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A Fresh Food Diet

written by Marina Zacharias

The basic diet that I follow is taken from "The Complete Handbook for the Dog and Cat", by Juliette de Bairacli Levy. I do try to add variety when I can (i.e. vegetables in season, leftover pastas, etc.) I raise Basset Hounds so the suggested quantities may need to be adjusted for the size of your dogs. The vitamin amounts given here are correct for an average 65-pound dog. Young puppies are of course fed differently.

Fundamentally I feed about one third meat, one-third vegetables and one third grain. I do feed the grains and the meat separately for better digestion. I feed a midday meal (approx. 11 am-noon) and an evening meal (approx. 7 p.m.).

Cereals need to be presoaked to be easily digested. As I feed a number of dogs, I pre-measure dry cereal and bran into individual bowls in the morning and let soak in water for at least 3 to 4 hours. Or you can put the dry cereal into a container; fill it with water, and put into the fridge. It will keep for a few days this way. As the volume of presoaked cereal is different than dry cereal, this would need to be compensated for when serving.

All food should be served at room temperature. DO NOT Microwave!!

Vegetables do need some preparation. Simply put them through a food processor so they are finely chopped. For some animals with weaker digestive systems, vegetables can be pureed until they regain good digestive tone. To save time I process enough vegetables for a week. I add veggies to the meat meal but they can also be given with the cereal.

Remember, there is no one right way to feed your animals. If you are used to feeding one meal a day, combine the cereal and meat. Experiment and do what’s right for you. It may seem overwhelming to start, but once you have a routine, it becomes very quick.

Cereal meal: Use 1/2 to 1-cup dry measurement of Barley Flakes and Large Oat Flakes, (not the instant or quick kind) of equal measure. I add 5 tablespoons of Bran (as you would buy for human consumption); a tip of a teaspoon of Special Blend Herbal Supplement; 1,000 mg. of Vitamin C; NR Herbal Compound or NR Daily Health tablets; Cottage cheese (to flavor--approx. 2 tbsp.); 1 tablespoon Sunflower oil or Flax Seed oil (make sure this is cold pressed--obtain it from a health food store). Mix. (For young dogs that need weight you can try Buttermilk or goat’s milk instead of cottage cheese). Yogurt can also be given daily.

Meat Meal: I use 12 oz to 1 1/4 pound raw meat. I utilize poultry with a mixture of organ parts (not liver) and flesh meat. I use equal parts of turkey hearts, gizzards and ground turkey. If you are making a switch from commercial foods I would suggest that initially you cut meat in smaller pieces of about a quarter and increase the size later so they get good chewing action. Ground meat is not as desirable as flesh meat but it is economical.

To the meat I add: 200 iu. Vitamin E; 1,000 mg. Vitamin C; 4 tablets of Cyrofood (a natural form of bonemeal); 5 tablespoons of Bran; 1 Tablespoon of wheat germ; 1/4 teaspoon of NR Seaweed Mineral Food; Large handful of grated raw carrots; 2-3 tablespoons of other grated vegetables (depending on what is in season); a heaping tablespoon of chopped greens (this is very Important. I use parsley and cress or dandelion--blend them in a food processor); 1 tablespoon cold pressed sunflower or flax oil (I add an extra tablespoon of cod-liver oil in the winter). Add water or juice from the meat and mix. Egg yolks can be give up to three times weekly with meat.

I do give whole carrots daily after the meal (very good for their teeth). They love them and it's a great dessert. I have one puppy (9 month) that is so crazy for carrots that she will ignore the meat meal until she first has her carrots.

About three times a week I also give raw meaty bones (usually turkey necks or chicken wings or backs) as an extra dessert. Please note these must be raw--cooked bones may splinter.

Feed meat no more than 4-5 times a week. For those who need to lose weight, substitute tuna packed in water 1 or 2 nights.

Saturday I feed regular cereal in the morning but I cook brown whole grain rice for dinner. Or repeat the barley / oats but in larger quantities. Dinner supplements remain the same.

Sunday--Juliette and many others insist that all animals should be given one day of fasting. The benefits are many and if you can overcome those big brown eyes begging you for food, this is a verified method of cleansing the system and truly is better for them in the long run. On the fast honey, grape juice, vegetable broth’s, or milky meals such as yogurt can be given. Use NR Herbal Compounds on the evening of the fast. Soaked senna pods can be given before bed to help the cleansing process. Soak 5-7 pods in 3-5 tablespoons of water in the morning. Let soak all day. Take out pods and add honey to the liquid to give flavor.

If you can’t do a full day of fasting then at least skip the lunch meal and make dinner a simple meal of rice, cottage cheese, Vitamin C and oil. Of course any day of the week can be picked for meatless or fasting days. I prefer the weekend.

Throughout the week I alternate between the NR Daily Health tablets and the NR Herbal Compound Tablets. I generally will give more Herbal Compounds, especially before going to any show. For those dogs that need it both compounds can be given daily.

This is the basic diet I have used for about 10 years now. At first reading it may seem like a lot of work but once you are used to it, its surprising how fast it all goes.

Buy everything you can in bulk! I buy cereal in 50 lb. bags (including bran); meat by the case; carrots in 25-50 lb. bags (juice carrots are very economical and serve the purpose). If you have a basement home with a cooler or cellar, store the cereal and carrots there.

One of the things I have learned over time is to try and buy wholesale wherever you can. I buy enough fresh meat for one week at a time and I cut entire weeks worth in approx. half an hour. (I usually don’t cut the hearts). If there is more meat in the case than I can use in a week I simply freeze it and use it the following week. Process your greens and vegetables in large batches once a week and store in the refrigerator. (I do confess that I have a separate old fridge just for my dogs). When you use these time saving methods it becomes almost as convenient as feeding from a bag and adding other things to it.

To switch dogs to the natural diet, I like to do a total switch all at once. (Older dogs should switch more slowly. Meat could be lightly cooked then decrease cooking time until it is raw and digestion is good). You may need patience in getting them to eat the cereal, as it has less flavor than commercial dog food. Stick to it. If they won’t eat the cereal, do not feed meat until they will accept the cereal. Once they figure it out though, you should have no problems.

Don’t forget that cats can also benefit greatly from a raw diet. The proportions fed need to changed a little and I would strongly recommend that you consult Levys’ book for guidelines.

Please don’t feel guilty if you can’t feed fresh food everyday! On busy days try to give a vegetable or fruit on the side. Just as it is your choice to eat frozen dinners or eat at fast food chains every day, so is it your choice to feed commercial processed food everyday. But be aware of what you are getting and the consequences!!!

Our animals are living beings. ALL living creatures, (including humans) need fresh food in order to live a healthy life. This is a fact!

A breeder who lost two young dogs in a span of 5 months, while incurring vet bills of over $6,000, (the time and heartbreak given in caring for these dogs are of course immeasurable.) told me that the little extra time involved in feeding a fresh food diet is so insignificant compared to what she had been through. She now enjoys peace of mind knowing that her dogs are enjoying their good health.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I am happy to help you and your animals make the switch! E-Mail: