It’s a bit of a joke in my family and among some of my closer friends that my animals eat better than I do. And by the end of this post you may agree with them. Every couple of weeks I come out of the supermarket with bags full of offal and hearts (it turns out heart is muscle meat, and not offal), and it’s possible I’m keeping the local pet meat company afloat with my monthly orders – okay, that’s a tad hyperbolic; for a little store in a small town, Matt is doing really well for himself!
To feed my two cats – Smudge and Naavi (AKA EnormousCat/EC) – and my very large dog, Buddy, my monthly spend is probably approaching $100. However, it cost me more than that just to feed Buddy premium kibble, and perhaps the same again to feed two cats for the same amount of time.
So, $100 a month on pet-related food, 98% of which is animal-based products (meat, eggs, fish, yoghurt) – and I’m mostly vegetarian.
I’ve tried to break down the preparation process below, with pictures, but I’ll try to make this more than a pic-dump of gag-inducing pet food preparation.
If you do have a sensitive stomach, however, you may want to give this entry a miss.
Full disclosure, I didn’t just invent this ‘recipe’. It’s borrowed (and regionally adapted) from a video guide by Dr Karen Becker, with some influences from various and sundry raw feeding websites.
I’m not an animal nutritionist (though gosh if I find a course in animal nutrition I’ll be all over that like hair on my dog), so I won’t profess to know everything about raw feeding animals. Of the raw feeding ‘styles’ I’ve encountered in my late night Google trawling travels, I’d say I use the ‘frankenprey model’.
WTF is a Frankenprey Model?
Though I’m not exactly stitching together body parts here, the idea is to provide as many different pieces of prey that, when combined, they could be considered as near as possible to a ‘whole’ carcass.
Unfortunately, I don’t have access to yummy morsels like eyes and brains and stomachs – all high priority targets for predators due to high nutrient value. In lieu of stomach and intestine, Buddy gets boiled veggies (for stomach contents from such prey animals as rabbits) and the occasional glob of cheese and/or yoghurt (young prey animals still suckling are easy catches so predators will enjoy the curdled milk and benefit from gut flora).
I add four different types of fish to account for various other lacks in things like brains and eyes, but I still keep an eye out at the local butcher, just in case. I even gave all the animals some rabbit feet (not the lucky ones), with fur on, in an effort to provide the fur they’d be eating in the wild, but none of them went for it. Spoiled house brats.
After a great deal of searching and researching, I’ve come to understand that most raw feed diets include only 10% offal, only half of which can be liver. Too much liver can cause an overdose of Vitamin A, which comes with a lot of potential problems. If you give your dog a lot of liver treats (you should be careful with those, too), then you may not need to add liver to their meals.
So, no more than 5% of the meal (for both cats and dogs) should include liver. The other five 5% of the overall 10% offal can include whatever else you have access to. For me, I have easiest access to lamb kidneys. When I don’t have access to those, I can use beef kidneys. Kidney is about all I have access to that’s not liver around here, so we make do.
From Dr Becker’s video, I added some cooked vegetables, kelp, ground ginger, egg shells, and originally some flaxmeal. I’ve since substituted the flaxmeal for sardines, but occasionally add a little if I have some with my own breakfast. Kelp is a great source of iodine and comes with a bunch of other health benefits. Ginger is good for the blood and digestion. I’m not sure how it benefits dogs, but it’s in the video.
Actually, I should find the video and embed it, before I explain the alterations I’ve had to make.