For various reasons, many pet owners are hesitant to switch their animals to a raw, meaty bone diet (RMB). Whether their fears are related to sanitary conditions, ease of serving or choking I have found that these fears are quickly diminished when one begins serving a RMB diet. The three animals that benefit most from a RMB diet are dogs, cats and ferrets. I personally have two Mini Schnauzers so this article will focus on my experience with feeding these two dogs a RMB diet.
Both of my dogs are three years old and over the last few years I have diligently tried to find a food that truly works for them. We started out with Nutro Natural Choice, but at about two years old one of my dogs would no longer touch it. After a bit of research I found out that Nutro switched to a different manufacturer and whatever the difference was, my dog did not like it.
My second dog I adopted when he was about two years old and his previous owners had him on Eukanuba, he had a bad odor and some sort of skin condition that made it look like he had scratch marks all over. I bought him a small bag of this and a small bag of Blue Buffalo for my other dog thinking this would be the food I’d switch both of them to. Neither dog would touch either of the foods even if I mixed them. Since these were the first two dogs I had ever had I was forced to guess what to do so I put some Iams Gravy on the food to make it more palatable. This worked for a while, but I knew it was not healthy for them.
I discovered Innova right around this time and was completely impressed with it. After a small amount of time on Innova my second dog’s body odor had minimized and his skin sores were gone. When I went to buy another bag I noticed that Innova had a line out called Evo which was about 42% protein. Everyone told me that dogs are not supposed to have that much protein so I did my own research and found out that their natural diet would consist of pretty much 100% protein. I went ahead and bought Evo and was even more impressed with it. The only problem I had with it was the price.
Due to a combination of a lack of money and dental problems with my dogs I knew I needed to start looking up how to feed a raw diet. Mini Schnauzers have increased problems with their teeth as compared to other breeds and when they reach three years old they have an increased chance of tooth loss if the teeth are not cared for properly. Unfortunately, the kibble was not cleaning my dogs’ teeth like it claimed to and I regularly scaled and brushed my dogs teeth to no avail. I read that a raw diet would help keep their teeth clean because they are forced to actually chew the meat and bones which activates their salivary glands.
After some serious research, I was convinced that I wanted to switch my dogs to a raw diet. The only thing that I found overwhelming is that there are not really any set rules to it. It is more of a trial and error type thing because every dog is different. There are basic guidelines to get started with though. Depending on a dog’s activity and metabolism you should feed 2%-3% of its ideal body weight a day. After a couple of weeks you will notice if your dog is losing too much weight or gaining weight, adjust amounts accordingly.
The first day I fed my dogs raw chicken, I fed them each a whole chicken quarter. One of my dogs completely inhales his kibble and I was worried he would try to do the same with chicken. By feeding them a whole chicken quarter, which is bigger than his head, it forced him to actually chew it. Sure enough, he tried to swallow it whole, but couldn’t.
After experimenting with different techniques and menus, I now feed chicken five days a week, fish one day a week and eggs and carrots the seventh day of the week. Dogs do not need grains or vegetables, but I give them carrots as snacks on the day I feed eggs because carrots clean their teeth and they love them. I figured up the costs between feeding them dry food and feeding raw and figured out that I only spend half the amount I would otherwise.
Clean up is easy as well, I put their food on a paper plate and set it out on the deck. When they are done eating I just throw away their plate and spray everything with white vinegar to disinfect. During the colder winter months I plan on doing this inside on a towel that I can just throw in the wash when they are done.
A site that has been invaluable to me during this process is http://www.rawlearning.com. Their FAQ section is massive and answers just about any question you might have.
It is advisable to consult with your veterinarian before switching to a RMB diet. Some vets will advise against it, but this is usually due to the fact that they simply do not know enough about it. If your vet is unwilling to work with you on this matter, consult a different vet. Just like human doctors, it is always best to get a second opinion and decide for yourself what you feel is right.
This article is by no means a complete guide to raw feeding; I simply love the results I have gotten with my dogs and want other owners to know there is an alternative to kibble. After all, kibble was only invented in the last hundred years or so by cereal companies and meat companies combining their left over scraps, it is not a natural canine diet. Do some research and find out if this will work for you and your furry friend, you will definitely be a hit as soon as you pull out a raw meaty bone!
Comment with any tips or questions you might have about switching to a raw diet. We need to network together and help each other so there will be less anxiety about switching diets.