Raw Food: Variety and Supplements

When I first started looking into raw food, I quickly came to the conclusion that those people were crazy. Very serious discussions about feeding whole animals, complete with fur, for instance, or the best place to find Llama meat. I’m still a little squicked by the former, but the latter I can now, sadly, empathize with.

Pragmatically, you should feed your dog a reasonable variety of things. Some meats have more of some nutrients, and you do run a risk of triggering food problems if you’re too exclusive. I think the typical recommendation I’ve seen is to rotate through four protein sources. The most mainstream choices are beef, chicken, lamb, pork, and turkey, which are all fairly standard grocery store fare. If you live near an ethnic market, you may find that whole fish, duck, goat, or rabbit is also an easy and surprisingly economical choice. Duck at my Asian grocer is a quarter the price of lamb at my regular store.

There’s no reason, though, to worry about hunting down “weird” things if you don’t want to. You also don’t have to go crazy trying to distribute your dog’s diet evenly amongst your usual proteins. If you can only find ground turkey or can only afford lamb once every few months, it isn’t going to hurt anything. And, truthfully, while living with serious food issues has made me hyperventilate a little over people who only feed their dogs one protein source, the chances of it causing an actual problem are fairly small. UNLESS your dog is already prone to food issues. Then watch your food variety very, very carefully.

The other definitive turn-off for me was the arm-long list of usually quite expensive vitamins and supplements people give their raw-fed dogs. On that one I can only offer the advice of practical experience–it won’t hurt you to skip them at first and gradually add what seems most appropriate to you. Even now, the only thing that I definitely give 100% of the time with every meal is fish oil (half a dose with each meal, although just one full dose would be fine), and we didn’t start that right away, either. Note that I’m not saying to skip all of them forever, just that the “perfect” handful of supplements is not going to make or break your dog’s diet from day one.

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2 thoughts on “Raw Food: Variety and Supplements

  1. When I was feeding a raw diet about fifteen years ago the only supplement recommended was Omega 3 and 6 oils and I did add that to the turkey necks and veggies…I think the raw food ‘movement’ has become a profit maker for supplement companies advising that your dog absolutely needs all the many products they’re churning out at a rapid pace these days and charging a ‘pretty penny’ for…I’d take a long look at any of these before rushing out to spend the money

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  2. It’s funny, we only feed them chicken necks and ground turkey (occasionally some beef) and we don’t feed a bunch of supplements. They get necks in the morning with fish oil and ground meat at night with dehydrated beef tripe and some coconut oil and probiotic. My nutritionist has never told me about rotating proteins. We’re scheduled to see her this week and I’ll be sure to ask. 🙂

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