When people find out that we feed our dogs a raw food diet, they are much less interested in why we decided to do it, or what research we did before making the switch. Their number one question is:
What do you feed them, anyway?
Our dogs are fed an omnivorous diet. They eat a wide variety of vegetables, small quantities of fruits, different meats, limited grains, and supplements in their natural form. There are a number of foods that are not good for your dog. This post is not about those foods. Please research this diet carefully, and talk to your veterinarian before beginning this diet on your own.
I like lists. Let’s begin with ingredients that may go into their vegetable mash:
- Sweet Potato
- Red Cabbage
- Red Peppers
- Brussels Sprouts
- Green Beans
It is recommended that all fruit and vegetable matter be ground to a pulp before feeding. I just use my food processor. This is to replicate how dogs might eat these items in the wild: through the pre-chewed food of their prey.
In addition to a combination of the above ingredients I like to add either walnuts or almonds. The fats in the nuts are good for the dogs. As they are blended with the more watery vegetables, they have an emulsifying effect. I like how they help hold the mix together. Kind of like peanut butter.
- Ground Chicken Hearts
- Minced Chicken Thigh
- Ground Beef
- Beef Liver
I source the meat from several places. Von Hanson’s, a local butcher, will special order a 40 lb box of chicken hearts for around $80. Chicken hearts are very lean. Von Hanson’s will grind any percentage of fat into your meat. I add 20% fat.
The meat comes packaged in several sturdy buckets. Depending on who packs it, I can get anywhere from 5 to 8 buckets per order. I go through about 1 bucket per week for the 3 dogs.
I prefer to buy the other meats in bulk at Costco.
I try to freeze everything (apart from the eggs) for at least 72 hours to kill bacteria. I do not feed them pork.
- Homemade Full Fat Yogurt
- Ground Flax
Ground flax is a great source of omega 6 fatty acids and fiber. The crew’s coats have never looked better. The yogurt provides probiotics, and since it’s fermented it is an appropriate dairy for their systems to digest.
- Chia Seed
They get about a tablespoon of one of these choices a couple of times a week.
If you read books about the raw diet, you’ll notice an emphasis on “meaty bones.” I gave raw bones to our dogs when we started this diet. They loved them. They loved them so much that they stopped crunching them up as they were supposed to and Porter choked. That was enough for me. If you have a very young dog you can train, or an only dog then you might have better luck. The competition for food is too fierce in our house for any dog to be rational about what’s for dinner.
I keep all of their vegetables in a plastic container, and all of their meat in a separate container in the refrigerator. Our dogs are fed twice a day. They’ll let you know when.
How much you feed your dog will depend on it’s weight, and age. As a general guideline:
- 2.0% Weight loss
- 2.5% Maintenance
- 3.0% Slight weight gain
- 4.0% Puppies (12 weeks to 1 year)
Once you get a routine down it is easy to feed your dogs healthy food without worry of suspect ingredients which might be lurking in a bag of meat cereal.
If you’re interested in learning more about raw feeding your dogs, I highly recommend Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats. It’s an inexpensive book and will get you started.