What is raw feeding?
Raw feeding is the most natural way to feed your cat or dog and, as such, is the healthiest option for your pet. A basic raw diet consists of 80% meat, 10% bone and 10% offal, but some people will add other things such as vegetables, fruit, herbs or supplements. There are many options to choose from, and which brand and flavours will depend on the size and breed of your dog, as well as what suits your lifestyle.
Sounds complicated, how do I do it?
Most people choose to buy what we call a “complete” meal to start, where the 80/10/10 calculations have been done for you and any supplements already added. Many brands offer 1kg or 500g tubs, but portion control is even easier with convenient nuggets or burgers. All you need to do is simply defrost the food and serve it up. Once you are more confident, you can opt to prepare the food yourself, which is often referred to as DIY, and we can advise on a meal plan to help you get the right balance of meat, bone and offal. As processed food is digested at a different rate to raw we don’t advise a transition period – just stop the current wet or dry food one day, and start raw the next.
How much do I feed?
The guidance for feeding raw is 2-3% of the ideal adult body weight. So, if your dog weighs 10kg, then 250g would be 2.5% of her body weight and would be a good starting point. This is only a guideline however and it does depend on your dog’s activity level, natural metabolism and how many treats you feed. For example, an energetic young spaniel who is constantly on the go with a busy family might need as much as 4% of her bodyweight. Conversely, an older greyhound who spends most of the day snoozing on the couch and snaffles a few treats may only need 1.5% of his body weight. Puppies and kittens will be started on 2-3% of the expected adult weight given the breed, but it will be spread over 4 or 3 meals depending on the age of your new addition. Unless you are feeding a pre-weighed patty, it is a good idea to have a set of scales to ensure you are feeding the right amount.
The key is to watch their figure – you should see a nip in at the waistline, and be able to feel the ribs and hips. If there is no discernible waist and you can’t really feel the ribs or hips, then cut down the amount you are feeding. However, if your dog is looking skinny and the ribs and hip bones are standing very proud, then you can increase the quantity. Puppies and kittens will naturally go through growth spurts and may require a bit more food at times, again it is important to keep an eye on their weight to ensure they are growing at a steady rate.
Why does everyone rave about raw food?
Firstly, most cats and dogs love raw. Watching your pet get so excited about dinner time gives owners great satisfaction that they are doing the right thing. But there are plenty of other reasons why raw feeders are so fanatical about it, just look at the long list of health benefits here
My vet doesn’t like raw feeding
Many vets will advise against raw food for a variety of reasons which we will explore in next week’s blog, along with common myths and frequently asked questions. But in the meantime, don’t take our word for it, you can always contact Vince The Vet using our online form. Dr Vince MacNally BVSc VetMFHom MRCVS, is a veterinary surgeon with more than 35 years clinical expertise and an avid proponent of raw feeding.
What about bacteria?
Treat raw pet food the same as you would a raw chicken for a Sunday roast. Freezing raw food keeps the bacteria at bay, but when you defrost it keep raw food on the bottom shelf of the fridge in a sealed container. Do not leave raw food out at room temperature – if your pet does not want a meal, cover it up and put it back in the fridge. Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling, and wash all bowls and utensils used with hot water and detergent after feeding. It is a good idea to keep a set of bowls, utensils and Tupperware specifically for your pet’s raw food. Once defrosted, raw food will keep fresh in the fridge for 2-3 days; cats may turn their nose up on day 3, but dogs are unlikely! If your pet has long hair or a beard which can trap food, you might like to give his mouth a wipe after eating, but the saliva in his mouth will start to kill off any bacteria, so even if your pet kisses you he is unlikely to pass on any bugs.
Tell me more!
We will explore common myths, along with pros and cons of raw feeding next week. But if you want to get started in the meantime, make an appointment at the warehouse in Whitchurch or pop into our shop in Winslow to discuss the options available to you. There is a special offer on Unique Raw 500g – buy 5 of a single flavour 500g Unique Raw and get the 6th one 50% off – so it’s as good a place as any to start. Once you’ve converted onto raw, you and your pet are unlikely to look back!