This is definitely a controversial topic, and I'm not trying to step on anyone's toes or incite argument. We've just embarked on the owning-and-feeding-a-dog-adventure, so I want to say up front that I'm well aware that I don't know everything. And I'm open to learning more.
Before I share how we are currently feeding and plan to continue feeding our new Kangal x Boerboel pup, Areli, I want to tell you the questions that guided us in choosing a diet. They are the same questions we ask when figuring out what to feed ourselves.
How did God design dogs? What did He plan for dogs' food?
Dogs, descendants of wolves, are carnivores. We don't buy the current arguments that dogs have evolved into omnivores. So if they are carnivores, they need a carnivore's diet. It doesn't matter whether the dog is wild or domesticated, as a dog can feed carnivorously in either scenario. (Here's the big picture on a dog's diet.)
Even if the dog is domesticated, we look to the wild model to reveal God's post-flood design. As a carnivore in the wild, a dog would be hunting and consuming prey — namely, raw meat, bones and organs. Perhaps some berries and greens would be eaten. Grains have no part in the carnivore diet (and according to what I've read, are difficult for dogs to digest and a cause of allergies).
For domestic dogs, the “raw feeding” model approaches dogs as carnivores, and suggests feeding them accordingly. Therefore, that's the basic approach we're taking in our home. (Read FAQs on Raw Feeding.)
“Raw feeding” is a diet based on a range of different raw meaty bones and organs, or whole prey food items, such as chicken, quail, fish, eggs.
According to many in the “raw feeding” movement, the ideal ratio of meat, bones and organs is 80% meat, 10% bone, and 10% organ. A dog should eat 2% to 3% of its estimated adult body weight per day. A puppy should eat three to four times per day, decreasing the frequency as the dog grows older, to one or two feedings by the time they are a year old. I suppose there are variations in this, and paying attention to the dog's health and cues is important.
Benefits of raw feeding
According to the above mentioned Raw Feeding FAQs, here are some benefits of raw feeding (click the link to read more):
- no “dog” odor
- naturally cleaner teeth — no need for brushing!
- less and firmer stools
- healthier dogs — saving money on vet bills
- saving money from purchasing expensive dog foods
- ripping and chewing of raw, meaty bones develops the jaw, neck, and shoulder muscles of the dog
How are we “raw feeding”?
We've had a puppy for a little over a week, so we're still settling into food sources for the long haul. But here's what she's eaten so far. Just before Areli came to us, we were given four big bags of pastured turkey scraps — meaty wings, necks and backs — which turned out to be great first foods for Areli! But not exactly the meatiest parts of the turkey, so we supplemented the lacking meat with whole eggs and raw milk. She goes to town on her food, munching on the bones like a pro. She came to us at 8 weeks old and had been eating kibble (presumably).
Two of the four bags of turkey were gone, and we needed to butcher two ducks. One was a bully drake, and the other had been injured by the bully drake. B. did all the work (go, B.) of butchering, skinning, and eviscerating. I took over from there. Yeah, my part was easy. Cut up and bag the ducks for refrigeration.
Areli ate the two ducks — meat, bones, and organs — in pieces for about four days. She loved every bite. At 8 weeks old, she knew instinctively to bury bones. The ones she didn't eat, anyway. Only, she puts her bones just 1/4″ below the surface of the ground. Too cute!
I have lots of beef liver in the freezer from US Wellness Meats and I plan to feed Areli some liver every couple weeks. For training treats, we have homemade jerky. She doesn't like it as well as the raw meat. 😉
I'm not sure if we're feeding the right amounts yet. She seemed pretty skinny when she got to us, but she was part of a big litter and may have had trouble getting as much milk as she liked from her mom. We think she is filling out, though.
In our first days with her, I am sure I wasn't giving her 2% to 3% of her estimated adult body weight in food per day. This is mostly because she wasn't finishing all her food at every meal. Now, she gobbles up everything and in twice the quantities as the first week. This morning, she buried what was left of breakfast (a chicken breast), and that was after 12 hours without food, so I think we hit capacity. It feels good to know she's eating her fill.
From here on out, we're going to share duck and goat meat with her. I'll buy organic chicken if I have to. I know of a source of rabbit; I just need to follow up on that. I have some whole salmon in the freezer, and honestly will be relieved that I don't have to debone it for our eating. 🙂 The rest will come as we trust in God to provide the sources!
Even though getting creative with meaty bone sources will probably prove less expensive than buying dog food (and potential vet bills), it will still make an impact on our budget. Therefore, we'd like to raise as much of Areli's food ourselves as we can.
Raw feeding resources
Researching this topic, I ran across wonderful resources. I highly recommend the eBook “Work Wonders” which is the easy version of “Raw Meaty Bones” — everything else is free!
- Raw Feeding FAQs
- Myths About Raw Feeding
- “Work Wonders: Feed your dog raw meaty bones” ebook (excellent!)
- “Raw Meaty Bones” ebook
Anyone else doing raw feeding? Thinking about it? Have any tips to share about how to save money, or creative ways to find naturally raised raw meaty bones? I look forward to your suggestions!
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