Ok – so late last year we fully committed to feeding our dogs and puppies a raw diet. We had always dabbled by feeding kibble and some meaty bones or chicken necks and frames… but on further research we decided that the effort (which is not much once you are organised) of going fully raw has fabulous benefit for you, me and most importantly, our Amalie dogs. The underlying facts about the pet food industry are worth reviewing in the documentary Petfooled.
- While dogs are omnivores (can eat a bit of everything) they have a preference for meat including organ meats
- Raw diets don’t have to be complicated
- The nutritional and health benefits are worth the effort for your BFF
- Don’t mix fruit with raw as it can lead to fermentation and upset belly – but some fruit is OK on its own as a treat
Raw basics – what’s in a raw diet?
- fresh meat – 80%
- raw meaty bones – 10%
- organ meat – 10% (half of this being liver)
- some veg (fruit can be fed as snacks but separately to meat please to avoid fermentation)
- occasional grains are OK (try soaked oats)
When taking your pup home, for the first 2 weeks we recommend a commercially prepared raw diet. After pup has settled in, if you want to change, do so as we have guided you. Check commercial foods at “Pet Food Reviews” or make your own but ensure it is nutritionally balance. You’ll find a simple meal plan for puppies here.
More about bones
They should never be cooked or baked as they can splinter and that is dangerous to your dog’s mouth and gut. They need to be softer, chewable and therefore digestible. Try chicken frames, kangaroo tail, lamb necks, a pork rib or beef soup bones.
Those long leg bones (any weight bearing bones) look like great entertainers in that dogs can chew them for ages but they splinter, are hard and damage teeth and can’t be easily digested. We do not recommend them – choose a “soft bone” only for puppies.
Tip – have the butcher cut larger bones like lamb necks into a daily size. Also consider removing some of the very rich marrow which can cause diarrhoea or pancreatitis in dogs that are susceptible.
How much do I feed my new pup?
Generally intake is determined as a percentage of current body weight and so assumes that your pup falls within the healthy weight range. Check the chart below for guidance or discuss with your vet. A waist is nice and dogs should score in the middle (5 if score range is 1-9, OR 3 if score range is 1-5).
There are now heaps of online tools that can assist – I like the Dog Raw Feeding Calculator app that you can use with your smart phone. This App offers a good amount of customisation and recommendations adjust with age. Remember a puppy needs more food (as a percentage of current body weight) because of all that growing and activity. To some extent you will also feed to appetite – pups may appear hungry at feed time or even when the meal is consumed but within 20 min should have a full feeling which puts them into a resting (and digesting) slumber.
- Pups eat 3 times a day till about 4-5 months
- They usually need 4-6% of body weight depending on age but we recommend 6-8% for the first few months in the new home
- Adult dogs after 12 months of age need 2-3%
I need help!
- “Raw Pet” or “Dog Raw Feeding Calculator” are Apps you can download on your phone to help calculate feeding amounts – both have pros and cons – I use them both
- Call me – if I can’t advise, I will refer you to someone who can – Tracey 0410 584723
- Go direct to a professional who supports a raw diet. Not all vets have a focus on the nitty-gritty of animal nutrition and it is convenient to offer a product they have at hand (large corporation kibble brand)
- Keep it simple – there are plenty of prepared products available now that can be stored fresh or frozen – try Proudi, BARF, Leading Raw, Organic Paws, or dried raw Ziwi Peak, Balanced Life, Frontier… available online or at pet stores
- Feeding strategies – for the long term and how to feed raw on a budget
What about dietary additives?
On your behalf I have consulted with Dr Renee O’Duhring and she advises that while supplements are not needed where a variety of meat, fish, egg, bone, a weekly serve of organ meat plus fruit and leafy vegetables form a raw diet, these may be of benefit to some dogs – seek advice.
Calcium for bone development
Calcium needs to be appropriately balanced with phosphorus and should be adequately obtained in the raw diet, especially if your dog is feed ground (or chewable) bones. These are sourced in chicken necks and chicken frames to some degree, raw fish frames and fish heads (ask your local fish monger) – one a week and other digestible soft bones (not the hard leg bones).
We dry our organic egg shells in the oven for 1 hour at low heat and grind – good for the chickens, keeps snails off the lettuces we grow and fine to add occasionally to a meal. If a supplement is needed this is recommended use Nature’s Organic Calcium
Omega 3 fatty acids
The correct balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids is important. A suitable supplement is in a gel form by Nordic Naturals.
Kelp is another source of fatty acids, vitamins and minerals – not advised if your dog has moist issues such as being susceptible to ear infections. We get our kelp in bulk from Tas Kelp.
We love Protexin and use it for our weaning puppies.
Turmeric – everyone is adding it
This is a good anti-inflammatory but ensure the source is reliable as some supplies are tainted with arsenic and other heavy metals which you definitely don’t want to feed your dog. Ask the supplier for details of their product chemical analysis certification and note that ‘organic’ does not automatically protect from heavy metal contamination.
But don’t the biscuits clean my dog’s teeth?
Not nearly as well as a meaty bone will. I also give carrot, sheep hearts or dehydrated treats like kangaroo tendons which do the job really well.
Remember dog biscuits = high carbs = sugars = dental decay.
Tip – if your dog has tartar on his teeth try a month of daily bone (not chicken necks that don’t really require chewing but something more gutsy – however, not longbows or weight bearing bones like lamb shanks as these are more prone to splintering) and kangaroo tendons before heading for a surgical procedure – it will save you a packet as its often not covered by pet insurance. Of course severe inflammation or bad breath always warrants a vet consult as tartar is not the only cause of oral hygiene concerns. Please consult your vet when no improvement following introduction of daily chews is detected – we get our tendons from Clear Dog and like Oravet chews.
I can’t always do raw – what are my options?
Raw is not always convenient… a freeze or air dried alternative can be convenient to have on hand for those times when you are short of fridge space. Try these:
- Frontier pets – free range, ethically sourced freeze dried range – Aussie
- Prime100 SPD – air dried range
- Ziwi Peak – air dried range from NZ
If you wish to feed dry (kibble) please review the information here Pet Food Reviews (Aus) and generally we recommend to choose the best food that fits your budget. Remember grain free does not mean carb free – grain free foods will be bulked up with other starches so still place demand on the endocrine system. We like Lifewise – an affordable 4.5 ⭐️ food.
Hungry for more info?
These resources will keep you busy:
- 12 min talk Dr Renee O’Duhring – ideas of how and why but you don’t have to DIY
- Easy blog posts| www.howtofeedadog.com
- Complete Pet Co – Nutritional Info (QLD and Northern NSW delivery)
- Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/rawfeedingaustralia
There is loads more out there – don’t get confused, come back to basics.
- http://www.feedpetsnotvets.com.au – raw food supplier
- https://www.ebookmall.com/author/tom-lonsdale – Tom Lonsdale’s books