Raw feeding FAQ
- What are the benefits of feeding raw? Raw feeding your carnivorous companion has many benefits, which are now backed by research. These include:
- a shiny coat & healthier skin
- cleaner teeth & fresher breath
- smaller, less smelly poos
- improved digestion
- reduced allergies
- calmer, more even energy levels
- a longer healthier life! (With the added bonus of less unplanned vet visits)
Can I feed raw to my puppy? Most definitely. Many breeders will wean a litter straight onto raw whilst still with their mother. The important thing with feeding any dog, but especially a large breed puppy, is that they get a balanced diet to support healthy growth. With some research, it is quite possible to make up a balanced raw diet at home. There are also many pre-made complete foods available commercially, such as Utterly Rawsome.
Can I mix raw and dry food? There is huge debate on this with little researched evidence one way or the other. As raw fed dogs have more acidic stomach juices to be able to break down raw bone in their diet, many opponents of mixing raw and kibble believe it makes the stomach contents less acidic, such that the dog is less able to digest bone properly. When we first transitioned our lurcher to raw, he initially would vomit up half digested bone. This stopped once he was settled on the raw diet, and his stomach juices would have become more acidic. Yet our Rottweiler had no such problems when she joined the raw fed crew as a young rescue. Every dog is different!
Many kibble fed dogs are given raw meat or bones as a regular treat alongside their usual biscuits. They thoroughly enjoy these and don’t seem to suffer from any intestinal upset. If you can’t feed a full raw diet to your dog, then adding some fresh food to the bowl, be that raw meat or powerhouse vegetables (asparagus, cabbage, red or yellow peppers, broccoli, kale, dandelion leaves, fruit and seeds) has been shown to have added health benefits. Of course, we feel that raw food is generally a healthier option for your carnivorous companion, however we understand that this isn’t always possible. In this case, be led by your dog and add what they enjoy and their stomach copes with to improve their overall diet and health.
Do vets recommend a raw diet? Yes! Many vets are fully supportive of feeding a balanced raw diet to your pet. There is The Raw Feeding Veterinary Society that is led by some leading vets. See their mission statement here. This has many links to evidence that a raw diet as close to the evolutionary norm, is both safe and nutritionally sound. We particularly recommend DogRisk. (2019). Independent university-based research on dog nutrition and diseases. Some vets however will actively discourage their clients from feeding a raw diet. This is often because they have seen the fall out from a poorly researched diet that could cause harm. Do your research and be open with your vet about the informed choices you have made. If they don’t support you in that choice, then perhaps they are not the best vet for you and your carnivorous companion.
How do I swap my dog to raw? This is a question that has many varying answers. Our best advice is be led by the dog in front of you. There are many complicated guides that seem to insist you introduce different foods at different stages of the transition. However, all of our dogs, adults and puppies have been moved over “cold turkey”. We finished feeding kibble one day and started raw the next. We did however take care with offal and bones. Offal and heart can sometimes be a bit too rich for dogs that are not used to them. Bones likewise, can sometimes be problematic and difficult to digest at first. Dobby, Rose’s lurcher used to vomit up half digested bones, and had loose stool from offal at the beginning of his move to a raw diet. In this case we gave less of both and built up over time. We suggest using a common sense approach to introducing one protein source at a time. Feed it for a few days to see if your dog has an intolerance to it. If all is well, add in the next protein. Many guides will suggest introducing white meats first, followed by the richer red meats. We can’t say for sure how any dog is going to respond to a new diet as they are all individuals. So feed the dog in front of you and don’t rush things.
- What raw bones can I feed my dog? There are 2 types of raw bone you can offer your dog. Recreational bone and edible bones.Recreational bones are usually large bones that have an amount of meat still attached. The dog will spend some time stripping the meat off the bone. This has many benefits. The act of chewing increases the production of saliva that helps to clean and neutralise the mouth. The fibres of the meat will also work between the teeth in a flossing action. Chewing also stimulates happy endorphins that help calm and relax the dog. However, once the meat is stripped off these bones we would recommend removing the bone. These large recreational bones are often very dense and can cause excessive wear and potential damage to teeth if the dog tries eating them. Edible bones however tend to be softer and can be eaten, adding nutritional value to the diet. These are often the rib, back, wing, neck, spine or tail of many different animals. Again, be led by your dog. If it looks like they may try swallowing the bone whole, offer a larger bone that they cannot do this with. Smaller bones are more likely to be a choke hazard. Our dogs love nothing better than spending 30 odd minutes chewing on a large lamb or venison neck. (We often feed these when fireworks are expected, as we find the dogs are far calmer) We will then give a boneless meal the following day. Never feed cooked bones (they can splinter), and always supervise your dog whilst eating.
Should I feed fish to my dog? Oily fish has many benefits in a raw diet. It provides healthy oils that help balance the Omega oils found in meat. Feed an oily fish that is smaller than mackerel. There is some suggestion that larger fish have a build-up of environment pollution that will be passed to the animal eating it. We would recommend either feeding a complete recipe that has fish incorporated in it, or adding the equivalent of 1 to 2 fish meals per week. Many dogs will dislike the texture of raw fish and won’t even entertain the idea of eating fish. Many of these dogs will happily eat semi frozen fish or tinned fish. Other dogs will gulp down a whole fish with gusto, only for it to make a reappearance moments later! For these dogs we would recommend chopping the fish into bite size pieces before feeding. In place of fish you could add in a good quality oil to supplement the diet. Be warned though – many of these will go rancid over time and will then cause more harm than good. So, don’t be tempted to buy a bigger, cheaper bottle, and always follow storage and best before guidance from the manufacturer.
Will raw feeding make my dog aggressive? NO. Whilst this is a concern for many dog owners, it simply doesn’t need to be, with careful observance and understanding of your dog. Give a dog something that is of high value (food, treat or toy) and many will likely not want to share it. Some dogs simply couldn’t care less though. It is about how the high value item is introduced, and follow-up actions if the dog does want to guard the item. Change your likely mindset. You may feel that the dog ‘should’ give you the item purely because you gave it them. Not so. Never snatch an item a dog is guarding. This will likely end in injury and increased guarding behaviour. SWAP. SWAP. SWAP. Always swap for something of higher value. Training early on in a pup’s life will help reduce the likelihood of future problems. If you do find yourself with a resource guarder (as we did with Mollie, Brian’s rescue Rottweiler) then please seek professional help. Please be assured though that a raw diet will NOT, in itself, cause aggression.
Do I need to feed fruit and veg to my dog? Once again, be guided by your dog. Many dogs love veggies as a change, Brian’s Rottie, Mollie, just loves broccoli stems! There are some who suggest you should avoid vegetables that contain a lot of natural sugar (which may cause yeast problems), such as carrots, but the quantities you are likely to feed are likely to be too small to cause an issue. Many vegetables contribute micro-nutrients to the diet, so are a good thing, but don’t overdo it, and certainly avoid grains and rice, as they have no nutritional value for a dog and cause gut problems. Suggested powerhouse vegetables (asparagus, cabbage, red or yellow peppers, broccoli, kale, dandelion leaves, fruit and seeds) have been shown to have added health benefits.
Why are there no carbohydrates in your brand? Put simply, dogs are carnivores, and their gut is designed to process protein. Humans are omnivores, and our gut can process carbohydrates more efficiently than dogs can. Often, a dog’s gut will convert carbohydrate into fat, which isn’t ideal. Avoid if at all possible.
- How much raw food should I feed my dog? Our guidance is to give 2-3% of your dog’s target weight per day, divided between two or more meals. For example, a mini-schnauzer might weigh 8kg when fully grown. 8kg x 2.5% is 200g, so if you feed twice a day, each meal should be about 100g in total. Don’t forget to include any treats in this daily total. Dogs of course vary, as will their activity levels and age, so be guided once again by your dog. They should appear lean, with a tuck at their waist when viewed from both the side and above, and their rib cage should be able to be felt as you stroke their sides.
Utterly Rawsome is a company that has many raw fed carnivorous companions. So should you have any further questions not covered here, please use our contact page to get in touch. We may be busy on the production line, but aim to reply within 24 hours.