9/22/2008

Raw feeding is easy!

The most common thing I see among people first starting out is they complicate everything. It's not intentional, it's information overload! We naturally want to analyze everything in detail to form an opinion and then make a decision whether or not it is a good fit for our pets but inevitably when we decide to go thru with it, we have all this information (sometimes contradicting) floating around in our head and it paralyzes, frustrates and confuses us from DOING. I always tell people the most complicated part about raw feeding is NOT complicating it! It can't really be that easy can it? You're telling me all I have to do is feed my dog/cat meat, bone and organs? What about supplements? What about balance?

First off, you don't have to be a chemistry, biology, nutrition and math major to feed your own dog or cat. It is scientifically proven that dogs are the decendants of the grey wolf. Biologists were so sure of this that they reclassified the domestic dog as Canis Lupus familiaris, whereas the grey wolf is classified as Canis Lupus. Once we have that bit of information down we can look at a wolf's diet. They normally bring down large ungulates like deer, and eat everything on the carcass except for the leg bones which can be pretty tough (after all they support a large animal!) and the stomach and intestinal contents. Since we cannot usually buy a whole carcass and leave it outside for our dog to eat on for a few weeks, we feed a "prey model" diet which in essence, you "build" up your own prey animal and feed that. Feed a variety of parts from a variety of animals and you will be fine. Whole prey is best for cats but if you don't want to feed that way you can create a "frankenprey" instead, much like is done for dogs. If you want to buy whole chickens fine. If you can only afford to buy chicken quarters because they're cheaper and that's the only chicken part you feed, fine. If all you buy pork is neck bones that's fine. Whole fish or fish fillets, either are fine. Are you getting the picture? Buy what's available, stop stressing over the details and hand your dog or cat a piece of raw food!

The other point I want to touch on is the issue people have with wanting to supplement. Unless you are treating a specific condition homeopathically like organ disease or arthritis, etc your dogs/cats do not need supplements besides fish oil if you cannot access wild game or grass fed meats. Feedlot animals have an unhealthy ratio of omega 3s and omega 6s so in order to get more O3s in your pet's diet to bring it up to a natural balance, many people include fish oil pills. Try and find a brand that does not include soy or you can buy salmon oil in the pump bottles (works better than pills for cats). Either work well. Another option is to feed whole, raw, oily fish like anchovies, sardines, herring or mackeral that can be found at most Asian grocers. Back on topic about supplementation, meat, bone and organs provide all the nutrients your carnivore needs. Save the money you spend on a multi and all that other jazz and buy him some real food!

Pet food companies have really created a deep rooted belief in people's mind that their dog needs to have a 100% "balanced" meal every single feeding time. This is not how a wolf eats. It is balance over time. If you feed mostly meat with some edible bone and organs like liver, kidney, spleen, stomach (contents emptied), etc then your dog will get what he or she needs. Balance over time also applies to cats as well. Some people feed bits of organ with every meal to simulate a whole prey item but it is not a rule.

Raw feeding is the most relaxed and flexible diet on the planet, of this I'm sure. You can tailor it to your lifestyle and your dog's needs. You can feed the BFFLO (Big Food Fed Less Often) method in which you gorge and rest (please visit the raw feeding list for a full explanation and questions/concerns) or you can feed once a day. You can feed less food a few times a week if your dog gains weight easily or more food if your dog is overly active or senior and needs the extra calories. There is no "reduced fat/calorie" raw diet to follow, or a puppy/kitten, adult and senior way of feeding. They all get the same foods, just in different amounts and puppies require a slightly different feeding schedule than adults. I let my kitten eat as much as she wanted twice a day up until about 8 mos old and then started to pay attention to her food amount. Shortly you will become very in tune to your dog/cat and won't even need to measure out food. You'll just feed based on body condition. I do recommend measuring out the food at first until you get the hang of it and get past the newness factor. You'll know when you can put that scale away.

Please note: due to the risk of hepatic lipidosis, you should never use the BFFLO method for cats, nor should you ever try and "starve" your cat into eating raw food. Cats are not like dogs in which a healthy dog will eventually eat raw food when he knows he's not getting anything else. Cats will starve themselves so never ever leave your cat without food for a day so she is hungry enough to eat what you offered.

The most important thing is to just jump in with both feet and learn as you go. Don't get caught up in the details so much that you don't enjoy feeding your dog.

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