Let’s talk about feeding the Fearsome Foursome.
As many of you know, I raw feed all my dogs — including the little puppies. I begin feeding the puppies when they open their eyes — at around two weeks. They start with a mixture of goat milk, with a little olive oil, and raw ground turkey. I heat the goat milk and olive oil in the microwave, then add the cold ground turkey. That results in a mixture that is at room temperature. No coaxing required — they dive in. I gradually increase the amount of turkey (but not the milk) so that the mixture is less soupy. At three weeks or so, I begin adding a heaping tablespoon of natural plain yoghurt, and in another week, I add in a heaping blob of canned pumpkin. All this time, I am increasing the amount of turkey.
At four weeks, they are weaned. I begin giving snacks like chicken necks that I have cut in half and chicken wings that I’ve broken apart. By five weeks, they can have chicken backs (bone and all) that I’ve broken into pieces they can chew up. At this point, they also start eating whatever the big dogs are having: country style ribs, cut in small pieces, liver, mackerel — pretty much whatever is on sale. Tonight I gave them their first pieces of frozen vegetable — some carrot slices and tiny broccoli flowerettes — they loved them. My dogs have always though the frozen veggies were a dessert of some sort and the babies agree with that. They all vote for the Normandy blend.
The most difficult part of feeding raw is keeping the cost down. I buy chicken necks by the case — about 98 cents a pound, and backs at 85 cents a pound from a farm store. The rest of the meat — I scour the newspaper for sales. When ground beef is on sale, I stock up. Sometimes I find assorted loin pork chops for $1.17/lb. I buy the vegetables in 5 lb. bags, and the yoghurt in the very large tub — sometimes I use cottage cheese instead of yoghurt if it’s on sale. I hard-boil eggs from time to time and give each dog half of a hard-boiled egg — shell and all. I try to hit Sams Club on Friday morning very early (7:00 AM when they open) and buy meat that is marked down because it will expire in a day or two. Since I’m taking it home and freezing it, I’m not worried about poisoning them. I found boneless country style ribs for .99/lb. a week ago and bought all they had.
I feed the adults twice a day — necks in the morning and the gourmet meal at night. I supplement with Missing Link Plus, Brewers Yeast and Garlic, and Vitamin C. The puppies at 8 weeks are eating three meals a day.
I’ve added a 21 Cu. Ft. freezer and have a 7 Cu. Ft. freezer as well, plus the skinny little freezer that is part of the side by side (that’s for people food).
Why? It’s clearly more expensive than feeding even a grain free kibble, and far more expensive than feeding Ol’ Roy. However, my dogs glow. Their coats gleam, their eyes shine, their teeth are clean, their breath is clean. I pick up small, very un-smelly poops. I only see my vet for rabies shots, hip/elbow x-rays, “let’s count the puppies” x-rays, health certificates, blood draws for PRA or Thyroid testing, and the eye vet for CERF clearance. My dogs are carnivores — not herbivores — and that’s how they eat, and why they thrive. You also do not have to wait around to pick up the food bowls. Set them down and go back down the line to pick them up.
There is nothing more dangerous about feeding the dogs raw than there is in fixing a meat dish for the humans. Same rules: you don’t leave meat sitting out, you wipe the counters down carefully, you wash the bowls and utensils.