Have you considered feeding your dog a raw diet?
As a dog owner, it’s unlikely that you haven’t considered the possibility of feeding your dog a raw diet, so we wanted to take a closer look into raw feeding and get some tips from the experts at Raw Essentials. From how to feed your dog bones, feeding on a budget to the absolute no-no’s of raw feeding, we’ve asked all the questions you need to begin.
What are the benefits to my dog of raw feeding?
There are so many! Feeding raw to your dog offers a variety of proteins, nutrients, smells, colours, and textures – keeping them healthy and stimulated at the same time. The most common feedback we hear is healthy and shiny coats, fresher breath and better dental hygiene (thanks to gnawing on bones), improved skin issues, as well as smaller and less-smelly poos. We have lots of information on our website that talks through the science behind raw feeding and benefits but, ultimately, feeding raw is species-appropriate (meaning it’s what dogs were designed to eat), nutrient-dense, and free from additives and other nasties.
How do I transition my dog to a raw diet?
All at once! Feed kibble at one meal and then start them on raw at the next. There’s no need to transition slowly or to gradually introduce raw products. Usually, we suggest your cat or dog eats one of our Raw Essentials raw mixes for two weeks to allow time for their digestive system to adjust. Then we look at adding more variety and introducing bones. If your pet has any health issues – particularly tummy ones – we usually recommend a softer start such as poached meat and broth, before starting the raw mixes. Regardless, when you start with Raw Essentials, one of the nutrition advisors (in-store or online) will put together a feeding plan that suits your dog’s size, breed, age as well as any health concerns.
How do I start feeding bones to my dog safely?
The key with bones is getting the size right. Bones should be small enough to be chewed and crunched but not so small that they could be swallowed whole. It’s best to supervise your dog when they’ve got a bone to make sure they’re not gulping it down too quickly. It’s also important that they are on a fully raw fed diet, to ensure the acidity of their stomach can properly break down the bone. Kibble and other processed foods lower acidity in your dog’s gut, making it harder to digest raw meat and bones.
Is raw feeding suitable for every dog?
Definitely, it’s what they were designed to do! Some breeds (like Frenchies, Pugs and Dalmatians) or dogs with different health conditions will need a different approach – but we work with you to put together a plan that suits. Our nutrition advice and diet planning is all part of our service – there aren’t any additional costs.
Is there a specific product you recommend for puppies?
Puppies LOVE raw and they can start as soon as they are weaned. For all dogs, variety is so important, so there is nothing specific we recommend for puppies – just a well-balanced diet to get a range of nutrients to fuel their growing bodies. They do need to eat more than adult dogs but this usually reduces around 8 – 10 months of age. Our New Start Pack for Puppies is a perfect way to start.
Can I incorporate raw into a kibble diet?
We’re all about keeping it raw. Kibble is highly processed and is heavy in carbohydrates, starches and grains. As mentioned before, your dog’s gut needs to have a high level of acidity to digest raw food well. Carbohydrates lower acidity, so when you mix a raw diet with a kibble diet, you’re not optimising your dog’s stomach for digestion.
How can I feed raw on a budget?
Bones and Bulk! Feeding a variety of bones is a great way to keep costs down. We also offer a wide selection of our mixes and bones in bulk, which gives you a decent discount. You may need to invest in a chest freezer for the garage, but it’s definitely worth it! On average, it costs around $2 a day to feed a 10kg dog, but that lowers when you add more bones or purchase in bulk.
Do you defrost raw food in the fridge or can you leave it out to thaw?
Either/or. If you leave it out to thaw, it’s best to feed it straight away otherwise pop it into the fridge once it’s defrosted. You can keep defrosted food in your fridge for up to 3 days.
Should we be adding veges to a raw diet?
You don’t need to. In NZ, we’re really lucky to have great access to green tripe, which provides a lot of the good stuff that vegetables do in our human diet. If you do feed vegetables, avoid starchy ones (and fruit) as they can upset digestion. Eggs are a great addition, by the way.
How can I get a bit creative with raw feeding?
Get creative by harnessing our product variety – we use a lot of wild prey so our range changes based on season, so use that to your advantage. Add in some of our freeze-dried products (like chicken feet) or our bone broth, too.
There is a fantastic community of raw feeders on Instagram and I’ve seen some really cool, colourful and creative bowls. Check out #rawfeedingcommunity or #rawessentials for some inspiration!
Are there any absolute ‘do-nots’ when feeding raw?
Raw bones are malleable but cooked ones are not and can splinter easy and cause damage. So the biggest ‘do-not’ is cooking bones. This also extends to heating or cooking our meaty mixes – some contain small amounts of bone, which definitely shouldn’t be cooked.
Raw Essentials has 13 stores across NZ including Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington and Christchurch. Find your local on the Dog Friendly New Zealand mobile app. You can also purchase online for delivery in Auckland and Wellington. Their store staff (including their online store) are trained in raw feeding, provide nutritional advice and consult on feeding plans, free of charge.
Check out their website for store locations or feel free to chat with them online.