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
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?
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...
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.
supplements should I be giving?
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?
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
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?
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
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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