What is raw feeding and how do I know
what to feed my dog?
My mantra about raw feeding is to look to nature. What would my dog eat if he was living in the wild? The answer to that is he would eat any animal he could catch and kill. So the answer to what to feed is raw meat, bones, and organs from a variety of animals.
What about fruits & veggies?
A lot of people feed their dogs veggies but if you look to nature, you will see that your dog wouldn't eat veggies in any measurable amounts. He might eat a few berries or maybe some grass but certainly not zucchini, carrots, potatoes or any of the veggies that many people feed. Also you must know that all the cells in all vegetable matter is covered by a thin layer of cellulose. This cellulose must be crushed during the eating process in order for the nutrients in the vegetables to be available for digestion. This is called bioavailablity. The nutrients in vegetable matter is not bioavailable to our dogs because they don't have the flat molar teeth that plant eating animals do. Humans, for example, have flat molars for crushing cellulose during chewing. Dogs molars are called carnassal teeth and are not flat but work like scissors to rip and tear meat and crush bones. So, by looking at your dog's teeth, you can tell that veggies just are not appropriate food for them. The vegetable material doesn't harm your dog, but it does them no good either. Giving carrot treats occasionally doesn't hurt. Just make sure that you don't feed enough veggies to interfere with the amount of meat, bones, and organs your dog eats.
How do I begin?
1. Throw away all kibble and canned dog food.
2. Purchase a whole chicken or leg quarters from the grocery store, ensuring
that they are NOT enhanced with a salt solution or broth (retained water is
okay). Cut up the whole chicken into quarters. (Note: chicken is chosen only
for availability and price - it has no special properties).
3. If the chicken quarter is approximately the appropriate weight for a meal,
hand it to the dog, then step back and occupy yourself with something else
instead of staring at the dog - it will lessen the likelihood that he'll try
to swallow the entire thing in one gulp, thinking that you're about to take
4. If the chicken quarter is not enough for one meal, feed more. If the
chicken quarter is too much for one meal, either cut it up further, feed it
as is until the dog is full (this works if your dog self-regulates its
intake), or feed it until the dog eats an appropriate portion and then trade
the dog for the remaining meat using his favorite treat. If you can.
5. Continue to feed chicken for a week or so, until you are comfortable with
the concept and your dog is comfortable digesting it (you may see some loose
stool initially, but it should clear up before you proceed to the next step.
You will feed the entire chicken - meat, skin, and bones together. I rip the
excess fat off, when present in chunks, but don't get crazed about it. Take
all of the giblets (the stuff inside of the chicken) and freeze them for
introduce another meat into the dog's meals. Pork is another
available and inexpensive option. Replace a portion of the chicken meat with
an equal amount of pork meat, increasing it each day. Continue to monitor
your comfort and his digestion. You can feed any pork as long as it is raw
and not enhanced with a salt solution or broth and not smoked or cured. Pork
chops (omit the bone), hunks of pork cut from a pork roast or pork shoulder,
7. When your dog is ready to eat full meals of pork, start adding pork bones.
Any bone that has been sawn is potentially sharp, so we prefer to feed the
bones within pork shoulders and other bone-in roasts, or pork ribs. Pork feet
are also tasty but ride the fence between a meal and a treat because there's
not much meat to them.
8. Now pull out those frozen giblets from the first week or two. Common items
include chicken necks, hearts, gizzard and liver. Out of these, liver is the
only item that is considered an "organ" for the purposes of raw feeding. The
rest is considered meat. In general, heart from any animal is quite rich, so
it's best to feed as a portion of a meal until you know how your dog's
digestion will react.
9. Introducing organ to the meal is done as you've already learned - a
little at a time, with monitoring. Some dogs hate the texture of thawed
liver, but will eat it frozen. Over time, your dog should be fed liver as
about 5% of its total intake (per month, per year, per lifetime), with other
organs making up another 5%. Other organs are identified using the "squidgy
rule" - if you touch and it feels "squidgy," it's an organ. They include
(depending on the animal) kidney, spleen, pancreas, reproductive organs,
lung, and brain. Heart, tongue, testicles, tails, feet, and heads are
10. After pork, you're free to pick another meat, just introduce it as you've
learned, a little at a time, with monitoring. Common choices include beef,
bison/buffalo, goat, lamb, mutton, veal, turkey, duck, goose, elk, venison,
fish, and rabbit. There are some additional rules for feeding wild game and
fish - keep reading the messages on the list and you'll pick those up, or ask
when you're ready.
11. Weight-bearing bones of large livestock (beef, bison, buffalo, elk,
venison, and possibly mutton) are stronger than your dog's teeth and will
break them. Depending on your dog, you can either trim the meat off and toss
the bone away, or feed the meat and bone together and remove the bone when
the meat is gone.
How much do I feed my adult dog?
Each dog is different and that's impossible to say. However, begin with 2% to 3% of his IDEAL adult weight each day. Watch him over time and adjust as necessary. If he gets fat, feed less and vice versa. Many new raw feeders have this great need to measure everything. That need will quickly disappear and you will just know how much to feed. You will also stay in touch with your dogs "build" and adjust his food accordingly.
How much do I feed my puppy?
This one is a little more complicated so pay attention here. Begin feeding him 10% of his weight a day. Once 10% of his weight exceeds 2% to 3% of his IDEAL ADULT weight (not present weight), feed the 2% to 3%. All the time you are doing this you are conscious of his build and adjust the amount of food accordingly. The puppy will tell you how much to feed him by his build.
How young can I begin feeding raw?
I personally have fed a 12 week old puppy raw. I know breeders who will wean their puppies directly to raw. My suggestion is to begin feeding raw the day you bring him home.
Tell me how to balance the diet.
People worry an awful lot about balancing their dog's diet. It seems to me that they worry more about their dog's diet than their own or their family's diet. They are dogs. Their digestive systems and their bodies are not that fragile. Feed meat, bones, and organs from a variety of animals and the diet will balance itself over time. Remember that term "over time". It's not necessary to balance each meal. Balance over time. People getting into raw feeding tend to worry a lot about ratios and percentages and weights. Forget all that. Feed raw meat and bones and organs from a variety of animals and things magically work themselves out. What is ideal? The average prey animal has about 10% to 15% bone, about 10% organs, and the rest muscle and fat and connective tissue. If you feed 5% bone or 25% bone, it won't matter. 5% organs or 20% organs doesn't make any difference. Just stay somewhat in the ballpark and you will be ok. One thing I look at is the dog's poop. You will become an expert poop watcher. Ideally, the poop should be solid and turn white and powdery in a day or 2. If the poop is runny, it generally means you need to feed more bone. If it is white and powdery when it comes out, feed less bone. The poop and my dog's build is all I watch and I don't look at poop very often anymore.
Do I feed supplements?
As long as you feed raw meaty bones and organs from a variety of animals then you shouldn't need to supplement a healthy dog. Of course if your dog has a health problem, you might want to add supplements for that. One more possibility. Some add salmon oil capsules for omega 3's. I don't because I feed fish at least once a week.
Where and how do I buy my raw meats?
A good place to buy in bulk is Bashas who will order beef hearts, kidney, liver, pork riblets, and picnic hams by the case at a good price. Also, check the Phoenix BARF coop for other meats like lamb necks and goat. Ethnic markets, like Lee Leeís on Dobson are another source of meats, particularly organs. Check with restaurants and see where they get meats and try those places. Finding cheap meat is fun and will become a game once you get into raw feeding.
Can you give other tips on raw feeding
and how to make it easy?
There are many and you will learn most as you go and you will have to work out your own routine. It will be complicated and cumbersome in the beginning but you will work out your routines and it becomes very little more difficult than feeding kibble. One suggestion is when you buy by the case, break up the case into meal size portions and put them in freezer bags. As you feed one meal, get the next out of the freezer to be thawing.
What about Germs from the raw meat?
The digestive juices of our canines are more than 50% hydrochloric acid. It is very deadly to the bacteria that your dogs ingest. Dog/wolves in the wild are exposed to all kinds of e-coli, salmonella, etc all the time and suffer no ill effects from it. (Afterall they lick their butts all the time!) A canine in the wild can stumble upon a carcass of a prey animal that has been dead for a week or more and will gladly eat it. I had a Golden Retriever whose favorite treat was a road kill squirrel that had been dead and laying in the hot sunshine for about a week. Whenever she ate one, there was never any side effects from it. Its safe to feed your dogs meat that has gone bad in the refrigerator. Don't worry about germs when feeding your dog. It's a non-issue. I have never heard of a dog nor a family member getting sick from feeding your dog raw.
Thatís it. If you have more questions, feel free to ask me and I'll add them to the list. :) This is raw feeding in a nutshell. To learn more about raw feeding: Read the books "Raw Meaty Bones Promote Health" and "Works Wonders" by Dr. Tom Lonsdale You can find them at "www.rawmeatybones.com" . You may download them for free in PDF format.
A few informative web sites are:
Join the yahoo rawfeeding group at "http://groups.yahoo.com/group/rawfeeding/" You will get more useful practical information there than all the books combined. It's a very active group with almost four thousand members who all feed raw.