“Raw Food” Diet

Following is my own raw food regimen. There is considerable controversy surrounding the risk and benefits of the raw food diet. I believe the benefits outweigh the risk, however, you should research the subject thoroughly and make you own decision at Westie Lovers and Raw Meaty Bones. My dogs have been on the raw diet for 1˝ years. Two of them were weaned in it. We’ve not had a single incident of food poisoning or serious choking, two of the greatest concerns.

Don’s Raw Food Diet

Here's my recipe for the raw food diet. I've done a fair amount of research into the concept and found that everybody has a slightly different philosophy. The following are some common threads that run through most of the literature:

  • Not necessary to balance meals day to day
  • If you feed twice a day, one meal can be all bone/meat; the other should be 25 - 33% vegetables
  • You should supplement w/ vitamins, minerals, fatty acids

My recipe is not cast in stone, you can change the meats, vegetables, w/o significant harm. I decided to use chicken necks for one feeding. The necks don't have sharp bones, and have a fair amount of meat on them and very little skin. I buy them from Prestige Farms in Atlanta for $0.40/pound in 40 pound boxes. They are very fresh. Prestige supplies many fine restaurants in the Southeast. They also have backs and breast bones for something like $0.12/pound. Uncooked bones, even chicken, are supposed to be supple enough not to cause choking but I stayed with the necks. (Only time any of the dogs had a problem is when they "inhale" the whole neck and simply cough it up and chew it. Most of the time they crunch about two or three times and swallow. I tried turkey necks at the beginning, but they were too big and the Westies did have trouble getting them down.

For the other meal I use ground beef, ground wings, and organ meat (beef or chicken). I do the shopping in our household and when the ground chuck is on sale for about $1.19/lb at Kroger's, I'll buy two or three rolls (5 lb each). Same with the gizzards. Of course they don't both go on sale at the same time, so when I see the gizzards marked down I buy, coarse grind, and freeze till ready. You can find the vegetables on sale as well.

For about a 70 lb batch:

40 lbs. Ground wings
10 lbs ground chuck (optional)
2-3 lbs ground gizzards or liver
4 sweet potatoes (this is the only thing I cook. just el dente so I can grind it)
2 lb shredded carrots
2 lb chopped spinach
2 lb Lima beans (ground)
2 lb green beans (ground)
1 lb. Bell peppers (ground)
2 lb Broccoli (ground)
2 lbs cauliflower (ground)
1 bunch chopped parsley (for fresh breath)
1 cup kelp
couple tablespoons Garlic powder
Grated Parmesan cheese (I love it, no reason the dogs shouldn't)

I have a commercial food grinder that makes short work of the grinding. Mixing is another matter. I premix the vegetables and weigh them so I know exactly how much to put in each batch. I divide the meat into about six one-gallon containers. Then all you do is mix the batches proportionately.  70 pounds makes about 380 Westie servings, which for six dogs last about two months. I put the mixed food in 18 ounce tubs like butter tubs. After thawing, it can be cut into quarters (sixths, or whatever) in the tub and fed.

There is a growing number of commercial raw foods are available: Oma's Pride, Home Made 4 Life, and Pat McKay to name a few. These foods are good, but costly. When you average the $1.00 to $1.25 per pound with the $0.35 per pound for the necks, my diet costs about $0.80 per pound plus supplement.

In order to get a little carbohydrate into their diet, I microwave a bowl of quick oatmeal every morning and mix a dollop in with about 3 oz of raw food (1/6 container.) I also supplement with a good multi vitamin/mineral like Vertex, some brewers yeast, and 5 cc Linitone (or generic fatty acid oil).

This may sound complicated, but it only takes a few minutes to feed six Westies...and they lick the bowls clean in less than half that time. They love it.

The literature always talks about an "adjustment" period when switching to raw food during which the stool gets runny and gooie. I've never encountered this, even when I'd put a rescue dog on the diet cold turkey. I think the reason is that before starting the raw diet I feed the dog (and me)  live culture yogurt like Stonyfield Farm plain whole milk yogurt. This gets the intestinal track full of the good Lactobacillus acidophilus bacteria. I never had a problem with food poisoning; dogs have very high acid stomachs and short intestinal tracts that aren't troubled by the typical "bugs".

So, net,net; 3hours, every couple months to make the prepared food. When I buy the necks I seal them one layer thick in large freezer bags. This way I can take a bag out of the freezer, "snap" off the number of necks I need, and put the rest back in the freezer; no need to thaw a lot at a time. Being almost individual, they thaw quickly in warm water. Adding the supplements to the prepared food only takes a few seconds, the dogs wolf down the prepared food in the morning and the necks at night in seconds.

PS If you encounter any stool problems; either too soft or too hard, canned pumpkin is the universal antidote. It stiffens soft stool and softens hard stool. "How do it work"?

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