Home prepared Raw Dog food
I want to begin here by saying I have never exclusively fed my own dogs a home made raw dog food. I have fed some dogs in my care (Dog kennel facility) raw meals that were provided by their owners. Those that have switched to raw have told me that canine tartar removal is no longer needed, a huge plus for dogs that are prone to teeth decay. I am considering changing the diet of my dogs to more of a raw diet so I had to do a considerable amount of research on this. Here is some of what I learned….
Important points in Raw Diets
- The calcium and phosphorus ratio should be 1:1. Meats are high in phosphorus, bones are high in calcium and fish, eggs and tripe have a balanced ratio.
- Organ meat (Liver and kidneys) should not exceed 15% of the raw diet and should be from Organic meat. Why? The liver is responsible for filtering the blood and the kidneys filter other liquids, organs such as these can collect a lot of toxic substances. From my research, I recommend feeding liver/kidneys as part of the raw diet no more than once a week.
- chicken feet, beef trachea, tails, testicles and pizzles (penis) are rich in natural chondroitin and glucosamine which help to build healthy joints.These parts can be included in a dog’s raw diet as a supplement but should not be the main part of the diet.
- Pork or Salmon should be frozen for 2 weeks before feeding to kill any parasites that might be in the flesh.
- The above Raw bones are safe to feed however, meal times should always be supervised in case your dog eats too fast and chokes on too large of a piece.
- Cooked bones are NOT a good idea to feed dogs, as they fragment into sharp pieces that do not digest very well. Raw bones digest well because they still contain natural enzymes. Cooked bones do not..
- Grass fed or Organic sources are best of course, with fewer toxins, hormones etc.
Raw Dog food ingredients
Every meal does not need to be ‘balanced’, what is important is that the raw diet is relatively balanced over the long run. There is no research to prove beyond any doubt, of what a perfect balanced dog food is anyway.For your own meals, you don’t sit down and figure out the exact percentages of protein, carbs, vitamins and minerals in your meals, and you certainly don’t have to do this for your dog’s meals.
There are some general guidelines that many dog owners follow with good results however.
RAW MEATY BONES can make up 40% of a dogs diet including chicken backs, wings, necks or even whole carcasses, This can include chicken backs, wings and necks (or even whole carcasses), necks from turkey, lamb, pork, ox tails, beef ribs, turkey tails; any meaty bone that can be completely eaten because they are softer bones. If you are feeding meatier sources of bones like turkey or lamb necks, that percentage could be about 50%. If your choices of bones are primarily chicken backs, pork necks, wings or ribs that have less meat on them, your percentage of these would be about 30% of the diet.
Large, weight bearing bones such as marrow and knuckle bones are only considered recreational chewing bones but beware, too many of these can cause intestinal impaction and will wear down teeth.
For the remainder of the diet…
Essentially cow stomach, dogs love it and it is very rich in probiotics, digestive enzymes, fatty acids and has the perfect ratio 1:1 of calcium/phosphorous in addition to many other nutrients. Do not use the bleached version but rather what they call ‘green tripe’. I have fed this to dogs in my care, and it is rather smelly so be prepared for that! Green tripe for dogs is already minced or cut up, packaged raw or canned to be served to dogs alone or mixed into other meal formulas. The photo above is natural Tripe, which is the lining of a cow, sheep or ox’s stomach. Tripe is also part of many human diets… I honestly can’t imagine myself eating tripe!
A few times per week, a bit of muscle meats should be included (cuts of meat that you would eat), added to the Raw meaty bones ratio above. Raw fish fillets are great too.
Raw eggs with the shells included have a ratio of 1:1 (calcium to phosphorous). The raw egg white however prevents the absorption of Biotin, so eggs should not be fed more than 3 times per week. Eggs are in my opinion, the perfect food, if they are from organically raised chickens. I feed my dogs a raw egg each on their present diet of high quality kibble 3 times per week. They absolutely love their eggs this way.
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
The kibble that I feed my dogs have a wide variety of vegetables and some fruits added but of course they are baked into the kibble formula.
One could completely skip the vegetables and fruits but personally I believe dogs do well with them in the right proportions.
Vegetables as a general rule are easier for a dog to digest when lightly cooked or steamed. What some of my clients have done with them is to run the vegetables and fruits of their choice through a blender or food processor and then mix this into a ground up mix of the raw meat.These clients then would pack this mix into meal sized portions and freeze them, often preparing a months supply at one time.
When I did my research, I noticed that some some sites quoted the 40% above, of the softer meaty bones and 50% of the less meaty bones… however they neglected to mention what the remaining percentage was made up of? Going on to other sources, 25% of the diet could be vegetables and fruits like sweet potatoes (yams), chard, broccoli, carrots, apples, blueberries and others depending too on availability. Again, dogs digest vegetables better when they are run through a food processor or lightly steamed.
Adding some Flax oil, probiotics or digestive enzymes and kelp powder are also ingredients that many add to their dogs raw or cooked diet to complete the diet.
Handling raw foods for dogs should be done the same way you would do handling raw hamburger, meat cuts or raw fish in preparation for cooking for yourself. Washing hands, utensils, work surfaces etc. with hot soapy water.
Easing into a raw diet
If your dog has been on kibble for it’s life so far, you should ease into a raw diet, adding some raw foods a little at a time and reducing the kibble at the same time. With some robust dogs, you can jump right in and feed the raw diet in it’s entirety but with most, you should take it slow or diahrrea will result. Dogs with very sensitive stomachs should probably not be switched onto a raw diet, but rather a homemade cooked diet instead.
If you’re like me and really don’t want to do so much extra food preparation as I already have so much animal care to do… the next option is one that is becoming very popular
Prepared Raw Dog Food
Pet supply stores have jumped on the ‘bandwagon’ of prepared raw dog foods, sold frozen. A couple of my clients buy raw ground and frozen Turkey or chicken to feed to their 2 dogs. The supplier grinds up whole raw turkeys and or chickens,without the guts and feathers. This ground up mix of bones and flesh is formed into foot long cylindrical shapes, frozen and packed. They have medium sized dogs, one eats only one 6 inch section per day and other eats 3/4 of the 1 foot piece per day, divided into 2 and 3 meals respectively. Their dogs have done very well, are very healthy and happy, with no more digestive upsets (that were happening on kibble).
These frozen prepared raw dog foods are often sold in patties, or in sausage shapes or sold in containers. Some have vegetables and fruits added and others are just the ground up meat and bones. Check out your Pet Stores that offer these foods and you will see the variety. You can also buy frozen foods online!
During my research
I discovered that part of the appeal of the raw diet for dogs is that you really do not need any ‘recipes’. What I learned is that about 50% should be the meaty bones, the remainder more of the flesh meat, or fish or chicken, turkey etc., throw in a few eggs per week and you have a complete diet. You can add raw vegetables and fruit but they shouldn’t be more than 25% of the meal.
Most raw diets do not have fruits and vegetables added. To make more sense of this, I found an awesome book on Ebay that will answer all your questions on raw diets. I have provided the link to it here from Ebay...Raw and Natural Nutrition for dogs (new revised edition).
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