Cocker Specific Discussion > Feeding

An Introduction to 'raw' feeding.


Introduction to Raw Feeding

You are obviously reading this thread because you’re interested in feeding raw, or at least finding out what it means.
Remember, there is no right or wrong way to feed your dog, and there are plenty of other ways to feed your dog.  Raw just happens to be my choice based on the research that I have done and how I feel about other types of food.  This thread is meant as an introduction for raw feeding, to hopefully give you some basics and point you in the right direction should you wish to investigate it further.

What is Raw feeding?

Raw feeding is essentially feeding your dog ‘species appropriate food’ … i.e  the food it’s ancestors, current wild cousins and animals from the same genus, canis, would eat.
When you read online you may find many different names, and ways of feeding raw.  You may hear it referred to as ‘BARF’ (bones and raw food), ‘prey model’ and others.Personally, I just call them all raw feeding, and when asked what I feed my dogs, that’s exactly what I say – they are raw fed.
There is lots and lots of information out there to read through.  It’s very important that you read as much as possible.  That’s not to say that feeding raw is particularly complex, it’s no more complex then ensuring you or I get all the right nutrients, 5-a-day, protein etc that we need and most people don’t slave and worry over their own meals (I know I don’t!).
It’s about a longer term balance of the right stuff over a period of a week or 2, rather than perfectly balanced portions everyday.
As well as information though there are many many differing opinions on what to feed and how to feed it.  Most important though is that you understand what your dog needs and find a method of feeding it to suit you, your dog, your lifestyle and most importantly your pocket.
As a raw feeder I warn you now that you will become an avid ‘poop watcher’; as part of understanding that what is going in is right and working means watching what comes out!  
Firmer, smaller less stinky poops are generally what raw fed dogs produce.  This is because there is less waste going in, and more nutrients the dog can digest and use.  Generally speaking, if the poop is pale and chalky (as it is produced!), then you should reduce the amount of bone in their diet; Loose and dark means not enough bone, or too much organ meat, so adjust accordingly. My dogs will become quite loose in the poop department if fed too much organ meat.
Raw fed dogs also generate less gas, as they aren’t fermenting large amounts of carbohydrate in the form of kibble in their stomachs.

OK, I’m in, so what and how much?

Roughly speaking you should be aiming to feed 80% meat, 10% bone and 10% organ meat.
Organ meat is often classified as offal – however to me organ meat is glandular meat, ie kidneys & liver.  
Lungs, stomach, intestines etc  I class as just another type of normal meat and wouldn’t include it as part of my 10% organ meat.  – this is MY opinion though!
Some dogs suit more or less bone & organ meat, pretty much like some humans can’t eat certain foods.
Adult dogs require roughly 2-3% of their ideal adult bodyweight. Pups require a higher amount, 4-6% of their current bodyweight, which should be gradually reduced as they reach maturity.
For adult dogs you also need to consider activity levels, as the less active they are, the less food they require.  Physically speaking you want to be able to feel your dog’s ribs easily, but not see them.
For example my eldest dog’s ideal weight is 12kg, she’s 10 years old, partially sighted and although she enjoys going for walks, she prefers to amble and sniff than charge around, unlike my 1 year old  :lol:
As a result my oldest girl gets just 200g per day; this is just under 2% of her ideal body weight of 12kg.

Types of meat

You are looking to provide a nicely varied diet, like you do with your own diet, feeding different types of meat, or protein.
You can feed chicken, turkey, lamb, beef, pork, duck, pheasant, rabbit, fish … the list is endless and depends really on what you can get your hands on, as well as what and how you want to feed.
You can feed meat in the form of minces, chunks, carcasses etc .. whatever suits you, your dog and your pocket :)
At the moment feeding my 3 raw is probably costing me around £40 per month, remember that's 3 dogs.

Some people feed raw entirely made up of bits of meat / carcass that they obtain from places such as butchers, abattoirs, farmers etc.
Some people feed minces, which could again come from butchers who can make up pet minces, or pre-made minces from somewhere like Natural Instinct, Durham Animal Feeds (DAF), nurturing by nature, Manifold Valley meats…

How do I change my dog to raw?

You can either do it gradually by replacing a meal a day with a raw meal, or just going cold turkey.  
There is a school of thought that says that you shouldn’t mix raw food and biscuit in the same meal, as they digest at different rates and could cause your dog to have an upset stomach.
Personally, I mixed my dogs raw mince with their kibble at first, with no ill effects and by the end of a week I simply stopped giving them kibble at all, since they were enjoying the raw so much :)
Most dogs are easily transferred from kibble feed to raw, as most dogs actually enjoy eating raw, mine certainly did. However, as I’ve already said all dogs are different, so sometimes the new textures and sensations aren’t enjoyed, so you need to be gradual and find something to ‘tempt’ them with.
If feeding chunks or minces (WITHOUT BONE IN) you could lightly fry or warm up the meat in a microwave for a few seconds to get the ‘juices flowing’ to try to entice your dog to eat.
Usually it’s best to stick with 1 type of meat to start with, chicken is usually a good since most dogs can tolerate chicken.  Introduce the chicken, and once the dog is settled on chicken gradually introduce different meat/protein sources slowly.
Doing it this way will help you identify if you dog can’t tolerate certain types of meat, so you’ll know to avoid them in the future. For example I know my dogs can’t tolerate lamb in vast quantities, so I avoid lamb bones or minces.  This is probably because lamb is quite fatty and I know of several dogs that can’t tolerate lamb; but by gradually introducing different types of meat you can easily work out what your dog can manage.

To veg or not to veg, that is the question?

As I’ve already said, dogs are carnivores, their digestive systems are not designed to breakdown carbohydrates or the tough vegetable matter – they don’t even have the right kind of teeth to grind it down - think about what kind of teeth a cow has :)
So why would you need to give your dog vegetables?  The simple answer is, you don’t.  It’s purely your own choice as to whether or not you provide vegetables to your dog.
Provided the vegetables are either frozen, cooked, or blended into a mulch/pulp your dog can more easily breakdown the ‘goodness’ that are in vegetables as the tough vegetable matter has already been degraded - a bit like pureeing vegetables for babies :)

I personally feed veg.  My dogs get leftover veg from our meals, occasionally a handful of frozen peas onto of their mince, or the odd carrot to chew on.  A frozen carrot is great for teething puppies :)
My girls love their veg, and I wouldn’t cut it out of their diet unless they didn’t enjoy it.
A word of warning though … veg can cause gas .. particularly cauliflower or broccolli  ph34r

So how do I do it?

I started out using Natural instinct, because I was a bit scared, wanted to try feeding raw and needed a bit of ‘help’ getting started.
I then moved to minces from DAF, supplemented with tinned fish, chicken wings and carcasses etc, now I use Manifold Valley Meats and am a little more 'DIY'
Some examples of the types of meals I give my 3 are below:

Tinned sardines or pilchards in tomato sauce
Minced chicken / turkey / beef  / duck / rabbit / venison (usually with a bone content)
Beef heart chunks
Green tripe
Chicken wings
Chicken carcasses
Scrambled eggs (uncooked eggs give my 3 upset tums)
Organ meat chunks to supplement minces
Salmon portions or trimmings (not smoked)

Veg I give, either cooked or frozen, usually just a handful, or a small floret, and not everyday, once or twice a week from the selection:
Green beans
Broccoli florets (usually cooked)
Cauliflower florets (usually cooked)
Sweet potato (cooked only)
Potato (cooked only)
Carrots (raw or cooked)

They also get mashed banana frozen in kongs, apple & pear slices, melon bits - but usually only if I'm eating said fruit and choose to share it.

I also supplement with salmon oil, and something called ‘Joint Aid’ to help my older girls who suffer with spinal issues.

Is there anything I can’t give my dog?

Cooked bones, raw onions, raw potato, grapes, raisins….   This isn't a complete list but is some of the definite no-nos.

Some people prefer not to feed raw salmon as there is a potential for a parasite in the salmon.  Personally I have researched the details and I’m happy to feed salmon.  There's lots of detail on the internet about this, for a little more information check this site out.

Books & reading

Natural Nutrition for dogs & cats – The Ultimate Diet by Kymythy R Schultze  (this book is really good but quite technical!)
Raw Dog Food by Carina Beth MacDonald (another really good book which lays info out in an easy to understand way, explaining the benefits of raw feeding)
Books by Tom Lonsdale and Ian Billinghurst are also raved about, though I’ve never read any of them (yet!)

I’m also a member of a raw feeding group on FaceBook who are really really helpful, full of information and advice.

Remember though – the internet is your friend, but my advice is read as much as you can, and then make your own informed choice about what and how you feed your dog.

Good Luck  :D

Copyright Kelly Tremaine 2012. All rights reserved.

Admin Note: Please note this Guide is for information only & the views expressed are those of the author. COL does not promote any particular diet - our policy is that there is no one diet that suits every dog and it is up to us all as owners to do our own research and choose one that suits our own dogs best, whether that be raw, complete kibble, home-cooked etc.


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