Tag: raw feeding

Raw Feeding

 Is Raw Feeding Better for your pet?

This question is answered along with a few more.

Background:

I started researching raw feeding when my senior golden retriever decided kibble wasn’t what she wanted.  There was nothing medically wrong with her, she just stopped eating kibble.  I had to entice her to eat with raw egg mixed in or just keep telling her to eat.  Even then, she didn’t eat all of her food.

I joined a couple Facebook groups to see what all the chatter was about.  I read extensively about the Prey Model and BARF.  There is a huge controversy over which model is the best model.  The only difference is with the BARF model you include fruits, vegetables and grains.  With Prey, it’s simply raw meat, no added supplements are needed.

Research:

When doing my research I was looking for an unbiased, scientific approach to information.  I didn’t want any opinions from pet food companies (because we all know they slant their information to their best interest) and I didn’t want information from vets (typically they have very little training on pet nutrition unless they’ve done research on their own).  It is extremely difficult to find unbiased information on which model is better suited for animals.  I couldn’t find any scientific “whitepapers” on either model of feeding.

This led me to doing what I felt was right.  Yes, my dogs are fed primarily Prey Model, but they also get “treats” that contain vegetables and other starches.  I stay away from grains because I have breeds that are highly susceptible to allergies and have been on a grain free diet their entire lives.   Do I feel my dogs NEED the veggies and other starches?  No, but they also don’t NEED milk bones or other commercially made treats.  I prefer to feed them food with minimal processing and limited ingredients.  I want to pronounce everything that I am allowing my pets to digest.

Am I an Expert?

I would hardly consider myself an expert at raw feeding.  Yes, I’ve done extensive research.  Yes, I am a part of several raw feeing groups whose administrators have more years experience than I’ve been alive.  Yes, I have resources out the wazoo to help along the way.  I’ve been feeding my dogs raw for almost a year…that hardly makes me an expert…but the proof for me is in my dogs.

Noticeable Changes:

1.  My dog’s teeth are b.e.a.UTIFUL!  I suspect they will never have to have a dental cleaning.  That right there is saving me a good $1k per year in vet bills.

2.  Their coats are shiny and soft.

3.  I have a boxer.  If you know the breed at all…you know about their crazy energy levels.  Since Ziggy, my 3 year old boxer, has been on raw his energy level has completely leveled out.  Yes, he still gets crazy bouts of energy where he’s zipping all over the yard, but the energy is manageable.  Which is important to both of us.  He gets to run and be crazy without making me crazy 🙂

4.  My senior golden, the one I started this for, she eats EVERY MEAL, EVERY BITE.  She is excited to eat again!  She also has some arthritis In her hips.  She has been noticeably in less pain.  She gets up and follows me around more than ever.

5.  The poo.  Oh my dog!  The poo is amazing.  It doesn’t smell and there is so little of it I hardly ever have to pick up.  One of my dogs was a poo eater when on kibble.  I had to clean the yard after every poo so he couldn’t eat it.  Now, he isn’t even interested in eating it.

Conclusion:

I don’t think it matters which raw model you feed your pets.  I do think raw is better.  Not the kind of raw they are now selling at pet food stores, but honest, butcher found (not grocery store, prepackaged) raw meat.  Keep in mind, the “raw” food you find at pet food stores is still being mass processed.  There have been several recalls due to illness.  The only way to ensure your pet isn’t getting poisoned is to source raw materials yourself and handle it yourself.

Be on the lookout for future postings about raw feeding.  There is much to learn before you dive in deep.  In the mean time, if you have questions and are interested in getting started sooner I am just a phone call away.

Why all the fancy ingredients in pet food?

Marketers are geniuses.  They have found a way to market pet food so it looks pretty and healthy.  They make us think that all the healthy foods we eat are essential for our pet’s balanced diets.  There is a reason behind the ingredients and it isn’t for a balanced diet.  Take a look:

Fats are essential for our pet’s health.  They use fat and protein for energy NOT carbs.  However, fats will oxidize quickly, so they need to add antioxidants into the food to give it shelf life.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants are ingredients that keep commercially made pet food from oxidizing (going bad once the bag is opened).  These ingredients include Vitamin C (cranberries, blueberries, apples, and other fruit), Vitamin E, Citric Acid (citrus fruit and many of the other fruits mentioned in Vitamin C).  These are the NATURAL ways to include antioxidants in our pet’s food.  Artificial antioxidants are ethoxyquin, butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA).

Conclusion:  When you see pet food made with natural antioxidants, it’s a better choice for your pet.  If you read the label on your pet’s food and they contain the artificial antioxidants (if you didn’t read the linked articles, they can be linked to cancer), step away.

Do your pet’s NEED these antioxidants for a balanced diet?  No.  The only reason these ingredients are in our pet’s food is so commercial pet food can have a longer shelf life.

Starches, Carbs, Grain:

Although dogs don’t need carbs for energy, if you are going to feed a dry kibble you won’t be able to get away from carbs.  Dog’s can convert carbs into energy, but too much can cause gas and obesity.

What are the starches, carbs and grain in our pet’s food?  Sweet potato, rice, legumes, flour, potato, brown rice, wheat, corn, barley, oats, etc.

If our pets use fat and protein for energy, why all the starches, carbs and gains?  Starches, carbs and grains are essential for commercially made pet food to give it texture, structure and form.  It is also cheaper than animal protein.  Chances are, the higher the protein in dog food, the more expensive it will be.  Dogs don’t NEED carbs.  If your dog is gassy, it’s most likely because the food they are eating has a high amount of carbs.  In a high carb diet (30% or more) your dog can’t break it all down, resulting in fermentation which is passed by gas.  High carb diets also result in obesity.  They are consuming more carbs than they need for energy.  A low carb (or no carb, raw) diet will help slim your pup if it is over weight.

So what should we be feeding our pets?

There is no one answer for this question.  With all the different pet foods on the market, you need to read the labels to determine what will work best for your  pet.  Watch your dog.  Is it gassy, have runny poo, over weight?  These are all indications that you may need to switch things up.  I believe there is a good food for every budget.  Knowing what the ingredients are is a good first step.

Do you want a raw fed cat?

 

You can have a raw fed cat and here’s how:

*Disclaimer:  I am not a veterinarian or pet nutritionist.  I have done a ton of research and I encourage you to do the same.

Similar principles for a raw fed cat are the same as dogs.  However, because cats are cats, it may take a bit more patience.

With dogs, when switching over to a raw fed diet, if they don’t take to it right away, it’s ok for them to skip a meal (or 2).  This is not the case for cats.  If cats go into starvation mode, they can get “fatty liver disease” which can be life threatening.

Cats are fed about the same ratio as dogs:  2%-3% of body weight / 80/10/10.  Cats need fat and may not need as much bone as dogs.  Cat’s raw food does not need to be ground up, cats can eat the raw bone.  Just make sure the meaty bones are an appropriate size.  If they are having trouble eating the bone, you can use a hammer to smash it up a bit until they learn how to chomp through it themselves.

No slightly spoiled meat for cats.  Dogs can handle meat that may be too spoiled for a human to consume (not rotten).  Cat’s can’t.  Their food needs to be fresh and should not be left out all day.  If they don’t eat it all, put it away.

Cats need taurine.  This is an essential amino acid that cats do not produce enough of on their own to remain healthy.  Taurine can be found in dark meats and heart meat.  Feed plenty of these meats or be prepared to supplement your raw fed cat.

Tips for a successful kibble to raw switch:

  • If the cat is free fed kibble, switch to regular meal times.  You can also switch to can food only then to raw.

  • Allow the food to come up to room temp.  You can warm it in a bowl of warm water, just not the microwave.  Never heat up raw bones in the microwave.  This will cook the bone and make it splinter.

  • Drizzle the raw with tuna juice.

  • Smear a little canned food on the raw or mix raw in with canned food.

  • Crush some dry kibble and sprinkle it over the raw.

  • “Accidentally” drop it on the floor and let the cat steal it.  Thinking it got something great.

Unlike dogs, you can mix dry kibble or canned cat food in with the raw in the beginning.  Dogs don’t need this.  Their digestive system can’t handle breaking down the two different types of food.  Just start using less and less kibble/wet food until they are eating full raw.

If your cat takes to raw feeding right away, you don’t need to use the suggestions above.

Again, I am not an expert nor a pet nutritionist.  I have several sources where I get my information from.  The best source for me is in a close Facebook group.  I encourage you to do your own research.

Feline Nutrition

So you are interested in Raw Feeding?

Here are some frequently asked questions from raw feeding newbies:

1.  How do I transition to raw feeding?

Typically when you are introducing new foods to your pet you are advised to start with a mix of new and old food to alleviate belly upset.  When moving to a raw diet, you do not need to mix kibble with raw food.  When you are ready to start feeding raw, just ditch the kibble and start feeding full raw.

2.  How do I know how much to feed?

The basic principle is this:

Feed 2% – 3% of your pet’s body weight.

If your pet is overweight and needs to shed some pounds start with 2% of the body weight.

If your pet is at an optimal weight, feed 2.5% of their body weight.

If your pet is skinny and needs to add a few pounds, feed 3% of their body weight.

Adjust as needed.

3.  I really want to feed raw, but it seems way too expensive.  How do I find quality food at a reasonable price?

STAY AWAY FROM THE GROCERY STORE

Source out a local butcher.  You should be able to get bulk food much cheaper from a butcher than from the grocery store.  If you live in Mesa, AZ, check out Midwestern Meats.  I get a 40# case of chicken leg quarters anywhere from $.79 per pound to $.99 per pound, depending on if they are having a sale.

When you are looking for a butcher, or source for meat, be sure to ask the following questions:

Does your meat contain antibiotics?

Is your meat injected with sodium?

Is your meat injected with water, flavors or any other additives?

You want to make sure the meat you are getting is free from added hormones, antibiotics, sodium and other additives.  Too much sodium is bad for your pets.  You want their meat to be as clean and minimally processed as possible.

Some times grocery stores will have great deals on meat.  If you are tempted to buy the discounted meat be sure the sodium is less than 100g per 4oz of meat.  Any more sodium and it will be too much.

4.  How do I know if my pet is getting a balance raw feeding diet?

Ideally your pet’s diet should consist of :

10% organ

10% bone

80% meat

Your pets should be consuming several proteins and organs for a balanced raw feeding diet.  Start out slow.  Chicken is the way to start.  Feed chicken only for the first couple of weeks.  Once your pet has solid poo consistently you can start adding other proteins.  Add one protein at a time so you can monitor their reaction.

Once you have been able to successfully add several proteins you can start adding organ meat.  Again, slowly, a little at a time, building up to 10% organ.

5.  I have always been told not to feed my pet bone.  It splinters.  But now you’re telling me to feed bone?

The bones in your pet’s raw diet is UNCOOKED.  Cooked bones are brittle and will splinter.  The bones to stay away from are weight baring bones of large animals.  These bones are super dense and are hard enough to break teeth.

Bones help firm stool.  Some dogs can’t handle 10% bone in their meals.  You will need to watch the poo and adjust as needed.  If the stool is too runny add more bone.  If it comes out white and hard, feed less bone.

6.  What about raw feeding my cat?

All the yeses!  Cats do great with raw feeding.  They follow the basic principles of raw feeding dogs.  There are some differences which will be discussed in a separate blog.

These questions were compiled from a Facebook group I am a part of.  Many people ask these very questions all the time.  I would suggest you ask to be added to the closed Facebook group, read every document in the files tab, scroll through the posts and read as much as you can from the people in this group.  They are very knowledgeable.

*Disclaimer:  I am not a veterinarian or animal nutritionist.  This information is not meant to replace veterinary care.  If you have questions or health related issues with your pet please consult with your vet.