Saturday, May 9, 2009

I feed raw

I feed both of my dogs a raw diet. Both originally were on kibble, but I wasn't happy with what I was getting out of kibble as far as performance. It was while we still only had Heffner that I finally got fed up and made the switch. I do a lot of different things with my dogs. As such, they burn a lot of calories depending on what we're doing. For a tough skijoring race weekend, not only are they out there running on a surface that requires a lot of muscle control, but they're also pulling me along as well as maintaining body heat in cold weather conditions. Because of this, I felt that Heffner (he's the only one who has raced so far) really needed to have a breakfast before heading up to the mountain for the race. I would have to add things to his kibble to get him to eat it all. Because of the additives and the length of time it takes to fully digest kibble, he would end up with diarrhea when we were up there (he had almost three hours to digest, so I wasn't worried about him bloating). A dog with diarrhea is not competing at it's best. Not only that, but when we would get home, he'd be tired and most times didn't want to eat. But to keep him performing at his best he NEEDED those calories for all the work that he did that day and was going to be doing again the next day. So we switched to raw and have not looked back since!

The main advantage for me is that raw food is more caloried dense than the majority of kibbles without the intestinal upset that you can get with "hot" kibbles. There are soooo many other benefits that we have enjoyed as well. It's great for the coat. It's really great for the teeth. Even though both of my dogs are still young, they're teeth are so much cleaner than a lot of other dogs I've seen at similar ages. The amount of poop is about half. While neither one has loose poop, they weren't quite as firm as I would like. Now they only have looser poop if they get into something that they shouldn't have. It's a pretty good deal.

The vast majority of the time you will hear me say that I'm very happy that I feed raw. However, there's usually one week every three months that I'm seriously not that thrilled about it!LOL That happens to coincide with my big meat pick up. Every three months I go to the butchers and pick up my meat load. I usually get close to 400 lbs. of a variety of products. Our main stays are chicken backs, chicken leg quarters, and chicken necks. After that I mix things up a little bit with turkey tails, beef heart, K-9 grind (a ground up mixture of green tripe, heart, and other things that I use for their organ meat), and chicken gizzards. This past week was such a week! The only reason I don't like is because I let the meat thaw just enough that I can pull it apart and put it into individual meal sized bags and then into our meat freezer. It's a long process and I'm usually sore by the end of it. But it's now done and I've posted the pictures of all my hard work!

I also thought that I should include some links for anyone interested, that I found helpful when I was getting started. These aren't links that I came up with on my own, but were posted on the great dane forum Leans N Slobbers. I have also been fortunate enough to have many friends who feed their danes raw as well who have given me pointers!

When I started both of mine on raw, I did end up doing a 24 hour fast for both of them. This wasn't intentional. Neither one was a consistent eater on kibble. If they didn't eat their meal, then I would put it up and offer it again at the next meal time. So that's how the fasting sort of came about. I started both out on chicken drums and they took to it differently. For Heffner, I held up the piece and he started munching on it and caught on pretty quickly. After that, he never had a problem with any of the meat pieces I gave him. Bess wouldn't eat the drums until I first cut off the majority of the meat and gave her the meat chunks and the bone. Then she would eat it. After about a week she was finally eating the drums whole without me doing anything to them. Since then, when I'm introducing a new meat source/portion to her, I do usually have to cut it up into smaller pieces and then she'll eat it. After a day or two of that she'll eat the piece whole. It's kind of funny. When I started giving them beef heart chunks, hers had to be cut into bite size pieces before she would eat them. The same with beef kidney. She's just quirky like that! And of course, I indulge her.:O) I also have to mention that neither of my dogs had any digestive issues when switching over to raw.


Kennedy said...

Thanks for sharing what it takes to do what you do for your dogs! :) Love the pics.... all I can say is WOW.

RuathaDanes said...

I have been looking into raw feeding Brother Prowler. I have fed Eagle Pak for well over 20 years and had good success---but since they sold out I am not happy with the food. At first all was fine but this last batch of 10 bags IS different. Now Prowler is not liking the food and he has always been a chow hound.
Only problem being getting started and finding the sources--you'd think living in the country would be easy--NOT. Will just have to see what I can figure out???

Shana said...

Lindsay, you are WAY too organized! I still have a 60 pound box of meat I never defrosted from two years ago, LOL! This is also why I really like feeding my own ground up mix, that way I can buy 1 pound packages of meat and 2 pound packages of ground chicken backs, and also why I buy little tubs of pre-chopped up liver and organs.

In your post you listed a lot of boney items. Do you feed anything else? Do you do meat only days?

Lindsay said...

I don't have any specific meat only days. Their individual meals are a variety depending on what I put in there. In addition to the bony meats, there's things like chicken gizzards, beef heart, and turkey tails that have hardly any cartilage in them at all. They also get fish and eggs depending on the day of the week. If it's a high energy day, they'll ground beef from teh grocery store. It just really varies depending on the day of the week and what activities they've been doing.