Where do I start?
So you are ready to make the change. You want to start feeding your dog raw, but have no clue where to start. This post is for you!
Making the leap can seem like a daunting task. What supplies do I need? What product should I buy? How much should I feed? Do I need to supplement? You can quickly feel overwhelmed and give up. Your dog deserves to be fed in a way that sets them up to be as healthy as possible, so don't give up. Keep it simple in the beginning.
What to Feed
For newbies, I recommend feeding frozen raw patties with whole food supplements included. The patties mean you don't have to weigh any food out. The whole food supplements mean you don't need to add anything while you and your dog are getting used to the change. Most patties are 8 oz each. A few companies sell small 1 or 1.5 oz patties that work great for small, toy breeds, or cats.
If you are purchasing from Vida Spring, I recommend looking at Small Batch, Steve's Real Food, Answers or The Bones and Co. The Bones & Co is an Austin based company that sources as much from Texas as possible, and their patties are 95% meat/bones/organs. Small Batch is based on the West Coast and works with local organic free-range farms. Steve's Real Food is based out of Utah, and also uses humanely raised protein and organic where possible. Answers uses a unique model of adding fermented food that helps protect the raw from harmful bacteria and provides probiotics. The ingredients in these products are exceptional, as is their approach to sourcing their protein.
If you are interested in feeding raw, but not ready to leap into raw meat then consider an air-dried or freeze dried product. It feels a lot like dry dog food, but is actually providing much better nutrition. Ziwi is a company based out of New Zealand that makes an incredible air-dried dog food. It is 96-98% meat and 2% supplements. The food is much more calorie dense than kibble, traditional raw or even freeze-dried raw, meaning you do not have to feed as much. The Real Meat Company also makes a jerky type food similar to Ziwi but in slightly larger pices. I always keep a bag of one of these on hand to make travel easier, or in case I forget to thaw food! These foods could also be used as toppers.
How Much to Feed
Each dog and their metabolic needs are different; just like people! A good starting point for a dog that is already at an ideal weight is 2.5% of their body weight. So...
(40 lbs)(0.025) = 1 lb = 16 oz of frozen raw food each day broken up between two meals
This is an estimate. I have young active high energy dogs who weigh around 45 pounds. They get 3.5-4% of their body weight in food daily. If I was feeding my dog patties, I would feed them one and a half 8 oz patties (12 oz) at each meal. Toy breeds are known for having higher metabolisms, so I would start at a higher percent for those breeds as well.
A good starting point for a cat already at an ideal weight is 3% of their body weight. A growing kitten will need more like 4% of their body weight.
It will take a little time to figure out if your pet needs more or less. Pay attention to your their waist line and layer of fat on the ribs to determine if they need more food or less.
A few stainless steel bowls are the only recommendation I would make to begin with. These are easy to clean and do not harbor bacteria like other materials may. You can wash them by hand after you feed, or put them in the dishwasher.
See, feeding raw does not have to be overly complicated and scary. Make the switch and set your pet up for a long healthy life!