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.
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.
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??