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Possum! & How to feed the raw diet

My humans gave me a new kind of raw meaty bone today: possum!

The Bushtail Possum

The Bushtail 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.

possumMy 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 lyn@rawessentials.co.nz 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)

honeyfishWe 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.

dscf4434It 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…”!)

dscf4436A 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.

For more information, please visit My Raw Diet page

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18 Responses to Possum! & How to feed the raw diet

  1. Momo & Pinot says:

    Hello Honey!! Thanks for stopping by our blog. We had another very close look on your side bar and we were so impressed by your featured articles and…Wow!!… Are you that famous Dog Collection Dog? What you do with your humans and your little mate Lennon are so nice to read. We love the pic of you & Lennon taking a nap together.

    Your Raw food diet reminds me of our friend, Stanislaw and Big Pupi… You might want to check them out. :)

    We'd love to link your blog to ours. Hope it's ok with you. Oh one more thing… we'll let our mom's best friend know about your site. She's only a human so she may not be able to leave a comment but she will definitely check out your blog from Auckland. :)

    Momo & Pinot

  2. Momo & Pinot says:

    ps: One more thanks for signing up our guest book! :)

  3. Pingback: Dog Diet - Canned Food or Kibble | A Happy Dog

  4. Dino says:

    Possum…..ehhhh I am not too sure about that. Mom would be afraid to handle it. Looks like you have a great weekly menu. Mine looks boring compared to yours! We have to go to the market together when you are here!
    Love, Dino

  5. Pipa says:

    Hi Honey!

    Great post!
    I'll ask my humans to read all about raw diet. The problem is that here in portugal we have the kibble culture and there are not places where we can go and buy proper raw fod specially for dogs…! Here, we have the kibble culture. Worst: the human food (salted and with condiments) for dogs! It's really normal, in a portuguese home, to let the dog eat the remnants of our food! :(
    Plus, we've been talking to our friends about raw food and they say that it's dangerous 'cause the dog becomes agressive. We don't agree, at all.
    I'll follow all the links you gave us, to get well informed.

    Than u so much, Honey!

  6. Clover says:

    Hi Honey!
    Thanks for sharing all that info with us! I don't know about that possum… it looks so cute!
    Love Clover xo

  7. Chow Chow says:

    Hi Honey,

    Thanks for all the valuable info on raw diet. My mummy is researching on this and the more we reads, the more confused she gets! Dry kibble vs homecooked food vs raw diet. The debate goes on…. For me, I don't care, just give me a sumptous good meal when it's time to eat!

  8. Amber-Mae says:

    Possum? WOW! A wild delicacy! We never had fresh possum meat before but we ate the dehydrated possum meat mixed with some dried berries that has been processed by Addiction Dog Food. We LOVED it! The smell of it is like hooman gourmet food. Mmm-mmm! Just wondering, do any of the fish sharp bones ever get stuck in your throat or teefies? Fish bones are really sharp & could easily get stuck somewhere even in the stomach & may cause infection…

    That day you asked me what is DWB Card Exchange? Well, it's a DWB tradition thing that we all do every year. We send out Christmas cards to all the doggies all over the world who have registered for it be it real cards or e-cards. This year, there's a total of 146 entries so that means we will need to mail out cards to most of them who chose to be sending & receiving snail mail cards or e-cards to those who accept e-cards only or both. Would you like to receive a card from us? We would LOVE to mail you one! We are mailing the cards out by next week so it should reach your place within a week or so. Just hope you're not moving by then…If you'd like to receive one from us, please pee-mail me your home address to amber(dot)faith(at)yahoo.com as soon as possible. Thanks!

    Have a great day!

    Butt wiggles,
    Solid Gold Dancer

  9. technodoll says:

    Yey! More raw fed doggies here… well mostly raw fed, when mom is lazy the akitas get grain-free holistic kibble (oh the same… but it's like McDonald's to them, they love it) but that's only like 3 meals a week.

    It's hard and super expensive to find exotic meats here so the basic diet is beef and pork with some goat meaty bones when available, plus lots of raw eggs and sometimes fish…

    The dogs don't like chicken or turkey so they get that in the kibble. Plus canned grain-free dog food of venison, duck or rabbit for extra-special treats.

    one small skinless rabbit here is about $20 and that doesn't even make one meal for the two akitas!

    Anyways. Raw ROCKS and the proof is in healthy, strong, non-allergic dogs!

  10. karen bennett says:

    Hi Honey!

    We are switching to raw! Mom is going to switch us first and then switch Andrea. We read all your advice and have some really great Boxer friends that feed raw too so they are going to help us.

    Wish us luck…I hope that mom can handle it. It looks really complicated at first.
    Boxen & Bella

  11. diana 'Jack&#03 says:

    Hi Honey! :)

    Our mum is a big fan of yours and has decided to give the barf diet a go! Your weekly menu looks good!

  12. Dana says:

    Another helpful post! (I think I read it before and will probably have to read it again b/c I am kinda dense!) I will check out the links. I think I just hit my maximum/saturation point on reading about it for this evening though. Thanks again Honey! Ohhh wait- forgot I need to read about the chicken feet in your last post…

  13. Natalia says:

    Hello Honey and Hsin-Yi,

    I came across your blog a couple of days ago and have been reading, reading, reading! Great stuff!

    We are the humans of a Great Dane, Rock, a Dane-Weimer mix, Demi and a Mini Schnauzer, Shadow. I have been thinking of switching to the Meaty bone diet for them hoping to improve their overall health and well-being. We had a scare last week with Rock thinking that he may have hip displasia. Well, thank goodness x-rays showed his hips are great but he had a small tear in his knee ligament. Whew! Much needed rest is helping him to heal.

    Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and experience on the diet. I did have a question pertaining to your menu. I notice you do not have a “fast” day. One of the sites you recommended, RawEssentials, includes a fast day once a month and I’ve seen another that does once a week. You do not have a fast day listed but do you do this occasionally? Should I incorporate this into my 3 dog’s diets when I switch? How important is this? Thank you!

    • bighoneydog says:

      Hi Natalia,

      Yes, a lot of raw feeders do recommend a ‘fast’ day but I have to admit, I find it a bit too difficult to enforce! :) You feel really mean and cruel, especially when they’re sitting there, looking at you and waiting, during their normal dinner time! I’m afraid I can’t tell you how important it is – you’re better to contact one of the other sites (eg. Raw Essentials) and ask them – the vet there is very helpful – but I know a lot of raw feeders don’t do it. Or what you can do is have a ‘light’ day rather than a complete fast day – so that you give them less on that day. You could even give them a big bone to chew instead of their meals on that day – it might take their mind off waiting for their breakfast/dinner! 😉

      But all I can tell you is that we don’t do a fast day with Honey and she seems fine for it. However, what I DO do is I don’t worry if she gets slightly less on one day – new raw feeders often get very uptight about measuring amounts (understandable from kibble feeding) but the raw diet really is more like feeding ourselves & our own children – we might have a big roast on a Sunday but only a light salad for dinner during the week – we don’t have exactly the same amounts/calories every day but it all evens out. So I do the same for Honey – we feed her approximately a certain amount, calculated based on her weight, but if she gets slightly less on one day (eg. 400g instead of 600g) or she ends up skipping one meal (eg. doesn’t have her breakfast ‘coz we go out for an early big hike and then she falls asleep when we come home…and when she wakes up, we just end up only giving her dinner for the day…) – well, that’s fine too. It’s all about being flexible and not having rigid schedules/measures to follow but balancing things over time.

      Hope this helps!

  14. Hey Honey,

    We shall hopefully be swapping to this raw food diet soon! We ran into my (jasper) nephew the other week and his humans said he was a lot like me and when they switched him to the raw food diet he put on weight and wasn’t as fussy with his food – so fingers cross! Me (Lexi) on the other hand won’t care, as long as it tastes good 😉

    Licks and lots of slobber,
    Lexi and Jasper the Danes

  15. O thats right, we did have a question – Does Hsin-Yi feed you once a day or twice a day with your raw food diet?

    Licks and lots of slobber,
    Lexi and Jasper the Danes

  16. Nera says:

    hey Honey big-dog, my mummy wants to feed raw but is worried about not following my other mummy’s (where I first came from) orders… how do hoomans make sure that a growing dane (6 months old) doesn’t get too much calcium & protein during what she says is “critical growth”?
    Nera (little, well sorta little, now already 50 kilos!) dane puppy-girl.

    • bighoneydog says:

      Hi Nera,

      I think the best thing is for your human to find a holistic/roll feeding vet to help guide you with the transition. Or at least some other dog owners who have transitioned their dogs to roll and can help your humans with the details. It is very complicated to explain – has your human red all the posts on my blog about raw feeding? If she hasn’t, that is where she should start because a lot of the information that she is looking for will be there. (Go to the “My Raw Diet” page and you will see all the links there) I know it seems like a lot of reading but you just cannot do the raw diet properly unless you research it properly and understand everything. It won’t seem so scary when you actually read through and understand everything. In particular, there is one post that my human did called “Raw Diet FAQs” which covered a lot of the common questions that people ask. The main thing is that you have to change your way of thinking – you can’t think like the pet food companies/Kibble people who brainwash people into believing that all diets must be “complete and balanced” with all the right amount of minerals and vitamins, etc added in artificially. The raw diet isn’t like that. It is more like the way humans feed their own children. If you think about it, people don’t buy specially made cookies for their children that is completely balanced with all the right proteins and calcium, etc – even though their children are going through critical growth as well during their early years. Instead, people feed them a variety of different fresh, healthy foods and achieve balance through variety over time. That is the key to the raw diet. Natural foods have the right amount of minerals and and other things in them already – you don’t need to think about specific amounts – our bodies just take what we need from the natural sources. This is because it is all naturally there, not like when you make things from scratch in a factory and you need to artificially add it back in. It’s very hard to explain and hard for your humans to understand/believe – they have to really change their way of thinking. So that is why I think the best thing is for them to find a raw feeding vet near you who can advise you better. The whole obsession with protein levels and calcium, etc is an artificial thing created by pet food companies and breeders/owners who are not fully educated. My human did an article once on puppy nutrition and when she interviewed a canine nutritionist in France, the lady told her that it is a total myth about giant breeds needing certain levels of protein, etc for growth. The important thing is to slow your growth and NOT to give you additional calcium, because you want to grow as slowly as possible. But growth is just based on the amount of food (calories) going in – not on the percentage of this or that. Therefore, if you are getting a good, healthy, varied diet of different kinds of raw meaty bones, offal and fish and other things like eggs, I yoghurt, fruit, veg etc – they will provide all the necessary nutrients for you to have balanced growth. To get the details of exactly what to feed, your human needs to read through all the articles that my human has written and see some of the sample menus – also follow the link to the very good website that we recommended called Raw Essentials, which is hosted by a raw feeding vet.

      But remember, at the end of the day, my human is not a vet or a canine nutritionist and therefore we cannot really advise you – that is why we keep saying that the best thing is for you to find someone professional locally who supports the raw diet, to guide you and help you create a menu. And if you are really worried about growth, you could always just stay on the Kibble until you are a year old or something and then switching to raw later when you are fully grown. That isn’t as good, of course, but if you are really worried and don’t have support to do it properly, then it might be the best solution and you wouldn’t have to worry about getting all the different amounts of things right. We don’t worry about that when we feed raw because we just don’t think like that. It’s like if you’re feeding a human child, you don’t start measuring the number of grams of beta-carotene and vitamin C and calcium and vitamin K and stuff like that that they are getting each meal, are you? Instead, you just make sure that they eat some carrots on Monday (beta-carotene), have some oranges for fruit (vitamin C) on Tuesday, have some bananas later in the week (vitamin K), have red meat (iron) on Wednesday, have green veg, have some potatoes, have some fish, have some eggs etc, etc… All on different days of the week. No mother goes around measuring percentages of things – they all feed their children like this and they all managed to bring up healthy human beings. It’s the same with dogs, except that now we have all been brainwashed by pet food companies into thinking that dogs need to be fed some kind of special formula in a “complete and balanced” diets in the form of little bits of dried Kibble… It IS much more convenient to feed that way and lots of dogs have managed to grow perfectly fine on that, so there is no shame if you prefer to just stick with that – we just believe that it is better to feed the raw diet but it does take much greater commitment and you must spend much more time educating yourself about to do it properly.

      Good luck!

      Honey the Great Dane

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