So Abbey is a total picky eater. I've been considering switching to raw for a while, but there are a lot of things to consider. She's had little bits of raw chicken before and gobbled them up with no problem. Getting her to eat kibble is another story! I've tried her on all kinds of high-quality kibble and she just doesn't like it much.
I'm paying about $35 for the big bag of dog food and Abbey only eats about 1.5 cups of food a day, total. She is very lean, but very, very active and has a very fast metabolism. The vet said she could probably gain a couple of pounds and she would look better, but I can't get her to gain any weight!
So here are my questions..
1) How much is this going to cost me, on average? I'm already looking into all of the butchers around here, FreeCycle and I know a lot of people that hunt.
2) How difficult is it to find things other than beef, chicken, and all the "regular" grocery store items?
3) I have a tiny freezer. Where do I put it all?!
Hey Justine! That's awesome that you're thinking about raw.
It's impossible to say how much it will cost, because that all depends on how good of a meat-bargain shopper you are, LOL! I get most of my guys food for $1 - $1.50 per pound, with the vast majority being around the $1 mark, and I don't know anyone who hunts, that'll save you big time. A few things I "splurge" for, like rabbit occasionally at around $3-$4/pound. But that's pretty rare. In general, you want to feed around 2-2.5% of body weight daily, but that varies from dog to dog, sometimes even by season. Peanut eats around 3.5% in winter, and about 1.5% in summer!
I spend more feeding raw than I did feeding kibble in regards to the actual food. However, my vet bills have gone down greatly since switching to raw. My bottle of ear cleaner is dusty because I haven't used it in so long. There are lots of ways in which raw has saved me a ton of money, so overall it's cheaper.
The difficulty of finding things is also relative, because it depends on whats around your area. Yahoo groups are great for finding suppliers and raw co-ops near you.
I think with one dog you can just use your fridge freezer no problem, it will just require some creative space usage.
People always laugh at me when I recommend this, but the raw feeding forum on Dogster is fantastic. Very busy and lots of people posting that have many years of raw feeding experience.
Check it out!
Going to raw is easy and a lot of fun once you get the hang of it and it actually is pretty easy to do in my opinion. The excitement Casey displays for her food is reward enough.
Like Kate, I also try to keep the meals to around a dollar a pound and I do pretty well at it. Chicken has been the easiest for me to do at this price but I also look for good prices on hamburger and other meats. The managers special bin is a good place to check for discounted meats that are still fine to feed.
We have been lucky to have some venison in the past because my next door neighbor hunts and I hope to get more meat that way again in the fall.
I also do not have a large deep freezer and tend to shop week by week which has not been hard for me. I will try to buy so much at a time knowing how much Casey needs a day and after a while you get a feel for whether a certain cut will serve as one meal or can be split into two meals. I try to plan out 7-10 meals at a time and I freeze part of it in freezer bags and put some of it in the fridge.
Chicken backs are an awesome way to feed in my opinion because they have a little bit of everything on them including the kidneys and they are cheap! Feeding fish is not a big part of Casey's diet because whole fish is expensive here in Colorado but I supplement with omega fish oil instead.
Good luck with your decision and keep us posted!
I have spent HOURS on the dogster raw site. It is absolutely packed with great info. Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!
No problem Frances, I love it too, it's great.
Thank you for the information about the raw diet forum and site. My puppers are only 6-1/2 months and are doing well on Pinnacle Trout and Sweet Potato. Coco had a bout with gastritis that took us about 3 weeks of careful feeding to clear. I am concerned about the bones in the raw diet. I have good access to venison, elk and oryx, sometimes antelope too. The girls have done great with the trout formula but there is not a lot of fresh fish down in the desert southwest. Could I substitute frozen fish? I can get almost any type of frozen fish at our markets. I can also get organ meat at our stores without a problem. Do you just chop up the raw meat/fish and give it to them based on their current body weight (at the 2-2.5% per day level)? Or is it better to let them free-feed? Neither of my girls are overweight. Abbey is right at 50 lbs and Coco is about 47lbs. They love bananas, apples, carrots, zucchini and green beans. We eat a lot of fresh fruits and veggies and lean meats ourselves just because I do not care for processed foods. I like knowing what has been added to our food and kind of feel I might be more comfortable doing that for the dogs too. Any suggestions are most appreciated. Also curious about how old the pups need to be before I could or should move to the raw diet 100%. Can I do some of both or would that upset their systems too much? Thanks for your advice!
Love JL. Justlabradors.com!!!
I believe that the earlier you move pups over, the better. Baloo switched at 11 months, only because it took me that long to learn, get over my fear and take the plunge! My next pup will be weaned to raw (um... once I decide which breed I want... LOL! I've got LOTS of time)
You can feed fresh fish, mackerel is ideal but we also use whiting, tilapia (make sure to cut off the fins!) and sardines.
The bone part is a bit of a hurdle to get over, I will admit. I fed premade ground raw for a few weeks before I got the nerve to feed bones. And for the first month or so I hovered over them every single meal just to make sure there were no problems. Now as long as they're within earshot I don't worry.
Basically if you want to do prey model raw feeding you would feed the dog 2-3% of their body weight (that's just a guide, some dogs need more and some less. For pups feed them 2-3% of their estimated adult weight) per day, and that is split up into about 80% muscle meat, 10% bone and 10% organ. I use primarily chicken and turkey raw meaty bones as I find them pliable and easy for both dogs to handle. Chicken quarters are a great place to start. My guys get fed once a day at varying times (4-10pm), with a "fast" day once a week where all they get is a bully stick (so it's not a true fast, but it works.)
I wouldn't do both, as very different enzymes are required for digesting cooked and raw foods, and having to go back and forth can be tough on a dogs system. If you're going to do a combo of both you need to feed them as far apart as possible in a day (i.e raw breakfast and kibble dinner) because of the differing processing times. This works well for some dogs, but I have heard of lots of others that struggle with it, so it's a toss up, basically.
If you're nervous about starting out, Kymythy Schultze's book "Natural Nutrition for dogs and cats" is a good recipe style guide, that pretty much tells you exactly what to feed and when. I've since moved away from her formulation a bit after reading more (she includes veggies and supplements and things) but it really helped me starting out. I was nervous and needed that direction at the time. As I gained more confidence I was able to branch off to where I eventually wanted to be.
There's a great thread on dogster that was made specifically for newbies, I'll try and find the link for you....
Here we go!
It seems really overwhelming at first, but once you get into the swing of it it becomes super easy. And preparing food for your babies that is super healthy, they LOVE, and you can pronounce every one of the ingredients feels really, really good.