Answers to some of your most-asked questions about Raw Food

Qu: Do we need to gradually change our dog on to a raw diet?
 A: No, we suggest you feed your last kibble meal in the evening, then start a raw diet the next morning, following a good raw diet starter plan that is on our website and then we can help you, if you need it, just email or call.

Q: What ratio do i use when feeding a raw diet?
A: We use a ratio that is loosely based on raw whole prey, which is 
80% meat
,10% bone, 
5% liver, 
5% other offal … which to dogs is kidney, spleen, brain, testicle. Pancreas can be used but should be restricted as it produces a hormone. It is good if fed to dogs with pancreatic disease, but please consult the advice of a ‘pro raw’ vet if your dog suffers from this and you want to feed raw pancreas.  All the Dogs’ Butcher Complete Meals are based on the ratios above. Also this balance can be achieved over a week or even 2 weeks, if balancing the meals yourself, which is referred to as DIY. The diet doesn’t have to be balanced daily.

Q: Will feeding raw make my dog blood thirsty or aggressive?
A: No, no, no!!! Sorry, this makes me so mad. My four dogs all eat bones together and their raw meals. They each have their own places to eat. They used to fight occasionally over kibble but since introducing raw feeding, I have had no fights at all. Raw feeding can make hypo or manic dogs calmer, as there are no artificial additives. My dogs have not tried, and show no interest in wanting to eat anything apart from their food. I have two that will hunt occasionally but that desire has not increased, and the other two are as lazy as ever.

Q: Do I need to add fruit and veg?
A: Only if you really really want to. Wild dogs and wolves will occasionally graze on fruit, grasses, wild herbs, etc, but due to their short digestive tract these things are difficult for them to digest as they cannot break down cellulose. There are two trains of thought, those who believe you should and those who believe you shouldn’t. It is up to the individual. My advice is if you want to, then that’s fine, but green leafy veg is better than veg high in natural sugars, as sugars can promote yeast. Blitzed or cooked veg are the only way for your dog to gain any benefit, or there are preparations of dehydrated vegetables for sale on the market. I always advise feeding veg to dogs who need to lose weight as a filler to stop them scavenging for food. I would add them on top of your normal daily ration and not part of.

Q: Can I add potato, rice or pasta?
A: Dogs cannot easily digest carbohydrates. They also have little nutritional benefit whatsoever to dogs and are only used as a filler.

Q: What quantities do I need to feed?
A: We recommend feeding a dog of 12 months and over between 2-3% of their bodyweight. Puppies need a higher % and that can be found in our feeding guide on the website. Dogs with high levels of excercise may need a higher amount than 3%, whilst older dogs or dogs with less excercise might need just 2%. Ask for advice if you are unsure.

Q: What proteins can I feed?
A: To get as much nutrition as possible, you should be aiming for 4-5 different proteins from different parts of the animal. Ox (beef), lamb, pork, chicken and duck are the most common but the Dogs’ Butcher stocks quite a few extras that I’m sure your dogs will enjoy. You can also add eggs and fish. Due to allergies, some dogs can only have one or two proteins, but finding the balance within those proteins and feeding from as many different parts of the animal as possible will give a good balance.

Q: Will my dog get all the nutrition it needs? And can I add supplements?
A: Yes, if you use as many different parts of the animal, from as many different proteins, your dog will get all the nutrition he/she needs and you only need to use supplements if your dog needs them, i.e a joint aid for bad joints or salmon oil or coconut oil for dry skin. We add nothing except raw meat, bones and offal into our food.

Q: Will my dog become ill from eating a raw diet? And can I get ill from feeding it?
A: Raw food is what dogs should be eating; fancy term (species specific diet) they have the teeth for it and their digestive tract is designed for it. Their digestive enzymes and stomach acidity can cope with bacteria (come on, they eat poo and dig up food they buried days ago and eat it). We eat meat and prepare raw meat (obviously vegetarians don’t) but as long as we practice good hygiene standards, i.e. wash our hands and surfaces and bowls, then it is perfectly safe for us all.

Q: Is it safe to re-freeze raw dog food? And can I feed frozen?
A: Yes, it is fine to defrost then re-portion and re-freeze dog food that has already been frozen. My tip is just don’t let it get up to room temp. Some people only partly defrost, chop up then re-freeze. As for feeding frozen, I personally don’t recommend it. Many people do it but it’s not natural for dogs who don’t live in Arctic conditions to eat frozen food and also, I have done it and one of my dogs choked. There is no “give” in frozen food and she had a hard lump just stuck. She finally managed to bring it back up but she hurt her throat in the process. So, if I said yes and one dog got hurt, I would never forgive myself. Some owners make ice lollies which contain bone broth (a broth made from bones and other goodies) for their dogs during the summer months. That’s fine .. liquid defrosts very quickly.

Q: My vet has told me that raw food isn’t safe and can harm my dog. Are they correct?
A: Yes and no. A raw diet that hasn’t been researched and that isn’t balanced and is loaded with bone will not be great for your dog. But a raw diet that is balanced and is varied is the best species-specific diet on the market today, in our opinion. Vets don’t actually have a lot of training regarding pet nutrition, and the training they do undertake is often sponsored by the kibble companies, who’s food they are selling in their reception areas. There are some mainstream vets feeding raw food who are advocating the diet, however they are few and far between. My advice is to join some raw feeding forums and ask for advice on there. BARF UK on Facebook have a vet as a member and lots of lovely experienced raw feeding members who’s advice is invaluable.

Q: Can I feed cooked bones?
A: No. Cooked bones can splinter and puncture throat, intestines and stomach walls.

Q: Do I have to feed bones?
A: You don’t have to feed bones if you are scared or nervous to do so, but for nice shiny teeth try feeding something like large chunks of tripe or large chunks of meat. Dogs benefit from using their jaws and most dogs love it. We produce minced poultry so you can feed that, or there is minced bone in our Complete range.

Q: Which are the best bones to feed to my dog?
A: Apart from the obvious answer (raw ones), it all depends on your dog. If they gulp and don’t really chew then the bigger the better. A bone can always be taken away after they’ve had their ration or (traded) – never take food away unless you have something to replace it with as resource guarding can develop. My ridgebacks chew their bones so I can safely give necks and wings in the knowledge that they will chew them. Carcasses are good for gulpers, or dogs that eat too fast and ribs, spine etc. You can teach dogs who haven’t quite got the hang of chewing bones by holding one end whilst they chew the other. A pair of mole grips and gloves will come in handy.  Recreational bones can be given to dogs which aren’t aggressive chewers, as dogs which chew aggressively can damage teeth on hard recreational bones or weight baring bones.  Always supervise your dog when it is eating raw bones.

Q: Why is my dog’s poo white & crumbly?
A: Too much bone in its diet, so feed a meal which has no bone. The occasional white poo is not a problem as long as you rectify it by feeding a meal, 1 day or even 2 days without any bone, but constant white poo is not what you are seeking to achieve. If you have made the switch to raw food, you will become an avid poo watcher and strive to achieve the perfect poop.