My name is Carol and my husband Andy and I started feeding raw to our German Shepherd Mack and our Labrador x Staffy Hizzy a couple of years ago and have never looked back. We have made changes as we have gained our confidence while learning each dog has their own favourites or dislikes and we have asked questions from friends who also raw feed, web sites such as 'The Dogs Dinner' by Ann Ridyard and from other owners like ourselves on forums.

Below I have answered some of the more common questions we have been asked with regard to our own personal decision and I hope you find it of interest:

Why did we start raw feeding?

At the time I worked in a veterinary practice as a Receptionist and one of my colleagues had raw fed her Rhodesian Ridgebacks for years and simply, I started asking her questions. I was interested and her dogs were beautiful examples of the breed with glorious coats and teeth, excellent body definition and high energy and love of life. But, although I spoke with my husband about changing over, we seemed to continue buying kibble and not taking that leap of faith. Our German Shepherd then had to be admitted to the practice for surgery in his mouth and that very same day my friend strangely had an extra box of food delivered and asked us to store it for her (!!) and then of course she said we could try it if we wished as Mack couldn't eat his usual kibble due to the procedure.... The rest as they say is history!

How did we know how much to feed each dog?

By feeding 2.5% of the weight of each individual dog per day - but this is a starting point, we had to adjust as necessary if a dog lost or gained weight and, as before, always considered any other food the dog received during the day. NB: it is always recommended to be committed to the raw diet from the start, do not feed kibble and raw together as they digest at different rates. Please research starting the raw diet carefully.

 

How did we know how to get the dietary balance right?

You can buy the raw diet in the form of mince with bone and therefore not need to feed bones themselves, but as a rule the diet should have only 10 - 20% as bone. If their stools became crumbly then it is an early sign of too much bone so we adjust the diet at the next meal. Our dogs also loved offal and tripe as part of their diet but again, through experience we found mixing it with other food was the best way forward!

How did we decide which company to use?

Personal recommendation! There are a number of different companies but we chose a company that offered a wide variety of not only minces but chicken carcasses and necks, offal and bones. We do like to go to a shop and rummage through the freezers as well and that's how we end up with chicken feet and deer legs in our freezer!

Did we see a difference in our dogs?

Absolutely! Their coats became softer and shinier within days (and they weren't exactly in poor condition before!) and as they continued with the diet, their teeth lost any tartar and have remained lovely and clean. We also noticed an improvement with their nature with our cross loosing his nervous energy and both seeming more content. In addition to their condition our shepherd had, for years, picked at his meals, regularly not eating 3 or 4 meals on the trot. Once we changed to raw, he never missed a meal! (It goes with out saying our Lab cross had never missed a meal before we changed....!)

Is it more expensive than kibble?

For us no as we were feeding one of the best quality kibbles there is before we changed.

Don't we mind touching raw meat - especially first thing in the morning?!

No, but there is no need to if you portion the breakfast the night before or if you are emptying mince from a bag. We quickly learnt tripe is for an evening meal though - a smell you never want to wake up with!!

What about treats?

We bought a dehydrator and so kidney, liver, lung and heart have all become their rewards. There are also a growing number of natural treats in shops such as tripe sticks, dried fish and vegetable based chews as well as stag bars for great long lasting chews.

I hope the above gives you some information on taking the plunge but for detailed information, like us, research via the internet and books. Facebook has Raw Feeding groups (Raw Feeding UK for example) and we used the 'Quick Start Guide' written by Ann Ridyard daily for the first few weeks to keep us on track which can be found on her web site 'The Dogs Dinner'.  Dr Ian Billinghurst is also a recommended source of information with his book 'Give Your Dog A Bone'