I am a firm believer that we are what we eat. That does not stop with us, it very much has an effect on our pets as well. The quality and type of food you choose to feed your dogs, directly effects their behavior and ability to make good choices.
This page was created to answer the many questions that I get pertaining to what I feed my dogs, what supplements I use and why. In a nutshell, I feed a Prey Model Diet. This is what I am going to breakdown for you below.
People new to the concept of feeding raw, are often overwhelmed with how to get started. Many turn to their vets for assistance only to be told by many (but not all) that they do not recommend it. The bottom line is, we all need to do what is best for our dogs, I am here to share what WE give to our dogs. These are the same guidlines that many of our clients also choose to follow.
There are only a few hard and fast rules in canine nutrition, no one has all the answers, especially not me. But this also includes the pet food makers, veterninarians, and even canine nutritionists. You will find that just like us, when we eat a whole food diet, our health improves, as do our pets. You will see this in their temperement, coats, and oral health.
Key Points to Remember for a Prey Model Diet
When making the switch, go "cold turkey"! I recommend fasting for 12-24 hours, then offering their first raw meal. Whole food and kibble digest at different rates, by offering both, the body has a harder time digesting, and we could be creating undue dietary upset.
Balance over time - each meal will be different, you will not give everything at once. One meal may have more bone, another may have more meat or organs.
Our goal being 80% meat, 10% edible bone, 5% liver, 5% other organ meat.
Protein sources you can use (but are not limited to) chicken (eggs too), turkey, pork, beef, and fish. You can also get creative if you have access to elk, venison, bison, buffalo, bear, ect.
When feeding pork or fish, make sure to freeze the meat for at least 2 weeks before feeding to reduce the small risk of parasites.
NEVER feed cooked bones of any type. When they are cooked, they become brittle and can easily splinter piercing the stomach or intestines. Raw bones are soft and will easily digest.
Avoid feeding weight bearing bones such as leg and knuckle bones of large animals, such as beef. These bones are too dense and could cause damage to teeth.
Bone is calcium, too much bone in the diet will cause constipation.
Hearts are considered meat, nor organs.
Feel free to feed "strange" things such as chicken/turkey feet, beef trachea, tails, lung, and kidney. Feet and trachea are an excellent source of natural chondroitin and glucosamine.
If possible feeding grass fed animals is best, if this is not possible, I look for animals raised in the US. The younger the animals the better, as they will have had less time to pick up environmental toxins.
We do not recommend the addition of grains, I do not believe they are a natural part of a dog's diet. Dogs are carnivores, they do not have the ability to digest grains properly. By feeding grains we are putting extra strain on their livers to process said food.
When you decide to make the switch, you will need the proper supplies in order to be successful, these will include:
Scale - many choose to use one when they first get started, these are very handy until you have a feel for the amount that each of your dogs eats.
Freezer - buying in bulk is cheaper and you need a place to store it. I have used both a chest freezer and an upright. I prefer the upright. Here is my freezer just after an order.
Zip Bags - I thaw my bulk meat purchases to the point that I can repackage. I choose to package in gallon sizes. Others do smaller bags. Some even go so far as prepare each meal in a bag. For me that is WAY to much work. I choose to freeze like products in one bag, defrosting as needed.
Freezer Containers - I also have containers that I can store meat in, easy to go from freezer to fridge and feed right from them. However I can fit more using bags, so I do both depending on what suits my need at the time.
Prep Space is important. Many choose to keep defrosted food in their personal fridge, I took it to the next level and purchased a small mini fridge for my dog room. This allows me to keep my food, and treats, plus anything else I need, in a common area for easy prep and clean up. This also keeps my family from having to look at the "strange" things that I feed from time to time.
In addition to the mini fridge, I have a large counter top that makes prepping meals easy. This is actually a large stainless toolbox, the kind you put automotive tools in. It works great to keep bowls, toys and every other dog related item stored away nice and neat. These items are not a necessity, I share them, as they have made my world easier.
How Much to Feed
The recommendation for this diet is to feed two to three percent of their ideal body weight per day. When you first start, I recommend starting with 2% and adjusting as needed. As an example, a 60lb dog will eat 1.2lbs per day. When feeding puppies, it is important to feed them based on their projected ADULT weight, not their actual weight. This is where that scale can come in handy.
You must also keep in mind your dogs breed, current weight, and energy level. I personally do not measure, I watch my dogs body condition. For example, I have a 35lb Border Collie that eats as much as my 80lb Rottweiler; different breeds, different ages, and definitely different energy levels.
I choose to feed my dogs twice per day, many raw feeders only feed one time. If you have a puppy, it is important to breakdown their meals so that they are starting out at 3-4 meals per day, then moving to 2-3 until they are ready for the "adult schedule".
How to Get Started
Now that you have a plan, have your supplies, it is now time to get started!
Pick your protein to start, I recommend chicken. It is easy to find, and is normally economical to purchase. I am a fan of using leg quarters and backs to start. Alternating them at each meal for the first few days. You are looking for consistency in stool. If you don't see this, don't panic, if you dog has been eating kibble, there are potential toxins that need to work their way out of the body. At this point, I would recommend using the Digestive Blend Essential Oil, as well as a good live probiotic (contact me on how you can get these products at wholesale prices). Additional chicken ideas can include feet and hearts (remember...hearts are considered meat, not an organ).
By now you will start to see a change in your dog, gut health will be improving, teeth will start to look whiter, breath will start to smell better, and their skin and coat will start to look shinier. At this stage I add in Turkey. I personally do not use turkey legs, as I find them to be too hard for most dogs, though the giant breeds may do just fine. I like to feed feet, hearts, wings, and breast meat. Keeping in mind once you add the new protein, rotate it with the previous. If I find any dietary upset, I use the Digestive Blend EO to assist. At this point many people will start to add new protein sources at one week intervals. I personally like to keep my new protein on a two week schedule, this allows me to see if my dog has a sensitivety to a certain protein, and if so, I know for certainty which it is.
The next protein I add is either fish or pork. Again watching for dietary upset, and supporting as needed, while rotating the previous meat protein. An example of that would be chicken leg quarter one meal, chicken back and turkey hearts the next, chicken feet and pork, ect.
As you can see we are now in a pattern, this week I add in either fish or pork, and follow the same guidelines as used previously.
This week I add in beef. Now the cost of beef can be a bit high, when you find it on sale, buy it! Add it in following the same guidelines above. Once I know that their gut is good (no loose stool), I then start to add in organ meat. Now to be honest, this has happened in small scale along with the chicken backs I have been feeding, but it is important to make sure you are adding it in. Too much organs can cause dietary upset. I choose to give a little bit every few days, over giving a large chunk, I have found this works best for my dogs.
Now that your dog has been introduced to all the primary meat protein, this is where rotation over time comes into play. Once my dogs are completely on the Prey Model Diet (after week 8), they may have the same meal 2-3 times in a row, as this is how I package my meat. They also get less beef than the other protein based on cost. You have to find what works best for you, but make sure you rotate, this is where they get all the vitamins and minerals needed to support their system.
As you find additional protein sources, add them in, you know how. As time continues watch their stool, this is the best gauge to letting you know what they need. Loose stool needs more bone, hard/white stool they need less.
As a general rule, when feeding a Prey Model Diet, additional supplementation is not needed. I have chosen to use a few products, that do not fall into the "traditional" diet model. Interested in learning more? Read below.
Supplements for Overall Health
In addition to the diet above, I add a few other things to their diet. If you are interested in learning more, or purchasing the essential oils* listed below, click on the pictures below for more info and to purchase retail. If you are like me and want to save some money and get the best price option around, contact me, so that I can share our wholesale membership info with you.
Frankincense Pure Essential Oil* - supports healthy cellular function, which is great for joints.
Cellular Complex Blend Essential Oil* - supports healthy cellular integrity, protecting body and cells from oxidative stress, promoting overall cellular health.
Detoxification Blend Essential Oil* - supports the bodies ability to rid itself of unwanted substances, supporting the healthy cleanse and filtering functions of the liver, kidneys, colon, lungs, and skin.
Digestive Blend Essential Oil* (as needed) - aids in digestion of food, soothes occasional stomach upset, helps reduce bloating, gas, and occasional indigestion.
Fish Oil - I choose to add this, as I do not feed fish on a regular basis.
Pure Pumpkin (not pie filling) - great for digestive and urinary health, I use as needed.
Unrefined Coconut Oil - great for skin conditions, digestion, immune support, metabolic function and bone health.
I am not a veterinarian, nor do I have any degrees in nutrition, the information that I share with you, is what I do for my personal dogs. Deciding to follow what I have shared is your personal decision. I am not liable for your choices. You decide what is best for your pets.