I have stepped into a new world of raw feeding my dogs. It’s something that I have been interested in for months. In fact, I have almost felt convicted when it comes to my dogs. My family eats so clean and Paleo, but twice a day I find myself pouring kibble out of a bag down for my dogs. I started to feel guilty in a way. I didn’t even think there was another way that I can afford. Since our children were born, we have had to discontinue the use of $50 bags of high-end dog food. I thought since it was expensive, then it must be good. Well, not so much.
Dogs are carnivores. If out in the wild, they would live on a diet high in raw meat. It’s only when we started to socialize dogs with humans that processed “dog-food” came about. And even if you were to look at the ingredients of a bag of dog-food, you would find that it would be mostly grains and veggies…with some meat fillers. Poor doggies! So, that’s how my quest for finding the proper nutrition for my dogs began. I’ve heard of raw-feeding but I thought I could never do that. I have no idea why, but all I needed was the “push” to get me started on this path.
Yesterday, a natural group that I am in on Facebook started talking about raw-feeding. My mind couldn’t grasp it because it seemed too easy. I mean, seriously, you just throw a piece of raw chicken (bone-in) down for the dogs to eat? What about the bones splintering? What about the bacteria? What about them becoming blood-thirsty and possibly devouring my leg in my sleep?
Whatever, I’m doing it. I threw a chicken leg down for my fawn colored pug and a chicken thigh down for my black pug. They spent the next 30 minutes eating it, enjoying it, savoring it. It was the first real food they had EVER had. I almost cried. I saw the pleasure and delight in their eyes. You know when you bite into a savory, perfectly-cooked steak? The “oh-my-goodness-this-is-the-best-thing-I-have-ever-ate” feeling that you get? I actually feel like they love me more now. Last night my fawn pug, Samson, became more lively than I have ever seen him. He is my dog that hates eating. I would put kibble in his bowl in the morning and he would finally eat it at 8pm that night when his stomach became so fiercly hungry. I just figured he didn’t need much food. When I gave him the chicken leg it actually took him like 20 minutes to figure out how to hold the leg with his paws so he could tear away the meat! In less than 24 hours I have noticed a huge difference in him.
I’m not sure on all the proper methods of raw-feeding, but I plan on following the Prey Model diet for dogs. This is 5-10% organs, 10-15% edible bones, and 80-85% edible meat. The models and resembles, as closely as possible, what carnivorous canines have been eating for thousands of years.
Raw-feeding also seems like it’s going to be cheaper than feeding packaged dog-food. Yesterday I bought 10lbs of chicken, 2lbs of chicken organs, 3lbs of pork necks, and 3lbs of chicken backs (with meat) for under $15. This should last them a little over 3 weeks. I also plan on giving them some kefir every morning to help assist with the digestion of this new diet. Today as I was portioning the organs they got a few chicken hearts and split a big can of sardines! Needless to say, I am their hero!
More info on raw feeding:
The Science Behind Raw Feeding
Raw Dog Food: Make it Easy for You and Your Dogs
Hi – I was wondering where you got all that meat for $15? This is incredible that it’s that cheap. I feed my dog really “good” dogfood but it’s ingredient list is still huge and it’s SO expensive! Does that Prey Model tell you how much they need a day? I’ll go google now… 🙂
The Paleo Mama says
Yes, it tells you how much per lb. I can’t remember how much it was. But it was about a quarter chicken a day for my 25lber dogs!
If you have time, I’d like to read an update on your paleo dogs. We currently feed our 2 cats and 1 dog the expensive grain-free Blue Buffalo food (Blue Wilderness). We’re going to be moving soon and we’ll have better access to all kinds of cuts of meats. We plan on transitioning our pets to raw food. How are your dogs doing? What do you typically feed them for a week (I’m guessing it varies each day?)?
The Paleo Mama says
We have moved three times and I have been unable to keep it up. I was just talking about getting back on the raw food! Right now we do a grain free dog food. They were doing so good on raw….I need to get back to it!
I’m a little late for this one, but for others just finding this, I figured it might help.
We’ve been raw feeding (prey model) for about a year now, with a total of three dogs. When we first started it, we had a 6 year old shepherd mix and a 3 year old Beagle. Both of them were having problems with their teeth and the vet wanted to put them under and do a scaling. They insisted that we brush their teeth. Seriously? How does any animal keep its teeth? By eating what it’s supposed to eat, of course! It finally got to the point that the shepherd didn’t even want to eat (by that time, we had upgraded to Blue Buffalo, as well, after yet another bout with GI issues in our poor shepherd, who had always had a sensitive GI tract), and we decided to just dive into it. Sadly, the shepherd died late this past summer (from reasons unrelated to his diet), and a month or so later, we picked up a 9-month old beagle mix from the shelter, whom we immediately started feeding raw.
We just did it cold turkey, and all three dogs did well with the transition. Your dog may experience a little GI upset for the first week or two, but it’s largely from having to rebalance the enzymes and gut flora for digesting a proper diet. Our shepherd was, shall we say, loose, for about a week or so, but after that, his bowel movements were firmer than they’d pretty much ever been (this is a good thing!).
One thing we noticed, too, was that our dogs immediately quit begging and trying to steal food as much. When they were on kibble, they acted like they were constantly hungry, but once they were on raw, the only time they’d go after food or beg was when it was nearly feeding time.
In the longer run, we also found a tremendous improvement in their teeth. Years of plaque and tartar build-up on both of the older dogs were visibly getting scaled away in their first meals (seriously, it was gross to see what was coming off of their teeth), and within a couple of months, their teeth were clean and on the road to health, with only a few residual stains. The new puppy has great pearly whites and shouldn’t need to go through with his teeth what either of the older two did. We also noticed that our allergies decreased significantly, and it was only when our shepherd got sick and had to be on a bunch of meds and a canned food diet (which we eventually just said “screw it,” because it was basically a cooked version of what he was originally eating) that we had allergy issues.
As for what our dogs eat, it’s actually pretty consistent. We try to get a turkey, but lately it’s been frier chickens (because there haven’t been turkeys available). We’re still trying to find a place to get the cheaper cuts, but a single frier will last each dog a couple of days (we do a feast-famine cycles, so they’ll eat a whole frier or their fill of something larger, and be good for 48 hours or so). Occasionally, they’ll get beef/calf liver, but neither of the current dogs like it and will only eat it to keep it from the other (*facepalm*), or a cut of steak or some hamburger that we set out to thaw and let sit too long (dogs can handle far more “ripe” meat than we can), or some eggs (shell and all, we have a surplus of eggs right now, and the puppy’s still growing).
You can also feed them things like chicken feet (a great treat, and really great for older dogs, because of the condroiton in it, it’s basically a natural join supplement), tails, fish (cats should have some fish at least once a week, by the way), and just about any other meat (including the really weird stuff) that they’ll eat. Some people will even raise rabbits and feed that to them (skin, fur, and all). If you feed them more exotic or wild stuff (or fish), just make sure to freeze it for two weeks first, to kill off any parasites that could harm the dogs (small chance, but possible). Do not feed them cooked bones, as these will splinter, or the leg, knuckle, or vertebra bones of large ungulates (like cows), as those bones are too dense and can damage their teeth.
I went raw with my last dog (she passed away about 10 years ago) upon the advice of a naturopathic vet. We went raw for her when she was struggling with what can best be described as MS for dogs. She declined over a period of about 2 years before we finally had to say goodbye and end her misery. But — she got to enjoy a fantastic raw food diet for the last 18 months or so of her life, and I think it truly helped her as she was rapidly declining. My current dog eats Blue Buff grain free, and we also supplement her diet with fruits & veggies and little dabs of coconut oil. If I make a green smoothie, she gets her own little dish, and she laps it up so happily. I would love to go raw with her too, but haven’t taken the plunge — it’s kind of a big commitment.
I’ve tried raw feeding with my dogs, but mine must have acclimated a little too well to human life…they won’t eat raw foods. Now cooked, with a wee bit of salt? Definitely. They’ll even eat rare steak, but they won’t touch it if it doesn’t have a sear. Weird, right? A poster on a breed forum I visit told me to keep at it, but after three days of them not eating anything, I had to cave. Now they have a premium food with some cooked meats and fish supplemented here and there. Oddly enough, the only protein they’ll eat raw (won’t even touch the eggs unless they’re scrambled with a bit of cheese) is sushi. Specifically raw salmon or tuna. Not fans of the white fishes. Picky eaters. 🙂
Michaela H. says
My mom has fed her Afghan hound raw for about a year now. She supplements the meat with a daily vitamin and leftover veggies pureed in the food processor – she freezes them in an ice cube tray, melts it, and mixes it with the meat. It took a while for the dog to get used to it – she was such a picky eater that she picked the tiny pieces of veggies out of even ground beef – but she does GREAT now. My husband and I recently adopted two kittens and have been feeding them a grainless dry food as well as a portion of raw meat in the morning. It is legitimately cheaper than canned cat food, and so much better. I can’t believe it. Cats need more moisture then they will drink from water, and the raw meat gives them that and prevents thyroid problems. They love the meat. I’ve even noticed a change in their coats since we adopted them – they are becoming more soft and shiny and their eyes are bright.
Hi Jackie, was the meat you got your pups organic or anything like that or just from a butcher? I really want to switch our 3 dogs to raw food, but thought the meat/bones would be too expensive. $15 though is a screamin deal. How do I get meat for that price? Thank you!
The Paleo Mama says
No Lauren, not organic. But non-organic meat is WAY better for your dogs than kibble or dog food. Best to get organic if you can afford it…or if you have a butcher with leftover parts that will sell them to you for cheap. I’ve also had good luck with finding free meats on Craigslist!
Out of curiosity, how do you feed your dogs a raw diet without getting all the nasty germs from raw food all over the house? It looked like your dog was eating outside in the picture, but I don’t have that option since I live in an apartment. Any advice or suggestions on keeping my home clean?
The Paleo Mama says
I’ve heard some people put their dogs out on the balcony or in a large kennel. They clean the kennel after every use. I’ve also heard of them locking them in a bathroom and just cleaning the floor after.
We’re just beginning the raw diet with an 8 yr. Lab/Anatolian Shepard mix and a 6mo Boxer; they love it and seem more content. Chewing for 30 minutes relaxes our boxer so much. We are lucky to have a farm market right in the neighborhood, actually across the street. We put their meat pieces on a towel and they do pretty well just eating on that. We feed twice daily with a snack in between and wash and change the towels each day. Pretty much use chicken leg quarters, (beef heart and liver weekly), Occasionally we add canned salmon and eggs. No veggies yet as it seems we just find it the next day in the yard no matter how small we chop it up.