FAQ: About Feeding Raw
I am a firm believer in feeding a raw meat diet to dogs. Here’s how I got started:
Growing up, I fed my dog Iams dog food. Then when I became a dog trainer, I realized Iams was junk so I started researching kibble and switched over to Blue dog food. After seeing all the recalls, I switched again to Taste of the Wild but when their prices went up, I did some compare vs contrast with other brands and found that Canidae offer the same quality for a 1/4 less cost so I switched yet again. Then I went to a seminar offered by a holistic veterinarian, and she introduced me to the concept of a raw diet. She mentioned the different types of raw diets, and then told us how she personally feeds her dogs a freeze-dried raw diet because it’s convenient and cost-effective. So I made the switch to Grandma Lucy’s…and the dogs LOVED it. After a couple years, though, we (Justin and I) noticed we were feeding them A LOT, their stools were huge and they always seemed hungry. That’s when we started adding in things like coconut oil, raw eggs and other small “raw-diet” type items. They loved it. After doing more research, we realized that starches + proteins don’t mix well in the stomach and actually slow down digestion, so we started feeding raw for breakfast and freeze-dried for dinner then made the switch to an all-raw meat diet.
What aided our decision was reading this book and watching this documentary. Nutrition matters, and we wanted to make sure that our dogs were getting the best food possible…but without breaking the bank.
Some people feed raw, and they pay upwards of $4 per pound of food. Other people feed raw, and they spend almost a full day each month meal prepping food for their dogs. That’s craziness!
We follow the KISS Principle: Keep It Simple Stupid
(If you want a more complicated breakdown of what I’m about to tell you, read this article.)
We feed about 80% muscle meats, 10% bone and 10% organ meat. Each dog gets about 2.5-3% of his body weight in pounds of food each day. So, for example, Havok is around 90 pounds which means he gets about 2.2-2.5 pounds of food each day. We don’t measure their meals; we use the ‘eyeball it’ method. We use the same stainless steel bowls each meal, so we know about how much food to put in the bowl to make sure they’re getting enough. We use their weight to determine if they’re getting enough food or too much and adjust accordingly. Food intakes varies seasonally and based on activity level.
Simple & Easy.
Here’s an idea of what our dogs eat, depending on what’s available: turkey necks, chicken whole, chicken breast, chicken thighs, chicken drumsticks, raw chicken eggs, beef trachea, beef tripe, beef hearts, chicken gizzards, chicken feet, lamb, venison, chub mackerel (canned), salmon (seasonal, from Seattle), beef marrow bones…basically anything we can find. And sometimes we get freezer-burnt meat which is no good for humans but still fine for the dogs (see photo below).
We also give additional supplements and healthy fats, such as:
NuVet Plus (use code 45459 at checkout to buy online)
NuJoint (use code 45459 at checkout to buy online)
For other items available on my Amazon list, go to www.amazon.com/shop/dogtraineramy
Fruits, vegetables and other starchy superfoods are still an important part of the diet but not something your dog needs every day. We still have Grandma Lucy’s on hand and mix together a couple bags (usually Artisan Pork and Valor Fish) and then we mix in the SeaMeal and Vertex plus some bee pollen and whatever other dry supplements we have on hand into the giant, airtight container with the freeze-dried food. We give the dogs one freeze-dried meal each week.
(For a great article on the 10 Laws of Feeding Raw, right click here and open in another tab.)
We don’t obsess over measuring out their meals.
When it comes to actual feeding, again, we keep things simple. We have a chest freezer that stores our meat so we only have to shop 1-2x a month. We have white, covered bins in the fridge that hold meat that’s thawed or thawing, and we pull out the bins, load up the dishes and that’s that. We do not cook anything. Cooking/boiling food zaps nutrients out of it.
Some people make their meals look really pretty. We just throw the food in a bowl. 🙂
On average, we pay about $1.10-1.25/lb to feed our dogs raw. That’s less than $10 per day…less than what we were spending to feed kibble and freeze-dried food.
In addition to saving money, our dogs’ teeth are clean, their coats are shiny, their nails are strong. They shed less and poop less. They always have great energy and are never sick or lethargic.
Read all about Raw Diet Myths here.
Q: Why do you only feed once a day?
A: Because our dogs are very active during the day. Eating then running around increases their chance for bloat. And it also de-motivates them to work for food in training.
Q: What about when you travel? What do you feed then?
A: We keep it simple and feed Grandma Lucy’s.
Q: Do you believe in fasting for dogs?
A: Yes! Our dogs skip 1-2 meals per month, usually on a day when they’re less active. Read more here.
Q: Where do you buy your food?
A: Mostly Cash & Carry and at the Commissary on Base.
Q: Do all four dogs eat raw?
A: No, unfortunately we found Duke does not do well with switching proteins. He has a sensitive stomach (which is likely genetic for him). We tried, and he had loose stool…a lot. He loves raw, but eating raw doesn’t work for him. So he eats American Journey grain-free salmon kibble…and is doing well on that for now. But just so he doesn’t feel left out, we do top his kibble with a tiny bit of raw sometimes. It’s too bad he can’t eat all raw, but it is what it is.
Q: If you don’t measure, how do you know they’re eating enough?
A: We look at them! If their weight looks good, we keep feeding the same amount-ish. If they look thin, we feed more. If they look heavy, we feed less.
Q: How do I get started?
A: We transitioned gradually over about 3 weeks’ time from feeding freeze-dried raw to raw. Little by little adding more and more raw to their food. You can also switch cold turkey but your dog might get loose stool. Different dogs react differently to changing their diet.
Q: What about bones? Aren’t chicken bones bad for dogs?
A: Cooked, yes. Raw, no. For more voracious eaters, we recommend holding onto the chicken drumstick (bone etc) so your dog learns to chew it and eat it slowly instead of inhaling it. Turkey necks are easy to start with since they’re huge.
Q: Do you still carry Grandma Lucy’s?
A: Yes, we carry Artisan Chicken and Artisan Pork. Lots of our clients feed it to their dogs, and their dogs do great. Our dogs are just very active, and I think that’s why Grandma Lucy’s wasn’t enough for them.
Q: Where do you get your eggs from?
A: We have a dozen laying hens that we get fresh eggs from. They’re 1000x better than store bought eggs!
Q: Who sells pre-made raw?
A: Lots of companies! BARF diet. Raw Feeding Miami. Big Country Raw. Reel Raw. Wild Instincts Raw.
Q: Are there any info or support groups?
A: You betcha. On Instagram, @perfectly ransom @rawfeedingcommunity @reelraw plus lots lots more and on Facebook: Raw Diet & Nutrition for Dogs, Raw Feeding University, Raw Feeding Advice and Support.
I recently did a poll on Instagram asking people who feeds their dog a raw meat diet. Hundreds of people voted, and it was about 50/50 for raw vs kibble or freeze-dried. Incredible! That’s awesome, and a huge change from just a few years ago when hardly anyone knew about feeding a raw meat diet.
-Amy Pishner ( Head Trainer, Valor K9 Academy)
Questions, Suggestions? We want to hear what you have to say. Comment below!
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