Some of you might know that I’m raw fed so I thought we’d do a post about why we chose to go down this route and why we think it’s the best thing to feed your dog.
It’s quite a long one so you might want to put the kettle on first…
Let us start with a caveat – we are in no way experts about the pros and cons of raw feeding. If you think this is something that interests you for your pooch, there’s a wealth of information out there about the factors to consider…so go Google.
Mum would never choose to go back to feeding me kibble, but we’re not here to pull faces at those who do.
Heaven knows there are enough starving dogs in the world who would love the opportunity to eat cheap biscuits twice a day. Most of us try to do the best by our dogs, and if your budget and/or beliefs lead you to the non-raw route, then that’s fine by us.
In fact, I was fed kibble for the first 15 months of my life – Burns, as it happens – and it did me a-ok, with no noticeable health problems.
We were led to raw by a dog trainer/behaviourist who was evangelical (but in a good way) about the benefits.
Dog breath that wasn’t like, er, dog breath. Improved behaviour and focus. Glossy coat. Strong teeth. And poo that didn’t require a gas mask to get near, and a bag the size of a pillowcase to pick up.
All of these things have been proved right in our experience – although mum does baulk a bit at the thought of what my focus might be like if I’d still been eating kibble, as I remain quite lively!
This particular trainer recommended Honey’s Real Dog Food, and it’s the brand we’ve used ever since.
Why? Several reasons really.
- It’s an ethically run company – farm animal welfare is a priority, and all meat is free range, wild or organic. Not only that, it’s fit for human consumption – no mechanically recovered muck here. And no, we don’t intend to get into a debate about the ethics of slaughtering one animal to feed another – but there’s no getting away from the fact that dogs are carnivores.
- Honey’s is more than happy to provide advice and guidance about raw feeding, even if you never plan to become a customer.
- Quite often you’ll get a freebie in your delivery – every so often a book will appear written by one of the team, for example. In fact when mum once mentioned that she’d loaned her (free) copy of the Honey’s Natural Feeding Handbook for Dogs to a friend, another three copies (also free) appeared in our next order so we could continue to spread the word!
- As well as minced meat and vegetables, Honey’s also provides chicken wings, raw marrow bones, broth, dog treats, coconut oil and a host of other whizzy things that your beloved pooch might need.
- It has a Poorly Dog Team, which includes vets, vet nurses and nutritionists, who can provide advice if your pooch is feeling a bit peaky. I had a poorly tummy once for several days, which a £210 series of visits to the vet did little to ease (so far the one and only time mum has made a claim on my insurance). The Honey’s PDT advised we use Dorwest Herbs Tree Barks Powder – under £15 – and it sorted out my tum in 36 hours.
Talking of vets, there is every chance that your vet will not be an advocate of raw feeding. If there were a practice near us that was we would seriously consider switching (on the basis that all vets charge exorbitant fees so switching is unlikely to save you money or cost you even more).
Mum mentioned once that I was raw fed, and the vet asked: “Why on Earth do you feed him raw?” with a look on her face like I’d just farted in her handbag. Another vet also disapproved and we got a lecture about how she should never feed me anything with bone in it as the vet had done too many surgeries on dogs who had eaten bones that had splintered internally.
Mum is not a vet and obviously knows much less about animal health than they do. And in a sense the second vet was quite correct – some bones can potentially be lethal for dogs. We refer to cooked bones, which can indeed splinter as they’re brittle and cause very serious problems for any dog that eats them. Raw, aka uncooked, bones are fine as long as you choose the right size for your dog.
It’s fair to say that Honey’s is probably not the cheapest option when it comes to raw feeding. I’m fed around 800g a day (I’m about 24kg and active), and mum pays approximately £100 a month for my food. By comparison, a 15kg bag of Burns kibble used to set her back about £50 and it lasted way longer than a month.
There are undoubtedly cheaper ways to feed raw to your dog. DIY-ing it – which Honey’s offers – would be more economic, although more of a faff. Mum doesn’t want faff. And chicken wings are a perfect parcel of nutrition although I do have the unedifying habit of taking the wing out of my bowl and eating it off the floor.
Which brings us to the question of hygiene. Now, unless you’re in the habit of failing to take even basic hygiene precautions in your kitchen, feeding your dog raw meat provides a negligible risk of contracting some hideous food poisoning bug.
Simply ensure that you wash your hands after handling raw meat, always clean your dog’s bowl and utensils (i.e. whatever your use to serve the meat, be it a knife, spoon, whatever) after every meal, and wipe down your work surfaces. Not difficult, not time consuming, and something you no doubt do when prepping your own food.
And if you don’t, then it serves you right if you fall victim to some debilitating sickness and diarrhoea situation. Ha ha!
Funnily enough, there is a raw feeding business in the same town as us, Nurture Them Naturally. We visit occasionally to stock up on a few bits and bobs and it was they who put us on to Pure, a dehydrated raw dog food.
One of the disadvantages of feeding raw is what to do when you go on holiday with your doggo. It’s not convenient to bring along several kilograms of raw meat, which at the very least needs to be refrigerated. Holiday cottage kitchens tend not to have large freezers and neither do you want the entire fridge taken over by dog food. I mean, where would the wine go? And the cheese?
Pure is an excellent standby here. You simply rehydrate it with warm tap water, leave it for 10 minutes and hey presto, decent quality grub for your four-legged friend. I have to be honest and say I prefer my raw meat but Pure is a convenient alternative on holiday.
We used to use it when mum forgot to defrost my meat but these days we just put the frozen pack into hot water and leave it for a few minutes. Most definitely not the thing to do if you humans are eating it but we dogs have stomach acid strong enough to burn flesh – yes, really – so we cope just fine.
Any post about raw feeding has to mention poo. If you’re a certain age (step forward, mother) you’ll remember the days when streets were littered with white dog poo. Why? Because dogs back then were generally fed raw meat rather than kibble. And no one cleaned up after us.
A raw-fed dog will produce poo that is far less voluminous in size and far less offensive in smell. Don’t get me wrong, you won’t want to stick your human nose right in close and take a deep breath, but neither will you gag when you’re 10 feet away from a fresh one and the wind’s blowing in your direction.
And if you don’t pick up the poo of a raw-fed dog, it will take on a 1970’s retro vibe and turn white and crumbly within just a few days. So now you know.
The one disadvantage we can think of feeding raw is the expense of buying an additional freezer. For several months the only freezer we had was filled to the brim with my food which turned out to be rather a bore for mum. She eventually prized open her purse to buy a small chest freezer which has made life much easier for the old dear.
We’ll finish by pointing out that Honey’s has had no input regarding this post. We’ve not been asked to sing its praises, nor are we being given any incentive – either financial or meaty.
We’ll send Honey’s the link to this post just in case it wishes to include it on its Facebook page, but that’s mainly to help bring this little blog to a wider audience. We’ve simply used Honey’s as our reference because it’s the brand we use – there are loads of others out there so do your research and pick the one that suits you and your dog the best.
So…any thoughts on raw feeding? If you don’t feed raw what do you use instead? We’ve heard of some dogs being fed a vegan diet – any advice or tips here? Leave us a comment below.