I decided to create one more piece related to my blog series of a raw food diet for your dog(s). This post is more focused on a straightforward answer to the most common questions and problems I’ve seen with a raw food diet for dogs.
How do you choose the meat?
Make sure the raw meat is the usual color, bright red for red meat, pinkish-white for chicken, and pink for fish (depending on the type). If it’s brown, mushy, standing in too much liquid, or smells funky- don’t buy it.
I buy whole meat, not ground. Pre-made ground meat can have bacteria from the machinery that I do not want to pass on to the dog. I also want the dog to chew their meat, not eat mush, as to keep their teeth nice and clean.
It is my personal standard to get organic and grass-fed/free range.
How do you prepare the meat?
I just cut them up and store a few day’s worth in the freezer and then the rest in the freezer in an air proof glass container. You could use plastic but I try to live with the least amount of plastic for the best environmental impact. That’s just me though.
Remember that once you thaw frozen meat, you cannot freeze it again. A good rule of thumb for how long you can keep your meat are:
- Poultry: up to 2 days in the fridge and up to 1 year in the freezer
- Red Meat/Pork: up to 5 days in the fridge and up to 6 months in the freezer
- Ground Meat: up to 2 days in the fridge and up to 4 months in the freezer
- Fish: up to 2 days in the refrigerator and up to three months in the freezer
Can I really give my dog bones?
“Knick knack, paddy wack, give a dog a bone!”
Yes! Of course, it’s best to do it under supervision for the first month to make sure your dog picks up his wild instinct on how to properly chew a bone.
Just make sure the bone has NOT been cooked, steamed, or heated up in any way prior to giving it to the dog. Warming the bone will make it brittle and that is when it becomes dangerous and a true choke-hazard.
However, you know your dog better that any one else. If you are really concerned about giving them bones, start with a big bone that is hard to break and use bone broth until your confidence develops, if ever.
How long do you leave the meat out?
While yes, dogs can eat raw meat without being sick, I have respect for my dog to not leave it out for hours and let flies collect on it. Rigel usually gulps it down the moment I set his bowl down (and I release him 😉 ). If he doesn’t, I leave the bowl out for no longer than 15 minutes. After that, I wrap up the bowl and put it back in the refrigerator to try again later. If he doesn’t eat it still by the end of the day, I toss it in my compost bin. The temperature fluctuation of the raw meat isn’t something I want to test.
My dog swallows his meat whole! My dog doesn’t chew his meals. How do I make him slow down?
Oh gosh. Rigel had this problem too. I actually sat with Rigel for the first two weeks, hand feeding him the chunk of meat. I held the meat while he tried to eat it out of my hands. When he got the hang of chewing and ripping it from my hands, he started to develop a habit of chewing.
Some people said that leaving the meat on the bone helped the dog “rip” it off and chew it before they swallowed.
If your dog still doesn’t respond to this guided chewing exercise, you can chop up the meat in bite size and keep working on teaching them how to chew.
Honestly, what is the benefit of a raw food diet compared to a regular meal from a can or bag?
There is so much to benefit from a raw food diet. Here’s just a few of them:
- Healthy, white teeth (bye bye tartar! No more being put under when getting teeth cleaned.)
- Clean, sweeter breath
- Smooth, healthy skin (no itches or flakes)
- Shinier and thicker hair (soft to cuddle)
- Smell better (even after getting wet; and it’s not like they’ll smell like roses but they won’t smell funky)
- Healthier bowel movement (less anal glands being stuck)
- Improve energy & vitality
- Reduction or elimination of allergies and chronic illness (including cancer!)
- Improved mental agility from chewing meat
- Less trips to the vet (money saved!)
- An overall happier dog (“you really love me!”)
Don’t believe me? Google it. Or even better, try it.
Isn’t raw meat full of bacteria that could get my dog(s) sick?
In my post about what wolves eat and what dogs should eat, I explained that a dog’s stomach is high on the acid scale. In fact, they are about a 0 while human stomachs are more around 7 (neutral). Humans’ stomach are designed to consume vegetation not raw meat. So we get sick because our stomach are not designed to kill the pathogens and bacteria that raw meat has. However, our four legged friends stomach are designed to withstand a nuclear bomb, figuratively. They eat cat poop, trash that has been left outside for ages, road kill, and all the weird things we’ve seen them get into… and they come out fine for the most part!
In fact, you’re more likely to be affected by handling the raw meat more than your pup eating it. Make sure to wash your hands and tools well after handling any raw meat. Don’t forget to wipe down the counter!
My dog’s poop is darker than normal and almost soft or is mushy.
There is too much organ meat or supplements. Ease up on these until the poop resumes to a normal consistency, which should be sausage shaped and moist yet firm. Then you can adjust the raw food diet to meet his stomach’s needs.
My dog’s poop is lighter than normal and is almost or really firm.
Too much bone! Ease up on the bone and adjust the diet until your dog’s poop is back to normal.
My dog has diarrhea!
Sometimes this happens because their food has been changed too quickly. Make sure to transition from their usual food to the new raw food diet slowly. Incorporate the raw meat little by little. See my post on how to transition in the best way possible.
If your dog has diarrhea for more than 48 hours and you didn’t transition too quickly, please consult a veterinarian. It could be a preexisting condition or an allergy. I’ve met dogs that actually had an allergy to chicken.
Series: Raw Meat For Dogs
This blog post is part of a series on raw-meat for dogs. If you’ll like to read more about this topic, check out the other posts: