Raw Feeding

My journey into the world of alternative dog food was brought about by necessity rather than choice. Before beginning to learn about this subject I was a commercial dog food believer, I appreciated the convenience of filling up a bowl with nice clean dry ‘complete dog food’ and leaving my dogs nutrition and health up to the dog food manufacturers. Ookii changed all that. 

When I brought Ookii home he was a normal chubby Akita puppy, full of mischief and fun. I was feeding the same food that he had been weaned on to, following the instructions carefully, all was well. Then he had a few bouts of diarrhoea, ‘tummy bug’ the vet said. Ookii was growing at a phenomenal rate, one day his bum was in the air, then a couple of days later his front would catch up, he lost his puppy chubbiness very quickly. I could see puppies the same age as he was, still chubby, Ookii was lean and lanky, the diarrhoea persisted. His anal glands had to be expressed, they were not being emptied naturally because of the diarrhoea Getting him to eat anything was a battle, he would just pick at his food with little interest, ‘change the brand’ the vet said. So I did, the diarrhoea continued punctuated by bouts of vomiting, by now he was six months old. 

I put him onto a high quality brand of gluten free food, he started to gain weight, great I thought, two months later the weight just fell off him again. Then he had his first bout of kennel cough, he was put onto antibiotics because it developed into a chest infection, he got over it, one month later he had it again, more antibiotics and within a month he has his third bout. By now his vomiting and constant diarrhoea was accompanied by sores on his skin, smelly ears and breath, dandruff, thin coat and lethargy, ‘allergies’ the vet said. He said that we would have to do skin sensitivity tests to find out the cause and he would probably need steroids intermittently for flare-ups. I had his blood tested and the vet was very worried by the results, they showed that his immune system was badly affected as were his kidneys and liver, in fact his liver results were so bad that the vet said if he had been an Irish wolf hound they would have diagnosed liver shunt problems.

At this point I decided to do some research for myself. I spent hours reading veterinary literature on dog foods and canine allergies, then I stumbled on several articles by an Australian vet called Dr Tom Lonsdale, for years he has been advocating feeding dogs and cats a natural raw food diet, he along with some other vets blame the huge increase in unhealthy pets, dental problems, allergies, immune system deficiencies and cancer on commercial dog food, I continued to look into this subject and it was all beginning to make sense. I started him on the diet when he was 13 months old. 

And the results, within one week of starting the diet Ookii had his first solid poo, he had diarrhoea constantly since he was about 12 weeks old. Within a month his ears cleared up and stopped smelling, he put on 7.5kg in three months, his breath smelled better, his teeth were cleaner, his sores cleared up. His energy levels increased dramatically. For the first time in his life he was actually digesting and getting the benefits from his food instead of it shooting straight through him. He no longer peered into his dish and giving me the ‘oh not that again’ now he was eating his food with enthusiasm. Now several years on we have had our ups and downs, I started him off by feeding only chicken until his symptoms disappeared then I gradually introduced different meats to the diet for variety, when I tried him on beef his symptoms returned with a vengeance, he developed such bad sores on his feet that he became lame and the dreaded diarrhoea returned. I have gradually worked out what causes his symptoms and now I avoid giving him any dairy, any cereals, beef, tripe or rice. 

Raw feeding guide

The diet I feed my dogs is based on what dogs would eat if they lived in the wild and were free to hunt and forage for themselves. Supplemented with oils and natural sources of vitamins and minerals. It is what dogs evolved to eat over millions of years. Dogs have been domesticated for about 14,000 years and commercial dog food has been around for about 60 or so years. In the intervening years people have been giving their dogs adequate nutrition by feeding home prepared diets. So this is not a new feeding fad it is a very old one!

The diet is made up of -

Raw meaty bones - chicken/turkey necks, chicken wings and pork neck bones.
IT IS VERY IMPORTANT that these are fed
RAW. Cooked bones are brittle and dangerous to feed to dogs.

Muscle meat - minced lamb, turkey, rabbit and chicken. Organ meat - kidney liver and heart fed a couple of times weekly.

Vegetables - a variety of different veg fed about three times a week and mixed with the minced meat, it is important that the veg is very well mushed in a food processor or juicer to help the dog to digest it, the dog in the wild would get most of its veg and greens by eating the partly digested stomach contents of its prey.

Additional foods - eggs processed with the veg shell and all, seeds and nuts also processed but no peanuts, a clove of garlic added to the veg mush. I supplement with fish oil, cod liver oil, vitamin C, kelp and alfalfa. I do not feed grains or dairy products to my dogs as they are not species appropriate.

About twice a month I spend a couple of hours processing and freezing all the vegetables. Then just defrost a bag a day along with the meat. It takes me approximately 5 minutes to prepare food for six dogs, at first it was a bit complicated but now it is second nature.

There are books available which show you how to safely feed this diet to your dog. It is imperative that the diet is fed properly so purchasing one of these books for guidance is extremely important before embarking on the diet.

RECOMMENDED BOOKS

Give Your Dog a Bone and Grow Your Pup With Bones are by Dr Ian Billinghurst

The Ultimate Diet by Kymythy Schultze

Food Pets Die For By Ann N Martin