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  26th July 2017
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Raw Feeding (Sometimes referred to as the BARF diet)

At Klancraig we believe in feeding our dogs a raw diet (sometimes referred to as a BARF diet – bones and raw food or biologically appropriate raw food) that is a species appropriate diet; in other words we feed our dogs as close to how they would have fed in the wild as possible.

The earliest remains that have been found of domesticated dog date back to around 12,000 to 14,000 years ago, although DNA tests have suggested that dogs may have been domesticated for far longer, perhaps even as far back as 100,000 years. During this time they would have been expected to hunt and fend for themselves, whilst also enjoying any scraps left by their human companions. As time progressed domesticated dogs would have depended more and more on the diet provided for them which would have undoubtedly consisted of leftover animal carcasses and ‘table’ scraps. The concept of a ‘complete’, balanced kibble diet is a relatively new one considering that even our Grandparents will confirm that their dogs were fed on whatever fresh, raw bones and scraps that the local butcher was able to provide together with the kitchen and table leftovers (raw and cooked). Given the timescales involved how can anyone truly believe that in a few short generations, dogs have suddenly evolved from thriving on a diet which had served them well for thousands of years to one which has only been developed some fifty or so years ago?

Ironically, why at a time when people are being encouraged to return to basic nutritional values including a return to fresh fruit and vegetables, wholesome dairy products and free range meats and are warned to steer clear of convenience foods which are full of additives, colourants and preservatives is the pet food industry trying to convince us that ‘complete’ pet foods are good for our pets?

When I was a child our dogs were never ill and they lived to a ripe old age. They never had worms or fleas. They didn’t have bad breath or skin problems or regular bouts of diarrhoea. Now as an adult and a professional dog groomer I frequently come across dogs who are old before their time, dogs which have that ‘particular’ smell because they have a skin condition and/or sore ears and feet, customers whose dogs seem prone to fleas and ticks and are horrified when you have to tell them that their dog was infested, dogs who at a very early age are on a prescription diet from the vet since they suffer from upset tummies at the drop of a hat and dogs whose teeth are thick with tartar and whose breath smells rank.

Along with skin problems, digestive disorders and obesity, periodontal disease is one of main problems encountered by veterinarians. Unfortunately owners often trivialise the problem by thinking that it is just a case of discoloured teeth and bad breath when in fact what they fail to consider is that the build up of calculus on the teeth creates bacteria which is ingested by the dog and which then goes on to cause other problems which can be wide spread throughout the body.

A dog fed on a variety of raw meaty bones, raw minces, fresh offal, eggs, fish, fruit and vegetables can often avoid many of these complications. In particular feeding raw meaty bones is beneficial since it is this which helps to prevent the build-up of tartar and keeps teeth and gums healthy. The idea is not to feed a balanced diet with each meal but by feeding a wide variety of different meats, combined with the offal, eggs, fish, fruit and vegetables a balanced diet is achieved over a period of time.

How we feed our dogs

Our dogs have been fed a raw diet since 2002 and since then we have spent much time learning how best to feed a ‘raw diet’.

We have come to the conclusion that there are no hard and fast rules dictating how best to feed a raw diet to your dog and that it is as cheap or expensive/ as simple or as complex as you want to make it but the results speak for themselves; dogs that are healthy and full of vitality.

As with any diet, dietary requirements may vary from dog to dog and breed to breed but the one thing that should be kept in mind is that you are not trying to feed a balanced diet with each meal but to achieve a balance over time which is done by feeding a wide variety of different bones (optional), minces (some of which will need to contain ground bone if whole bone is not being fed), offal, fish, eggs, fruit and vegetables. The key fact to remember is that each dog is different – they require different daily amounts and enjoy or tolerate different foods.

At Klancraig we have always fed our dogs twice a day – morning and night and a general rule of thumb is that our wires consume between 3/4lb (the girls) to 1 1/2lb (some of the boys) per meal per day although this may alter on the time of year, amount of exercise the dogs are getting or in the case of the girls whether they are due in season or have just had a season. We simply adjust amounts accordingly to maintain a healthy weight.

Raw Meaty Bones (rmbs):

One of the first questions that I am asked about feeding our dogs a raw diet is whether it is safe to feed whole bone. It is NOT safe to feed COOKED bones which have become hard and brittle during the cooking process but raw bones are softer and can be digested by your dog. Obviously, in feeding raw whole bone to your dog he will benefit from the exercise to jaw and neck muscles, not to mention the benefit to his teeth but if you are at all worried about feeding whole bone it is possible to feed bone in a ground form in a mince, like chicken mince for instance.

At Klancraig we do feed our dogs an assortment of ‘raw meaty bones’ (rmbs). The calcium and minerals that they receive from the rmbs is an essential part of their diet. However, when we talk about rmbs the emphasis here is on the word MEATY – they don’t need as much bone as you may think and if you read that they require 60% rmb this is NOT 60% bone!

  • Our dogs receive rmbs for breakfast.
  • We try and feed at least three varieties of bone each week such as raw chicken carcasses or backs (in other words the boned-out carcass of a chicken – the carcass and the back being different ends of the frame); pork shoulder ribs (rack of, not individual ribs) OR pig’s tails OR pig’s trotters; breast OR neck of lamb.
  • An alternative to one of these meals might be turkey necks (chopped).
  • Very young puppies might receive chicken necks or chicken wings and individual breast of lamb ribs, moving onto individual pork ribs as puppy grows and can cope better with the bigger, tougher bones.

Minces:

The remaining meals are of raw minced meat (lamb, beef, tripe, rabbit).

Additional Extras:

  • A couple of times a week we will add a small quantity of fresh offal to our minces (liver or kidney) but only one type of offal at a time. Whilst we prefer to add offal to the minces that we feed our dogs, for the sake of convenience (and also if your dog is unsure about eating offal which can sometimes be the case) you can buy minces which already contain it.
  • A couple of times a week we will add fish (usually tinned sardines in tomato sauce – they love it!).
  • Another favourite for our dogs is chopped heart or lung which we add to their minces a couple of times a week.
  • We also feed an egg two or three times a week.

Fruit and Veggies:

At Klancraig we also feed a small quantity of fruit and vegetables. Some ‘raw feeders’ prefer not to feed fruit and vegetables since they do not think them necessary to a dog's diet. Our dogs however love them and will line up to wait for a treat when we are preparing vegetables and fruit for our own meals. We view feeding our dogs fruit and vegetables as an opportunity to feed them additional vitamins and minerals.

  • We liquidise our fruit and veggies until they look like a ‘slop’ – this makes them more digestible.
  • We add three or four dessert spoonfuls to a mince meal, maybe four times a week.
  • We use mainly leafy greens and fruit mixed together – a typical assortment might be cress, water cress, parsley, lettuce, spinach, celery tops, carrot tops, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower greens, purple sprouting, garlic, kiwi, oranges, apples, bananas. However, we don’t necessarily use all of these items each time but whatever is cheap and in season.
  • A selection of four or five items would be adequate.
  • We prepare a batch of fruit and veggie slop every other week and freeze it into meal size containers.

Supplements:

We do not routinely supplement our dogs since we believe that if they are fed a wide variety of food types over a period of time, supplements are not necessary. That is not to say that supplements may not be beneficial under certain circumstances – for example, elderly dogs with arthritis.

Changing your dog to a raw diet:

There are two ways that you can switch your dog to a raw diet – either add small amounts of raw mince to your dog’s existing diet and over a period of time increase the mince and decrease the kibble OR make the decision to stop feeding the kibble and move straight over to a raw diet. Older dogs or dogs with a compromised immune system might benefit by being gradually switched to a raw diet but this is not always the case.

If you decide to switch your dog over to a raw diet straight away as opposed to doing it gradually we would recommend keeping the diet simple, starting off with one or two types of minces and no whole bone and introducing a variety of minces gradually when you know that your dog can tolerate what it is being fed. Once your dog is happy being fed a variety of minces (some containing ground bone) you may wish to start adding whole bone (and reducing the mince that contains ground bone). We would suggest that you start with chicken carcasses or backs (which your dog will have to chew and will not swallow whole) and once he is happy eating and digesting these, move on to bigger, harder bones like pork shoulder ribs or breast of lamb.

Introduce offal, fish, eggs, fruit and vegetables gradually.

Useful tips:

  • If you feed your dog twice a day – after feeding breakfast get the evening meal out of the freezer to thaw and likewise after feeding tea, get the breakfast meal out to thaw.
  • Don’t be tempted to thaw bones in the microwave before feeding since this may make them brittle.
  • During the hot weather it may be advisable to thaw food in a large container to stop flies.
  • To give you an idea of food volume (so that you can picture the space required in your freezer), 18lb of frozen mince (in 1lb packs) is approximately one full supermarket carrier bag.
  • People with smaller breeds or maybe only one or two dogs may prefer, for simplicity, to feed left over cooked veggies rather than preparing a veggie slop.

Suppliers that we have tried and would be happy to recommend (see the links page of the website for more details):

  • Nutriment
  • TPMS 'The Dog's Dinner'
  • Manifold Valley Meats

Don’t forget to ask local butchers if they produce their own pet minces or if they can supply you with any raw meaty bones.

Books:

The BARF Diet, Give Your Dog A Bone and Grow Your Pups With Bones – Dr Ian Billinghurst are amongst the books that we would recommend.

Vaccinations

The current veterinary protocol for vaccinations can be found on the website for the World Small Animal Veterinary Association website http://www.wsava.org/guidelines/vaccination-guidelines which advocates TRI-ANNUAL vaccinations for core vaccines. Should your vet insist on annual boosters you should direct them to this website.

However, the subject of vaccinations for dogs is a contentious one and there is a growing debate concerning the safe use and effectiveness of vaccines for dogs. Please refer to the ‘vaccine section’ of the Canine Health Concern site which discusses this subject extensively.

At Klancraig our dogs are ‘minimally vaccinated' since it is our belief that a dog fed a species appropriate diet combined with the minimal use of vaccines and other chemical pesticides (flea and worm treatments) has an immune system which is strong enough to fight most diseases and we will continue with this practice until such a time as a proven, safe and effective protocol for vaccinating dogs is forthcoming.

It is possible to 'titer test' your dog to assess the status of his or her immune system to determine whether a vaccine 'booster' is required. The following is an excellent link which explains what titer tests are and how they can be used to prevent over-vaccination http://www.canine-epilepsy-guardian-angels.com/titer_test.htm

However, an alternative to conventional vaccination is the homeopathic nosode. See Natural Animal Health for a list of vets that offer alternative therapy.

See also www.thedapperdog.com/vacc1.html - which is a two part article (Part I; Efficacy and Part II; Safety) written by Dr Will Falconer DVM who is a member of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy, and the National Center for Homeopathy. He writes articles for national pet magazines in the States and medical journals, gives public lectures to animal owners, and shares homeopathic case reports with conventional and holistic veterinarians. He enjoys a full-time classical homeopathic practice in Austin, Texas.

To neuter or not to neuter, that is the question?

At Klancraig we make the decision to neuter or spey our dogs and bitches on an individual basis, although on the whole we lean towards them being left entire. There are arguments for and against this decision and we are happy to discuss this with you in greater detail. However, there are significant concerns over neutering both sexes before puberty, indeed before 14 months of age but if pets are to be kept entire for life, owners are reminded of the need to be vigilant and so avoid accidental matings.

Alternative treatments and natural remedies

 
The dogs at Klancraig are registered with a veterinary practice which offers conventional, homeopathic and alternative treatments and remedies. We always prefer to use alternative treatments first and foremost but acknowledge that sometimes there is a need to use conventional medicine. Below are some of the alternative treatments and remedies which we have tried with success:
   
 

McTimoney-Corley Animal Spinal Therapy.

Animal Chiropractic was introduced by John McTimoney in the early nineteen seventies and the techniques used were further developed by Hugh Corley in the late seventies and by Shelagh James-Hudson in the mid nineteen eighties. The technique originally known as Animal Chiropractic became known as Animal Physical Therapy and is now known as McTimoney-Corley Animal Spinal Therapy.

The treatment involves identifying any muscle tension or misalignments in the spinal area which may indicate nerve impingement and checking the range of movement in the joints then applying adjustments (in the form of gentle, precise rapid movements) to relieve any problems. This will release the surrounding muscle and correct any subluxations which will relieve any nerve impingement and associated muscle spasm or tension as well as alleviating pain.

After treatment the nerves will work to their full potential allowing the body to heal itself.

It is a non-invasive holistic treatment which does not require the use of drugs or anaesthetic and most animals find it relaxing - often to the point of becoming drowsy. It can be beneficial to any animal with a spine from horses, dogs and cats to farm animals.

Some symptoms of possible back pain:

  • Lameness
  • Uneven distribution of weight on its limbs
  • Stiffness
  • Refusing jumps
  • Difficulty negotiating stairs
  • Difficulty jumping into a car
  • Difficulty getting up
  • Reluctance to exercise or play
  • Shortened stride
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Sensitivity to touch along the back
  • Any general deterioration in performance, behaviour or temperament

(Text courtesy of Anna Fox)

Our Animal Spinal Therapist (chiropractic) is Anna Fox Dip.MCAM(OCEPT), MAMCST of ‘Back in Touch’ - telephone Telford 01952 248961 or 07793061235 or email anna@miraje.freeserve.co.uk. Alternatively, for a more local Therapist go to www.mctimoney-corley.com

   
  Canine Hydrotherapy
   
 

Several years ago Penny set up a Canine Hydrotherapy pool (the first in Shropshire) with a family friend. At the time, canine hydrotherapy was a relatively new idea although for many years hydrotherapy for horses had been very popular and long before that as far back as ancient times, people were enjoying hydrotherapy as a means of achieving relaxation and pain relief. As a result of this venture the first Canine Hydrotherapy Pool was opened in Holland which is owned by our good friends Ankie Somers and Marja Barten.

A non-weight bearing form of exercise, usually in warm water, hydrotherapy encourages joint movement and cardiovascular activity. Although in the early days canine hydrotherapy was met by many vets and pet insurance companies with some scepticism it is now a recognised form of treatment which is often prescribed by vets and covered on numerous policies.

Penny has moved on to pastures new and is a professional dog groomer.

 
 
 
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