I have been talking to a couple of people about raw feeding and I cannot really make my mind up. I was wondering has anybody had any experience with this?
What and how much do you give, chicken/pork?
When and how do you start?
What are the down sides?
The people I spoke to said allergies cleared up, more energy, clean teeth etc only positive that's why I ask.
Are you having problems already? I'll be honest, a lot of the claims you won't notice if you're already feeding a good quality kibble. Those that see the truly amazing results have dogs that have a problem with kibble (usually some sort of carbohydrate that is needed to form kibble), or an allergy that is best treated by a simple raw diet.
Now I do feed 1/2 kibble and 1/2 raw, so I'm not knocking the diet, but if you have a healthy dog, don't expect anything other than smaller poops. At 13 weeks of age, I would be very concerned about feeding a raw diet. Labs are susceptible to many orthopedic problems, and controlling calcium levels helps reduce some of the problems. Controlling calcium is very hard to do with raw diets. How many milligrams of calcium does a chicken back have? What about a whole fryer chicken? Obviously it varies by size, so it's incredibly difficult to know. For that reason, I never considered feeding a raw diet to Jes as a puppy.
I would recommend looking through some of the Yahoo! groups (Labrador BARF, and such), looking through some of the books (Billinghurst, Volhard, Pitcairn, and Shultze are usually recommended) and start learning about various methods. That will buy your pup some time to grow, and after he's older, you could experiment.
I choose to do 50/50 (probably down to 75 kibble/25% raw when school starts in August) for convenience and because of the simple fact that he does just as well on kibble than he does on raw. Jes just doesn't have any problems with kibble. His only allergy/intolerance is to wheat, and that's an easy ingredient to eliminate. For the raw portion, I usually stick with chicken (deer during hunting season, and waterfowl during the appropriate seasons) because it's cheap and easily available. I really like chicken backs because they have a bit of meat, bone, and organs, so I usually only need to add extra muscle meat.
He started right about at a year of age. After about a year, I just couldn't justify the extra expense for no noticable improvements (but he didn't have any problems in the first place) and I dropped down to our current schedule. You do usually notice cleaner teeth (from the bones) and smaller, more compact poops. Those that feed 75%-100% raw generally see the poops dissipate as a lot of it is due to the extra calcium that they excrete. As puppies, they don't have this mechanism, and that's why I'm afraid of mixing raw diets and puppies.
Hi Nick, thanks for your reply.
No, we don' have any problems. I am just interested and wanted some of the opinions from other people that have been raw feeding.
Thanks for your advise to wait untill at least 1 year old, that said how did/do dogs in the wild figure this out? I mean don't the pups just eat what is available or are our dogs so far away from that?
True, but dogs in the wild are isolated by breed, so hip dysplasia isn't as much of a concern as it is in Labs, Weims, Goldens, and Great Danes (as well as some other large breed dogs). Also, they don't eat as much. It's also a myth that wild canids don't have health problems, they typically don't live all that long (which diet is only one of a variety of factors), but hip dysplasia in the wild is not typically something that is successful (genetically) as they are usually killed off because of a lack of mobility. Here in the human realm, we have ways to deal with it, people breed puppies at an age where HD isn't even obvious yet, and so we tend to protect the gene better than mother nature.
There are people that feed puppies raw diets. It's not impossible, I just don't feel comfortable doing it. The research is very clear about excess calcium, and because I don't know how much calcium a raw diet provides, I'd rather play it safe.