I just joined a brand new forum that is for people who have adopted Danes
from the rescue group where we got Sirius. Only a couple of people on there
feed raw and a bunch of the members are very intersted. The other member
who feeds raw didn't seem interested in guiding or helping other gather info
on how raw works, so I went ahead and typed out a "brief" overview of what raw
entails and how it works. It ended up not being so brief, but I thought it came
out really well and is a great overview of the diet as I do it (since everyone does
it a little bit differently) and kind of touches on most major questions/concerns that
people always ask me about without going into any one thing too deeply. Hope
this is able to help someone!
Okay.... So, depending on your dog's activity level, you are going to feed between 2% and 4% of the dog's body weight daily. Sirius has a ridiculously fast metabolism so he eats a full 4% of his body weight daily, sometimes even 5%. Shelby is still growing so she eats about 8% of her body weight daily. I have a cat who gets overweight if she looks at too much food, so she eats 2% of her body weight daily. You just have to watch your dog and if they look too ribby feed more, if they start to chunk out feed less. Raw tends to be a very fly by the seat of your pants way of feeding, which at first freaked me out. I like structure, I like measurements, I like to make spreadsheets, I like to know that I'm doing things right. I'm finding, though, that the longer I feed the more comfortable I become with it.
Depending on your dog, and what literature you are reading, you need between 10% and 60% of the dog's diet to be Raw Meaty Bones (RMB's) which are edible bones with alot of good meat on them. Chicken backs are very bony RMBs, chicken quarters are very meaty RMBs. I feed both my dog's about 50% RMBs (chicken quarters or backs usually, VERY cost efficient) and 50% meaty meat (meat with no bones at all). This works well for them. You will know if your dog's RMB ratio is appropriate by their poo. If it's loose then they need more bone, if they are straining then they need less bone. Again, very fly by the seat of your pants!
As far as organs..... 10% of their diets need to be organs, NOTE: Hearts do NOT count as organ meat, they are meaty meat! 5% of this needs to be liver, they NEED liver! The other 5% can be anything, kidneys, brains, gizzards, etc.... Organ meat tends to be very rich and can upset dog's systems, it is recommended that you wait six weeks into the new diet before introducing organs, and then maybe start with 5%, not the full 10%. The dog won't come to any harm by not having organs for six weeks. My grocery store sells beef liver in slices, this is handy as liver smells awful and I would hate to have to slice it myself, so look for that!!
There are two keys to raw: First, variety is the spice of life! Mix it up, you can use chicken for your RMBs all the time, but for meaty meat feed pork, beef, lamb, mutton, goat, llama, emu, chicken, turkey, beef heart, pork heart, chicken heart, tongue meat, etc... etc..... Chicken feet make tasty snacks and are CHOCK FULL of glucosamine! The mixture of meaty meat will help ensure that dietary needs are being met, as will the organ inclusion.
Raw is NOT more expensive if you do the do-it-yourself kind. If you buy premade raw like Oma's Pride or Nature's Variety you will spend more on your dog than you do on your groceries, and the meat isn't always human grade which sort of defeats the whole purpose of raw. Yes, raw is a little time consuming. I am taking 23 credits at school this semester and I work 20 hours a week, I am a busy lady but I still make time for it. To save myself time during the week I weigh and portion out and pack into ziplock bags eight days worth of food for both dogs and both cats. That way during the week all I have to do is open a bag and pour it out into the bowl and then onto homework or whatever else I am doing. This works well for me!
Where to feed? My dogs eat their food outside, I put it in a metal bowl (DO NOT use plastic, it harbors germs that you will never get out) and the dogs pick it up and take it to the grass. I do not worry about germs at all with my dog's food. I figure the germs from meat can't be any worse than the germs from the dead birds and bugs out there. For my cats I just wash out their bowls with soap and water like I would a cutting board or dishes after each meal. I've been feeding raw for six months and don't have salmonella or ecoli yet, so I guess it's not that dangerous! LOL The ick factor was big for me, but I just make sure to wash my hands well after every feeding and wash out the cat's bowls, and that's really the extent of what I do. Well, plus cleaning up the knives and cutting area from packing food on the weekends. If you cook meat on a regular basis anyways it's not going to be any cleanup that you can't handle. If you don't usually cook meat, well, it's basic meat handling skills and nothing too hard to learn.
My biggest source of info and help with the raw transition has been another Yahoo group called rawfeeding http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/rawfeeding/ There are alot of people on there who have been feeding raw for ages and they are such a great source of information. They can be a little militant at times so don't let the attitudes throw you, take what they say with a grain of salt and learn from them.
Here are some other great links that I have found helpful in my raw travels. I hope this all was helpful for you and if you have any other questions feel free to ask. I don't shove raw down other people's throats but if you are interested I would love to sway you! =)
lists of what people feed
http://www.dogster.com/forums/Food_and_ ... ead/409127
link to a personal feeding spreadsheet
http://www.dogster.com/forums/Raw_Food_ ... ead/491589
"how much to feed" calculator
List of meats and their nutrients
Dogster Raw Feeding Forum
Carnivore feed group
http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/Carn ... -Supplier/
Raw Feeding group
(Tom Lonsdale) Work Wonders: Feed your Dog Raw Meaty Bones
(Carina Beth McDonald) Raw Dog Food: Make it Easy for You and Your Dog
(Dr. Ian Billinghurst) The BARF Diet Give Your Dog a Bone
(Kymythy Schultz) Ultimate Diet: Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats
Online raw suppliers
has some very good links
http://groups.myspace.com/index.cfm?fus ... 2931220016
Gorge and Fast Technique
Why feed at varying times