Some of the benefits of feeding Raw

Cleaner teeth and fresh breath.
Better weight control.
Improved digestion.
Shinier, healthier skin and coat.
Reduction of allergy symptoms.
Harder, smaller, less smelly stools.
Increased mobility in older animals.
More energy and stamina.

A personal view

For years I have fed my dogs a good quality kibble (younger dogs had Acana/Orijen, the older ones Arden Grange Senior), together with added fresh meat (sometimes raw, sometimes cooked), and vegetables with the occasional bit of fruit, egg, sardines and pasta.

I have often dabbled with giving the dogs raw meat, but have mostly just added it to their kibble, which I am told is a big no no as they don't digest raw and processed food at the same rate. Although I have to say it has never done my dogs any harm and I know plenty of people that have used this method for years, and I have since found an article which made interesting reading HERE.

I had been feeding bones, purely for dental reasons, for a few years, but good marrow bones with some red meat on and not covered in fat, were hard to come by. Roasted cooked bones were readily available, and the dogs did like them, however, they gave some very unpleasant results the following day.

I was then told that large, weight-bearing bones, like marrow bones, can break dogs teeth, so I tried turkey necks, chicken feet and chicken wings, but they tended to inhale them almost whole, and kept me up half the night regurgitating them. (bleurgh)

There is a lot out there on the potential dangers of feeding bones to dogs, but after a lot of research, I found that as long as you feed the right raw bones, and not cooked bones, the dangers are mainly due to the gastric environment of the dog's stomach, which is directly related to their diet.

The gastric acidity of the stomach of a dog eating a diet predominantly made up of raw meat is very low and acidic, with a PH of 2 or lower. This highly acidic environment favours the breakdown of raw meats, and raw bones, into soft digestible material. The low PH level is also highly effective at killing bacteria, particularly potentially pathogenic bacteria like salmonella spp, clostridia, campylobacter and E Coli. So basically, the natural ‘wild” diet of dogs has evolved a gastric environment that favours the breakdown of raw meats, raw bones, and a PH that kills potentially harmful bacteria.

Due to my dogs regurgitating the bones through the night, I was advised to give bones early on in the day as opposed to a treat during the evening, to give the body a chance to digest them, which seems to work far better.

After a lot of research and reading up on the potential benefits of a complete raw diet - which include

Coat Condition - The first physical change is usually seen in the dogs coat - Up to 40% of the protein a dog eats goes into their skin and coat. When a dog is fed a low meat protein, cereal based diet, which is mostly seen in dry foods, they will not have the protein spare to grow a healthy coat. In general, a raw dog food is high in fresh meat protein, and fresh fat, which work together to fuel a luxurious coat.

Muscle Tone - Dogs are carnivore’s, and all they need to eat is protein (and a little fat). When fed raw they will shed the carbohydrate-fuelled fat to reveal a leaner, sleek, firm body with a beautiful thick coat. Raw food for dogs is nearly always void of cereal filler and carbohydrates, which is central to maintaining a dogs weight and getting muscle tone right. Can you imagine a bodybuilder going to the gym to bulk up on a diet of 50% bread? Protein is the building blocks of muscle, organs, skin, hair and joints, and there is no alternative.

Dental Hygiene - Cutting out dry kibble and offering a dog some meat on the bone improves dental hygiene and reduces bad breath (9/10 dry fed dogs suffer gum disease by 2 years and 9/10 are dry fed).

Unfortunately, the fact that dogs have no amylase in their saliva, which breaks down carbohydrate sugars in the mouth, means that the sugars in dry food products fuel bacteria growth, leading to poor dental health and hygiene (plaque, tartar, calculus, gingivitis, periodontal disease). Dogs need fresh meaty bones to clean their teeth, not cooked, raw.

Behaviour - The improvement in behaviour from raw dog food is primarily due to the removal of dry food from the diet.

Dry feeds fuel poor behaviour in three ways:

1. It is high in easily digested carbohydrates, which fuel high blood sugar and insulin levels, long linked to poor behaviour.
2. It is full of chemicals - just have a look at the back of the packet.
3. it has a low vitamin B content - the mind soothing vitamins- and the B vitamins are very sensitive to long storage times.

Less Waste - The amount of salt in dry food begins at 1.2%, the same percentage of salt that is in salted peanuts, and 4 times a dog’s RDA of salt per meal. If there was no salt in dry foods, the dogs would not touch the stuff. Due to the high amounts of salt in their diets, dry fed dogs drink huge amounts of water, causing higher amounts of urine. Toilet issues aside this fuels kidney disease in dogs.

Then there’s faeces! As fresh food is easier to digest than cooked food, it leads to improved digestion, meaning less faeces. Stools from raw dog food also smell nothing like the stools from dry dog food, another little benefit.

To sum it up, meat and bone are the ideal diet for a dog and this is before we discuss kidney disease, pancreatitis and cancer seen in dogs today.

Usually the next question is, is feeding raw dog food expensive? To answer this, it is necessary to figure out how much a dog needs each day.

See HERE for a raw feeding calculator based on your dogs weight and condition.

After months of research, and speaking to seasoned raw feeders, I decided to do a 60 day trial to see if I would see any benefits to the dogs. I made the change at the beginning of November 2017, bought another freezer and a months supply of raw 'completes' with an 80/10/10 mix.

There are hundreds of opinions on how to ‘correctly’ feed a dog a raw diet. The consensus among many is to feed a ratio of foods that are equivalent to what the dog would consume in nature if they were a wild animal. This is called the 80/10/10 rule. This stands for 80% meat, 10% bone and 10% organ. Some even go a step further and say 80/10/5/5, splitting the organ category into 5% liver and 5% other organ meat. I am very fortunate that I have a local ex butcher now specialising in natural raw dog food, but it certainly pays to shop around for the best meat, some contain a lot of fat.

A typical meal will look like below - some days they get fish added, sprats or sardines, other days a raw egg, and twice a week they get lamb neck or lamb ribs. I also add garlic and fenugreek tablets, and salmon oil from Aniforte.

I make Bone Broth, which they love, and after an accidental feeding of too much raw heart, I found the Bone Broth helped to heal the stomach lining and reduce intestinal inflammation.

By the way, they don't get their food on a plate, it is all chucked into a bowl, this is purely for demonstration purposes! This lot will be devoured in literally 20 seconds.

Vegetables - although some of the raw prey model diet feeders do not advocate the feeding of vegetables, I find it slows down the digestion a little, and reduces any excess stomach acid and stops hunger pangs. But they don't get vegetables every day, sometimes a little grated carrot, courgette, or cooked green beans.

However, dogs do not need vegetables, or carbohydrates in their diet as they are not essential for their survival. And while there is evidence that veggies can be beneficial for dogs, there is no sound evidence that they are harmful in moderation.

Vegetables provide a source of nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin K, and some minerals that are not found in significant enough amounts in just meat, bone, and organ meat. While dogs have the ability to synthesize their own vitamin C and vitamin K, including some of these vitamins in the diet can be beneficial. Vegetables and fruits are a great source of phytochemicals, antioxidants, and fibre.

I found information on a study that Scottish Terriers fed leafy green or yellow/orange veggies at least three times a week were up to 70-90% less likely to develop bladder cancer, even though vitamin supplements didn’t show the same results.

The “raw prey model” diet of meat, bone, and organ actually does not even accurately represent what our dogs descendants would eat in the wild. They would also be consuming fur, feathers, and hide, and would have access to far greater of a variety of organ meats, glands, and other by-products. So unless someone is feeding primarily whole prey to their dog, the diet may fall short in many minerals and definitely contain less fibre and roughage than the true diet of wild canines.

Steve Brown, author of Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet and See Spot Live Longer and owner of Darwin’s Natural Pet Products, is considered an expert by many in the raw dog food community. He believes plant matter should be fed to dogs in a raw diet. He states that “Vegetables and other plant matter were part of the dog’s ancestral diet. Vegetables provide essential nutrients, including fibre, minerals and vitamins. Without the plant matter providing those nutrients, an all-meat diet would need supplements. Vegetables can also help protect against certain forms of cancer.” You can read more about Steve Brown’s philosophy on vegetables for dogs in his article by clicking HERE.

Diet is the basis for good health, when a diet high in carbohydratess, ie starch found in commericial dog food kibbles, the carbs turn into sugar, and an environment is created in the body where cancer cells can, and will, replicate.

When adding vegetables to your dogs diet they should be processed in some way to make them easy to utilize. You can do this by pureeing, chopping/grinding to a pulp in a food processor, or cooking. Since cooking may deplete some nutrients, some prefer to process veggies using a food processor.

I think most breeders have, at some stage, fed Raw Tripe - there is an interesting article on the pros and cons of raw tripe HERE.

Before I made the change to Raw, I was concerned about bacteria from eating raw meat - but have since found that research suggests that many dry diets are as likely to cause issues with the same bacteria that they blame raw feeding for such as E. coli and Salmonella.

When first starting out it is recommended to use only one protein source for a week or so, and most people start with chicken mince. Each week you can add a new source of meat until your dog is accustomed to numerous protein sources. During the first few days of the new diet, as your dog is adjusting, they may have some stomach upset and need a few extra trips outside, but once their body starts acclimating everything should settle down.

Other items that can be added several times per week include raw eggs, some include the shells too, sardines, and as per above, some vegetables. Although egg shells are the only food I have found that my dogs won't eat!

There are many ways to feed your dog a raw diet ‘the right way’ and as with everything else, everyone’s opinion is a little different. Do your research, but if you speak to your vet you may find they are against a raw diet for various reasons, but if you think it is right for your dog, make your own choices.

So in essence, have I seen a difference, for the better, yes I have. In particular, if nothing else, one of my dogs has been on prescription medication for a possible allergy / immune related problem for two years. The medication affected her hormones and she had to have regular blood tests to check her liver and kidney function. I am pleased to say she has not had any medication since two weeks after I started feeding raw, and has had no flare ups.

I am no expert on raw feeding, but if you have any queries on the benefits I have seen in my dogs, please do not hesitate to contact me Email.

I have found weaning a litter of puppies straight onto raw meat so much easier, they take the food easily, don't leave anything, don't walk in it, and produce less waste (great news when you have a litter of six to clean up). Puppies need protein to synthesize tissue for growth and replace that which is broken down and lost from the body each day. And that amount is quite a bit, as they grow quickly! The protein in a puppy's food should be of high quality and very digestible. Puppies don't need some of the carbohydrates and fillers found in a commercial kibble. I often hear people say what they feed doesn't contain additives, just look at the ingredients to check, you will find they often have beat pulp, and maize etc, and some contain very little meat.

  1. A daily intake of 5% - 8% of your puppy’s weight, across four meals a day, till they are four months of age.
  2. A daily intake of 5% - 8% of your puppy’s weight, across three meals a day, till they are 6 months.
  3. A daily intake of 5% - 8% of your puppy’s weight, across 2 meals a day, till they are 1 year old.
  4. From 1 year old, in terms of feeding, you should move your puppy onto an adult feeding plan.

For more testimonials see HERE

Julie Growcott
Lillyway Rough Collies

For information you would feed a pregnant bitch in the same way with a few tweeks - see HERE


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