(This blog entry will feature photos of my dog eating raw meat. If such images may offend you, you might want to avoid reading further.)
There is a lot of controversy out there about raw feeding dogs. Some people find it abhorrent. Vets will tell you horror stories about dogs who have died from perforated intestines due to eating bones. People will warn you about E. coli and Salmonella or dogs getting a ‘taste for blood’ and turning on their people.
I’ve been a raw feeder for over four years. Though my interest in feeding raw has been around longer than that. A few years before I ever got a dog, I heard about this unique way of feeding. I knew several friends online who fed their dogs this way and they lauded the results. Not only that, but feeding raw just made sense to me. Kibble has only been in existence for 100 years or so. What did dogs eat before then?
While there is much debate over whether dogs are carnivores, omnivores, or just extremely opportunistic; I feel a diet that replicates that which a dog might eat in the wild is best for a dog. I follow the prey-model ratios to feed Risa though I have made some modifications. Ideally one feeds 80% muscle meat (meat without bone), 10% raw meaty bones (meat with bone), and 10% organ meat (liver, kidney, spleen, brain, etc.). However, Risa requires more bone in her diet so I feed closer to 60-65% MM (muscle meat) and 25-30% RMBs (raw meaty bones). Some people believe dogs require vegetable matter in their diets. I do not however I do feed green tripe when I can get it. I also give fruits and veggies as a treat.
Starting a raw diet is not something one should do lightly. You really need to do a lot of research beforehand. It’s not as simple as just tossing your dog a chicken drumstick and hoping for the best. 😉 Aside from making sure you balance the diet using the ratios, you have to keep in mind that much of the meat found in grocery stores is low in omega 3s. You will need to supplement with fish that are high in O3s or give a fish oil capsule. Some meats are higher in some nutrients than others. The diet should be as varied as possible including both red and white meats. Most people start feeding 2-3% of their dog’s body weight daily on a raw diet. However, some dogs are very active and will require more. Others are easy keepers and need less. It’s easy enough to adjust the diet as needed.
Here’s a sample menu of Risa’s:
Monday: Turkey neck (between 8-12 oz generally), 1/2 lb of beef, 4 ounces of beef liver
Tuesday: Chicken quarter
Wednesday: Turkey neck, 1/2 lb of beef
Thursday: 1 lb of ground buffalo, 4 chicken feet, 4 ounces of beef kidney
Friday: Chicken quarter
Saturday: 1/2 lb pork ribs, 1/2 lb of beef
Sunday: Chicken quarter, egg
If you’re interested in raw feeding but not into number crunching and want to keep it more basic, there are premade raw foods available to you. Most of them consist of ground meat, organs, bones, vegetables, and other added minerals/supplements. Bravo, Nature’s Variety, and Primal make premade patties and medallions for easy feeding. It’s the ease of feeding kibble with many of the benefits of feeding raw.
One of the things I really enjoy about raw feeding is that I can choose what my dog eats and what she doesn’t. Since Risa has several food sensitivities, this makes both of our lives much easier. Protein sources that might be difficult to completely avoid if we fed kibble are super easy to eliminate with raw feeding–I just don’t give it to her. 🙂
Raw fed dogs in general have very soft coats, less doggy smell, no bad dog breath, better oral health, more energy, and better muscle tone. They also poop less as they are able to digest more of what they ingest creating less waste.
Should you consider feeding your dog a raw diet, please do not do so lightly. You should carefully research a proper raw diet and weigh the benefits and risks of it. Also know that many vets will not support your choice. Many people will look at you like you’re crazy too. I couldn’t imagine feeding my dog any other way. I love the control I have over what she eats. This is especially helpful with Risa’s GI issues. However, raw feeding is not for everyone or every dog.