How I Make Feeding a Raw Diet Easy!
Ok, Here. We. Go. One of the easiest ways to ruffle feathers is talking about dog food. Over the years, I’ve come to learn that dog parents are especially sensitive about this topic. I should know, because I am one of them. No one likes to be told that what you are feeding your dog isn’t the best option. Dog parents can be very loyal to brands and rightfully so. I don’t believe any dog parents intentionally feed their dogs “bad” food; dog parents feed their dog what they believe is best for their dog based on their budget and knowledge of their dog.
This post isn’t to make anyone decide to feed their dog a raw diet or shame anyone for not feeding a raw diet. I am not nor do I claim to be an expert on this topic. I am just an over-protective dog parent trying to do what I can to get Bruce Wayne to age 50! ;-) This is simply my way I’ve made feeding Bruce Wayne a raw diet easier on my sanity and if you are considering to make the switch to raw, this may help you or make you run the other way!
Why did I switch? Easy. I, like any other dog parent, want to feed what I think is best for Bruce Wayne. This is based on a few things: 1) I want to feed Bruce Wayne the freshest ingredients possible; 2) I want complete control of what Bruce Wayne eats; and 3) Bruce Wayne is an extremely picky eater, so once I’ve found a way to get him to eat on his own, I stuck with it.
The Benefits of Feeding a Raw Diet:
I have complete control of what Bruce Wayne ingests. I know every single ingredient that Bruce Wayne is eating. Literally, every single ingredient.
I know that what I’m feeding Bruce Wayne is fresh, organic and properly prepared, because I am the one doing his food prep and feeding him.
The compliment I hear most about Bruce Wayne when people meet him is how soft his coat is. This is because I am such a nut about what he eats. Studies have shown how a raw diet benefits a dog's coat. Bruce Wayne does not eat anything with preservatives or harsh ingredients, which helps keep his coat smooth and pores clear.
The Cons of Feeding a Raw Diet:
BACTERIA! This is my vet’s biggest concern with raw diets. I cannot stress the cleanliness that one must consider when doing any food prep or feeding “human food”.
It can be expensive! I like to say I’m paying to keep bad ingredients out. While the food itself may not be very expensive, the tools I use for storage and prep are a bit costly.
It’s inconvenient! If you take a vacation or day trip, you aren’t going to be able to feed your dog his raw food unless you plan on lugging a cooler around with you.
After weighing all the pros and cons, I went ahead and researched raw diets for dogs. After reading till what felt like the end of the internet and speaking with my vet, I decided to give this raw diet thing a try.
A little history: Bruce Wayne is NOT food driven and is an extremely picky eater. He’s not your typical dog that will eat whatever I put in his bowl. Our food journey is continuously evolving and changing. We started with Blue Buffalo, but Bruce Wayne isn’t a huge dry kibble fan (and I lost trust in them when they lied about having knowledge of meal by-product in their kibble). I would literally have to get on the floor with him and hand feed it to him. It would take anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes per meal. I didn’t want mealtime to be stressful for Bruce Wayne, so I tried the Fresh Pet refrigerated food. That lasted for maybe a month. Bruce Wayne had a love/hate relationship with that food; sometimes he liked it, sometimes, he wouldn’t eat it. Next, I moved on to Nature’s Variety frozen raw. This is where our “raw” journey would start. The downfall with this form of raw was that you have to scoop out your portion and let it sit out for about 15 minutes to defrost before your dog can eat it. My concern? Yup, the dreaded bacteria. Again, Bruce Wayne liked this food at first and then it became longer and longer mealtimes once again. From here, we moved onto our first actual completely raw food. We ordered a large order from Feeding Raw Miami on recommendation of an Instagram friend of ours. I had been very intrigued about this so decided to start our journey.
Why didn’t I stick with traditional raw feedings? It’s a lot of work! Bruce Wayne eats 3 meals a day at .08 oz. per meal. I had to order multiple 2.5 pounds of various meats to meet the 15 pound shipping minimum. Dividing all those meats into tiny .08 oz. packs literally took hours. My concern? Again, bacteria (and my sanity). It was a mess and just not for me. If I had a larger dog that ate much larger portions it probably wouldn’t have been nearly as bad. Did Bruce Wayne like it? Yes and no. He liked the raw meat, but not the bones so much.
Based on all this, I knew that I wanted to continue feeding Bruce Wayne a raw diet, but there had to be an easier way. Finally, I found Primal Pet Raw Grinders. They are sold in 2 pound logs. Perfect to divide Bruce Wayne’s meals up. The raw grinders are just what they sound like; a grinded up protein. There are two varieties: 1) a complete balanced diet raw grinder (protein + veggies); or 2) complete raw (protein and grinded bones). I feed Bruce Wayne the beef raw grinder log. I add in one green tripe nugget from Vital Essentials. You can google all the benefits of green tripe for dogs; long story short, I feed it for all the nutritional value it provides.
In the morning, in between Bruce Wayne’s breakfast and lunch, he eats his fruits. I feed him one blueberry (he is not a fan of them), followed by cantaloupe and his favorite, honeydew. In the evening, in between Bruce Wayne’s lunch and dinner, he eats his veggies. I feed him a broccoli stem and a baby carrot (he loves both). Occasionally, I will rotate or introduce a new fruit or vegetables into the mix, but these are the standards he loves.
How do I keep his meals from spoiling? I keep each meal individually packaged in a FoodSaver vacuum sealed bag. I keep the meals frozen until I am ready to use them that day and let them thaw (still sealed) in the refrigerator. The above photo shows the products I use to prep and store Bruce Wayne’s food. I love the scale we use, simply because it is so easy to clean. (All the above products came from Target. You can click the photo to be redirected to their page.) As soon as I’m done, I just throw the scale bowl into the dishwasher. Since Bruce Wayne’s meals are so small, I use the 8 inch wide FoodSaver bags.
I weigh each meal, then seal and vacuum each bag and back into the freezer it goes. At the end of each day, I pull out 3 bags for the next day. You can pull out more bags, the meat and tripe can be in the refrigerator for about 3 days, but I’m not a wild child (lol) and do not want to risk any bacteria forming, so I keep it frozen until the day of.
When we travel or take day trips, I feed him Primal Pet Foods freeze-dried nuggets. Bruce Wayne seems to love these just as much as his raw. Just break the nugget up, add water and wait a few minutes for the nugget to soak up the water.
The concern I hear most from fellow dog parents about making the switch to a raw diet is that they are just plain scared. I know that feeling, I felt it. It took me months to pull the trigger to feed raw, but I wouldn’t go back to hard kibble. Bruce Wayne loves it so much that he eats every meal on his own and actually looks forward to mealtime.
Raw can be a scary transition but if you do your research and know the products that are available to you, it can be both rewarding for you and your dog. As I stated, I am not an expert, nor do I claim to be, but I am always here to help answer questions you may have. Feel free to shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions that I did not address. Happy Feedings!