Raw Food for Dogs
Raw feeding is about feeding a dog as close to Mother Nature's model as possible. Dogs have a DNA which is 99.8% identical to a gray wolf.
On average, a dog will consume around 2% of their ideal weight. Puppies will need more, senior dogs less.
Feed calculator here
For more info on how to transition go here
Below are the basic guidelines for raw feeding:
- At least 80% of a raw diet should consist of muscle meat.
- 10% diet edible bone
- 10% of the diet secreting organs [liver, kidney, spleen, etc] with 5% of the organs being liver.
Review this resource to help with ratio calculations: https://hare-today.com/raw_food_ratio_calculator.
You should NEVER feed any type of cooked bone to your dog!
Cooking softens the bone tissue and can lead to bone splinters puncturing the digestive tract
When you first start your dog on raw, introduce one protein source at a time. Chicken is usually started as the first protein because of the higher bone content, which helps keeps stools firm. I go into more detail on this on the Questions and Answers below.
Fast you dog for 12 hours so all kibble has been eliminated form the stomach and start on raw.
Feeding puppies is just as easy as feeding large dogs.. I start puppies off at 2%-3% of their expected adult body weight. Puppies up to 6 months should be fed 3 meals per day. 6 months -1 year 2 meals. Over 1 year 1 meal a day. Some people choose to feed adult dogs 2 meals a day which is fine but no nutritional reason to do so unless dealing with specific health issues where more frequent feedings may be needed.
A note on bacteria: Raw meat is not safe for humans because of bacteria like e-coli and Salmonella. But, carnivores digestive systems have some natural immunity to bacteria, and can handle the bacteria in meat without issue, when in good overall health. Truth be told, bacteria is everywhere (take a sample of kibble and have it analyzed sometime, you would be amazed!) Dogs eat poop, road kill and lick their behinds every day. Their system is different from ours. If we ate the stuff they did, WE would get sick. Dogs have a short digestive system made to handle raw meat and bones, the bacteria that is present isn't a problem for a healthy dog.
Handling Raw Food
Follow safe handling practices just the same as you do when preparing meat for your family.
Fridge time: 2-3 days
Freezer time: If a freezer stays at 0 F or lower, meats will keep for 1 year minimum
Defrosting: Do not defrost frozen meat and poultry products at room temperature. Keeping the products cold during defrosting is the key to preventing bacteria from growing.
Thaw in fridge. I find it is easier to open the chub bags while frozen by cutting down the side and putting the frozen meat in a bowl to thaw. You want to feed the blood as well.
To defrost meat or poultry products in cold water, do not remove original packaging. Be sure the package is airtight or put it into a leak-proof bag before submerging the product completely in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes so that it continues to defrost.
Wash hands thoroughly in hot, soapy water before and after handling meat and other fresh foods.
Wash all utensils, cutting surfaces and counters with hot, soapy water after contact with meat and poultry. If possible, use a separate cutting board for fresh meat and poultry products.
Keep fresh meat and meat juices away from other foods, both in the refrigerator and during preparation.
More info on raw diets
Questions and Answers
Q: I have a couple questions. I find myself looking at more & more raw feeding forums, to be honest, confusing the heck out of myself!
Some say feeding ground meat is fine, other say no. One thing I am afraid of is a dog having a problem chewing bones. You sell both ground and whole meats, heck I see you sell whole animals! Is ground that bad?
If I decided to try raw, what is the best thing to start with? I'm so afraid of doing something wrong and I'm very afraid of my two dogs not getting all they need to be healthy. You have such an assortment of proteins, I'm at a loss of where to start and what to do. Is there a "starter kit" for newbies such as myself?
A: You will find conflicting info from different raw feeders. You have the whole prey feeders that believe you should never feed ground, you have people that will tell you to add fruits and vegetables so yes it can be confusing.
This is my opinion. Do dogs need ground up food? No, this is a human issue not a dog issue as canine teeth are very capable of chewing bone except leg bones of large ungulates.
However, do I think it hurts to feed ground meats/bones/organs... no. The reason some people say not to feed ground is due to more bacteria being on the surface of ground meats compared to non ground. Also the nay sayers will tell you that you don't know what is in ground and so you are better off feeding whole pieces as this way you have more control. Both these points are valid points but I believe you have to trust the source.
Many raw food companies grind backs or necks and then add fruits or vegetables to the grind. In my opinion this is not a good option. Pieces of meat such as backs or necks are way to high in bone and not enough meat and in order to keep the food from causing major constipation issues they add the vegetables and fruits. To me this is a way of "cheeping out" and is not needed in a carnivores diet. There is no nutritional need for carbohydrates, fruits or vegetables in a dog or cats diet.
I believe our business is the exception to the rule here. Number one I don't grind pieces of anything. We ground whole carcasses such as whole rabbit, goat, turkey, duck, etc. The only exception to this is our beef/bone/organ/tripe mix as I cant grind leg bones in my grinder as beef leg bones are very dense.
I also grind everything frozen. My grinder is a 25 h.p commercial grinder [pictures on the face book link] and is capable of grinding frozen. The ground mix is immediately put into the stuffer where it portions out in the appropriate weights needed to fill the chub meat bags. As soon as it is stuffed the food goes into the walk in freezers which is at -30 degrees.
What I typically recommend to people starting out is to do what makes you the human comfortable. Most people do start out with ground products. Once feeding for a while you evolve and you should feed meaty edible bones also. The benefit of feeding meaty bones is jaw exercise as well as the benefit of teeth cleaning. By ripping and chewing the meat the teeth also get cleaned [natures toothbrush].
When feeding meaty bones especially if you have a dog that gulps food the secret is to feed bigger pieces. If you feed very large pieces the dog cant swallow this whole and will have to work at chewing the food
What I personally do is feed a combination of both ground meat/bone/organs, some meaty bones and then also I feed some boneless meats and organs. Variety is the key to raw feeding. You are not aiming to feed a "complete and balanced" meal at every serving but to achieve the balance over time by feeding variety. You should aim for 80% meat, 10% edible bone and 10% organ meats. Out of the 10% organ meats 5% of this should be liver as liver is the largest organ in the body.
On our ground meats this will vary a bit as different meats have different bone contents but these are all whole animals so you will get the balance over time. This is not rocket science. Your dog is a wolf in designer clothing. Their DNA is 99.8% identical to the gray wolf. Feed your dog how wolves eat. Primary meats of a wolf would be red meats and this should be the staple of the diet. Some examples of red meats would be beef, goat, sheep, pork, venison, bison, etc.
Can you feed poultry, fish, rabbit? Certainly as wolves would eat what they can find but the staple would be red meats and this is how I feel a dog should eat.
How to start. Most people recommend chicken to start with. Even though eventually you will be feeding more red meats then poultry, chicken is a good start as it has a bit higher bone content and will help keep the stools firmer doing the transition.
Feed this only for 3-5 weeks. After that add a second meat source such as beef, pork or goat. Alternate the 2 for a couple weeks. Then add a third meat source and so on and so on.
When determining the amount to feed you base it on the dogs IDEAL body weight. My experience has been that smaller dogs typically eat 3% of their body weight per day. Larger dogs eat 2% per day. If after a couple weeks you notice the dog is loosing or gaining weight on the amount you are feeding increase or decrease the food a bit.
Another question I am frequently asked is supplements. Cats need some basic supplements. Dogs do not if fed a good variety. The only supplement I have ever fed my dogs is either salmon oil or sardine/anchovy oil [also good for cats] as this is high in Omega 3 fatty acids and great for the skin and coat.
If you have a dog with mobility issues, recovering from an injury or an aging dog I also recommend the green lipped muscle powder.
Q: I have fed my dogs raw with success, but wanted to try my own feeding instead of Premade, or other type manufacturers. I have dogs, and one has horrible allergies. I have spent quite a bit of money and many anxious days trying to find the right foods for him. He is definitely allergic to poultry, and most likely grain, but until he's allergy tested, I won't know for sure.
I like raw, but have started seeing a holistic vet who recommended putting him on 'cool' meats such as goat or rabbit. Rabbit/goat is hard to find, so I've been using freeze-dried raw for practical reasons. Having recently rescued another dog, I want to put them all on the same diet, and really can't wait to get them started with your products. I really think feeding them the straight raw diet will eliminate his ailments.
Sorry for the lengthy email, here's my questions. Do you recommend switching your meats? I read where you said variety is the key.
My husband is squeamish about the raw to begin with, and he gets queasy when he watches them eat meaty bones. SO (sigh)...do you think the ordering rabbit and goat (with bone and organ) would be enough variety? I think beef/bison would be okay, but I'll double check with the vet; I'm also going to show her your other meat sources, that aren't poultry, and get feedback. Is it okay to switch daily, or do you recommend switching meat sources daily, weekly, monthly, etc? Lastly, thank you for making this product and info available.
The number of vets pushing kibble is ridiculous; one I went to hadn't even really heard of any raw diets. When I adopted these sweet babies, I wanted to give them the best possible. I truly believe you will help me do that, thanks again!
A: I am not a vet but been feeding raw 15 years now and been in business that long as well. Emails like yours I get pretty much on a daily basis. I can not tell you specifically what you should do with your pets as I am not a vet but will share my experiences with you and you can make your own decisions.
When people tell me their animal is allergic to poultry it typically is not the poultry [or other meats] that is the issue.
- A lot of the poultry [as well as pork] offered these days are enhanced. An enhanced solution is injected into the meat. Typically this is salt, sugar, possibly MSG, etc. The solution is what causes skin and allergy issues NOT the meat itself. It is very rare for an animal to be allergic to meat. Read sodium contents if purchasing meat form the grocery store or contact the manufacturer if buying pre-made, the sodium content should be less then 100 mg per 4 ounce serving. Any more then that it is enhanced. Even labeling can be tricky as some producers label all natural and still enhance with salt which is a natural ingredient. Also if buying kosher meats this also is very high in sodium.
- Premade raw or dehydrated products usually contain added ingredients [my products do not]. These added ingredients are fruits, vegetables, herbs, yeast, etc. You must read ingredients. Fruits and root based vegetables such as carrots and sweet potatoes are high in sugar. Sugar converts to yeast which can cause skin and ear issues. There is no nutritional need for either in a carnivores diet.
Cooling foods: This is based on Chinese medicine. Personally I don't buy into that and would only try that as a last resort once all inappropriate ingredients where eliminated and was feeding a proper raw diet for 6 months minimum and then if there where no improvements then possibly try that as a last resort. Also vaccines can cause long term immune issues. If vaccinosis is suspected a classic homeopath needs to be consulted. This is NOT the same as a vet advertising as holistic. Just because a vet advertises as holistic does not mean they are knowledgeable on a raw diet or vaccine issues. I have met a few that have had no clue!
Allergy testing: Unreliable and I would not waste my money. Only way to know of a true allergy is by doing an elimination diet. An elimination diet is feeding one meat only [with bones and organs] for 2 months. Ideally using a novel protein the dog has not had before. After that you introduce 1 new meat into the diet every couple weeks. This way if your dog has a true allergy it is very easy to pinpoint but again this is very very rare.
Switching meats: Variety is the key to raw feeding and with dogs red meat should be the staple. Your dog is a wolf in designer clothing and has a DNA which is 99.8% identical to a gray wolf. If you research what wolves eat in the wild their primary source of food is large ungulates [red meats] I have a sample of how I feed my dogs at the bottom of the page.
When first starting raw you do not want to add to much variety to soon. You will work up to this as you progress. Start with one meat protein for the first couple weeks. If you don't want to start with poultry which is recommended because of higher bone content [see above question] you can certainly start with another meat such as goat, llama, rabbit, etc.
This is good info on wolves diets. Dr David Mech is the foremost authority on wolves and this is his research http://www.wolf.org/learn/basic-wolf-info/wolf-faqs/#r
Squeamish partners: If you choose to own a carnivore then you must do right by them and feed them as mother nature intended. If your comfort level is to start with ground products then do that. Try to work up to at least some meaty bone meals as you dog will benefit from ripping and chewing which helps keep the teeth clean.
How I Feed My Dogs
I get a lot of emails asking for a sample of how I feed my dogs.
Here is a 2 week sample of what I feed. My dogs are all adults and are fed once a day.
- Sunday: Beef trim or heart
- Monday: Large goat bone
- Tuesday: Ground beef/bone/organ/tripe
- Wednesday: Pork heart with pork liver
- Thursday: Ground tripe/spleen
- Friday: Ground/pork/bones/organs
- Saturday: Beef gullet and ground beef organs
- Sunday: Ground tripe/spleen
- Monday: Pork trim or heart
- Tuesday: Ground venison/beef blend
- Wednesday: Ground llama/bones/organs
- Thursday: Chicken necks with some boneless poultry added
- Friday: Meaty beef or mutton bones with beef kidney
- Saturday Ground beef/bones/organs/tripe
I also give them salmon oil or sardine/anchovy oil for the Omega 3 fatty acids. On days that they are not fed ground meats that I can squirt the oil in I give them a raw egg with the oil. I also supplement with the GLM powder for my older dogs which is either mixed with ground meats or added to an egg.