As part of our Raw Revolution series, K9 Magazine's readers have been sending questions through about raw feeding.
This month nutritional advisor Caroline Griffith from Natures Menu will answer 5 of the most commonly asked questions we received.
1) What would be a typical day's diet for my 4 year old Labrador?
Caroline says: An average sized adult Labrador of 28 kgs would need around 2-3% of body weight depending on his activity levels and environment. This works out at either 33 nuggets (2%) or 48 nuggets (3%) which is just over ½ or 2/3rds of a bag a day or 580g (2%) or 860g (3%)of home created meals a day.
Alongside nuggets we would recommend then adding raw meaty bones at least a few times a week for oral health, plus the behavioural aspects raw meaty bones provide outlets for. Owners could choose from our selection, for example, of 13 bones and chews including chicken wings, duck wings, turkey necks or marrow bones.
If an owner prefers to make up the meals at home we recommend between 60-80% of meat including some raw meaty bones, then the owners choice of non starchy, soluble grain such as porridge oats or cooked brown rice (avoid wheat or pasta and white refined grains) and/or only a selection of ground fruit and vegetables as the remaining meal percentage.
Unfortunately there is no definite set rule as each dog is different, and although a completely different way of feeding dogs seasoned raw feeders actually enjoy the fact they can supply a diet that is totally unique to their own dog as an individual, just as when you balanced your own diet or the diet of your children, an element of trial and error regarding the dogs likes, and dislikes will be required. Raw feeding is fun and really not as scary as it may seem, our team of raw advisors are also always available to discuss the diet with you.
2) How much, on average, does it cost to feed raw?
Caroline says: An average Labrador, as above, eating our complete and balanced nuggets would cost £11.30 to feed a week at 2%. A smaller terrier type dog or Lhasa apso size would cost £4 per week (at 3% bodyweight) and larger German Shepherd size £14 (at 2% bodyweight).
All costs would be reduced by around 1/3 if meals were created at home using Natures Menu just mince products.
3) If I wanted to switch to raw but give my dog a chance to get used to the diet, should I slowly change? What is the best way to integrate?
Caroline says: Our first recommendation is to simply switch straight over. Raw meals are genuinely natural and unprocessed, they are the types of foods a dog is biologically designed to deal with, making them less likely to cause issues in a switch over. Dogs with sensitive stomachs need to switch straight over too; these dogs are already showing sensitivity to their existing diets (usually dry cooked grain based). Sometimes you can barely see our desks for thank you letters from owners of dogs who upon switching to raw have produced their first firm stool in years!
We also feel that raw meals and cooked foods are digested at different rates. This can lead to the raw meats being held in the gut for longer than it is naturally designed to do and potentially could cause digestive issues.
4) What supplements will my dog need as part of a raw diet?
Caroline says: With our complete and balanced nuggets, for example, unless your dog has a specific medical issues there would be no direct need to add any supplements.There are some great supplements on the market though such as Essential Fatty Acid (omega) oils (EFA's) or Probiotics which could assist the dog to build better health and immunity whatever diet they eat.
Supplements do tend to lend themselves more to addition to a home made raw diet, where owners like to be able to create the most nutrient rich meals they can for their best friends. Again Probiotics and EFA’s are usually top of the list.
5) What, and how much, vegetables do I need to give my dog alongside a raw diet?
Caroline says: We offer a ready blended fruit and vegetable mix that can be fed alongside our plain raw minces. All vegetables, if fed, must be ground down to break up the cellulose part that dogs cannot digest easily.
It is possible to add Superfood powders such as Spiralina blends, Kelp mixes or even the humble home grown herb Parsley, which is considered the multi vitamin of the English country garden. My own dog has these superfoods instead of vegetables, but is also rather partial to an occasional banana.
Pictured above, Caroline Griffith and Daisy Whattie (Westie x ‘we don’t know what’) canine well-being consultant and Nutrition Advisor for Natures Menu pet foods
If you have any further questions about raw feeding, please send them in and we will endeavour to answer next month!