Saturday, March 13, 2010

Raw Fed Beasts

By Diana Hsieh

Although I regard standard pet food as junk unsuitable for canine or feline consumption, I loved this ad for Pedigree:

As I might have mentioned before, I've been feeding my dogs and cats a prey-model raw diet for nearly two years, with excellent results. Despite my vet's worries about bacteria, I've had far fewer gastro-intestinal problems with raw food than I did with supposedly high-quality wet food and kibble. They're all fit and trim, and their teeth and coats are fabulous. You can learn more here:

Basically, a prey-model raw diet is the diet that dogs and cats are adapted by evolution to eat. And boy oh boy, do they ever love to eat it!

In terms of purchases, my staple is the super-convenient six-packs of good-quality chicken thighs at Costco for $1 per pound. They come four thighs per pack; Conrad eats two per feeding. I'll also buy pork and occasionally beef when on sale, almost always for $1 per pound or less. I like to add chicken backs to the mix, particularly for the cats. Sometimes I'll cut up a whole chicken. Oh, and I feed canned salmon from Costco once per week too.

To prepare that, I spend about thirty minutes cutting up and mixing meat, bones, and organ meats for the beasts while I watch television or listen to a podcast about once or twice per week. My biggest constraint is freezer space when I find some good meat on sale.

If raw feeding seems unworkable for your lifestyle, then you might try grain-free kibble and wet food. However, that's really quite expensive, particularly for a large dog. Also, if you have a carb-addicted dog or cat, the kibble might not be a good option. Our cat Oliver was growing obese on a standard diet, despite my attempts to limit his intake. (He was pretty grumpy about that!) On raw food -- eating as much as he wants -- he's perfectly trim. However, a few months ago, I put the cats on grain-free kibble and grain-free wet food for a few weeks. Oliver got fat rather quickly. Oh, and he'd routinely up-chuck his food in the morning -- on the carpet, of course. So raw is definitely the best option for Oliver. But Conrad and Elliot did fine on grain-free food.

If you switch to raw feeding, I strongly suggest reading a bit about it beforehand. You don't want to feed ground meat to cats, for example, as that reduces much-needed taurine. You want to feed only raw bones: cooked bones are dangerous because they're brittle. You don't want to neglect organ meats or bones. And you might need to gradually adjust cats to raw food, as they're often rather persnickety.

If you've been feeding raw, tell us about it in the comments!

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