As those who feed raw will know, there’s more to it than just putting a hamburger in a bowl for your dog to eat, or mixing some mince with some dog biscuit. In fact, feeding raw is a lot more complicated than that, with specific guidelines to help keep your dog safe.
Going about it the wrong way can be disastrous and lead to failing health later on, so it is vitally important that you do proper research before going down the raw route. Here are a handful of common mistakes made by those that are new to it.
- Not doing enough research before starting. This can’t be stressed enough. Understanding the raw diet and the individual needs of your dog takes time and getting it right takes research, care and planning.
- Not transitioning gradually. Any change in diet should have a transition period, especially when it comes to raw feeding. If not, digestive upsets are the inevitable outcome. Some dogs manage fine without a transition period, but it is always better to play it safe and take your time.
- Mixing raw meat with kibble. Feeding a mix can negatively affect the gut and slow metabolism. There is research to suggest that raw food digests at a faster rate than kibble, so when it is mixed together, the raw food hangs around in the stomach going bad and upsetting the pH balance. Feeding both can also lead to nutritional imbalances and even encourage fussiness.
- Thinking all bones are safe for feeding. The best types of bones to feed are those that have meat on them, such as chicken legs, turkey necks and lamb ribs. These bones are soft and can be easily chewed without damaging teeth or posing a choking hazard.
- Adding too many supplements. If you feed a raw diet correctly, the only supplements that really need giving are those containing vitamin E and microminerals like manganese and iodine. Multivitamins aren’t recommended as they tend to contain calcium and vitamin A which should be found elsewhere in the raw diet.
- Not balancing the diet – variety is key. The recommended ratio is 80/10/10 which is 80% muscle meat/fish/eggs/vegetables, 10% bone and 10% organ. It is important to vary the meat source as feeding chicken exclusively, for example, will lead to nutritional deficiencies which can be very dangerous. It is also important to distinguish muscle meat from organ meat.
- Ignoring fruits and vegetables. Fed in moderation, these provide vital probiotics and fibre to help aid digestion.
- Overfeeding or underfeeding. How much you need to feed will depend on many factors, including your dog’s age, breed, activity level and health. Generally speaking, it is advisable to feed 2-3% of your dog’s ideal bodyweight a day.
- Continuing to feed commercial treats. Doing this has the same effect as feeding a mix of raw and kibble.
- Not taking cleanliness seriously enough. Handling raw meat poses a risk to you and your family if you don’t disinfect everything properly. It is vital that you adequately clean and sanitise surfaces, utensils and bowls after every raw meal to minimise the dangers of salmonella and e-coli infection.
You can find more in-depth information on raw feeding in our ‘Beginner’s guide to raw feeding’. To share any advice or experiences, feel free to comment below.
Written by: Hannah