Welcome to The Barking Lot!
We believe that pet parents are passionate when it comes to the subject of what they feed their fur-kids, and with good reason. A good diet can contribute to a long and healthy life and even psychological well-being for our fur-kids and likewise for our pet parents. Our moto: Happy Pets = Happy Parents! The question you are trying to answer;- what is the best food to feed domesticated dogs or cats? While the majority of pet parents feed commercial grain-based kibble or canned food, many pet parents like you, today, are looking for healthier options. And the net is full of materials to help you, and confuse you, when it comes to natural feeding.
You will find many anecdotal reasons for feeding on biological specie appropriate diets, for and against, or home-cooked for that matter, even more on the prey model. You will also find many “scientific” articles on why not to feed raw, sadly, as little research is done into raw feeding.
And not too mention all of the confusing terms! Why do we refer to natural diets? In our minds, raw is complete, and therefore natural, as designed by nature, and not broken. Raw, in today's convenience society, seems to indicate part of something, and not complete. But natural contains all the parts needed (as designed), therefore complete (or whole), so we advocate natural pet cuisine, or if you want to knit-pick, biologically specie appropriate natural raw pet cuisine.
“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumoured by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.” - Buddha
To paraphrase Dr Ron Hines from Texas, USA, what we have learned to date, is that there are exaggerations on both side of the pet food diet debate. Your fur kids will not live forever on natural unprocessed diets, but they won’t either die tomorrow from eating them, and the right decision for you depends on you and your pet's specific situation.
The difference is that we are documenting our learnings here for everyone to read, review, comment and contribute! When we started, we spend hours on end trying to decipher the garble available on the net to read, purchased many thousands of dollars of books to read (and have read), and are now starting to document our learnings, so that you, as the pet parent and guardian, can benefit.
While the majority of pet parents and guardians feed a commercial grain-based kibble or canned food, many pet parents today are looking for healthier options. A raw (or whole or natural) food-based diet is one approach that has grown in popularity over the last decade, but along with this growing popularity has come growing controversy regarding the benefits of feeding a raw diet. We discuss some of these topics here.
The amount of trust given to veterinarians compared to the amount given to the family doctor is truly amazing. It is virtually unheard of not to seek a second opinion when given a worrisome diagnosis by the family doctor. A healthy dose of "skepticism" is precisely what launched such successful websites as WebMD and online referral services for doctors. We discuss current trends in the "traditional" veterinary industry as it applies to our fur kids' nutrition.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials permits a pet food manufacturer to claim that its product is “100% complete” provided that the manufacturer has complied with AAFCO’s feeding trial protocols or nutrient profiles. If you think about it, this is quite an incredible statement. Claiming that anything is 100% is like claiming perfection, total knowledge, and absolute truth. We discuss this topic in greater detail in the article.
Understanding the label of a commercial pet food is crucial to you as the pet parent and / or guardian, as it is a legally binding contract between you and the pet food manufacturer. Even nutritionists have problems decoding pet food labels. There are thousands of things to consider, from maximums and minimums of fiber content to ingredient sourcing to how the food was actually tested so you don’t inadvertently turn your pets into test animals. In this article, we help you understand the basics, through a simple method, to decode the pet food label and to make the most of the information you’re given.
Why feed raw? Fur kids have been fed kibbled foods for the past fifty or so years with what seems to be great results. Dogs are not dying outright from starvation or malnutrition, and seem to be happy and fairly healthy. You certainly can get dogs with glossy coats and healthy bodies that live well into their teens while being fed kibbled foods. Yet the veterinary community has been seeing increases in things like cancer, obesity, diabetes, unilateral hip dysplasia, dermatitises, food allergies, kidney problems, pancreas problems, and liver problems (and their medical techniques and methods have evolved tremendously to deal with these; many veterinarians are very capable people who mean well and can be quite good at treating illness and disease). Just about every system in the dog has been affected in some way, shape, or form by some disease or problem that did not "exist" prior to the advent of kibbled foods or was not recognized as a big issue in a similar manner as us pet parents are starting to awaking to nutrition ourselves. Part of this increase is due to the fact that more people own pets today and that illnesses are more quickly diagnosed nowadays, but many of these diseases have been shown to have strong links to diet - particularly in human research (like adult onset diabetes and obesity and cancer, for example). Many of our pets' body processes parallel our own, so who is to say that processed food will not affect them similarly?
We discuss our and society's pathological fear of bacteria, how it applies (or not) to raw feeding, in this article. First and foremost, it is important to understand that we take all topics of health risk extremely seriously, as our (Dawn & myself) risk of exposure is 1000% greater than any of our pet parents or their fur kids. We work with the food every day of our lives, have two adorable mutts as kids, so it is extremely important that we understand, research, and be informed ourselves. We also believe that informed pet parents can make informed decisions, so without seeing to be fuelling societies pathological fear of the unknown, these fears also apply to us.
There are many public versions of this story, so here is ours. Commercial pet food, specifically, kibble and canned foods, has not been around that long. In the late 1850s, a young electrician from Cincinnati, named James Spratt went to London to sell lightning rods. When his ship arrived in London, crew members threw the leftover "ship's biscuits" onto the dock, where they were devoured by hordes of scavenging dogs. That gave Spratt an idea. "Ship's biscuits", or hard tack, were the standard fare for sailors in those days. Made from flour, water, and salt, mixed into a stiff dough, baked, and left to harden and dry, the biscuits were easily stored and had an extremely long shelf life. The long shelf life was rather important in the days before refrigeration. It is said that they looked a lot like today's dog biscuits.
The concept of raw diets for pets are not new. Before the introduction of kibble and other convenient commercial offerings, feeding human food bits to pets was part of the common kitchen routine. The philosophy behind a natural diet is simplicity. By natural we mean bio-appropriate and bio-available. A diet that fits our pets' true nutritional requirements. Simple raw animal protein, a small amount of minced bone for calcium and phosphates, natural non-synthetic minerals and vitamins, and a small amount of carbs specifically for your fur kids. By "raw", we paraphrase "Restoring Animal Wellness"! These concepts "re-developed" themselves over the last 30 years due to the public awareness created by Dr. Billinghurst and Dr. Lonsdale, both international thought leaders in canine and feline nutrition.