Raw Diet for Pets F.A.Q.

When I explain to people that I’ve put my dog Moose on a species-appropriate diet, or when they see my cat Frankie munching on a chicken wing, I get A LOT of questions. I will share some of the legitimate and some of the outrageous comments and questions I’ve received and the answers (in my own opinion). I am certainly no raw-food diet professional but I am on this adventure and would love for as many people to join me as possible!!

“Won’t Raw food make my dog aggressive?”

Ok, really?

The answer is no. In my house feeding time is a ritual. Even when Moose ate kibble we ensured he was calm before feeding by putting our hands in his bowl and commanding him to leave the food on demand. Raw meat does bring dogs back to a primal way of being and dogs will kill for food in the wild. However, your dog won’t all of the sudden start dog fights and become stand-offish, just because of his diet. This is a training issue not a diet related issue. If your dog already has food aggression you must be aware and in control when feeding any food not just raw.

“Bones are dangerous!”

Yes – cooked bones are dangerous because they can splinter as opposed to crunch.Splintered bones can cause problems in the digestive track. Chicken bones, duck bones, turkey bones are all very safe if fed raw and chewed up properly. As a rule we do not feed weight-bearing bones of large animals (cow, deer etc) as they can crack or chip an overzealous dog’s teeth. However, dog’s teeth and jaws are built for crushing raw pliable bones and in fact NEED the dental work out to ensure healthy teeth and gums. This includes toy breeds and Chihuahuas!

Black ChihuahuaRaw food diet is too expensive and too much work.”

This opinion, in the end, is up to the individual. But if you know the price for your pet’s health please let me know. I know a lot of people who spend a lot of money in monthly vet bills constantly trying to find out and “diagnose” their dogs with their long lists of ailments. Poor nutrition and inadequate diet seem to be the number 1 topic of conversation.

But how can you put a price on your dog’s health?

In total I estimate that we spend $25.00 a week in raw meats and the essentials for our cat and dog. We have a large chest freezer full of meat and as the supply dwindles, I stock up. I keep meals that can be fed from frozen for the days I forget to defrost something so I am always prepared. I know a “good quality” bag of kibble can go for up to $90.00 – not to mention the frequent vet expenses that are often associated with this type of diet. As for the “work”, in my opinion it is not difficult at all. When you care to learn the basics, everything else makes sense, how would coyotes, dingoes or something relevant to the canine species eat in the wild? It is more complex then feeding Crackers and Chips in a measuring cup but still, not rocket science.

The 80 % (meat) 10% (bone) 10% (organ) is good way to look at your dog’s diet over time as opposed to this calculation all in one day. You can feed any kind of human grade non-enhanced or non-spiced raw meats. You can tell if you are feeding too much bone as the feces will be crumbly and to increase bone if stools are loose and dark.

“How much food and how often?”

The rule of thumb for feeding your pets raw is about 2%-3% of your dog’s weight. So, if your dog weighs 100lbs then he/she would eat about 2-3lbs of raw meat a day. However some dogs choose to eat less and other very active dogs may eat more. Dog’s on a raw diet often will tell you how much they are wanting to eat (self regulate) they may refuse a meal or two, this is normal. As long as they maintain a steady weight, you can feel ribs but not see them, they will be fine, think of their diet over time as opposed to every day. If they put on weight feed less,  and if they look a little too skinny- well, then feed more.

How often you feed your pet depends on your lifestyle and your pet’s preferences. I believe that if your dog does best on 1 meal a day that is ideal. As dogs and cats prepare to eat digestive enzymes in their stomach activate, helping to break down the meal effectively. Over treating and frequent feeding can tax the digestion process as the body prepares for a large meal but only receives a small portion. This can result in vomiting and consistent hunger. However, feeding once a day can cause some dogs to throw up bile from having an empty stomach. I have also heard that dogs prone to bloat may have issues with 1 feed a day. The beauty of raw feeding is that its whatever works for you and your dog. What works for one dog may not for another- so pay attention to your dog during and after feedings.

We feed Moose a breakfast snack – such as a tripe or offal cube – to help keep him satisfied until his dinner.

“We are all going to get E-Coli!!”

“But raw meat carries bacteria!” Yes, yes it does, and this bacterium can cause a human to get ill.

Bacteria is very much around you and your dog already. We are surrounded by bacteria, on our shoes, in the car, on our hands, our phones, laptops …..I could go on forever about the amount of bacteria we are faced with on a daily basis. Not to mention what your dog walks through and tracks into your house. Bacteria is everywhere including in kibble, just check any of the recent recalls of kibble tainted with mould, ecoli and salmonella. When preparing my dog and cat’s food for the day I disinfect the counter tops, wash the food bowls and of course my hands. Feed your dog somewhere contained either outside or in his/her empty crate to avoid contamination. One thing to keep in mind is that a dog’s digestive system is significantly different from ours. Dog’s digestion is a quicker process and their stomachs are very acidic, both of which deter bacteria growth. Bacterium does not live or persist in a canine’s mouth and, as raw-fed dogs generally have glowing pearly whites, there is no place for the bacteria to host.

The mouth of a kibble-fed dog is laden with bacteria and is an excellent host. Yes, some raw-fed dogs shed bacteria in their feces, but the long and the short of that is: don’t eat it, pick it up!

“If a Raw Diet is so great, then why hasn’t my vet recommended it?”

This answer is a little hard to swallow.

Most veterinarians only take 1 course (or less) on pet nutrition and the majority of the time this course is put on by someone like Hill’s Science Diet, like at the University of Guelph’s Veterinarian School. Hill’s will push their agenda of selling their “food” and veterinarians will be rewarded with years and years of unhealthy pets to pay their bills.

Vets are doctors of medicine NOT nutrition! This cannot be said for all Vets of course. I happen to be lucky in the fact that my vet doesn’t stare daggers at me when I tell her about my biologically-appropriate diet, but rather works with me on my preference to bring my dog and cat up raw and natural. There are many vets around now who support the raw diet, and more are becoming aware of the benefits.

“Where can I get raw dog food?”

There are a few places that specialize in raw dog food – Heronview Raw and Natural in Brooklin, Ontario is one of these places. They offer pretty much anything from beef, pork, chicken, rabbit, quail, lamb, salmon, and mackerel and conveniently packaged tripe, offal, other organs, and ground meats. If you do not know of or live close to a raw dog food supplier, than be a smart shopper. Go to the grocery store and seek out specials and sales and stock your freezer. Be sure not to get enhanced meat or meat injected with any extra sodium, a good sodium level should be about 100 mg of Sodium per 4 oz serving. Try asking your local butcher about what they do with their unusable cuts; your local butcher will likely know more about raw feeding than your vet!

“Should we use supplements?”

This again is up to the owner and the dog. I do not believe a properly adjusted raw diet requires the use of supplements, however Moose, my picky little puppy, will NOT eat any kind of fish. Instead, he chooses to roll in it! Because fish contains essential fatty acids and omega fatty acids that are vital to a healthy dog, we give him a hemp/fish oil supplement. Unless there is a reason your dog is not taking advantage of a complete diet or there are health concerns I do not give supplements.

What about Fruit & Veggies

This has to be one the biggest debates among raw feeders. In order for the nutrients of vegetables to become available to our dog’s bodies they must be pulverized. Since dogs are carnivores their teeth are made for meat eating- opposed to omnivores or herbivores whose teeth are flat meant meant for proper break down.

“Evolution has allowed dogs to live off  of kibble!”

Ha ha ha.

The only thing that has changed about dogs in the last couple hundred years are their looks. We have bred them to look and act how we want them to look and act and in some cases, we have bred them to the point where they can’t even breed themselves naturally (a lot of bulldogs must birth by caesarian section). Just because we have changed characteristics and traits of our dogs doesn’t mean their instincts and biological functions have evolved. If anything, in the last 60 years, we are seeing more and more sickly and diseased animals and the only thing that has changed is that we feed our dogs kibble! You don’t see dogs evolving out of the teeth they have for ripping and tearing flesh and it definitely doesn’t change their digestive systems.

In the end, this is a decision you must make, and you must believe in it. I suppose it is more work and I do have to wipe down my counter tops more often but for me, my pet’s health is worth it. I don’t have money to be paying for expensive vet visits and follow-up appointments for blood work, skin scrapings and fecal exams. Instead, I choose to feed my dog whole real ingredients and I get to share in the benefits of a healthy happy pet

Feeding Raw Meat will give my dog Worms and Parasites!…Why not cook it?

First of all, cooking, grinding and spoiling meat all cause a loss in the vital nutrients available to your dogs body. The more your alter its natural state the more amino acids, vitamins and minerals are destroyed. So do not ever cook your pets meals, as mentioned above bones molecular structure changes when cooked and become brittle and can splinter.

My first rule about feeding raw is that if it isn’t meant for human consumption then it isn’t meant for your pet. Raw fed pets tend to be in great health thus making themselves terrible hosts for parasites- a functioning immune system will take over. I have yet to hear of a single case of a dog getting worms because of raw feeding. Freezing in a deep freeze any wild game, salmon or other fresh fish can effectively eliminate the parasite.

Raw is an ALL protein diet

Many vets and other nay-sayers are under the illusion that a diet based on meat, bones and organs means a diet comprised of 100% protein.

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