Updated: Jul 3, 2022
Prepare yourself this will be a lengthy read 😅
The single biggest concern around raw or SPECIES SPECIFIC feeding is how to get the correct nutritional balance. LET ME TELL YOU ONE THING- No matter what deficiencies there are in feeding raw there are way more in feeding dry kibble, and believe me there are plenty of very serious ones.
In the last few years, kibble companies at least are attempting to “better” their kibble quality to get a balance of nutritional components, vitamins, minerals, protein and so on (at least that's what the marketing says right 🥴).
Many of you would see the downside in feeding raw as you are alone responsible for nutritional balance, especially where you are often designing every meal yourself. Having said this, there is of course no need to balance each and every meal. In fact, there is a lot to be said for periodically providing an unbalanced meal at times.
If you read my prior post you remember that I mentioned that it's important to feed whole bones to a dog — for recreation, mental stimulation as well as for health and nutritional reasons. Well, guess what?- bones aren’t balanced. Most are rich in fats (marrow) as well as all are rich in calcium and phosphorus and some limited amounts of collagen. That’s it. Which means bones aren’t a balanced diet. But they are a necessity for good health in dogs!
‼️A THING TO REMEMBER
When I feed a whole bone to my dogs, I don’t feed anything else that day. This is their “fasting day”.
I do this for a few reasons.
☝️First, to allow the dog’s digestive systems to break down the bone without having to deal with other foods (bones take a lot longer to digest than other foods);
✌️ Second, to help with varying the diet (how boring it must be to have the same meal each day);
👉third, to provide a “rest” day where their metabolism is, if you like, given a break from high protein foods.
🦴And honestly, when my dogs are fed a bone they don’t worry to be fed anything else that day. This could be pattern based behaviour of course but it could also be they don’t feel a need for other foods. The bone is satiating. It keeps them busy and engaged for the entire day!
Let's get back to BALANCE, should we? 😁 In broad terms, dogs should as carnivores be fed approximately 70% protein (muscle tissue aka meat), 20% offal (the organ part) and bone (in the form of small bones like duck/chicken wings or necks; or bone meal) and 10% vegetable (green and yellow — always pureed or juiced for it to be digested). It is possible to purchase ready-made meals of these proportions and there is a number to choose from. So do check out the pet store ail, fridge or freezer section and don't forget to read the label and nutritional info!
👍I find the best one out there (I love locally and naturally farmed) is #radowg (https://radowg.ca/). Radowg is family owned and operated, their production meat is locally sourced from organic farms and they have a great variety of meats and “house” blended formulas to choose from. And the best thing is they are very competitive in pricing compared to big brands! If you are looking to feed your dog a healthier and for less than a bag of premium brand dog food drop them a line!
Or if you prefer to make up your raw meals (I usually do — and you will, once you are practised at it), you can source the components from a range of suppliers, particularly responsible butchers (yep I did say RESPONSIBLE you want your butcher tell you the whole story of where the meat came from and how it was grown and sourced so there are no hidden suprises). It is important not to buy from supermarkets unless you know what you are getting; and of course, buy organic where possible.
‼️IMPORTANT NOTE regarding chicken absolutely always buy organic and free-range. Commercial grade non-organic chicken is most likely to be full of hormones, steroids and other chemical additives. Maybe not (as) harmful to humans (although that is highly debatable) but certainly harmful (and sometimes deadly) to the smaller intestinal tracts and organs of our pets.
I always try to source organic farmers and butchers (one very good thing about living rurally in a small community😉). Thankfully, organic farmers and farmsteads/homesteads and butchers are fast becoming more commonly found in larger towns and markets (so do check out your local farmers' market meat stand; I bet they do have some bones and organs that they will be willing to sell if not right on inquiry but by order for sure). ‼️Perhaps another thing to mention is always buy ‘human grade’, avoid meats reserved for pet food.
I think i went off track a bit again 😩 so lets get back into the balance of things 😉. And the question now is WHAT KIND OF MEAT TO FEED? The best raw meat is ostrich and kangaroo meat. It has a high degree of protein, a very low-fat content (3–4%), is high in vitamins and minerals and is almost always organic — given the animal is truly ‘free range’ and organic rather than farmed. But realistically in Canada, it's kinda EXTREMELY hard to source 🤯😢 (i wish I would live in Australia). I only know of two ostrich farms in Ontario that occasionally would send me some of their extra supply of meat and bone. One that i would highly recommend is Ostrich Land Ontario in Lincoln, Ontario. The owners of the farm are absolutely amazing! They are so dedicated to what they do it's unbelievable and the love and care for their livestock are supreme. I have personally visited the farmsted on numerous occasions.
Other proteins to choose include turkey, duck, venison, rabbit, lamb, beef, pork, and fish (any fish white or red) — most meats can be made to work, although some are fattier than others, so bear this in mind.
👉OFF NOTE if you can limit your dog’s consumption of pork and chicken, they are usually intensively farmed, subject to stress as well as highly questionable living and slaughter conditions. Unless you can vouch otherwise, both should be avoided. ⚠️This is a bot controversial topic perhaps I will write a blurb on it some other time. For now, I would just leave it here as is.
I also prefer to stay away from beef unless I know its human-grade and grass-fed — pet food beef is more typically ‘beef meal’, a combination of non-useable, non-saleable meat such as carcass parts, meat extracted from bone, that sort of thing (don't confuse with offal totally different ball game here). Beef also has a higher fat content, about 15% but more importantly, the animals often feed on ground-found pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides and they are often drenched in antibiotics (all of which are naturally stored in the fat tissue of the animal). Not what I want for my dogs.
Fish is important as a core component of diet. And sardines is the best fish of all for dogs. Sardines are gloriously oily, full of omegas 3, 6 and 9 and small (the bigger the fish the higher the levels of heavy metals, mercury and other ocean contaminants). Dogs take to them very easily although you may need to cut them up at first. Feed fresh, raw sardines were possible (not dried) — and consider frozen whole single sardines as a treat on a hot day. But on other occasions, you can feed canned sardines available from just about every supermarket.Jst make sure to get a non-salt variety, in olive oil or spring water. Canned fish is obviously cooked (in the can) but still represents great nutritional value. You can also look into herring (in my opinion way better than sardines but not all the dogs will go for it). You can also add salmon (just be careful it has high-fat content as well), trout, and tuna (canned tuna is a go-to for me as well but do make sure to apply the same rule when buying just as for the sardines) or any white fish of your choice.
THE OTHER GOOD STUFF of a raw diet can and should include:
Purred veggies, berries and fruits. Anything green like kelp (also known as seaweed), spinach, kale, broccoli, zucchini, green peas, or even sweet green pepper is good; yellow and orange veggies like sweet potato, carrots, pumpkin, squash or sweet yellow pepper; as per berries and fruits blueberry, green banana (not ripe one), apples (de-pipped and de-seeded — pips and seeds contain environmental arsenic), pears, watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries — pick a tasty variety pure it and give one teaspoon per meal.
Natural yogurt (goat one is the best as it has less lactose) — one table spoon per meal.
Kefir (goat one is the best as it has less lactose)— one tablespoon per meal (alternate between yogurt and kefir).
These two ☝️ are excellent for their probiotic content, more so kefir than yogurt. But either are great.
Organic, free-range eggs (whole including the shell) Raw eggs offer a very rich array of protein, vitamins and minerals and amino acids not readily found elsewhere. Eggs also offer a solid source of tryptophan, found in egg whites. Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin, an important chemical neurotransmitter responsible for mood control, helping guard against depression. From studies it appears that serotonin is often depleted in dogs on a highly processed diet. — one every 3–4 days.
You can also add raw carrots (whole)— one each day as a snack or an apple - half each day.
Organic extra virgin coconut oil — heaped teaspoon added to meals, also great for treats (frozen, with blueberry inside)
Organic natural Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) supports a healthy immune system, acting as a strong anti–inflammatory. Dogs generally detest the taste, so hide in yogurt or broth. Regular use is great for ‘yeasty’ ears (ear infections) and skin disorders — a half of teaspoon per day.
Beef or chicken bone broth. You can ocasionally add it to meals istead of yogurt or kefir. Or use as treat if cooked and frozen in ice cubes.
Lastly, I’d suggest a few additives to help ensure the completeness of individual meals. Get your hand on some dog multivitamins that will add an extra boost and will help to balance the average nutritional intake. Give one a few times weekly (or follow directions on the package of a chosen brand).
Once again thanks for reading I hope you found it handy.