Pause on Pocket: Raw Meaty Bones Update

A few weeks ago, i posted about choosing a raw diet for our corgi, Pocket. We decided to follow the basic guidelines of the Raw Meaty Bones movement, plus additional fresh veggies. We had one minor setback, but are otherwise amazed by the changes we’ve observed in Pocket so far. I’ve had several readers inquire about how it’s going, so i thought i would post this update with our observations.

Pros:

  1. Pocket gained weight! She’s never been much into eating, and never weighed more than about 19.5 pounds. But, after a few weeks on Raw Meaty Bones, she weighed in over 21 pounds! Woah! Needless to say, we cut back her food to body weight percentage to under 20%…. so i feed her anywhere over 3 pounds and under 4 pounds per week, more or less depending on activity levels. Getting the amount right is pretty easy: each Monday we weight out the entire week’s worth of food, and keep it in a freezer bag in the freezer, thawing out her next day’s portion in the fridge the night before.
  2. She is strong! Ripping and tearing at meat activates every one of her little muscles. You can see them bunching and tensing while she pulls the meat off, and her jaw gets a great workout as she gnaws away at the bones. She even gets some ‘core’ workout when passing her stools, as they tend to be a bit hard and boney.
  3. She hardly poops at all! I had read many times that a dog fed on high quality food defecated less frequently and with smaller poos, but never noticed a difference when switching from a ‘low grade’ kibble to a ‘high grade’ kibble. Oh, man i notice a difference now! She poops maybe 1 to 2 times a day. 3 Max. And they’re tiny and break down in the dry sun. She used to poop 3+ times a day: stinky, runny, messy poops. Sorry for the tmi, but hey: everybody poops!
  4. Her fur is soft and her eyes shiny. She’s always had soft fur, especially the white bits. It is WAY softer now, and super shiny. Her eyes glisten and are generally clear of mucous. She also has zero ear problems, where they used to itch her and be prone to scabbing and gunk buildup.
  5. She looks plain healthy. Our local vet may be skeptical of the RMB diet, but she couldn’t complain about Pocket’s health. She’s active, happy, alert, sleeps well, can leap onto the couch with the greatest of ease, and now finally enjoys eating!
  6. She’s an animal! At first she was scared of the hunks of goat neck and fish head thrown at her, but now she takes them down like the little wolf dog she is. I’m sure there’s some psychological boon to a dog eating like a dog, instead of chewing on the same lumpy, processed non-food every day.

Cons:

  1. She chipped a tooth. The RMBs weren’t the actual cause of the chipped tooth (i blame a frisbee for that), but they did aggravate it. Her carnaissal tooth was just slightly chipped, but after chewing on a goat neck the chip appeared to grow in size. I don’t think the tooth chipped to the pulp, but it does make me nervous and is something I’ll be keeping my eyes on and her vet aware of. From now on: she gets poultry, rabbits and only small, soft bones more suitable to her smaller teeth.
  2. Travelling is a little tricky. If we’re not bringing food in a cooler, it’s hard to travel with her food in tow. Kibble travels well, but i’d rather skip the kibble and bring a small cooler and some frozen chicken wings.
  3. Maintaining a balance: although Mr. Lonsdale says he has seen plenty of dogs fed only turkey backs maintain good health, i want to be sure my dog gets plenty of variety. Presently, she gets mostly poultry. When we get land, we’ll raise meat rabbits for the whole family to dine on and she’ll have more variety more easily obtainable. For now, i just keep my eyes peeled in the grocery store and at the farmer’s market for what i can pick up cheaply.

As you can see, the pros definitely outweigh the cons. We’re happy with our choice, Pocket’s happy with our choice, and i bet your dog would be keen on trying it. In response to some reader questions, i thought i’d answer them for the benefit of all my readers. If you have others, please comment! I’ll be happy to give you my honest opinion and welcome the opinions of all my readers.

Question: Does Pocket get messy when she eats the raw meat? That is really my only hesitation. I don’t want my dogs carrying raw meat all throughout the house and getting blood/guts everywhere. Where do you feed her?

Answer: When the weather is nice, she eats on the porch after we eat lunch (we also practice pack dynamic based dog training, so she eats after we do). If it’s raining or she’s eating after dinner, we feed her in her crate. She really doesn’t make much mess, and tends to lick up any blood that may be left over. We do wipe down her crate after every few meals to reduce the risk of bacteria getting ‘nasty.’ As far as Pocket herself, she doesn’t get messy at all, and spends considerable time rolling about and licking her paws after a good meal.

Question: Is feeding RMBs expensive?

Not at all. Pocket weighs about 20 pounds and eats about 3-4 pounds of food each week. Most of her food comes right out of our refrigerator: I buy whole chickens and cut off the breasts and thighs for us, and she gets the back, frame, wings, neck and gizzards. I also buy bone in cuts of meat, and just cut out the bone (leaving plenty of meat on it) for her to gnaw on. Other than feeding her stuff that would otherwise be wasted, I also pick up ‘reduced for quick sale’ meat at the market, buy ‘guts’ and other old meat from a local rabbit farmer, and have plans on trapping small critters at a friend’s house.

Do you feed your dog a “natural” diet? Please share your experience with us!

 

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13 Comments

Filed under Critters, Dog Nutrition, Dogs/ Corgis

13 Responses to Pause on Pocket: Raw Meaty Bones Update

  1. Gina Marie

    thank you SO much for sharing your experiences with us…wondering if this could help my Stella’s eye issues….making a note to talk with my vet…thank you thank you!!

  2. Our Lucy gets solely BARF diet and she loves it.  She gets a variety of meat sources, beef, venison, turkey, chicken, rabbit, squirrel & groundhog.  Whatever we can find from local farms or hunt in season.  

    One think I want to stress is the need to include organ meats in your pets are meaty diet.  

    As far as the poop thing – it’s amazing the difference isn’t it.  I notice tons with our indoor cats.  The poop doesn’t stink at all so the litterbox isn’t a bother.  When they eat kibble when we’re gone I’m literally knocked over by the smell & messy litterbox when we get home.  

    • MirandaRommel

      Thanks so much for your comments! and YES the organ meat is definitely key. We got our hands on some fish heads and pocket enjoyed munching on some fish eyes and brains :) Gross.

  3. Debbie Kerlinger

    I was always under the impression that the tiny bones found in chicken were super dangerous for dogs… is that wrong? I would love to try a raw food diet for Petey, as his always has bad poop…. I just thought that chicken would be ruled out and it would cost too much! If for some reason you have to temporarily put her back on dry food, are you afraid that her system may react negatively?

    • MirandaRommel

      Hey Debbie: thanks for that great question!
      Yes, the “be afraid of chicken bones” misnomer is a very popular fear. COOKED chicken bones – BAD BAD BAD as they can break, splinter and choke. Raw chicken bones, on the other hand are excellent for cleaning up doggy teeth, as they’re rubbery and flexible. I first learned of feeding dogs raw chicken bones from a woman i met in Australia when i was studying abroad. I was skeptical too at first.
      That being said: it is important to always have an eye on your dog when its chewing on bones. Gnawing on large bones is fine without observation, if you have a big dog that can handle them, but once the bones get small enough to potentially choke, or the dog is eating something with little bones like chicken – it’s important to keep an eye on them. We feed Pocket in her crate at night so that we can watch her, and we never let her continue to chew large bones or hooves when they get tiny or splintery. It also depends on your dog: she is very fastidious and careful, rolling around the small bits between her molars until she crushes them small enough. But i know plenty of dogs that will gulp large bones down without a second thought. So – learn what Peety can handle, or not and feed accordingly.

      As far as worrying about having to switch her. We won’t. When i first started feeding, i was feeding a combo of kibble and RMB because of that fear – but once i figured out how to feed her with such minimal cost, and got a bead on several local sources of meat and offal, we dove in. No more
      kibble for her! I make most of her treats, too – but she does get some
      limited ingredient biscuits from the store. That’s it!

      For a dog Peety’s size, you shouldn’t be out much expense – esp if you can
      find a farmer’s market or a local butcher who has old meat scraps/
      butchering offal (organs) or will sell you chicken necks, etc. Right now
      the bulk of Pocket’s diet is the chicken parts we don’t eat when we buy a
      whole chicken, but we’re hoping for some wild caught rabbits soon. Andy
      even set a trap at a friend’s house today!

      Good luck and let us know what you decide!

  4. Our dog Loki was on a primarily raw diet from day one. (discaimer: we do have some grain-free kibble on hand for when I forget to thaw some meat, which is more often than I like since I’m so disorganized) Turkey seems to give him diarrhea, but everything else we’ve tried seems to go down just fine. his favorite is pork, and we offered him some pigs feet for the first time last week (they were on sale at the grocery store) and they are officially his favorite thing ever! he chews on them for a good long time and then buries them in the yard, digging them up again a few days later. Unfortunately we have to watch him like a hawk when we feed him inside the house, because he likes to “bury” his bones in the cracks between the couch cushions or, last night, under my hubby’s pillow in the bed. ew.

    He’s pretty darn healthy, has small poops like you mentioned, and the best, he barely smells at all. All of the dogs that I grew up around always had a strong doggy odor, and thus I used to always prefer to spend my time around cats. Well, we have cats and a dog, and both have just the faintest of odors on their coats.

    On the topic of traveling, our go-to travel food is sardines canned in water. Super convenient and he gobbles them down bones and all. I don’t give them to him at home much because they make me gag. (a shame, I sometimes wish I could convince myself to like them…)

    • MirandaRommel

      Dang: that is an AWESOME idea: the canned sardines. I’m totally going to take you up on that one!
      Pocket wishes i’d let her at some pig’s feet, but the bones are just too big and i don’t trust that broken tooth from shattering up her jaw :(

  5. Hi we feed our two dogs on raw food. They get chicken carcasses, pork bones, mince beef, grated veg and some omega oil. We have a big white swiss shepherd who couldn’t gain wait and had a permanent runny tummy on dry pet food – even science diets – and a little pavement special. They are both fit strong and healthy.

  6. Pingback: Simple Lives Thursday, #87 - A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa

  7. So interesting.  We are trying to get to the place where we can do the same, by raising our own rabbits, etc.  One question, when you weigh out food for the week (20% of their body weight), does the weight include the bones, especially if they are too large for them to eat?

    Thanks for the helpful info!

    • MirandaRommel

      Hi Rose: great question. YES the weight does include the bones. Pocket’s a good weight right now, lost about a pound from that first gain, so i’ve been feeding her anything over 3 pounds and under 4 pounds, and the variation week to week seems to be good for her. She eats all the bones in the chicken she gets, so that definitely qualifies. The only bones we take away from her are the large neck bones from pigs or goats, etc. I simply fill in any gaps (and add to the nutrition profile of her diet) by supplementing with fresh veggies, raw or cooked, raw eggs and training cookies that i make at home (right now she’s working on a batch of fish head/oat/yam cookies. yum.)

  8. Karenmazer

    Hi Rose,   Would dogs fed raw meaty bones and meat tend to ‘attack’ free-range animals, especially chickens,  to ‘catch a meal’ for themselves, once they ‘taste’ raw meat?

    • MirandaRommel

      Hi Karenmazer:
      (Miranda here)
      it is a common misnomer that dogs fed raw meaty bones would then turn on the livestock while they’re still clucking or baaing, but that is generally not so. Going after livestock is, as a general rule, up to the dog, their training and the relationship they’ve been trained to have with the animals. If you allow your dogs to chase or play with your livestock, there’s a greater chance they’ll “take it too far.” Certain dogs have much stronger pray drives than others, as well – ie, i would NEVER have left our husky in the same yard as our chickens, and i have to train our corgi very well to contain her herding instinct to just herding, and not nipping. So, my answer would be “no,” but know your dog, and don’t tempt them if they cannot be trusted. Meat and moving animals are not the same, and dogs shouldn’t equate them as being the same, espeically if they are well trained and have good self control. The book, Raw Meaty Bones by Tom Lonsdale does cover this topic in case you’d like further reading.

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