Learning how to feed a raw and natural diet
Raw feeding allows your animals to grow at a natural pace therefore creates a much healthier pet that will produce healthier pups.
Please don't misunderstand a raw diet, I do not just give my dogs chicken backs and guts, they are fed Quarters, breast, backs, hamburger, beef heart, pork, lamb, deer, rabbit, duck, mackerel, sardines, cottage cheese, yogurt, apple cider vinegar and organ meat and some veggies or the occasional leftover, it depends on the day.
NEVER FEED COOKED BONES and always research to learn your dog's nutritional needs before trying to feed raw.
Research is key.
Call every butcher and meat locker in your yellow pages and ask them if they can get chicken backs, leg quarters, turkey necks, pork necks, beef hearts, beef livers etc. in bulk and get prices. Usually you won't pay more then 29 cents to 39 cents a pound for chicken backs. They come in 40# boxes. Leg quarters are higher priced but perfect meat to bone ratio. Oh.. Yes, you will need a chest freezer! Size depends on how many you are feeding. A small 7 cubic ft. is sufficient for 1 to 3 dogs. If you have to travel very far to get the meaty bones, you may want a bigger freezer so that you can stock up. You can buy ground meats at discount markets. I buy ground turkey at Super Wal-Mart in 1 pound frozen rolls. Canned Salmon is on sale about once a month at my local grocery for 99 cents a can. I stock up! You can buy Mackerel at Dollar general stores for 75 cents a can. You will turn into a bit of a scavenger as you go and when you find great deals you feel all happy and proud of yourself! Your friends will think you need to 'get a life' and others look at you like you have 3 heads!
A wide variety of raw meaty bones and organs is what you want and this way of feeding does not have to break the bank and in fact should be cheaper then high end so called quality kibbles.
OK, You have done your research and found your suppliers. You have several days worth of meals ready. Everything is bagged, frozen and in meal portions. ( more on amounts later). You will want to fast your adult dog for a full 24 hours before you start feeding raw foods. If you have a pup under 3 months of age, 12 to 18 hours is plenty. It is not good to make that young of a pup go a full 24 hours without food, but at least 12 hours of fasting is necessary. The reason for the fasting is because Kibble and Raw food digest at completely different rates. Kibble can take anywhere from 12 to 24 hours to digest depending on the quality of the kibble and the individual dog. Most people do not realize this because their dog eats a bowl of kibble and goes out and to potty a short time later. But that is more then likely yesterdays meal finally making an exit. Raw food digest in 4 to 6 hours.
So, while raw foods do not pose a threat of e-coli or salmonella poisoning to dogs who eat the raw diet as a sole diet, raw foods CAN cause problems if it is forced to sit in the gut with kibble waiting on it to digest. This is why vets will tell you to never feed raw food to your dog. So you want to be sure your dogs system is empty before you start feeding raw meaty bones.
For the first week or so, you will want to feed just chicken backs with bone. Nothing else. I don't recommend starting dogs on leg quarters for a couple of reasons. One is that they might not chew the food as well as they should at first and leg bones that are not chewed well will take longer to digest. It may cause an upset stomach. Backs are smaller bones and even if they aren't chewed up very well, they will break down quicker then a leg bone will. The idea here is to go slow and give the body time to adjust to this new exciting way of eating.
By only feeding chicken for the first week or two you are giving the body time to adjust. Once you have done this and things are going well and stools are normal, you can try a new meal or add liver or heart in small amounts (slice) to the chicken meal, then back to chicken for the next 2 to 3 days. Watch your dog when he goes out to potty, this is what will tell you if everything is going well. Keep doing this regimen until you have slowly introduced most of everything you are planning on feeding. By introducing things slowly it gives you control of all the variables. If your dog is doing fine and then you try something new and he gets loose stools or vomits, you will know exactly what did not sit well with him and you can eliminate that particular food from the diet for a couple of weeks and try it again.
Organ meats will not be fed as an entire meal. You won't ever be dishing out 2 or 4 pounds of organ meat at once. When you feed organ meats, you will feed smaller amounts with the chicken meal or other meal. We feed organ meat 3 or 4 times a week. Examples: Slice of beef liver with a meal, Small chunk of beef kidney with a meal. etc.
Some dogs who have eaten kibble for a very long time have no idea what to do with a piece of raw chicken. They know it is interesting, they know they want it, but they are not exactly sure what to do. Some dogs will try to hide it, bury it and dig it back up over and over. If you have one of these dogs who will not eat the chicken right away, don't worry! Most dogs will eventually eat it. I believe the best way to handle it is to offer the bowl of food and if it is not eaten with in 20 minutes take it and put it away and offer it again in a few hours. You may have to do this several times. Do NOT give in and feed something else. It is human nature to want our dogs to eat but please be patient here. It will not harm your dog to go a day or even 2 without any food at all. They will eat it and most likely love it once they do. Very important.
DON'T GIVE IN or DON'T GIVE UP! Don't break it into smaller pieces, don't beg them to eat! Don't set the bowl down and stare at them! Set the bowl down with confidence and love and walk away. Dogs pick up vibes and if you are nervous or cautious they will be nervous and cautious too. So set the bowl down and walk away. If you want to watch from around the corner or whatever, that is fine. Most dogs just dig right in and don't care about any of this, but I think it is important to share this info in case you have one of these dogs who is a bit harder to convert to raw! If you start breaking it up for them, they will expect it and they will also not chew as they need to. No coddling necessary. If you beg/baby your dog to much he might really enjoy that extra attention and start playing you like a fiddle.
You should be aware that some dogs go through a detox when they switch to the raw diet. Remember the skin is the largest of organs and if there is something the body needs to get rid of it is either going to come out the rear of the dog and or through his skin.
Some things you 'might' see are runny eyes, greasy or smelly ears, excessive shedding, dry coat, maybe even a pustule.. These things are temporary and if I would not have been warned this could happen I would have totally freaked out and thought I was killing my dogs. But I knew about the possibility of detox, so I hung in there! Most cases of diarrhea can be cured with a sweet potato. Baked, peeled and mashed in a meal. The sweet potato is also good for constipation. If you see a lot of loose stools try removing the fat and skin from the chicken for a few days and see if that helps. Runny or loose stools and I am not talking about diarrhea could mean that you need more bone in the diet. Try some leg quarters for a few days.
Dry poop means you need more muscle meat/ground meat/less bone for a few days will straighten that out. When I say dry, I mean DRY!
Never feed cooked bones or bear meat!
Last but not least... If you have a vet that is 100% against feeding the raw diet, Find a new one! You can still use your current vet for some things, but it is always a good idea to have a vet on your side with the diet. Holistic vets are in every state!
Approximate percentage of bone (from the USDA nutrient database):
Whole chicken: 25%
Leg quarter: 30% (Main part of diet)
Split breast: 20%
Thigh: 15% (Main part of diet)
Wing: 45% (I don’t feed wings, not enough meat)
Back: 45% (would go with boneless beef in the same day)
Feet: 60% (chicken feet are good for dogs joints, give a few at a time)
TURKEY (Not every dog is good at digesting turkey leg bones as they’re bigger)