So this last week has been an adventure into raw feeding… It hasn’t always been smooth sailing though! I discovered my dog and sardines do not mix and Trevor was sick all over a bus. Sorry Mr Bus Driver!!! However despite that one (rather major) hiccup, I am absolutely loving this journey into the unknown. On Friday I am getting a freezer just for the dog and heading up to Cardiff Raw Pet Supplies to fill said freezer.
I have only just started, so do not take this blog as gospel. It is purely a review of what I have found helps so far! There is SO much information out there it can be a bit overwhelming.
My mum feeds her Rottie and Labrador (Bo and Megan) raw and has done for a few months now, and look at how lovely they are!
Mum takes great delight in whatsapping me photos like these;
Initially when I mentioned to her that I was considering raw feeding, I was bombarded with books, websites and suggestions which was fantastic! However as I was a kibble feeder, new dog owner, and a new problem dog owner at that, it was all really rather overwhelming! Which method was best? Kibble and raw mixed? Prey Model? BARF? My mind was boggling and I did admittedly start bookmarking all the links Mum was sending me then not looking at them (sorry, Mum!)
I did however join some raw feeding groups on Facebook, the best I’ve found is Rawsome and Holistic! as they seem like a friendly bunch who won’t knock you for asking daft questions. I kept all this information in my peripheral and pondered the pros and cons (while also dealing with the multitude of Trevor’s other problems!) I kept him on a good quality kibble for the 3 months he was kibble fed (Burns Sensitive Duck and Brown Rice) but eventually decided that I needed to feed him the best I could afford. I worked out that it would cost me about the same to feed my dog good kibble as it would cost me to feed good raw, so why the hell was I feeding him kibble!? I toyed with the idea of doing a 50/50 kibble/raw for a bit, that lasted a total of a day before we went cold turkey (literally!) and got stuck into raw straight away.
At the moment he is being fed the Natures Menu minced meats range to start him off. So far he has had the minced chicken, minced turkey, minced chicken and rabbit and minced chicken and lamb. Trevor was quite easy to work out what he needed weight wise. I am going to try and explain this as coherently as possible!!
First thing to consider is, What is your dog like? Take into account his energy levels, exercise, size and weight. With Raw, it seems the diet is tailored to the individual dog. It’s not like scooping some food into a bowl and thinking ‘well that looks about right’. Trevor is 14.3kg, slim and very energetic. Most ‘normal’ dogs start on 2-3% of their bodyweight of food each day, so Trevor has been started at 2.7% of his bodyweight.
I recommend anyone that is considering raw feeding and confused by how much to feed to download the Raw Dog App. I am crap at maths, and I am a bit rubbish at working out weights and amounts. I’ve never been much good at baking etc so it helped me massively!
As you can see in this screenshot, I simply put in his weight in kilos (most vets let you weigh your dog for free, or Pets at Home have scales. I think it’s quite important to be accurate here!) and the percentage of bodyweight (again, this is down to the discretion of the owner) and it outputs how much food you should feed them. Simple!
So Trevor needs 0.386kg of food a day. He could do with putting on a bit of weight anyway and as the blocks come in 400g packets, he gets half for breakfast and half for dinner. Nice and easy! Any additional bits like eggs/veg I just add on top and consider it a ‘side’.
So here’s a checklist of everything I set up before making the change;
- Prices/quality of food being affordable and balanced
- Support on Facebook groups
- Research into what is ‘dog appropriate’ in raw diet
- MORE research
- Support and on hand advice from Mum!
My number one tip. START BLAND. My dog had never eaten raw before so it was undoubtedly a shock to his system! I started him with minced chicken and minced turkey. The standard (and easiest to understand) raw feeding model is 80/10/5/5. 80% meat, 10% bone, 5% liver, 5% other offal. Liver and offal is quite rich so we haven’t navigated that yet, so for now he is getting just mince and bone with the occasional egg thrown in. Some of Natures Menu frozen minces come with bone already in them so I didn’t need to worry about that.
Here is a photo of what his meals look like at the moment. Note how I feed the egg whole. Sometimes he eats the shell, sometimes he doesn’t. Either way it’s good for them! He gets an egg added every now and then.
How much tastier does this look compared to Bakers or Pedigree Chum? I went onto the Bakers website and pulled off the ‘Adult Chicken’ ingredients;
Cereals, Meat and animal derivatives (15%1 in the chunk, 8%2 in the brown & red kernels), Vegetable protein extracts, Derivatives of vegetable origin, Oils and fats, Various sugars, Vegetables (1% dried chicory root (natural ingredient), green & yellow kernels: 0.6 % dried vegetables, equivalent to 4% vegetables), Propylene glycol, Minerals.
Firstly, my dog is a carnivore, why would his food contain 15% animal derivatives? Various sugars just sounds ominous, as does ‘minerals’. To be honest, I couldn’t tell you exactly how any of those ingredients are made into biscuits. I have no idea what most of them are. Moreso, ‘cereals’ aren’t actually digestible by dogs, they are cheap fillers to make him feel more full for longer but in reality all you get is giant smelly poos!
Compare that list to my ingredients list of a standard meal for my dog;
Minced Chicken Carcass (90% chicken, 10% bone), egg.
Ummmm yeah… point made? And is my dog happy? Well you tell me…