TO RAW OR NOT TO RAW
IS THAT THE QUESTION?
Feeding a raw diet has sparked hot debate amongst many breeders and pet owners. There is much documented both in favor of this type of feeding and against it. Which ever decision you make for your dogs, it is not my intent to deter you from your decision, as long as thought has gone into it. For my Cavaliers, I decided to feed a raw diet, although admittedly, a super premium kibble is added. The reason is for convenience only and one day I hope to veer away from all kibble and feed a raw diet, exclusively. I am also not a purist; I do not feed carcasses to my dogs or any type of whole, raw animal. That’s entirely too primitive for this girl, I’m afraid.
My husband is a deer hunter (bless you Ken), so the base of my dogs diet has always been venison. Ken and I prepare the food ourselves, using venison, turkey, chicken, duck, rabbit and a variety of other meats. Into the protein (meat) we add kelp, eggs, lots of fresh vegetables (both green & yellow), fresh fruits, such as apples and bananas (not citrus), whole garlic, liver, beef hearts, ground chicken necks, beef kidney and sweet potatoes. I make approximately 70 – 80 lbs. every six to eight weeks and freeze it in 1-lb. containers.
I began feeding this way in 1999, upon the advice of the breeder of my first Cavalier. I used her recipe as a springboard for my own. It has evolved many times and is never exactly the same as the last batch. My dogs love variety and changing the flavor each time, insures that I have no picky eaters in my house. Feeding a raw diet immediately made sense to me; that a whole food diet had to be superior to a manufactured dry kibble. I have never been disappointed in its results. Over the years I have incorporated raw green tripe, pumpkin, raw ground rabbit and several different brands of super premium kibble to my Cavaliers daily diets. Raw chicken necks and hearts are added each day also, and teeth are sparkling clean and none of my Cavaliers have ever had the need for a professional cleaning from their vet. I do credit this to the way they eat. I also give my Cavalier’s Fastrak Canine Microbial Supplement according to directions.
The most dramatic results and biggest selling point for me has been what this diet has done for my foster Cavaliers, however. I began fostering for Lucky Star Cavalier Rescue in 2001. These Cavaliers, saved from a life in puppy mills, were in terrible shape both physically and emotionally, when they were rescued. On my raw diet feedings, their health simply soared in almost no time. Their coats, their teeth and their all around health improved at a dramatic rate once their systems received proper nutrition. Surprisingly, all my fostered Cavaliers immediately love raw chicken necks and I have never found it necessary to ease them into my raw diet. From the first day they are with us, they eat just as my own Cavaliers eat. Their bodies not only accept this new way of eating, but thrive on it. When they go onto their forever homes, they are in the very best of health they can be.
If you are interested in feeding a raw diet to your dogs, research the many sites available to you on the web to make an informed decision. There are also sites disputing raw diets, so I suggest you read those, also. As always, there are two sides to every story, so do what you feel is best for both you and your canine friends. There is no one perfect diet for everyone.
Books I read prior to beginning my raw diet program were Give Your Dog A Bone by Dr. Ian Billinghurst and The Ultimate Diet by Kymythy R. Schultze. These are two excellent books to help you understand raw feeding for your dogs and they will get you started. Some sites you may also be interested in are:
Dogaware has so much information on not only raw diets, recipes and commercial raw diets, but also information on super premium kibbles, supplements and much more. They also have specific recipes for you to make yourself. Give it a try!
I hope this gives you food for thought. Raw feeding has kept my dogs healthy for many years and my puppies are born healthy, robust and soon become raw diet eaters just as their mums are.