You'll hear many terms used - raw feeding, BARF diet (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food), whole prey feeding, DIY feeding, meat, bones, offal.....lots!
The idea behind the raw diet is that it closely resembles the diet of wolves, of which all dogs descend from. It includes, meat, bone, offal and (depending on personal preference) vegetable, seeds, herbs etc (but surely wolves didn't eat these in the wild I hear you say - in this day and age there is alot of evidence of the power of adding these to the diet, and many choose to do so to boost the goodness). A raw diet, free from artficial fillers/ grains that are often put in kibble, helps to compliment how the dog is built to cope with food too:
Look at the jaw & teeth of your dog....pretty pointy and designed for tearing and crunching. The jaw itself is designed to go up and down (no side to side movement like a herbivore that needs to grind matter between the teeth to start the breaking down process that is continued further in the gut), with immense crushing power between those jaws.
Wolves have evolved with a shorter intestine compared to herbivores, as the diet they consume (meat) easily digests, and they also have digestive enzymes designed to break down this diet and absorb the necessary nutrients. Herbivores on the other hand, have a longer intestine as they need to allow their food to pass through slowly, to break down easier (as plant matter is harder to digest) and then making it easier to absorb through the gut.
What is Included in a Raw Diet?
Fresh meat, raw meaty bones, and offal but at different amounts to get an overall well balanced diet, often referred to as 'ratios'. The most popular ratio to feed is 80:10:10 (you'll see this alot on raw food packaging, or similar). Basically means 80% meat, 10% bone, 10% offal (this is broken down into 5% Liver and 5% secreting organ...such as kidney, spleen etc). The majority of dogs do well on this and there are many raw food brands offering completely balanced meals in this ratio, ready ro go, but you can DIY and make these ratios into meals yourself - takes a little more effort and time, butcan often be cheaper and you get to be in charge of what they are eating.
Examples of Meat/Muscle for the 80%:
Heart (but no more than 20% in the overall diet, remember balance)
Meaty trim/ offcuts / chunks
Tongue / cheek
Breast / fillets
Examples of Bone for the 10%:
Chicken, Duck, Turkey Wings
Carcasses / backs
Chicken & duck feet
NO WEIGHT BEARING BONES - as in legs of cows, sheep etc...the bones are thicker, and more likely to break a tooth!
Examples of Offal for the 10%
Liver - always needs to be 5% in the diet
Other secreting offal to include in the other 5% are:
Dont Forget the Fish & Eggs!
Thats right - fresh oily fish full of healthy Omega fats - go for Sprats, Sardines, Mackeral. Add to a meal, twice a week or use a fish complete meal
Eggs - raw eggs, shell, yolk and all! A raw egg, twice a week is again like an extra little tonic on top of the diet. You can either crack the egg and mix it all up (some dogs are not keen on the egg shell, so can always try without)
Thats the Meat Part, What About Vegetables / Herbs / Seeds/ Nuts?
Bottom line - its down to your own personal preference if you want to add vegetables, herbs and seeds to the diet, you don't have to as by covering all of the above ratios into the diet, it offers a wider choice of nutrients to be absorbed and bingo, a well balanced diet. The idea of adding vegetables and 'superfoods' is to add a boost to what is already a great diet - there are many benefits from certain veg (spinach for example, full of iron) and herbs that help and support the immune system. Some dogs appreciate these added bonuses, while others do not like the taste of veg! There are plenty of raw dog food brands that offer both a 'meat based' and 'vegetables & superfoods based' complete meals - your dog will let you know which one they prefer! Remember, to check what vegetables, herbs, seeds and nuts are safe for your dog to eat before adding them
Now....are you ready to start Raw Feeding?! Follow our Raw Feeding Starter Guide