• HEALTHY DOGS:
Most dogs transition smoothly overnight. We recommend transitioning young, healthy dogs, and dogs that handle dietary changes well, cold turkey (pun intended).
• GASTRO DOGS:
Some dogs, such as dogs with mild digestive upsets, benefit from a 7 to 10 day transition period where you mix their old food with our new food, gradually reducing the quantity of old food and increasing the new until your dog is eating all new raw food. We can give you an extra hand here if you need it.
• SENIOR DOGS:
Older dogs fed commercial foods most of their life benefit by adding our probiotics (good bacteria) and digestive enzymes to the new food until they are fully transitioned. Alternatively, you can cook the food for a while as an additional step in the transition. Start by cooking it halfway through and just cook it less and less over a week until you are feeding it raw.
• FINICKY DOGS:
If your dog is reluctant to eat the new food RAW at first, you may want to slightly cook it to pique their interest. Often this is all we need to do to get finicky dogs started. If you do cook the food, start by cooking it halfway through and then gradually reduce the cooking time over the course of a week until you are feeding it all raw. Trust your instincts; you know your dog(s) best. If that doesn’t work, give us a call and we’ll give you more specific tips to help your pooch to enjoy the new food. Remember, we're only a phone call away if you need any help
Each week in addition to our raw meals, and sometimes in place of them, we recommend giving your dog recreational raw (not cooked) bones to gnaw on. This provides excellent mental stimulation and keeps the teeth and gums clean and healthy. We offer a variety of organic and non-medicated bones and can help you select the best bones for your dog. Lots of our customers use bones as an economical way of providing extra bone to fulfill their dog’s calcium requirements when feeding our boneless, red meat meals. For example, if the dog normally consumes 2lbs of food a day, then they feed 1lb of one of our boneless meals and 1lb of consumable bone to make 2lbs of food for that day. Ask us for more information.
The Right Ingredients
When in doubt about ingredients and ratios, go back to nature for your answers. Imagine what dogs would eat if they were in the wild. Canine prey would be whole animals, such as rabbits, chickens, mice and rodents. Vegetable matter would be obtained mostly from the partially digested stomach contents of such prey. Not a large volume of veg or grains. Think about those ratios: lots of muscle meat, lots of blood-rich bone, some organ meats and a bit of veggie matter. Some days they’d get a whole catch to themselves, some days they’d get the left-overs of others, some days they may only get bark! Their meals would vary, so you shouldn’t feel your dog needs a complete and balanced meal everyday, BUT don’t forget our dogs benefit MOST from healthy amounts of muscle meat, bone, organ meats and veggies in the right proportions over time. Whatever you do, don’t just feed bones!!! SO, Here are a few things you should know about ingredients, especially when you buy pre-made raw meals:
1 The most beneficial meat to veg ratio for the average dog is 75% muscle meat & bone, (including 10% organ meats and bit of extra bone to make up for the loss of calcium rich blood), and 25% ground or juiced vegetables (dogs cannot digest cellulose so whole veggies will just come out the same way they went in). Grains are not necessary and are not beneficial in excess (see links page for articles on grains).
2 A diet consisting of mainly raw bone (for example, 75% ground chicken carcasses) will cause your dog to lose muscle mass due to a lack of valuable muscle meat. Necks and wings contain a better ratio of meat to bone, but, among other ingredients in our meals, we prefer to use whole birds which give us a good variety of muscle meat, including dark and light meat and a little extra ground carcass to provide your dog(s) with the ultimate nutritional benefit. Obviously, organic and/or non-medicated, hormone free, humanely treated meats are best.
3 In most dogs a diet with more than 25% veg will cause your dog to lose muscle mass and will increase frequency and volume of stool. It also does not facilitate optimum absorption of nutrients. (Note: some dogs may be prescribed higher veg diets for specific medical reasons. Hopefully those dogs will only be on this type of ratio temporarily.)
4 One or two boneless meals a week without calcium supplementation won’t hurt your dog; however, either consumable bone or a SAFE calcium source, such Whole Hound Calcium Health, should be provided, especially if a dog is consuming a majority of boneless meals.
5 Cooked bone is dangerous and can splinter. Please, please never feed bone in any other state than RAW.
6 It’s worthwhile to remember that a dog in the wild would spend all day actively foraging for food, whereas our dogs are actively sleeping on the couch all day waiting for food. The reason I mention this is to remind you that they don't need large volumes of our high protien food, unless they are really burning it up, and in fact too much of a good thing isn't good at all. Please feel free to call us if you need help figuring out the best quantity of our food for your dog.
Don’t be afraid to ask what the EXACT ingredients are when you buy pre-made raw meals. A poorly formulated raw food diet can be hazardous and it’s important that raw fed dogs get the right ingredients for optimum health.
Vitamin and Mineral Supplementation
We think dogs benefit from moderate nutritional supplementation in the form of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. We offer Whole Hound Total Health Plus, a one scoop multi-vitamin and mineral supplement which also contains digestive enzymes, glucosamine hydrochloride and msm. See our Whole Hound Supplements section for more info.
Calcium: The Most Important Mineral
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body and it should be sufficiently provided for in the diet. Our poultry meals have raw bone ground in to the meals to provide some calcium. Our red meats meals have no bone. With our boneless, red meat meals, we use Whole Hound Calcium Health to meet the mineral requirements of our dogs.
Many dogs are sustained on raw bone alone as a calcium source; however, we prefer to use Whole Hound Calcium Health when feeding red meats. It’s easy and it provides more useable calcium than bone alone. One possible way to tell if your dog is getting enough calcium in their diet is to do annual blood work (see below).
Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids are important for healthy skin, brain, eyes, nails, liver, and the immune system. Humans need them, too! We feature a variety of essential fatty acids including a stabilized ground flax seed with lecithin, a flax/borage blend, and a wild salmon oil. See the Supplements sections of our Products page for more info.
Fasting is optional. Fasting is a great way to give your dog’s organs a rest and it allows the body to rid itself of toxins. However, fasting is not for all dogs, especially puppies, chronically ill, diabetic and older dogs who’ve spent most of their life on a commercial diet. If you choose to fast your dog please make sure you give them extra love and attention on the day they fast.
Initially, many dogs lose weight on a raw diet. It takes a little while for their bodies to adjust as they develop shape. The first thing we notice is bulky dogs get waists. This is all part of the transition and it is not something to fear, but they should not become too skinny or lose muscle mass.
A week or two into the raw diet, some (not all) dogs may go through a period of detoxification where they may experience loose or mucousy stool, their coats may get worse before they get better, their eyes may begin to run or their ears might get gooey. All of these are positive signs that body is ridding itself of an accumulation of toxins from their former diet. These detoxes can happen periodically throughout the diet but they should not occur for more than a few days. After a period of detox you’ll notice that your dog looks and feels better than before the detox started. If your dog experiences symptoms similar to a detox that last longer than a few days, contact your vet and have them take a look at your dog to make sure it isn’t something other than a detox.
Raw dogs do NOT consume much water. We worry about the kidneys when a dog drinks copious amounts of water. Raw dogs receive sufficient moisture from the raw meat, bones and veggies they eat. Water should always be available, nevertheless. Tap water is a no-no. Distilled or spring water at room temperature is ideal. Stainless steel bowls are best for food and water.
Raw Food Shelf Life
Once thawed, our raw food should be used within two days. Please be aware that raw dogs do not graze! Raw food should not be left out in your dog’s bowl for more than 10 - 15 mins. If it hasn’t been consumed within that time it should be refrigerated again until the next meal time.
If your dog has severe diarrhea (i.e. water out the bum for more than a day or two) consult your vet immediately. If your dog has less serious diarrhea (like soft serve ice cream...sorry), we recommend fasting the dog for twenty four hours, but providing some sort of broth (chicken, beef or fish) and plenty of clean water instead. For the next twenty four hours feed baked pumpkin or any type of organic squash (e.g. butternut or acorn). That should firm things up while resting the system adequately.
For the next twenty four hours the dog should be ready to be re-introduced to their raw food. Some folks mix a bit of the squash with the raw food for the following two meals, but it usually isn’t necessary. This routine works wonders in most dogs. If your dog doesn’t show improvement from following the above instructions, please call us or your vet for more help.
Bacteria is everywhere, even in commercial foods. Fear of bacteria is a legitimate concern. No one would want to risk the health of themselves, their kids, their loved ones, or their dog! Dogs have highly acidic stomachs and short intestinal tracts, which are designed to cope with bacteria such as e-coli and salmonella far better than humans. Some older or immune depressed dogs may lack helpful bacteria so we recommend supplementing their diets with our probiotics (good bacteria) and digestive enzymes until they are fully transitioned onto raw foods. Bacteria can be dealt with by soaking raw meat in a grapefruit seed extract solution or food grade hydrogen peroxide (both kill bacteria). This can be beneficial for immune depressed dogs, but is not necessary for healthy dogs.
Mad Cow Disease
We are concerned about Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) or Mad Cow disease, and other diseases that are occuring in North America to more than cows. In fact, some informed commentators fear that mad cow is going to impact humans and animals as seriously as AIDS.
As Howard Lyman explains in his book MAD COWBOY, until we stop the transformation of cattle into carnivores, until we can be 100 percent sure that they [and other animals] are no longer consuming the blood and fecal matter of their own species and the meat and bone meal of any other animal, the risk of Mad Cow disease and consequent human epidemic of CJD [Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease a slow progressing brain disorder] will be with us.
At The Healthy Hound, we specialize in meats that ARE NOT fed any meat meal, bone meal, blood or meat by-products whatsoever. We only deal with farmers who are committed to raising non-medicated, humanely-treated, well-fed animals for human consumption. Unfortunately, regular and even non-medicated meats for human consumption can be fed animal feed that contains a percentage of meat meal, bone meal, blood or meat by products as a protein source, so it's important to know what the meat you're using has been fed.
We may not be able to protect your animals from what they’ve eaten in the past, but we make every effort to ensure that they’ll be eating disease-free meals if they dine at The Healthy Hound.
Knowing Your Suppliers
Many new businesses are jumping on the raw feeding bandwagon, which is terrific if they provide high quality ingredients. Unfortunately, some of these new businesses are using less than human grade ingredients, which can be dangerous if fed to your dogs raw. I don’t know any reputable meat supplier who can afford to sell 20lbs of beef for $5.00, but I’ve heard it’s been done. Please be careful to deal only with reputable suppliers and retailers.
|ANNUAL BLOOD WORK
A raw diet will likely reduce your visits to the Vet; however, we recommend keeping in close touch with your Vet via annual wellness check ups, including blood work. Like a properly formulated raw diet, annual blood work is a reasonable means of preventative medicine. A small blood sample is taken from your dog and sent to a lab where they use it to assess your dog’s internal well being, including organ function and any vitamin or mineral imbalances.
It’s not a bad idea to do blood work before you start a raw diet and then again 6 months to a year after being on the diet. Consider it a quasi-scientific way to show yourself and your Vet that the diet is working well for your dog inside and out!