Friday, January 19, 2007

Dog Diets - Raw Feeding or BARF

As you know, we feed our dogs a raw food diet.

In the past three weeks I joined a couple of new raw feeding groups from yahoo.

These are the groups I am member of:
Advanced BARF This is a group for people used to feeding raw. Gets away from always having to answer newbie questions. Very business oriented, moderator is strict about what is allowed for discussion.

BARF-lite this is a group that basically says, feed your dogs raw. However you work it out, fine. Most on this group feed a variety of foods, muscles, organs, veggies, leftovers, bone etc. For the most part I'd call this group easy going, but very chatty about non-essentials.

RawDogCanada, now I'm not exactly sure which way this group leans yet, as it is not high numbers. Members seem fairly respectful to each other and new members.

rawfeeding, this group is somewhat more vocal and fervent in proclaiming what they believe is the best way to feed. Raw, whole foods only. I can understand their rationale, but I'm not keen on their fervency and sometimes the attitude protrayed. :)

I have to admit, I find it fascinating watching the interplay on these groups. I try NOT to get caught up in it at all. I'm more of a lurker than anything else.

My general attitude toward raw feeding what makes sense to you as long as you can afford it.

I don't go out and purchase the most expensive cuts of meat. If I can find a deal, I find a deal. I don't go searching for rabbit meat or ostrich meat or whatever. I use the local stores and local butchers. We do chicken, pork and beef. That's fair good I think. Now if I could get other meats cheaply...guess what...I'd do other meats. But not for $11.00/lb! Heck, I won't go over $1.49/lb and perhaps to some that means I don't care enough for my dogs, but to me it means, I care for them, and I want the best for them, but they are dogs. Most dogs just get kibble and that's it. (not that kibble feeders don't care for their dogs) Just want to make the perfectly clear! :) I just put the needs of my human family first.

We don't do the whole prey model because even though it makes sense, I just can't see it being affordable unless we lived on a farm somewhere. We don't. I don't see it happening in the near future.

I have a son, we have LOTS of leftovers. So guess who gets them? Yup... the dogs. :) So we have less waste, less garbage, and less smells. We even managed to score a free freezer. How much better can you get? :)

I have to admit, it does make a bit more work for me. Usually every 17 days or so I"m making up a new batch of food for the dogs. Usually takes me an hour to do up 17 days worth of food (that's if I have meat portioned out already). Although many raw feeders don't do this, I choose to, as it make it so much easier in the long run. All I have to do is grab two bags out of the freezer and the dogs have a complete meal.

I have discovered there are two big "camps" in the rawfood market. Billinghurst and Lonsdale. I've read neither of their books. Don't think I ever will either, simply because I have other stuff to read. There is also oodles of discussion over whether supplements are needed or not. I have no opinion on the matter other than to say, if your dogs are eating a balanced diet (of Raw meaty bones, organs meat and muscle), what's the point? If they need fish oil....feed them a fish!

But for interested parties, where do you go for information if you are just looking around?

Here are some sites that I have read, you will need to formulate your own conclusions about it all. You will notice that different people follow different feeding protocols. They usually do this based on THEIR experiences with THEIR dogs. you will need to do the same. Some dogs need bone with every meal (our Riley is one of them), some dogs will eat whatever you give them (Sassy is now like this). Some dogs can't handle certain meats, others certain veggies, some can't do grain products at all. YOU need to figure out what works for YOUR dog. Don't expect someone else's recipe to be the end all and be all for your dog.

RawDogFood Ranch.
BARF Adult Menu.
Biologically Appropriate Raw Food Diet.
BARF menu.
Canine Nutrition. Note: if you don't like the site of a dog eating rabbit, don't go here.
Raw Feeding Fact Sheet.
Feeding Guidelines From Fresh Start.
A book called Raw Meaty Bones.
Jane Anderson's site.
Shirley's Wellness Cafe.
Healthy Paws.

There are lots more out there. If you are interested, check them out.

Why do we do it?
Primarily because as Christians we have an obligation to care for this world in the best way we can. By feeding the way we do, we have less waste, we use our finances better, we have animals that do better all around and it seems a more natural way to do things.

Riley was getting too old too fast. He now plays again. Even follows us upstairs! This is cool. It took him, what seemed to me, a long time to adjust and remains sensitive to changes in his diet. But overall, he's doing really really well.

Sassy had some attitude problems and didn't like to eat. She now eats anything we give her, and is not quite so pushy with other dogs. Even plays more often with dogs she knows. Getting her onto the diet was a challenge.

Challenges we faced:
1. switching Riley over - diarrhea, gulping, loose stools, shedding coat, but mostly...diarrhea. NOT fun. he was banned from camping with us because of one REALLY bad incident. Added beer to his diet which helped, as did switching the ratios we were feeding. Had been feeding a bit too high in organ meats, and needed to add bone/egg shell to every meal. Riley needs this.
2. getting Sassy to eat. she acted like we were trying to poison her. Needed to sear her meat lightly at first. That got her started, eventually she ate what was given as is. will now eat it if it's frozen, but prefers it not frozen.
3. speed demon for Riley. Gulped food down as fast as possible without chewing. Resulted in some scary moments, and some less than positive bowel movements. Solution - he gets everything frozen, no exceptions. Still gulps what he can, but it's harder to do that when it's frozen.
4. Sassy was a slow poke in eating. Solution - tied the dogs up so Riley couldn't steal her portion as she would eat slowly, take a break, guard her food from yellow jackets, and Riley would dive in for the "kill". Not a good scene. Tying worked wonders, then she sped up, no need to tie out any longer.

Will the future hold more challenges? Possibly. Sassy has taken to eating as fast as she can, WHILE chewing carefully. BUT when she's done, she'll follow Riley around the yard. She'll stare, he'll move off with his food, she cleans up the mess behind and then stares at him again... and the cycle continues until he is done. Right now we laugh about it, but if it gets to be problematic, we'll address it.

3 comments: said...

Enjoyed reading about feeding raw.
We also feed raw meaty bones and veggies. One dog is a gulper and the other is slow and dainty. Mostly I feed frozen and I get no complaints. Folks think we have the healthiest dogs in the neighborhood. No fleas, no itchy spots, no vomiting or diareah. I love the good health they sport.

Kim from Hiraeth said...

Thanks, Annette! So kind of you to take the time to walk me through this!

This is going to sound like a dumb question, but when you say feed the whole chicken cut into pieces, do you mean bones and all? And another question: how expensive is it? I know that's probably hard to answer because so much depends upon the dog, but I'm guessing you have a pretty good idea how much it has increased your own budget.

We have both dogs on Evo. (switched from Canidae) Neither can tolerate corn or wheat and Eve can't have yeast of any kind. She is doing tolerably well on it, but she still chews her feet and has too frequent ear problems for me. There is no yeast in Evo, per se, but I wonder if the whole probiotic/prebiotic stuff really means "yeast producing in the gut" since they say the prebiotics form "products of fermentation." Maybe all digestion requires fermentation of some kind and it's totally unavoidable. I don't know. . .

Eve, who will be nine in May, is happy and active and only just showing signs of slowing down (she's a vizsla, so you have to look close to see the slow down!) : )

Annette said...

yes, Kim, that is exactly what I mean. I'll write more to you from your site, and this time give you my correct email. :)