It is easiest to feed chicken as the meat and bone source if you are preparing the meat fresh. As discussed in the "Concerns" section, you can grind up the chicken before feeding it to your dog. After purchasing the chicken, wrap each piece individually and freeze it. Defrost it overnight, and then chop it up in the morning. Defrosting the chicken for approximately 9 hours allows it to become slightly soft, but not rubbery, and therefore easiest to prepare.
Varying the meat source from time to time is a healthy, natural way to provide a variety if nutrients to your dog. Don't forget fish is a great source of protein. The easiest way to do this is to purchase commercial raw diets and feed these from time to time. These generally cost about 2-3 times as much as your home-prepared chicken, but they contain the ground meats, bones, organs, vegetables, and other ingredients- in other words, you're paying for someone else to do all the work!
At least three times a week, a small amount of organ meat can be added to your pet's regular meal. Organ meats include chicken livers, beef hearts, kidneys, and chicken hearts and gizzards (usually packaged together). Feeding chicken livers alone can cause diarrhea in some dogs, so consider offering a variety of organ meats at one time. Buy a few types of organs, and package a mix in freezer baggies.
10-20% of the diet can come from fruits and vegetables. Grinding or pureeing fresh or frozen vegetables aides in ease of digestion. Avoid canned vegetables and fruits. Fruits should be very ripe- in the wild, the dog is most likely to the fruit that has fallen from the tree. Variety is also important for some fruits and vegetables. This is because certain fruits, like grapefruit, and certain vegetables, like spinach, can cause bladder stones in dogs that are predisposed to this problem. It is not harmful to feed these foods on small quantities from time to time. Avoid onions, grapes, and raisins, which have all been associated with toxicities in dogs and cats
Try feeding unusual cuts of meat such as chicken feet and tongue. Dogs love chicken feet and it is very rich in natural chondroitin for arthritis.
Some dogs will decide to eat from only certain food groups above. If this is the case, contact us so that we can determine what supplements your dog will need to make up for the deficiencies in diet.
RAW DIETS FOR CATS
In the wild, cats eat mice, moles, squirrels, rabbits, and baby birds. Feeding raw diets at home does not have to be more complicated.
If your cat will eat raw meats, the simplest food to feed is ground chicken, one chicken wing, ground, is one meal! You can feed this as one meal of the day, and Instinct, Innova or Evo as the other meal of the day.
DETERMINING QUANTITIES OF
FOOD TO FEED DOGS
There is no formula for this! As general guidelines, you can feed one pound of meat per 50 pounds of body weight. Rapidly growing dogs and active dogs tend to need more; older dogs tend to need less. If your dog gains weight on this amount then decrease it; if your dog loses weight on this amount, then increase it!
Meats that are lower in fat include: turkey, buffalo, ostrich, venison, and rabbit. Meats that are higher in fat and help put weight on include: beef, lamb, duck, and pork.
We highly recommend reading Raw Dog Food: Make it Easy for You and Your Dog by Carina Beth MacDonald. This short, concise book gives a humorous and thorough description of feeding raw foods to your dog. It answers every possible question. Also, Switching to Raw by Susan K. Johnson is another great source on feeding raw. Both books are available at Stuart Animal Hospital.