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You have a choice of foods to give your dog. In this article, I’ll cover everything related to feeding dogs raw food and reasons why you should do it. So, what is raw feeding for dogs?

First analyze the benefits of raw dog food and the negatives because there’s a ton of information from many sources. However, they’re not always accurate and/or are subject to interpretation.

There’s a level of science behind choosing the ideal raw food diet for dogs. I have endeavored to make it easy by summarizing the major points regarding feeding your dog a natural canine diet.

Raw Feeding Guide

Can Dogs Eat Raw Meat?

The answer is a definite YES. However, keep these two points in mind:

  • 1. Balancing meals over time:

This is essential because the amount of raw meat, organ meat or bone content can vary within a single meal but averaged out over a week, you need to achieve the following ratios: 80% meat (inclusive of heart and tripe), ligaments, sinew and fat equal 5%, edible bones should be 5%, liver should be 5% and the final 5% should be made up of other organ meats.

  • 2. Variety:

Would YOU like eggs for every meal for a week? What about raw meat for dogs (e.g. steak) for breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days in a row? Neither you or your dog like eating the same protein at every meal. To be fair to your pet, you need different raw meat dog food options to rotate as required.

Raw Dog Food Pros and Cons

Is raw feeding good for dogs? Yes. Some dog food may look or smell awful to you as a human. However, your dog still NEEDS (and even enjoys) that food because it’s chockful of nutrients and is the best natural feeding for dogs.

How Much Should You Feed Your Dog Each Day?

  • 2% if he carries extra weight.
  • 3-5% to help maintain his current weight.
  • Increase the percentage if he’s skinny and you wish to fatten him up.
  • Up to 10% of his weight for a puppy.

These ratios are guidelines that need adjusting according to each individual dog’s health.

Alaskan Malamute
Alaskan Malamute

Can I Feed My Dog Raw Meat?

Organ Meats:

These include: liver, kidneys, spleen, intestines, brain, heart, stomach, tongue and lungs. They’re rich in protein and essential vitamins, fats, minerals, iron and nutrients. They form a large part of a well-balanced raw pet food diet 2-3 times per week.

IMPORTANT NOTE – With organ meats, it’s not all positive news. Although they’re the best raw dog food for a healthy dog, NEVER over-feed him because organ meats can give him diarrhea. The maximum should be three times each week…but it will vary from one dog to the next. If your dog has diarrhea, stop adding them to his diet until his stool is back to a normal, firm consistency again. Then you can slowly include organs as part of his raw meat diet for dogs but be mindful of how much he has each week. Remember, he can only have 5% of his meal as organ meats but feeding dogs raw meat should help keep him as healthy as possible.

Tripe isn’t an intestine or organ meat. It’s the lining/wall of lamb, cow, goat and deer stomachs. It works like a sponge, absorbing gastric and digestive juices that are rich in protein and omega 3 & 6 fatty acids.

The fermentation process and the manner in which the ruminant’s digestive systems work, the abomasum (cow’s fourth stomach) ends the digestive process by sending some of the rich nutrients into the dog’s bloodstream and the rest goes into his intestines. Your dog also receives natural digestive enzymes, amino acids and vitamins. Apart from everything else, enzymes are powerful teeth cleaners, whitening them so they look shiny and perfect.

Essential omegas help maintain your dog’s healthy coat and skin. Amino acids and vitamins help boost his energy. Plenty of owners give their dogs probiotics for upset tummies and diarrhea because nobody wants to see their pet barf dog food. This results in a quick recovery and good bacteria is regenerated from depletion, thanks to antibiotics prescribed by the vet. Tripe is rich in probiotics because of the volume of helpful microorganisms within the digestive tract.

Raw tripe has a 1:1 perfect balanced ratio of calcium to phosphorus, necessary for the healthy development and sustainability of joints and bones.

Raw Meaty Bones For Dogs

Feeding your dog raw bones is as healthy and natural as a meat diet for dogs. It’s all “wild food.” Dogs, by nature, love to hunt and they enjoy eating fresh or decaying food. Whatever way it happens, hunting and catching their prey before eating the bones is a long-held tradition. Even today, experienced dog owners and breeders appreciate that feeding dogs raw food in this manner, especially the raw bones for dogs, is an extremely healthy way of caring for man’s best friend.

Since the introduction of commercial “ready to serve” food options for dogs, studies have revealed a significant drop in owners giving their dogs bones, especially raw bones. This reduction is linked to a major rise in canine dental problems. Today, the veterinary dentistry industry thrives, whereas not long ago it barely existed. Owners should be raw feeding dogs to keep them as healthy as possible.

Benefits of Raw Meaty Bones

The greatest benefit of raw bones is that they have great nutritional value. They contain a natural, easily digestible, calcium source that’s four times easier to digest than most other calcium supplements. This is essential because raw meat contains high quantities of phosphorus so the two balance each other.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Sufficient Calcium in Your Dog’s Diet is Essential for Numerous Reasons Including:

  • Proper growth and development.
  • Strengthening bones and teeth (mineralization).
  • Ensuring joints are properly structured.
  • Helping muscles (including the heart) to contract.
  • A wide range of other metabolic processes.
  • Supplying smaller vital quantities of chondroitin sulphate and natural glucosamine (cartilage), bone marrow, and other minerals that are critical for good bone health.

Why are Raw Bones Better Than Cooked Bones?

If you cook bones before feeding them to your dog, you’re actually reducing the benefits and potentially causing hazards to their health. Once bones are cooked, the natural calcium can barely be absorbed and, considering just how important it is to your dog’s overall health, that’s crazy. Cooking bones makes them quite brittle and much tougher than raw bones so they can blunt or break your pet’s teeth after he has been chewing them for a while. Cooked bones can easily break into big chunks that can be swallowed BUT are impossible to digest, so it may result in a quick trip to the vet or hospital to remove any trapped chunks.

Bones for Dogs

When you want to buy bones for your dog, how big they are is determined by the size of your dog. Bigger dogs will easily manage larger bones such as: lamb shanks and necks, beef leg bones, kangaroo tails, chicken carcasses and whole chickens; and whole rabbits, etc. Smaller canines are better off with chicken frames, brisket bones, lamb flaps and ribs, etc.

The best bones to feed your dog can be eaten quickly and are highly nutritional, giving him everything needed for good health. It’s unwise to give a dog huge bones with minimal nutrients as they’ll get strewn across the yard, or be buried for later retrieval for chewing and playing with over many days, as if they were toys.

When looking for bones, the ideal choices still have raw dog meat on them to entice puppies to tear at the meat with their incisor teeth, giving them good exercise at the same time. This is vital when they’re puppies because their milk teeth get replaced by adult teeth.

How Often to Feed Your Dog Raw Bones?

A puppy should be given a bone each day while they’re growing. In small dog breeds growth finishes when they’re 6-12 months old; in medium size breeds it’s 12-18 months of age and for larger breeds, it finishes at 2 years old. At 4-5 weeks of age, puppies get milk teeth and can chew on soft bone pieces and macerated meat.

Adults will enjoy a bone each day but they can survive on 2 bones per week as a minimum. Older dogs need to chew on more bones because they need extra calcium to guard against arthritis and maintain good health.

What Bones Should You Avoid Feeding Your Dog?

Don’t use cooked bones! Otherwise your dog swallow instead of chew and small bones may get stuck in his gut or across the top of the mouth. If you feed your pet a large amount of dry food, it’s harder for him to digest the raw bones as easy as if he was fed lots of fresh meat to enjoy. Because it’s potentially cruel, there’s never a good excuse for feeding your dog cooked bones.

Feeding Dogs Raw Fish

Raw fish is a typical “prey-style” whole food and it’s best fed to your dog that way. You get the bones, tail, head and everything else that makes up a fish. The ideal choices are various oily fish such as sardines and sprats, etc.

Dogs require a specific nutrient (Omega 3s) that exists in large amounts in raw fish. If your dog mainly eats food that comes from grain-fed animals, fish becomes a critical element in his overall diet so he’ll get sufficient amounts of this nutrient. If most of the food your dog eats comes from sources that have been organic grass fed or free range, it has more Omega 3s so fish doesn’t become as necessary.

If your dog’s diet includes venison, rabbit and other “wild caught” animals, that also boosts the Omega 3s. If you have hens reared on all-natural foods or are free range, the yolks of their eggs will have a small quantity of Omega 3s.

Lots of dogs don’t like raw fish so owners turn to tinned food instead. However, the tinned varieties contain too much salt (sodium) for a healthy dog to properly process and it will be common for him to urinate more frequently. However, if he’s unable to process it fast enough, he may suffer from salt intoxication and that may lead to seizures and kidney failure.

The bottom line with fish is that you need oily fish due to the high Omega 3s content. If you’re forced to feed him canned fish, it’s best to choose fish in spring water instead of oil because it’s normally sunflower oil and that causes damage due to free radicals.

How Often Should You Feed Your Dog Raw Fish and How Much?

Feeding him fish twice per week gives him variety and leaves room for other raw foods. If he only gets fed once daily, add fish to a few of his meals, mixing and matching proper foods, and it will vary depending on what else you currently feed him. Fish contain the largest quantity of Omega 3s and are mostly pollution-free and safe to eat.

What About Parasites?

Freeze the fish and it destroys all parasites, thereby making it safe for your pet to eat. Freeze all fish you plan to feed your dog for a week and parasites will be eliminated.

Mixing Kibble and Raw Dog Food

Havanese
Havanese

Dogs get their energy requirements from fat and protein, two elements that are easy to get and should be included as part of a well-balanced raw dog food diet.
The pH in the acidic stomach breaks down and digests all components, enabling pepsin to perform at the highest level.

Their natural acidity will also prevent them from ingesting any bacteria. Dogs behave like scavengers and their system can handle anything they touch. The amount of protein digested in a dog’s stomach is dependent on pH because of pepsin requirements.

If you give your dog kibble (as a dry part of his diet), the pH of the stomach could reduce the amount of pepsin and cause an increased digestion time or protein may not be absorbed as easily. Because of this, dogs have a greater susceptibility to bacterial infections that their naturally acidic stomach would have prevented.

Starting Your New Puppy On a Raw Food Diet

If the new puppy you have brought home wasn’t already on a raw food diet, it might be awkward to start with, but with some pre-planning, it shouldn’t be very hard. Here are some pointers to help protect him from an upset tummy as you transition him from dry (kibble) food to the healthier raw puppy food.

Before I continue, I want to cover the problem lots of people have with giving large breed puppies raw pet food. While it’s vital to find the balance between the phosphorus and calcium in his food, it’s much simpler with raw puppy food. Lots of pet foods have been recalled because they contain an over-abundance of certain nutrients. The good news is that you can easily monitor all nutrients in real raw dog food so it’s a safer choice than kibble.

These tips will help you plan the best raw dog food options for your new puppy that are simple to eat and won’t leave stains on your floors.

Begin Cold Turkey

It’s unwise to feed your puppy kibble AND raw food. Kibble needs a different pH to fully digest in his gut so if you mix both, he’ll be more susceptible to bacteria within the raw meat. He can handle bacteria easily if you only give him raw food. If you feed him both, meat lingers within his digestive tract for double the timeframe, thereby increasing the risk of a build-up of bacteria.

Begin With a Single Source of Protein

Whether you use an already prepared raw food or make it yourself, it’s best to stick to a single protein source (such as tripe or chicken) for a week for your dog diet. If he has no symptoms of being unwell (e.g. an upset stomach), add a second protein, and then keep on going.

Create The Perfect Phosphorus/Calcium Balance

Picture a turkey neck as a meaty bone so you need to balance his meal like this:
Half to two-thirds = meaty bones. Half to one-third = meats (including organs).
It’s easy to do properly.

Ignore manufacturers who claim that balancing is hard. Create a good phosphorus/calcium balance with raw dog food because, there’s a much wider error margin. It’s almost impossible for a puppy to excrete the calcium synthetic powder, which is why too much calcium is more worrying than natural calcium contained in raw bones.

Feed Your Puppy Three Meals Daily

 

Pomeranian puppy
Pomeranian puppy

Begin the raw food diet for puppies with three meals every day until he’s six months old. After that, he can have two meals and, when he’s ready, you can begin to feed him once a day. If your puppy is a toy breed, he may suffer from hypoglycemia if there’s too much time between meals.

He should be fed 2-3% of the weight he would be as an adult. This is easier to calculate if he’s a purebred but if you don’t know, give him 10% of his current weight. Monitor whether he ends up too skinny or fat and adjust his meals to control his weight.

The breeder you bought your puppy from can usually tell you where to buy raw dog food and avoid the low-quality sellers. After all, your pet deserves nothing but the best.

Don’t Feed Puppy Too Much Organ Meat

If puppies haven’t eaten organs before, they can easily get diarrhea. If you have only just begun raw feeding puppies, don’t give them organs until they had solid stools for at least two weeks. Then introduce this part of a raw diet for puppies in small amounts; not a whole bowlful of liver or other organs in a single meal. Organs are essential to a puppy’s health because they’re full of powerful nutrients that don’t exist in muscle meat.

Fasting Your Dog:

Although making your dog fast for a couple of hours may seem cruel, it’s the total opposite. However, only healthy adult dogs should fast. Avoid doing so if you have lactating females, growing puppies, older dogs, toy dogs that are prone to hyperglycemia, and canines with health problems that preclude fasting as it can cause more harm than good. Talk to your vet before fasting your dog.

If your dog is healthy, fasting is the cheapest way to improve his health and longevity. Sadly, most U.S. citizens are addicted to food. This is bad for dogs because many owners feed them whenever the owner eats, meaning the dogs are given too much food, thereby leading to numerous degenerative, chronic diseases.

Supplements

Part of a natural food diet for dogs is to ensure he gets enough nutrients. If you can’t manage this for some reason, raw dog food supplements might be the answer. However,before you do that, ask the vet if it’s needed and is safe.

Other Dog Health Information

  • 1. Ensure his water bowl is always full of fresh water without chlorine. It’s vital all year round but even more in Summer.
  • 2. A puppy needs exercise but shouldn’t be forced to go for walks because that can affect his joints while they’re growing. Only commit to five minutes of play times, walks and training sessions for each month of his age until he reaches six months.
  • Lots of fresh air is another natural part of a healthy lifestyle for all puppies and dogs.

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Raw Feeding Guide
Raw Feeding Guide