Easy Start Up Guide
Copyright © Sam Higgs, A Raw Start Explained, 2012
BARF/Raw Feeding Easy Start Up
If your dog has health issues please talk to admin before embarking on your raw feeding journey. The only reason for this is to make sure the food is adjusted to take this into consideration for dietary needs, e.g. low fat, food allergies, etc. Most health issues do improve with this way of feeding.
Don’t worry about getting all the nutrients needed in the first couple of weeks, it will even itself out over time.
The following method is how I was taught to do it and I found it very simple and easy to understand. It also helped find out if my dogs had any type of allergy or intolerance to different meats so I could then avoid in the future.
A Few Notes:
- Dogs can and do lose weight in the initial stages. This is due to detoxing all the body does not need and has built up in their system.
- Sometimes they can get the tummy gurgles, and bring up a yellow frothy liquid, again do not worry unless it is continual for more than a couple of days and your dog is obviously not well. Then I would advise a visit to the vet. Feeding 3 meals instead of 2 can help this in the early stages.
- They may seem hungrier than normal, again this is ok and to be expected. The food is not in their stomachs for as long as kibble and is pure rather than bulked out with fillers.
- Every dog is different, what suits one may not suit another. Don’t worry; this diet is easy to adjust to suit your dog.
- Don’t mix raw and kibble. Commercial dried diets have a transit time of approx. 12 hours. Raw approx. 4 hours. Kibble also affects the PH in the stomach, making it more neutral, when dogs need a naturally acidic PH of 1-2 to safely and effectively digest raw meat.
- Find a supplier. I use various suppliers as I like variety in my dog’s diet. Some people like chunks, some like mince and some feed whole prey. It doesn’t matter as long as you and your dog are happy with it.
- A freezer is a must. Look on all the free sites and you can pick them up pretty cheaply.
- NEVER EVER FEED COOKED BONES! Why? Because they can and do splinter and could pierce the gut and bowels.
Chicken Mince in raw feeding is usually minced chicken carcass which includes bone. (Check with your supplier on their % of bone, too high and it will cause constipation). You need this to help start the dog’s digestive system working properly after being suppressed due to dried foods and kibble.
How Much To Feed
A good starting point is 2.5%, some feed at 2% or 3%, some less, some more. It depends on your dog, how much exercise, and size (small toy dogs usually need more as do working dogs). This figure should be taken from the dogs ideal weight e.g. 10kg dog at 2.5% = 250gms per day.
This breaks down to the following and is based on the 80:10:10 principle. 200gms of meat, 25gms of offal (broken down to 50% liver and 50% kidney) and 25gms of bone. Again don’t worry about getting a complete diet every day in the early stages.
Once you are feeding a large variety you can do it over a week or even 2 weeks. If I gave any of my dogs a weeks’ worth of offal in one day there would be serious bottom fallout so offal needs little but often to prevent this experience. Puppies are fed different amounts, have a look at the feeding puppies guide written specifically for them.
Using chicken mince only, which is usually minced chicken carcass. Check with your supplier the % of bone as all suppliers vary. Too much bone and you will have a constipated dog very quickly. If it is a high bone content add more chicken meat to bring the % down. 10% is the starting point as it’s a safe level in the early days.
Day 1 should be at least 12-24 hours after their last kibble meal. This helps rid the body of all kibble residue.
AM– Feed approx. 1/3 of the dog’s meat requirement for the day. Veg also if using but not much. Again some do use veg, some don’t, your choice. But can be good filler should your dog need to lose weight and does give varied nutrients.
PM– 1/3 of the dog’s daily requirements
Slightly increase the amount of meat for both meals and again add veg if using it.
Day 5, 6 and 7
Brilliant, you made it! A whole week as a raw feeder!
By now you can increase to the full amount of meat per day split between 2 meals. Still only chicken mince though. Nasty subject but raw feeders all become avid poo watchers and this is how we know there is not too much bone in the diet so as to avoid impaction, which can be life threatening in very extreme cases. If your dog’s poo is very white and crumbly cut down the bone and increase the meat. Add more veg and eventually liver will also help this.
Day 9 Continue as day 8
Now the fun begins. You can now start introducing different meats. Try 1 meat at a time with the chicken base as this keeps the diet simple and you can see if there are any allergy issues or upset tummy. Try the new meat with chicken for approx. 3-4 days before you know for sure. This way you don’t overload and end up with a rather nasty mess to clear up :0
Chicken is a fab way to ‘reset’ if you find you have over fed or gone too quick with a new meat. Stop feeding the new food and revert back to chicken only.
Whole bones should not be introduced until at least 2 weeks after starting. Why? Because the stomach acids need to build and the body needs to adjust to this new, healthy way of eating.
Bones - after 2 weeks at least
Meal bones should be meaty – Lamb, chicken wings and carcass, veal necks, rabbit whole or skinned, pheasant, the list is endless.
Beef Bones wear teeth and should only be used for recreational exercise and for very short periods of time. They are not a meal bone. Never feed beef bones as a meal as they are too tough and avoid weight baring bones.
What is Offal? Introduce after 3 weeks
In raw feeding terms offal is kidney, liver and other secreting organs. Lungs are called lites and heart is a muscle meat (quite rich so don’t overload). All are great to include in the diet. Offal MUST be included as it contains very important vitamins.
Fish - Introduce after 2 weeks
Fish is an important part as it contains wonderful, health giving oils. I use sprats and stock up while they are in season and then use salmon oil to keep the Omega 3 in the diet. Another oil that has numerous health giving properties is coconut oil. Some dogs don’t take to fish so mincing it up is a great way to hide it in the meat. Feed approx. 2 or 3 times per week.
Eggs - Introduce after 1 week minimum
Fantastic to include in the diet, I feed 2-3 times per week, and the shells contain calcium so you can include these also. Great for growing puppies.
Good question. Some take to it like a dog to meat, some don’t. Take your time and if needs be flash fry the meat very slightly but make sure the meat you use has no bone in it. Or, as I know many have done, buy a very good quality wet food, add raw to it and decrease the wet over a period of time whilst increasing the raw. This can work with cats too. Most dogs become a lot more relaxed, no more running round like a spinning top after a meal like mine did.
There is so much information I can give you, but, I would be at risk of overloading you and may even put you off trying raw feeding. As you gain confidence and want to learn more I recommend you research and maybe join our raw feeding page to help you and ask questions when they arise. No one is paid or works for any company so all advice is from experience and neutral. We do have 2 vets on here also, who (when time permits) are happy to offer his ideas and thoughts.
Happy Raw Feeding