My Dog has a Better Diet than Me!
Ah, Raw Feeding. One of the biggest controversies of the pet food world. For anyone reading this I want you to know I am not saying any one way of feeding is better than the other. At the end of the day I firmly believe that what’s best for your dog is what works best for them as an individual, and what you can provide. I am just writing to share my experience and the reasons why we chose to feed raw. With everything dog, and I guess life related, I encourage you to do your own research and make your own informed decisions. This series can be part of such research but is not intended to be your complete source of information.
Before we get into all the raw details, let me first introduce who has put together this series. As you may know, I personally feed Diego Orijen food, but have always taken an interest in other types of food options. I was watching some Instagram stories and came across WildCardMeela showing her raw food prep. This instantly got my attention, I asked a few more questions and asked if she could possibly write a blog post about her experiences. What initially started as one blog post, became an extremely long blog post so has now been cut down into a series. I love what she has written, I find it very informative, well written and a great start to explaining why she went down the raw route. I would love if you could go follow them, and give them some love/feedback on this post as she is nerv-cited to see the response. From now on, you are in the capable hands (text) of Nicole:
We are @wildcardmeela on Instagram. My names Nicole, I’m the human (obviously) and Meela is quite literally a wild-card rescue pup from an awesome rescue down in Hamilton called DC Rescue. Oh, and we better not forget dog-dad Aidan, Meela’s favourite person by far. We adopted Meela last year in November at the age of 3 months old, and she has kept us on our toes since then. It was assumed she was a Rottweiler/Mastiff and after watching her grow for nearly 9 months we are confident she is anything but! She is a bit of an in-betweener when it comes to size and has the energy of a cattle dog.
After bringing Meela home we thought we would have no problem at all getting her to eat. In true fat, podgy little puppy style she would scoff down the kibble as if she was competing for an Olympic medal. Easy, we thought, training will be a breeze with this kind of food drive. But once we swapped her from the cheap kibble we had quickly purchased on the way home to brands like Black Hawk and Hill's Science Diet things got a little tougher. Despite waking us up by 7am with a paw to the head in true hangry style, Meela would still turn her nose up at kibble. She was obviously hungry but would only eat about half of the daily recommended amount. It wasn't a great feeling when you can tell your furry little friend is hungry but don't want their food. After a few months we decided enough was enough, Meela needed to eat.
Raw feeding was something I wanted to avoid at all costs before we got Meela. From an outsider’s perspective it looked like too much work, too much money and too much uncertainty. A lot of vets oppose it simply for lack of better understanding, so you know you aren't going to find any support there. Now, I usually like to consider myself someone not easily swayed by Netflix and movies, but after watching "Petfooled" on Netflix I was convinced: we we're going to try DIY raw feeding.
There are lots of types of raw diets for dogs. There are premade services where everything is balanced, minced and bundled up in nice packages. This is by far the easiest but likely also the most expensive. Also, you don't get as many of the dental benefits of feeding raw meaty bone. Another type is services that provide plans and meals for the dog, all portioned out and ready to. Again, these we're too expensive for us. Then there is DIY raw feeding, where you source your own meat and portion it yourself, weighing out the raw meaty bone, muscle meats and organs. This is time consuming but if you learn what works, it is the cheapest.
One major thing I have learnt is that raw feeding is what you make it to be. I've seen people post in Facebook groups about the store-bought quail they just purchased for their dogs to the other extreme of people offering to clean out freezers in exchange for keeping any unwanted freezer burnt meat. There are extremes and then there is everything in between.
With Meela now fully transitioned, she eats better than my partner and I do. She is on the Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (B.A.R.F Diet) and gets certain percentages of bone, muscle meat, organ and then vegetables/fruit. The vegetables/fruit part if optional and is another debate that we will not get into here. A typical meal for Meela might include a chicken drumstick, thigh or back and then muscle meats including green tripe, heart, tongue or standard cuts. Then she gets liver in every meal as well as another type of secreting organ like brains or kidney. On top of that she gets frozen cubes with blitzed vegetables and fruit. After months of watching her sniff the kibble before walking away, it is relieving to watch Meela lick every bowl clean. She also insists on big sloppy dog kisses after every meal, and I like to think she is telling us we are doing the right thing by her.
On top of the meat Meela also gets various supplements. This is another part of the B.A.R.F vs Prey Model debate, as the Prey Model argues supplements are not necessary unless you are giving them for a cause or deficit. But anyway, if we got into that we would be here all day. Meela gets
· Coconut oil to help her skin and immune system
· Kefir for its probiotic benefits (it really helped to fight off Meela's paw yeast infection)
· Apple cider vinegar for its help with itchy skin (and again, it REALLY helped with the yeast infection)
· Gelatine (occasionally) for its benefits in cartilage growth for joints
· Spirulina for the boost in immunity
· Turmeric for its anti-inflammatory benefits
· Bone broth as another supplement for strengthening joints
· NZ Green lipped mussels for manganese, an essential vitamin for dogs
· Eggs because they are a great source of digestible protein and contain lots of vitamins
Meela will get some of these every day, some she might get a few times a week and some she may only get when she is injured or needs them.
Another common misconception of raw feeding are the following 'myths". Your dog will transform overnight into a mean, bloodthirsty, eating machine- wrong! Meela has had no change in her personality, she is still as sociable as ever and continues to make generous attempts to befriend my mum's cat. Raw feeding your dog is not balanced- wrong! Well this depends on your prepping and balancing, of course if you serve your furry friend a juicy scotch steak every night they won't get what they need, but if you balance the meat, organ and bone with supplements you can definitely get it right. Raw feeding a dog exposes them to risk of Salmonella-there is a very small possibility of this but what a lot of people forget is that there is also risk of salmonella in kibble. Bones are dangerous for my dog- again, wrong, provided you are giving them the correct bones. Bones are awesome for acting like a natural toothbrush and keeping your pups teeth and jaw clean and strong, however they need to be appropriate (no weight-bearing bones) and a correct size for your dog. Also, I know we only just met and this might be a little far for first base, but let me fill you in on a big (but also little) benefit. Their poops really shrink on a balanced raw diet, plus they smell way less. Anyway, back to the raw food.
Meela is what I would describe as ‘thriving’ on her raw diet. Her coats looking shiny, she has copious amounts of energy and the best of all, SHES EATING EVERY MEAL. Raw feeding is scary at first, but with a little guidance in the right direction, it can get quite easy! I owe HUGE thanks to Danielle, fur-mum of @eddyexplores who helped me weave through that initial scary ‘I can’t do this, I’ll never figure it out’ feeling. Other accounts that are awesome to follow for some inspiration are @rawfedandfurry, @rawfedk9 and @perfectlyrawsome. I got a lot of my supplement ideas from these pages and they are constantly trying out new types of supplements for their pooches.
Over the rest of this little mini-series we I’ll be writing about the meals Meela gets daily and how I shop for, construct and prepare these. I’ll also be writing a post with supplement ideas and a more detailed view of the supplements I give Meela and the reasons why. Please remember that all of this from personal experience and a little bit of research, I would 100% recommend doing your own research before starting a raw dog diet.
See you again soon!