5 Warnings to Heed Before Feeding Your Dog a Raw Food Diet
21 December, 2015
By Kimberly Gauthier, Keep the Tail Wagging
When I transitioned our dogs to a raw diet, I made a few mistakes, because I was listening to the wrong people. Nothing drastic happened, and I was lucky, because not every new raw feeder is as fortunate. We’ve been feeding our dogs a raw diet for nearly three years, and I’ve learned a few things from our experience and the experience of other raw feeders that fall into the “if I knew then what I know now” category.
Our mistakes can save you time and money.
5 Warnings for Dog Parents Interested in Raw Feeding
1. Be aware of Advice from Strangers
While discussing raw feeding with strangers is the primary way many of us learn about the diet, it cannot be the only way we learn. There are just too many factors to consider. So follow discussions, ask questions, and learn all you can – then partner that information with your homework.
2. Start Your Dog with Premade Raw
Creating a balanced raw diet isn’t easy for everyone. Starting with a reputable premade raw brand gives you the time to learn more about raw feeding. Premade raw is convenient, balanced and available in a variety of proteins. I have found that it’s more expensive than making our own raw at home, but we’re paying for the convenience.
3. Don’t Rush to Feed Your Dog Raw Bones
I was nervous about raw bones, and I’m glad that I listened to my gut. We have a strong, fast chewer, and I was worried that he wouldn’t chew the bones enough and was at risk for a perforated bowel. Instead of listening to others who told me raw bones are natural for dogs – I took my time and introduced our dogs to raw bones slowly.
Not all bones are safe for all dogs. I found that our dogs did best on turkey necks, duck necks, beef knuckle bones, and beef kneecaps. Now I give our dogs raw bones without concern, but always under supervision.
4. Avoid Feeding Too Many Proteins in One Meal
Raw feeders are always sharing meals in groups, which is helpful to those of us who are still learning. One of the first things I learned as a raw feeder was to avoid adding too many proteins in one meal. My first raw meal included chicken, turkey, beef, and sardines. Our dogs were new to raw feeding, and this meal was too rich for them.
Today, our dogs eat one or two proteins in a meal. This week, it’s duck and pork, because I had duck wings, duck necks, but no duck organ meat. I do have, however, pork organ meat – so they were added to create a balanced raw meal.
Adding sardines wouldn’t be too much for our dogs today, but I try to stick with two proteins.
5. Always Remember that Every Dog is Different
We’re raising four dogs and each of our dogs has different needs. Each dog takes supplements to support various health needs: thyroid, joints, digestive system, and mild anxiety. One of our dogs has protein allergies and cannot eat turkey, chicken, or beef. I work with two veterinarians and a nutritionist (because I’m neurotic) to get our dogs’ diet right.
Over the years, they have helped me tailor each dog’s diet to meet their specific needs without turning me into a short order cook.
Raw feeding feels complicated and, at first, I didn’t think I could keep up with the diet. Today, I don’t know what I was so worried about; our dogs are fine. The best advice I can offer to someone new to raw feeding is to find someone you trust to walk you through how they feed their dogs, someone who doesn’t mind answering lots of questions, and someone who won’t pressure you into moving faster than you’re ready.
About the Author: Kimberly Gauthier is the blogger behind Keep the Tail Wagging, a blog about raw feeding, dog supplements, and raising littermates. Kimberly and her boyfriend are raising two sets of littermates in the Pacific Northwest where they enjoy a property with plenty of room to run and explore. Kimberly finished her first e-book on raw feeding called Raw Feeding from A to Z. Rodrigo, Sydney, Scout and Zoey are all herding mix dogs, including Blue Heeler, Border Collie, Catahoula, Australian Shepherd, and Labrador (a lover, not a herder).
Image is attributed to DepositPhoto/damedeeso