Feeding raw is the single best thing I’ve ever done for my dogs. If you ever choose to make the jump from kibble to raw you will never look back! First, I want to share a few things with you. There is not one person in the world who knows your dog better than you! I’m not an expert. I’m not a veterinarian. I’m not a dog trainer. The things I’m about to write about are what works for me and my pack. We’ve been feeding raw for almost 2 years and this is all based on what I’ve learned from trainers and holistic veterinarians. If you are interested in reading about Our Raw Feeding Journey you can hear why we started feeding raw.
My college career was spent learning about the human body; anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, exercise physiology, nutrition, physics, blah blah blah! No one really cares much about that but I have my Bachelor’s of Science degree in Kinesiology (the study of human movement). The only reason I say this is because I have some experience in how the systems of humans, and animals, work.
When it comes to raw feeding there are TONS of different methods. When I first started I bought pre-mixed raw patties from the pet supply store. They literally looked like frozen hamburgers and I had to remind people that those are NOT to be grilled at a barbecue. Basically, raw-feeding is grouped into 3 categories.
- Pre-Made Raw Patties ( I started with Raw Bistro )
- Pros: Made with meat, bone, and organ so you don’t have to worry about it. Easy to prep because all you have to do it thaw the patties overnight.
- Cons: Its hard to determine if the correct amount of bone and organ are present. It can get expensive very quickly. In order to feed our two small Pomeranians we were spending over $200 a month.
- Freeze-Dried Raw ( I’ve heard great things about Sojos which is also the company I get a lot of freeze-dried raw treats from. )
- Pros: Very easy. You just mix the food with a little bit of water and serve. Less expensive than the patties.
- Cons: It doesn’t allow dogs to experience the pulling, tearing, and gnawing that is good for their teeth.
- Raw Food Made at Home ( If you are local this is an AMAZING supplier Raw Delivery MN and Dog Aware is another great resources to search by state. )
- Pros: You can control EXACTLY what goes into your dogs body. Your dogs will LOVE it and you’ll get to watch them go NUTS at dinner time.
- Cons: Takes up lots of room in the freezer. You have to remember to thaw. It takes a little while to get used to.
So lets get to the feeding guide! My dogs are on a very protein rich diet with a few veggies here and there, some supplements, some essential oils, and some fats mixed in. We are going to break down raw feeding into 5 easy steps.
STEP ONE – Choose 4 Different Protein Sources
Below is a list of what I have in my freezer right now. I buy these items in bulk, thaw them, and repackage into smaller baggies. This takes about an hour of prep time each week. I thaw a large 5 or 10 pound package overnight, then repackage the next day. I’ve found this most beneficial because each baggie is about 2 meals for each of my dogs. Lets say I thaw rabbit on day one. That night I take out a different baggie, with a different protein source, thaw overnight and Viola! By the end of the week they’ve had their 4 different protein sources. Within those 4 sources there should also 80% meat, 10% organ, and 10% bone. I buy ground meat, bone and organ mixes because those are already 80/10/10. Most raw food suppliers will have that blend available.
- Duck Necks
- Pig Feet
- Eggs (in the fridge, obviously)
STEP TWO – Add in Some Supplements
The supplements I provide my dogs are based on what I feel they need. The trick with supplements is to mix them up. I don’t give my dogs the exact same supplements every day. I also mix the probiotic, daily blend, and garlic together in a large container and measure out one scoop rather than measuring from 3 different containers.
- Probiotic (every dog should have one because no one wants to struggle when it comes to going poo! )
- Daily Blend (Vitamins A, C, D, E)
- Turmeric (Anti-inflammatory)
- Veggies (I say these ares supplements because they are not NEEDED but fun to add sometimes)
- Oil (fish, salmon, coconut)
- Essential Oils
- Garlic! Yes, Garlic! I refuse to give my dogs flea/tick medicine after Bolt’s overdose. I mix garlic from SpringTime and it works like a dream!
STEP THREE – Meal Size
“But how much do I give my dog?” – This is the question that makes everyone paranoid. A rule of thumb is about 2-3% of their ideal body weight in ounces. I started out measuring on a scale, then figured out how much of a standard “cup” that was. So now I know that Bolt gets about a 1/2 cup of food and Torque gets about a 1/4 cup. To be completely honest, I don’t even measure anymore. I’ve gotten used to what their bowls should look like when its enough food.
If your dog is overweight, or underweight you need to account for that. IYou should measure based on their ideal weight. You should be able to feel your dogs’ vertebrae as you pet them along with their ribs. If you have to press firmly to feel their bones, they are overweight. To be honest, most dogs are overweight. Its rare to see a dog that is a healthy weight because we have this mixed up dog-body image that if you can see bones and ribs they must be starving. Not at all! Feed your dog what is necessary to keep them at a healthy, LEAN weight. If you can’t easily see or feel their ribs, they are overweight. Dogs that are overweight have more stress on their bones, joints, and organs just like humans do. We are their meal source and can keep them healthy. Sometimes I wish I had someone to put food in my bowl twice a day and not allow me in the kitchen cabinets! Hahah! Lucky Dogs!
STEP FOUR – Don’t Freak Out!
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve made mistakes along the way. I forgot to thaw food one day and gave my dogs salmon and an egg for breakfast. Torque pooped his pants for 3 days from it. Funny, but sad. I ended up mixing in some sweet potatoes to help him get back on track and since that day I have never done both fish and eggs in the same meal. I was also nervous about feeding Torque bones because he has about 6 teeth left in his mouth, none of which are on the top. He is a Puppy Mill Survivor and wasn’t given enough care and fresh water to keep his teeth healthy. The first time I gave him raw bones it was this chicken wing!
He worked on it for about an hour. Ripping, tearing, chewing, and breaking it apart as best he could. After a while I helped him tear it apart and he ended up finish the entire thing. Bones and all. Torque also scarfs down his food like you wouldn’t believe, often times forgetting to chew thoroughly. Twice now I’ve had to stick my finger down his throat because he was choking and was unable to breath. Another reason why I never leave him along to eat anything! Those were two very traumatic moments for me and for him. Clearly, I should take First Aid and CPR for dogs because I’m guessing that shoving your finger down their throat isn’t the best way to stop the choking but at the time its what I needed to do so that my baby could breath again. Raw feeding is an experiment. You learn and your dog learns. Mistakes will happen but we keep moving forward.
STEP FIVE – Observe the Miracle!
It sounds ridiculous but its true. You might think “Okay crazy lady, a miracle? Really?” Yes! You’ll begin to notice the following benefits within a week.
- Cleaner teeth and better breath
- Softer & shinier coat
- Less shedding
- Better muscle tone
- Less “doggy” odor. We all know the “dog house smell” when you walk into someone’s home. I’ve asked friends and family if our house ever smells that way and according to them it doesn’t! Yay!
- Better weight management
- Small stools that decompose (This might be too much info. but I use my bare hands to pick up my dogs poop after a couple days. It dries out and turns a white-ish color. I literally pick it up, throw it in the woods and go wash my hands.)
- Stronger immune system – no need for all the nasty shots and chemicals
- Overall better health (fewer trips to the vet)
Step 5 if the best part! Pay close attention to the way their behavior changes, their skin/coat, and their poops.
The changes that Torque has made in the last year is incredible! The photo on the left was the first day I met Torque and transported him to his foster home. The one on the right was 9 months later. His coat is incredible! His teeth are healthier and those darn ears are the cutest things ever!
As I’m finishing this up with beef mix thawing in the sink and my dogs chewing on duck necks I will be 100% honest with you. Raw feeding is cheap, easy, and the absolute BEST thing you will ever do for your dog(s)!