Feeding your dog a raw diet

By Brigitte Barton

Many dogs develop skin allergies, over active behaviour, aggression, bad teeth, cancer etc a few years into their life.
More often than not these symptoms are due to a manufactured diet which comes in tins or in the form of dried food. Due to the manufacturing process many important minerals and vitamins are killed and lead to a deficiency. Also, manufacturers add flavourings and preservatives as well as colours to their food in the shape of chemicals. These are often not eliminated by the dog as their body cannot process them. The toxins get stored in their systems and therefore it often takes years before we see any ill effects.

As soon as the dog is fed a home-made diet the body can begin to detox and recover. It is never too late to change your dog to a raw food diet. Vets often advise against these for two reasons: one, because any raw bones can splinter and cause tears in the gut walls and two, because there are harmful bacteria in raw meat. Cooking any meat would destroy this bacteria but it would also destroy many of the nutrients which your dog needs.

Any meat that is fed to your dog needs to be frozen for a minimum of 3 days. This will kill all harmful bacteria. Due to the dog’s high acid contents of its stomach which needs to be able to break down any non-chewed food including bones, it is possible to defrost meat, mix it with raw ground vegetables, and re-freeze it in portions. This may sometimes be necessary if you are going away for a few days and want to prepare food in advance or if you have a busy weekly schedule and want to prepare your dog’s food for the week in portions. If you prefer to prepare his meal on a daily basis but have meat left over you can keep it in the fridge for another day or two.

Phoebe eatingIf you want to feed your dog any bones I can only recommend chicken wings and breast of lamb (lamb ribs) because those bones are as soft as cartilage and will not cause any damage in your dog’s stomach. Both must be fed raw as they would go brittle when cooked! You can give your dog a couple of chicken wings now and then as a treat. He will love you for it!

So, what meat do you feed a dog? You can buy meat especially prepared for dogs. It is human grade meat but often has some ‘inners’ like heart, kidney, liver mixed in and also contains some ground bone. Bone is an essential source of minerals for your dog and it is therefore necessary to include bone in the diet but if it is ground and mixed into the meat it will not cause any harm.

A dog’s diet must consist of meat (beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, rabbit) and offal (tripe, heart, kidney and some liver) plus finely ground vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, celery, courgette, leafy spinach, apples, pears, bananas. You can also add chopped up sunflower or pumpkin seeds, dried apricots or dates, parsley, thyme, basil etc. The vegetables must be pureed so that they are nice and mushy.

Never feed your dog any onions, leek, chives, grapes, sultanas, raisins or human chocolate! Also, please do not think that your dog needs to be fed fat free. He is not a human and does require fat for maintaining a healthy body. Please note that some dogs have problems digesting runner beans and can become quite bloated.

If you want to give him fish it is best to cook it as most dogs do not like raw fish. However, a can of tuna in oil or some mackerels in oil or sardines are most welcome and can serve as an ideal stand-bye if you forgot to buy meat.

If your dog is fed a well-balanced diet of meat (often in minced form), offal and a mixture of vegetables there is no need to add any extra pills or powders. However, Keeper’s Mix by Dorwest Herbs can be added as it contains all minerals necessary for your dog.

How much you feed your dog depends on his level of activity and his body size. If he is overweight before you start the raw diet you should start him on a portion of meat correct for his normal size, not his overweight size. I give you some guidelines as to how much to feed but you must watch your dog to see if he goes too thin (then increase the meat portion) or if he goes too fat (then decrease his meat portion and give him an extra tablespoon of vegetables). On this diet it is best to feed your dog a small breakfast such as half a banana with some yoghurt or a Wheetabix or Shredded Wheat with some warm milk etc and give him his full meal of meat and 2 – 3 tablespoons of veggies in the evening, around 6 pm. Do not feel tempted to feed more veggies as this would cause an imbalance. He then only needs a little top up in the morning.

If you have to kennel your dog because you are going on holiday you can replace his raw diet by something like NatureDiet which is a ready-made meal of meat, veggies and rice and heat sealed in a white thermo packet. This can be bought on the internet or in pet stores.

Feeding guide

Dog meat usually comes in portions of 460 gr approx.

  • A small dog (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel) requires about 80 – 100 gr of meat a day
  • A medium size dog (Border Collie upto 25 kg) requires about 160 – 180 gr of meat a day
  • A large dog (German Shepherd upto 35 kg) requires about 220 -280 gr of meat a day
  • A very large dog (Rottweiler, Great Dane) requires about 300-400 gr of meat a day.

The meat must be accompanied by a mixture of ground vegetables. They should be 25% of your dog’s dinner. Mix the veggies well into the meat as your dog would leave them and just eat the meat. Make sure you weigh the meat every day as you can easily misjudge the weight.

There is no need to add any mixer (and thereby manufactured food!) to your dog’s diet. If you have any rice or pasta left-overs your dog will happily eat those up for you.

Where to buy

Most large pet stores have freezers in which you find frozen minced meat for your dog. However, it is cheaper to buy the meat through the internet if you have storage for a larger order as they usually require you to place an order of around £40.

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