About a decade or so ago, we decided to take the raw journey. At the time, I did not stick with it, unfortunately. There was not as much information readily available, the internet certainly was not what it is now, and I just lacked the confidence to put my dog’s nutrition in my own hands. After many years and many, many brands of food, I just got so frustrated with having to supplement differently for each dog even though the food was already a “complete diet” only to have that food, and the supplements still not be sufficient. This page is a bit of my thought process/experience from the first time we tried raw and my “Raw Feeding” page will have all the current information. I have learned a lot since this page, including how feeding weight bearing bones such as the cow femur in this photo are not ideal for the dogs as they can chip teeth.
Our Journey on RAW feeding
As many of our friends and breeder speak so highly of the RAW diet and the health and general condition of their dogs on this diet, we began researching all the pros and cons ourselves a couple of years ago. With my medical training and laboratory experience, it was difficult for me to grasp feeding RAW food with the potential for bacteria or parasites. However, especially over the last few years, with all the dog food recalls and my own personal experience with tainted food and nearly 2 litters lost, it did not seem that processed kibble was any safer. The one thing I could not argue with was the results on the dogs I have handled in competition and seen with my own eyes that are fed RAW. Dogs that are 6-8 years old and have the shiny, clean healthy teeth of a 2 year old. Dogs that have excellent muscle substance, stamina and health. As a breeder, I know some of these trains can be attributed to good bloodlines, good breeding and good training, but not all of it is just genetics. Not to mention the enthusiasm over meal time the dogs have, and how healthy the “elimination” was. Instead of the buckets I was cleaning up, my friends had 1/3 less at least and if left in the yard it would turn white and completely disintegrate within a couple of days! This would suggest that the dogs are able to use nearly all of what they are eating rather than the small fraction of usable nutrition in processed food. After much consideration of all the facts, the scientific conclusion was that I needed to try for myself. I can read everything ever written for the next decade and still will not have my own story, be it positive or negative.
Raw meaty bones encourages chewing and helps clean the dogs teeth, it also engages unused muscles and makes them really work for their food. And by chewing and pulling rather than simply gulping and swallowing, it is much healthier on the digestive system.
I must stress again that I did not take this decision lightly. I love my dogs with all of my heart and would gladly lay down my life for any one of them. And my very best friend, Diesel, will be turning 9 this year, so the preservation of quality for him is of the utmost importance. I would never intentionally put any of my dogs in harms way, but other than simply stating the risks (parasites, bacteria, choking hazard with the bones) I could not find any factual statistics stating whether or not there was any more risk involved with feeding RAW vs. the amount of parasites and bacteria the dogs are already exposed to on a daily basis by drinking out of the toilet, picking up poop, licking their bums, catching and eating flies or other insects/rodents, getting into the garbage, etc. Dogs are dogs. We already know that they can tolerate much more than we can, and as far as the parasites are concerned- with that amount of traveling and shows we go to, we have been de-worming and submitting stool samples with our vet on a regular basis for years, so we already had that one covered. And raw meaty bones do not splinter like the cooked (especially chicken!) bones do, so the risk of choking is significantly less than even choking on kibble or various items picked up outside. Not to mention, of course, how much more natural and healthy the RAW is opposed to processed dry pellets full of chemicals and supplements and preservatives. The more I learned the more the choice seemed obvious, so now what?
My husband and I spent nearly a week visiting every butcher within about 50 mile radius. We talked with them about the other clients they had feeding RAW to their dogs and if they had received any feedback and working everyday with the meat, of course their opinions were important as well. I also wanted to learn the process and where exactly the meat came from, how it was handled, etc. We finally found a butcher in Mooresville that I was very confident and satisfied with. He has another breeder of working dogs that has been buying from him for years, and he had the most knowledge on what cuts were the best for my money and best for the dogs. He also was able to sell me some raw meaty bones- and when I say meaty bones, I’m not talking about the bare, basted stuff you can buy at the pet store, I’m talking about enough meat for a meal! He was also able to recommend a great chicken guy for me where I could get the parts of the chicken I wanted ground up and get some good, fresh chicken as well. What I loved about both of these butchers is that they obtained with meat locally right here in Johnson County so I not only knew now exactly what I was feeding my dogs, but also exactly where it came from.
We have our own chicks that will eventually (hopefully) be egg laying chickens so that we can use our own eggs, but for now, we get those locally from a farmer as well and use the whole egg, shell and all, as it is very healthy and full of calcium.
We bought about 300 pounds of various cuts in chicken and beef and bought a nice BIG freezer. We have only been feeding RAW for about a week, but so far, I LOVE it, almost as much as the dogs do!! I am quite sure they think it is their birthday every day now!! It is much too early to say definitively whether or not it will change the health/condition of my dogs. I would like to think they were already in excellent health and were on a good quality kibble, but I will be sure to keep this page updated periodically. I do not have nearly enough experience with the raw diet to recommend it for anyone else yet. I would never recommend something that I had “heard of” or “read about” and will only recommend something that I use/ are willing to use on my own fur babies. I can, however, say that no one has gotten sick, all the stool is solid and really does disappear completely if left in the yard within days and my rotties LOVE meal time!!
I have included at the side a list of links I found helpful in my research. As always, feel free to e-mail me with success stories and/or comments and concerns.
We tried the RAW diet, prey model for about 2 months. The RAW diet may work very well for many owners, handlers and breeders, but despite all the testimonials, I have decided to stay on high quality kibble. One of my biggest hurdle was being uncertain as to whether or not they had a balanced diet with all the nutrients and vitamins they needed. I am very much aware that, in the wild, wolves, coyotes, etc. do not have processed dog food or supplements sprinkled over their food, however, I am also very much aware that malnutrition is one of the leading causes of death and that parasite infections run ramped. I am not sad I undertook the journey and think I have come out the other end better educated and more aware.
UPDATE TO THE UPDATE 😉
After we switched back to dry kibble, the difference was EXTREMELY noticeable in the excrement, coat, and overall health. I still have concerns regarding the amount a vitamins, minerals, etc. but I am definitely liking the overall health better on the RAW. After MUCH more research, we have decided to have a rotational diet that includes quality kibble and RAW. There is a lot of research that suggests that rotational diets are the best way to help prevent sensitivity to certain ingredients as well as help insure that whatever might be missing from one food or meat source can be obtained in another. We will begin utilizing both the RAW and this high quality kibble and will continue to keep everyone updated on the website as well as on our Guardian Rottweiler facebook account. We are aware that, just as in the medical community, there are improvements and developments daily in the world of nutrition and our goal is to continue to stay as much on top as possible so that we continue to give our dogs and yours the highest quality of nutrition possible. Our Rottweiler are our lives and their well being continues to be our number one priority!