Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Raw Food Diet NOM NOM NOM

When we tell friends what the pooches eat, we immediately get the response, "What?!?!"  Maggie and Nigel eat only raw food.  Maggie eats chicken backs, turkey necks, beef, pork, fish, organ meats, eggs and a special concoction of veggies (and a tiny bit of fruit).  Nigel just started the diet last Friday so he is starting slowly with only chicken backs and wings.

We started Maggie on a raw food diet because my sister and brother-in-law have had their two pups and three cats on raw for years now.  They swear by the diet and we saw all of the wonderful side effects in our furry niece and nephews.

The benefits?  No bad breath, way less stinky (or stinkless) small poops, teeth stay clean, and super shiny coat.  Disadvantages?  I'm not so into handling raw meat.  Some people are nervous that dogs can't handle the raw bones but they can!  Raw bones are much more flexible than cooked bones.  And we buy into the argument that dogs' digestive systems have not evolved to process grains like ours have.  Both dogs had some major stink breath before going raw and after only FIVE days, Nigel's stinky breath is a thing of the past!  (That being said, we don't believe that a kibble diet is bad for dogs.  All of our dogs growing up ate kibble and they are all fine.  We just really like the benefits of a raw diet.)

How does it work?  Every week, we head to the LA Farmers Market (permanent farmers market) and buy a large quantity of chicken backs and turkey necks, sometimes for as cheap as 59 cents a pound!  Then, we pick up some non-meaty bones meat (so really cheap beef, chicken, pork or fish) that's on sale at our local grocery store.  Using a formula of how much the dog should weigh and factoring in how active she is, we give Maggie about 22 ounces of food each day.  For right now, Nigel is getting a little less than he should while he transitions but we'll be adding more and more as we go along until we find the right number for him.

Here you can see a BIG day of prepping foods.  We used the mat that Maggie normally eats on top of to lay everything out, then Lane went to work chopping up the meats and packaging them in tupperware.  A $20 kitchen scale is our best friend but Lane got a nice butcher's cleaver for Chanukah and it makes such a difference in the prep work!  We probably put together 12-14 days worth of food that day.  And by we, I mean Lane did most of the work and I put the tops on the tupperware because my hands weren't meaty.

Do the dogs like it?  Maggie was hesitant when we first started but she took to it quickly.  Nigel looked as though he had been eating raw meat for years during his first meal.  They look forward to meals just as they did with kibble.

This was one of Maggie's first raw meals.  She started out by just licking the wings and didn't really understand that she had to CRUNCH through them.  She understood what to do pretty quickly though.  The hardest part was teaching her to stay on the mat.  Now, we lay a mat down in her crate (one that is washable and gets wiped down with white vinegar after every meal).

But won't it make my dog bloodthirsty!?!?  Many people feel that feeding a dog raw meat may make them become savage beasts or something.  Maggie is the same Maggie she was before she started eating raw food.  She's just as sweet and super cuddly as ever.  And there's no bloodthirsty evil gleam in her eye that says to us, "I'm going to tear you apart and eat you for dinner!"

What's the transition period like?  I will say that when both dogs first started on their diets, they had some runny poops for a few days (sorry about the TMI).  After the initial period that many raw foodies call "detox," both were doing well and having regular schedules again.  The process is very slow.  You start with just one kind of bony meat, like chicken wings, for a full week and only then can you graduate onto drumsticks (slowly adding meatier meat to the diet).  After two weeks, we added some turkey necks.  Then at the end of week 4, we added some beef but not a lot (so she ate meals that would be part turkey necks or chicken backs and some beef).  Then after week 6, we added pork (which needs to be frozen for some time, we go with 5 days, to ensure there are no harmful parasites or bacteria stuffs in them).  After week 8, she got her first fishy meal and also started eating organs at that point.  We also added in a veggie cube that is supposed to be similar to what a dog would come across foraging on their own.  And we squirt in some salmon oil on her raw egg to give her some omega 3's.

This seems overwhelming!  How would I even start?!  This website, FAQ's on NJ Boxers' Site, was super helpful for getting started.  The first week or two that Maggie ate raw, she just ate wings and drumsticks that you can buy at the supermarket.  Then we started trying to find fresher and cheaper at different places.

There's so much more I could say about the raw diet the pooches eat but there are also a gajillion websites out there.  So, if you're interested in something relating to the raw diet we follow, leave us a comment and we'll reply!

Anyone else feeding raw diets to their animals?  What other benefits do you see??

11 comments:

  1. Great info! I would love to put my dogs on a raw diet, but need to wait until I have a freezer bigger than a shoebox:/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We're crazy enough to have bought a separate flip-top freezer that will be here this weekend. Our smaller freezer was OKAY with just Maggie but with Nigel...we'd only be able to fit 2-3 days worth for both! And that's just too much shopping!

      Delete
  2. Great that you are doing a raw diet. I would venture to say, though, that your dogs are getting way, way too much bone and not enough meaty meat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nigel is only getting mostly boney meats right now because he is just starting out. Maggie actually gets a good combination of stuff that is mostly meat with bones. They're on different schedules because of when they were adopted and all. Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
    2. By the way, your pooches are ADORABLE!!!! Seems like they're loving their raw food diets too. :-)

      Delete
    3. Thanks! Love sharing the pups with new people.

      I don't feed wings or backs at all, I find them way too boney. When I do feed bone, it is more along the lines of chicken quarters (which is what I started my dogs on when they started raw). Turkey necks are the boniest thing I feed on a regular basis, and then they only get them every 3 or 4 days, with meat only meals in between. Or else as a day before or after a liver/organ meal to make things a bit more solid.

      Delete
    4. We feed a lot of chicken quarters too. That's really interesting that you do that much meat to bone...maybe we'll do some research and revisit our formula.

      Delete
  3. I love that you are able to make all of their raw feed! We do store-bought raw. Our dogs are a bit older, and we've been realizing that if we just spend a bit more on their diet, we have so many less ailments and vet appointments...which are always way more costly!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We also have a little store-bought (Nature's Variety Instinct patties) in the freezer for those whoops moments (like one of us forgets to move food to the fridge). It's so good to hear that you're seeing less vet appointments, totally worth it in the long run!

      Delete
  4. I'd like to go this route. We do one turkey neck a week but otherwise we don't do raw at all.
    Whenever I read about someone doing raw my response is, "I'd love to do that!" but we have yet to transition.
    I will say that our dogs eat the turkey necks so fast its horrifying and it has caused Hades to vomit on occasion because they don't savor it. We have had to take it from their mouth to get them to slow down and while they didn't resond with aggression, they also didn't exactly want to give it up, so I realized we had work to do there.
    I'm not uncomfortable with the raw diet at all, I just am not totally certain I want to fully commit to the change yet. I applaud anyone who does it, I totally believe in the benefits.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I totally understand. Even though we KNEW that we wanted to do raw food, we took a while to feel really comfortable with everything. The pups also wolfed down (hehe) their food when they first started with raw. Then, slowly, they realized that they need to chew, especially bonier stuff. Sometimes though, it's disturbing how they can chomp on a wing or something 1-3 times and swallow it!

      Delete