By Amanda Griffin
There are hundreds of opinions on how to
‘correctly’ feed a dog a raw diet. The
consensus among many is to feed a ratio of
foods that are equivalent to what the dog
would consume in nature if they were a wild
animal. This is called the 80/10/10 rule.
This stands for 80% meat, 10% bone and
10% organ. Some even go a step further and
say 80/10/5/5, splitting the organ category
into 5% liver and 5% other organ meat. So
we have our ratio of the types of food to
feed; now we need to figure out what amount
that actually figures up to for your individual
Just like with kibble, each dog’s individual caloric needs are different. You can have 2 dogs both 60lbs and one needs 5 cups of kibble a day to stay fit and one only needs 2 cups per day and is still a little overweight. The same thing goes for a raw diet. It will be up to you to observe and evaluate your dog’s physical condition to determine if your dog needs more or less on their raw diet. A good starting off point to begin with is to feed your dog 3% of their ideal body weight (I have found for the Mastiff breed about 2% is closer to ideal), and then as you progress into the new diet you can adjust your amounts if your dog needs to add or take off some weight.
For our example we’ll say we have a 150lb Mastiff.
150lb x 3% = 4.5lb of food per day
4.5lb x 80% = 3.6lbs of meat per day
4.5lb x 10% = .45lb (or 7.2oz) of bone per day
4.5lb x 10% = .45lb (or 7.2oz) of organ per day
Here’s the best part, you don’t actually have to feed these exact amounts every day. You can take a week period of their intake needs and just average out each day’s meals so it is balanced over time. This way you aren’t picking apart every single chicken leg trying to weigh how much bone is actually in it. It’s all about balance over time. Some meals I feed are all meat, every other day or so I throw a large chunk of organ in the bowl. It’s not balanced for every meal, but in the long run it all works out.Over a weeks’ time our example dog would need 25.2lbs of meat, 3.15lbs of bone and 3.15lbs of organ.
Feed the Dog!
When first starting out it is recommended to use only one protein source for a week or so, chicken is a good starting point. Each week you can add a new source of meat until your dog is accustomed to numerous protein sources. Be advised, that during the first few days of the new diet, as your dog is adjusting, they may have some stomach upset and need a few extra trips outside, but once their body starts acclimating everything should settle down.
When feeding raw here are a couple other items of note:
1. NEVER feed your dog raw and kibble in one meal. Kibble takes 12+ hours to digest because it is extremely processed and compressed. Raw takes approximately 4 hours to digest. Mixing the two can cause severe stomach distress and lead to bloat.
2. Organ meats are deceptive. In a raw diet “Organ” is an organ that secrets something, i.e. liver, spleen, kidney, pancreas. Body parts that we think of as organs, but are classified in the raw diet as “Meat” are heart, lung, tongue, etc.
3. Tripe is good, but really gross and smells awful. The dogs love it.
4. As with everything there are extremes that some people go to with raw food diets. Some think it’s best to let your dog gorge itself until it can’t eat anymore and then not feed it for two days to mimic how a wild dog would eat. Some people only feed wild game. It’s up to you to decide what you feel comfortable with.
5. Other items that can be added several times per week include eggs, (shell and all), canned pumpkin, pureed vegetables and yogurt. In summary, there are many ways to feed your dog a raw diet ‘the right way’. Everyone’s opinion is a little bit different. Please just do your research; there are so many resources available. Talk to your vet and see if they have any advice, but be objective, many vets are against raw diets, don’t let them talk you out of it if you think that it’s right for your dog. And remember, the reason that you are doing all of this is for the health of your dog. Don’t lose sight of that objective in the details.