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Understanding Raw    FAQs    Sample Diet    Weaning Pups on Raw   

How do I get started on the Raw Diet?

The most important step is the first one.  Prior to that, however, it is important to take some time to research the raw diet (hopefully that is why you are here!).   Go to our "Feeding" page and purchase a few of the books listed there.  Ask other raw feeding breeders for information, and consider joining one of the BARF Chat Lists that are available (go to www.groups.yahoo.com and search BARF ...you will find quite a few lists dedicated to the subject).

Most dogs do fine being switched cold-turkey.   We suggest starting with one or two foods at a time and letting their bodies get used to the new foods before you start feeding them more variety.   Some dogs will be hesitant to eat chicken with bones in it.  In this case, we suggest grinding it or lightly searing it for taste.  Usually they'll be off and running in no time.   Wait to add the richer foods, such as liver and eggs, for a few weeks.

How much should I feed?
Every dog is different.  2% of his body weight daily is a good place to start and then adjust everything up or down, depending on your dogs condition.    We've found that when we "tweak" the chicken, we see a change in weight faster than if we "tweak" the other ingredients.  For instance, a dog we are trying to keep weight on will receive chicken backs (with fat attached) and a dog we are trying to keep weight off of will get a back with fat removed, or necks instead.

Can I start an older dog on BARF?
Absolutely!  However, we would suggest a visit to the vet and a complete blood workup in the case of very old dogs.  This is to ensure that there is not another problem coming on which might be mistaken for a change in diet.  For older dogs, it is best to start out with a bland diet and keep the fat content lower.  We would also suggest adding yogurt with live cultures to aid in digestion.

Should I be concerned about Salmonella poisoning?
According to the FDA, salmonella is not harmful to otherwise healthy dogs.  Be smart in preparing the foods though, to protect yourself and your family.  Don't leave chicken for the dogs out any longer than you would if you were feeding it to your family.  Wash hands and keep food preparation surfaces clean. 

Can raw bones cause choking or puncture the intestines?
First, let us please remind that all bones must be fed RAW.  It is cooked bones that become sharp and splintery, resulting in the old "no chicken bones for the dogs" adage.  Raw bones are fully digestible and it is not only normal, but healthy for dogs to eat them.  Never in our years of feeding have we had a dog choke on a bone, or have a problem with digestion/intestines etc.  In fact, we've found that the Raw meals are digested much quicker.

What are RMBs & Recreational Bones? 
Raw Meaty Bones (as referred to over and over again in most BARF literature) are bones that are soft enough for the dog to chew up and eat  ie. chicken or turkey carcasses/backs/necks/wings, lamb necks, oxtails etc...

Recreational bones are larger bones that you will give your dogs to chew, but not eat through ie. beef femurs, knuckle and marrow bones etc.

How do I go about finding a Raw supplier?
Contact your local butcher or Wholesale Poultry Distributor.  We don't have local butchers any more so we prefer to buy from Whole Foods, who give substantial discounts for bulk.  We purchase our chicken directly from the chicken farmer since we buy a lot and freeze it.  This enables us to purchase chickens the day they are butchered to ensure freshness.  Another resource for suppliers is the International Purveyor Index.  Insert your zip code to find a supplier near you.   It will certainly pay for you to shop around for prices, as well as buy in bulk, as you will pay nearly twice as much at your local grocery store. We also buy frozen meats of various kinds, already ground in 5lb or 2lb packages from www.hare-today.com and if shipped by Ground Fed Ex, provided you live within 3 days shipping distance, it arrives solidly frozen. Please also see our "Sources" links for more information.

Should I or should I not feed grains?
There are various opinions on grains.  Most feel that grains are not a natural food for dog and thus, that dogs do not need any grains.  In addition, grains are full of carbohydrates which are converted to sugars in the body.  It is perfectly healthy for a dog to eat some grain, however, it should be a very small part of the diet overall.  You will notice that in our diet, we include soaked oats.  However, each large dog will only eat about 1 TBSP of oats in a day.  Grains are also a major source of allergies in some dogs.  If in doubt, we would suggest removing the grains from your dog's diet.

What supplements should I be giving?
When a well-balanced diet is fed, the need for additional supplementation should be minimal.  We have found that every dog needs different vitamins and minerals for optimum health, so do add some things to their diet (see our Supplement page). 

Do I have to chop or puree the veggies?
Yes. Cell walls of plants (fruits and veggies) are made up of cellulose, which dogs cannot digest, so it is recommended that veggies are finely chopped, juiced etc.  Cooking also destroys the cell walls, however it also removes other nutrients.  Our suggestion is to prepare "Veggie Glop" in large quantities and then freeze in smaller packages, suitable for daily or two daily usage.

Can I feed chicken leg quarters?
Yes, but we don't. There are two drawbacks to feeding these.  First, the weight bearing bones are naturally harder, which precludes them for smaller dogs, and second, these do not contain the proper calcium:meat ratio (much more meat than bone).  We will feed these periodically when we're traveling, but would not consider making them a staple of our dogs' diets. We prefer wings and you can almost always find chicken wings somewhere.

How can I get my dog to stop gulping down his chicken?
Rottweilers by nature will chomp once and then swallow.  To teach them to chew before swallowing try using larger RMBs like chicken backs and turkey necks.  Avoid chicken wings and necks until your dog has proven that he will chew the food.  We have also found that feeding the "gulper" his chicken partially frozen will encourage him to chew it more thoroughly.   Another option is hand feeding; holding onto the bone while they chew the meat off.  This generally works well for smaller dogs (ours can wrestle the slippery chicken out of our hands pretty easily!).

Is there a benefit to grinding RMB's?
We find the chewing of whole RMB's to be very satisfying for the dogs.  It is also good jaw and upper body exercise for the pups and older dogs.  Chewing the bones themselves also is what helps to keep the teeth so clean and white.  

Is it safe to feed pork?
Pork can be fed safely, however to avoid the possibility of trichinosis, it is recommended that it be frozen at zero degrees for three weeks.  It is safer to buy human-grade inspected pork but the pork we buy from Hare Today is frozen anyway. 

Why does my dog's coat look worse since switching?
Shortly after changing over from processed dog food to raw, your dog's body will begin to rid itself of the toxins and impurities while adjusting to the proper nutrients.  You may notice that your dog's coat condition has worsened, or that he/she may have a bout of vomiting or diarrhea.  This is all part of the normal detoxification process.  Be sure to provide lots of fresh water at this time and consider adding vitamin C and pure pumpkin to the diet.  This process is usually over with quickly and the dog looks and feels better than ever in the end.

What if my dog has diarrhea?
Diarrhea may be brought on in a beginning BARF dog due to the normal detoxification process (above) but can also be the result of adding too many new foods too quickly.  Try going back and adding one food at a time to try to determine the culprit.   You may also want to try a good Probiotic to aid in digestion, as well as yogurt and vitamin C.

What if my dog gets constipated on the BARF diet?
It is common to see white crumbly stools from a raw fed dog, especially so after chicken.  However, if the dog seems constipated, try reducing the RMB's and raising the amount of veggies a bit.  Real pumpkin will also help reduce constipation (helps loose stools as well).


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