Everything you've ever wondered about raw feeding Poodles, yes, even the white ones!
Nutrition has long been a great interest of mine. My interest in species appropriate diets became piqued in 2004. The documentary, Supersize Me, had just been released. I clearly remember sitting down with my family to watch the film and seeing the mortified expression on my daughter's face as she proclaimed;
"I will never eat McDonald's again!"
And, true to her word, 14 years later and my, now 22-year-old, daughter has not had McDonald's. Honestly, I can't even remember the last time she ate fast food of any kind!
My own food journey has not been quite as straight forward as my daughter's. I've wavered a time or two from my nutrition conviction in the last 14 years. My only excuse I have to give is that I have more than two decades over my daughter, on this earth. And empty calorie food with no nutritional value, while unhealthy, is also delicious! Let's face it, breaking the habit of bad food is not easy to do.
By and large, though, the last 10 years of nutrition research has kept me moving in a forward direction. Each year ending just a bit healthier than the one before.
The more I learned about species appropriate nutrition, the more curious I became about the foods I was feeding my dogs.
After all, if such carelessness and empty calories existed in processed foods for humans, what sort of nutritional value did I expect to find in the food prepared for my dogs? The short answer to this question was, not much nutritional value at all!
We already know that dogs have a natural carnivorous bias. Dogs descend from the Timber Wolf and, like their ancestor, demonstrate similar carnivorous traits. Take a moment to look at your dog's teeth. You'll notice that they are all pointy. Dogs do not have flat molars or back teeth like grazing animals. Instead, their pointy teeth allow them to rip and tear at meat, while flat molars are used for grinding down grasses. You'll also notice that your dog's jaw only moves in a single direction; up and down (this is why they can't chew with their mouth closed ;) ). This singular direction aides in the tearing and ripping of tough meat from bones, as well as the crunching of bones. Meanwhile, grazing animals can move their mouths side to side in a grinding fashion. And even a cursory glance at the digestive track of a dog shows the advantage of a meat diet.
The last several thousand years have proven, however, that dogs will adapt to whatever food source they find available. Grains, vegetables, fruits, even human trash will be consumed by an opportunistic canine. Humans discovered that feeding dogs dried food was much easier and more convenient than preparing raw foods for pets.
Early kibble made for dogs was called biscuits. Biscuits were introduced in 1870 as, "medicated dog biscuits."
This type of dry dog food was a mish-mash of inedible or old scraps of rice and vegetables repurposed as "better than meat" food for dogs.
Despite the criticism of this early kibble, demand for dry dog food increased steadily between 1890-1945. The convenience of processed dry kibble won over consumers in the pet world. And the rest, as they say, is history!
The interest in feeding dogs a species appropriate diet increased along the same lines as better education about the processed foods we put into our own bodies. Improvement on human nutrition has been a big influence on raising awareness about what we are feeding our beloved dogs.
Today, all of my dogs are 100% raw fed.
I feed them all by what is commonly known as a Prey Model Raw diet. You can read more about this type of raw diet by visiting the Perfectly Rawsome website.
Most of the muscle meat my dogs get, comes from beef, turkey, and duck. They also get meat from other sources such as quail, moose, caribou, sheep and even bison. All their meat is given to them raw, as in, not cooked :)
I also feed organ meat such as kidney, spleen, sweetbreads, liver, pancreas, etc. Organ meat is packed with nutrients and vitamins! Organs make an excellent addition to the diet.
Tripe is also given on a regular basis in my home. Tripe is the stomach lining and intestines from grazing animals (I know, ew.). Tripe is quite nutrient dense and has lots of good bacteria.
And finally, raw bones. Bones are likely my dogs' favorite part of their raw diet. The bones are great for their jaws and teeth! Those pearly whites stay white because of their raw bone chewing. And marrow bones aide in brain development.
The advantages to raw feeding my dogs are, quite nearly, countless!
One advantage is my Poodles' coats. Their coats are brighter, crisper, thicker and more correct than what I've come to expect from kibble fed dogs. When I'm at dog shows, exhibitors and judges alike will remark on the luxuriousness of the Poodle coats on my dogs. After a proper breeding program, I absolutely believe that excellent nutrition means everything to a good Poodle coat.
Another advantage is the clear muscle definition on raw fed dogs. When all of a dog's calories come directly from dense nutrient sources, with no fillers or added empty calories, it makes sense that muscles would develop more prominently as unhealthy fat is limited on a raw fed dog.
This is especially obvious on raw fed puppies when compared to their kibble fed counterparts. Raw fed puppies grow at a slower, arguably, more correct rate. They do not pack on the pounds as quickly as their kibble fed cousins. To be sure, a raw fed puppy will grow to it's genetically predetermined height and weight in the end. They just get there at a more consistent rate with a more even increase over their first two years of life.
Slow growth puppies in the raw fed world are a common and normal occurrence. Sometimes we'll run into a person who is accustomed to kibble fed pups, this makes for a great opportunity to explain the differences and demonstrate the advantages to a puppy who grows slow and steady :)
One final advantage I'll list here is, quite likely, my favorite advantage;
Yes, folks, we are going to talk about dog poop!
Raw fed dogs are extraordinarily efficient with all parts of the food they consume. As a result, they actually poop less than their kibble fed counterparts! And, when they do poop, the waste is so much smaller than anything that comes out of a kibble fed dog.
Guys. Seriously. Cleaning up after a raw fed Poodle is not even a big deal. What's more, the waste tends to decompose quickly, turning into a chalky substance that often blows away in the breeze. Backyard waste clean-up has never been easier!
Feeding a raw fed diet is absolutely a sacrifice. The preperation of the food, the freezer space needed to store the food, and the expense associated with a raw fed diet for four Poodles and their Catahoula sister, are all no small feats. I am always hyper-aware of my food budget and I am very grateful for the support of my local raw fed dog community. If you're living in Alaska and curious about raw feeding dogs, I highly recommend the Facebook group, Alaska Raw Dog.
In my world, this raw diet is worth the extra effort. I plan on having my Poodles for a good many years. I want those years to be filled with health and happiness. My life with my dogs is long term. And I want to do all I can to give each of them the best chance at a long and healthy life. That all starts with proper nutrition for my sweet pups!
If you have questions about raw feeding, comment here and I'll do my best to answer ya'!