How to get started with RAW feeding your dog
What is Raw dog feeding?
Raw feeding basically means mimicking a dog’s natural diet that they would have in the wild. A dog’s digestive system is the same as that of a wolf and is designed to digest their prey including raw meat, bones, and organs. Dogs were eating this diet a very long time before dog kibble was invented for man’s convenience; a raw diet basically lets their digestive system do what it was made to!
A raw diet consists of around 75-85% fresh meat, the other 15-25% is made up of vegetables, organs and animal bones as well as other natural ingredients designed to give your dog a well-balanced and healthy diet.
Why feed your dog a Raw diet?
Dog foods often claim to be good for your dog’s health, but on closer inspection they can contain sugars, meat meals and meat derivatives. There are many benefits of feeding a raw diet, here are some of them:
Easier to digest and beneficial for sensitive doggie tummies
Less allergies / food intolerances than with kibble
Fresher breath, cleaner healthy teeth and gums
Less hyperactivity, balanced energy levels
Robust immune system
Reduces inflammatory issues and supports healthy joints
Healthier skin and less itching
Lean muscle tone
Better weight management
Can be expected to suffer less illness and disease
So, you can see there are many benefits of feeding your dog a raw diet, now let’s look at how to get started.
Different types of Raw feeding:
BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods) – This is the easiest way to start raw feeding your dog and how most people get into raw feeding. BARF consists of feeding your dog a mixture of raw meat, bones, fruit and vegetables. These are carefully mixed to mimic a dog’s natural diet in the wild.
PREY – A Prey diet aims to feed whole prey wherever possible. This can include whole chickens, rabbits and other whole animals that dogs would naturally hunt in the wild.
How much Raw food should you feed to your dog?
You can split your dog’s Raw food into 2 equal meals per day
As a starting point look to feed your dog around 2-3% of their ideal adult body weight in Raw food.
If your dog is very active you may need to feed a little more, or a little less for less active dogs. All dogs are different just like we are. I have 3 dogs and they are all fed different amounts but are all around the same weight! Proving that no 2 dogs are the same, they all have different metabolisms.
The easy way to check if you are feeding correctly is to run your hands over the dog’s ribs, you should be able to feel their ribs under a light layer of fat and you should be able to see a waistline. When you take your dog for their annual checkup at the vets get them to weigh and check your dog’s weight. They will help advise you on any weight issues.
Puppies need more nutrition so should be fed about 8% of their puppy weight up to about 6 months and then this will gradually reduce till they get to 12 months of age. For smaller and miniature dog’s the percentages will be higher, seek advice from your raw food supplier or breeder if they feed a raw diet. Raw food suppliers carefully prepare puppy raw dinners and these will ensure the mix is correct for them, e.g. the bone content won’t exceed 15% up to 3 months old, and there won’t be too much liver to cause runny tummies. Feeding a puppy a higher percentage in these formative months will help give them all the nutrients they need to build strong healthy teeth and bones as they grow at such a fast rate.
What to feed your dog
Aim to feed a balanced and varied Raw diet over the course of each week and change things up to include different meats where possible.
Ideal combination is: 80% raw meat, 10% bone, 10% offal (half of this should be liver).
Dogs should have 2-3% of their ideal adult body weight each day but this does not need to be exact and can be evened out over the week.
You can adjust this depending on their level of activity / if they are under or overweight…
How to change to a Raw dog diet
Probably the best way to make the change is to fast your dog for a day so that all the kibble processed diet is out of his system first. Then switch straight across to raw food. Good raw food suppliers provide a lot of help and support to their customers to help them move across. They only want the best for your dog.
DON’T mix kibble and raw food – they are digested at different rates. The kibble slows down the digestion of the raw food and allows the possibility of bacteria being able to flourish.
Stick to one or a couple of types of meat for the first couple of weeks to avoid upset tummies – tripe is a good option to begin with as dogs find this extremely tasty and easy to digest.
Most raw food companies include offal as a percentage of their complete raw food meals.
The same process for puppies although split into 3 meals/day to start with until around 6 months old.
Once your dog is used to their Raw food diet you can look to introduce Raw treats too.
Keep a close eye and always supervise your dog when giving them Raw meaty bones – choking hazard.
Oakington Dog Day Care Centre will soon be a Raw food stockist!
We love Raw food so much at Oakington Dog Day Care Centre that we’ve decided to stock Raw food ourselves. We have been feeding a raw diet to our dogs for the last 6.5 years and haven’t looked back. Floyd our Golden Retriever suffered from hot spots when the kibble manufacturers changed their recipes every now and then, and of course they don’t advertise when they change their recipe and maybe substitute a cheaper ingredient. We believe that a raw diet keeps our dogs in tip top condition and in good health generally.
Our dear dogs have been product testing a variety of complete raw dog food over the last couple of months. A job they have taken very seriously and enjoyed no end. We were preparing our raw diet for our dogs from scratch and have found that as time is short for us now, we wanted to revert back to having someone do all the preparation for us.
We hope to soon have decided on which brand we will stock, we are compiling our short list as I write. We are looking to stock a variety of complete raw food dinners and a selection of raw meaty bones. We hope our raw food diet customers will enjoy the convenience of being able to collect their raw food when they collect their dogs from our doggie day care and grooming facilities.