The charming featured image for this post is an illustration that was found in an old 1935 children’s book. How perfect to illustrate my point of dogs not only needing but wanting more raw meat and bones in their diet!
As many of you readers already know, I have been raising and showing dogs for over 20 years. I began feeding an all raw diet to my dogs about as many years ago.
Many breeders are beginning to wake up and smell the “Kibble?” and now switching to the raw food diet, also known as the BARF (Bones And Raw Food or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) or SARF (Species Appropriate Raw Food) diet.
I have been weaning my puppies onto a raw meat and bone diet for a long time. When the Dam will regurgitate her own raw meaty bone, and organ diet for them, I let her. Otherwise, I give them ground whole chickens (bones, skin and all) and then they graduate to trying ground whole rabbit and lamb and on to getting a whole chicken neck or thigh and then an entire game hen as they get older.
Just remember, a puppy can only be grown once. Their hearts, lungs, muscles and bones need the very best possible vitamins, minerals and nutrients in order to develop properly. They do not have a developed immune system that is capable of keeping them healthy on their own until they are 6 – 12 months old so it is up to us to make sure they eat only the very best! If you have a new puppy or even an adult that you would like to switch to raw, here are a few tips that will help.
Do Not mix kibble or cooked diets in with raw.
Start with a single protein source like chicken for a few weeks first
Work up to variety slowly. Don’t worry about achieving “balance” with a wide variety of raw meaty bones and organs, you are in a whole different realm where balance is a useless, meaningless term, balance occurs naturally over time, not all in one meal.
You will want to work up to variety slowly, and over a period of time. Don’t rush things, as rushing can cause you and your dog undue misery in the form of early morning trips outside with diarrhea, etc. Your dog will not suffer from eating one food source for a period of time–the raw food source it will be eating is far superior in quality to any kibbled food and contains just what your pet needs nutritionally.
Let your dog’s system adjust to eating real food. Remember, your dog has been eating a grain and vegetable-based, hard-to-digest, artificial food that is WAY different from fresh, real food.
The dog has a weak immune system at best and more than likely, over worked digestive glands (such as the pancreas), she/he may need time to get its system up and running properly again. Don’t be surprised or worried if your dog goes through a “Healing Crisis”/”detox“ where it will appear to be sick or has symptoms of a previous poor health condition.
Supplement your dog’s diet daily with a species specific, naturally sourced, enzyme, probiotic, trace minerals, vitamin formula for the first month or two.
Dr Jeannie and The Whole Dog recommend these naturally species specific sourced supplements.
Be relaxed but conscience about what you feed.
Some examples are:
Raw meaty bones and/or whole carcasses – chicken, lamb, pork, whole raw fish (at least once a week), beef, rabbit, deer, goat, quail, whole raw eggs in their shells (I will let the dogs crack the shells and most of them eat the shells very well), organ meat such as tripe, liver, heart, gizzard, kidney.
Please note: Dogs do not have the digestive system to cope with grains (or vegetables). Grains are one of the biggest sources of allergies in dogs. Left over cereal grains make up the majority of dog food company food sources. Many people find when they switch to an all natural diet, the allergies their dogs had disappear. This is common.
Supervise your dog’s eating at all times. I’ve heard of dogs choking and dying on kibble, and dogs sometimes will choke on raw meaty bones if they are two small. – Just like I have heard of humans who have choked and died on a small piece of sausage or cheese. This is no reason to fear feeding your beloved companions the very best you can.
Feed your dog based on their energy requirements. It will differ for how much work your dog does, and what their metabolism is like.
As a rough guide is to start with, feed around 2 – 3% of your dog’s body weight (a little more for pups – up to 10% for them) and adjust according to the dog’s weight gain or loss. It is not an exact science and every dog is different. Relax, observation of weight and fitness will help you adjust the amounts.
With pregnant and nursing bitches you will find that they need more food to cope with the demands of the little guys! And sometimes, a pregnant bitch will not want to eat a lot. You let your bitch be the judge. She knows her needs but offer her more variety to choose from, she may want chicken necks one day and beef liver the next.
With my show dogs, I call the raw diet, “my secret recipe”. In the show ring, sometimes the competitive part of me comes out and I almost prefer that my competitors don’t feed the raw diet, as I know their dogs will not be in the same healthy and beautiful condition as my dogs are. But on the other hand, what I want most, is for all dogs to be healthy, regardless of who owns them. It is all about the dogs and what is best for THEM! So, when a judge or fellow exhibitor tells me that my dogs look so fit and shiny, I tell them why.
In the end, feeding your dog is about management of risk. No matter which path you decide to take there will always be some kind of risk. There will always be someone who will criticize your decision. However, YOU, and only you can decide what is best for YOUR dogs. Please, weigh all the benefits against the risks. Do your own research. Do what will have the greatest overall benefit for your dog.
If you would like a private consultation or personal help to switch your dog to raw or how to start your puppy out on the right “paw”, you may be interested in a consultation or in my online dog wellness program.