Raw Food Explained

Raw Food Explained

Types of Raw Feeding

As you begin to dig deeper into ways of feeding your beloved dog a natural diet, you’ll find endless options, labels, methods, and opinions. It’s wonderful that there are so many options, but it can also be overwhelming and confusing. Here are some of the methods we’ve learned about, as well as what we do (and why).

BARF Options

What is BARF?

Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones And Raw Food

Most common BARF components:

  • Muscle meat
  • Muscle organs
  • Secreting organs
  • Raw meaty bones
  • Produce
  • Dairy
  • Natural supplements, especially omega-3 fatty acids

Percentages can vary, but the raw meat, bones, and organs are almost always 90% of the total diet. Small amounts of produce, dairy and natural supplementation are added to the diet for various health benefits.

Commercial Complete Freeze-Dried Raw BARF

  • Ready-to-serve freeze-dried raw, commercially prepared “complete” food.
  • Often available in nuggets and patties.

Understanding:

  • This diet is considered complete according to the producer and the standards they adhere to.
  • It usually contains various proteins, produce, and supplementation.

Pros:

  • Easy to feed
  • Longer shelf life
  • Doesn’t require fridge/freezer

Cons:

  • Minimal information on where the ingredients come from
  • Lacks the water/moisture that’s present in a natural diet
  • Usually the most expensive feeding method
  • Depends on the producer to decide which produce and supplements to use, which can be limiting
  • Does not provide natural dental care
  • Does not satisfy instinctual tearing/pulling/chewing/gnawing urges

When we use it:

  • Longer road trips, international travel, and longer camping trips
  • As a back-up at home just in case we need it for an emergency situation (always using the bag within three months of purchase, and within 3 days of opening)

Commercial Complete Frozen Raw BARF

  • Commercially prepared “complete” food that’s ready to defrost and serve.
  • Often available in nuggets, patties, grinds, or chub packs.
  • Some online producers offer customized complete frozen raw BARF that is not ground (we see more of this in Europe).
  • Usually contains various proteins, produce, and sometimes supplementation.

Understanding:

  • This diet is considered complete according to the producer and the standards they follow/adhere to.

Pros:

  • Easy to feed
  • The least time-consuming option

Cons:

  • Minimal information on where the ingredients come from
  • This method is one of the more expensive options
  • Depends on the producer to decide which produce and supplements to use, which can be limiting
  • Does not provide natural dental care if it’s ground up
  • Does not satisfy instinctual tearing/pulling/chewing/gnawing urges if it’s ground up
  • Can include fruit, which is not ideal to combine with protein in the same meal

When we use it:

  • Short road trips and one-night camping trips

Commercial Frozen Meat-Only Raw Chub Packs/Grinds BARF

  • Commercially prepared meat component that’s ready to defrost and serve.
  • Often available in grinds, chub packs, and various containers.
  • Usually contains the appropriate, essential ratio of the main meat groups: muscle meat, edible bone, muscle organs, and secreting organs.
  • You source and prepare produce, dairy, and supplementation.

Understanding:

  • This diet is considered incomplete according BARF standards, because it lacks produce, dairy, and supplementation. Purely from a meat components standpoint, though, it’s typically complete.
  • Caution: not all products will have all of the essential components. Be sure to check and ask. Verify the correct ratio of muscle, bone, muscle organs, and secreting organs. An imbalance will lead to nutritional deficiencies.

Pros:

  • More affordable than the complete ready foods
  • It’s easy to build a complete diet with this as a base
  • Peace of mind that the meat component is ready and complete
  • Saves time over fully homemade meals
  • Easier to rotate proteins than fully homemade meals
  • You provide the produce, additions, and supplements, giving you greater control over sourcing
  • Keeps it simple, especially for allergy-prone dogs
  • Ground bones are much easier to digest (than whole bones) for dogs that are transitioning to raw food, and dogs that have been eating kibble for a long period of time

Cons:

  • Can be a bit more expensive than fully home-prepared
  • Does not provide natural dental care
  • Does not satisfy instinctual tearing/pulling/chewing/gnawing urges

When we use it:

  • On an almost daily basis

Homemade BARF

  • The entire meal is prepared from scratch at home. You source every meat component, optionally grind it, weigh it, and freeze it to kill pathogens and parasites. You also source and prepare produce, dairy, and supplementation.

Understanding:

  • You’re fully in control of every aspect of the diet including sourcing and preparing.
  • This method can be fed in components or homemade grinds (buy a dedicated grinder!).
  • Caution: correctly balancing the meat components, rotating proteins, and properly freezing the food are critical considerations when feeding this way.

Pros:

  • Usually the most affordable way to feed BARF
  • You’re in almost full control of sourcing the entire meal (meat, produce, and dairy), except supplementation
  • Keeps things simple, especially for allergy-prone dogs

Cons:

  • The most time-consuming way to feed BARF
  • May be more challenging to source a variety of proteins
  • Requires you to balance the muscle, bone, and organ content
  • You’ll need to track freezing days to kill pathogens
  • May not provide natural dental care, unless meaty bones are provided whole
  • May not satisfy instinctual tearing/pulling/chewing/gnawing, unless meaty bones are provided whole

When we use it:

  • Rarely (for now) since we travel often. However, we do plan on feeding this way in the near future.
  • This method requires a large freezer, dependable sourcing, and ample freezing durations, which is not realistic with our travels.

PMR OPTIONS

What is PMR?

Prey Model Raw

Most common PMR components:

  • Muscle meat
  • Muscle organs
  • Secreting organs
  • Raw meaty bones
  • Sometimes omega-3 fatty acids are added

The PMR philosophy is that dogs should eat as closely as possible to their ancestral diet. Percentages of each component can vary, and PMR completely excludes plant matter and dairy. Some PMR feeders add omega-3 fatty acids, since they are critical to good health. Only healthy pasture-raised (not grain-fed) animals and wild game can provide this essential nutrient. PMR feeders don’t grind any of the meat components, and also usually don’t provide additional supplementation.

Frankenprey PMR

The entire meal is prepared from scratch at home, using whole pieces whenever possible. For example, you would buy a whole duck from the butcher and add the essential organs, or put together a bowl of various whole components to make it complete. You source every meat component correctly, weigh it, and freeze it to kill pathogens and parasites.

Understanding:

  • You’re fully in control of every aspect of the diet, including sourcing and preparing.
  • Some online producers offer customized Frankenprey PMR.
  • Caution: correctly balancing the meat components, rotating proteins, and properly freezing the food are critical considerations when feeding this way.

Pros:

  • Usually the most affordable method to feed PMR
  • You’re in full control of sourcing the entire meal
  • Keeps things simple, especially for allergy-prone dogs
  • Provides natural dental care
  • Satisfies instinctual tearing/pulling/chewing/gnawing urges

Cons:

  • May be more challenging to source the necessary varieties of proteins
  • Requires you to balance the muscle, bone, and organ content
  • You’ll need to track freezing days to kill pathogens

When we use it:

Approximately once a week for now. I like using large previously frozen meaty bones and large necks to assist with dental care and to satisfy the instinctual need for tearing/pulling/chewing/gnawing. When feeding this way, the entire meal is Frankenprey PMR.

Whole Prey

The entire meal is sourced by you as a single entire animal, entirely intact. Yes, this means fur, eyes, feet, and feathers are all included. For example, you would provide an entire complete rabbit. This is the most natural way possible, because you let nature provide the balanced meal. You source every meal, calculate weight, and freeze it to kill pathogens and parasites.

Understanding:

  • You’re fully in control of every aspect of the diet including sourcing.
  • Caution: properly freezing the meat is the most critical aspect of feeding this way.

Pros:

  • You’re in full control of sourcing the entire meal
  • Keeps things simple, especially for allergy-prone dogs
  • Definitely provides natural dental care
  • Absolutely satisfies instinctual tearing/pulling/chewing/gnawing urges
  • Provides additional health benefits thanks to consuming the entire animal, including feathers, fur, eyes, spleen, testicles, and more

Cons:

  • This is the most challenging diet to source unless you hunt, or source directly from hunters
  • You’ll need to be sure to track freezing days to kill pathogens

When we use it:

Approximately 1-2 meals per week, when we feed whole, previously frozen small fish. We only feed fish that are entirely intact and have not been gutted. We plan on adding more of this amazing way of feeding in the future due to all of the incredible benefits it offers.

What Do We Feed the Husky Squad?

As we grow and learn over time, I’ve come to understand that applying a rigorous way of thinking and behaving can be limiting. I definitely don’t feel the need to label and limit ourselves in the way we feed our fur kids. What’s most important to us is the following:

  • Raw, high-quality food
  • Paying attention to each dog’s individual nutritional needs
  • A plan that works realistically with our schedule and budget
  • Keeping things simple and nutrient-dense
  • Rotating proteins properly
  • Never resorting back to kibble

We dabble in almost every category I wrote about in this chapter, and we continue to adapt and learn over time.

My philosophy is that there really is no need for a label, because it only ends up limiting us.

What’s in the Next Chapter

I’m stoked to bring you into the next chapter about the incredible health benefits of feeding your pup a species-appropriate diet. See you there!

Raw Food Explained

Diet of a Grey Wolf in the Wild

What Do Wolves Eat?

Variety

Let’s take a look at the diet of a gray wolf, the closest wild ancestor of all dogs today. These wolves hunt in packs and prefer to target large hoofed mammals such as bison, caribou, elk, deer, and moose. They settle for easy-to-catch “snacks” such as rodents when they are available.

Availability

Animals hunt and eat what’s available. This varies according to the season, location, climate, and other situational circumstances.

Complete Diet

Wolves eat almost the entire prey. They usually begin with the highly nutritious organs, followed by muscle meat, hide, and bones. The completeness of their diet comes from eating almost the entire animal, including organs, fur, eyes, testicles, feathers, and more. Yes, even feathers have nutrients!

How We Complicate Things

There’s a reason why marketing is so prevalent: it works. Pretty packaging, complete with appealing slogans and catchphrases, convinces us that our dogs need various concoctions and “superfoods.” We end up with a bowl of commercial dog food made up of 20 ingredients from various countries around the globe. Even many raw food brands suffer from this issue.

This is far from what we see in nature. Wild wolves will typically eat everything possible from a single catch until the next hunt begins. Of course, you’ll see prey rotation in the wild (mainly due to availability), and that nutritional variety is absolutely necessary in our dog’s diets. Each individual meal, though, should be kept as simple as possible for optimal digestion. It makes sense.

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