So You Think You Want To Feed Raw….

Feeding dogs and cats a raw natural diet has become more and more popular as pet owners have become better educated about what is good for their animals.  With more people taking the time to understand what food is best for their pet, new raw feeders ‘come out’ of the kibble closet every single day.  So you think you want to feed raw?

Well here are some tips on getting started!

  1. Find sources. Will you be feeding food you buy locally, ordering from a company that offers a pre-made food or a little of both?  What is most cost effective for you but still gives you the variety that your dog will need?
  2. Plan on feeding a variety of protein sources. Beef, tripe, chicken, turkey are usually a good place to start.  If you can find more, add more.  There is no such thing as too much variety for most dogs.
  3. Start slowly. Don’t overwhelm your dog with 4 different proteins in 4 days.  Pick one protein and start there.
  4. Many people prefer to begin with chicken. It is relatively easy to find, cost effective and handled well by most dogs.  You can feed a pre-made ground or whole pieces – you decide your comfort level.
  5. Decide how you will make the transition. Most people have great luck simply switching cold turkey.  Obtain a good probiotic to feed along with your dog’s meals to help ease him over to ‘real’ food with minimal fuss.
  6. To decide how much to feed initially, figure out your dog’s ideal weight and start at 2-3% of that number. Generally it is appropriate to start larger dogs at 2% and smaller/toy dogs at around 3%.  Take into consideration your dog’s age, activity and energy level.  A younger more active or actively working animal will generally need more food.  An older less active pup, less.  Play with the amounts – there is no absolute right answer as each dog is an individual – some need more, some less.  Just remember to keep them lean.
  7. Stick with your protein of choice and that protein only. Don’t confuse the issue from the start by adding a large number of supplements and other items like veggies. There is time to incorporate those things later.
  8. After your dog is comfortably eating his first protein choice, pick a second one and away you go! Some choose to introduce it slowly, most just go for it.  Once you determine your dog is fine with the new meat, it is on to the next!
  9. Decide what supplements your dog needs. Fish oil is generally a good choice for all dogs *no matter what food they eat.  Probiotics, kelp, raw goat’s milk, joint supplements – you tailor your supplement needs to your particular dog.  It’s just that easy.
  10. Feeding veggies is a personal decision. If you choose to feed them, wait until your dog is acclimated to eating a variety of proteins before making them a part of his regular diet.

Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to starting your dog out on raw.  Feeding too much too soon often results in digestive upset that frustrates the dog owner often allowing them to convince themselves that raw isn’t right when the problem is the way they went about it.  Take it easy, take it slow and your dog will thrive as a result.