Well, this week I broke down and started attempting to feed my three dogs a raw diet. I was driven to it because Sage just hasn't done well on kibble since I brought him home. As well, one of my other dogs, Elbee, had not been doing well on her kibble diet for awhile.
After my clumsy attempts over just a couple of days, both dogs showed dramatic improvement. Elbee is an extremely small Pembroke Welsh Corgi, with a very large appetite! Needless to say, she is nothing less than Thrilled with her new diet of fresh chicken meat, bones, veggies, and a small amount of cottage cheese!
Formerly I fed my senior dog, Bart, fresh cooked meat and veggies, combined with some kibble, so this part of the transition isn't too much of a leap. But feeding bones has proven to be my area of real paranoia - and frustration!
I've been attempting to feed chicken wings, which are evidently too small. None of my three dogs understands how to hold a bone and they attempt to swallow a wing bone whole - which is way too scary for me!
Getting larger bones, like chicken necks and backs is something you have to do through a poultry wholesaler. The average market doesn't carry these items. And even so, I just read in one article where these bones were high among those who complained that their dogs tended to break teeth eating them...and that dogs still made attempts to swallow necks whole...what to do?
So for right now, I am kind of stuck with a bunch of wings! This means that I have to sit and hold the bones for each of the dogs to eat - a very time-consuming process...and likely to be a deal breaker on the raw feeding thing.
As well, there is a lot of stuff written about raw feeding. It is rather overwhelming. I have big concerns regarding whether the dogs are going to get enough of the requisite vitamins and minerals on this diet - especially for a young puppy. (Note: puppy wants to play with the bones, not eat them. And he has no clue as to how to remove meat from the, so I have to de-bone the meat first. It is becoming very challenging to get enough bone in his diet at this point. I know he'll grow out of it, but for now...) At the same time, I am not into the idea of purchasing 6 different supplements to be added each time I feed, as a couple of the websites I visited recommend.
I also found a "prey-model" website that says there is no need to feed veggies, as a wolf in the wild doesn't eat stomach contents and would never get veggies. Not sure I agree with this, since we're not talking about wolves here, but...honestly I wonder if anyone REALLY knows what is best as far as the variety and types of foods to feed, after reading some of the articles out there.
I only know that when I started feeding Bart meat and veggies, due to bladder stones, he seemed a lot healthier on that diet and he liked the food more. So I am thinking that the addition of the veggies and fruits on occasion is a good thing. It is clear that Sage really likes the addition of a little cottage cheese. The other day I gave him just meat and veggies, without any dairy and he looked at it, then at me quizically. It was obvious that something important was missing!
And so, I open this up for suggestions and advice from those with tried and true experience over years of raw feeding - both adults and puppies! I am feeding a 5-year-old Cardigan, an 11-year-old Pembroke, and a 15-week-old Cardi puppy.
My primary questions:
1. What bones to feed? How small must bone pieces be in order for me to be comfortable with the dogs swallowing them and not risking blockages? I've been pulverizing the larger wing bones into very small bits for the puppy, and for Elbee. Elbee's mouth is actually smaller than the puppy's. She is an extremely petite girl, weighing only 15lbs, with a very small bone structure. They are able to gnaw the smaller wing bones, with me holding one end.
2. Supplements? Which ones and how do you know your dog is getting all of the vitamins and minerals it needs?
Sign me...the Raw Food Newbie!
P.S. Carolyn and Heidi do not have to reply, as they've already offered so much helpful advice - thank you! At this point, I am collecting any/all information so I can sift through and figure out what works best for us. Thanks to all!