Why feed raw?
Dogs in the wild did not have little cooked pellets that contained cooked vegetables and grains (or cooked meat, for that matter), thus their systems are not made for digesting these ingredients. A raw diet is a direct evolution of what dogs ate before they became our pets.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Cooked bones run the risk of splintering- NEVER feed cooked bones!
How to start feeding raw?
When you first start your dog on raw, introduce one protein source at a time. Feed chicken for a week, then beef for a week, and so on, to introduce these foods to your pet’s system. This way you can easily detect a protein allergy. Once the food is introduced you should have no problem varying meat daily during normal weeks.
A note on bacteria: This was one of my concerns when we starting looking into the raw option. Raw meat is not safe for humans because of bacteria like e-coli and Salmonella. But, canine digestive systems are have some natural immunity to bacteria, and can handle the bacteria in meat without issue, when in good overall health. Also washing hands and all utensils in warm soapy water after handling raw meats is just good hygiene to practice.
How much to feed?
The general rule is to feed a healthy adult dog between 2-4% of its weight daily, and then adjust as needed. If you have an overweight dog, start on the lower end of the spectrum, if you have a dog who needs to gain a little bit of weight, start closer to 4%. You will also be able to judge by looking at your dog- if he is looking a little thin, bump up his meat intake. Puppies may require up to 10% of their weight daily during growth. Raw diets are ideal for growing puppies, too, but they can’t eat all the same bones an adult dog can. Give puppies non-weight-bearing bones, as their young teeth can’t handle thicker bones. Each pet should be fed depending on their caloric needs. If your pet is very active we recommend feeding 1lb of our formula for every 20lbs body weight of your pet. Less active pets can be given 1lb of our formulas for ever 30lbs of body weight. Again let your pet’s appetite and physical shape be your guide. Like people each animal has different nutritional and caloric needs.
How to switch to raw diets?
Start off slow. The biggest mistake most “newbies” make is to add too much variety too soon! A very rough transition that involves lots of midnight trips outside. So, start slowly. Pick one protein source and feed that for about a week (or more—it depends on your dog!). Many people start with chicken because it is an easily digestible protein source that is relatively inexpensive and is easy to get. A dog fed raw diet prepares its digestive system for the incoming food, and satisfies the dog both mentally and physically. Work up to variety slowly.
Do not worry about achieving “balance” with a wide variety of raw meaty bones and organs right away. You are in a whole different realm now where balance is a useless, meaningless term. You must work up to variety slowly, and over a period of time. There is no need to rush things, as rushing can cause you and your dog undue misery in the form of early morning trips outside with diarrhea, etc. Your pet is not going to suffer from eating one food source for a period of time—the raw food source it will be eating is superior in quality to any kibbled food and contains just what your pet needs nutritionally. Let your dog’s system adjust to eating real food. Remember, your dog (or cat) has been eating a grain-based, hard-to-digest, artificial food that is WAY different from fresh, real food. The dog may have a suppressed immune system and possibly suppressed digestive enzymes, and just needs time to get its system up and running.
Once your pet is used to eating the raw you are giving him, try adding something new: a new protein. Again, take things slowly. Let your pet adjust to the new food for a while before adding another new food. Always add slowly, and always give the animal time to adjust to the new food. And remember: you do not have to do this alone. Switching puppies to a raw diet is just as simple, if not simpler! Most puppies take to raw food very readily. You can either switch them to raw food once they get home, or you can give them a few days to adjust to their surroundings before switching food. Better yet, before you even get a puppy, search for a naturally rearing breeder that feeds raw and minimally vaccinates their dogs. They will also be able to discuss the finer points of holistic rearing and the risks of vaccination with you. Please note that not all naturally rearing breeders will feed a prey-model raw diet. Many feed a variation of the BARF-type diet, which is still superior to commercial foods.
What is in my bowl?
There are a few possibilities. First there are additives to ki**le to make it addictive to dogs. Raw food won’t have as strong a smell so your dog may not realize that what you’ve put in front of him/her is actually food. Sometimes tuff love is required to convince them otherwise. Give your dog 10 to 15 minutes. If he/she is showing no interest in the food casually take it up and put it in the fridge for next meal time. DO NOT offer anything else until next meal time. At the next meal time offer the SAME thing that was refused at the previous meal and repeat the process. Some dogs have been known to hold out two or three days, or longer, before they decide to accept raw food. Believe me this is tougher on the human than on the dog. I know you will be tempted to give your dog a snack. Resist the temptation for your dog’s sake. A healthy dog will not starve himself/herself. There are some medical reasons why your dog may not want to eat what you’re offering. Periodontal disease is quite common in ki**le fed dogs. If your dog’s mouth is in bad shape and causing him/her pain he/she may be reluctant to eat RMBs(Raw Meaty Bones). If you suspect that there might be a medical reason why your dog is reluctant to eat you should have him/her checked out by a vet.