At Ophidian Farms we care for our animals (and ourselves) in accordance with the way a particular species evolved. In the case of canines, that means that the natural way to feed a dog would include raw meat, raw bones, and things such as grass and other herbs that the dogs seek out go ingest. In the wild, canines eat the stomach contents of their prey to get their “vegetables.” They also seek out and eat poop–which contains partially digested vegetable matter.
That said, we understand that transitioning to the natural way of living takes time, takes land, and takes resources not always available to everyone. Therefore, there are several food options I can recommend to keep your dog healthy and happy. A well fed dog is a healthy dog. If you don’t want vet bills, invest a little more in the food of your dog and chances are you will have a healthy dog.
For example, our adult dogs have white teeth. We do not brush their teeth. I have never seen a wolf with a toothbrush. Instead, our dogs do not eat sugar of any kind, and have access to all the bones they could want. They can chew sticks as well though they seldom do. If you don’t want your dog to have a chewing problem, make sure they have what they need to chew–fresh raw bones, or soup bones.
Our dogs also do not have a strong “doggy” odor. We do not often bathe them. If your dog has an odor he is excreting toxins from bad food out of his skin, and his body chemistry is out of whack. Frequent bathing strips a dogs skin and hair from the natural oils that they need to keep them healthy. Instead of bathing, feed the dog a proper diet!
There are frozen raw meat diets available for dogs. There are several brands including Bravo, Primal, and a few others. These are not optimal because they are made from factory farmed animals, and therefore contain chemicals we don’t want our animals (or ourselves) to ingest. But we use these when we don’t have our own animals to butcher and feed our dogs.
The only dry dog food I will feed our dogs (and do feed) and will recommend is Natural Planet Organics Dog Food . This is the only food I have found that has organic ingredients and no GMO ingredients. There may be others, but this is what I have found and am happy with. This is a very high quality dry food, and has excellent reviews online. The dogs love it.
When feeding dry food, I supplement it with bone broths and cooked meat scraps. Let the dogs have the marrow bones and soup bones from making stock. I do think cooking meat is fine for dogs, despite some opposition to this out there. The reason is that dogs will bury raw meat to age it, and will eat decayed flesh as well. This is because it is partially broken down, or essentially “pre-digested.” This helps the dog to utilize the nutrients in the meat. This is the same reason that humans started cooking meat. Plus, dogs evolved along with humans, and ate our leftovers. I also add raw goats milk, raw yogurt, and occasionally fresh eggs. Cooked vegetables can be added as well such as green beans and squashes occasionally.
As for what NOT to feed dogs?
Do not buy “treats.” The best treat you can give your dog is good food. Cow hooves are good treats. Bones, antlers, and pig ears are okay, but beware added ingredients. The best place to obtain these items are from a local butcher facility that butchers local, grass fed animals. Do not feed anything containing GMO (to any of your animals, or yourself for that matter.) No sugar. No corn syrup (which is GMO.) If you are not familiar with GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) please read up on it from sources NOT sponsored by big Ag, Companies such as Monsanto. Take a look at European data, and question why a lot of countries ban food raised in our country. Then, take a look at this study, for one. If you do choose to feed GMO you will run into health issues at some point in time. We do not allow any GMO on Ophidian Farms. And, FYI, this includes beet pulp, from sugar beets (which are also GMO.) Good rule of thumb: beware of filler ingredients.
The other, very important ingredient for a healthy, happy dog is you. Love them, play with them, talk to them, teach them lots of human words, and learn to understand their language as well. And train them. They will feel better knowing what is expected of them from their pack leader, and they will do everything they can to please you.
Some excellent books that I recommend are:
On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas (I can’t recommend this enough.)
Dog Language: An Encyclopedia of Canine Behaviour by Roger Abrantes
The Monks of New Skete: The Art of Raising a Puppy
How To Be Your Dog’s Best Friend by The Monks of New Skete
The Complete Herbal Handbook For the Dog and Cat by Juliette de Bairacli Levy
That should get you started! All of these books can be purchased on Amazon–new and used (usually).
Please feel free to ask me any questions you have about natural animal raising, or any questions you have about our dogs and puppies.