How I Improved my Dog’s Nutrition – One Dog’s Journey from Kibble to Raw
Guest Post by Orly Leitner
DISCLAIMER: This is our personal story, which I am happy to share with you. Everything I keep learning is from hours and hours of research, experimentation and of course, common sense. These instalments will provide you with insight into the challenges that surround transition, balancing nutrition and trying to do everything right. Pet owners should always conduct their own research and consult with a veterinarian before making changes to their pet’s diet. Every dog is unique with its own specific needs and please keep in mind that I am neither a veterinarian, nor a nutritionist. I am a passionate dog and cat enthusiast on the path to becoming a holistic pet nutritionist.
I dedicate this blog to Skai Wantstofly, who unexpectedly and accidently passed recently at the young age of 16 years. He will always be remembered for being full of vitality and vigor and as the ambassador who taught me that dogs can grow old and still have a great quality of life. A big thank you to all my mentors and teachers who have guided me on this journey and continue to inspire me to keep learning and never stop trying new things. Dr. Peter Dobias, Dr. Karen Becker, Dr. Richard Pitcairn, Dr. Jean Dodds, Dr. Andrew Jones and the one person that keeps me grounded, Dr. Amanda Glew.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER, OR IS IT JUST CONFUSING?
Volume 1 | Chapter 2
Hello readers in this chapter I will share with you the reading materials and resources I used in the beginning to educate myself. My journey all began in 2012.
I started with a few forums on raw feeding which I found on Yahoo:
- Raw Feeding
- Raw Dog Canada
- K9 Nutrition
There is way more information available now as the growth in the market of raw feeders has grown significantly. To stay up to date I still read the forums, as well as the people listed above. Relatively new on the scene that share interesting information are Rodney Habib and Kimberley Gauthier.
The books were diverse so I could cross the spectrum of hardcore RMB (Raw Meaty Bones) diets to cooked home food diets.
This book is hardcore advocacy on feeding raw meaty bones as the main food source.
This book is a great overview on health and nutrition for beginners.
- Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats-Richard H Pitcairn DVM, PHD (Third Edition)
Dr. Pitcairn has been sharing his knowledge about health and nutrition for a very long time. This book covers recipes in raw feeding as well as recipes for health issues and other great advice about common ailments of dogs and cats.
- Dr Becker’s Real Food for Healthy Dogs & Cats Simple Home-Made Food-Dr Karen Becker DVM & Beth Taylor (Third Edition)
This book has a wonderful mix of raw and cooked recipes. Very comprehensive and detailed.
So how did it all begin…. CONFUSING! I read quite a bit until I had the courage to try something new. I started out using the Dr. Becker book and made home cooked food. [Dr. Becker’s Real Food for Healthy Dogs & Cats, Simple Home-Made Food-Dr. Karen Becker DVM & Beth Taylor (Third Edition) This book has a wonderful mix of raw and cooked recipes. Very comprehensive and detailed.]
I used either chicken or minced beef and lamb as the main source and added some chicken liver and hearts. I then included a variety of veggies and cooked it all up in to a slop. I would feed that to her with a little bit of kibble. I added kibble because I was afraid I might be missing something in the diet to be balanced. She absolutely loved it and licked the bowl clean every meal. Oh, I thought this is going very well so far. I did that for quite some time. However, I still wanted to progress to raw foods as I believed that was the best nutritional choice for her to be healthy and have a good quality of life long term.
I thought, should I just be throwing Chloe a raw meaty bone and let her go at it? Yup I did that for a while. I brought home pieces of rabbit, chicken, turkey and chicken necks, oxtails and lamb. At first, I let her eat it by herself outside. It was Spring now so what the heck. That didn’t turn out so great. She got filthy every time from the raw meat and grass combo, and much to my surprise I discovered she was a gulper not a chewer which led me to perform a doggy Heimlich on her more than once that scared the hell out of me. Chloe on the other hand was fine once she expelled the piece lodged in her throat. This would not do at all!
To remedy my fear, I began to wear surgical gloves and held on to the pieces while she chomped down on them. This my friends requires knowing your dog very well and a special technique. The meaty bones I have given Chloe are Quail, Chicken, Turkey and Rabbit. My favourite that I now give her once a week is the Quail. I refer you to the photos in this article. I also purchased a variety of meats such as Beef, Lamb, Chicken Hearts, Lung and whatever I liked to change it up from the grocery store or butcher and mixed those with an appropriate store bought dietary base mix. There is a calculation to be done to feed your dog the right amounts of muscle meat, bone and organs. I used a basic calculator and I entered my dogs ideal weight so she would be eating for optimal health. Of that number 80% was muscle meat (sinew, ligaments and fat included) 10% Bone or Calcium Powder, 5% Liver and 5% other organ meats. If you want more information on calculating requirements contact me by email. If this is the road you want to take your dog down I urge you not to go ahead with feeding raw unless you speak to your veterinarian about your own dogs needs. If your veterinarian discourages you find one that is raw friendly. Veterinarians are generally more open now to the market demand.
Even though I thought I was doing the best thing for my dog by feeding her these meats it was difficult to balance because at the time I could not find meats minced with bone for the calcium requirement. That was my biggest challenge. I knew that over time this could cause musculoskeletal imbalances that would be detrimental as she aged. In May 2012, I discovered a retailer that sold a variety of meats minced with bone, liver and organs. They told me that was all I needed and that my dog did not require any other supplementation. The raw meat mixture would cover all her nutritional needs. Fantastic! Just give her the required calculated amount and that’s all…. Really?……No not really. I discovered If I wanted to optimize my dog’s overall health and longevity there would be more to it than a meat mixture alone. There would have to be an overall balance in the diet just like we eat balanced meals over time. As an example, we can eat a few meals without fibre but then you will need some fibre your body will want it and crave it. Unlike us, a dog can’t tell us what they need but sometimes if we are intuitive and pay attention they will show us. Like scooting, eating grass, being lethargic, exhibiting allergic reactions, losing weight, gaining weight etc.…
In the next chapter, I will tell you what I discovered about proteins, vitamins, minerals and supplements.
Orly Leitner can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org