HOW TO START ON A WHOLE PREY MODEL RAW DIET
Below we have put together a very basic set of instructions that you can follow during your transition to raw. For a much more detailed explanation, or to find out how much to feed your pet, please visit Perfectly Rawsome's website.
Please note you will need a food scale in order to feed raw accurately. Please do not begin raw feeding until you have this on hand and can properly measure out the items needed in your meals.
THE FIRST 24 HOURS - FASTING
Fasting your dog one day before giving them anything raw is highly recommended. Or you can feed your last dry food meal the day prior, and start on raw the next day, on an empty stomach.
IMPORTANT: PUPPIES ARE NEVER TO BE FASTED
It is best to start with a small meal of raw the first day (say half or three fourths of the daily amount your pet would normally eat). Too much raw food all at once can be more detrimental than good. We recommend feeding only one protein source during this time. The most recommended item to go with is bone in chicken parts. Chicken is cheap, easy to find and easy for a dog to digest. Try to source the highest quality chicken you can find, and be very mindful of the sodium levels. You want to ensure your poultry is not enhanced with sodium (labels should show 3% or less in sodium).
The suggested guideline when figuring how much to feed is: 80% skeletal muscle meats, 10% raw meaty bones, and 10% raw organ meats (do not worry about this until the dog is fully transitioned to raw, since organs are introduced last in the diet).
This 8:1:1 ratio best represents the average amount of bone, organ and meat tissue within prey animals. Try to keep things simple even though your mind might want to complicate things and get exact ratios. Personally, I round up to make life easy when weighing out meals.
This is an example breakdown of how a meal can look when measuring out the food items.
Let's say your dog needs to eat 1 LB a day. That would be equivalent to 16 ounces. So to figure out the portions, you would basically do 10% of bone, which would equal 1.6 ounces. Then you would do 10% organ, which would equal 1.6 ounces (you don’t worry about this until you are fully transitioned to raw. Skip this step in the beginning phases). And the remaining 80% of the meal would be boneless muscle meats, which would be made up of 12 ounces. You can easily round up your 10% bone and organs to make life easier. See below for the rounded up version of this break down:
2 ounces of bone & 2 ounces of organs & 12 ounces of muscle meat
STARTING ON RAW
I recommend feeding a small portion of the chicken rib cages for the first day of raw. Chicken rib cages are higher in bone content. The higher the bone content the firmer the stools will be because bone is a constipating agent. At the same time, too much bone can cause problems, but shouldn't be an issue in the beginning. Just make sure not to go overboard. After the 2nd day, add in a chicken leg quarter along with a few ounces of rib cages to every other meal. Chicken legs have more meat to them and less bone. You don't want your dog to become constipated on nothing but chicken rib cages! Continue with feeding a small amount of chicken rib cages with leg quarters until you have noticed consistent, and firm stools for at least 5-7 days in a row. In the beginning, it's best to remove the skin from the chicken legs, as well as any extra fat. Fat and skin are richer, and harder to digest, in the beginning.
After the first few days of alternative between some rib cages and legs, you can start to introduce the muscle meat. Items like chicken trim, gizzards, and hearts would work well. All of these items are muscle meat (boneless), so you can feed those in combination to the few ounces of rib cages.
Lets say if you were to feed a few ounces of chicken rib cages, you would complement them with the chicken hearts OR the chicken gizzards. Either or, (it's up to you), and yes, you can absolutely mix the two as well, if you wanted. You can play around with it a little and mix and match as you please.
Just keep an eye on your dog’s stool so that you know how much bone and boneless you need to feed. Every dog is different, so the 10% is your guideline. Some dogs may require a little more than 10% of bone in their diet, while others may require a little less. The best rule of thumb in raw feeding is “know your dog” - so keep an eye on the stool. If it comes out very hard, white, or crumbly, then you are feeding too much bone. Go a little easier on the bone content and increase the amount of muscle meat in the meals. If the stool is soft and not well formed, you would want to increase the bone content in each meal.
Once you are finished with your chicken items, and are moving onto other poultry, follow the same guidelines. Feed a combination of your bone-in duck or turkey items along with your boneless items. For example, a few ounces of duck neck with turkey hearts or gizzards.
FOR YOUR INFORMATION
- NEVER EVER EVER under any circumstance feed cooked bones.
- Keep in mind that thawing out and refreezing meat is perfectly fine and safe. The reason why people do not do it is because the texture of the meat changes when you thaw and refreeze, and then go to cook it. But since our pets are eating the meat raw, there really is nothing wrong with thawing and refreezing. And the thawed out meats can last up to 4-5 days in the fridge. Once the meats start to turn, you will notice that the smell changes and the texture starts to become slimy.
- Sometimes seeing pieces of bone in the stool is normal in the beginning. You will see less and less of this as time goes on. The body is in an adjustment phase, and is still getting used to breaking down bones. Digestive enzymes and PH levels in the gut are changing, and their ability to break down bone becomes more and more effective as time goes on. Don't panic if you see pieces of bone in your dog's stool.
- Some dogs go through a "detox" stage in the beginning of the transition to raw. This is part of the reason why weeks 1 & 2 are exclusively one protein source. It provides the easiest route for the body to become adjusted to the 180 degree change in diet to fresh foods. If you were to undergo the same change, going from mostly processed foods to fresh, whole foods, your body would start to detox as well. Any toxins held in the body will start to come out (typically seen through the skin, but not limited to more eye gunk, itching, licking, etc).
If you are a member of Facebook, make sure to join some raw feeding support groups as well. These groups can be very helpful!