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Post  Amanda on 9/1/2009, 9:35 pm

Why and How I Feed Raw
By: Hilary (pugpillow)

After eleven years of feeding supposedly high-quality vet-recommended kibble to my pugs, I switched to raw feeding to try to manage my dog’s extreme allergies and atopic dermatitis which were becoming life-threatening. Kim-Soo had had all the traditional tests, including food screening/elimination (kibble only) and patch tests and it was determined she was allergic to house dust, mites, grass, trees and ragweed, allergens hard for a dog to avoid! Despite seven years (and thousands of dollars worth!) of bi-weekly allergy shots and medications such as prednisone, antibiotics and cyclosporine, she continued to suffer until one weekend in 2005, we thought we were losing her. At that point we adopted Denver, a pug from a rescue group, as a “transition dog” so my remaining pug, Mei-Ling, would have company. That’s when I first heard about raw feeding and our lives changed forever.

Within three weeks of switching to raw food, Kimmy’s hot spots and pustules disappeared and her coat became shiny and soft. Within two months, her eye goop had almost disappeared and her chronic ear infections improved dramatically (I finished them off with a home-made remedy). In her last couple of years, Kimmy suffered from the long-term effects of all medications she had taken in the earlier years of her life and we sent her with love and dignity to the Rainbow Bridge in May, 2010 at 14 1/2 years old. She had been free of allergy symptoms and had taken no medication since she started raw food in the summer of 2005!!! It seemed truly to be a miracle.

In 2006 we fostered 7 year old Farnsworth who we thought was unadoptable because of his allergies and chronic yeast infection. My husband fell in love with him and, feeling he would be very hard to rehome with his health issues, we adopted him. Farni’s vet records showed a history of almost monthly vet visits for allergy symptoms and his belly was so black and encrusted, we were worried he had Cushings Disease. After a short spell of antifungal and antibiotics and a switch to raw food, he is a vibrant 11 year old today. I attribute his health primarily to what he eats – raw food.

Dr. Marty Goldstein, considered by many to be one of North America’s foremost holistic veterinarians, believes kibble to be the worst thing to feed your dog and raw to be the best (http://www.drmarty.com/feeding.htm). I agree with this evaluation, not only because of the ingredients and manufacturing process, but because kibble, by definition, is a dehydrated food, which needs to be rehydrated to be bioavailable. So water the dog consumes goes to rehydrating the kibble rather than sufficiently flushing out the body’s toxins. It is now believed that this inadequate flushing of bacteria and minerals can cause the formation of bladders and kidney stones. Many people think that kibble is the “normal” food for dogs, but kibble has only been around for about 50 years: http://www.sojos.com/historyofpetfood.html. Raw feeding, however, has been around as long as dogs have. Kibbles have improved, especially in the last five years, but the fact remains that it is still dehydrated food pellets manufactured from questionable ingredients (sometimes including “de-natured 4D livestock” and containing a high proportion of non-nutritional filler. Most kibbles still list corn and wheat as their main ingredients (you can tell by how early they appear in the ingredient listing); corn and wheat are very common allergens for dogs!

For more information, check out these links:

Since switching to raw food, I have done a lot of research and have learned that raw feeding can extend the length and quality of your dog’s life - some say by 30%. My personal experience and observation of the many turnarounds I’ve seen in our rescue programme confirm this. I have developed a feeding regimen based on my knowledge to date. I am not a health professional, so I urge you to research and experiment for yourself. I believe that most vets don’t have adequate nutrition training and knowledge (http://rawfed.com/myths/vets.html), but you may want to search for one that does and discuss raw feeding with them. Look for a vet that has post-vet school nutrition education not sponsored by a pet food manufacturer and who is not overly concerned with selling kibble products in their clinic.

I serve my pugs two meals a day – a “breakfast slop” in the morning and raw meat, poultry, fish or green tripe in the evening. Here’s the recipe for the morning meal. Be aware also that this recipe is for dogs with normal health conditions. Those suffering from bladder stones, diabetes, hyper- or hypothyroidism, Cushings’, etc. may need to have their diet modified. I do not recommend it for puppies because of the calcium content.

“Melange du Matin” (otherwise known as “Breakfast Slop”)
(makes about 40 – 3 oz. meals; preparation time: approximately 20 minutes)

• 5-6 lbs ground meat or ground chicken bones (if using the ground bones, omit eggshells and cut way back on raw meaty bones for the dinner meal)
• 2-3 cups of pureed veggies/fruit – high % dark green
• 2 ozs. of organ parts - liver, hearts, gizzards
• 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, preferably organic
• 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
• 2-3 tbsp. ground kelp
• 2 eggs with ground shells
• a handful of fresh parsley
• 2-3 tbsp. of natural coconut oil
• 1 large can of pure pumpkin (not the pie-filling kind) or equivalent in fresh/frozen form
• plain no-fat yogurt (containing active bacteria), or kefir

Put all ingredients except ground meat bones and yoghurt through a food processor and when mixed, combine well with meat. Freeze in individual portions. My pugs (weighing approximately from 13 to 23 lbs. each) get 3 oz. each morning. I adjust their portions according to whether they need to gain or lose weight . Add a dollop of yoghurt to each portion when serving.

Here are the benefits of the ingredients:
• meat/poultry is the staple of the diet and a protein source
• fruits and veggies are a source of fibre, vitamins & minerals and antioxidants. Green leafy veggies are high in vitamin E
• garlic helps prevent blood clots and adds flavour. It should be used in moderation in a canine diet
• apple cider vinegar contains trace minerals; see http://www.lacetoleather.com/wonderdrug.html
• no-fat yoghurt contains Lactobacillis Acidophilus, a good bacteria for the stomach and bowel
• kelp provides iodine which helps the thyroid; omit it if your dog has hyperthyroidism. Kelp is also an antioxidant and source of thyroxine and riboflavin and many other vitamins and minerals.
• eggs with shells: shells are a wonderful source of calcium (carbonate); add them ground (I use a coffee grinder). The ground bones are also full of calcium so omit the eggshells when using them.
• parsley: see http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=100
• coconut oil: see http://www.mercola.com/2001/mar/24/coconut_oil.htm

To this mixture, you can, if you think necessary, add supplements such vitamin B, vitamin E, cottage cheese, yucca, Wobenzym, slippery elm, bee pollen, calcium carbonate powder (not if using ground bones), grapefruit seed extract, probiotics, etc. I grind with mortar and pestle and add separately whatever each dog needs. The kelp, coconut oil, bee pollen and vitamins can be bought at health food stores and, in some cases, in grocery or big box stores. Note that freezing damages vitamins B and E (and yoghurt). Yucca and Wobenzym are for arthritis. Vitamin B and bee pollen are to boost the immune system. Slippery elm powder is a stomach remedy. Calcium carbonate powder is a necessary calcium supplement if the diet contains predominately phosphorus–rich foods (such as ground meat, poultry, fish and organ tissues) and is deficient in digestible bones. Grapefruit seed extract is for systemic yeast problems. I do not add supplements unless I think necessary for the particular dog. In fact, once stabilized, my dogs get supplements very infrequently.

I used to supplement with fish oil but have stopped since using coconut oil. If you prefer fish oil, you can pour the contents of a 1000 mg capsule of Salmon/Wild fish Oil over their portion about 3-4 times a week for an Omega-3 boost. It is cleaned of contaminants which are so often found nowadays in various fish, including farmed fish. Fish and vegetable oils contain long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids that are prone to oxidation in the body and use up vitamin E to prevent that. So if you do add fish oil, also add Vitamin E as replenishment. Coconut oil, on the other hand, is a saturated fat consisting of short- and medium-chain fatty acids, and does not oxidize easily in the body, so extra vitamin E is not required if there is an adequate amount in the diet. Coconut oil actually enhances the absorption of vitamin E.

Be watchful for allergies such as lactose intolerance (cottage cheese, yoghurt, cheese) and grains (flaxseed, wheat germ, alfalfa etc.). Introduce new ingredients gradually or be prepared for throw-ups/diarrhea/constipation for a while as the stomach adjusts to becoming more acidic. By the way, pumpkin (not the pie filling kind) or slippery elm powder is great to regularize bowel movements and is fantastic overall for dogs.

Raw meaty bones (digestible and either whole or ground up) should make up about 50-60% of the total diet (for high calcium content). The key word in this phrase is “meaty”. Another way to look at it is to imagine how a wild dog or wolf eats. They will kill or find prey and devour the whole carcass – meat, bones and innards. You can think of what they eat in these terms – approximately 10-15% is digestible bone and 10-15% is offal (organs); the rest is meat. Don’t try to overthink the proportions. Just try to mimic what they would eat in nature, with the emphasis on raw meat. Don’t overdo the organs or you will have loose bowel problems. If you feed ground bones in the morning meal, they don’t need much bone for evening meals, perhaps a chicken thigh or duck neck once or twice a week.

Dogs don’t need carbohydrates in their diet and their digestive tracts are not designed to process them. I avoid grains completely because of their allergenic properties. Some raw feeders claim that fruit and vegetables have no part to play in canine nutrition. While not absolutely necessary, partly digested vegetables and fruit are found in the stomachs of prey, and I believe that they are a good source of fibre in the diet, contain vitamins and minerals, and provide cancer-fighting antioxidants. And the dogs love them – ever watch a dog rooting around for rotten fruit under an apple tree? I use fruits and veggies (or dehycrated liver) instead of cookies as treats.

Every batch of slop is different (depending on what’s on sale or in the house) but each contains a high proportion of green leafy stuff. The veggies I choose from for the pureed mixture include romaine, spinach (preferably organic), Swiss chard, bok choy, collards, green beans, peas (not many), carrots, celery, cucumber, parsnips, sweet potato, squash, bean sprouts, etc. You can also use potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants and peppers (capiscum) unless your dogs have arthritis, respiratory problems or any signs of inflammation, swelling or mucous. I also avoid beets (too much sugar, which encourages yeast ). Don’t overfeed cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, watercress, radishes, rutabagas/turnips) as they can lower thyroid function. Fruits can be melons, peeled apples (not too much – acidic), bananas, blueberries (not too many to avoid diarrhea), cranberries (not too much, but good for the urinary system) and pear. Not grapes nor raisins as these are toxic to dogs. If your dog has thyroid problems, I would avoid fruits and veggies until you know which ones are okay; most of them aren’t.

Pureeing veggies and fruits enables the body to absorb the nutrients so all those vitamins and minerals don’t end up on your lawn. My pugs only poop once a day, occasionally twice, because their bodies are processing the food efficiently. The only solid veggies and fruit I serve are for treats and are frequently dehydrated (a slice of sweet potato, turnip, apple or pear). I NEVER give dog biscuits as most contain grains, to which many dogs are really allergic, and sugar. Occasionally I treat with dehydrated chicken livers (maximum 2 because they are rich and too many will cause diarrhea). Instead of rawhide chews (which cause intestinal problems and choking), I give them strips of dehydrated white tripe; they don’t last as long, but they’re better for them. I avoid Greenies like the plague.

I pour the breakfast slop mixture into containers and freeze. Serve defrosted. In the morning, when I take their breakfast out of the fridge, I move another batch from the freezer to the fridge so it’s ready for the next day. I do the same with the evening meal – as I’m serving the meal, I get the next night’s meal out of the freezer so it can defrost in the fridge for 24 hours.

For dinner, the dogs get meat, poultry, fish or green tripe (usually mixed with something). Raw meaty bones (e.g. raw chicken drumsticks, duck necks) account for some of these meals. Make sure they get a wide range of meats/poultry/fish – choose from chicken, beef (freeze at least 72 hours to destroy bacteria), pork (same), lamb, rabbit, turkey, duck, goose, deer, venison, goat, bison, oxtails, etc. Ethnic butchers are good sources for the more “exotic” meats. Avoid uninspected venison (i.e. direct from hunters) as there is a parasite in many deer in Ontario; also, it is illegal to buy from unauthorized sources.

Some dogs are allergic to some meats/poultry – it’s trial and error. But don’t assume that they are allergic if they throw up a food for the first time; it takes a while for the stomach to develop the different digestive enzymes necessary to process raw foods, if they’re not used to it. Dogs are not vulnerable to bacteria such as salmonella unless their immune system is highly compromised; just think about them burying and digging up bones weeks later! However, because of human vulnerability, make sure you use proper hygiene practices when dealing with raw meat. And I don’t let them kiss me right after a meal, especially if it contains tripe!

Meat and bones (wings/thighs, neck/backs/spines etc.) should always be served RAW, never cooked. Cooked bones splinter and can choke and kill your dog. Bone is important for the calcium content and to keep their teeth free of tartar. Some people avoid serving weight-bearing bones such as thigh but I don’t worry about chicken and turkey thighs unless the poultry is free-range (the fowl have stronger bones). Except for marrow bones (too big to swallow) and long lamb bones, they eat most boney things up completely. Marrow bones and lamb bones are mainly for recreation rather than calcium intake. They love them. So do I because they keep the dogs occupied for quite a while. Don’t worry about the fat on the bones; unlike for humans, the fat is processed easily by their acidic digestive system (if they are eating raw). Of course, a steady diet of high fat intake can lead to pancreatitis, so moderation is the key. Bones and raw food are messy and ugly so feed them outside or confined to a cleanable space. Caution: always supervise the dogs closely when eating bones. I cannot stress this too much. If you have a “gulper”, you may have to hold the bone while they learn to chew at it. I often take their bones away if they become too small, too sharp or of a shape that I consider could cause blockage/choking. I also remove their recreational lamb bones when I am not around.

Balance in the diet is crucial. A variety of proteins in the diet builds better muscle mass, including the heart and minimizes the chance of developing an allergy to one food from overexposure. Here’s what I’ve fed mine so far:

chicken: any part - wings, thighs, necks or backs (carcasses), breast or leg meat, organs; I get ground meaty chicken bones for the breakfast slop from the abattoir for $.75/lb. Poultry shears are a great investment!
turkey: any part - wings, thighs, necks or backs (carcasses), breast or leg meat, organs; raw turkey bones tend to be large and sharp after chewed for a while, even when uncooked. I take them away when they get too sharp or small enough to swallow whole.
pork: pork spines (also messy); ground pork (also used for breakfast slop), picnic shoulder, liver, etc. I no longer feed pork button bones because of the risk of choking in small dogs.
beef: marrow bones, heart, stewing beef, ground beef (also used for breakfast slop), riblets, uncooked roast, etc.
lamb: stew bones, shanks, ground
rabbit: meaty bones and meat
goat: meaty bones. I no longer recommend these for small dogs because of the risk of choking.
duck: necks

Every couple of weeks, they get defrosted fresh “green” (unbleached) tripe, a truly great source of nourishment. Beware - it stinks!! You buy the whole stomach and cut it up (or have it done) into bite-size portions, a nasty job but worthwhile for your dogs as it is a wonderful source of Omega-3. Green tripe has a low PH (higher acidity) which aids digestion. It also has the wonderful calcium to phosphorus ratio of 1:1 !! You can buy canned green tripe (available on-line as Tripett) but I don’t believe the nutritional value is as good.

Once or twice a week the dogs get fish, preferably fresh or frozen. The heads and innards contain valuable oils and nutrients that fillets and canned fish don’t provide as well. I buy frozen whole sardines at the grocery store and serve one fish (approximately 6 inches long) each, including the head; (I do take the tail off because it’s sharp although this is not necessary for bigger dogs). If I’ve forgotten to defrost something or am in a hurry, I will serve canned fish (jack mackerel, sardines), rinsed well to get rid of excess salt. Just make sure you buy the fish canned in water or brine (rinse VERY well) and not some other sauce! A good mix of fish is recommended to minimize intake of contaminants (lead, mercury, etc.). Avoid Pacific Northwest Salmon as it can cause acute bowel problems. Also avoid Atlantic salmon; the wild stuff is endangered and the farmed stuff is not only lacking in nutrients but full of parasites and high toxic levels (PCBs, etc.).

I don’t recommend serving a mixture of kibble and raw food, especially not at the same meal. Some experts say the PH levels necessary in the stomach for digestion are different for kibble and raw so one or the other will not be efficiently processed. But I would rather you serve both kibble and raw than not feed raw at all! I also avoid cooking meat; experts say that the chemistry of meat changes with heat and the result is tantamount to serving your dog a form of polymer (plastic) that their digestive system can’t process - another reason to avoid kibble which is heat-processed. You can now buy commercial raw food, but it is expensive, especially for a multi-dog household. A big benefit to feeding your own raw mixture is the reduced risk of potentially fatal contamination as seen in commercial pet food recalls.

If you’re new to raw feeding, monitor for constipation or really hard stools (very hard or white stools suggests you’re feeding too much ingested bones) and feed pure pumpkin and/or dehydrated chicken livers to loosen things up. Their bodies will adapt over time. (It is also a good idea to get a blood workup at your annual vet visit.) It may take a few weeks to see a difference. In the meantime, your pup may be expelling toxins from previous food and meds, especially if they’ve been exposed to either for a long time. This can show up in eye goop, mucous-covered stools, etc. You can aid this detoxification by adding Ultimate Liver Cleanse or Milk Thistle to the slop (both available at health food stores and some supermarkets). Be patient and give it at least a month or better, two months. In my experience the results of raw are fantastic – better overall health, shinier coat, better weight control (even though they’re eating more), fewer stools and management of allergies. I love it and so do my dogs!

Last edited by Amanda on 7/15/2010, 8:41 pm; edited 1 time in total

Amanda, mom to Nell, Lucy & Ava

Number of posts : 6990
Location : Maryland


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