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Discussion Starter #1
I'm curious. I just read the DCM posts......

I shifted over to a raw diet about 2.5 years ago due to very poor quality kibble and the insane cost here in China. I won't dive into all the reasons why I have shifted. I can and will say that Shadow is a much happier and healthier MiniS.

His diet is primarily raw skinless Chicken Breast. He gets 300 grams/day split into 2 meals. His meals also contain 100 grams/day of a steamed veggie mix. This mix is a concoction of my own base on many hours of research. Generally, it contains carrot, broccoli, snow peas, green beans, cauliflower and a bit of cooked oatmeal. The oatmeal is 50 grams inside of a 800 gram mix of veggie. His treats for training or grooming are either raw chicken bits or banana, apple, blueberry, strawberry....just enough for a smell and a taste. Each week he gets a raw skinless whole chicken leg, bone included.

Occasionally, the chicken will be substitute with beef or pork. Rarely, have I been able to provide any suitable fish. Although, I could purchase fresh fish at the local grocery. A unique thing in China. The meat department has live fish tanks. All kinds of critters like turtles, shrimp, crayfish, clams and a variety of fish. You just grab the net, catch what you want, it gets weighed, killed, cleaned, bagged.

Shadow is an active MiniS. Minimum 3 walks per day ranging from 20 minutes to 2.5 hours. Weekends, it is common for us to be out for 3-4 hours at a time. Yes, I watch the temperature. This time of year is very hot with temps in the mid to upper 30s C with humidity in the 70% ranges. Heat stroke is a spectre to avoid. Also need to be aware of pavement temperature to avoid burned pads.

The Vet is pleased with Shadow's temperament, health, condition, coat, skin, eyes and his weight. He tips in at a lean, strong 13.5 lb.

I learned much doing my research on canine digestion and their ancestral diet. I also learned that commercial dog food was invented around 1900. Didn't become common until after WW1. This is when Ken-L-Ration was raising herds of horses for their canned dog food. I learned that dogs are direct descendant from wolves. Humans and dogs have been together for over 30,000 years.

So, these are just some of the things I have learned and experience with my investigation and switch to raw food for my Shadow.

Anyone else????
 

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Samwise has been raw fed on and off as long as we've had him, either prey model (meat/bone/liver/secreting organ only) or commercial premade raw that's a complete diet. We've also done a wide variety of kibbles, fed half-and-half, and fed mostly kibble with the occasional raw meaty bone for a chew. He does well on raw, and we've only switched him off it due to things like availability of organs being limited, cost, or living situation (I spent a couple years living with my parents, who weren't a fan). I won't comment on your diet specifically, since I've never researched how to balance a raw diet using only meat and vegetables, but currently Sam's eating a premade raw grind (a brand specific to Norway).

Frodo was weaned onto a mix of premade raw grind and a premade fresh cooked food grind, which we've continued so far in the week+ he's been with us. He's growing well, great appetite, well formed poops, and overall no complaints.

I don't have any miracle stories. No major changes to coat or muscle mass, no noticeable effect on temperament, no illnesses suddenly cured or improved. But as I said, both boys are doing well on it, we have affordable, complete options here, and I do think it's a very nutritious way to feed when it's properly balanced. I also think there's a lot of very good kibbles that many dogs (Sam included), do well on, with and without grains.

I'm skeptical of the DCM scare, and will remain so until I see solid research. I find it interesting that the dog communities, veterinary and otherwise, over here aren't concerned, despite many of the so-called BEG foods being exactly the same brands as what's available in the US. I might be wrong, but based on what I've seen, I'm willing to take that chance. Other people might not be, and that's fine - heck, my own opinion might change in the future. But I have to pick and choose what I'm going to be anxious about or I'd never get off the couch, haha.
 

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Laurel has been eating commercial raw pretty much from the beginning, She was supposedly raised on Purina Puppy Chow, but I could never get her to eat kibble after bringing her home. I tried everything. She liked to share my food, but since I don't eat meat myself, it was not enough for her to be healthy. She would eat canned Halo vegan formula (this was before the DCM scare) but it was not suitable for puppies. One of the appeals of getting a puppy rather than a kitten is that dogs are not obligate carnivores, but the more I read the more I began to think of going in the opposite direction.

We started off with Stella & Chewy's dehydrated raw. Other than the price, this was no more aesthetically difficult than kibble. It is 90% meat, organs, and bone, so I was not paying for moldy cornmeal when I already had a kitchen full of quality whole grains, some organic and locally grown, and my own fruits and vegetables from the farmer's market. The dog food may have been grain free, but the dog never has been: she will seriously snatch a breadcrumb mid-air before it even reaches the ground if there are no grains in her bowl.

When Chocolate came into our lives, the dog food bill more than doubled. I tried "topping Chocolate off" with kibble, but her tummy is sensitive and it didn't feel right to feed one dog the best of the best and the other the best I could afford. I switched to frozen raw as a base and became more adventuresome in the butcher section of the grocery store. I also became less adventuresome with sharing my own food when the DCM scare came out: no more shared spoonfuls on the trail, just tiny nibbles if it contained legumes. Chocolate is not a vegetable fan and she doesn't think grains are manna from heaven but she will eat pumpkin and brown rice stirred into her frozen raw.

Next came chicken wings, chicken and turkey necks, chicken feet from the farmer's market, sardines, mackerel, a chicken back for Chocolate that took her three days to eat, and there is a whole chicken in my freezer that I am going to break down this week. Raw meat is less messy than cooked meat and does not have a strong odor in addition to being healthier for my pets. Just as I deserve better than Colonel McTrashburgers, my dependents deserve better than moldy cornmeal concoctions flavoured with meat that is unfit for human consumption.

It started to feel like I might as well have gotten a cat until I actually DID get a cat. It was great to see the new baby's health improve dramatically after switching her from Purina Cat Chow to prepared raw cat food. I saw a price comparison online that showed me I was not really spending any more money than I would have on the cheapest Friskies canned I would have considered. I suspect that I am not really spending an absurd amount of money on my dogs either, I was simply uninformed and could not really afford to care for my "dream breed" properly anyway.

But I was mistaken about "I might as well have gotten a cat" because once I learned about feline nutrition, I found out that I might as well have gotten a reptile. The kitty gets frozen feeder mice when the dogs get treats from the butcher's section of the grocery store. This is what my carnivorous pets need to eat. I am responsible for them.

I'm not getting any grief from my conventional vet any more since the DCM scare and since my pets are obviously in such excellent shape. My holistic vet has never been anti-raw. I'm still learning and will probably spend less money, provide better nutrition for my carnivorous pets, and reduce my current carbon footprint as time goes on.

The dogs are mostly on BARF and the kitten on prey model but I am interested in learning from more experienced raw feeders and am keeping an open mind. Food safety issues with meat do not come naturally to me, but I am careful and taking this journey at my own pace. If anything, I overdo the bone for the puppies; when Laurel's stool starts looking like something that you might carve into a beautiful piece of jewelry, I know it's time to back off a bit and buy more prepared dog food.

ETA: as far as temperament goes, these are Chihuahua-Terrier crosses who could easily have made a snack out of a two pound kitten instead of playing with her as if she were another puppy. Laurel even dry nurses her. Raw meat does not make them vicious.
 

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I have sizable dogs and live in a remote area with a very unreliable electrical grid - raw/homemade isn't practical for me, even if prep time was feasible, obtaining and storing enough meat wouldn't be. Maybe when I'm retired and have time to fish more. For now I feed kibbles that are known for good quality control and use fresh foods as supplements/treats.
 

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My pup gets a morning meal of kibble with something added. Usually a little egg, yogurt, canned dog food etc. In the evening she gets the Stella & Chewy raw freeze dried patties. She much prefers the raw to the kibble. Just ordered her some Primal to try to rotate with the Stella's.
 

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My personal dog is on full raw. He eats a combo of grinds and PMR. Sometimes I will add veggies/grains just as an effort to keep his diet varied and balanced.

My other two dogs, who are technically my parents' dogs, are on half raw half kibble at the moment. How much raw they get pretty directly correlates with what my finances are looking like for that month. I can luckily afford to feed my 15lb dog full raw, but the two other dogs weigh 210 pounds combined and I would be feeding at least 4-5 pounds a day to feed them both, which I can't afford at the moment as a college student working part time.

I feel strongly about raw diets and I can't think of a circumstance that would cause me to stop feeding raw long term. For example, I will not be getting another dog of my own until I can afford to feed them a raw diet (next dog is going to be a big dog). If anything, I wouldn't be upset to feed a homemade cooked diet, but I really try to keep all of my dogs as far away from kibble/canned foods as much as I can afford to do so.

With that said, I do not look down on people who feed kibble or try to shove feeding raw down everyone's throats. I advocate for it, I practice it, but I'm super against touting that raw is superior and kibble feeders should feel bad for not feeding raw. I understand the convenience and cost factors, and acknowledge that plenty of dogs do just fine on kibble.
 

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I'm feeding two dogs raw right now. Since they started eating the diet the day they came to me I cannot attribute any improvement to raw. They came here pretty neglected but not underfed.

I did see big changes with the dog I switched from kibble to cooked to raw though. I thought he was fine on kibble, ate fine, didn't stink, good quality poop. On raw the slight amount of ear wax vanished, his coat went from sticky flyaway to silky, he grew 5 pounds of muscle as a senior dog and oddly his temperament improved. He was a nervous dog and his barks changed from terror to alert. The fur improvement was likely due to the high fat content and muscle because he was eating a low protein kibble.

I do my best to balance to NRC numbers so prey model isn't quite enough. I don't want to waste calories on carbs because the dogs aren't getting all that much protein as it is so I use tablet supplements to balance the diet. I used the vitamin/mineral tab with the first dog then dropped it and he was clearly better with with so I kept it up with the little guys.

I have serious doubts about the panic over kibble that's going on today. The way it all strongly suggests that only the big producers are capable of creating safe food is extremely suspect. I eat fresh and am very glad I'm in a position I can feed my dogs fresh and hope to be able to continue so as long as I have dogs.
 

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I have 2 Rottie bitches and a rescue boy who is probably half Rottie. Only the one girl who has some allergies is on raw, although the other two get a kibble topper of raw. Raw is not cheaper for me but a lot more expensive. I could cut costs by using meat from the co-op in this area, but there is no info about sourcing, and it's laced with charcoal.

My real foods started back when the melamine deaths were revealed. I put the Rottie girl I had then on a cooked diet because I just had trouble with the whole raw chicken and bone thing. That diet too was extremely expensive - and time consuming - and when I got a puppy, she stayed on the kibble the breeder recommended.

So years later all three current dogs were on kibble, two doing fine, but Rottie girl Story throwing constant hot spots. I'd barely get one starting to clear up when she'd start another. She never had an ear infection, but her ears were always gunky, and her eyes ran. A blood test showed a lot of sensitivities. A lot are environmental things that can't be eliminated, but there are also a lot of food things can be controlled. Interestingly, only one protein - venison - showed a reaction, but pretty much everything else any manufacturer puts in kibble did, not just the common wheat, corn, soy, but lentils, peas, potatoes, alfalfa, like that. I finally found one limited ingredient kibble that had only one thing on her list in it - alfalfa - and figured since it was a supplement, there wouldn't be much of it.

Her hot spots and ears cleared up, but her coat, which was never great, got duller, her mahogany markings lighter. So.... Raw. I did find a complete raw diet that had no problem ingredients for us. Coat improved a little, no problems for a year, and then hot spots again. Turned out the company was sold and the formula changed a little.

After that I sucked it up and put Story on what you might call a real raw diet. Handled my can't-feed-bone problem by getting grinds. In the beginning I even went through every ounce of meat with a couple of forks and removed any large bits of bone. I do believe in the whole bone theory, but I'm of an age when you grew up hearing the danger of bones, and there's no use pretending I'm ever going to get over it. She did great. No hot spots, pretty good ears, although still not like the other dogs, who could go without ever having theirs cleaned. Eyes better, never running rivers any more, but still a bit runny. Coat still so-so.

Then I read an article about phytoplankton and decided to try it. After a few weeks on it, one day I looked at Story and was stunned. Her coat gleamed. Black glass. I can't say I've ever seen a difference like that before that I was sure was caused by a food or supplement.

Of course I feel guilty about the other two, and just recently I realized I've been letting the desire for the perfect get in the way of the good. It would be nice if they could have the grass fed beef, free range turkey, etc., that Story gets, but they can't without bankrupting me. However, they can have the complete diet I originally fed Story (it comes through the co-op, no charcoal, info on what's in it) and I can afford that. So I've placed an order.

I'm waffling on Victor, the rescue boy. He's 10 and just this month on his physical and bloodwork at the vet, everything was great. The chart on his bloodwork looks like someone used a ruler to put all the marks right in the middle of the acceptable ranges. I asked the vet, and he said his usual advice is if it ain't broke, don't fix it. One way or the other I'm going to use the complete raw food as a larger percentage of diet than what I've been using for toppers since I'll no longer have to worry about unbalancing his diet with plain meat, eggs, etc.

So that's my saga to date.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Storyist, sounds like you are using a pre-made raw diet.

Have you considered a DIY raw diet. Many times you can purchase meats from the local grocery store or butcher that are near the sell-by date. All the foods in the grocery should be fit for human consumption.

As I said in my starting post. Good pet food or human food can be tough to find in China. So, I feed my dog from the same source for my food. I buy bulk frozen chicken breasts in a 10 kg (22 lb) box for 215 rmb ($30.15 USD) which works out to $1.38/lb. If I had the freezer space and had a source for alternate meats, then my dog's variety would be larger. But I have to work with the constraints.

Prep time is almost nothing. Once a week I will cook the veggie mix, then freeze half of it. Cook time is about 45 minutes. Daily, just use a thawed cut up breast, add a bit of veggie mix.......done in less than 5 minutes.
 

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Knute - Thanks for the reply, but I guess I wasn't clear enough in my first post. Story is already on a DIY diet. It's my other two I'm considering a pre-made raw diet for. It's a complete diet, to AAFCO anyway, and through the co-op I can get it for less than $2 a pound. Which means considerably less than what Story's diet costs, but still more than kibble. Although that depends a lot on the kibble. As I remember, the limited ingredient kibble I had Story on for a while was close to twice as much as what my two right-now-kibble-dogs get. And some surfing around I think it was chewy . com the other day made me aware of - is it Orijen? at a jaw-dropping price.

Story's diet is more expensive in large part because I want her diet to be at least 50% red meat. She gets grass fed beef, occasionally goat or lamb. Her poultry is supposedly humanely raised turkey (have to take them at their word on that one). Veggies and fruit are organic, so are eggs. Yes, I could get all that stuff cheaper. I'm not willing to feed the charcoal-laced co-op meats, and I'm past the age where I'm going to scrounge around to farms, hunters, etc., looking for deals. I'm also not going to markets that sell icky stuff to get strange organs either, so I pay probably more than I should for an organ mix of liver, heart, kidney, spleen, and lung in neat chubs.

One thing I notice is when many people talk about cost of raw diet, they talk only about the cost of meat, but if you follow them for a while, you hear about fish oil, sardines, oysters, eggs, probiotics, etc. A lot of us do add some veggies and/or fruit. A quality fish oil for a dog Story's size is at least $30 a month. I think the phytoplankton I'm using instead is about the same, but I keep forgetting to write the date down when I start a new bottle so can't say for sure. Anyway, add up all those extras, and the total grows.

There are a lot of different ways to do this. Horses for courses as they say.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
ahhhh.......the debate of Oganic vs Commercial......

Nutritionally, no difference.

Price has big difference.

High on the "feel good" scale.

You have an interesting dichotomy of selection. Kibble is frequently made from 4D meats and not human consumables. Yet, you focus on organic and demonize "charcoal-laced" meats.

I buy at a grocery store selling human grade foods. I figure if its ok for me to eat, then it should be ok for my dog.
 

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You're right that nutritionally there's little difference between organic and non-organic, but from what I understand when it comes to fruits and vegetables, at least here in the U.S., there is a big difference in pesticide residue. So, yeah, I feel better buying organic fruits and veggies.

And I admit to being the kind of idiot who didn't buy eggs for years until organic and free range became available because I know how chickens are treated commercially. Just as I won't eat veal or have anything to do with it. So sue me.

My sources may be full of internet baloney, but I understand there is a difference in meat from grass-fed vs. grain-fed livestock.

Not all kibbles are made from 4D meats. I don't believe the one I feed is. If I did, I wouldn't feed it.

And I don't believe I demonized charcoal-laced meats. I said I wouldn't feed them. I know charcoal isn't harmful. I have friends who feed that meat and have perfectly healthy dogs. But charcoal is a purifier, and I can't help but wonder what in that meat needs purifying, so I choose not to feed it. My friends would never feed the complete raw I'm considering. We don't snarl at each other over it.

I really didn't join this forum to argue with anybody, and I thought this thread was just to set forth how we each came to raw and what we're doing and that that was all I did. Since I obviously provoked instead, I won't post in this thread again.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Storyist. I am not arguing with you. I am not provoked, just expressing an alternate viewpoint. I am not snarling over or about anything. Your dogs, feed what you want.

I am mainly wondering how meats become "charcoal laced".

I purchase whole meat cuts. When I feed the meat its just simply cubed into about 1" chunks. Frankly, I think I don't need to cube the meat. My MiniS is able to crunch up a whole chicken leg (minus skin) with little effort. I can't imagine a boneless breast would be much for him.

You may want to check out the recent studies comparing Organic vs Commercial eggs. Turns out the difference is mostly Marketing driven and reaping greater profits.

Too bad you are refraining from discussion......here again...your choice.
 

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Charcoal is added to 'denature' the meat so humans aren't inclined to eat it. My provider is forced to denature now by the USDA and uses bone meal instead. I hate breaking up the boxes as no matter what I do some ends up on the floor and Bucky is then obsessed.

Hear you about the supplement costs adding up. My little dogs cannot afford to replace protein calories with fat and carb calories so I prefer to use a vitamin and mineral tablet, fish oil caps and vitamin E meant for human use to add missing minerals. Eggs are a great protein rich food that is perfectly appropriate, they got them today because I forgot to thaw out meat. I no longer feed fresh fish as my first raw fed dog got scomboid poisoning and went deaf.

I started feeding fresh during the melamine horrors as well but cooked for a good year. I thought my that first raw fed dog was just fine on kibble but he had huge improvements on raw. The current dogs went straight to raw and improved vastly but they came here in fairly rough shape. Am quite sure they would have improved on any reasonably good kibble, flea drops and regular grooming alone.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Kathyy. If I understand this properly.....

The commercially prepared raw diet has charcoal added to the meat to make it unappealing to humans.

Here in China, the commercial prepped raw diet is not available. Well, at least I have not found a source. So, I recipe the raw diet for my dog.

As I said in the opening post, the source for my dog's food is the same source I use for my food. The biggest difference is my food is cooked, his is raw. Some days, we have the same meal menu.

Fruits and veggies always get a good wash before eating. You would be surprised at the growing conditions and methods in this country. Anything from human waste to carcinogenic chemicals could be on the product.

Kathyy, Thank you for explaining the "charcoal laced" food.
 

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Is it really the USDA that requires charcoal to be added? Or Ag departments in different states? Here (U.S.) if I were to get meat from the local co-op, which comes from somewhere in the Midwest, the meat has charcoal, and yes, I describe it as laced with charcoal, which strikes me as a perfectly good and accurate description. However, the complete raw diets from the same source have no charcoal.

The other source of raw for dogs I have used has many choices of "grinds" with bone - no charcoal. Their source is in Texas. They also offer mixes of meat, organ, bone, and veggies (labeled as not complete) that are from the Southeast, North Carolina maybe. I haven't purchased them for a while and can't remember the state for sure - no charcoal.

When I cooked for my last girl, I did use grocery store meats and added calcium as required. If regulation of raw for dogs becomes too burdensome in the U.S., I'll do that again with raw.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Nuts..... The cost of my raw is beginning to skyrocket. Tariffs and African Swine Fever are driving costs. I expect inflation will soon be settling in here.

I buy a 10 kg box of frozen, skinless chicken breasts. This lasts 30 days. In September the cost was 215 rmb. In October it rose to 250 rmb. A week later, my supplier informed me the price has climbed to 350 rmb. I expect that my November box will push the 400 rmb threshold. That my friends is a 63% increase in just a little over 4 weeks. Even so, this remains less expensive than kibble. A 3 kg bag is 250 rmb for a 12 day supply. Although, I haven't checked kibble prices for about a year. I wouldn't be surprised if kibble has had dramatic increases.

The African Swine Fever has had a dramatic impact. China news reports that 250,000 head were killed to prevent the spread. American agriculture reports China had to kill about 3,000,000 head.

I'm inclined to believe the latter number. Pork is becoming scarce and very expensive. I don't buy pork at the grocer anymore, its more expensive than beef. A quarter million head would not have made such a big impact.

Anyhow, I'm staying on the raw diet for my dog. Raw remain less expensive and better for my wallet and his health.
 
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