We are convinced that feeding raw food is the best diet for our dogs, the difference in their health and demeanour is almost instant. We haven't always fed raw, we used to feed what is considered a premium kibble, and Suzi was so fussy that she refused to eat it, she was very lean as she ate the bare minimum, and she'd only eat that once I had mixed all sorts of extras in to tempt her. I had a look at alternative diets, but was finally convinced by Suzi's breeder, who had switched to feeding raw not too long after we bought Suzi from her. She has a large number of dogs, and her experiences where very interesting...you can read about her personal experience with the health of her dogs here.
After doing further research and delving deeper into what REALLY is in dog food (including the experiences of my father in law, who used to be butcher and had a good knowledge of what really goes on at abattoirs and rendering plants) I decided that it was worth a go - even if it wasn't successful it wouldn't do her any harm.
We decided to feed the diet known as "Prey Model Raw (PMR)" as this seemed to be the most natural way to feed, rather than the more popular and commercial "BARF" diet which includes vegetable and grain, which studies have shown are not necessary, although they are unlikely to do any harm. Suzi took straight to it...she started to look forward to meals, she put weight on, after her shed her coat came through twice as thick, her teeth looked better and her whole demeanour was brighter. We haven't looked back, and have raised a litter on raw food, as well as switching Mieke to a raw diet once we imported her back from Holland. Puppies raised on raw don't have the fat little belly that's usually in kibble fed puppies, they are solid, but firm and not flabby. Their stools are firm and practically odourless from day 1 of weaning, not once did we have runny poos, even after worming. It really has to be seen to be believed.
There are other experiences too of the success of raw-fed dogs, most notably for me the experience of my Aunt Deborah.
She breeds English Setters, a gorgeous breed but unfortunately plagued with health issues, including in many individuals extreme digestive issues. Her youngest Setter, a lovely blue belton by the name of Lily, had particularly bad problems, pretty much constant diarrhoea from a couple of months old. Deborah tried her on pretty much every 'good quality' kibble available, painstakingly measuring and slowly adjusting each one but none agreed with her. Lily was in terrible pain with her stomach, and would frequently cry out, and nothing was helping her. She had batteries of tests done at the vets for all the usual, and unusual, causes of chronic diarrhoea, but she was absolutely clean of every known cause. She was prescribed Hill's ID, a prescription diet designed for short term use with recuperating dogs, it is heavily processed for easy absorption, but not designed for long term use. Lily survived on this food - costing a not-so-small fortune - but was not thriving and the outlook was not promising...
Deborah had been following my progress with raw feeding for some time, I had tried to convince her it was worth giving a go, but understandably my aunt was worried that yet another new diet - and a very dramatic change at that - would finish her off. After we visited, and she saw how simple feeding raw actually was, she decided that it was worth giving a go, at least then she would know that she had tried everything. At first she tried slowly changing her over - as we are all told to do when introducing a new diet - but the results from the rear end were not favourable! As scary as it is, the best way to switch to raw is overnight - no interim period - as their body digests raw meat at a different rate to grain-based kibble. It was a leap of faith, but Deborah took the plunge...and hasn't looked back. All her dogs are on raw now, and they are thriving - no more stomach upsets, (although they are not so tolerant of richer fatty meats such as lamb and beef, all dogs are different, like people) and they are much happier in themselves. Deborah has noticed that their coats are much thicker and softer, they have more energy and play with each other more.When fed on kibble a particular problem that she had was they would eat their droppings (coprophagia) almost immediately after they had defecated. This is a fairly common problem in dogs, and is usually put down to a behavioural vice or the dog being hungry. It is actually due, not to a nasty habit, but the amount of additives, flavourings and undigested matter that is still in the faeces, so that to the dog it still smells like dog food! When a dog is raw fed, they will not touch their droppings - what has come out is true waste, completely digested and unpalatable for the dog. Since switching to raw, none of her dogs have touched their faeces (no dog I know has), which alone is a good argument for feeding a natural diet.
There are plenty of miracle stories out there, but I can testify to the difference it has made to people and dogs that I know, and that's enough for me. Plenty of dogs survive on kibble, but is it the best we can do for them? The health benefits go far beyond what I have mentioned here, including no "doggy" odour, small inoffensive-smelling stools, calmer disposition, reduced feeding costs (yes...really! It's cheaper than feeding a 'high quality' kibble!)...the list goes on. I have attached some documents which I have put together myself, on the science behind raw feeding, how to make the switch, health benefits, suppliers of raw food, and some interesting reference material on what REALLY goes into our dogs food...have a read, and maybe you will think it's worth trying for your dog.
If you are interested in feeding raw food, even if you are not looking to have one of our puppies, please get in touch - we are happy to point you in the right direction to getting started! Join the dog food revolution!
Apollo at 3 weeks old, getting to grips with his first chicken wing!