feeding your dog RAW
So what is this all about I hear you ask. Well if you are reading this you probably have a dog and it’s got your curiosity. Let me explain.
I feed my dog a raw food diet, raw meaty bones to be exact. That’s Ellie to the right (age 2 as at Summer 2013) and beneath her picture is a clip of her eating some raw meaty bones. She makes it look easy doesn’t she! And it is - very easy! She knows what to do – it’s in her genes.
Ellie was fed raw food from the word go by the breeder. It's through Ellie that I got introduced to the idea of raw food for us, humans. Back in July 2011, the breeder handed me a puppy and a book called Raw Meaty Bones by Tom Lonsdale! After a vertical shift in thinking about how dogs should be fed I made the transition to 100% raw food when she was 10 weeks old. My vet was against it and told me stories of bones getting stuck in the digestive tract, of dogs dying etc. and explaining to me that they could become deficient in this, that & the other. The latter was, to me, nonsense and the former was, well, worrying. I certainly didn't want to lose my dog. Of course, cooked bones were out. This is a huge NO NO! NEVER DO THIS! It’s dangerous.
I learned that many, many people, feed their dogs whole raw carcasses etc and many feed their dogs the minced form of raw meaty bone and that both were growing areas. I will talk about both.
Below I will give you as much information as I can on raw feeding your dog and I will also add some resources that you will find in a word doc. below called Feed Your Dog Raw for raw food suppliers. I will also describe what I feed Ellie and how I do it.
So why feed raw meaty bones?
BECAUSE IT’S THEIR NATURAL DIET!
There’s no argument here. Out in the wild they don’t go down to the local supermarket and buy some kibble (dried dog food), haul a big sack back to their pack and tuck in nor would they want to. No, they hunt and kill - rabbits, wild game etc. Maybe your dog sometimes catches a rabbit and eats it. Maybe it just catches it! Either way, it’s in their nature to do this. If they were given the choice between a fresh rabbit and some kibble they would go for the fresh rabbit. It’s irresistible and more importantly, they instinctively know what’s good for them. It’s packed full of nature’s nutrients, fresh and raw and all in the right proportion. Not an artificial colour, flavour or preservative in sight.
But ……………. I hear you say, my dog is not a wild animal, it’s my pet! It may be your pet but it’s an animal first and has exactly the same anatomy as a wild dog or a wolf where it descended from. Within zoos & wildlife centres they go to enormous efforts to make sure that each animal is fed its natural diet – ENORMOUS EFFORTS! Zoos have zoo nutritionists dedicated to making sure their animals get the best diet & the right diet for that species. They regularly review each animal’s diet generally and at specific times in their life i.e. egg laying or gestation, lactation, early postnatal growth through to adulthood and old age. They want those animals, be it penguins, seals, elephants, giraffes, tigers to be at their best health, live a long and healthy life and ultimately breed and only their natural diet will achieve this. This they know, we all know it, we all know that different species (inc dogs & cats) eat different foods according to the laws of nature. Why then are our pets, who are animals first, a species in their own right, fed anything but their natural diet? Why do we feed them nutrient deficient, processed, dead food? Why aren’t our pets diets given the same attention as zoo animals? Do we feel they are somehow less important? No, that’s not the reason is it.
WE HAVE BEEN PROGRAMMED, CONDITIONED AND MISLED BY THE MEDIA, THE PET FOOD INDUSTRY AND THE POWERS THAT BE THAT TINNED AND DRIED FOOD IS HOW WE SHOULD FEED OUR DOGS!
THIS IS DEAD WRONG!
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ‘FIT AS A BUTCHER'S DOG’?
Very few of us have stopped to ask ourselves ‘why’ we are feeding our beloved pets tinned and/or dried food. Basically we are on auto pilot, it’s convenient, there’s no mess, its easy, the vet recommends it. However, would you feed your dog pizza everyday? Most of us would say no because it’s not their natural diet and we instinctively know this. It’s fast, convenience food for humans but not for dogs. However, tinned and dried food is their equivalent of convenience food. JUNK FOOD! Do you want to feed your beloved pet JUNK FOOD? I thought not. In that case, read on.
Are you still with me because I want to point out something very important. When we cook food, we cook the life out of it, literally its ‘life force’. We render it basically dead. If you have read my Why Raw? page you will already know this. Guess what? It’s the same for dog food. Tinned and dried food is cooked and to add insult to injury is heavily processed (it doesn’t look like a lamb rib, rabbit leg or chicken does it!) and therefore is depleted of its naturally occurring enzymes, vitamins & minerals, essential for health. It could explain why pets today seem to be plagued by the very diseases we suffer from i.e. diabetes, allergies, intolerances, kidney failure, heart disease, cancer – the connection being our modern day diet is also regularly lacking in those all important nutrients. To retain all those nutrients vital for your pets well-being, their food should be ‘raw’!
Have you ever heard of or seen a wild animal roasting its catch over an open fire before eating it?
I’ve lost count of how many pet owners say to me “I feed my dog a ‘good quality’ one (tinned or dried pet food)” or “my vet recommends it”. The reality is of course your vet will recommend it, they probably sell it, it’s part of their revenue! but the truth is there’s no better quality of food for your pet than their natural diet – raw meaty bone.
We all have a diet that nature intended for us to eat. Cows & horses eat grass, fish eat fish/plankton, cheetahs eat gazelles/antelope etc, giraffes & elephants eat vegetation etc etc. Dogs eat meat – just take a look at their teeth – designed to rip & tear just like a tiger, not forgetting their short intestinal tract perfectly designed to digest meat (unlike ours which is long!). You wouldn’t feed a tiger out of a tin! You would instinctively know it ate raw meat - you know it hunts and kills. Why don't we have an epidemic of wild meat eating animals dying because they choked on a bone? Could this be because it’s their natural food? How have wild meat eating animals survived and thrived since time immemorial if eating raw meaty bone is so dangerous or nutritionally unbalanced? How would humans react if millions of any one of our wild species suddenly started dying of non-communicable diseases i.e. kidney failure or millions were struck down by various other ailments/health issues? There would be mass concern and no doubt action to reverse the trend. However, this isn’t happening with our pets and they are dying of non-communicable diseases, they are suffering. Why are we not wondering if this has something to do with their processed kibble or tinned food diet recommended by our vet! You know the saying "you are what you eat"! Perhaps it's time for each of us to at least consider whether anything other than a raw meaty bone diet is truly right for our beautiful pets. Is it time to take action and make a change!
To add more weight to this argument a raw food supplier called Honeys Real Dog Food, based in Wiltshire, organised a research program that ran over a 2 year period investigating firstly whether a raw food diet, when analysed, could meet the highest possible nutritional guidelines for dogs and also whether a raw food diet when fed to dogs proved to be nutritionally adequate. Possibly the first in-depth research of its kind proved positive on both counts. Click the Raw Proof button to view it.
So how do you feed your dog a raw diet?
Let’s keep this simple because it is simple!
Ellie has one meal a day (which suits her) of approximately 1lb (16oz)( 500g) of organic/wild/free-range raw meaty bone (appropriate for her weight, her breed & her age) including a small amount of fresh, local, seasonal organic liquidised vegetables. That’s basically it.
For those of you that want more detail, read on.
Ellie currently eats a mix of whole (unminced) raw meaty bone and minced raw meaty bone. It includes all types of meat i.e. chicken, turkey, lamb, beef, rabbit, duck etc. She has tried most things and has her favourites! If I'm feeding the whole form of raw meaty bone I try to feed her large pieces and if small enough, the whole chicken carcass (weight dependent). Keeping it large allows her to rip and tear which looks after her teeth and gums. There are additions to her diet that I like to add i.e. eggs, nuts & seeds, seaweeds i.e. kelp powder, spirulina, marine phytoplankton, coconut oil, a vitamin & mineral complex (Petplus). I add the latter items to add some interest and/or as an insurance policy if you like. But this is my personal decision and you will find your own way and be guided by your vet and by your dog and his or her health status, age etc.
Ellie has her likes and dislikes re food just like we do. Her digestive system doesn’t like whole fresh fish for example and in addition she doesn’t care for game (except rabbit sometimes).
Could my dog die from getting a bone stuck in his/her digestive tract?
The short answer is yes. But let us get some perspective here. They could choke on anything! A bit of kibble could get stuck and choke them, so could a piece of your slipper! Ellie got a whole small apple she found on a walk stuck in her throat one day. I thought she was a goner! Nothing is for sure is it. For me, and whether to feed Ellie raw meaty bone, I weighed up the many negatives of feeding her a processed food diet over the risk of a whole version of raw meaty bone (ie. chicken carcasses) and there was no argument. You will have to decide for yourself. If concerned, feed the minced form instead. I can tell you that I have fed Ellie approximately 2900 meals since I got her of mostly 'whole' pieces of raw meaty bone that she was almost exclusively fed until recently whereupon i started feeding more of the minced version as well as whole raw meaty bone. Clearly she is still here alive and kicking - thriving! Now that's alot of meals. Listen to you, you decide.
Minced version of Raw Meaty Bone
At this point I would like to expand a bit on the minced form of raw meaty bone which you can easily find in pet stores and even vet's reception areas today. This is raw minced meat and bone and usually vegetables as well, all prepared for you in a handy frozen pack. Prize Choice & Natural Instinct are examples of makes. Many people take this route over the actual whole carcass/carcass pieces or they might do a combination of whole carcass/pieces and mince like me. I’m not a big advocate of all mince all the time for Ellie because I feel eating some whole raw meaty bone keeps her teeth super clean but that will be your personal choice. The minced route is the easiest way to feed your dog (or cat) raw meaty bone linked to reasons of convenience, ease, storage etc. There might be other reasons too i.e. your dog doesn't have enough teeth left to chew whole raw meaty bone so be guided by your personal situation.
This is probably a good place to talk about 'poo'! Feed your dog 'raw' and say goodbye to large amounts of smelly, sticky, mr whippy style poo. Instead, say hello to small amounts of sweet smelling, hard stools which are a delight to pick up and bin. There, I've said it, so let's continue.
How much to feed your dog
So, moving on from that, how much you feed your dog depends on the breed, weight & age & possibly its health status. Roughly its approx. 2% of your adult dogs weight. Puppies are a different matter but you can read up on that separately (see Feed Your Dog Raw link below for a great book or two on this topic). So, what about bone to meat ratio if it's not already done for you in minced form? Some raw meaty bone options, like a chicken carcass, may have more bone than meat as does say a lamb neck or lamb ribs and you can clearly see that, so you may need to add some more meat to balance out the bone to meat ratio. I like to add some ox tongue or chicken livers etc. Honey's, after considerable research, who I mention above & below as a source of raw food for your dog feel that a third meat, a third bone and a third veg is a really good balance. Your dog however may need less veg perhaps, so, it's trial and error. You can find out more on this via the resource list I have provided below within any of the books. All I can tell you is it’s not rocket science and you will very quickly get used to doing it yourself. Trust me when I say it’s a fantastic feeling taking back control of your pet’s food (and health). Just how it used to be! Of course you may be nervous at the thought of giving your dog a raw chicken carcass or a whole rabbit/carcass, so was I! It is after all an alien concept. You have loads of questions and not many answers at the moment and unless your vet is an advocate of raw feeding (unlikely) then you will be wondering who to turn to for the answers you need - I've been there! Fear not, see below. Or if you are not ready to hear all this yet then just set it aside and come back to it another time. That’s ok too. Take your time. I know only too well what a vertical shift in thinking needs to take place.
What you need to remember is that your dog is not human, it’s not you, they have a different digestive system, one built for raw meaty bone and teeth to match. Although you can’t even imagine eating a raw chicken or a raw chicken carcass, (nor should you of course!), they however definitely can and it’s what their dreams are made of. A raw meaty bone diet will help keep them really healthy, keep their immune system strong, their teeth white, their gums healthy, give them the shiniest coat, the healthiest skin, help keep them disease and ailment free, have a long and healthy life and make them love you even more – if that’s possible!
For those hungry for more, read on.
You will probably want to do your own research behind what appears to be a new way of feeding your pet. It’s not new of course. It’s tinned and dried food that's new. Raw meaty bone has been around for ever! Nevertheless, you will want to continue reading up on the reasons to feed this way, to reassure yourself that it’s safe, that it’s right for you and your pet. This is to be expected and I encourage the research. For those of you that want to make the switch but are too busy to do the reading, there’s a super quick way to get going – find someone that supplies raw meaty bone to your door, does all the calculations for you etc. In the UK, I use Honeys of Honeys Real Dog Food in Wiltshire who provide this service in minced form (as well as supplying whole carcasses, rabbit etc). They were integral in my raw meaty bone journey from the early days and I still use them today. They will speak to you about feeding Raw whether you buy from them or not and help you in any way they can. They are exceptionally helpful. Note: I am not in any way affiliated with Honeys or receive any kind of remuneration, I am just a customer and a passionate raw feeder who is spreading the word about raw feeding, helping people to make the transition & are eager to see their pets health transform.
If you are ready to start doing your own research or just want to find out a bit more click on the link below ('Feed Your Dog Raw' button). This is a flyer (pdf) that I pass to people interested in feeding raw. It pretty much has everything on it to get you started and some! If you want a quick pointer to one of two great little books, noted on the flyer, that are small and will get you started quickly, go for either Clare Middle's 'real food for dogs & cats' & also ‘Honey’s Natural Feeding handbook for Dogs’ (covers cats as well). They are small, neat, easy to read, says it how it is kind of books. When you start reading prepare to be amazed at what you learn!
A lot of people wonder what they should treat with when they start feeding raw. Afterall, it makes no sense to feed the most amazing raw food meal to them and then feed them artificial, preservative laden, chemically riddled, poor quality treats. See below for some of the treats I feed Ellie.
Dried rabbits ears (by Canbit), dried liver (by Thrive) dried fish skin (Fish4Dogs)
Some are indeed cooked/air dried but I buy the best treats I can, the ones with the least or just one ingredient, avoiding all cereals and I use them sparingly. I use the following websites to buy Ellie's treats:-
I also give Ellie raw apples and carrots. I might dice them up and stick them in a toy. Keeps her happy for a while! You can also make your own treats i.e. dice some organic liver or chicken etc & feed it raw or cook off gently in the oven or a dehydrator* if you have one. Tip: I have found I can get Ellie to do anything when I treat her with raw liver! I’ve never seen her more eager to please!
Ellie has been reared naturally since the beginning. What does that mean? As well as feeding her her natural and intended diet of raw meaty bones I also avoid chemicals. So how do I deal with worms, ticks etc? See below:-
Diamtomaceous Earth for internal parasties - I buy mine from - https://imbaliridgebacks.co.uk/diatomaceous_earth.html
Billy No Mates for others pests like ticks, fleas, mites - see Amazon
Pet Plus for a good all round natural vitamin and mineral - https://www.petplusvet.com/buy-pet-plus
I really hope you have found the above helpful. Please get in touch and let me know how you get on - firstname.lastname@example.org.
*dehydrator dries food at very low temperatures keeping it raw and therefore retaining all its nutrients.
Use Ellie for your inspiration – go on, don’t wait, make the change now!
Ellie aged 7