Before Trying a Homemade Raw Diet: Read This.
We know a lot of you are savvy grocery shoppers, or hunters with access to scraps. It may be tempting to make your own food. And for some this works, but we’ve seen this go very, very badly.
Scraps from the butcher, or from hunting are a great way to minimize waste. And not to sound bitter but we’re grateful to see scraps disposed of responsibly instead of at the end our dead-end road (last year I found 9 moose legs in my yard-my house smelled like a slaughterhouse for days until we finally found the last one). But, an animal cannot be kept on a homemade raw diet without careful consideration. Here are some things you need to watch for:
1. A butcher is not going to scrap the best parts of the meat; they’re going to sell that. Scraps are often some of the fattier pieces and while little bits of that are likely to cause no harm, continual feeding of high fat meats can be problematic. Specifically, they can put your dog at risk to develop pancreatitis. This is very uncomfortable for your dog, and it can be very costly to address the short-term effects of acute pancreatitis and expensive over the long-term to manage chronic pancreatitis.
2. For a raw diet to be “complete” it’s needs a balanced ratio of muscle meat, organ and bone. Organs are where the minerals come from, as well as other critical nutrients: as an example, heart is an excellent source of the heart-protective amino acid taurine, and spleen contains several important compounds to support the immune system. Bone (ground bone, fine enough to swallow without the risk of perforations) is where the balance of calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and Vitamin D will come from. This is necessary for a healthy skeletal system, and, healthy urinary function as well. Not to mention the health of every other organ system in the body because minerals are needed in ALL of them.
3. There’s variations of the necessary balance, but it’s important the organ and bone remain in an adequate balance as the organs again provide critical minerals and also prevent constipation if there is too much bone.
4. All of this ratio stuff doesn’t even take into consideration the addition of safe raw fruits or veggies (or lightly steamed) to provide antioxidants, phytonutrients and prebiotics to nourish a healthy microbiome, eggs (if allergies aren’t a concern), balancing Omega 3 fatty acids with Omega 6’s, or the significant importance of protein rotation.
Whether you’re a die-hard advocate of raw, or completely opposed to it, there’s one takeaway I think we can all agree on. A raw diet that is not fed from an educated position is no better than kibble. There are some vets totally cool with raw feeding; others who are adamantly against it. But, when we consider that those vets are likely the ones treating patients who have been fed an inadequate raw diet, we can see why! Regardless, should you choose to make your own raw food at home, we really strongly encourage you to make sure you’re running this by your vet, or another trusted professional. We know we sound like we’re knocking it, we have just seen too many examples of homemade raw feeding go wrong.
And of course, even if you don’t feed raw, we’re still seeing price changes in kibble, and understand that a temporary switch may be worth considering! We have lots of really excellent, affordable foods available (and samples). Trust us when we say, we know how tempting it can be to switch to a lower quality brand to save some money and we have absolutely no judgement on that. But in the same breath, we will say, sometimes examining the ingredients will show that for one, serving sizes are higher, making the product not THAT much more cost effective; and, if you’re seeing things like wheat, soy, and corn within the first four or five ingredients, you got yourself an overpriced bag of carbohydrates. Which, may never pose a threat to your dog (hey, we all know that one person who smoked a pack of cigarettes a day and drank Guinness for breakfast and lived to be 100-health isn’t only determined by diet), but, it may consequently contribute to inflammatory issues or diabetes in your dogs future and neither of those are cheap to manage either.
To summarize something I probably could have written in a few sentences: if a homemade raw diet has been on your list of things to do, please make sure it’s done correctly.