Now that all the informational posts are out of the way, I figured I’d talk a bit about what Shayne and Rio eat and give you my own observations.
Shayne and Rio have been eating a diet based off prey-model raw for a little over a year now. It was a bit of a rocky transition for Shayne and it was a big learning curve for me but it has turned out really well and I thoroughly enjoy feeding raw (plus it got me over my squeamishness about raw meats).
Shayne and Rio transitioned to raw from a grain free premium kibble with periodic raw snacks (chicken feet, raw meaty-meat, bone-in chicken breast). I had many friends who fed raw and I was interested in it but was really overwhelmed with the process since the information out there was often mutually exclusive–yes veggies–no veggies, YES supplements–no supplements, ground–whole etc. it was just very overwhelming. Eventually a few friends wrote down sample menus and it started to click for me and I felt like I could do it. Once a friend shared an Excel file that would give me a starting point for how much meat/bone/organ to feed over the course of a week it was really helpful and gave me the confidence to go for it!
I initially said that I would feed 1/2 kibble and 1/2 raw (separate meals) to use up a newly purchased bag of kibble… that lasted all of two weeks before I started feeding all raw. Shayne was always a foodie and loved to eat, but I really enjoyed watching her eat her food with such a happy face and with such satisfaction.
What exactly do they get such satisfaction out of eating? In a week, they will get bone-in chicken breast, venison steak, organ grind (50% liver, 50% other secreting organ), chicken leg quarters, ground venison, pork hock, pork roast, chicken backs, chicken feet, venison steak, beef steak, ground beef, and frozen pig ears, pig tails, and more chicken feet as snacks.
Some notes: I will add in green tripe occasionally if I can get my hands on some and have the extra money. On days the dogs get one meal they also get a probiotic/digestive enzyme to help cope with the larger meal. I don’t really do too many supplements– they get a fish oil combo supplement (as a few different omega 3/6 sources). As you can see, I don’t feed fruits or veggies–okay, well that’s not true, I just don’t add them into the menus. I feed fruits/veggies not because I think they are essential but because my pups really enjoy eating them and they are fun snacks.
Switching over was actually pretty smooth…besides an issue of Shayne not chomping her bones well and trying to swallow things whole, we didn’t have issues the first two weeks. I started freezing her meals so she had to chew it pretty well and that solved both the chewing and swallowing problem. After about three weeks on raw, Shayne started having really wonky poop… it wasn’t all out liquid diarrhea but it was very loose. After some problem solving, I discovered that Shayne needed to have two smaller meals and all the skin removed from the chicken to keep her poop firm. Other than that learning experience, transitioning to raw went well. Once I figured out the two-meal need for Shayne, I was able to introduce a wide variety of proteins and organs with out any poo problems. After about 6 months on raw, I had worked Shayne up to being able to have one large meal a day without any repercussions (for the most part LOL).
I’m not going to lie, switching from a premium grain-free kibble to raw, I didn’t see many changes even when looking at photos I have to check the dates to be sure on some of them. It took 3 or 4 months to start seeing small aesthetic changes in her coat and, quite honestly, took 10 months on raw to start seeing the change in body conditioning that I had wanted (she always had a little more fat covering her ribs than I’d like… she needed to like tone-up and regardless of what we did while on kibble we couldn’t quite get the body condition I’d like for her (*given her funny foot, I’ve wanted to keep her body condition strictly monitored).
Shayne had always had a crazy shiny and soft coat, she was always very muscular, and had pretty good teeth. I saw a slight improvement in coat shine after about 3 or 4 months on raw–it really wasn’t a huge change but was noticeable. A year later, the change in her coat is more noticeable she’s so shiny that I have to account for that when photographing her in the sun. Along with shine, her coat has richer hues and is a little more plush. BUT she still sheds like a maniac (one of the benefits touted by raw is a reduction in shedding… well, my furminator and I can attest to NOT having that result).
As for the dental benefits… well, her teeth are NOT perfectly white and clean but they weren’t bad when she started. She has some tartar the bottom molar on one side and she has some tartar or staining of sorts on a canine tooth where she has a small crack or imperfection on the tooth that has allowed for the bacteria to grow safely. I give her pork hocks, frozen pigs ears, large cuts of meat, bone-in cuts of meat (edible and non-edible bones)… yet she still has some tartar. That being said, nothing has gotten any worse and for a nearly 6 year old dog, her teeth are pretty good. Rio .. well let’s just say his mouth takes after the sight hound part of his heritage. As a 1.5 year old dog he has about the same amount of tartar on his teeth as Shayne (but on different teeth) even though he’s been raw fed since he was about 5 or 6 months old–this is genetics at play I’m sure.
It really took about 9 months to see a big change in Shayne’s body conditioning but she finally got there. Again, I think the reason I didn’t see big change in conditioning is that we started out in really good condition to begin with. After about 9 months, Shayne had stayed the same weight but actually started looking really lean. What this meant is that she had built up lean muscle mass and really toned up. There was a photo I took where Shayne’s muscles absolutely rippled like a body builder–it was crazy. Her core got more toned and tight and we didn’t have to change her conditioning routine at all.
So why, ultimately, do I feed raw even if I haven’t seen the huge changes some people see? Well, for one, they are getting human grade foods–their food could just as easily be cooked and eaten by my family. I don’t have to worry about additives that have been connected to cancers or other life threatening illnesses. I also don’t have to worry about wonky processing causing there to be aflatoxins, over populations of salmonella/ecoli, or machinery bits in the food. The changes I have seen have been nice changes. PLUS, I love watching my dogs enjoy their dinners… it’s so fun (and the neighbors freak out about it which is fun LOL!!)