“What you see is what you get.” This is a very evident fact when you begin to feed raw food to your dog. You can’t get any more transparent in the ingredients as the meat and bones you see are all there is too raw food. There are no mystery- or hidden ingredients, which means you don’t have to worry about your dog suffering from allergies, becoming underfed and malnourished. Raw meat and bones contain all the nutrients your dog needs to be in excellent health.
1. Raw Meaty Bones
Raw meaty bones (RMB) are animal parts that have no less than 50% meat and bones that are fully consumable by your dog. RMB’s are different from recreational bones (knuckles and marrow bones) which generally have very little meat content and are usually not consumed. The most common RMB’s for dogs include chicken leg quarters, backs and necks; turkey necks, pork breast and neck, and lamb breast and neck. You may have a hard time finding raw meaty bones but you can go to your local butcher and have them order for you. You might need to buy in bulk though for them to cater to your needs. Buying in bulk also will allow you a bit of saving.
Raw meaty bones should be about 1/3 to ½ of your dog’s total food intake. It could be a little more if the animal parts have more meat than bone, such as whole rabbits or chickens. You won’t be harming your dog with a little bit more but it’s not really needed.
Consuming too much bone however is not good as it could cause constipation. It will also result in an oversupply of calcium which could block the dog’s absorption of certain valuable minerals. Dogs fed with a raw diet have naturally smaller and firmer stools as compared to dogs fed with commercial pet foods. Their stools often become white and crumble to fine particles after several days. Observe the stools of your dog. If they come out already white and easily crumbles, or if you notice your dog straining to pass feces, you have to reduce the quantity of bone you give him.
Most dogs, even those that are given raw meaty bones for the first time, do just fine although some may experience problems. Some dogs choke and very rarely suffer from broken teeth as they grab the hardest bones.
In starting to feed RMBs to their dog, some owners are concerned about feeding whole raw meaty bones. There are alternative methods that you can try if you are afraid that your dog might not be able to handle whole chunks of RMBs. You can try ground RMBs, which you can either buy or make yourself. There are grinders which you can buy starting at about $100. You can use one to grind most chicken parts. You can get a more expensive one that can grind harder bones.
For older dogs or those that have worn teeth and are not able to chew bones, you can try chopping up RMBs to bite-size portions. You can use a pair of heavy-duty kitchen scissors for softer bones like chicken parts or lamb breasts, and a hatchet or cleaver for harder bones such as pork, turkey or lamb bones.
Remember that one of the benefits of RMBs is cleaner teeth. This is because dogs get to have their gums and teeth cleaned as they chew on the bones. Ground and chopped up RMBs do not provide these benefits or even the chewing pleasure for your dogs. In spite of this, however, dogs fed this diet usually have cleaner teeth and have no bad breath compared to dogs fed with commercially processed dog food.
2. Organ meat
You should not forget to feed organ meat to your dog as this is an important component of a raw diet. Organ meat includes heart, kidneys, and livers which are all full of nutrients and therefore have great nutritional value for your dog. Organ meat should form about five to ten per- cent of the dog’s diet. Too much organ meat in one meal, however, may cause loose stools so it is better to give your dog smaller quantities each day or every other day instead of feeding large quantities of organ meat once or twice every week. This practice also ensures that your dog gets the right amount of nutrients throughout the week.
The heart is rich in taurine, which dogs need to prevent serious eye and heart diseases from developing. You can get pork, beef or lamb heart. It can make up from five to ten percent of your dog’s diet but remember that too much of it can result in loose stools. Other nutritious organ meats include spleen, pancreas, thymus glands, brains, eyeballs, and lungs.
3. Muscle meat, eggs, and more
Muscle meat refers to meat that is not regarded as organ meat. You can get it from beef, pork, lamb, turkey, and chicken. You can feed it to your dog ground or cut into small manageable chunks. Some dog owners who find it difficult to feed a variety of RMB to their dogs can give more of this type of meat instead. If you have been feeding mostly chicken RMBs, try to make up for the lack of variety by feeding more of beef, pork and lamb muscle meat. It is important that you do not feed more than 50% of your dog’s total diet from one protein source.
Raw eggs are first-rate sources of nutrition. You can give your dog as many eggs as you want, but make sure you maintain the variety of food in their diet.
Green tripe too is good for dogs. It comes from the stomach lining of cows and other animals. It smells really bad but certainly, dogs love green tripe. Its nutritional value is similar to muscle meat. Green tripe is only available from dog food retailers.