339 Cameron Rd, Greerton, Tauranga, Tel 07 541 1536

Holistic Animal Centre – 6/33 Hairini Street, Welcome Bay, Tauranga, Tel 07 544 4540

Another great resource for good food is Raw Essentials - www.rawessentials.co.nz

For further information on the great benefits of raw food diets have a look at:

www.drianbillinghurst.com and www.rawmeatybones.com

An excellent read is "Give Your Dog a Bone" by Dr. Ian Billinghurst.