5 Mistakes New Raw Feeders Make
Over the years, there have been many articles listing the risks of raw feeding to dogs and their humans. The internet is a minefield of conflicting information regarding bacteria and the possible ill-effects of raw feeding on our own health, but I agree that if we feed raw and never wash our hands, we may have a problem. However, most of the information in these articles is just unfounded nonsense. I'd just like to point out that I'm not a pet nutritionist or a veterinarian, however, I think washing hands after handling raw meat is fairly common sense, don't you think?
That's not to say that raw feeders don't make mistakes, because the majority of us could certainly hold up our hands and admit we've made a few.
5 Common Raw Feeding Mistakes
That Raw is just Ground Beef
Believing that raw is just feeding ground beef mince from the supermarket. Believe it or not, you shouldn't feed your dog raw mince straight from the supermarket packet without freezing it first. Human mince is sold with the intention of being cooked, meaning it can contain harmful parasites that would otherwise be killed in the cooking process, but can cause issues when fed to our dogs raw. That's why you should freeze any supermarket meat for at least a week before feeding it to your dog, to kill off any harmful parasites. This is especially important when considering feeding your dog supermarket bought fish.
A diet that only consists of ground protein doesn't contain all of the nutrients our dogs need.
To make sure you are feeding a balanced diet, make sure you are doing the following:
- Feeding 80% muscle meat, 10% bone, and 10% organ meat in your dogs overall diet. Unless you prefer DIY raw feeding, the popular option is to buy 80-10-10 minces from your local pet store. (Hello everyone!)
- Make sure that that you add variety and do this by alternating the main protein each week.
- Consider adding other nutrients that aren't covered by meat alone, such as Omega-3 fatty acids (sardines) and iodine (kelp).
It seems a little complicated at first, but you'll be amazed at how easy this can be once you source a good selection and gain a better understanding of what your dog needs in the bowl.
Mixing Raw and Kibble Together
The idea of switching to raw is to improve our dogs health. If we're still feeding kibble, then we are offsetting the benefits that raw brings to the bowl by mixing it with something that's processed, cooked and contains a whole array of additives. Kibble (especially that's low quality) promotes inflammation, it's difficult to digest, and the sourcing of the ingredients are questionable.
Not only does raw feeding alongside kibble kind of defeat the point, but the two require a different pH in the stomach to digest. Kibble will increase the pH in the stomach to digest the starch it contains (making it less acidic), but when the pH of the gut is increased, bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella are more likely to survive and cause digestive upset or illness in your dog.
It's the acidic environment in your dogs gut that protects them against these pathogens. Dogs and other carnivores have evolved to handle the bacteria in raw meats, but if we change the pH in their digestive tract by feeding a food that’s not appropriate for them (starch), some of that protection is lost.
Believing All Raw Bones Are Safe
When it comes to raw meaty bones, knowing which ones to feed is entirely dependent on the dinosaur you're feeding. Some dogs will take their time with a raw bone by safely chewing it down at a slow rate, whilst others will literally try to swallow the thing whole (not ideal).
The key to determining which bones are safe for your dog is learning their eating habits. Tara primarily enjoys lamb ribs and beef marrowbones, but will attempt to annihilate a duck neck in one gulp.
Going Too Crazy With The Supplements
Adding the right supplements to your dogs bowl can be hugely beneficial in many ways, whether it's adding glucosamine to provide joint aid, or cod liver oil to promote a healthy skin and coat. However, the kitchen can quickly turn into a lab for a mad scientist. (Especially if you're DIY raw feeding) Remember that many of the beneficial vitamins and oils found in supplements can also be fed in the form of whole foods - for example, feeding whole mackerel instead of fish oil; chicken feet and trachea's instead of glucosamine.
That's not to say you should stop giving your 12 year old spaniel their joint tablets, but for younger dogs that take them only for precautionary support, this is a good point to note.
Don't Make It Complicated
It's easy to become overwhelmed by the number of options about models to follow, brands to choose, and the amount of work that goes into raw feeding. However, feeding raw can be as easy or as complicated as you would like to make it.
When it comes to understanding the basics of raw feeding, the most important thing to remember is that variety is key. Many dogs develop food allergies after eating the same thing day in and day out. One of the main reasons why beef and chicken are known to be the most common allergies is because it's one of the cheapest meats for manufacturers to source. The majority of widely known brands use this as a primary ingredient in their recipes, which results in dogs developing an intolerance to them over time. Ensuring you are varying between 5 and 6 different proteins in your dogs diet reduces the likelihood of them developing an intolerance.
If you'd like to discuss raw feeding in more depth or if you're considering making the transition from kibble, we and your local natural pet store's are always on hand to offer advice. Check out The Barking Lot if you're in or around Wetherby, or Stef's Pet Pantry if you're in the Ilkley area!