>> How much Raw Food should you feed them?
>> How often should you feed them Raw Food?
>> What about Puppies and Raw Food?
>> Are there any problems with Bacteria?
>> What should I know about Raw Meaty Bones?
>> What should I know about the full meals you offer?
>> What do I need to know about switching my dog to Raw Food?
>> What about my cat making the Raw Food switch?
How Much – On average you should feed about 2% of your dog’s body weight (dog’s weight x 0.02). Larger dogs will generally eat proportionately less than that and small dogs will generally eat proportionately more. This is just a guideline; you should monitor your dog’s waistline on a regular basis. You should be able to easily feel ribs along your dog’s ribcage. Obesity in dogs causes the same types of problems that it does in people (higher incidence of cancer, bone disease, heart, kidney, liver problems etc.) Keeping your dog thin is one of the best things you can do for their health.
How Often – Adult dogs are generally recommended to eat once a day. This allows the digestive system to fully stretch and utilize all of the glands in the digestive tract. Dogs, like wolves are designed to take on lots of food at once and then fast for a period of time. Wolves have been documented eating as much as 20lbs in one meal, but who knows when he will get to eat next. Use common sense when feeding your dog, twice a day is not bad for them, do what works best for you and your pet.
Puppies – Proper nutrition for puppies is extremely important! Bone disorders begin in puppyhood. Feeding raw meaty bones to a puppy does two very important things for their health. First it allows them to grow slowly, this is crucial to avoid bone and joint disorders. Raw food is biologically appropriate and the levels of protein, fat and calcium are suitable for their growing bones and muscles. Kibble often contains too much fat, protein and synthetic calcium. This causes fast uneven growth and too much synthetic calcium interferes with the absorption of other essential vitamins. The raw bone in a biologically appropriate diet provides essential calcium however will not interfere with vitamin absorption, if the pup ingests too much bone it is just eliminated in the feces. Secondly raw meaty bones provide tooth cleaning at an essential time. If bacteria are allowed to grow in the mouth of a pup, when they lose their puppy teeth there is a greater chance that the bacteria will get into the puppies system when the tooth falls out. Pups can start on chicken necks and wings as soon as they begin the weaning process, once your pup is 15lbs or over we recommend switching to bigger raw meaty bones such as chicken backs, whole chicken parts and duck necks. Remember slow growth is the best; everyone wants their puppy to grow the fastest and be the biggest healthiest looking puppy around. However by doing this you could be causing irreversible bone damage. If people comment on how “lanky” your puppy is, take it as a compliment on what a great job you are doing growing your pup slowly. Puppies should eat between 4% and 6% of their body weight (puppy’s weight x 0.05). Puppies should eat 3 times a day until they are about 6 months of age. From 6 months to about 1 year they should be fed twice daily. Once they are fully grown they can then be switched to one meal a day. Also remember that your pup’s bones are still very soft, so avoid too much exercise and any high impact activities.
Bacteria – Unless your dog or cat is severely immune compromised (in which case I suggest you seek the advice of a holistic vet) bacteria should not be a problem for them. They have a stomach with an extremely low ph (1 or 2). This is an inhospitable environment for salmonella and other forms of bacteria. However we unlike our pets are not designed to eat raw meat, these bacteria can be harmful to us. Handle your pet’s raw food like you would handle your own. Wash your hands after contact, clean any surfaces that have come in contact with raw food, do not leave raw food out for your pet for more than an hour or two. It is best to have a designated area for your dog or cat to eat raw meaty bones, during the summer outside is great; during the winter have them stay in an area that is easy to clean, such as a mat or towel, the bathroom or their kennel. Dogs have been shown to shed salmonella in their feces, so ensure you wash your hands after cleaning up after them. Following is an informative article about raw food: http://www.positivepetzine.com/salmonella
Raw Meaty Bones and Balancer - When feeding a diet that consists of meaty bones and Balancers, you need to feed about half raw meaty bones and about half meat/organs/veggies. The Raw Meaty Bone Balancer is designed to be 50% of the diet, with meaty bones such as chicken parts, lamb flanks, elk necks etc making up the other 50% of the diet. You can adjust the amount of balancer vs. bones according to your dog’s specific needs; some dogs will do better with a 60/40 ratio either way. A good way to monitor your dog’s needs is by paying attention to their stools, meaty bones tend to harden stools and meat/organs tend to soften stool.
You can feed meaty bones and Balancer in the same meal or alternate meals, such as bones for one meal and Balancer the next. Remember to feed variety, the more protein sources you can rotate the better (once your dog has been weaned onto a raw diet.) Raw feeding is all about balance over time, you can balance out nutrients and portion sizes over a week or two. Not every meal needs to be the same size or "complete."
Full Meals and Essentials Formulas – These are designed to provide everything in one convenient package. If your dog cannot or will not eat raw meaty bones the full meals and essentials formulas are a great way to provide fresh, natural food for your pet. They are also excellent when you are traveling as they don’t take up much space and are a little simpler to feed. I do suggest that you rotate the different protein sources to provide some variety in your dog’s diet. You can also feed meaty bones once or twice a week for dental health while feeding meals. If you are going to feed lots of raw meaty bones I suggest you do a diet of Balancers and Bones (see above).
Switching to Raw - It is highly recommended that when you switch to raw you put your dog on something plain and easy to digest for one to four weeks. Chicken Meal is the easiest for dogs to switch onto, since it is fully ground it has a greater surface area which makes it easier to digest and chicken is not as “rich” as some of the other protein sources. If your dog has a chicken allergy you can start with Beef Meal instead. Feed the same thing until your dog is doing well and has had no loose stools for one week. After one week you can slowly add in more protein sources, and once they are handling that well you can introduce bones into the diet.
Often times when switching a dog to a raw diet they will experience detox symptoms such as lethargy, soft stool, watery eyes, itching, “doggy smell” and generally not feeling well. This is totally normal! It can last anywhere from 1-4 weeks depending on the age of the dog and the quality of food they were eating previously. It is important that you feed the same thing until your dog is past this, once they are doing well, you can add more variety to their diet. If you have any questions at all about switching to a raw diet please do not hesitate to contact me.
Cats - Cats are naturally suspicious of new foods, so be patient and realize that it may take a little time to complete the switch to a raw diet. Cats should be fed once or twice a day, if you are free feeding kibble your first step to switching to a raw diet should be to make meal times for your cat. Some cats will take to raw right away and some will take some convincing. Try to test your cats interest by placing a small amount of raw food in with their regular food, if your cat takes to it you can begin adding more until you no longer include any kibble. If your cat avoids it try mixing a small amount of raw food in with the regular food to disguise it and gradually add more and more. If your cat doesn’t take to raw right away, be patient this does not mean that your cat will never eat raw it just may take some time. Once your cat is used to eating fresh, raw food you can begin to incorporate raw meaty bones like chicken wings and necks. If you feed raw meaty bones 3-4 times a week you will keep your cats teeth clean and healthy. Following is a link to a great site that has a lot of information about feeding cats raw and many suggestions to make the switch: