When I first brought Holly (the Liberty Green Natural Pet Care Ambassador) home, I remember being concerned about her diet. My own diet at that time was already pretty much what it is today - free of processed foods, refined sugars and refined grains, almost everything made from scratch - pretty much whole food in their most natural, unadulterated state. I dubiously eyed the high salt-content "specially formulated" puppy food and purchased what seemed best. 

After transitioning her from the puppy food she'd been fed since weaning, I began making up my own diet for her, based on what was "supposed" to be good. It consisted mostly of rice (as all the most expensive canned dog food was), and whatever veggies I had on hand at the time. 

A few months later I was recommended the book Give Your Dog a Bone by Dr Ian Billinghurst. (you can find it here or on Amazon) It follows the principals of a BARF diet - Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. I'm not going to go into huge detail here, as the books (I own both the Puppy and Dog versions) cover everything you really need to know, but I am going to give you a quick run-down of the diet, and what/how I feed Holly.

Holly & Max (another family pet)

The BARF diet is based on the natural feeding habits of wild dogs and wolves. Domestic dogs are biologically no different than their wild counterparts, so why should their diet be? In the wild, dogs are omnivores, eating both meat, bones and offal, along with whatever fruit they can find. The BARF diet follows these principals in creating a well-balanced diet for optimum health. 

Holly's health was actually what made me switch her diet in the first place - at around just 3-4mths, she began (for no apparent reason) losing all of her hair from the waist down, and losing weight. She was also getting covered in a type of flea (not dog fleas, but a wild flea she was picking up in the backyard), that despite washing and combing her everyday with a flea wash, and disinfecting bedding, she still continued to gather. 

After beginning the BARF diet, she began to regain her weight and hair, and the fleas stopped. Holly is five and half years old now, and hasn't had a single health issue since. Living in North Queensland, we have a number of ticks (including Paralysis Tick) to deal with, but since having Holly on the BARF diet, she hasn't picked up a single one. I'm just going to cover her diet here, but if you'd like to know more about what I do for (pesticide free) flea & tick control, let me know in the comments below or on instagram and I'll put together a post!

The BARF diet focuses on balance over a week, not a day. It's also good for your pet to have a "starve day" once in a while, where they skip a meal. This would usually occur in a dog's natural habitat and they perform better if given a fast every once in a while. 

A rough guide to Holly's diet

If you're interested in the BARF diet, I strongly recommend purchasing (or try and get it from the library) the Give Your Dog a Bone Book, for more specific details on what to feed your pet, but this is a rough guide to what I feed Holly, to give you an idea.

- Holly is fed twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening, except on "fast days" or "bone days", where she'll only get one meal. If she's been given a huge meaty bone, she'll spend all day gnawing on it, and won't need dinner that evening. Bone days are usually 1-2 times a week

- She is fed around 60% raw bones and meat. This includes the carcass, marrow, cartilage, and also includes offal. We have our own home-grown beef and lamb, so after the butcher comes, we always have plenty of bones and the offal for the dogs - hearts, liver and kidneys. They would naturally consume this in the wild, and the offal contains highly beneficial fatty acids and nutrients. Offal is a smaller percentage of her bone/meat consumption, as it is very rich for them. Most of her meat is chicken (from the supermarket, unfortunately) - wings, drumsticks or chicken carcass (broken down into meal portions)

- The other portion of her diet consists of fruits, vegetables and leafy greens. Prior to the Give Your Dog a Bone book, I thought it was enough to cut the vegetables or fruit up into bite-sized pieces, or blitz it in a food processor. Dogs naturally go for the internal organs (and therefore the stomach contents) on a carcass, and consume whatever the rabbit, sheep, bird etc has eaten. The vegetable/fruit portion of the diet should resemble this, making the vitamins, minerals and nutrients in the fruit and vegetables most available to the body.
- I then freeze the vegies in batches, so I only have to make up a batch once every few weeks. I make them using a regular juicer, mixing the juice back into the pulp before freezing. I then get them out the night before to defrost (don't reheat, it destroys the enzymes)
- Her diet varies from week to week, depending on what is in-season or available at the time - fruits such as apples, banana, melons, mangoes, papaya, pears - nearly anything.
- Vegetables and greens include pumpkin, sweet potato, tomatoes, chard, bok choy, pak choy, lettuce, kale, cabbage (not too much of this, it can disrupt healthy thyroid function), carrots, cucumber, zucchini, squash  - again almost anything. If I have fruit or vegetables on hand that have gone a bit over-ripe, but aren't so far gone they're destined for the chicken scraps, they get thrown in too!
- I'll add "extras" to the vegies come serving, depending on what she's had for the week. Plain greek-style yogurt, milk (she also sometimes has a plain meal of milk when I have raw milk on hand), olive oil, chia seeds, egg or left over gravy (which is purely juices from the roasting pan, reduced), homemade beef or chicken stock etc
- I will also add any extra vitamins or minerals she needs prior to serving
- Sometimes, she also gets a regular "left overs" meal, made up of the tid-bits of left over meals from the fridge, or I'll make rolled oats in the cooler months in place of the vegies and add the "extras" to that.

If you've got any questions at all, feel free to ask me below, or over on instagram, and of course also let me know if you'd like to see a post on what I do for (natural) tick and flea control!
Kelsey xx
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