switch to raw

how we switched to feeding raw food

Pandora eating a chickenback In 2000 we decided to give feeding raw a try. At the start we were a bit afraid to give our Chow Chows raw bones. We all know the sad stories about dogs that had eaten chickenbones and got internal perforations, or swallowed a pork-bone and got problems. But we had to agree with the people feeding raw: these were always cooked or otherwise heated bones. Raw bones... scary... but a wolf or a fox does not die after eating a whole chicken. The dog's ancestor is the wolf, his digesting system can not be changed THAT much by its domestication: from a wolf/dog crossbreeding come fertile offspring, so they are both forms of the same species. The authors who write about natural rearing take the wolf (and the dingo) as role models for their raw feeding program.

Our Chow Chows enjoy the raw food, have rarely skin problem, have clean teeth, shiny coats and look healthy.

switching to raw food

You can find many sites dedicated to feeding raw (also called natural rearing) on the web. When we started there was less experience with raw feeding and switching from kibble to raw. I gave my Chows kibble and raw mixed together, that is NOT recommended these days, because we know now that kibble and raw digest in a different way.
If you want to switch to raw slowly (or want to keep feeding some kibble), it is advised to keep the raw and not raw meals apart and keep at least 4 hours between the different meals. Raw needs a very acid stomach and kibble digests better in a less acid stomach and needs other enzymes.
At first the best way to give meaty bones is at a time your dog does not expect food, then his stomach is not yet "prepared" for kibble and is better able to digest the bones. Start with "soft" bones like chickennecks or chickenbacks. For some dogs the chickennecks are too small, they don't chew them, but swallow them. This usually does no harm, but chewing is important to keep the teeth clean. The solution is simple, give larger pieces, like chickenbacks.
Be carefull with "weightbearing" bones (legs), they are harder to digest and should only be given when your dog (and his stomach) is used to eat raw. The weightbearing bones of larger animals, like cow and pig, can be too hard on the teeth and can result in broken teeth!
On average feed 2-3% of the weight of your dog a day.

the meals

Our Chow Chows get two meals a day.
In the morning, after their walk, they get their raw meal. Chimay weighs nearly 25 kg, but she has a tendency to gain weight easely, so she gets between 150 and 200 gram. Eoos weighs nearly 21 kg, she gets between 200 and 250 gram. The meal contents 5-8 chickennecks, 2-4 duckwings, 2-3 rabbitlegs, one chickenback, 150-250 gram tripe or 200-300 gram Carnibest. Once a week I add hart or liver.
They ge their second meal after we have had our dinner. They get the leftovers with some kibble (a bit more kibble when I think they need to gain some weight or no kibble when they are overweight). When there are no leftovers they get canned fish with kibble. Sometimes I add some supplements: once a week some olive oil (extra virgine), twice a week vitamin C and three times a week a glucosamine/chondroitine/MSM supplement.

The bones are perfectly digested, the stools are firm and small (compared with feeding all kibble).
Every now and then they get a big raw bone from cow, sheep or goat, this is for fun. They eat the meat and the soft top and bottom from the bone, and after they are finished I throw away the remaining middle part of the bones.

Until now we have only had problems with eating bones once: Pandora was on medication and eating weightbearing bones caused a terrible obstipation, whole parts of the bones eventually came out. Nemo and Callisto had eaten the same bones, but they both had no problem at all.
When I searched the internet, I found out that Pandora's medications at that time (Metacam, Rimadyl and Tolfedine) were all medications called NSAID's, and that these types of medicines can influence the digestive tract.

feeding raw

this page was updated at
October 6th, 2009
© Anita Meulstee

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