There are many ways in which Nature can assist in one of the most natural processes; the miracle of birth. Before you breed your dog, she should be in excellent health and condition. Holistic health care works with nature and your pet’s body to keep her in optimal health and an asset to your breeding program.
The foundation of health is diet. Food is second only to air in what your dog takes into its body most often. Food provides the energy for life. Good food provides lots of energy, poor food does not. Your domestic carnivore’s body was shaped to thrive on particular foods. The closer you can simulate the diet that your dog’s body is designed to eat, the healthier your dog will be. The canine’s short digestive system is equipped to thrive on raw food. Cooking damages many elements in food that are vital to good health. A balanced diet of raw meat, bones, vegetables, herbs, and oils provides an excellent nutrient profile. Balancing proportions of ingredients is made easier if one thinks in terms of “prey animal” proportions. What would one find in a mouse, bird or rabbit? A large part of any wild meal is raw bones…lots of them. There would also be some muscle and organ meat, hide, hair, fur, feathers, and stomach contents. The stomach contents would include grasses, plants, seeds, nuts, bark and/or fruit - no grains.
“Pottenger’s Cats: A Study in Nutrition”, by Dr. Francis Pottenger, should be required reading for anyone feeding animals, especially breeders.* The study demonstrates the health benefits of a raw food diet and follows a breeding program of several generations. The difference in health between the animals fed raw food and those fed cooked food is shocking. The raw food cats thrived generation after generation with no reproductive problems. The cooked food cats had many health problems and were unable to reproduce by the third generation.
ALL nutrients are important for pregnancy and whelping: protein, vitamins, minerals, fats, enzymes. They can all be obtained from raw food. Abundant raw meat, fish and eggs provide good quality protein. Raw chicken or turkey backs, necks and wings provide important calcium. Cod-liver oil and flaxseed oil provide essential fatty acids. Raw pulpy green and root vegetables provide enzymes, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. A good quality powdered kelp is nutrient dense and can be added to meals daily as a vitamin mineral supplement. Kelp also helps balance the glands, especially thyroid. Thyroid problems often lead to reproductive problems. Red raspberry leaf has been used for centuries as a fertility aid and pregnancy tonic. There are also homeopathic remedies that are very useful for pregnancy, whelping, and rearing puppies.**
A pregnant dog that is eating a balanced raw diet will usually consume just slightly more than usual. After the pups are born, she’ll eat more to keep everyone fed. Feeding her more raw poultry meaty bones will provide a wide array of nutrients and make almost instant milk for the pups.
In the wild, at weaning time, Momdog would feed her youngsters the same things she ate, only in liquid form. Human care-givers can follow her lead by making adult meals in liquid form for weaning pups. Raw chicken necks can be put through a meat grinder. Raw knuckle bones (devoid of fat) in the whelping box can provide added nutrition, chewing practice and hours of entertainment. Adding buffered vitamin C to the pups’ meal helps them build a strong immune system. As pups grow and develop, raw chicken necks can be smashed and then eventually left whole. If feeding large pups, one can graduate to feeding larger chicken meaty bones as the pups grow.
My experience has shown me that pups raised this way are exceptionally strong and healthy. They have a high resistance to parasites and disease. Their bone is straight and of good substance and their teeth are pearl-white. They are bright and learn very quickly (I attribute this to feeling good!). Even my puppy families notice the difference!
*Available from the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, P.O.Box 2614, La Mesa, CA 91943-2614. 1-800-FOODS-4-U. Video of study also available.
**Contact Academy for Veterinary Homeopathy (503) 342-7665 for a homeopathic veterinarian in your area.
Kymythy Schultze is a certified Animal Health Instructor who teaches classes in Animal Nutrition and Holistic Care for Dogs and Cats. She is the author of "The Ultimate Diet: Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats" and editor of The Holistic Dog & Cat Newsletter. After overcoming a debilitating muscle disorder through improved nutrition, she turned to helping her animal companions live healthier lives with the help of a species appropriate diet. She has fed her dogs and cats a raw food diet for many years with proven results. Her breeding program has produced American and International champions; titled draft, obedience, and water rescue dogs; and, most important, beloved family companions. Her dogs and cats are generally very healthy, happy, and rarely need veterinary care. Kymythy's reason for feeding the way she does is simple; she loves her animal friends and wishes them to be with her, healthy and happy, for as long as possible! And for her, and her furry friends, a raw species-appropriate diet aptly fulfills this desire.