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So I am thinking about switching Nelson over to raw food. I know there are a bunch of topics on raw food, but I have some more specific questions, especially wondering about travelling and raw food.

 

He is currently on Fromm's Salmon A La Veg, but his digestion doesn't seem to be optimal. His poo is always on the hard side and he seems to have a hard time getting it out. And he always runs away from it as if it's might try and crawl back and bit him.

 

The cost of his food right now is approximately 70$ a month, raw would be between $125-$150 a month (this is pet store pricing, I think i'll get better pricing at a butcher). It's 'big' difference in price, but worth it it seems. I was wondering about a few things and would like to hear your thoughts on it:

 

- Do you have any experience travelling? What do you do when you go to the states and can't bring any meat across the border (I am in Canada, and go to the US quite often)? And also, wont be coming along a butcher or pet store on the way at all.

- We will be moving to Europe in March 2015, it might be harder to get raw food there (we will be in a small town). Will there be a benefit from giving Nelson raw until then? And maybe in Europe, switch to kibble?

- Do I always have to feed raw once I switch? Or can he have kibble in the morning and raw at night? Or a mixture of both?

- Do you buy your food from a pet store or a butcher or make it yourself?

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I feed raw in the morning and kibble at night. About 1/2 of our raw meals are commercial raw that I get mail order and 1/2 are home made. When traveling I bring about 2 days worth frozen solid in the cooler and I bring a premix to add fresh meat to for the rest of the time, then I can use grocery store meat.

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I don't feed exclusively raw, but have at times. When I traveled to sheepdog trials, I would stop at grocery stores (you can usually find a grocery store) if I needed extra (beyond what I had packed in a cooler). I pretty much never used the premade raw foods you can get at a pet store because they are so expensive.

 

There's no harm to feeding raw till you move and then switching back to kibble if you have to. Like Gideon's girl I fed both raw and kibble because for me it helped insure that I was meeting all of my dogs' nutritional needs. If you feed exclusively raw, it would serve you, IMO, to learn about the basic nutritional needs of dogs and make sure you are meeting them (balancing organ meats with bone and muscle meats, etc.).

 

I don't see why you wouldn't be able to find a butcher in Europe, so I wouldn't worry overly much about that. Cost might be a factor, but I don't think availability would be.

 

I don't "premake" anything. I either get raw meat from the grocery store or use meat I've raised myself and had butchered. I prefer what I've raised because I know it's free of chemicals and has been raised humanely, but I raise a limited number of animal types (sheep and chickens) so need to purchase to add variety.

 

I know people who feed kibble and raw at the same time or split it between meals. I have heard all the arguments about not feeding raw and kibble together because they are digested at a different rate, but I have done so without any bad results.

 

J.

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We have dabbled with raw feeding for a few years. Feeding turkey necks, beef rib bones and extra parts of our own animals; we mainly did this for dental help and to give the dogs a special treat. We have 2 10+ dogs whom have never had dentals and have great teeth; I work at a small animal vet and my doctors are always amazed how good everyone's teeth are, of course, they don't want to hear that I feed raw :)/>

 

The main thing that has stopped us from going completely raw in the past was planning; having to pull frozen meals in advance, buying meat in bulk and spending time packaging, calling the butcher and ordering cases in advance; but we did it this past September, we do still have a bag of kibble on hand for those mornings we are running late or when we forgot to pull raw; but we haven't used very much of it. As Julie said there are people who feel that you can't feed the two interchangable, we haven't had a problem with that, except sometimes getting a dirty look for putting kibble in the bowl, ha.

 

Our cost averages $1.50 per day/dog. We don't do pre-purchased raw, it's too expensive for us. I don't pre-make anything b/c we don't feed veggies or anything mixed in with our raw, so when we buy our meat it gets thawed and then I have a vaccuum sealer that I put each feeding into label and re-freeze. We do offer fresh veggies from the garden or when we are cooking, but not at meal time.

 

Traveling isn't an issue, when we were recently in Canada for a dog show we just stopped at a store and bought chicken, beef hearts and beef bones for the dogs. I'm sure our average went up on those days since we paid premium store costs and we did have kibble on hand just incase we couldn't find anything, but it's not an issue.

 

I wouldn't be concerned about moving in the future and I do believe that you could find a butcher there if you wanted to continue feeding raw. I remember being in Scotland in a small village and watching this big meat van drive down the road with 1/2 carcasses hanging in the back with the van back door open as they drove from one stop to the next.

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I give my LGD a lot more RAW diet than the Border Collies.....once a week, the Border Collies get RAW, usually on Sunday.....plus raw big bones. When we butcher I save the organ meat, legs, etc and they eat a lot more raw. It helps a lot with the teeth. Plus they love it. The neighbor next door give me his cow bones, organ meat and wharever else I want. If I see turkey necks on sale, I will buy a bag. I tried to go all RAW a while ago and it was too much for my time, based on 6-10 dogs to feed. But I feed them a high quality dogfood, with supplements and of course, a pig ear when we go to the feed store.

 

I do make it a habit when I go to trial to get raw chicken necks or something like that on the first night when we settle for camp, they get where base camp is and to come quickly. ....they have this down pat now. Tess will get her meal then visit the other camps...often she will do the entire rounds, and eat well...people tell me they can hear me call her, see her look at me, then continue to beg, they feed her and slowly I wander around and find her with my wine glass in hand and visit...it's a ritual now and a good laugh....they all knew her when she was a terrified pup of people and now, she is the social butterfly. She knows whow the RAW feeders are and loves to visit them and get a meal....sheesh! Sometimes the people are slow to feed her, so she will do her tricks, then they break down. I remember when she was trialing, about 4 yrs ago, one trialer fed turkey necks and she was always at their camp.....eating! She came back to my camp with the turkey neck and I thought she stole it so went hunting for the owner, with turkey neck in my hand, ready to apologize...then found out the truth!

 

 

I have a friend who feeds RAW but he supplements with green matter and veggies. He also feed tripe and the green stuff from the tripe. Dogs love that stuff!

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I feed raw (well, mostly raw) and like others have said, all you need is a grocery store when traveling. If you wanted the pet store stuff, just look up places that sell it in the area you'll be traveling too (or somewhere along the way) before you go (and maybe give them a call to ask about what is kept in stock). For camping, I just pack a cooler of frozen meat for the dogs. It'll thaw after a day or two, but as long as its cold, its good.

 

With regards to planning ahead....my dogs also eat rice, oatmeal, and veggie pulp. On the days when I forgot to pull something from the freezer or what I did pull is still too frozen to feed, I just cook up some rice or plain old fashioned oats and mix it with egg, veggies, or left overs from the fridge. One meatless meal doesn't hurt and the dogs like the change every now and then.

 

(On a side note, my dogs hate tripe. Its one of the few things they won't eat.)

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What do you mean by traveling?

 

My sister and I feed raw. We pack the raw into coolers for the dogs and will put ice in it. Also we make sure if we get a hotel we have a fridge so we can toss their food into it. I did fly with a 5 lbs roll of raw food had to explain what it was to the airport check-in people. That was 2 years ago.

 

When traveling we make sure everything is frozen solid an try to pack it in to keep it cold.

 

If it helps... you should be able to get cheaper raw than that. I spend about $100-120 for both of my kids and they eat a total of 1.5-2 lbs and that last them for about a month.

 

I get my raw from butcher(when I remember) but generally I just order from places that make raw pet food or their distributors. (MOrgins, hare-today, blue ridge, etc...).

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What do you mean by traveling?

 

My sister and I feed raw. We pack the raw into coolers for the dogs and will put ice in it. Also we make sure if we get a hotel we have a fridge so we can toss their food into it. I did fly with a 5 lbs roll of raw food had to explain what it was to the airport check-in people. That was 2 years ago.

 

When traveling we make sure everything is frozen solid an try to pack it in to keep it cold.

 

If it helps... you should be able to get cheaper raw than that. I spend about $100-120 for both of my kids and they eat a total of 1.5-2 lbs and that last them for about a month.

 

I get my raw from butcher(when I remember) but generally I just order from places that make raw pet food or their distributors. (MOrgins, hare-today, blue ridge, etc...).

 

With travelling i mean, we camp a lot, off the beaten track in the middle of nowhere with nothing but a gas station for days. We stay out in the forest or in the mountains for over 4 days. We also go just over the border in the States, we are not allowed to bring meat across. From the border crossing to the mountain / cabin, there is nothing really where we could buy stuff. It's mountain road. Thats what I meant with travelling and what others here do in these situations.

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I've used dehydrated raw patties that need only water to regenerate. Usually takes about an hour to regenerate. The dogs don't love them but will eat them and it obviously keeps without refrigeration and is dead easy.

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I've fed raw, or mostly raw for 14 years. I have 19 dogs and spend just over 450 for food a month. We do have some of our own cull ewes so that is not a cost for us

 

When I travel I either feed kibble or freeze "muffins" and put them in the RV or cooler. Works very well for weekend trips. Going over the border is a bit more of a pain, but if the "muffins" look like Muffins, and you don't have dog food in a bag, and the customs guy is a dick, you just say you are buying it on the other side!

 

Cynthia

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(On a side note, my dogs hate tripe. Its one of the few things they won't eat.)

 

Timber the pup had tripe for the first time last night, he wasn't overly impressed pushed it around a bit the kept picking up a piece, shaking it, and the going on to the next piece. It wasn't till he did this with everything in the bowl before he went back and ate it. Rest the dogs love tripe but smudge did take his out in the yard once and start rolling on it.

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The first time I gave mine tripe they kept looking at me like "When are you going to start yelling? You yell at us when we eat things that smell like this out in the yard."

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  • 3 weeks later...

After 20yrs, I finally got fed up with kibble and went completely raw 6mo ago. It is definitely a learning curve, but now it is dead easy and cheaper than the expensive kibble I fed for years. And it's the REAL stuff! Chicken, pork, beef, fish, all sorts of organs, and any scraps leftover. Most shopping we do at the Asian Supermarket where the variety and price can't be matched. I freeze everything in dinner portions (~1lb ea/day) when we get home from the store, then pull a meal out of the freezer and only very slightly thaw it in lukewarm water before feeding. We live in a very hot, urban area with only a pool and patio out back, so the dogs eat on old towels on the kitchen floor, so mostly frozen meals keep things clean, tidy, odorless and simple. The time it took me to figure out how to find and organize and parcel out raw food, was about the same as it took the dogs to develop their jaw muscles and wake up their stomachs...maybe 3mo. After six months it seems like nothing, but the first couple of months were a little edgy while we figured it all out. We have had several weekends with a dogsitter although have not yet traveled with the dogs. No problems so far and the raw diet even seemed to kickstart my older dog's thyroid...we had to reduce her Thyroxine after 2months and 3yrs previously on the same dosage. Tripe is the only thing I haven't tried feeding yet! I may give it a go next shopping trip ohmy.gifblink.gif

 

edit:

Forgot to add that I save about 25% off the price of expensive kibble by feeding raw. I spend about $75/mo USD.

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I have fed raw for over 10 years in a multi-dog household, 10+ dogs. My costs are about 70 cents per day per dog; less if we source the food ourselves (culls and venison). The LGD is double that, since he eats twice as much as the border collies. Raw feeding can be done simply and inexpensively, or it can be complicated and expensive, depending upon owner choice. When traveling, I use a cooler and pack food frozen. On longer trips I add ice and use a grocer Simple. If backpacking, which I don't do, I would leave the dog at home.

 

Maybe it is easier to feed raw to a pack than just a single dog. With a pack, you have already invested in a freezer that is dedicated solely to dog food, and so have removed capacity issues. There is no repackaging of purchased meat since one is thawing out 10 - 20 lbs. at a time; I'm dealing in chucks, not pieces. At no time would I consider a commercial raw product; I buy or butcher whole animals. And my local meat guy loves me because I buy 100 lbs or more of his special "grind" at a time. And I always show up since I don't have the option of spoiling the relationship. And cooking veggies and other such is not an option with a large pack. I don't have the time or a stock pot large enough to handle what I would need on a daily basis. And I feed once a day only; saves time and I feel it is better for the dogs. Large packs force you into efficient, simple feeding regimines.

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Maybe it is easier to feed raw to a pack than just a single dog. With a pack, you have already invested in a freezer that is dedicated solely to dog food, and so have removed capacity issues. There is no repackaging of purchased meat since one is thawing out 10 - 20 lbs. at a time; I'm dealing in chucks, not pieces. At no time would I consider a commercial raw product; I buy or butcher whole animals. And my local meat guy loves me because I buy 100 lbs or more of his special "grind" at a time. And I always show up since I don't have the option of spoiling the relationship. And cooking veggies and other such is not an option with a large pack. I don't have the time or a stock pot large enough to handle what I would need on a daily basis. And I feed once a day only; saves time and I feel it is better for the dogs. Large packs force you into efficient, simple feeding regimines.

 

You bring up an issue that I have often wondered about when pricing out raw feeding -- how much in $ does one spend in packaging for freezing? Since I have 2 dogs, I envision that one would have to wrap (with plastic wrap? with Ziplock bags? with foil? vacuum seal bags?) prior to freezing since most people probably buy more than can be fed for the next few days.

 

So for those who feed raw, what do you think you spend for freezing materials? And what is your preferred freezing method?

 

I am trying to get a handle on product prices and material prices. I can estimate electricity costs, and I am going to figure that the labor for packaging is free since it is a "labor of love" to feed my dogs. :)

 

Jovi

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I think time cost could play a bigger role, though. For example, if I kill, cut, and wrap my own cull sheep, it won't cost me anything out of pocket, but it does cost me time away from work. If I take that same ewe to the butcher, it will cost the time to take her there, transportation (gas, etc.), and then $75-80 for butchering. I've done the math many times, and for my large pack, I couldn't make it work out to be cheaper to feed raw than to feed kibble, which is why I feed raw only part time.

 

I, too, took advantage of the REALLY good prices at a local ethnic market, but I also found that the meat would start to go bad even BEFORE the sell by date. So I couldn't buy it, bring it home and put it in the fridge until I could get to it to freeze without wasting some that clearly was going bad before then. It was unfortunate, because the store had a wonderful variety of meats and cuts that I couldn't find anywhere else.

 

As a freelancer, though, I have become much more aware of the cost of my time. And I think many people do make a mistake of not taking their time into account when doing farm related activities. (For example, I have a friend who was complaining about the cost of goat cheese at the store and stating how she could make it and sell it much cheaper. I tried to explain to her that the only way she could do that is if she didn't pay herself for her time--and she understood the time involved because she keeps dairy goats--and if you don't pay yourself for you time, you're losing money, unless of course you're independently wealthy or have some outside source of income that allows you to subsidize other activities.) I recently butchered and processed a group of roosters (for my own eating), and it was quite time consuming.

 

Whatever you do, the more variety you can provide for your dogs the better. I also agree with Wendy that it's not necessary to feed the veggies if you are offering a balanced variety of meat sources.

 

This isn't directed at you Jovi, but simply at the cost factoring that people do when choosing raw vs. kibble vs. something else. It's not just the cost of the food itself that needs to be considered. If you wanted to get really specific and track over time, you could add in changes in vet care costs, especially dentistry, that going from kibble to raw might provide, but you won't be able to factor that sort of information in from the start, unfortunately.

 

J.

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I freeze 3 days worth of food in reuseable ziplock containers. My fridge is kept so near freezing that it takes 3 days for a container to completely defrost, so I have to take out the next one while I'm still working on the last one. So far that's working really well for me.

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Julie,

I agree with you that the time component can be quite costly. I was just thinking of my specific situation (2 dogs) and thought that IF I ever found a consistent, reasonable cost source of raw, I might consider trying raw (at least part-time as I have read others do). I was thinking, maybe naively, that if I bought a 2-4 week supply of food for 2 dogs, that I could repackage and freeze in about an hour. I wouldn't know how much time would be involved until I actually did it. I figure I could spare an hour or so (if that is what it works out to be), but also know that the freezing wrap can add to the cost.

 

And then there is the cost of electricity for the freezer. And let's not even visit the fact that TWICE in the past 7 months, we have had multi-day electrical outages - resulting in food loss. (The last one was quite sad since I had just made a big batch of Brunswick Stew - ~ 5 quarts.) :(

 

So I have a lot to think about before I make the jump - if I ever do.

 

Jovi

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It is no more complicated than repackaging food for your own consumption. If worried about electrical outages, than limit your purchases to one weeks worth of food. This apply to your food as well. IMO, a week's supply of raw food would keep in the fridge for a week without worry. A 10 lb. bag of chicken leg quarters will feed 2 dogs for a week for about $7.00. Don't over think this. It is no more difficult than feeding yourself.

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Just to give you guys and update, we switched to raw food. We are lucky enough to live in a super organic place (vancouver,bc) where there are a lot of options for raw food. We buy frozen blocks from a guys, through references of people in our neighbourhood, who makes it himself. It is a mixture of 85% beef and chicken and 15% kale, egg, garlic, oil and a few other things.

 

Nelson poops less often, but it comes out easily (before it was either stone hard of super soft), it doesn't smell as bad as it used too. His coat looks softer and he has more energy (as if we needed that). AND he always finishes his bowl.

 

Its been about 2 weeks I think, and it seems like the right step for us. We switched cold turkey, and he had no problems with that at all. We still give him bully sticks or bison tenders every now and then and his whole digestive system seems perfectly fine.

 

Except after he ate half of his toy.... haha! Oh dogs, for us, so far its working out!

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