Updated: Oct 11, 2021
Mini backstory, due to the amount of people who always asked me what I do :)!
Last year I started doing a lot of research about dog food brands, fillers, allergies, etc.
Reasons to do research:
#1 What would you do if you had a dog food shortage like our COVID-19 pandemic?
#2 Skye: My husky was very picky about food / issues with teeth
#3 Reese: Our Pit has skin allergies galore
#4 Scooby: Always had stomach issues and weight issues / dull fur
I found the BARF diet through a facebook site and have been feeding raw since! I also found many supportive groups on the topic, which are added below.
**Note that yes, there are a ton of websites that you can order raw dog food from, and you are totally allowed to if you do not have an hour or two a month to make literally a months worth for wayyyyy cheaper. I have played around with recipes and my GO TO recipe is also listed below. It may seem like a lot of work but the nutritional value and just knowing your dog is going to look and feel healthier gives me motivation to do it.**
What is in my dogs kibble?
As any human food, check the back of the bag. It is practically a "canned good" in morsel form. The big companies will tell you all the PLUS facts about the food but not the NEGATIVE. I just want to use IAMS as an example.
Although ingredients are labeled as SAFE OR APPROVED, you have to realize the way they process the ingredients and the loss of nutritional value due to the preservatives. They also add color, which is really not needed. In addition they have to add vitamins to your dogs dry food? Why? If you follow the BARF diet, they will get everything they need from normal animal parts and fresh fruit/vegetables.
if you research the BARF diet, it includes everything in raw feed that is listed in the ingredients above. Sure it is convenient to feed them a bowl of kibble, but it is also bioengineered. Instead of infusing bioengineered vitamins into your dogs diet they can get many vitamins (from a daily organ meat - such as a chicken liver) such as b12, C, A, E, Copper, Choline, Foalte, Niacin, and Riboflavin.
What are "Fillers"?
An ingredient with no nutritional value. Example? Corn, Wheat, Soy, Rice. If we are being honest, where do dogs find this in the wild anyways? As for humans there is minimal nutritional value in white rice, so why do we add to dry dog food? These also are the leaders in allergies amongst dogs.
How do I know if my dog has an allergy to their food?
Generally, a dog may have an allergy to food or it's surroundings so you have to be mindful of that and check with your veterinarian. The culprit usually becomes a source of protein, chicken/beef/pork/lamb etc. You will usually know based on how their skin looks or bowel movements. The article I would refer to is below:
Is it safe to transfer my dog to a raw diet?
As with any dog food change there will be a period of bowel movement changes, etc. Although, you should check with your veterinarian (given they will probably not be on board with you) but I made sure to have my dogs checked out and blood draws to make sure they were healthy. When you feed raw you would want to have a blood panel with their yearly check up to make sure organ function is proper and there are no deficiencies. IF you don't follow the raw feed guidelines this can happen and lead to death or health problems down the road.
Where to buy your food?
Your local butcher will be your best bet. It is up to you if you want to trust meat or fish in bulk at Sam's Club, VS straight from the farm. Usually it will be less quality (chicken will have fat striations/ beef might be more colored or less fresh).... etc. If you are short for the week I personally will whip our some Sam's Club chicken and it will suffice. I would recommend feeding organic or free range to your dogs for safety purposes.
It all depends on your butcher or where you get your meat, organs, vegetables, fruits, etc. What is in season is a good way to go for all of this. Thanksgiving is right around the corner, the butchers will have tons of turkey necks for example. I still have a 30 lb box in my freezer. BUY IN BULK! I bought a freezer from the "damaged" section at Home Depot, and this is my dog freezer! $100 wasn't a bad deal. In my case my cost for 3 large dogs runs around 150/month, some months it will be less because I don't need to buy organ meet or bone due to buying in bulk. I would say your cost to feed will double, but there are ways to cut costs if you don't want to be all "fancy."
Meat cost guidelines per pound at grocery store:
*NOTE: I added these to make a point that pork/lamb will be most expensive*
Chicken: ~ $1.79/lb
Beef: ~ $4-5/lb
Turkey: ~ $1.25/lb
Local Raw Feed Groups
**There are groups on facebook that will buy all of this in bulk, and then have you pick up your share or order- I would recommend doing this if you want to feed full fish or any specialty meats.**
My Current Weekly Schedule
(blanks could be where you add in other supplements - see below)
(The diet I have my dogs on does not require supplements - but your veterinarian might have you add some if your dog has known medical issues)
Plain Yogurt - treat or spoonful
Probiotic (Kefir) - treat or spoonful
Flaxseed/chia seed/pumpkin seed/hemp seed/sunflower seed/sesame seeds
Vitamin E - (This is if you don't add seeds or nuts)
Raw bone powder - you would only need this if you don't plan on including bone-in meats
Chicken Feet - My dogs won't eat them, but once again if you don't have bone-in meats in your meat mixture you can try. MAKE SURE YOU CLIP OFF THE TOE NAILS.
Cod Liver Oil - if you feed liver like I do this is not necessary
Calcium Supplements- Veterinarian would tell you if necessary (Renal disease / low in phosphorous)
Fish Oil - If actual fish is not available near you. I use sardines they are easiest or salmon
For a complete list:
What vegetables can my dog eat?
What fruits can my dog eat?
What foods are dangerous?