Raw feeding is not something you go into lightly, it does not entail me just setting down some raw minced beef in my dogs bowl and leaving them to it. I did an stupid amount of research before committing to this and changing my daily routine to accommodate this change.
The first thing I looked into was how I wanted to raw feed? Did I want to use complete meals? Did I want to DIY? and most importantly which diet did I want to follow: BARF or PRM? I very quickly decided that I did not want to use complete meals as similarly to kibble I did not know what was being put into them. That I could DIY and use a manufactured mince so as much as I feel I DIY-ed I have never truly been a DIY raw feeder. Finally; I guess I use a mixture of both diets and add in their fruits and vegetables. I believe appropriate fruits and veg will give dogs certain vitamins they need as well as being a nice sweet treat.
What is BARF?
It’s an acronym for Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods Diet, which consists of raw meat, bones, fruits & vegetables whilst eliminating processed foods including grains. A complete BARF diet will consist of: meat, bones, liver, offal, fruit & veg.
What is PRM?
An acronym for Prey Model Raw and this model is a homemade diet that replicates that of a wild canine without them actually having to kill the animals themselves, also eliminating processed foods and grains. Now some dogs do not take well to this kind of diet as they prefer their food without fur and feathers but that will vary per dog. A complete BARF diet will consist of: meat, bones, liver & offal.
Why did we choose raw?
Our oldest dog Wren (11 months) is quite fussy with her food and alongside an intolerance we can’t quite put our fingers on at the moment, we decided to make the switch when she was around 4.5 months old. We tried various bags of kibble of differing flavours; none seemed to either tempt her to eat or stop her itching. Now when I say itching this wasn’t just the odd scratch here and there; she would make her self red raw with the scratching and the biting which on occasion led to a pyoderma (an infection in the skin treated by antibiotics). However, when we put the raw food down for he very first time she ate and she ate the whole bowl which we were overjoyed at and have been feeding raw ever since. It was only natural when Raven came along to also feed her a raw diet.
What are the benefits of raw?
- Shinier coat – many raw feeders claim that this is a benefit they see, there is no evidence to support this but many short coat dog owner will vouch for this statement.
- Healthier teeth – Chewing on raw bones will remove plaque better then any dental chew.
- Fewer allergies – as mentioned above Wren’s intolerances has cleared up since switching to raw, this could be down to not eating additives and preservatives that are put into manufactured dog food.
- Better behaviour/ decreased hyperactivity – Without the additives I found a decrease in how hyper each dog is (hard to tell with a husky but she has calmed a little) This is down to less sugar in their diets.
- Less obesity – Less sugar in a diet means a healthier dog, the decrease in sugar should mean the less fat your dog will retain.
- Reduces risk of bloat – more research needs to be done into this as the cause of bloat has not yet been found there is only preventative measures in place. However; its has been suggested due to the quick digestion time and less gas that this will help reduce the risk of bloat.
- Healthier anal glands – As poops are firmer in nature from raw feeding anal glands are able to express naturally most of the time, eliminating the need for them to be expressed by the vets.
- Smaller and less smelly poops – Poops are smaller due to the body being able to absorb more nutrients from the food leaving less waste. The smell improves greatly (you would be surprised at the difference) due to the quick digestion of raw food; usually within 4 – 5 hours. Kibble can be sitting in the gut for 2 days before fully digested producing gases and many smells before being excreted.
There are of course some risks when raw feeding however these are all able to be kept very low with care and supervision. The spread of bacteria is a very simple one to minimise ensuring you have a separate area in your fridge for the dogs food or even better their own fridge and ensuring you have a good cleaner to clean your surfaces. Hot soapy water will suffice for your dogs bowl. The risks of eating bone are: damaged teeth, damage to internal organs and potentially chocking hazards. You should never give a bone you think is too hard for your dog to chew and always supervise your dogs when eating bones. Weight bearing bones such as femurs and knuckles will be too hard to chew so should not be fed, chicken bones will be the softest bones to chew and digest.
Common mistakes made by a rawbie
- Not researching and learning about what they are doing and jumping straight in
- Not transitioning correctly
- Not sticking to the guidelines and feeding the wrong quantities, usually bone
- Mixing kibble and raw food
- Too many supplements too soon
Dogs Diner, Merseyside
So where can you get your raw food from? We get ours from Dog’s Diner; a raw food supplier Wirral, Merseyside. They deliver if we need them to but the dogs and I love going to the beach which is a 5 minute drive from their shop.
They have an amazing shop in which we can take the dogs (don’t tell them but Wren loves going and licking all their treats they have on display 🙂 it’s like going to the supermarket but occasionally you see a few eyes staring back at you. There is a great selection of branded foods and flavours, something for everyone.
Dog’s Diner offer are passionate about their customers and if your new to raw feeding before you start buying; you sit down with an experienced member of the team and have a consultation. This involves weighing, meal plans, how to raw feed & finding a routine best for you. I seriously recommend taking a consultation before you start and talking to someone with years and years of experience.
Please get in touch and let us know your raw feeding journeys or if you need a little help starting out on your journey. To read the next post in the series; transitioning your pet to raw click here.