Due to the recalls of commercial dog food due to contamination, I decided to try something new for my Pomeranian, Yoshi. I figured why not go straight to the source of raw food instead of all the processing and additives that regular kibble gave him? Granted I did have him on Natural Balance and Nutro which are good brands and not the supermarket stuff. I did a lot of research of a raw food diet and decided to try it with him. The raw food could be used for dogs and cats and was also supposed to help with better digestion, a healthy animal (less trips to the vet), and healthier teeth and breath! I have been trying to find ANYTHING to help with his worse-than-ass doggy breath. PlaqueBlast was not helping solve the problem long term.
All of my research said that if you go raw, go all the way. Do NOT mix kibble with raw food as they both digest differently and you will just upset your pet’s stomach. There seems to be two schools of thought for raw feeding. One school is based on Prey model, feed 10% whole, raw bones; 10% whole raw organ meat; and 80% skeletal muscle meats. The other school is the BARF diet where you feed meat, fruits, vegetable and bone.
Each agree to start with one protein for a couple of weeks (chicken, beef, pork, rabbit, etc.) and then gradually alternate your way into other proteins and that the food given should be 2-3% of the dog’s weight. There are calculators that show how much to feed your dog per meal based on how much you want them to weigh. Yoshi needs to stay at 7lbs so he has to have around 62g a day or 31g per meal. I do have a food scale to weigh out his portions properly. After doing this for the past month, it’s been easy to eyeball it.
Switching to raw also leads to a high possibility of “rocket butt”, aka severe diarrhea, as your dog’s body gets used to the new food which is mostly water based. To combat any chances of “rocket butt” from the food change, I suggest adding a tablespoon of canned pumpkin to your pet’s meals. Trust me, it works fast. Solid poop and the pumpkin is good for fiber.
Remember, dogs aren’t humans. Their digestive system is different than ours therefore able to handle bacteria from raw chicken and pork without the human side effects. Safe for them, not for us. Raw chicken bones is also safer for them to chew through as it is softer. DO NOT give cooked chicken bones, these are brittle and may harm your pet. With any handling of raw food, make sure you wash your workspace and pet food space and utensils with warm soapy water before and after feeding.
I decided to start with the Prey Diet because what I liked about it was that I could get Yoshi’s meal in the meat department when I went to the grocery to get my food. For my first foray into the raw food diet I bought him a tray of chicken wings (meaty bones), beef liver, chicken hearts and gizzards (hearts are considered muscle meat, my guess is that the gizzards are considered organ meat??), and 3 large marrow bones for recreational chewing.
His first meal was a chicken wing which turned out that one drum stick from a chicken wing is pretty heavy, taking up a good chunk of the 31g allowance. I also cut a up a chicken heart and gizzard, and some liver. I brought him outside on the deck so I didn’t have to wash the kitchen floor. His first reactions, surprise and confusion. He took out all of the chicken and placed them willy nilly on the deck, occasionally sniffing and licking, but not really eating. He finally ate the heart and gizzard but with much hesitation. He totally stayed away from the raw liver, but as I knew it was very important that he eat it for it’s Vitamin A properties I researched a liver soup. A quick boil in water, keep in a container and take out what you need, he just slurped and ate it right up!
After about a week, Yoshi started getting into it. However, since he would only eat comfortably inside the house and would want to take some to his bed in the living room I had to come up with a plan to keep him and his raw food in a singular area to keep cleaning to a minimum. I solved the problem by leashing him to the sliding door and placing a plastic table cover on the floor. That kept him at leash length and food on a cleanable surface.
Since he is a small dog, the chicken tray was just too much to keep fresh before it started to make the fridge smell. I didn’t bother giving him the recreational marrow bones as they were just too big for his small mouth and he is not a big chewer. I also started to worry that he was not getting a complete and balanced diet even though websites have said that the food can be balanced over time. I wanted something easy and simple that had everything in it so I decided to try the BARF diet.
My mother-in-law suggested I check out this place called, The Healthy Animal, in Pembroke, MA. They supposedly had all this healthy animal food for dogs and cats. I went down there one overcast Saturday morning, missed the sign and had to make a U-turn. Once in the store I was greeted by two very friendly ladies, Freddie and Diane. Diane is the owner. I browsed around and saw so many things to choose from. There is natural food kibble, freeze dried food (add water for a meal at home or when traveling or give dry as treat), frozen raw food, and all sorts of treats and herbal supplements for your pet. Faced with all of the food choices I decided to ask the experts of the store. Freddie came to help me and suggested I try the raw food sampler from Primal to see if Yoshi would even like it.
The Primal Samplers had separate bags of Beef, Duck, Chicken and maybe one more protein that I can’t remember. Each protein is all human grade meat ground up with all the bones, muscle meat, and maybe some vegetable and is a complete diet. However, Primal and all other raw food brands have other products that are not complete and can be added to whatever you feed at home. Please check their websites for more product information. When I got home I put a sample of each on separate plates to see which one he preferred. He went for the duck on first feeding, but he happily ate all of the proteins whenever it came to mealtime.
When I went back to get a refill on the Primal raw food, I found that what The Healthy Animal had in stock for the bags of the precut were more expensive than if I bought the sausage cased “chubs” and cut it myself. For chubs, The Healthy Animal, carries the Bravo brand Blends product. This is Bravo’s complete diet line. They have Beef, Chicken, Pork, Turkey, Lamb, Bison, Rabbit, Salmon, and Duck. The Salmon and Duck are the only ones that come in 6-inch chubs, the rest are about 12 inches. I bought a Turkey and Lamb chubs to try. I do a protein for the week and the rest is frozen. I thaw and cut a chub to 6 inches, cut that in half long wise, then cut those into 7-8 sections approx 30g each, put in a container and take out what I need at feeding time.
Since buying the Bravo brand Blends chubs, I do not have to worry about whether Yoshi is getting a complete diet and it’s convenient for me to feed him. He loves the food so much he gets extremely excited for meal time, which he has never done with any of his other food before. I have also added a natural pre/probiotic to his food to help with digestion and aid in getting rid of whatever it was in his stomach that was adding to the bad breath.
The raw food diet is also convenient in the fact that if I run out of Bravo Blends, I can always give him a raw chicken breast or bone-in pork chop that I usually have at the ready to cook for dinner anyway until I make our next Healthy Animal food run.
So what has the raw food diet done for Yoshi in these past few months: he’s slimmed down to a healthy 7lbs, his teeth are WHITE and there’s no gunk/less tartar buildup, and his BREATH is now back to normal dog breath! Both of us are very happy with the results. I just want him to eat healthy and be happy! Whichever raw food model you go for: Prey or BARF, I hope the raw food diet works for you and your pet(s) as well!