9/30/2008

Just say NO to commercial raw!

Not only is it ridiculously expensive, it most often contains fruits, vegetables and supplements your dog/cat doesn't need! I'll be reviewing the most well known ones below.

Nature's Variety- contains Apples, Carrots, Butternut Squash, Ground Flaxseed, Broccoli, Lettuce, Spinach, Dried Kelp, Apple Cider Vinegar, Parsley, Honey, Salmon Oil, Olive Oil, Blueberries, Alfalfa Sprouts and Persimmons.All of these ingredients are unnecessary and seem to follow a BARF model, which we all know isn't correct in it's makeup. Too much bone, and species innappropriate plant matter, not to mention a mirage of supplements.

One possible reason these fruits/vegetables are added into commercial raw is the theory it mimics the stomach contents of a prey animal. To keep this post on the short side, read this article http://rawfed.com/myths/stomachcontents.html

It's also possible that commercial raw companies believe dogs are omnivores. For facts on this please visit http://rawfed.com/myths/omnivores.html
The "Dogs are Carnivores" link is also excellent to reference for this important fact. Save your money and buy meat, bones and organs for your pets. You will not only be feeding a proper diet but you can be sure the correct ratio of organ, bone and meat. With a premade patty, there is no way of knowing what's what in there.

Honest Kitchen- though "dehydrated raw" it still contains 29%-63% carbohydrates! Again, it's made up of species inappropriate foods.

Bravo and Primal- Though there are vegetable free mixes, the fact is is that it's still ground, and overpriced. There is no mental stimulation for the dog or cat, and since it's just a glob of food hitting the stomach at once, digestive juices do not have time to build up like if the dog or cat had been chewing and crunching first. It also offers no teeth cleaning benefits. This is one of THE BEST benefits of raw feeding. To keep the mouth healthy and clean is to prevent infection and disease and to do this, there must be abrasive action like in crunching raw bones, not by just eliminating kibble and canned food and going raw. The bones often sold by these companies are inadequate as they are femurs or knuckles. Nature's Variety turkey necks are rather small in my opinion and pose a choking risk for large dogs.

Don't be fooled by the "complete and balanced" marketing of certain companies. Dogs and cats require balance over time, not all in one meal. And so what if AAFCO approves of your raw diet? We can all see the credibility they have by approving processed foods that are unhealthy for our pets and cause most of the diseases we see today. Sorry AAFCO, I want my carnivores to THRIVE, not just SURVIVE.

9/29/2008

Rabbit!

Ah, the labor of love. I spent my entire Sunday morning processing rabbits for Waverli- stocking up for the year. The gentleman I got these from was getting out of the rabbit business as the market for human consumption dropped out. There were nine 10-15 lb rabbits I picked up at 5:30am and didn't finish skinning and cutting up until noon time. Luckily they were already killed so I didn't have to do it myself. I WOULDN'T have done it. I would've had 9 full bags of rabbit meat and the bag of heads if I wouldn't have over stuffed 2 of the bags with an extra half rabbit (I was running out of ziplocs!). Overall there's about 90 lbs of meat there. It should last for over a year. I still have 3 fryer rabbits in the freezer I bought and hoarded last year, as rabbit was scarce then and I wasn't sure when I'd get more. Amos hates rabbit meat but Waverli loves it. Other than my back completely hurting, I enjoyed the whole process and learned alot about processing my own animals.

9/27/2008

wRECk bones

I wanted to write about what we raw feeders affectionately call wRECk bones. Wreck bones are often marketed as "recreational bones" in which dogs chew on them forever. The truth about these bones, most notably the knuckle and femur, is that they are VERY dense and often break, chip and crack teeth down to the root. Think about it, they hold up a 1000 lb animal. What do you think is stronger- your dog's teeth which are a tiny fraction of an inch thick (referring to the enamel) or the weight bearing bone of a large ungulate that is around 3/8" thick all around the marrow?

These destructive bones are often the problem when you hear of impactions, as the pieces are swallowed whole and are not very digestable due to their thickness. These pieces can also cause choking as they cannot be crushed like a normal bone. More often choking is caused by feeding inappropriate sized meals. Your Great Dane is not going to "chew" a chicken leg unless you have a very particular dog that is an extremely slow and thorough eater.

Knuckles and femur bones also wear down the teeth. When cooked they can splinter which is why it's best to avoid ALL smoked/cooked bones marketed for dogs, despite if the company says they are safe of not, which brings me to an important point. I have had the pleasure of being able to look further into a company's products (smoked kangaroo parts) that are supposedly safe because they are slow cooked at low temps, preventing splintering and such. When I broke part of a shoulder blade, the (bite sized)piece was extremely sharp, hard and brittle. If my dog had swallowed that he would've ended up with a perforated intestine I am sure. Even when left out in the open, raw bones will naturally dry and these are just as dangerous as cooked.

If you want to feed a challenging meal that will clean teeth, feed items with the hide on, or things like meaty necks, ribs, and heads. If you have wRECk bones sitting in you house now, toss them out! Your dog's teeth matter more, which is one reason you are feeding a raw diet in the first place- to keep those chompers in prime condition!

9/25/2008

Squirrel

Here is Amos thoroughly enjoying a squirrel breakfast. No, I did not kill this squirrel, nor did he. It happened to be fresh hit on the road.

Fresh roadkill is a great free food source, not to mention good for introducing variety if your carnivore's diet is lacking. I am convinced new to raw people are not going to utilize this wonderful "fruit of the pavement" (as termed by Casey) but seasoned raw feeders might as they get used to the idea of getting food from sources other than a grocery store. So far I have picked up 3 squirrels and one rabbit that I DID hit purely by accident and felt like a real jerk afterward. Thankfully it died instantly. I also just fed a young rabbit to Waverli today that my dad's dog killed in the backyard many weeks ago.

My personal guide for picking up roadkill is this:
Leave it alone if it's stiff, smells of decomposition, isn't in a safe pick up area, is crushed in any way, or is in an odd area (such as in yards or driveways) that may indicate death by other means (ie poisoning, sickness, severe parasitic infestation). Animals are frozen for 3 weeks to kill off any potential parasites. Some feed fresh, some freeze for only a week, some freeze for more than 3 weeks. My two seem to be overly sensitive to parasites (Wav to tapes and Amos to whips) so I err on the side of caution. It does not mean that wild critters are diseased and unsafe to feed.

I skin the rabbits but squirrel is much harder to do so I get as much fur/hide off as possible and don't worry about any remaining around the head, shoulders and legs. This is just a personal preference as some people feed whole fur-on rabbits and other critters to their canine companions. Amos doesn't care for things with full fur on so I try my best to get as much off as possible. He will tolerate a little though. I also remove the stomach and intestines before feeding, as I do with all whole prey as well to avoid the kitchen smelling, literally, like crap.

I've saved about $10 in food by picking up fresh roadkill and my dog has found squirrel as one of his favorite meats. Waverli really likes squirrel too! My closing statement? Don't knock it 'til you tried it (or rather, let your dog/cat try it).

Raw Kong Stuff'ns!

Just because you feed raw doesn't mean your dog cannot enjoy his Kong! There are plenty of things to put in it that are part of a prey model diet. Ground, minced, and chunked meats with or without bone can be packed in and frozen. Keeps your dog busy and provides species appropriate nutrition all at the same time! Here's an example of a sardine Kong I did today for Amos. Everything was cut in pieces except for the head, which stuck out as there was no room left in the opening.

9/23/2008

Pork- the favorite meat

Trevor has decided that pork is the best meat for him. Chicken was ok, turkey about the same but he will fill up on the "other white meat!" I think I can use this to introduce him to other foods instead of using canned. He ate a full meal of pork yesterday and today if you combine what he ate at breakfast and dinner. Right now it's in about 1/2" cubed pieces with some slightly larger so he learns to chew. He may be one of those cats it takes a year to switch. Hey, whatever it takes!

9/22/2008

Waverli eating rabbit

video

If you listen closely you can actually hear her growling at me. :)

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.

9/21/2008

My biggest challenge


He may look cute but he's TOUGH! I've been feeding Trevor raw chicken bits for the past few days before giving him his kibble. It seems now that I want him to eat raw food he's suddenly picky, whereas before as a "treat" he's eaten anything. He's eaten one day quails before but that's the only bone he's ever got. I lovingly nicknamed him the "Bone Detector" because if he bites down on anything that isn't soft and gooey muscle meat, he won't touch that piece, or any other, thank you very much. I need to try and wean him from kibble to canned but before he stopped eating the canned after about a month. Not sure how that is going to go. This is a very nice lesson in patience. I'll update periodically his progress.

9/20/2008

Whole Prey

Whole prey is best! Instead of measuring out organs, meat and bone, you have it all wrapped together in a nice bundle. Mother Nature loves to make it easy for us raw feeders. Waverli eats whole 3 week quail, XL mice, L-XL guinea pigs and weanling rats from Rodent Pro. They are raised in humane conditions and euthanized with CO2.

Dogs can eat whole prey too! Rabbit is an excellent meat for dogs and cats alike. Whole chickens can be bought from family farms or from people keeping laying hens that have older animals not producing well anymore. These animals are termed "culls" and you can get them for much cheaper than normal market price animals. Culls can include wether goats, lambs, ewes/rams, rabbits, boars/sows, roosters, etc. Animals that are old, not producing well or have aggressive issues are often eliminated from the breeding stock. Instead of wasting these animals, we can use them to nourish our domestic carnivores.

Small dogs 20-30 lbs or so can eat rats, chicks, quail and guinea pigs as well but for large dogs, it can get quite expensive to feed their daily amount in small critters. Adding them in for variety is nice, but not necessary.

When buying whole prey, research the source thoroughly. Afterall, you are buying these critters for the health of your dog, cat or ferret. If buying from local pet stores, make sure the animals are fed appropriately, housed adequately with proper bedding and not overcrowded. Also find out how they are euthanized. Carbon dioxide is the best method, and painless. Larger animals like rabbits and adult guinea pigs can be killed via cervical dislocation which can be humane if done correctly. Supporting a business that cares about its animals from life until death is not only ethical, it shows other businesses that this is an important point for consumers, and could cause some less than ideal policies to change in order to keep up with competition.

Hunting season's here!

For those of you wanting to cut your food bills, feed venison! Essentially, it's organic, free range and dogs love it! Check taxidermists, processing plants, friends/family, co workers and see if they have any meat to give away (either freezer clean outs or fresh from when they process their deer). It's very easy to get ahold of in Missouri. It is legal to possess venison as long as it's been checked in by the hunter. It is illegal to sell deer meat so unless the processor is asking for a "processing fee" like mine does, you shouldn't be paying anything.

I hope to feed venison to Amos 2-3 times a week atleast so I plan to stock way up and make it last until '09 season. Venison is a bit rich for some dogs so trying it for the first time, go easy and slow like any other meat. It does have a gamey smell and some dogs may be put off by it at first but they get used to it. I've rarely heard of a dog that will not eat it. So go hit up anyone you know of that hunts or knows someone who does and get some free food! Plus you are reducing waste and helping save the environment by keeping more things out of landfills. It's a win/win for everyone!

9/19/2008

Introduction


I have 2 kids, Amos a 4 year old beagle and Waverli a year old calico. Both are strays I rescued.

Amos was found slightly underweight and running loose with a collar, no tags, and a chip with bad information on it that never led me to his owner. He was eating Nutro kibble until his itching got so bad that his hair started thinning, and his skin was dark pink. He would also vomit and have diarrhea. I started researching allergies and finding out about the BARF diet (lots of bone, some meat and organ and a vegetable/fruit slurry most often with lots of supplements included). I gave it a try and was scared as heck! I put off feeding him because it was either a Sunday when the vet wasn't open or the vet was closed for the day so I waited until the next morning to feed him a chicken leg. I am a vegetarian and was extremely squeamish about even looking at meat- cooked or raw! After I seen the results of Amos's allergies disappearing I learned to deal with it because I didn't have any other choice. I did it for him and am so glad I stuck thru it. I later stopped feeding the slurry and went with meat, bones and organs with the help of a veterinarian on a forum I frequent. I don't think I could thank her enough for helping me. I hope I can pay it forward to other people starting out so they can begin with the right information and support they need. Amos is a food guarder and we worked thru that. I can take a steak out of his mouth.. how many people can do that with even their well trained dogs?! Amos has been with me for 2 years (on March 27 of this year) and quite literally one of the best things that's ever happened to me. He also had tartar covered teeth and dragon breath when I found him but now his gums are pink and healthy and his teeth have an insignificant amount of tartar only a thread wide on his canines which isn't uncommon as dogs crunch bones with their molars, not their front teeth or canines. People comment all the time that he is the "skinniest" beagle they've ever seen and usually tell me their beagle is 30+ lbs when they should only be about 20-25 at the largest.

Waverli was found at one week old all by herself. I bottle fed her and attempted to wean her at 4.5-5 weeks old onto raw but she went cold turkey and would not drink formula after her first minced chicken and pinkie mouse breakfast. Waverli has blossomed into a gorgeous girl, very sassy and definately a spitfire! She eats anything offered, her favorite foods being any kind of whole prey and venison meat. She even coordinates food missions with Amos. He smells if there's meat in the sink, alerts her, she jumps up there and eats her fill and throws the rest down to him. Now that's what I call team work!

Welcome

This is a blog about a proper, prey model style diet for pet carnivores.

A proper diet for dogs and cats includes 80% meat, 10% edible bone, 5% liver and 5% other organ. These percentages are slightly flexible depending on individual dogs. Adult dogs are fed 2-3% of their ideal body weight, dogs under a year are fed 2-3% of their estimated adult body weight divided up into 3-4 meals for pups under 6 mos old. It's best to start with bone in chicken, a fairly bland and easy to digest meat, not to mention readily available and cheap. After a few weeks if the dog's stool is fairly formed, a new protein source can be introduced like turkey or pork. Organs can be introduced around 4 weeks in small amounts as they are nutrient rich and can cause loose stools at first. For further and more specific information, trouble shooting or encouragement, please visit the raw feeding list

The information on this blog is the educated opinion of the blog owner. When considering a raw diet for your pet, conduct your own research and form your own opinions. The blog owner is not responsible or liable for any accidents that may occur when feeding an appropriate prey model diet. Choking, impactions and other concerns can occur with any diet- raw, kibble or canned. Minimizing these risks by feeding appropriate sized pieces, discontinuing the use of weight bearing femur and knuckle bones, never feeding cooked or dry bones and limiting bone to around 10-20% of the diet provide a safer raw feeding experience. Each dog is different and it is the responsibility of the owner to adjust their pet's raw diet accordingly.