There is literally a FLOOD of videos on YouTube about the craze in the Raw Food Diet for dogs. This makes a lot of sense to me for a number of reasons, but it doesn’t involve just throwing Fido steaks once or twice a day. A raw food diet has to be calculated for other nutrition than just protein and, while carnivores in the wild don’t get salads with their dinner, they compensate for their vegies in other ways. In addition, if your pup has always had hard kibble for meals or even canned food, you can’t just switch them to raw food without some pretty yucky repercussions.

If you would like to do your own research, there is a wealth of information on the internet. Dog owners who feed their pooches the raw food diet swear their animals are healthier, more alert, more playful, and have shiny coats, tartar-free teeth, and perfect poops. On the other hand, there are testimonials to the exact opposite.  According the Dr. Karen Becker, veterinarians will see dogs brought in by well-intentioned owners that have nutritional imbalances from home-made and even some commercial raw food diets because they are not getting enough anti-oxidants, minerals, and the correct proportions of fatty acids. The result is problems with resistance to diseases, organ malfunctions, and skeleton malformations.

There are some aspects to the raw food diet you should consider before you delve into recipes and portion sizes and become your butcher’s new best friend.

  1. First of all, this diet is not for people on a strict budget.
  2. Finding the right balance of nutrition can really bring out the chemist in you.
  3. Cooking “dog food” in bulk can consume an afternoon in your house, take up your freezer, and use just about every pot and pan in the kitchen.
  4. Not all vets think the raw diet is the bomb.
  5. Switching to a raw food diet will take some patience and adjustment in your pet’s GI tract.

The Raw Meat Diet isn’t cheap.

If you haven’t priced even low-grade meat at the butcher lately, get ready for sticker shock. The Globe and Mail website reports that for a 50-pound dog, kibble will cost about $1 a day while raw meat will run $2 to $8 a day. On that note, surf the bargain bins at your local supermarket and if possible, buy from local butchers. They have bins full of stuff they can’t sell that your dogs will inhale like a python. Almost all butchers do “value packs”, but try to make everything local.

Get ready to do some elementary calculations in figuring out your recipe.

When it comes to how much to feed your dog on the raw food diet, they will usually eat less because they won’t be pooping out all that starch. Adjust the amounts based on their appearance. You should be able to feel her ribs, but not see them. The protein will stay in the stomach digesting longer, making them less hungry. There are food calculators online such as Steve’s Real Food.com. However, when meat-eaters in the wild kill an animal (which is always a plant-eater), they go for the contents of the stomach first to get their veggies. Gross, but true. When deciding how much in supplements to add to your recipe such as vegetables, fruits, and vitamins, follow the recipe for the size, breed, age, and health level of your pet.

There are also some great tips at Whole Dog Journal.

Cooking for your dog can be as challenging and time consuming as cooking for your family.

Everyone says to make the meals in bulk and separate into meal-sized servings.  Prepare to fill up your freezer unless you want to be doing this every day.  You will need a tub for mixing everything up and pots and strainers for cooking the veggies to make them more nutritious.

You might even consider blending the vegetables so Captain won’t eat around them. My dogs are professionals at getting peas out of a bowl of hamburger.  Don’t ask me how.  You need something to store that day’s meals inside in your fridge, too.  You should NEVER feed ANY cooked bones to your dog, because they splinter, but any meaty bone raw gets a big thumbs-up from your pooch so supply them twice a week.  Their teeth will also get whiter.

You may get confused with all the information out there, but I’m partial to the instructions on Dogs First’s website.  Give it a look, but go with what works best for you.

Not all vets are fans of the raw food diet.

When I asked my vet about switching to the raw food diet, he just shrugged his shoulders and told me that dog food companies have spent millions of dollars on their products and staked even more on good results from feeding their pet food to the public. Then again, take a look at how super-careful pet owners (like myself) have started reading labels and been known to go off on some poor clerk in a pet specialty store about the contents (Yes, I did that.  This is my BABIES we’re talking about!).  For instance, rigid label readers like myself will see the terms “by-product meal”, “meat meal”, and “poultry meal”.  Do you know what that is??!!! Born Free USA, a national animal advocacy organization, reports that “meal” is made from any leftover body parts that are boiled into a broth which not only kills parasites and bacteria, but also proteins and natural enzymes.  In addition, it may take days for the dead animal to reach the rendering plant, so the body is highly contaminated and can include animals that were dead, dying, disabled, and/or diseased. The dead animals used can also be dogs, cats, horses, or roadkill! I almost lost my mind when I saw there was not ONE bag of kibble in a specialty pet food store without “meal” in the ingredients. If people buy it, the dog food companies will keep making it regardless of inferior ingredients.

Also, as mentioned before, your vet may not think the raw food diet itself is bad, but rather that owners do not know how to adapt the recipes to their animals. It may be to your advantage to actually speak to a dog nutritionist. Your vet probably knows how to get hold of one.

When switching to eating only raw food, get ready for some GI changes.

The reason for this is because sometimes, animals that switch from one kind of diet to another will get what my mom used to refer to as “the trots.” This can happen even if Fifi has had a crappy (pun!) diet and you put her on one that’s really great for her. A trip to the vet may make the doc think it’s because of bacteria in the raw food rather than just a diet change done too quickly. 

A mistake I used to make was mixing dry food and wet food together, thinking it would make the kibble tastier.  HALT!  The inside of your pooch’s stomach processes dry food as a starch while raw food is a protein.  Meat will stick around awhile being digested by the stomach acids and the tummy gets confused when presented with dry and wet food at the same time. The result is a bad case of the farts and those oh-so-hard-to-pick up stools.

HOW TO INTRODUCE A NEW DIET TO YOUR DOG

As much as you may want to jump right in and switch your pup’s intake to be the best possible Dog Parent, take it easy. Use the new food as a treat for a day or so and then (here comes your very favorite dog owner activity!) check his poops for a reaction. If you have multiple dogs, you may realize what I mean when I say I can usually tell whose poop is whose. Jax wanders around while he goes (What’s up with THAT!), Winston and Sweetness prefer the same spots, and Sally is – well – smaller. Otherwise, just watch until she goes and check it out. You should pick up stools right away regardless. Poop lying around draws flies, can pass GI problems from one dog to the others, it will be automatically drawn to the bottom of the shoe of anyone walking around, and is an environmental contaminant. Get rid of it ASAP! 

If the stools are good, as in the right texture, increase the number of treats over the next several days. Be ready for your neighbors and family to make fun of you peering at dog waste with intent concentration. If you feed twice a day, replace one of the meals with the new diet, and after a while, completely get rid of the old food. This process may take longer if your dog has never eaten anything but dry food or if she has GI problems before the change. Don’t think a good diet will not be tolerated by your furbaby; he just needs to get used to it.

Your dogs tummy gets confused when presented with dry and wet food at the same time.

IN CONCLUSION . . .

I love my babies so much, I really want to do the raw food diet. But my budget is strained already with high-quality kibble and canned food. I guarantee, though, as my debts lower (Thank you, Dave Ramsey!), the diet for my dogs will better. They’re worth it to me.

RELATED POSTS

My vet says dry dog food that is high-quality is just as good if not better than raw because it doesn’t “go bad.” Did you stop to think why kibble doesn’t go bad? That bacteria doesn’t care about eating anything in there? It can’t be that great if even bacteria doesn’t want it.

I’ve heard that if you are careful with the raw food diet, you can stop the medications the vet has your dog on. First of all, don’t stop any medication prescribed by your vet without talking to him first. Although many pet owners swear they are able to stop the drugs they give their pets for problems like the pain of arthritis or controlling allergies, other meds may still be needed. Testimonials swear that dogs are active and act playful years younger that their actual ages, coats are shiny, itching and scratching from allergies and dryness become a thing of the past, and their poops become close to poop perfect. These types of results will naturally take awhile to kick in, from months to possibly a year. But it took her whole life to get her health where it is now. Be patient.

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