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Raw feed or not to raw feed! My thoughts!

Keri Squibb

When we first got our rescue dog Willow, she came to us with a day or 2 supply of raw food. This was a first for me as I have always fed dry foods to my other dogs, plus scraps from the table. That led me to doing quite a lot of research, I found a lot of information from avid raw feeders arguing for it and an equal amount from vets and the such like arguing against it but I really didn't find much from normal people, like me, trying to work through the minefield of information!

The theory behind raw feeding, as I understand it is that its a natural diet, dogs, even after centuries of domestication have extremely acidic stomachs. This enables them to digest foods that we just wouldn't stand a chance with. They are designed to eat tough skins and bits of bone - and digest it. And not become ill as a result! This I get, and it does make sense. What I did find however was a myriad of sites telling me I had to raw feed completely or not at all, and that mixing raw food and kibble was a huge no no. The reasons for this seemed mainly to be the difference in time to digest kibble and raw food varied so greatly. Now I'm no scientist but even I can work out that it must take a lot longer to digest a bone than a piece of meat, so to me this just does not make sense.

I did not want to 100% raw feed as a/ it is not always convenient especially if we are away in the caravan etc and b/ no one else in my family will do it if I'm not there! On the other hand I didn't want the dogs to miss out completely as having now fed raw off and on for a couple of years there is no doubt whatsoever that all 3 much prefer it. So I have developed my own theories around it through trial and error. I'm hoping this will be helpful to someone, help to demystify the whole subject and also give you the confidence to just give it a try. Your dog will love it! I promise!

Firstly, you can buy 'complete' raw food. This means it is balanced in bone, offal and meat content and you don't have to shop around. BUT, it is expensive.

Secondly, you don't have to raw feed all the time, I compromised, I generally feed a dry food breakfast and a raw evening meal. I don't mix, not for any other reason than touching raw meat once a day is better than twice! I find this gives me peace of mind in that the dogs are getting trace minerals etc from their dry food if I'm not getting it quite right.

The general guide for raw food is 80% meat 10% bone 10% offal. This NOT an exact science. Every meal does not have to be completely balanced. Just make sure it works out roughly over 2 or 3 days. Bone causes constipation and offal (liver etc) causes the runs. Every dog is different, you may need to tweak these. Heart is not offal but meat. However it has the same effect on your dogs bowel movements as offal so don't feed too much!

Bone  - I tend to feed chicken wings, they are convenient, but I do supervise while they are being eaten. That said, a good old marrow bone from the butchers is a great treat and it really does help teeth! I highly recommend them.

Meat - chicken, beef, lamb, pork, anything goes. I also give tinned pilchards sometimes, raw egg (you can include the shell but mine wont eat it) I DONT feed road kill or anything that is not human grade. You don't know if anything you found on the side of the road has a disease and I am not prepared to risk it.

Offal, horrible slimy stuff, mine are not keen but they do need to eat a bit, I find if I coat it in porridge oats it dries it out a bit and they are more inclined to eat it.

Additives and vegetables, not strictly needed in my opinion if you are feeding a wide variety of food and feeding dry food as well. Veggies can be a good filler however.

Benefits.. your dog really will 'poo' less! About 2/3 less infact! To me this must mean they are digesting it all and not passing through a load of cereal and fillers found in many dry foods! Plus they will get super excited at meal times !

What I will say is, I am no expert, neither am I a vet. I am told vets are taught the benefits of a balanced dog food and this is why they recommend ready made. I have no idea if this is true. I also know there is a risk from salmonella and listeria bacteria and of raw bones splintering. I know of plenty of instances of those cooked bones you can buy in the supermarket splintering and causing internal injuries, or owners struggling to find a commercial dog food that suits their dog.

I do not think there is a definitive right or wrong, is one for you to think about and weigh up the pros and cons. Give it a try if you fancy it and if not or if it doesn't work out you have nothing to lose! If you do then remember basic hygiene and take extra care!

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