Raw Feeding for Dogs 101
Raw foods are wholesome in many ways. They contain minimally altered nutrients and powerful ingredients like collagen, marrow and more.
Why feed raw?
Raw feeding a dog mimics the diet of their ancestors: wolves. One must acknowledge that a pug is far different than a wolf, but nonetheless, they share core DNA. This being said, each size, breed, and type of dog must be treated differently. There is no basic simple formula that works for every dog, but there is a perfect formula for YOUR dog, it’s just a matter of discovering it. Raw foods are wholesome in many ways. They contain minimally altered nutrients and powerful ingredients like collagen, marrow and more. Modern dogs typically eat kibble, a highly processed and often chemically altered, bland and often poor in nutrient, "diet." Going back to the wolf; a wild diet changes throughout the seasons, as should ours, and our pets’ as well. Food should fluctuate with activity levels, availability, and physical needs of the dog during that current period. Raw foods are beneficial for just about every aspect of the dog's well being. Raw food is more interactive, more healthful, more cleansing, more fresh, and more CORRECT of a diet than any kibble on the market. Don't be fooled by freeze dried foods either! Food fraud in the pet industry is rampant, and chances are, there is stuff you don't know about in Fido's food.
Raw food is more interactive, more healthful, more cleansing, more fresh, and more CORRECT of a diet than any kibble on the market.
What and how much should I feed my dog, and how often?
This is where many raw-feeders will disagree: acceptable foods, quantity and frequency. I will start off by first debunking a few raw feeding myths. "Raw food has bacteria that will kill your dog." Though this is largely untrue, there is always a chance of contamination of food. For starters, we run the same risk with our own foods: crudo, sashimi, carpaccio, oysters... yet most of us survive. Our dogs are also at risk eating kibble and processed treats. Just look into all the recent pet food and treat scandals, it'll make you rethink how much you trust your kibble dealer.
When feeding raw, I recommend avoiding treats. The exceptions would be meaty bones, frozen egg and meatballs (more info available about these), or dehydrated treats. Do not give raw-fed dogs processed treats, it will cause digestive upset almost immediately. There are obviously dogs with iron-tummies which are exceptions to this rule, but I generally like to recommend making a full-on raw switch.
Do not give raw-fed dogs processed treats, it will cause digestive upset almost immediately.
That being said, when switching your dog to raw foods, there should be no transitional period. You should cold-turkey your pup on the kibble, and either fast your dog for a day (some health contraindications, must be observed), or slowly introduce small raw meals at first. After about a week you should be able to feed at the recommended rate/quantity. Please note that diarrhea during this dietary change is a common issue. Your dog’s body is purging toxins, and unfamiliar bacteria are entering the gut. Diarrhea can last up to a week, try your best to stick with it. Freshly steamed or canned pumpkin can expedite this process by adding natural prebiotics and fiber, hastening the purging process.
Diarrhea can last up to a week, try your best to stick with it. Freshly steamed or canned pumpkin can expedite this process by adding natural prebiotics and fiber, hastening the purging process.
I offer food twice daily to my dogs, but some dogs may only require once daily feedings. Raw fed dogs are more likely to be able to regulate their food impulses, as raw meat is so rich in protein, the dog becomes full quite quickly when compared to kibble. Your dog will become more aware of the full feeling, to avoid tummy aches from protein-overload. When deciding whether your dog is a once or twice-a-day eater, there are several things to take into consideration: Age, weight, physical health/ability, and level of activity. Feed your dog on a towel and be sure to monitor them while they eat, especially the first few meals. Diarrhea for the first 3-5 days can be expected with any dietary shift, be patient and rest assured!
Many dogs are at first confused by the smell and texture of meat, just remember that all they won’t willingly starve do death, they’ll cave within a few days. This is an entirely new sensory experience for them, and it is important to support your dog during this process. Never leave your dog unattended while eating, and make sure the eating space is clean and comfortable for your dog.
Never leave your dog unattended while eating, and make sure the eating space is clean and comfortable for your dog.
Sit nearby and encourage your pet if they don’t show interest, by praising them, maybe even hand-feed them. Make sure they eat slow and chew the food completely to avoid choking. Dogs that are swallowers may have to have their bone ground. I recommend starting with a ground chicken or turkey meatball, option to add a farm fresh egg to the mix, but any small portion of raw meat will do. Next meal, introduce a chicken wing and see how your dog reacts.
• IDEAL PORTIONS: for a raw fed dog, is a meal that is 2% of the dog's bodyweight. So if your dog is 100lbs, they would eat 2 lbs of raw food. If your dog is 5lbs they would eat .1 lbs of raw food. Take this proportion into consideration when buying raw food for your dog. You want the freshest ingredients, so buying too much will result in spoiling or wasting (unless you freeze pre-made meals). Do the math and portion out your dog’s meals ahead of time by using tupperware, ziplock or vacuum sealed bags, if you have time. It'll decrease how much you have to directly handle raw meat, as well as save time.
• SIZE OF CUTS: Ask the butcher to cut the meat to the appropriate size for a dog. While a full grown mastiff could easily annihilate an entire un-quartered turkey, a chihuahua won't fare so well. Cuts should be big enough that your dog doesn't swallow it whole, yet has to chew (great for dental health).
• IDEAL RATIO: of meats is as follows: 60% muscle, 20% fat, 10% bone and 10% organ. The ratio can be slightly adjusted for overweight, senior or young dogs, but it is best to adhere to this ratio for optimal nutritive benefit. This is where the importance of being ORGANIC comes into play. When you buy conventionally farmed meats, the organs and fats store all of the toxins and stress that those animals accrued throughout their lives. Most factory farmed meats are fed GMO corn and soy feed, live in filthy conditions, and are injected or fed antibiotics throughout their lives (email me for more info). Purchase organic meats for your dogs AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.
• DO NOT FEED: raw pork (trichinosis), raw salmon (salmon poisoning disease), smoked meats or bones, cooked bones, large fish like tuna, halibut, and swordfish (mercury poisoning), grilled or salted meats, shellfish like crabs, oysters, clams and lobsters, peanut butter, dairy: cheese, pasteurized milk, peanut butter, legumes, wheat, soy, corn,grains (plain greek yogurt occasionally OK). Limit veggies and fruits, don’t feed unless you’re sure they’re safe for dogs to eat. Grapes, raisins, tomatoes, walnuts, stone-fruit pits, onions, and more.
POOP PATROL: Always check your dog’s poop, it is the largest indicator of GI health you can see, and variations usually depict underlying issues.
Poop that is mucousy - too much fat in the diet, or inflammation of the lower digestive tract
Poop that is watery - too many vitamins from the organs, or invasive bacteria present
Poop that is stringy - dog has eaten grass or other indigestible item, or too much fat in the diet
Poop that is crumbly - too much done in the diet, or dehydration
Poop that is black - blood in the upper digestive tract, seek medical attention
Poop that has blood - splintering bones or hemorrhaging of the lower digestive tract, monitor amount of blood for 3 bowel movements, if persistent, seek medical attention
By: Tawna Renee
Lotus in Bloom Healing Arts