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Understanding Your Dog and Raw Feeding

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Understanding Your Dog When Feeding a Raw Food Diet

One mistake I see many new raw feeders make is not adapting the “rules” of raw feeding to their dog.  While it's great to learn from more experienced raw feeders, it's important to adjust some of the rules to meet our dogs' needs.  In this post, I'm going to share a few ways I've made the “rules” work for my dogs.

Start Raw Feeding with Chicken

The Rule:  I've been told that when we start feeding our dogs a raw food diet, we should start with chicken.  I think this is because it's readily available, affordable, and easy for dogs to digest.  I know plenty of people who feed at least 50% chicken to their dogs.

My Rule:  Rodrigo and Scout are allergic to chicken.  Chicken is a natural inflammatory food (a warming food) and not the best option for dogs with food/environmental allergies or joint pain.  Chicken aggravates allergies, makes my dogs itchy, and screws up their tummy.  My dogs get duck instead of chicken.

How Much I Feed Our Dogs

The Rule:  According to raw food calculators, I should feed our dogs 2.5-3% of their body weight per day; less if I want them to lose weight, more if I want them to gain weight or if they are very active.

My Rule:  Rodrigo has a very high metabolism and he's an active dog; he eats about 4% of his body weight.  I knew that this was unusual and scheduled a veterinarian appointment for a check up and our vet signed off on how much he was eating.  Recently, since adding a pancreas enzyme to his diet, I've been able to reduce the amount I feed him slightly.

BARF Model Raw Dog Food

The Rule:  In my research about the BARF model of raw feeding, I see many people instruct us to reduce the amount of muscle meat in a dog's diet, replacing it with vegetables, fruits, and dairy.  There are other people who suggest that we should also increase the bone in the diet.

My Rule:  Reducing the muscle meat and increasing the bone didn't seem right to me, so I feed my dogs 80/10/5/5 (Prey Model) and add organic fruits, vegetables, dairy, and supplements.

Carbs in Raw Dog Food

The Rule:  Some people believe that we should remove all carbs from a dog's diet and disagree with me adding fruits, vegetables, and honey (added for allergies) to my dogs' raw diet.  Carbs break down into fat when they're not burned off and into sugar which feeds cancer cells.  Dogs get all the energy they need from the meat in their diet.

My Rule:  While I understand the need to reduce carbs from a dog's raw diet, I don't think all carbs are bad for dogs.  I don't add grains or high starch foods to my dogs' raw meals.

Fats in Raw Dog Food

The New Rule:  Lately, the raw feeding community has been scratching their collective heads as we take in the new rules about fat in a dog's diet.  The new information tells us to match fatty acids to the right protein.  Below is a chart of which oils I should add based on the proteins I feed to my dogs:

Protein Ruminant? Appropriate Fats / Oil
Beef Y Hempseed Oil, Walnut Oil, Fish Oil, Sardines
Bison Y Hempseed Oil, Walnut Oil, Fish Oil, Sardines
Duck N Chia Seeds, Chia Seed Oil, Flax Seed, Flax Seed Oil, Sardines
Elk Y Hempseed Oil, Walnut Oil, Fish Oil, Sardines
Emu N Chia Seeds, Chia Seed Oil, Flax Seed, Flax Seed Oil, Sardines
Fish N No Oil Necessary
Goat Y Hempseed Oil, Walnut Oil, Fish Oil, Sardines
Moose Y Hempseed Oil, Walnut Oil, Fish Oil, Sardines
Pheasant N Chia Seeds, Chia Seed Oil, Flax Seed, Flax Seed Oil, Sardines
Pork N Chia Seeds, Chia Seed Oil, Flax Seed, Flax Seed Oil, Sardines
Quail N Chia Seeds, Chia Seed Oil, Flax Seed, Flax Seed Oil, Sardines
Sheep Y Hempseed Oil, Walnut Oil, Fish Oil, Sardines
Venison Y Hempseed Oil, Walnut Oil, Fish Oil, Sardines

 

My Rule: When it comes to the new information on adding fat to my dogs' diet, I'm going to stick with what I'm doing and adjust slowly as I learn more.  Currently, I alternate my dogs' proteins weekly, breaking up each switch with a green tripe day, which naturally balances the fats in their diet.  I'm not ready to give up my fish oil because it's a quality product with responsible sourcing, vitamin E sourced from sunflowers, and the process removes toxins.  I also give our dogs hempseed oil and coconut oil.

Although I trust the sources for this new information, it's important to me that I do homework to see how this change will impact the diet and health of my dogs, find quality sources for the new fats, and seamlessly incorporate them into their diet.

Make Your Own Raw Feeding Rules

While I believe that we should follow the basics of raw feeding – 80/10/5/5 – I don't think we should blindly follow things we read in Facebook groups, on blogs, or in books.  When we take the time to understand what our dogs need, we can better adapt to new information, incorporating what we're learning into our dogs' diet.

Despite how far I've come over the past four years, I am always learning and excited when something clicks for my dogs.  It can be frustrating when new information flips my diet upside down, making me feel like I have to go back to the beginning, but deep down I know that this is all going to help me raise healthier dogs that live longer lives.

Thank you to Ewegurt for being a generous sponsor of Keep the Tail Wagging®.  Ewegurt is an all natural supplement made with sheep's milk and other natural, healthy ingredients that help to ease anxiety in dogs.  I add it to my dogs' meals as a food topper or I feed it to them as a treat before thunderstorms, windstorms, when there will be fireworks, and before they are exposed to a situation that increases their anxiety.  It works great for my dogs and has no side effects.

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