Updated: Feb 28, 2020
Let me guess?... You want to feed a raw diet, but have no clue how to start or where to go. I'll admit that in the beginning, it was all so overwhelming. I had no clue where to buy anything, even what to buy for that matter. I was confused on how much to feed my dog and was lost in this new world. After researching for a bit and starting to understand the idea of it, i jumped in and went all out. In this blog, I'll clear up as many questions as you have towards this new world you're about to enter. This will be a "starter guide" if you will, most of my research put into one place.
Upon doing further research, I found that if you're going to feed pork or salmon, you should first freeze it for a minimum of 2 weeks before feeding. These proteins can carry parasites, so by doing this process, you're reducing the risk. You never want to feed cooked bones as they become harder and can splinter, causing many complications such as piercing the intestines or stomach. When the bones are raw, they are soft enough that your pet can digest them easily. Dogs have a high PH level in their stomach making it very acidic, which is perfect for breaking the bone down. You want to try and avoid any weight bearing bones such as femur and knuckle bones of a large animal like beef. These bones are extremely hard and without supervision, your dog can break some teeth while chewing. The key to feeding the most balanced diet is variety. Feed as many different proteins and animal parts as you can. Things like chicken feet, trachea, pizzles, lung, testicles, etc... are great for a variety of reasons. The weirder, the better.
One of the main questions I get is, How much do I feed? again, this is just a guideline. Most dogs will eat roughly 2-3% of their ideal adult body weight. Remember that this will fluctuate, depending on your dogs energy levels. You want to feed 3% if you have a highly active pet and 2% for the opposite. As you go through week by week, you'll mess around with numbers to discover your pets ideal portions. Here's an example of how I calculate the right portions for my dog weight categories:
2% of adult weight
70lbs: 70 x 0.02 = 1.4 (1.5lbs of food)
20lbs: 20 x 0.02 = 0.4 (400g of good)
3% of adult weight
70lbs: 70 x 0.03 = 2.1 (2lbs of food)
20lbs: 20 x 0.03 = 0.6 (600g of food)
Hopefully this will help you better understand how to get the right amount of food for your pet. I recommend that when you first start out feeding, you want to be in the 2% range and analyze your pet from there to adjust accordingly. Ideally, chicken is the best starter protein as it is lighter on the stomach and easily accessible. If your pet has an allergy to chicken, you can try turkey, duck or lamb to start. Generally, you want to be on this protein for 2-3 weeks before switching so your dogs digestive system can adapt to the new diet. From there, switching is a breeze. You can add another protein source and supervise your pets. The best way to tell if you're feeding the right amount is to run your hands through your pets rib area. You should be able to feel the ribs and count them by pressing down through a thin layer of fat, I like to see the last 2 or even just the last rib.
If you're feeding puppies, you want to target 2-3% of ideal/expected ADULT weight. Split their meals into 3 or more per day. When puppies are 4-6 months old, they require a significant amount of food and a little extra edible bone as they are building adult teeth. Don't let your pup get too thin as their energy demands are huge during this period.
One of the keys is to check on your pets stools. If you see that the stool is very light in colour and is crumbly, it's more than likely that you're feeding too much bone. If this is the case then simply feed no bone in his next meal until you see the stool become normal again. On the other hand, if you notice it's runny and very dark in colour, then it's an indication that you've fed too much organ or meat. In this case, do the opposite and feed a heavier bone meal until the stool has returned back to normal.
Well, that's roughly all there is to starting your pet out on a raw diet. It's not that complicated and there is no need to be overwhelmed by all the numbers and ratios. Remember that balance happens over time and there isn't a need to feed the exact ratios every meal. You don't calculate the exact percentages of nutrients and proteins in your daily meals, so you don't have to do it with your dogs either.