Choosing Your Feeding Method
There are several different methods of feeding your dog a raw diet. It is not necessarily as easy as feeding him ground beef or chicken breast. You can choose from PMR, BARF, Keto, and other diet options. Each one may benefit your dog, but each dog is an individual and should be fed as such.
Let’s take a look at a few different raw feeding methods. Remember you don’t have to stick with just one feeding method for the life of your dog. Some dogs will do fine with that, but others may need a diet change at some point in their life. Remember variety is key to any successful raw diet.
PMR stands for Prey Model Raw. Basically, you will feed your dog 80% muscle meat, 10% bone, 5% liver, and 5% other organ meat. With this method, you will either feed whole animals or feed “Frankinprey.” There are is no plant matter (veggies, fruits, etc ) involved when feeding in this style. Well, there might be a tiny bit of vegetation in the digestive tract of the prey.
When feeding whole prey you will usually feed smaller things like rabbits, chicken, quail, duck, and sometimes small rodents. At mealtime, you will present your dog with the whole animal, fur and all.
If you feed “Frankinprey” then you are trying to re-create whole animals by using parts from different animals. For instance, you might have use chicken thighs, duck liver, beef kidney, and pork heart for one meal. The next meal might have pork ribs, bison liver and spleen, duck head, and goat fries. You might even add in some freeze-dried rabbit ears with fur. Anything that a prey animal has (meat, bones, organs, skin, feathers or fur, etc) you want to feed that to your dog over time.
The Prey Model Raw method does not add plant matter and they discourage the use of supplements. With the PMR mentality being that a dog who eats like a wolf (aka whole prey) will be as healthy as possible and not need anything else in his diet.
This is an unfortunate acronym for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones And Raw Food. Either way, this feeding style is not as strict as the PMR style. You can feed vegetables and fruits if you desire. You can also add as many supplements as you see fit for your dog. This is basically “Frankinprey” with veggies and fruits.
A typical ratio for a BARF diet might be 70% meat, 10% bone, 10% vegetables with some fruit, 5% liver, and 5% other organs. However, this can vary quite a bit in the BARF community. It all depends on who you ask. Some will add more veggies, others will do only veggies and no fruit. Some add nuts or seeds.
The reason that it can vary so much is that each dog is an individual. If the person feeding the dog is paying attention they might notice that their dog does better with more veggies. Or they may observe that their dog needs nuts and seeds to thrive. It all comes down to observation and experimentation.
The Keto diet or Ketogenic diet is gaining a lot of popularity in the human world. The main concept behind the Keto diet is that it is a high fat, moderate protein, and low-no carb diet. This diet is mainly used for dogs with existing health issues like metabolism issues or cancer. The reduction of carbs usually will slow or stop the growth of cancer.
In addition, low-carb combined with high fat will switch the body from burning carbs to burning fat for energy. This is a healthy metabolic state that can be helpful for healing and for weight loss.
For this diet, you want a 4:1 or a 2:1 ratio for calories from fat to calories from protein and carbs. Another way to look at it would be 70% fat, 10% meat, 10% bone, 5% liver, and 5% either carbs or additional organs.
Fat can be anything from grass-fed butter to grass-fed beef tallow or just fatty cuts of meat. Others could be pasture-raised heavy cream, raw goat milk, or whole milk kefir. Be sure to use very high-quality, ethically raised, organic sources of fat. Fat from animal sources is often full of toxins when the animal is conventionally raised.
The Ketogenic diet may not be the best idea for dogs who suffer from pancreatitis.
As you can see some of the main controversies between the feeding methods is about plant matter. Just to be clear we are talking about non-starchy vegetables and some fruits, possibly seeds and nuts. Grains and starchy vegetables, like potatoes or legumes, have no place in any dog’s diet.
Non-starchy vegetables that you might include are green beans, cabbage, dandelion greens, beet greens, lettuce, spinach, and others. Choose organic plant matter for optimal results. You can also add a small amount of fruits such as blueberries, raspberries, or apples. This can be a great addition of nutrients and antioxidants to your dog’s diet.
For maximum absorption plant matter should be pureed, lightly cooked, or fermented. This will help your dog be able to assimilate more of the nutrients that these foods provide.
Organs are separated into two groups: secreting and non-secreting. Non-secreting organs like the heart and gizzards are usually fed as meat and not organs. Secreting organs are things like the liver, pancreas, kidney, spleen, reproductive organs, brain, thymus, and others. Adding as much organ variety as possible is a great way to optimize health. Organ meats are the multivitamins of the dog world.
Typically the ratio is 5% liver and 5% other secreting organs for a total of 10% organs. This is supposed to represent the percentage of organs that would be found in a whole prey diet. However, some say that this is not enough organ meat.
If you were to break down a whole wild animal you would find that it is about 50% muscle, 12% bone, 16% skin, which leaves 22% organ! Of course, this can vary a bit depending on the kind of wild animal, it’s health, gender, etc. But 22% of organs is a lot more than the conventional recommendation of 10%.
That said, most dogs do fine with 10% secreting organs. However, if you think your dog is missing anything in his diet try adding some more organ meat.
Be sure to get ethically raised, and pasture-raised organs whenever possible. A lot of organs are responsible for detoxing the body. So, conventionally raised organs can have a lot of toxin in them and they can transfer to your dog.
Taking The Plunge:
I am sure that as you read through the different feeding styles one of them spoke to you more than the others. It made more sense to you, with your current knowledge and understanding of dogs. This is a good place to start. If you choose the Prey Model Raw, Biologically Appropriate Raw Food, or Ketogenic any of them have the ability to help your dog.
Do your research. Join a Facebook group dedicated to that model of feeding and ask questions. Most of all start, and learn as you go! Don’t try to make your dog’s diet 100% perfect before you start feeding it to him. Just start!
Just like there is no “one size fits all” diet for people, there is no such diet for dogs either. You will have to start and then observe how your dog handles the diet. You may need to make little tweaks to improve his diet and tailor the diet more to his needs. Don’t let yourself become stuck on never giving your dog plant matter or always providing it. Let your dog be your guide.
It is a good idea to keep a journal of what you feed your dog, any supplements, etc. Then add in additional notes about any odd behavior or things that you notice. Take note of digestive upsets, restlessness, barkiness, and sleep habits. This will help you to be able to draw correlations between what he has eaten and any strange symptoms he may display. Further, it can help you see any food allergies or sensitivities your dog may have.
I hope that this article helps you to choose and start a raw diet with your dog. Remember the style or method that you use to feed your dog a raw diet is not as important as observing your dog and making changes where needed. You can feed whole prey, you can add veggies or fruits if you desire, you can up the fat intake, and you can up the organ intake if you want too.
It is up to you to observe your dog, tweak his diet, and help him to thrive and live his best life!