Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Raw Diet Experiment

Well in case you didn't know one of the biggest factors in bloat/torsion is a dry dog food diet. Recent studies have shown that feeding canned food reduces the risk of bloat by 30%, while feeding actual human food, in other words non-processed meat, cuts the risk by 60%.

And if you didn't know it, torsion is the second leading cause of death for large breed dogs.

I've already had 3 cases of bloat among German Shepherds I've owned. Two ended in the sudden deaths of the dogs, and the third cost me a lot of money in surgery. So I've decided to throw out the dry kibble.

My first stab at it involved a plain raw diet of food I picked up at the grocery store. I got the idea for this from leerburg kennels, a nice website that has lots of info on raw dog food diets. I followed their suggestion and began feeding my dogs chicken leg/thigh quarters, raw ground beef, and eggs.

Apparently the bones are safe to feed to dogs if they're raw. They are softer and pliable and the dogs chew them up pretty good, so no chance of brittle shards injuring the dog. I wasn't so sure about that and found one of my shepherds basically swallowing the chicken legs whole. Then they got diarrhea and my Weimaraner, Lucy, had a major vomiting session. OK raw chicken is out.

This was kind of disappointing because it wasn't all that expensive. Compared to dry kibble it is, but I was feeding one of the shepherds canned food. He weighs 90 pounds so was getting 4 cans of Purina One per day. These run roughly a buck a can, so that's $4 per day.

Chicken quarters have been going for 89 cents per pound at the local grocery store. You're supposed to feed a 90 pound dog about 2 pounds of meat per day, so on chicken he would be costing me around $1.80 per day! WOW! Less than half the cost of canned food.

But alas I couldn't use my dogs as guinea pigs any longer, and had the good fortune to come across some mildly processed raw dog food. First I found some "Country Pet" rolls at Whole Foods, which are pasteurized rolls of chicken and lamb. I am sure they have beef available too but I haven't seen it. Besides being pasteurized and eliminating the bacterial pathogen factor you've got from raw chicken at the store, they have ground bone it it, so the dog still gets the benefits of eating bone.

The problem is this stuff is pricey. It costs $6 per roll. Not bad if you have a small dog, but a dog like Jake, checking in at 90 pounds, is going to eat a little more than an entire roll per day. So he would be costing me around $7 or so in food per day. That is a bit much.

Learn About Country Pet Dog Food

I also came across some patties at a local specialty pet store called "Stella and Chewies". This is frozen raw meat with some veggies, vitamins etc. thrown in for good measure. Also certified to be bacteria free. Jake seemed to really like those. It was $25 for 16 patties, which lasted about 4 days.

Read About Stella and Chewys

The food is frozen, so you have to plan ahead and defrost. But the dogs definitely LOVE the patties. Another good side effect is their poops get a lot smaller when on a raw meat diet, so less cleaning up to do in the yard.

I'm not quite done with the experiment, I ordered two cases of chicken patties from barfworld. Check out their website, you can learn all the wonders of the raw dog food diet.

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