As raw feeding dogs becomes more popular, it's important that owners learn the best way to feed this special diet to avoid the health problems that can be caused by a diet missing key nutrients.
1. Feed Organic
Dog stomachs are not set up to digest chemicals the way ours are, which means that feeding your dog raw hamburger for dinner may not be the healthiest thing for him. Since you aren't cooking those chemicals out, it's important to feed the highest quality meat that you can find.
There are many commercial raw diets that offer organic meat, which can be purchased at many pet stores. High-quality organic meat at human grocery stores may also be appropriate.
2. Choose Appropriate Meat Parts
Just like meat by-products are desirable in commercial kibble, they aren't desirable for a raw diet. Dogs get the majority of their nutrients from muscle meat, just as humans do, but they also need some organ meat, such as heart, liver and intestines as well. Commercial raw diets provide a combination of this to ensure dogs get all the nutrients that they need. If you are making your own diet, be sure to add organ meat from time to time.
3. Rotate Protein Sources
Dogs can develop allergies to certain foods if fed the same thing during a long period of time, so be sure to rotate protein sources from time to time. One week, your dog gets turkey. The next, he gets chicken, then lamb and then beef. You can also rotate daily or by meal. It doesn't harm your dog, and it gives them enough variety to prevent allergies from developing.
4. Add Bone Meal
Meat is actually very low in calcium. Wild animals receive most of their calcium from consuming the bones of their prey. Many owners who feed raw supplement their dogs' diets with raw bones as well to make sure they have enough calcium. This can be done once or twice a week in place of a meal and also serves to clean your dog's teeth. Just be sure not to cook the bone, which can cause splintering in your dog's system.
If feeding raw bones makes you uncomfortable, many commercial raw diets provide ground bone right there in the meat, providing dogs with the calcium they need. You can also supplement with an animal bone powder or human calcium supplement.
5. Add Fruits and Vegetables
Unlike cats, dogs are omnivores. This means they receive a certain percentage of their nutrients from fruits and vegetables. It's important to add vegetables to your dog's meals, and these may need to be heated up a little (steaming should work) so they can be thoroughly ground up in a blender or food processor so your dog can properly digest the nutrients.
Healthy vegetables include:
- green beans
Fruits can also be added either to the meal or as a healthy snack. Healthy fruits include berries, apples and bananas.
Be sure to check with your vet about nay other fruits or vegetables. Grapes should never be fed to any dog.
Making a raw diet can be as easy as purchasing meat patties at a pet food store or as complicated as devising a healthy diet with a myriad of human-grade ingredients. However you choose to do it, just make sure your dog is getting all the nutrients he needs.