Guide to a Raw Meat Diet for Dogs
Why You Should Consider a Raw Meat Diet for Your Dog
A few years ago my Springer Spaniel Molly developed dry, itchy skin and I couldnât figure out why. After doing a lot of research, I stumbled over information on feeding a species appropriate diet, which consists of raw meat, organs and bones. The more I read about it, the more I understood that a raw meat diet is how dogs were meant to eat. And here I thought that paying a lot of money for a premium kibble was doing the right thing for her. I began feeding Molly raw meat and threw away the kibble about seven years ago and have never looked back. Here itchy skin went away (thanks to eliminating grains) and she has beautiful, shiny, soft fur that people always comment on. Plus her teeth are cleaner and at the ripe old age of 12, sheâs stayed pretty darned healthy.
As more information comes out about raw diets for dogs, more people are starting to explore options besides the tradition kibble diet. After all, you found this lens, so you must be curious about raw. Some people are concerned about allergy-inducing grains in dry food, the additives/preservatives and frequent pet food recalls for contamination. So letâs explore why a raw based diet might be a good option for your fur kid.
Did You Know?
Reasons to Make the Switch
Dogs are carnivores. A raw diet is a species appropriate diet. Look at your dog's teeth. They have the teeth of a carnivore.
Dog's digestive systems are different than ours. They have very acidic stomachs that neutralize the bacteria in raw meat. That, along with their heavy bile production, protects them from bacteria that would make you are me sick. By feeding a meat-based diet to your dog you are eliminating stress on their digestive system.
A diet containing raw meats such as beef, chicken, venison, turkey, pork, venison, lamb and others provided the essential nutrients for your dog in a form they can easily digest. They are not losing key enzymes destroyed by the high heat process used in making kibble. Remember that kibble was only invented in the last century. Dogs have been eating raw meat for thousands of years and in the short time kibble has been around dog's digestive systems have not adapted for them to live optimally on a kibble only diet.
Healthier immune system. Because your dog is eating as nature intended, their immune system will be healthier. Dog owners often see a reduction in dry skin and allergy problems, shinier, healthier fur and an increase in energy in their pets.
Cleaner Teeth. The gnawing and chewing that meat and bones provide dental stimulation and help remove tarter and keep teeth cleaner.
Important minerals. Raw bones contain calcium, phosphorus and trace minerals, important nutrients for your dog. The majority of the bone meal purchased by pet food manufacturers comes from China or Thailand. I don't know about you, but I tend to avoid any ingredients coming from China because of safety concerns, including high levels of heavy metals.
The gnawing and chewing also satisfies dog's innate need to chew. It provides positive mental stimulation.
You know exactly what your dog is eating. This is an important point. Do you REALLY know what is in that high end kibble you pay big bucks for? Remember that anything in a bag is processed and the labeling laws for pet food are rather lax. Even though the label says no preservatives added, they may already be in the individual ingredients before the manufacturer combines them at the final stage.
Veterinary schools typically only teach about commercial diets, they are not taught about species appropriate diets. Sadly, many vets are against raw meat diets because they just haven't learned enough about them.
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A Balanced Diet
How to Feed Your Dog the Right Way
Unfortunately, you can't just throw down a piece of meat and expect all to be well. Your dog needs variety and the proper ratio of meat, organs and bone to ensure he or she gets optimal nutrition. You should feed about 80% meat, 10% bone and 10% organ meat. Kidneys and liver are considered organ meat, while heart is a muscle and considered regular meat, not an organ. You don't need to be perfect every day, but try to see that over the course of a week your dog gets that approximate ratio. Some people find they need to feed a little extra bone to keep stools firm, and that is up to you and your dog. Incidentally, stools will be smaller and may be crumbly from the bone and that is norma.
The traditional guideline is to feed 2% of their body weight (for puppies feed 2% of their expected weight as a full grown dog).
In addition to feeding my dog raw meat, there are a few supplements I feel are important. These are my favorites and ones I use personally.
This is a staple in our house. Great source of omega 3, 6 and Arachidonic fatty acid. Plus it's soy-free. Molly laps it up.
Has omega 3's plus GLA and vitamin E. Great for keeping your dog's coat healthy. I used it when Molly had a skin issue and salmon oil alone wasn't enough.
I've been giving this to Molly for several years now and it helps with her touch of arthritis. Tastes like liver and she thinks they are treats.
Has 10 strains of food bacteria with over 58 billion bacteria in every serving. Helps maintain ideal bacteria ratio, aid metabolism and help immune system. Good stuff.
What to Feed
Variety is the Spice of Your Dog's Life
Your dog will be thrilled to not be eating the same old kibble day in, day out. Variety is the name of the game with raw. You will want to start slowly and only feed chicken (bone-in) such as a breast in the beginning. There willl be an adjustment period for a week or so and your dog may have loose stools. This again, is quite common. It will go away as your dog gets used to his new diet. And did I say there will be less to clean up? Remember he doesn't have all those starchy carbs from grains, potatoes, sweet potatoes or tapioca, which are all common binders in commercial dog food.
After your dog adjusts, add in one new meat. Meats on the menu include chicken, turkey, duck, beef, pork, lamb, rabbit, venison, goat. Be careful not to serve cut bones like pork chops because those sharp bones can cause a lot of grief. Also beware of chicken wings and never feed them to medium or large sized dogs. They are a choking hazard and suitable for toy dogs only.
I like serving bone-in chicken, pork picnic roasts and pork ribs. I shy away from beef ribs and beef bones altogether because they are so hard they can break your dog's teeth.
More About Raw Feeding
There is a lot more you probably want to know before you start and you probably have tons of questions. You can continue reading about raw feeding on my blog here.