I feed a mostly prey model raw diet. I say 'mostly' because there are some PMR (and other forms of raw feeding) rules that I regularly break.
No ground meat. Yeah. I'm guilty of breaking this one. On the regular. There are various reasons this is considered a rule. One is that ground meat has more bacteria, because the surface bacteria is ground in, which is probably true. But dogs have amazing digestive tracts, meant to digest some pretty disgusting stuff, in a much shorter period of time than that which is needed for bacterial colonization to occur typically. The other big reason ground meat is sometimes frowned up is that it is not what a dog in the wild would eat, or mentally stimulating enough. Meh. My dogs get plenty of mental stimulation. If left to their own devices, they would regularly feast on deer poop.
Back in the fall, I was presented with the opportunity to pick up 375 pounds of fresh, wild venison, that had already been ground by a processor. I would have been out of my fool mind to pass that up.
- It was stupid cheap.
- It was fresh, wild, "organic" game.
- Did I mention it was cheap?
- Venison is simply awesome, and my dogs love it, ground or not.
In the photo above, there is a large amount of ground meat pictured. It is a complete ground lamb mix (meat, bones, organs in the correct proportions) that I purchased from a local farmer/raw dog food supplier. Lamb can be difficult for me to source, and this was local product, at a good price. I couldn't resist.
99.8% of the tripe I have access to is ground.
Sometimes, when I'm desperate/low on meat, I will buy ground turkey at the grocery store and feed it to my dogs. Which leads to the next rule I break.
No grocery store meat. This one is not super common, but is supported by some. I have yet to find factual evidence supporting that grocery store meat is bad for dogs. Some say the bacterial load in grocery store meat is higher (than what?) because it is meant to be cooked for human consumption. Some say it is dipped and/or sprayed with a sanitizing solution prior to packaging.
My dogs eat plenty of grocery store meat - pork roasts, beef roasts, ground turkey, etc. In fact, all of the chicken they consume is purchased from the grocery store. It's "human grade" and if it's good enough for me to eat, it's good enough for them to eat. Besides, sometimes convenience wins out.
No dairy. I agree that dogs do not need dairy. But my particular dogs love cottage cheese and yogurt on occasion, so I feed it to them. Especially if I notice that container of cottage cheese in the fridge that I never got around to eating that expired four days ago.
Some dog owner regularly feed their dogs yogurt, for the probiotics.
No dehydrated, premade, commercial, or freeze-dried raw. This is a huge NO within the whole prey model (WPM) community. The reasoning behind avoiding dehydrated and/or freeze-dried is that it is not truly raw. Maybe not, but it's still better than 90% of dog foods on the market. Premade/commercial raw is often frowned upon because it is typically ground, and subject to high pressure pasteurization, which may or may not kill off the beneficial enzymes that raw meat carries.
I semi regularly feed all of the above mentioned forms of raw. Just yesterday I purchased some Northwest Naturals and Stella & Chewy's frozen raw foods, to give my dogs some protein variety in the forms of rabbit and pheasant. My dogs also enjoy The Honest Kitchen, Primal, Bravo, Sojos, and Instinct commercial raw foods.
Also, these forms of raw are incredibly convenient for those who want to feed raw, but don't wish to go the homemade route. Not only that, some raw is better than no raw, and these types of raw allow people to easily add a bit of raw to their dog's diet.
Kibble is complete and balanced, so all meals should be complete and balanced. I believe some BARF (Bones and raw food) style feeders have this mantra. (Disclaimer-I don't know much about BARF feeding.) I believe in balance over time. And over time, my dogs get pretty darn close to 80% meaty meat, 10% bone, 5% liver, and 5% other organ, which is the basic formula for a prey model raw diet.
But...I once went over a week without feeding any bone. And I once went nearly a month without feeding "other" organ. Click HERE for more info on raw lingo. The dogs had no ill effects, short term or long term.
Feed 2-4% of the dog's weight daily. I don't break this one, because it works well for me. But not for everyone. Some dogs are incredibly active, with high metabolisms, and require more. Some dogs are easy keepers, and require less. Bruce and Neeko both stay lean and fit eating approximately 2% of their body weight each day, while Faolan eats about 3% of his body weight daily. Sometimes they eat less than this amount, sometimes more. Each dog is different. Know thy dog.
What it all boils down to is that raw feeding is not one size fits all. What works for one dog may not work for another. I am incredibly fortunate in that none of my dogs have protein allergies, all have cast iron guts, and can eat the same meals. I have access to good sources. As long as the diet is balanced, and the dog is not suffering from health problems or nutritional deficiencies, feed whatever form or combination of forms works best for you and your dogs. All raw, half and half, or occasional raw.