How to Start Raw Feeding

Now there many different opinions on the best way to feed raw!

The two main models which I am going to discuss are The Complete Raw Diet and The Prey Model Diet.

The Complete Raw Diet is definitely the easier of the two. You buy already made blocks of minced meat which are formulated to contain the same amount of meat bone and offal the dog would get from a whole animal in the wild. Approx 80/10/10

Its super simple you don’t have to get scientific. You simply take it out of the freezer the night before and away you go.

The Prey Model Raw diet tries to mimic the diet that carnivorous canines have evolved to eat, and have been eating, for many thousands, if not millions of years. The diet is modelled on whole prey foods that they would be eaten in the wild which their bodies are physiologically design to do. Eating as nature intended so to speak!

You make this whole prey balance up either by feeding whole animals like rabbit, birds etc or with chunks of meat, chunks of offal and chunks of bones.

What are the benefits of feeding Raw?

  • Improved Digestion
  • Healthier teeth and gums
  • Better weight management
  • Less allergenic risk
  • Firmer Stools with little or no odour
  • Healthier skin and coat
  • reduces the risk of various diseases including cancer
  • prolongs your dogs life
  • Calms down hyperactive dogs

 

How to start on a Raw Diet?

First thing to know is that you must never mix Kibble with Raw! The two do not mix well together because they have different digestion rates. It takes 11-13 hours for kibble to be fully digested and for raw only takes 5-6. Feeding raw and kibble together is not recommended and and often causes digestion upset. If you do not want to throw away the kibble you have left, donate it to a local animal rescue organisation.

The average adult dog should be fed between 2-3% of their body weight of food each day. Like I said this is the average, however some dogs with high energy levels and fast metabolisms may require more. My own dogs eat approximately 4-5% per day as they are very active dogs.

For example: A 30kg dog who is eating 3% would need 900g of food per day.

Complete Raw:

To start the dog off on the ‘Complete Diet’ there isn’t really much to think about.

You go from their current diet on the night to then starting on raw the very next day and not look back.

Its advised to take the introduction of proteins slowly just to make sure the dogs stomach is adjusting without throwing too much at them too soon.

Start with a meat like Chicken or Turkey which is a easy digesting and not too rich mixing and mixing with Tripe is great too. Green Tripe is full of digestive enzymes which help their stomach adjust to the change and aid absorption of their food.  

We advise to feed solely Chicken with Tripe for 5-7 days. Then once the dog has adjusted to the change introduce another protein such as Beef or Lamb etc for another 5-7 days and so on until your feeding at least 5 different proteins.

While each meat will be complete and balanced. You cant just feed one meat to the dog. Each meat has a different amino acid complex and different fats etc and to ensure your dog is getting a balanced full diet you should feed as many different meats as possible.

By the 3rd week on Raw its time to start adding Oily fish into their diet.

Oily fish such as Sprats, Sarnies, Mackerel and Salmon all contains essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) which the dog cannot synthesise themselves. Oily fish should be give to the dog 2-3 times per week. But no more than 5 times! If you feed too much you will throw their bodies EFA’s out of wack.

While your dogs diet will be complete. You will still need to give them a bone or two a week for them to chew on to ensure they are keeping their teeth clean and oral health in check. Pick the right bone for your dogs breed. I touch on suitable bones down in the Prey Model section. The same applies.

As far as sourcing complete diets it can be as cheap or expensive as you like and their are plenty of different options to suit all budgets.

We stock a wide range of different brands. We stock DAF which is approx £1.60 per KG, Natural Instinct approx £3.50 per KG, Nutriment approx £3.50 per KG and Paleo Ridge which is the most expensive at approx £4.50 per KG.

All are complete but all different in what they contain.

We stock. Chicken, Turkey, Beef, Lamb, Pork, Duck, Venison, Rabbit, Game and Tripe, Goose, Buffalo, Goat, Pheasant, Kangaroo, Zebra and Oily Fish. VARIETY IS KEY!

Prey Model Raw:

The same formula applies to the Prey Model Diet as Completes. So your fully grown Adult dog will need 2-3% of their body weight per day.

30kg dog will need to eat 900g per day.

This 900g will need to be broken up into approximately 80/10/10 which is 80% Muscle meat, 10% Offal and 10% Bone. This 80/10/10 ratio best represents the average amount of bone, organ and meat tissue within prey animals. But don’t get hung up on numbers follow this as a guide not a rule. You do not need 80/10/10 in every meal, Balance over time is key!! So you can feed something like a Lambs neck for a meal which is around 40% bone. But then maybe make sure the next meal or two is just meat and offal.

What to feed?

Muscle Meat: Variety is very important to a healthy raw diet! You can basically feed all part of any animal. This includes the muscle meat from all the usual suspects, Chicken, Turkey, Lamb, Beef and Pork. But you can also feed game such as Rabbits, Pheasants, Partridge, Pigeon and Deer. Not to mention a range of Oily fish, Salmon, Trout, Mackerel, Sardines, Sprats…. High Omega 3.6.9 x Low Mercury Fish is best.

A good rule for picking out pieces of meat to feed, is that your dog should never be able to swallow anything whole without at least crunching down on it a few times to make it small enough fit down his throat. If your dog can swallow something whole stay away from it. The risk of choking or getting a blockage goes up if your dog can swallow it whole. For example, its not recommended to feed chicken necks or drumsticks to large breed dogs because they tend to swallow them whole. Chewing through bones is one of the biggest benefits from a raw diet, so you might as well make them chew their food! Keep in mind that dogs don’t chew their food like we do. They don’t need to. They just have to make it small enough to fit down the hatch. So don’t panic if you see your dog crunch a chicken quarter 3 or 4 times and then swallow it.

Offal: Offal is organ meat, however not all ‘organs’ are classed as offal in Raw feeding. Liver must make up half of the 10% of your dogs offal content. The other 5% should be made up of a Kidneys and or Pancreas, Testicles, Brain, Lungs etc. Heart and Gizzards, although technically organs they are classed as muscle meat so feed these as part of your 80%.

Bones: This is what many people have a mental block on feeding. Why? because they have most probably been told that bones can splinter and kill your dog. Which is true FOR COOKED BONES!!! Never ever feed a dog cooked bones!

Raw bones are perfectly healthy for dogs! Raw bones are natures tooth brush and you can spot a raw fed dog a mile off because their pearly whites are blinding. But seriously raw bones help to clean your dogs teeth and gums aiding in turn keeping their breath fresh.

What bones to feed? This can depend on the size of your dog. However, you can feed pretty much all bones from small animal like chickens, Pheasant, Rabbits, fish etc.. Larger bone from Pigs, Lambs, Goat, Veal, can be fed for larger dogs. Literally from head to trotters but if you are worried at all then stick with the ribs as they are relatively soft and all dogs should be fine with them. My Vizsla Luna eats, Lamb and pork Necks, spines, trotters and ribs. The more meat on the bone the better!

What bones not to feed? Stay away from oddly shaped or cut pieces of bone, like T-bones. These bones are more likely to cause a blockage and can splinter due to trauma sustained from the butchers cutting method.
I do not recommend you feed Cow bones of any kind. Cow bones are very dense and may break your dogs teeth. I know of a few people who do feed Cow ribs to their dogs without a problem but in my opinion it is a accident waiting to happen. Best just to steer clear. It is widely know not to feed weight baring bones like knuckle bones or marrow bones as they are too hard for many dogs and may cause tooth fractures yet some people still do let their dogs chew on them to help with teeth cleaning. I strongly advise you not to feed these nor any bone which your dog cannot chomp and actually eat!

Time to start feeding raw:

It is advised to take the additions of proteins slowly so start with just chicken. Do at least 5-7 days of just chicken and then if he has solid poo’s in a week then you can start to add a second source, maybe beef.

So for the first week, Chicken carcass, legs, wings, necks, gizzards, basically everything from a chicken. I would say to start with Chicken Wings backs and Legs in the first week. Wings and backs are great for the first couple of days as the high bone content will help their stomachs adjust and help to firm up their stools. Then on the 3rd or 4th day add a drumstick or leg into their meals.

Then for your second week maybe move onto pork or beef to add with your chicken. Pork ribs are great but try to feed as a rack so they have to work on it. Beef chunks or minced are perfect at this stage. Beef heart is a good too but can be rich so feed smaller amounts to begin with.

Once your dog has adapted to either beef or pork the following week is a great time to add Turkey. Turkey Necks, Tails and Gizzards are all amazing and great value! Turkey Necks are a personal favourite of mine and are great to feed whole. Perfect to feed frozen in the summer months too!

By the 3rd week on Raw its time to start adding Oily fish into their diet.

Oily fish such as Sprats, Sarnies, Mackerel and Salmon all contains essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) which the dog cannot synthesise themselves. Oily fish should be give to the dog 2-3 times per week. But no more than 5 times! If you feed too much you will throw their bodies EFA’s out of wack.

What about vegetables? 

Vegetables are not part of the diet for Prey Model Raw. However I do sometimes feed veg! The reason, because my dog loves it. For some reason they are mad for Spinach and Broccoli. So when ever I have some going spare in the fridge I add a little into her food.

Dogs get very little nutritional value from vegetables. So to ensure maximum absorption blitz the veg as finely as possible in a blender with a touch of water. This also mimics the chewing and processing that a prey animal would have done before the dog would make the kill and thus eat those nutrients in their stomach too.

This is why feeding Green Tripe is so important! Green Tripe is the stomach of a herbivorous animal like a Cow which contains all goodness, vitamins and minerals from the greens they eat already digested and is easily absorbed by your dog. Green Tripe is a SUPER food for dogs and should be fed AT LEAST twice a week! I will be doing an article dedicated to this wonderful stuff very soon!

Conclusion:

By week 4 you will have already seen so much difference in your dog, including healthier teeth, skin and fur. Not to mention love seeing how happy and enthusiastic your dog is about food!

You will also be an expert in poo! you will know that a runny poo means that you should up the bone content of your dogs food just as if their poo is like powder you need to reduce the amount of bone you feed.

Remember variety and balance over time is key!

If you live local to the Midlands/Staffordshire pop on down to Our Pure and Raw Shop inside Grangewood Garden Centre, Tamworth, B78 3HP and I will be more than happy to talk you guys through it and answer any questions you may have.

Join our raw feeding page on Facebook too where I share lots of information about different meats, ideas and diet plans for your dogs.

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