When I first decided to oust kibble from Phoebe’s life, I opted to feed a raw diet. Initially, I had concerns over feeding chicken bones, the salmonella factor related to raw chicken and other bacteria/parasites associated with raw meat. The extent of the risks, or lack thereof, tends to vary depending on which side of the fence the author sits. I did run across a site, rawfed.com, that enthusiastically promotes raw dies, but also took the time to summarize the pros and cons raised by others. At the time, I believed a raw diet would be good for Phoebe (this changed later for several reasons, but I’ll stick with the progression of the story and get to in a future post).

Before making a big switch like that it is crucial to understand how to switch from kibble to raw correctly, understand what changes will occur as your dog’s body adjusts to the paradigm shift. I can quote site after, but all that reading makes my head hurt. I reviewed this video series during my decision-making process,  and they covered just about every question that lingered in my mind.

The last video in the series is the most important one, in my opinion. A super short list of the information provided in the video includes:

  • Mistakes: Improper transition, unbalanced diet, diets lacking critical nutrients
  • Change that occurs (just a few): Reduced water intake, Mucous in the stool, a lot of shedding, increased ear wax, and poop becomes  small, hard and turns white,

Research Done; Time to Put it in Action

The one thing that I was lacking at the onset was the means for making sure Phoebe got enough calcium and other critical nutrients; that was going to take some more studying.  For the short run, it was safe to get started; otherwise I would get into analysis paralysis and never get moving.

Courtesy Image: pinkhippodesign
Courtesy Image: pinkhippodesign

I went to the butcher and picked up a chicken, some beef liver and human grade marrow guts.  I tossed a few pieces of raw chicken, some strips of liver and a few marrow guts in a bowl and set it in front of her. It was a bad idea.

She had no clue what to do with it. She dragged the food out of her bowl and carried them to the living room where she could spend a little time breaking it up so she could eat it. I had a feeling that would be the norm, because she simply could not gobble down a whole hunk of meat in one bite. Naturally, she would need to hunker down and spend some time with it, just as she does when I give her a beef bone.

Courtesy Image: wfiupublicradio
Courtesy Image: wfiupublicradio

A salmonella trail from the kitchen to the living room, and chunks of liver on the carpet just did not set well with me. Dogs may be able to manage salmonella in their bellies, but as a human I did not want it strewn throughout the house. Everyone in this house has been involved in food services at one point or another, and we all have been certified in food safety, so it was not something that we could just shrug off.

I cut the meat into smaller pieces, but she still kept dragging it out of the bowl. Honestly, I had a hard time stomaching the whole ordeal, so I took the bowl outside. While that little move did not magically teach her how to eat whole meat, it kept me from getting nauseous.

For the next couple of days, the trial runs continued (outdoors).  She did not seem to be too interested. I would let her play with it awhile, but ultimately, she would only eat it after I cut it up into bite sized chunks.  I had to ask myself if it was the route I really wanted to take.

Courtesy Image: happykanppy
Courtesy Image: happykanppy

Phoebe would have to be fed outdoors if I were going to give her hunks of meat,  Yet, she never asked to be fed a raw diet of whole meat parts; that was my doing. Giving her the boot to the great outdoors (back yard) just so I could replicate a wild diet that she, a domesticated dog, did not seem to be too fond of simply did not feel right.

Sure. I could have given her time to get used to it. However, my train of thought was that if she had to learn how to eat like her wild ancestors, then odds are she did not have an innate, aching with a call of the wild.

I needed something a little more refined than hunks of meat. It was time to move on to the next trial run: ground up raw food diet (the BARF diet).