Saturday, 8 December 2007

choice of raw meats to feed dogs

When I visited a vet recently to discuss why Penny is 'scooting' around on her behind, he checked her anal glands and her rear end. He said she seemed fine and to stop feeding beef so I can check whether she is allergic to this meat. She eats a lot of chicken already and seems to react badly to kangaroo, so I was wondering what to feed as an accompaniment to the chicken.

I remembered that I had the lovely (super expensive) frozen rabbit that I was intending to feed anyway, so I thawed it out, chopped it into manageable pieces and fed her a leg. She crunched it up and seemed to love it.

Half an hour later it came back up.

We did think of leaving it to see if she had another go at it but, in a fit of tidiness, cleared it away in to the rubbish bin. So, the dilemma was... Should I try her out on the rest of the rabbit?

At first I surfed the Net. One site I visited was Wilmington Animal Hospital. I was pleased to see a vet recommending raw diet, as many vets seems mistrustful of this way of feeding dogs. In part this discussion said:
It is easiest to feed chicken as the meat and bone source if you are preparing the meat fresh. Chicken backs and thighs are cheapest. As discussed in the "Concerns" section, you can chop up the chicken before feeding it to your dog. After purchasing the chicken, wrap each piece individually and freeze it. Defrost it overnight, and then chop it up in the morning. Defrosting the chicken for approximately 9 hours allows it to become slightly soft, but not rubbery, and therefore easiest to chop.
Varying the meat sources from time to time is a healthy, natural way to provide a variety of nutrients to your dog.
I still wasn't sure whether to keep on with the rabbit, so I went to a wonderfully helpful yahoo group, Rawfeeding for Dogs and Cats.

I posted my question and settled down to wait for a day or so - I'm used to the fact that Aussies have to wait till the rest of the world gets out of bed! - but, amazingly, three answers appeared within hours. All of the answers were great. In short, they said
  • maybe Penny's stomach reacted to the novel food and threw it up;
  • perhaps she swallowed it too quickly and if I had waited she might have come back to eat it;
  • I could try holding the rabbit leg and slow down her eating so she crunched it up properly;
  • I could feed her a little meat off the bone, mixed with her usual food and see how she got on.
I was encouraged by all these positive suggestions and gave it a go.

First I cut off a little meat and fed it with the soaked grain mix sold in Australia as Vet's All Natural. She ate it and was fine.
An hour lated I held a rabbit leg and invited her to eat it. Not very successful, because she politely licked it and waited for me to give it to her. So I gave it to her and waited while she crunched and smashed it up.

Two hours later I decided it was a success.

I think I've learned two things. The first is, don't give up on a new food too easily. The second, and definitely more memorable, is - 'slime and swallow'. This wonderful expression so exactly described how she ate it!! I did a search of this evocative phrase on the Yahoo Rawfeeding site and discovered it leads to lots of discussions of what to do with a dog who will gulp down meat instead of 'grab, reposition, crunch, mash, smash, slime with saliva, swallow'.

I will have to remember to visit the group more often. It's a bonanza of information and has a great sense of community. When I first started to raw feed Penny as a puppy I used to lurk around the group all the time. Now that I've de-lurked I'll visit regularly.

The Vet's All Natural site mentioned above also has lots of fascinating information. There is a members section and you can see some free articles before joining. Of course I zeroed in on the one called What Meat Should I Feed My Pets? (Wow, how appropriate is that?) There is a discussion of a range of meats and I was disappointed to see that rabbbit meat does not get a good report because rabbits are now a 'farmed' meat in Australia because of the calicivirus, which was deliberately introduced to the wild population to try to reduce the plague of rabbits. Dr Bruce Syme, the vet, doesn't believe in farmed meats for dogs because of ethical issues and because of the low quality of the meat.
However, my meat comes from a 'biodynamic' butcher, so I think it would be okay ethically and physically.

The Vet's All Natural summary of meats goes like this:
1. Kangaroo - very, very good – the perfect 10/10.

2. Tripe - also very, very good. Its difficulty in sourcing sees it score
3. Offal - if obtained correctly, an important part of the diet – 8/10

4. Sheep - very good, the best of the farmed meats – 7/10

5. Beef - next best of the farmed meats – 6/10

6. Fish - only if purchased fresh, then it is good, owing to
inconvenience and price – 5/10

7. Rabbit - excellent if from wild rabbits, owing to extreme difficulty in
procuring – 5/10

8. Chicken - still better than canned and processed, as long as it is fed as part of the diet only and is purchased and stored frozen. It’s related health and ethics issues see it rate poorly against all the other good meats on offer. It is cheap though – 3/10

9. Pork - the least suitable and not recommended at all – 0/10


Bonnie McCririe Hale said...

Thanks...I am getting my dogs back to a semi-raw diet after some anal gland issues and I was looking for a quick reminder on what's good and what's not. Well done.

parlance said...

Bonnie, thanks for inspiring me to come back and re-read my own post! I never feed pork to Penny but I had forgotten why that was. Now I remember it was because of this information. (I also have ethical objections to the way pigs are farmed.)