Health and Raw Feeding

All dogs and pups at Relic are all raw fed and minimally vaccinated.  What does this mean?

First, before you go searching on the internet, be aware that there are fanatics on both sides of this coin.  Also, remember that you have no idea who is actually posting or the quality of their knowledge – beware and take everything with a grain of salt.  Gather all the info you can, digest it, and find a way that works for you.  I am happy to help to whatever degree you need or want.

Some benefits of raw feeding:
  • clean teeth and fresh breath
  • almost no ear or skin infections
  • cleaner coat/less doggy odor
  • leaner body mass
  • faster healing (when my dogs do get a cut or wound of any kind – it amazes me how fast and easily they heal)
  • simply overall healthier dog/better immune system
  • small almost odorless stools – once you have picked up after a raw fed dog – you’ll just never go back!
  • it’s what nature intends
  • natural exercise if eating whole parts or RMB’s (Raw Meaty Bones)
There are risks:
  • bacteria
  • sharp bones
  • cracked teeth
Ok, one issue at a time – bacteria in the kitchen first.  I am a vegetarian, but I believe my dogs are biologically meant to eat meat! It’s what nature intends.  Where in the woods does a wolf find a bowl of kibble?  I used to eat meat.  I know how to use hot soapy water and I love Clorox clean up.  I store all my dog food in disposable containers – I wash and reuse them many times before they need replacement.  I have one size I use only for dog food.  God forbid anyone puts cookies in that size/shape!   If you yourself eat meat and you manage not to poison yourself, you can probably manage this!
As for bacteria IN the dog.  I consider the dogs who run the Iditarod the Extreme Athletes of the dog world.  They couldn’t run that race if they were unhealthy.  Most teams eat fish gruel and plenty of raw meat.  If you think they aren’t carrying a wad of bacteria with them, think again.  Human intestines are approximately 30′ long.  It takes our food several hours to pass this distance, some of the food we eat does have bacteria, and if it multiplies, we get an upset tummy.  The longer food sits in our system, the longer the bacteria has to multiply.  A dog’s intestine on the other hand is about 10′ long.  Food, and the bacteria, passes much faster – as long as it is not mixed with kibble.  The grains in kibble take longer to digest, slowing the meal down, giving the bacteria time to multiply.  While I know many people who mix raw and kibble – I personally choose not to for this simple reason.   My dogs do get the occasional kibble meal, so their bodies remember how to handle it in case of emergencies and someone else has to care for them who is not able or willing to feed raw.   But it is always fed as a separate meal.
Another important part of the bacteria issue merges a bit with the second risk – sharp bones – and ends at those beautiful hard dry odorless little stools.  Raw fed dogs eat and digest bones.  The bones come out the other end as chalky powdery stools.  They dry in a day or so to almost white.  A stomach that can produce strong enough acids to digest bone also kills a pretty fair amount of bacteria at the same time one reason why the bacteria is not such a problem for dogs as it is for us.   We sure can’t digest bones!  Now this is not to say that all the bacteria is eliminated before exiting.  However, under normal conditions this should not pose any threat.  What I do tell people tongue in cheek, is that yes, if you let your children roll around in the dog poop in the yard, then you probably should feed kibble.  It might be safer.
More on the bone issue.  Everyone has a different tolerance level.  The founder of raw feeding – Ian Billinghurst – reccommends chicken legs.  Some people are really afraid of bone splinters and punctures.   Raw bones are way more rubbery than cooked bones and do not splinter the same.  The most important thing is – NEVER feed cooked bones!  Do not thaw food in the microwave – only in water when needed.  I personally do not feed a lot of chicken thighs as they do tend to splinter and have sharp edges.  However, when I am traveling and that’s all I can find at the grocery store, my dogs eat them safely many times.  Lots of people feed them all the time – the point being it’s just a personal comfort zone.  I tend to like necks to feed.
For those people who really love the idea of raw feeding, but can’t get around the bone risk there are numerous companies now that produce frozen ground raw food.  Once thawed, the food looks very similar to canned dog food.  These products are more expensive, and are also an important addition to any raw feeders freezer to variety.   As and example of what products are available, Oma’s Pride and Bravo are both companies that started locally, but have grown to Nationwide distributorship.
Lastly, I seem to be the only person who is on this bandwagon – so I’ll be brief, but I think it is vitally important to make you aware of!  Many people worry about or blame cracked teeth on the bones.   I used to feed some of my dogs outside until I watched them carry the food around, drop it, and pick it back up with small twigs and *stones* attached….. I personally believe that is how a couple of my dogs fractured teeth.  Not from the bones, but from the rocks they attracted.  I am now fanatical about feeding my dogs in their crates, and none of my recent dogs have any dental issues.   So please, be careful where you feed!
COST:
The mixes and ground products can be fed as a complete diet, and are a convenient way to feed one, possibly two dogs.  If like me, you have multiple dogs and need to economize, you can buy in bulk and save $.  For example — I buy 40lb cases of chicken backs, chicken necks, turkey necks and duck frames – prices range $16-30 per case.  That is the base of my diet.  For variety I do buy some of the more expensive products and make sure my dogs get at least 2-3 different meals per week like raw green trip (stinky icky but the dogs love it) fish, ground beef, rabbit, pork etc… and when I’m lucky a group of hunter friends supply me with venison trim and bones.  Way cool for the dogs.  I don’t believe in hunting, but if the animals will be killed anyways – my dogs might as well benefit.  Note: I Do Not support vegetarian diets for dogs.  Dogs are carnivores plain and simple, Mother nature does not intend for them to survive on veggies alone.
Short price graph (for me) as of March 2016
Beef  1x per week                                        $351.00 yr
Tripe/Fish  1x per week                               $520.00 yr
Chicken  4x per week                                  $624.00 yr
Leftovers  1x per week                                priceless
RMB’s   4 cases per year                            $300.00 yr
 Feeding 5 dogs                                           $1795 yr   = $150 month plus extras
Supplements:
General all purpose vitamin tabs
Oil
Vit E
some form of green – Kelp/Alfalfa blend
Yes, once a week I make a big pot of any human leftovers.  Frequently the base is the stewed carcass of a grocery store roaster chicken.  I may ramp it up with a couple of cans of sardines, some broth, bacon fat, leftover veggies, etc… I add enough water to make a good size pot, and thicken with a starch like oatmeal, pasta or potatoes.  The sky is the limit on what goes in…