Raw Diet Do's & DOn'ts
- Thaw your dog's food to room temperature whenever possible. Dogs in nature do not eat cold or hot foods, but of the body temperature of the thing they've killed or the garbage they've found.
- Introduce new meats to your puppy slowly by feeding the same new meat for several meals in a row before moving on to the next meat. Their digestive systems are developing and they need a chance to get used to new foods before they can adapt quickly to a large variety of foods.
- Try your older dog on different things from time to time. It's easy to get stagnant and then the variety starts to suffer.
- Explore different sources for your dog's groceries. Farmer's Markets, Ethnic stores, butchers, hunters, big box stores, wholesale clubs, and specialty stores all have lots of great products to try.
- Save healthy scraps to give to your dog at mealtime. Cooked meats and vegetables with little or no sauce or spices are perfectly safe to offer your dog, although raw should always be your primary choice for his/her main diet.
- Wash your dog's dishes between meals to avoid any build up of bacteria
- Invest in some good plastic containers for thawing and storing your dog's food. Ziplocs leak, and plates/trays can be messy (think juice and blood.)
- Seek out advice from people at your supply stores or other folks you know feeding raw
- Research periodically on line to see what the trends are, find out about new ideas, products and how other people are doing things; there are a tons of groups, blogs, sites and forums dedicated to this topic.
- Share your experience with others. Once you know what you are doing and see the great side benefits of feeding this way, you can perhaps help others to start researching for themselves and maybe help improve the health and lives of other dogs.
- Defend your choice to feed raw. Many people believe the myths about raw diet, such as but not limited to: 'it will make the dog crave blood and stop at nothing to get it', 'the bacteria is dangerous and will kill your dog or your children', 'it's expensive', 'it's dangerous to start messing with vitamins and nutrients- that's what dry dog food is for', 'it's so much work', etc. Once you have some experience with it, you will come to learn how silly some of these protests sound.
- Be careful with portions. Most dogs love to eat, and I haven't met many Tollers that would turn down a meal. Stay on top of your dog's weight and don't kill her/him with kindness. The minute you stop seeing a waist narrower than the ribs (from above), cut back the portions. If you feel really guilty or your dog seems truly hungry still, you can add extra non-starchy vegetables to increase the volume (green and yellow beans, pureed romaine lettuce/bok choy/cabbage, etc.) It only takes a couple of weeks for a dog to gain or lose noticeable weight.
- Occasionally skip a meal, varying your feeding times, this creates a flexible dog. It sure works for us!
- DON'T microwave your dog's food to thaw it. The bone begins to cook immediately, and becomes indigestible with no enzymatic value.
- DON'T stick to one or two proteins- some folks get stagnant and only feed chicken and beef as they are cheapest and easiest to find, completely skipping the nutritional variety of other foods like fish, pork, bison, elk, deer, lamb, turkey, etc...
- DON'T mix too many meats in one meal. Nowhere in nature is a carnivore eating more than one protein at a time. A wolf does not kill a chicken and carry it to the woods where it will then kill a moose and eat both in the same sitting. Keep it simple, with 1 or max 2 meat types in a meal.
- Don't always buy prepared patties. Your dog's teeth and jaws and food enjoyment all rest on working meals such as turkey necks, elk chops, lamb femurs, whole fish, pork ribs, etc. They take great pleasure in tearing, chewing, and pulling at a large piece of food in the same way you enjoy having a cold ice cream cone on a hot day.
- DON'T overdo the human food. Dogs should not be getting sweets, deep fried foods, bread, sauces, spices, baked goods, etc. on a regular basis. I often give each dog a little taste of what I am having but by no means are they sharing my 'poor' food choices in any quantity.
- DON'T let your dog eat near the table. Even if it doesn't bother you, future guests will appreciate a well-mannered dog around the serving of food. Put table scraps in her dish.
- DON'T overfeed. This is one of the most common problems in house pets- obesity! Adult Tollers can do very well on 8 oz a day (that is half a pound) unless they are working as avalanche rescue, burning large amounts of calories on a daily basis.
- DON'T preach. Your friends and family might dread bringing their pets up with you in conversation for fear of the RAW FOOD MINISTRY outreach program. Yes, it's great and your dog does well on it and you can help them switch or learn more if they would like to, but remember to temper your enthusiasm with common social courtesy. It's easy to become a know-it-all once you start doing it and seeing the benefits. Personally, I stick to a small amount of information and answering questions when they are asked.
- DON'T get too regimented on specific mealtimes. There is some benefit to a schedule for potty training (though I have always done it without.) Being too stuck on a schedule might create a dog who panics when the grandfather clock chimes 6pm or the car doesn't pull into the driveway on time and s/he still hasn't eaten. At one time, Splash knew when it was 5:30pm, even with daylight savings time! I had her on such a reliable schedule that she was coming to me to be fed. This is the opposite of what you want- a flexible eater makes for a much more flexible lifestyle. You have the freedom to get stuck in traffic, sleep in, ask someone to stop by and feed your dog at THEIR convenience if you are away, or do a little shopping after work without someone chewing a hole in the fridge door.