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Inching toward raw feeding


D'Elle
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I have wanted to feed more raw food to my dogs, but was stymied by the fact that Jester cannot tolerate any kind of raw bone; they give him explosive diarrhea. Raw meat has always been a gamble with him; sometimes OK, sometimes not. Since Jes couldn't have bones or raw food, neither could anyone else, basically. But now at 15 years of age Jes's sense of smell, along with his other senses, seems to have diminished to the point that he doesn't notice if I give someone else something that he doesn't get, as long as he doesn't see it, so I have been putting raw meat in small doses on the food for the two small dogs. It has gone fine, and they like it, but I was scared to try bones. Finally I got up my courage today. I am cooking a turkey today, and so I cut off about a quarter of the neck and gave it to Digger raw. He was pretty impressed, and it was gone fast, so I am encouraged to continue.

 

I will always want to have kibble on hand for times when I run out of other things or am in a hurry, but I now think I will inch my way toward feeding at least half raw food to the two small dogs.Also, I can afford it, since they eat half of what a border collie eats.

 

Questions: Is there anything wrong with combining raw food and kibble in the same meal?

My plan is to give raw meat of various kinds and the occasional turkey neck or other poultry bone with meat, and of course vegetables, which both small dogs love and are already getting. I also give apple and banana pieces to Digger, who loves them.

 

Any advice on good web resources for starting out to feed some raw food? I don't want to go to sites or join forums that are rabid about it, because I do not plan to switch entirely to raw at any point. Kibble is too convenient, especially for travel, which we do a lot, to give it up.

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I feed partial raw. I give my dogs kibble mixed with raw at dinner and only kibble at breakfast. I also feed a big piece of raw at lunch on the days I don't work. Their dinner is supplemented with a frozen raw mix and green tripe. The big piece is either a raw bone, turkey neck, steak, chicken quarters, or whatever good raw meat I can get on sale.

 

Some people say that it can cause problems mixing kibble and raw, but lots of people feed partial raw and don't have issues.

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Levi eats all raw and has for a few years. The puppy who is 8 months now eats one meal kibble and one raw. It's just easier for now and she has never had any issue having kibble and raw together. Now raw food people will mostly tell you not to do that but she hasn't had any problems. Even Levi has, at times, some kibble with raw in a day and never had a problem either.

 

I would advise to go bigger on the bone-in meat maybe. Turkey necks are mostly bone but 1/4 of one is a small amount and can be easy for even a smaller dog to gulp and choke on. Dixie is maybe 25 lbs now and I give her chicken drumbs, thighs and two or three deer ribs connected still. I don't feed veggies but if you were doing all raw then they would need organ meat too (liver, kidney). Both pups love their organs and I fill ice cube trays with them. Pop one or two out a few times per week. Both are stinky and slimy to handle but frozen in trays and they're more pleasant.

 

The files of the yahoo group if you join can be good to read through (just don't join the conversations, it's mostly extremists posting answers there). I feed 80%/10/10 (meat/bone/organ) other sites talk about lots of complicated supplements, veggies,feeding too heavy on bones and so on. I would advise just reading on trustworthy sites and seeing what makes sense to you. For me variety in parts and species is important. I feed mostly boneless meals and bone-in meals 2-3 times per week (depending on what it is) with the organ cubes.

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I have fed half raw/half kibble for years with no issues. I live with squeamish people and they sometimes have to feed, so I wanted my dogs to stay used to kibble.

 

I agree with Waffles about reading several different sites and using what makes sense to you. For the raw portion of my dogs meals I do much the same thing including the organs in ice cube trays. I do also get grinds from Hare Today for variety.

 

Since grocery store meats are not naturally raised, I assume they could be better(not to mention the kibble) and I also give my dogs supplemental fruits and veggies that are high in antioxidants and micronutrients. Also in ice cube trays.

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I feed raw in the morning. My raw is a mix of roo or beef, minced chicken frames (the minced bones provide phosphorous for bone health), beef offal including green tripe, vegetables (broccoli, bok choy, carrots, capsicum) coconut oil, kelp powder, ground flaxseed, fish oil and egg including the shell. Through the day I give chicken necks randomly depending how how much physical work the dog has done, a snack really. In the evening I give kibble but I feed reasonably early so the dogs have plenty of time to take in fluids due to the kibble making them a little thirsty. My dogs have always done well with a mix of raw and kibble and there stools are firm but not too dry. Sometimes I feed 1/2 raw, 1/2 kibble in a meal and all has been well. My dogs also enjoy a dollop of yoghurt on their dry food and also eat fruit ( banana, melon, apple, orange). They also get brisket bones.

 

I feel a kibble only (if a good quality) diet is just fine because at least it is properly balanced. Not everyone has the time or inclination to make their own raw food. I think a raw only diet is also great but could be inadequate if you only feed flesh. They need the right % of offal and soft bone as well. If you don't have the time or inclination to prepare a balanced raw diet,there are some good quality commercial raw feeds available.

 

Having said all this I have in my youth fed a dog on raw flesh only (because I didn't know differently) and she lived to a ripe old age with no health issues.

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I fed raw for a while before it just got too cost prohibitive and time consuming. I highly recommend Wendy Volhard's Holistic Guide for a Healthy dog. It goes into the why and how the ingredients work together. There is a section on feeding kibble with supplemental raw ingredients. It's a great reference to keep around. Dr. Pitcairn's books are also very good. I suggest you do some research to make sure you are feeding a balanced diet. This really isn't something to half-ass and risk nutrient deficiencies. There is a rhyme and reason why things go together. Especially keeping the calcium/phosphorus ratio balanced. My guys get goat milk on their food everyday and raw scraps of whatever I'm making or butchering, but not really enough to say that I partially feed raw. They still get a full kibble ration. I also get cut raw beef femurs from the butcher every other week. All my meat is home grown. :)

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I've been feeding raw for 15 years now and love it. While it is more time consuming, it doesn't necessarily have to be more expensive than feeding high quality kibble (an oxymoron, IMO) if you can co-op and/or find bulk sources. And if you factor in the probable reductions in vet costs it becomes even more affordable -- eliminating the need for dental cleanings alone is a huge savings.

 

I've heard the thing about not feeding raw and kibble at the same meal, with the justification that the digestion rates for each is different. It never made much sense to me. I know that dogs' and humans' digestion aren't identical, but people combine different types of foods all the time. And so do pariah dogs that eat from human garbage. A raw feeding acquaintance told me that one of the relatively newer raw feeding authors has also challenged the status quo on this. (Dunno who it is, but I can probably find out if you're interested.)

 

My personal belief is that if people are going to feed a combination of raw and kibble that they should make sure the raw portion is nutritionally adequate. That is, it should contain the proper ratio of meat to bone and organs so that it would be nutritionally complete on its own. I'm sure adding a bit of meat to top off kibble isn't going to hurt anything, but if you're adding enough raw that it makes up, say, half of the diet, then it stands to reason you're not doing the dogs any favors by not providing good, complete nutrition in the raw portion. If you're not, you could easily upset the balance of essential nutrients in the kibble.

 

Raw feeding doesn't have to be nearly as complicated as many people believe. I feed my dogs a prey model diet consisting of about 10-15% edible bone/75-80% meat/5% liver/5%other organs (heart/gizzards fed as meat, not organ). I may feed slightly more than 10% total organs, but definitely not more than 15%. After a while you don't have to weigh and measure; you can just eyeball it. And the percentages are meant to be over time. IOW, you don't have to have this exact ratio every day.

 

Dogs have no nutritional requirement for carbs or vegetables. I've mentioned this here before with citations. OTOH, I don't think limited amounts of either (unless there's a grain allergy) would be problematic, just a waste of money and effort.

 

The only supplements I usually give my dogs are salmon oil to provide sufficient Omega 3s, Vit. E to replace the depletion from the salmon oil, and some kefir when I think of it. I don't consider the last to be crucial, but I had one dog with digestive issues and it made me feel better so it's become a habit. Whole eggs including the shell provide lots of vitamins (especially duck eggs), as do the organs.

 

I'm also not averse to giving my dogs my pizza crusts or other leftovers, though being frugal and living alone there usually aren't many leftovers and divided among 2-3 dogs what scraps there are don't amount to a significant portion of their diets.

 

I have a number of links for nutritional analysis of various meats and suggestions for starting to feed raw. If anyone's interested in them they can PM me.

 

None of my dogs have ever had a diet related problem requiring veterinary care, and even the vets I've seen who are skeptical of raw diets have admitted to me that there's no reason I should be doing anything differently. I just tracked down a vet I used to go to. She still remembers Tilly, who had terrible tartar buildup on her teeth when I adopted her at 6 y.o. She was sure she'd need a cleaning. The next time I saw her Tilly's teeth were beautiful. A few years later we were in for a routine checkup and she had a Cornell vet student there and she made a point of telling the student. Student started to spout the kibble propaganda until Sarah stopped her and said, "Look at the results. Here's a perfectly healthy senior dog with beautiful clean teeth. It's hard to argue with that."

 

ETA: Forgot to mention that it's important to provide as much variety of different kinds of meat as possible so that you can make up for any nutritional deficiencies from only one kind of meat. I try to feed as much red meat as possible, because I believe it's more species appropriate. . . . and I have a very reasonable source of beef from culled dairy cows. That said, I know people who feed primarily fowl and whatever red meat they can supplement with and their dogs do just fine.

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^Great information here! I just wanted to add that you could follow a specific recipe until you feel comfortable and confident in switching up the ingredients. One of my problems was that my last border collie, Cash, would not touch eggshells. Smashed or whole. He wouldn't touch it. So I had to find another calcium source. Every dog is different.

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My "specific recipe" for today was a hunk of beef, half a turkey neck, half each of a turkey gizzard, liver and heart. (1/2 pieces of turkey parts because the dog sitter didn't use her giblets for Thanksgiving so gave them to me.) They'll get a couple squirts of salmon oil tonight.

 

My "recipes" are usually even simpler than that. It's usually either a hunk of meat or a raw meaty bone (e.g. a turkey neck or chicken back - RMB usually every 2rd day, just meat on the other days) and a bit of liver. About once a week they'll get a whole pork kidney or half a beef kidney. A treat of salmon oil and maybe kefir before bed at night.

 

;)

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Thanks so much for all the good information, everyone. I have thought about the fact that feeding raw requires that you be sure you are giving a balanced nutrient ratio, which is one reason I intend to continue with kibble (grain free) as well, so that the kibble will make up, hopefully, for any lack of balance with the raw. But hearing that it is not necessary to hit that balance every day, as long as you are hitting it overall, definitely helps me to feel more confident.

 

I have never heard that a turkey neck could cause a problem, though. These dogs I am talking about are 20 to 25 pound dogs, so I do want to be sure that the bones are not too small. Seems to me that if a turkey neck could be a problem then so could a chicken back, yet folks say chicken backs are OK. I am perhaps overly cautious, but I am very protective of my dogs and don't want to take any risks.

 

The proportions don't sound very difficult to maintain, though. And I love the idea of the organ meats cut up and frozen in ice cube trays. I don't really care about the slimy part; I am not at all squeamish - but the convenience would be great. I already cup up the meat and freeze it in bags and then take a portion out every other day or so, which thaws in the fridge so that I always have some raw meat already cut up to put onto the cats' food. I will just do the same with the dogs, and add a bone a couple of times a week or so. they already get hardboioled or raw eggs once or twice a week or so, but I have never tried to give them eggshell.

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What you describe for Jester reminds me of Odin's reaction to raw - unpredictable and often with diarrhea. It only got worse the more I tried to feed him. Now, he only gets the very occasional bite of raw lamb or beef that I consider good enough quality that I would eat bloody rare myself. I have gotten to the point where I do think raw feeding is somewhat of a fad - and I understand why, it was fun to feed him different, whole foods and he obviously seemed to love it going in. It turns out he can eat all of the meats that gave him major issues as long as they are cooked, and as far as I'm concerned that is fine for treats or to up or diversify his meat content occasionally. But after a few years I just felt the diarrhea and contamination risks weren't worth it.

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D'Elle,

I have a friend who leaves her dogs with me on occasion. She feeds a raw premix and mixes that with kibble for both meals her dogs get each day. I've never noticed any bad GI consequences for her dogs when they're staying with me. The premix is kind of messy, but that's something I can live with.

 

J.

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I've been combining raw and kibble for years, also. I do feed a grain free kibble.

 

No issues.

Happens here too. They get raw about three times a week. Not more than that as most of the meat I obtain is ribs, chicken backs, necks, etc. and liver. Not enough muscle meat IMO.

 

Personally, I can't claim the "healthier than kibble fed" line as our twelve year old dog was fed the cheapest, nastiest dog food on the market up until a year or so ago. The only time she was ever in the vet was for vaccines, spaying, bone stuck in mouth(a cooked bone), and the time she cut her leg really bad.

I'm not REFUTING the statement by any means, but I personally can't claim it. ;)

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Every food doesn't work for every dog. I too have seen dogs live to their teens rather healthily on some of the worst dog food out there, though it's definitely not the norm. Most have nasty teeth and coats at the very least. My first border collie Molly, got Wellness after she developed food allergies. I couldn't feed it to my lab mix, Montana, though. He had HORRIBLE gas from just the regular chicken formula wellness. I forget what I went to after that for him, but the point is that you can feed the best food and still have issues with some dogs. You just have to find what works for them. When I started feeding raw, my lab mix Lexie looked absolutely stellar! I've never seen such a coat on that dog. However, Cash my border collie, developed stripes in his coat. Shiny, dull, shiny, dull, etc. I tweaked his diet in so many ways to figure it out, but nothing worked. That was part of the reason why I went back to kibble for him. If I'd had some help, I might have figured out what was wrong, but I didn't feel comfortable continuing on. That and I acquired more dogs lol, so at this point, raw feeding 7 large dogs just isn't feasible for me with so much else going on. I might go back to it someday, when my construction zone of a house doesn't demand all of my spare brain cells.

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I have to feed Bandit kibble. He doesn't seem to be able to digest bone properly. I can give him an occasional chicken neck, but if I start to give him bone on a regular basis, I start to find undigested bone in his poo, and if I continue to feed a total (or primarily) raw diet, he ends up with digestive issues.

 

He seems to do very well on a base diet of grain free kibble, with a good dollop of raw meat, and a chicken neck once a week or so (I feed that mainly to keep his teeth clean).

 

And . . . since that's the diet he is on, I have kind of defaulted to feeding Tessa and Dean the same way (except the two of them get more bone more often). It seems to be a good fit for all three of them.

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