A raw diet provides many benefits that a commercial dog food cannot provide. From my research here are some benefits discovered by raw-feeders.
1. Many Health Issues Heal/Disappear – An overwhelming percent of people who switch to raw feeding report that ‘health issues’ of their pet disappear or naturally heal on their own. This makes sense when you consider that God made our bodies (and our pets) to be able to heal. And with the proper nutrition (and lack of poor nutrition), the body has the fuel it needs to get better. Skin disorders, allergies, feet chewing, discolored fur, bald spots/thinning fur, digestion problems, food intolerance, unusual behavior problems, are just a few of many reported issues that have disappeared.
2. Skin & Fur Improve – A noticeable difference can be seen in many dogs’ skin and fur. The coat looks better and skin problems typically improve and heal. In our Boston Terriers, we’ve noticed a thicker coat, with shinier hair, and we switched to raw from a holistic commercial food (so they already looked great)!
3. No ‘Doggy’ Smell/Less Bathing – Once a dog switches to raw feeding, they don’t have nearly as strong of a ‘dog’ smell, some have none at all. With less smell, comes less baths!
4. Better Breath – Because the bones act like toothbrushes (to clean the teeth) and the food is processed correctly/naturally in the stomach, there isn’t usually the bad breath problems associated with kibble or soft foods alone.
5. Cleaner Teeth, Healthier Gums – No need for tooth brushes or teeth cleaning (with unwanted anesthesia) because the bones naturally keep the teeth clean and will slowly remove old tartar and build up from years of kibble eating. Gums will be healthier too because there won’t be the plaque buildup. It’s important to remove plaque buildup because at some point it can enter the bloodstream and become life threatening.
6. Very Satisfying – Dogs are canines and eating a diet of raw meaty bones is very satisfying for a dog (because it mirrors what a dog would be getting in the wild) and will give their stomach adequate time to get the acids moving. A dog who switches to raw may go through a transition process of a few days for their stomach to get used to eating the raw meaty bone meals. But anyone who has changed dog food brands probably knows changing foods may have a short transition period. A modern day dog has exactly the same digestive tract as a wolf. Raw meaty bones are perfectly suited for them and very satisfying!
7. Muscles Developed – The pulling, ripping, and chewing involved in eating raw meaty bones develops the jaw, neck, and shoulder muscles in the dog. Commercial dog foods cannot be of any help in this important muscle development.
8. Less Overeating, Proper Weight – Because eating raw meaty bones takes longer and is more involved, the dogs usually are more satisfied and tend to not overeat. If your dog is too thin or too thick, very active or a couch potato, you simply add more or less until you find the amount his body needs.
9. Less Stools – Much less stools are produced, they don’t seem to smell as bad, and they are firm and turn chalky after a couple of days.
10. Decreased Vet Bills (or virtually non-existent) – Generally, because your dog will be healthier overall, you will save money and time at the vet.
11. Save Money – You will most likely save money at the vet and depending on raw meaty bone source, you could save money over commercial pet foods as well. Search for the ‘Liz List’ on email@example.com for lots of ways to find sources for raw feeding.
12. Development Rate – On a raw diet, puppies develop at an appropriate rate, quick growth spurts are avoided. This allows all systems to grow at the proper and natural rate.
13. Temperament and Attitude – Some people say that when their dogs were on a commercial diet they were hyperactive and unfocused or had behavior issues. Once the dogs switched to raw feeding, they were calmer and easier to train. Some sluggish dogs became more energetic once on the species appropriate feeding.
14. Arthritis has significantly reduced and/or disappeared once some dogs have begun raw-feeding.
15. Breeders note that their females managed their pregnancies better and that they have better weight and survival figures in their puppies.
16. Longer Life-Span – Because a dog on a raw meaty diet is eating a species-appropriate food and a diet free from the over abundance of salt & sugar (both added to dog foods to make the dogs over eat and want more), as well as fillers, additives, chemicals, scary byproducts included in many commercial pet foods, and carbohydrates (which a dog can’t process), he/she should naturally live longer. People have said their dogs are living longer on a raw diet than the age their previous dogs lived to be on commercial dog foods. It just makes sense once you add it all up.
Why did we switch? What have we noticed personally?
We switched our Boston Terriers (BestBostonTerrierPuppies.com) to raw feeding in August 2011. We took the plunge because after several years of feeding one of the top three dog foods in the world, we couldn’t keep the weight on our very active adult Bostons. I suspect there was a formula change because they all started disliking this high-dollar holistic commercial food at the same time. We did try a few other high-quality holistic commercial pet foods (without success) but instead of researching another commercial dog food, we decided to go raw-fed because of all of the benefits we read about online – mainly the long life-span and the fact that most dogs love it.
Here’s what we’ve noticed personally.
*The switch was easy for us. There were just a few basic things to remember and easy to follow guidelines. We started at rawlearning.com, and then joined firstname.lastname@example.org .
*Immediately, within a couple of weeks, the Bostons who were a bit thin gained weight to their proper size.
*They ALL love the raw food!
*Also we had a rescued Boston who had stomach issues (would throw up most commercial foods except for one holistic puppy food). She would also throw up when she was upset or nervous. Once we switched to the raw feeding, she had zero problems keeping her food down. It was not a problem with her stomach, it was with her food! After a few months on the raw food, we were able to adopt her to a new family who has kept her on the raw plan.
*My daughter had a puppy that had 3 surgeries due to a prolapsed rectum. Once she switched her to the raw feeding, she had zero problems with her food and began gaining weight. Her output and her stool became normal, she was able to come off of the stool softener, and she’s a new dog!
*Our first male Boston came to us from Alabama at 3 years old. He was gorgeous but had the worst breath and tartar build up on his teeth from the diet he was fed. His breath improved in just a few weeks and the build-up has slowly gone away. Also the hair on his ears was very thin and leathery looking. His ears and coat look fantastic now.
*Anyone who has owned Bostons probably knows they are known for their ‘gas’. Now that we are raw feeding, the ‘gas’ is rare, almost non-existent. It amazes me that the commercial food, even the one that was one of the top three in the world at $65 a bag, still gave the Bostons such bad gas. It was because of the carbohydrates, I believe.
*Our puppies that we’ve weaned from mama’s milk to a raw-diet, have stayed fatter instead of getting thin during the weaning transition. We are excited to start our babies out on a path that could add years to their lives!………..Janis
HOW TO START RAW FEEDING
HOW TO START RAW FEEDING (OR CONTINUE YOUR PUPPY’S RAW FEEDING)
I’ve given you some basic getting started info here. For more info you can go to rawlearning.com and if you join the email@example.com you can type in key words such as how to get started, how to find raw meat at a good price, etc. There is also a raw feeding facebook group if you are on facebook.
A puppy you have adopted from us has been eating a raw diet since being weaned at 4 ½ – 5 ½ weeks. In the beginning, during the weaning transition, he/she began to pull small pieces off of a chicken quarter (thigh & drumstick). Chicken hearts & gizzards were added next. Finally a little bit of chicken liver was added (the size of a pea) every other day or so at about 7 weeks of age. At this time he/she has also had a little beef (stew meat cut up) and that is generally the favorite.
Currently (at 8-9 weeks of age) he/she is eating 3-4 times per day. 2-3 of those times he/she is eating what she can or wants of a chicken drumstick or thigh. I take a chicken quarter, pull most of the skin off or cut off with kitchen shears. (As he/she gets a bit older leave more and more of it on there.) After the skin is pulled off, I cut some ‘ribbons’ or slashes into it so the puppy can get a better grip on it. Then I cut the chicken quarter into 3 pieces to offer for 3 meals. The other meal is either beef or chicken gizzards/hearts cut into small pieces about the size that a dime/nickel is round.
We give 1 heart and as many gizzards as wanted, maybe 2-6 cut up. If poop gets too gooey, you can cut back on heart/gizzards a bit until he/she is eating bone well. Your puppy has also been given beef (stew meat cut up – watch the sodium content) as a third meal a day choice. Add beef for your puppy, if/when you can. He/she loves beef and this is what you should be working towards – mostly beef.
Here are the specifics of raw feeding. Some of the yucky details are here so that you can be fully informed and for the benefit of someone starting an adult dog on raw. When our adults started on raw, we had NONE of the issues mentioned in 10 & 11 that could be normal for some. It’s important that you know of these in case it happens as you switch your grown dog The THREE Basic Guidelines are highlighted in red for easy reference. 1)Feed 2-3% adult body weight, 2) 80%meat- 10% edible bone-10% organs, 3)watch sodium 4 oz serving 100mg or less.
1) If your dog isn’t already eating raw, go ‘cold turkey’ and switch to raw. No need to phase out kibble. Donate it to your local shelter. It is easier for a dog to digest raw than to have to digest raw AND processed food and they will reap the benefits faster if you just start them cold turkey.
2) To begin, feed your dog 2-3% of your dog’s (or puppy’s) ESTIMATED IDEAL ADULT weight. Tweak with more meat if your dog gets a bit skinny, a bit less if your dog gets too heavy. For example a 100 lb dog (or a dog that will grow to 100lbs) would eat 2-3 pounds a day, a 50lb dog would eat 1 to 1 ½ pounds a day (or 16-24ounces), a 25lb dog would eat ½ to ¾ pounds (8-12 ounces a day), a 12lb dog would eat 4-6 ounces per day. Remember this is just a starting place. You can increase or decrease according to the way your dog looks and his/her activity level. Puppies may easily eat more than this as they are growing. Puppies, Tiny, toy, pregnant, or very active dogs might need as much as 4 -5% of their body weight or more – very large, giant, overweight, or couch potato dogs might need less than 2% to maintain.
3) Your goal and the rule of thumb over time is to feed 80% meat, 10% bone, and 10% organ (with half of that being liver). This is not necessarily a daily amount but is your goal over time. Broken down, this means 80% meat (muscle, fat, skin, connective tissue and such muscular organs as heart, tongue and gizzard) 10% EDIBLE bone (not all bone that is served must be consumed) and 10% organs (3-5% of this is liver, the rest is as much variety as you can find and afford- see number 15) This is not an immutable ‘daily requirement’. If you fed too much bone one day, you can feed less the next day etc.
4) For an adult, feed 2 meals per day to start (a puppy under 4 months feed 4x day, and a puppy 4-6 months 3x day). A very tiny dog may need 3-4 feedings a day at first as well. A dog over 1 year can eat his/her daily allowance in one feeding unless there are special requirements (such as small size dog, pregnant dog, health issue etc.) Feeding once a day can be a great feeding plan for a dog, but not at first; too much new food at a meal can cause digestive upset. Feed as large a ‘portion’ as you can for the size of the meal. Do not cut the food up for an adult. If the dog has trouble getting started, you can cut a few slashes in the meat so they can get their teeth into it easier. In the first few days for an adult, feed a smaller amount than you think he/she will want. Taking it slowly in the first few days is better.
5) When you are looking for meat/edible bones to feed your dog, read the labels. For a 4 oz serving, the sodium content should be no more than 100mg. You want the most natural or organic meat you can find or afford. When we started we found Gold Leaf brand chicken quarters at Walmart & Food City (has 75 mg sodium per 4 oz serving) and also Tyson gizzards/hearts at Kroger & Food City (has only 60 mg sodium per 4 oz). Call or check in your local grocery stores.
6) No-No’s A species appropriate raw whole prey model diet (whole prey is where a carnivore is offered all parts of an animal to eat and chooses what to eat from it) doesn`t include kibble (processed foods) or vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, carbohydrates, (or lots of supplements) or ground meats (unless a special circumstance). It is not good to give dogs the giant bones (or weight bearing bones of large animals) either. They can break their teeth on them. These are called rec bones (for recreational) or w/rec/k bones (because they can break -wreck their teeth)
Dogs need to tear into their food and pull hunks off to swallow and crunch bone for physical, mental, and dental health. They don`t chew or eat the way we do – their jaws aren’t designed to move from side to side, just up and down – their digestion begins in their stomachs, not in their mouths. So swallowing big hunks of meat and bone is fine. If it fits, it’s okay. Ours have not ever spit their food up and eaten it again but it is said that if it isn’t happy in the stomach, the dog will hork it up, and re-eat it, so it will go down and stay down the 2nd or 3rd time. Dogs just do this sometimes.
7) At first for an adult or puppy being switched to raw, feed a little less at each meal at first than you think you should. Too much new food over the course of a day or two can cause digestive upset, too. Many dogs will learn to be self-regulators and will only eat as much as they need even if you offer them too much. After 30 minutes to an hour, if they act like they are done with the portion, you can put it in a baggie, refrigerate it, and offer it for the next meal or the next day.
8) If just starting raw feeding, start with chicken and feed only chicken for 4-6 weeks before adding a new meat. For a dog/pup already eating raw, you can add a new meat now. You can either just switch to a new meat by serving it at the next meal or work it in gradually (like feed chicken with a little beef, then the next meal or day add a bit more beef and less chicken etc.). Only add one new meat per week or two and let him/her get adjusted to eating a new meat before adding a different meat. Puppies tend to be able to adjust to new meats more quickly than adult dogs just starting on raw.
Chicken is often recommended as the first meat to be introduced for several reasons: its cost effective, easy to obtain, has easily consumed and digested bones, it’s easy to cut into different meal sized portions, is bland, you can trim visible fat and skin if you need to tweak (too much fat/skin can cause runny poop at first), you can even take out bone if you need to, and most dogs will eat it.
Read the labels on the chicken (and any meat) before you buy; don’t get any that is enhanced with flavoring/seasonings, tenderizing additives or salt/sugar/broth injected. Some dogs get itchy or vomit or get true diarrhea from enhancements. Whole chickens or chicken quarters are good to start with and can be cut up with a good pair of kitchen shears.
9) With a raw diet, there will be less poop over all. Raw is more digestible and less goes to waste. Check your dog’s poop to see if he/she needs more or less bone. Boneless meals tend to produce loose or runny poops. A good amount of bone in a newbie dog’s meal will tend to firm things up.
Bone adds bulk, so sloppy poops can be firmed up by some (don’t go overboard) bone at each meal at first. Too much bone and your dog can get “fossil” poops that are dry, whitish and crumbly. If your dog needs more meat, you can easily add chicken gizzards/hearts (this is counted as meat not organs). All of our dogs LOVE the gizzards/hearts. We use them for training as well. You can also add a bit more of skin or fat to overcome the fossil poops.
Remember, too much bone= fossil poops (whitish & crumbly). Too much skin/fat= runny poops or diarrhea
10) Some newbie dogs vomit or poop bone bits (our puppies don’t and our adults never did). There is an adjustment period while the stomach acid works toward digesting bone, so you want some bone in most meals at first, but too much bone may not be digested and the dog will just hork it up or poop it out. This is normal. If your puppy was raw fed before you got him/her you don’t have to worry about this. Since they were weaned to raw, their digestive systems are already digesting the bone.
11) Some newbie dogs will get the Bile Vomits or Bone Bits Bile Vomits (BV or BBBV) when new to raw simply because their schedules or routines of eating have been changed.
When a dog adjusts to raw, his gastric ‘juices’ become much more acid, to better digest the raw meat and bone. If he’s expecting a meal at a certain time, the juices start flowing in anticipation of a meal. When the meal doesn’t happen, the dog often will throw up the yellowish, foamy bile, with or without bones.
Sometimes they spit up BBBV because raw digests faster than kibble, the tummy is empty, so it must be time to eat. No problem for the dog, he’s gotten rid of the irritation. He may react as if he feels bad, just because you are upset that he did it on your new comforter, or on the white carpet. For a newbie dog/puppy, divide their daily amount into 2-3 servings and don’t feed at the same time each day if they have a problem with spitting up.
12) Many dogs don’t drink as much water or as often because a raw-fed diet has a higher water content. When on processed foods (dry kibble), they are forced to drink extra water because their food is so dry and they need the water to process it. On raw, just offer plenty of purified water and he/she will drink when needed. Never feed cats dry food! Purified water can help prevent kidney stones.
13) True diarrhea is not just loose, runny or sloppy poops. It is frequent, liquid or watery explosions of poop that a dog cannot ‘hold back’.
True diarrhea is caused by disease or parasites. For newbie dogs, the occasional loose poops, or “Cannon Butt” even over a few days, that comes from feeding a few too many boneless meals or introducing too much of a new meat or feeding too much organ at one whack, is not diarrhea.
14) “Balance Over Time”, over weeks and months is one of the raw feeding maxims. If you feed true whole prey, that is entire animals at a time, then the meat to bone to organ ratios are ‘perfect’ for that creature. Whatever parts your dog can eat of is right for him. In the wild, wolves will eat off a large animal carcass for days, and each wolf gets different parts.
15) Organs – Go slowly at first. For a newbie dog, you can add a ‘pea size’ amount of organ after being on chicken for 4-6 weeks. A puppy weaned to raw can start with a pea sized amt of liver each day with a meal. This will allow you to feed organs, but shouldn’t cause runny stools. If it does, stop feeding it and freeze those parts for later on down the line. Some dogs love liver, some don’t, but they need it for the nutrients. You can try liver from different animals.
Heart and gizzards are organs, but should be fed as meaty meat. You can give a few gizzards/hearts with a bony meal to increase the meat to bone ratio. .
Here is a list of organs: liver, salivary glands, spleen, trachea, esophagus, sweetbread (thymus & pancreas), ears, kidneys, reproductive organs, and brains. “Offal” – viscera and trimmings of a butchered animal often considered inedible by humans, but great dog food! Offal can fall into either meaty meat or organ categories.
16) SEBP – Slippery Elm Bark Powder. This is a good innocuous herb that soothes the stomach and digestive system. If you feel you need to intervene when your dog has loose poops or constipation, this is the way to go. SEBP is used to treat diarrhea, constipation, enteritis, colitis & irritations of the stomach. It is used to soothe, protect & lubricate mucous membranes. Also has been used to relieve the discomforts of kennel cough & other types of bronchitis.
You can use 1 Tsp – 1 TBL of SEBP to 8 – 12 oz of ground or chopped chicken. Mix together and shape enough meatballs for a few days and freeze them. For small dogs, divide in ¼ ounce meatballs, for large to giant dogs, 1 ounce meatballs. Feed 1 with each meal. Or, fast for a day, (not for puppies, fast for just a meal or two) and be sure to offer plenty of water. Feed SEBP meatballs 3-4 times through day.
Feed smaller, more frequent meals for several days after, gradually increasing the meals and decreasing the SEBP meatballs. You will often see an increase in mucous poops with SEBP, this is part of the way it soothes the digestive system, and the dog’s body will do the same sometimes even without SEBP. You can also mix it with meat broth and feed it whenever you fast/rest the dog’s digestive tract. And you can just sprinkle meat with SEBP when there’s digestive upset.
17) Some meats you can feed include; chicken, turkey, pork, beef, lamb, fish, rabbit from a grocery store. Or you may be able to find at a reasonable price; goat, venison, emu, ostrich, bison, beefalo, elk, mutton, mice, rats, guinea hen, quail, and so on. You can generally feed any type of meat and any part of the animal that your dog will eat. ‘Wild caught’ meat can be frozen for 2 weeks to kill any parasites. Do a little research if in doubt.
18) To supplement, you can add Salmon or Fish Body oil, either in caps or liquid. It adds Omega 3 fatty acids to the diet, to balance out the O6s, which grocery store meats are high in.
Make sure it doesn’t contain plant-based oils, like soy. Start slowly and build up the dog’s bowel tolerance gradually to a maintenance dosage. Follow the recommendations that come with the product you buy. Here are some suggestions: Timber Wolf Organics, Grizzly Pet Products Salmon oil, Iceland Pure Salmon oil
We also supplement with NuVet vitamins to protect our dogs/puppies immune systems and to prevent onset of disease that commonly starts around 5-8 years of age. To order you can go to nuvet.com and use order code 23121. Auto ship method will save you an additional 15%.
19) You can do it! There are lots of people who have fed raw diets for over 20-30 years and forever. The health benefits and added years of life are definitely worth it. Health experts say that small breed dogs should be able to live 18-22 years! For ongoing support, join an online group such as firstname.lastname@example.org (join digest form as there are a lot of members and this way you will get all posts in one email per day basically.)