My humans gave me a new kind of raw meaty bone today: possum!
Possums are really cute but they are introduced pests to New Zealand which harm the native animals and plants, and humans are always trying to get rid of them. So it’s nice to be able to use them for something good.
My humans get my raw food from a really good company called Raw Essentials - they stock all sorts of different kinds of raw meaty bones, which makes it much easier for our humans to find the right things to feed us and give us enough variety for a balanced diet. They have things like lamb, rabbit, chicken, hare, ostrich – and now possum! Possum is a good alternative source of protein for dogs and cats with food allergies.
Yum – it was really delicious!
Feeding the Raw Diet
People often ask about how to feed the raw diet – is it suitable for their dog? How much to feed? What to put in the menu? etc…the best thing is to do lots of reading and consult a vet who is experienced in raw feeding. In Auckland, there is a great vet called Lyn Thomson at the Milford Pet & Vet (31 Shakespeare Road, North Shore, Auckland, Tel: 09-4896263), who specialises in raw feeding. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or at the clinic. She also gives lots of helpful information on the Raw Essentials website: www.rawessentials.co.nz
It is really important to do your research and understand the raw diet properly before doing it, because if you don’t do it properly, then it will not be balanced. And although it is generally a better quality diet, it may not be suitable for all dogs. That is why it is a good idea to do it with the guidance of an experienced vet.
“I tried the Raw Diet but my dog got an upset tummy!”
Some people worry because their dogs seem to get runny poos when they try some raw meat – this is quite common if they have not been used to raw food. It’s really hard for a dog’s stomach to deal with raw AND kibble at the same time (even in different meals). If you want to try raw, it is best to have a 24hr break and then start completely fresh with just raw food and stick with it for a while. Otherwise, it is best to just stay with the dry food. You can’t just give a bit of raw meat with the usual processed food, to see what happens – that’s when dogs get upset tummies – if you want to try the raw diet, then you need to do it properly.
As long as the raw meaty bones are fresh and human-grade, it’s OK to get a bit of runny tummy in the beginning: their stomachs just need to time to adjust. If the poo keeps being soft, then you may need more bone in the diet. If the poo is very hard and the dog is constipated, then you need to feed less bone.
Here is some information on how I get my Raw Diet which you may find useful:
What should be on the menu?
One good way to feed the Raw Diet is to follow the Prey Model – this is approximately 80% muscle meat, 10% edible bone, 10% offal/organs (eg. liver, kidneys, etc). These amounts are basically what makes up an average prey animal which a wild dog would catch and eat.
There is a really good explanation of this on Gio & Romeo, the 2 Shelties’ blog: http://sheltie-hair.blogspot.com/2008/10/raw-food-diet-our-average-menu.html
(They also have a good post about supplements in Raw Diets: http://sheltie-hair.blogspot.com/2008/11/supplements-for-raw-feeding.html)
We don’t follow the Prey Model so strictly – my humans don’t measure things out, they treat it more like feeding themselves: just rough guides, so they just try to give me mainly meat, some fat and bone, a bit of cooked vegetables and ripe fruit throughout the week and a bit of offal once a week. I also get raw fish once a week and usually a raw egg as well, plus any healthy left-overs from my humans’ meals. (Of course, nothing too salty or greasy or spicy sauces, stuff like that!)
The most important thing is variety, with animal protein from lots of different sources and soft bones that are easily crunched up, for calcium and other minerals. I don’t get rabbit or hare because it would be too expensive for the amounts I would need to eat but I do sometimes get possum or ostrich for a treat!
Here is my weekly menu:
- Monday: Chicken carcass
- Tuesday: Lamb brisket / beef brisket / soft pork bones
- Wednesday: Chicken carcass
- Thursday: Offal (ox kidney / sheep kidney / lamb’s liver / heart)
- Friday: Chicken carcass
- Saturday: Lamb brisket / beef brisket / soft pork bones
- Sunday: Fish (whole sea pilchards)
+ cooked veg, ripe fruit, healthy leftovers, raw egg, etc.
It’s also important not to have too much grain in our diet because us dogs aren’t really designed to digest grain in large amounts and it can give many of us ‘food intolerances’ – so we can have occasional doggie cookies and treats and a bit of rice or something but not lots of it everyday, like we would in dry kibble. If you have to feed dry food, then choose one with a higher percentage of animal protein to grain.
For more information, check out the FAQ page on the Raw Essentials website: www.rawessentials.co.nz/content/page30/FAQ.html
How much to feed?
For a large dog like me, we only need about 1% of body weight – so in my case, about 650g per day. For example, one chicken carcass is about 250g – so I would need about 2 per day, plus maybe some chicken necks.Like when humans eat, you don’t have to worry if you don’t feed EXACTLY the same amount every day (it is not like kibble when you measure in cups) – some days I get 500g, some days 700g – it all balances out over the course of the week.
It is more important to adjust according to what your dog looks like, then to follow general instructions from a pet food company. Every dog is different so as long as they look healthy and not fat, not thin, then that is fine! (Human children don’t have exact feeding instructions like “6 year olds must eat 4 pieces of potato, 3 pieces of broccoli and 2 sausages at every meal…”!)
A healthy dog should have a waistline when you look from above and you should be able to see the last 2 ribs when the dog is moving and feel them when you run your hands over the dog’s body. If you cannot, then it is too fat – and most pet dogs are too fat!
For a smaller dog (eg. 20kg) – then you would need to feed 1-3% of body weight (1% for weight loss, 2% for maintenance, 3% for very active dogs).
There are some really good diet guides on the Raw Essentials website, for every size of dog – covering how much and what kind of things to feed:
Very Large Dog (50kg+): www.rawessentials.co.nz/content/page61/Large+Dog.html
Large Dog (40kg): www.rawessentials.co.nz/content/page57/40kg+Dog.html
Large Dog (30kg): www.rawessentials.co.nz/content/page56/30kg+Dog.html
Medium Dog (15-25kg): www.rawessentials.co.nz/content/page58/20kg+Dog.html
Small Dog (10kg): www.rawessentials.co.nz/content/page59/10kg+Dog.html
Very Small Dog: www.rawessentials.co.nz/content/page62/Very+Small+Dog.html
Average Cat: www.rawessentials.co.nz/content/page55/Average+Cat.html
If you’re thinking of switching to raw, the best thing you can do is to get some books written by the vets who pioneered Raw Feeding – these books will give more detailed information and diet guides and menus and recipes, etc.
- The B.A.R.F. Diet: For Cats & Dogs by Dr. Ian Billinghurst (also on US Amazon)
- Give Your Dog A Bone by Dr. Ian Billinghurst
- Grow Your Pup With Bones by Dr. Ian Billinghurst
- Work Wonders by Dr. Tom Lonsdale
- Raw Meaty Bones by Dr. Tom Lonsdale
For more information, please visit My Raw Diet page