NATURAL REARING ~ what is it?

First, let me say that Natural Rearing does not take the place of  adequate Veterinary care, and in no way will I call it a "cure" for anything. It has been my observation over the years that Natural Rearing rather acts more so as a "preventative" in that it is the feeding & husbandry method that most raises your dogs overall general health and his overall strength of immune system.  Should you decide to put your pet(s) on a natural species appropriate raw food diet, along with natural husbandry, it is at your own risk, and of your own free will.  I am not attempting to coerce anyone into following this method and am not attempting to advise on any given method.  I am simply explaining what we do, and why we do it.  Our only advise is to read as much information as possible so that you can make your own educated choices.  Here is a link, ( to a research paper from Europe with findings that feeding a home-made (raw) diet to dogs increased domestic dogs' health and longevity by about 3 years as compared to commercially fed dogs.  


If you are familiar with Natural Rearing and the Species Appropriate Raw Food diet, but want more information, click here to go to get directly to the links....



So you are interesting in finding out about N.R. (natural rearing)?  Let me give you a brief overview...

Natural Rearing is a term coined by the great pioneer in natural feeding & rearing practices, Juliette de Bairacli Levy.  Her books are listed under the important reading materials on our "Naturally Reared Support Book, Supplier & Practitioner Listings" web page.  The method is as old as mother nature herself.  It basically requires that your animals be fed a diet very close to one they would have in the wild, consisting of a variety of raw meats, bones, with small amounts of vegetable matter (made to be similar to the digest that would be found in the gut of a herbivorous prey animal).  Along with this includes living in a pack environment, on clean ground, having plenty of free access to fresh air, sunshine, clean, pure drinking water and plenty of free running exercise.  Bitches raise and wean their puppies on their own schedule (that is without humans removing puppies from their mothers care to "artificially wean" them.  "Mother knows best" when to wean and along with this goes the all important disciplinary lessons taught by the dam to her pups!  It is a natural method of learning canine/pack social skills and is extremely important in the formation of stable temperament! (Of course it is EVER so important that the bitch be able to leave her pups for whatever periods of time she deems necessary and appropriate, just as a wild canine would leave her pups in the den to join the hunt or socialize with other adults for short & then longer, periods of time.)  This may not be true of all breeds of dogs or cats, however, it has been our experience that it works very well with all of our dogs and cats.

I  found Natural Rearing amazingly easy to do and once embarked down this pathway, decided to never go back to commercial feeding or rearing practices ever again.  The benefits to our pets were just too great to back-track. 

The raw diet feeding method simply involves the feeding of a variety of raw meats, bones, finely chopped or pureed fermented or cooked vegetables, fruits (usually berries), kelp, fish oil and occasional herbal additions.  Raw meaty bones plus the addition of raw, unbleached green tripe, are an extremely important part of this diet.  We raised dairy and meat goats, as well as raising some cattle, and so have access to raw goat and cow milk which is a bonus!  We find it especially good for nursing dams and puppies (especially when the dam is getting ready to wean them).  The entire pack of dogs however gets raw goat milk every weekday morning, with bovine colostrum powder added, as well as some of our farm fresh eggs (chicken and/or duck and/or goose when available).   

You will notice, should you go through some of the web sites devoted to N.R. that there are many different ideas and attitudes about "how" and "what" to feed.  There are folks out there who advocate feeding only meat & vegetable matter but no grains or dairy whatsoever.  Others advocate a variety of has been my experience that one method for one dog is not necessarily good for another.  Each dog, like each person, is an individual, with his/her own metabolism and chemical makeup.  Some dogs will thrive on just meat, bones, dairy & tiny amount of vegetables, others may do ok with some grain as well, some do not do well with dairy.  It is a fallacy to say that grain is not found wild in nature, and that wild ungulates don't eat any grains they encounter.  As a matter of fact it does grow wild and ungulates do eat it, along with grasses, legumes, seeds, bark, etc.  Those grains, however, are not found in large quantity and so would make up a very TINY portion of the stomach content.  They would tend to be found more so in the stomachs of rodents, than in grazing animals.  Canines in the wild will eat the digestive tract, especially of the smaller prey, (rabbits, mice, etc.) and therefore all or some of it's contents.  This is their "veggie matter nutrient" feeding.  They will also pick and eat berries and sometimes other fruits which are within reach of them.  They also eat carrion with relish (and believe me this isn't because they are so hungry that they'll eat anything, because my dogs do it all the time and are VERY well fed!)  Canines were constructed to be nature's "garbage disposal units".  They clean up what is laying around rotting!  They can also be very adept hunters.  I have noted with interest that when my dogs have made a kill, or when I provide a whole prey carcass (ie a whole slaughtered goat or calf) it likely won't be eaten for a couple of days...seems they prefer their meat a little "ripened".  My dogs are also avid berry pickers.  What one needs to be aware of, is that so far as grain and seeds go, the amount a carnivore would eat of FERMENTED/PRE-DIGESTED grain/seed, would be miniscule (think of how much would be in a mouse or rat's stomach.  If they ate 10 mice, they might get a total of a teaspoon of fermented/digest grain.  So feeding large amounts of grain is not what we would advocate to any canine.  The corn and wheat grown is high in phytates which are toxins and these can cause a mirade of health problems.  So it is best to limit grain consumption to only soaked fermented grain, and only a very small amount.

I have documented what my dogs do with large carcasses.  It is interesting that they do not differ from wild canines in the way they eat a large ungulate!  It seems the most sought after parts are the internal organs and stomach with intestines (they may shake out the bulk of the stomach contents, but they eat some or all of the entire contents of the intestines), and they tend to leave the muscle parts of the carcass to ripen before consuming them entirely!

When we first embarked on this "adventure" in feeding I read, read, read, to absorb as much information as possible.  I recall how utterly terrified I was over doing something that I had no offer of help or support from anyone but one friend, who was feeding this way for a few years before I started.  It was even more frightening because I did not have a supportive Veterinarian. I not only switched my feeding methods, I also had to switch Veterinarians as well!

Over the years we have tried many different methods and ingredients, opting basically for lots of variety...variety is very important to our dogs diet.  Dogs are naturally known as "opportunistic" feeders...yes they are carnivores...they definitely have the sharp slicing molars (carnasial teeth) in their jaws for slicing meat and sinew, but they also have a grinding set in the very back, for crushing harder things like bones and some veggie matter.  So in other words, they prefer and require meat as a staple, but will take the opportunity to eat anything else they come across which is edible!  (But of course, you already know that because your dog sits and begs at your feet for a piece of banana or apple or carrot!  Right?)  Basically our guys get a variety of bone-in meats (beef, beef tripe & offals, horse, pork, venison, salmon, herring or mackerel, with some fowl once or twice a week...fowl being chicken, duck, goose or turkey ) with the occasional small amount of cooked or fermented pureed vegetables and/or fruits (so as to make those nutrients more easily absorbed...we make it the consistency of the digest in the prey animal's intestines), and once in a while I might mix up a tiny little oat or barley meal for them (cereal grains are not a natural type diet for dogs because they would not be present in large amounts in any wild herbivores gut; also we do not mix any cereals with the meats or bones).  They also get additions of powdered rosehips, kelp, alfalfa leaf, stinging nettle leaf, dandelion leafs, apple cider vinegar occasionally when needed,  garlic occasionally when needed, a vitamin/mineral supplement for elderly or recovering dogs, extra virgin olive & coconut oil,  seal oil (oils given are changed daily and not given all together) etc.  The dried herb supplements are fed free choice in a bowl, separate from the meat.  Those who want some take some and they eat what they need when they need it.  I find the overall health of our dogs is superb, they recover quickly from injuries, are not prone to disease states and have bountiful energy and vitality. Our Veterinarian is also very pleased with our animals' overall health.

We don't purport to infer that N.R. is a cure for anything or everything.  What we do feel is that it is the optimal method of feeding and rearing (nutrients being very available, high in micro nutrients, and generally easily absorbed) which raises the animals overall general health which in turn means the animal's immune system will work at an  optimal level as well. True Natural Rearing also involves not using any vaccines at all, but rather relying on the dogs' own natural immune responses and healing ability to get it through a disease cycle, along with the use of holistic (natural) medicinal help, be that homeopathy, naturopathy, colloidal silver use, acupuncture, chiropractic or any other holistic modality.

Here are some examples of dogs we have personally switched over who came to us either through rescue or that we adopted, who were in pretty terrible shape upon arrival!  One in particular was Frankie.  Frankie passed away in his 17th year.  He was an Italian Greyhound.  He came to us as a rescue at 4 years of age, with his buddy Dusty, another I.G. who was one year younger.  Both of them had poor skin, filthy teeth, Dusty wheezed a lot, and both had runny eyes. Frankie was suffering from epilepsy and would have grand-mal seizures approximately every 3 or 4 weeks and would seizure if stressed physically or mentally.  He also came to us with a grade 3 heart murmur. He was having chronic kidney problems as well.  He was examined by a cardiologist at Guelph who felt he would possibly live until 10 years of age and then it would be very downhill from there (he did not feel the dog would live much past that).

We fasted both dogs for 24 hours with only liquids and herbal cleansing teas.  We started them on the diet immediately afterward, with small amounts gradually increasing to normal amounts.  Frankie had two seizures within the first few weeks of his arrival, both brought on by physical stress.  He never had another seizure ever again.  He never had another kidney infection and his skin and hair began to look much better.  Both dogs teeth looked like a young pups after a few weeks of having access to lots of large beef  neck and joint bones to chew.  Their eyes cleared up, Dusty stopped all his wheezing (which may in part have been from finally getting away from an owner who smoked).  We do feel however, that a good healthy nutrient filled raw diet, played an important part in these two little guys reaching a higher level of health and vitality.   Dusty was placed in a new home where he was fed a rather poor quality commercial dog food.  Sadly he passed away at 9 years of age (I was told it was a stroke, but this was not confirmed to me by a Veterinarian).  I can safely say that Frankie, the more "diseased" of the two dogs, lived a good healthy long life, with a biologically appropriate diet, no more vaccines (this was an important thing to avoid, as compromised individuals should NEVER be vaccinated for ANYTHING, and as mentioned previously, NR raised animals are not vaccinated!)  Frankie lived to the ripe old age of 16 1/2 years.

We have had similar results with all the rescues we have taken in who were in ill health.  Sometimes they will go through a detoxification period, and the odd time, it can be quite horrendous where they can "apparently" go "downhill", but invariably ALL pick up within days or a week or two (depending on their toxicity levels & immune system function) and bounced into glorious health and vitality.

YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT (and this can and is passed down for at least 3 generations):

Recent research in epigenetics  shows a direct link to health and longevity and the quality/type of foods that we consume! This is an incredible article:
DNA Is Not Destiny : The new science of epigenetics rewrites the rules of disease, heredity, and identity,  by Ethan Watters

Epigentics and the quality of foods that are eaten:

Below are a number of web site pages you can go to for lots more information.  Please read whatever you can so that you can make educated decisions on your own, for yourself and your animals.  Below are some of the very best sites dedicated to what is in your commercial pet food, info about raw feeding dogs, raw feeding catsvaccine issues,   feeding for epilepsy,   info about Colloidal Silver and info about Microchips and Cancer, etc., with detailed information available on most of them:

WHAT'S REALLY IN PET FOOD?:  An API Report (pdf file): download pdf file  OR find the article on THIS LINK  Certain dog food ingredients can destroy breeding programs, cause unprovoked aggression, excessive barking, nervous pacing, and behavioral problems which medical doctors would term Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).


FEEDING YOUR DOG A SPECIES APPROPRIATE RAW DIET:  Links for "how to" and more information....  The Natural Dog; A Guide to Raw Diet and Health the Natural Way   Jane Anderson's Raw Feeding Site:  Learn how easy it is to feed a raw diet!   Susan Johnson's Site: An excellent introduction to feeding dogs using biologically appropriate raw foods.  (particularly look under his "Raw Resources" which is 1/2 way down the page...there are links to all of Brenda Hagel's raw feeding articles which are excellent and informative).  Excellent "slide" type presentation (click the number links to display each slide) showing how the canine digestive system works, how dry food digests versus raw food, why it is imperative not to feed the two types of foods together, and how to switch a kibble fed dog to raw food without problems, plus some information about pancreatitis and dogs that may be very susceptible to this.  EXCELLENT reference web page.

Raw Feeding Videos: 

Dogs Naturally Magazine 5 part video series on raw feeding and  (Is feeding raw really more expensive than kibble?  An excellent chart to show that it is not!)

You can join an email/online Natural Rearing Support Group at:

You can join an email/online BARF Raw Feeding Support Group at:

Another online Natural Rearing Support Group:

About Colloidal Silver - Article on it's many uses, how it is made, etc. - excellent reference material



The Role of a Healthy Natural Diet in the Management of Canine Epilepsy:

Holistic Approaches :

Canine Epilepsy Resources:


THESE ARE SITES DEVOTED TO Raw Feeding CATS!:  (this site is excellent and informative, dealing with why dry foods are inappropriate for cats to eat and goes into depth as to why cats should NOT be eating carbohydrates in their diet, with good information on how to switch to soft canned and/or raw diet feeding.  Written by a Veterinarian.)


Important Vaccine information:

Catherine O'Driscoll IN SEARCH OF THE TRUTH ABOUT DOGS (important information done as a video):

SILENT EPIDEMIC: The Untold Story of Vaccines:

Her web site:
  • ________________________________________________

  • Important Video Seminar (long but VERY important for research information) (for humans but applicable to any animal that is multiple vaccinated)  (this is Pat McKay's book "Natural Immunity - Why you should NOT vaccinate" available in PDF file format for download). (human site but applicable to animals as well)



    Happy researching.  If you decide to try a natural diet, you can link onto the Naturally Reared Support Book, Supplier & Practitioner Listing for on-going lists of books, suppliers, holistic practitioners including Veterinarians, and a list of long time N.R. breeders and owners.


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