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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My dogs each have health problems that are likely diet related. After a lot of research and answered questions (thank you so much for the help to the members here who gave me advice) I have decided to switch both dogs to raw. One was diagnosed with IBS. It took a year to get a definitive diagnosis because not all common symptoms were present and they were intermittent. The other has chronic purple bacterial skin blotches, scaling and rashes. They were cultured twice and both times the results were the same. I am switching the most seriously impacted dog first, then the other after I settle on a diet plan. I bought Honest Kitchen grain free base because it has the most anti inflammatory properties and Ziwi Peak beef. I decided on beef as the only meat source because one dog is extremely allergic to fowl and neither has eaten much beef so they are less likely to have developed sensitivities.

The problem with prepared raw is the cost. $400-600 a month depending on what I buy. I looked at Stella and
Chewy which has excellent ingredients but for a 75-80 lbs dog it’s over $400 a month just for one. I don’t care for Ziwi Peak. My older dog loves it, the other dog pushed it around in his dish when I gave them each a small amount to test. The problem is that I don’t like it at all. It has a weird texture, it stinks and it is half crumbled to dust. It is also expensive.

Can I use THK base and fresh beef without bones as the only meat source, along with goat milk kefir and coconut oil? I have had supplements recommended to me, but I’m trying not to add to much other than pure food as I think that is part of the problem. My younger dog can’t seem to eat anything that is too chewy or hard or tough. It literally took him a long time to eat the little bit of Ziwi I gave him, which is dry and chewy. I will not feed that dog bones. The other dog has a tendency toward stomach ulcers and bleeding so I won’t give that dog bones either.

If not this, is there a better or different way to use dehydrated raw with fresh meat? I have been using
Fromm which I love and hate to give up. While it is a good kibble, it has too many ingredients to even use it to test for food sensitivities. I’m completely committed to switching diets, even though up until this week I thought raw was nothing more than a fad. After reading about both their different medical conditions, I decided they are most likely caused by diet and I need to go all in on making the best choices for them. I want both dogs in the same diet for convenience. Any suggests you have will be helpful.
 

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According to THK ingredient list calcium and phosphorus are both added to their base mixes so forgoing bone shouldn't be an issue. The only thing I see missing is omega-3's. I feed only beef and use organic cold pressed hemp oil for omega 3's (Z can't have fish).

This link is helpful in understanding balancing omega-3 and beef diets.
https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/omega-3-for-dogs-the-ultimate-guide/
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Thank you. I’m a little lost with all of this. Still trying to learn all the basics. Mine seem to handle fish but because they have been on it so long, I’m trying to stay away from it. I don’t know which protein is bothering each of them.

What types of beef do you give yours?
 

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I have a large freezer, and saved a lot of money buying in bulk from a wholesale supply butcher when I was feeding raw. The downside was my bathroom looked liked a crime scene when I repackaged 20kg (45 lb) frozen blocks of meat into single serve size portions. Using the bath was easier and quicker for cleanup than my kitchen.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I can imagine it! I don’t have a big freezer but it’s a good idea if you do. Do you use different parts of the cow?
 

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What types of beef do you give yours?
As much as I would love to feed organic grass fed beef I can't afford it. I shop around to find the best price I can. That usually turns out to be large sirlion/eye of the round roasts from Sam's Club (about $2.89-$3.19/lb). Takes a bit of time cutting into small cubes (my fussy dog won't eat large chunks or tear at meat). In a pinch I will use 80/20 ground beef. I prefer not to use ground beef as a regular source of meat mainly because the more processed the meat before I get it the more likely of contaminants (think all the recalls the last few years). Now if I'm cooking it I will use it. I do at times cook her meat just to change things up a little or if she refuses to eat for a couple days. Her way of telling me she wants cooked dinner...lol!

Our Lidl frequently has organic grass fed ground beef on sale for $2.50 for a lb package but they limit 4 per customer. That would only be enough for 2.5 days :crying: The up side is when I buy it for the humans in the house we share with the furry one.

I don't use base mixes (again, fussy dog won't eat them). I feed cubed beef, varied beef, lamb, goat organ meats; add bone meal powder for calcium; hemp oil and a vitamin blend I make myself using Dr. Karen Beckers recipe to balance the diet.

I also free feed a limited ingredient lamb and rice kibble. Some day's it goes untouched, some days she eats maybe a 1/2c and other days she chooses to eat kibble over her raw. Like tonight. It works for her so I go with it.
 

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The THK base mixes are all designed to make a complete meal when an appropriate amount of raw OR cooked meat is added (or even eggs). So you can literally add hamburger to the THK and get away with it because it has added micronutrients to balance it out so that you don't have to keep a spreadsheet to track them.

I feed THK with raw beef. If I can get it, I use ground heart (with or without 10% or less liver and kidney for extra nutrition) because my dog loves raw beef heart. The problem I have is that I have to drive about an hour to find a butcher who will grind up the hearts for me right now. If I can't there, I will just use ground chuck. He's always been a hard keeper and seems to do better with more fat in his diet, so 80/20 meat is okay for him -- with a fat dog, or a dog at risk of pancreatitis, I'd use leaner meat. If there's a sale on any other beef (stew meat, etc.) I wouldn't hesitate, at least if the store would grind it or chop it for me...if you don't mind doing that work at home, you will have a lot more options!

I talked to THK about bone, and they said for an adult, the calcium they added to Preference/Grain Free is sufficient but there's no harm in also feeding some recreational bone if you choose to, or even using a frozen product like Primal Grinds (80% heart/10% organ/10% ground bone, with no added vitamin packs) as your meat in the base mix. You don't have to -- but you won't hurt the dog if you do. For adults, the nutrition is a range that's flexible enough to give you wiggle room.

Primal Grinds runs about $4-ish per pound. Since it has no added vitamins, it actually works pretty well with a base mix. It's not labeled as complete without the added vitamin pack, but those are already in the base mix. It's hormone/antibiotic-free beef too, so it's a little better than most grocery store meat. Keeping a few chubs in the freezer will give you options.

I agree with adding fish oil. You can do this in capsule form or squirt some into the mix that you prepare. If you buy it bottled though, be sure to store it in the fridge. Interestingly, the THK employee that I talked to by phone also added fish oil for her own dogs.



Another thing to consider for a dog with chronic issues is a digestive enzyme added to the base mix. This might be something like Prozyme or an all-in-one supplement like Glandex. I add the enzyme powder at the same time I add the water to soak the HK mix.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
My dogs think fish oil capsules are treats. I keep it in the refrigerator. I will try enzymes. A local friend just contacted me with butcher shop info. I have to drive a ways but it’s worth it. I may try to keep my IBS dog on some Ziwi because of the added nutrients. She is tiny and doesn’t eat large quantities. My WL dog burns up a lot of calories and will do well on fresh. Both dogs have no trouble adding weight if I don’t watch it, even with exercise.

Grass fed is organic and pricey. I don’t even buy it for myself. My friend said I should at least feed raw turkey necks but both my family and vet think bones are too dangerous. My smaller dog likes to swallow things whole and my younger one doesn’t like chewy foods. Maybe vines are different though. I also would have to keep them completely separated while eating because they will fight over food if given the chance.

My local feed store carries Primal Grinds. I didn’t buy any yet because you have to thaw out the whole tube. I’ll check. It would be worth keeping on hand if I run out of fresh raw.
 

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Neck bones are fine but I always found turkey necks to big and way to much bone. I feed rabbit, duck necks nd any part of a chicken. Look at Monica Segel's K9 kitchen book. Then make a spreadsheet based on the NRC requirements. I made one that I keep adding foods too.

As far as thawing out the whole tube - I feed Faren about 8-10 oz per meal. So a 5# roll will last 3 days? You can also slice thru those and rebag them.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
One of my dogs is allergic to chicken. I have to test other fowl to see if he’s also allergic to that. I’m trying to keep it as simple as I can. If it gets too complicated or I can’t find ingredients, it might not be possible to do this.
 

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One of my dogs is allergic to chicken. I have to test other fowl to see if he’s also allergic to that. I’m trying to keep it as simple as I can. If it gets too complicated or I can’t find ingredients, it might not be possible to do this.
My view: The KIS (keep it simple)method. If you are planning to use THK then really all you need to do is add raw or cooked meat. THK has done all the other work for you. Acquiring beef isn't difficult. $$$ yes compared to poultry but doable.

I really feel that what makes raw or home cooked diets so intimidating in the beginning is the overwhelming variations of the diet itself. Prey model, franken prey, premade complete, base mixes, dehydrated, frozen, fruits and veggies, no fruits and veggies and on and on.

Add in food/health issues and it can quickly become a quagmire of information needed and choices to be made. Or lack of choices (which is my case). If my dog didn't have sensitivities to almost everything and a gut so stinking sensitive and a host of other issues I wouldn't be feeding raw. Not that I'm against it, just that it was mind boggling in the beginning and I was so worried of doing it all wrong. And truth be told in the beginning I'm sure I did it half wrong. I tried it all and spent a ton of money. Over time with lots of trial and much error I finally realized the simpler I kept things the better the results.

It sounds like you are basically trying an elimination diet to hone in on what is causing the health issues. If your dogs like and will eat THK base mix then I personally feel that is the easiest most effect way to go as a trial and guarantee nutritional balance. If it works out you have a simple meal plan that doesn't require a ton of meal prep, storage space or mind numbing thinking. With true full raw if you still had issues you may have invested in a freezer, a lot of meat and a bunch of supplements just to get started for a diet that didn't pan out.

Now with all that said if THK and raw meat works and you want to venture into going full raw to possibly save on cost down the road the transition would likely be much easier.
 

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Are you in a rural area where you can go in with somebody to buy like say half a beef or something? I know my mom saves money on meat, mainly pork by going in with somebody and buying half a one every so often from people in her town. We got given an injured bull to butcher. But given that he was injured I wouldn't have fed raw, would definitely want to cook that. Then again we have fed our dogs raw deer meat in addition to kibble but dang does that smell awful. Never saw my dog look healthier though. She bulked up with muscle and her coat was gorgeous and sleek.

Could you look into rabbit? See if any there are any nearby meat rabbit breeders and then if your dogs don't react buy from them or raise them yourself if you could handle that? Goats maybe could be another option.
 

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I can imagine it! I don’t have a big freezer but it’s a good idea if you do. Do you use different parts of the cow?
Back then I was feeding kangaroo (I'm in Australia). I could get kangaroo tail at $2 a kilo (approx $1 a pound), compared to $5 a tail when buying retail. I've fed kangaroo, goat, chicken, beef and sheep.

(My dog is currently on kibble, Royal Canin Sensitivity Control Dry. Its formulated to assist dogs suffering from food allergies, food intolerances and food adverse reactions. It can also be used to help manage inflammatory bowel disease, diarrhoea and colitis. Its protein is duck, the carbs are tapioca).
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
@Springbrz It’s a form of elimination diet, but I’m also trying to solve two different conditions. So I don’t need to know which protein is at fault but to come up with a new eating plan to stop the symptoms. My younger dog isn’t sick but had a lot of early antibiotics which I think led to his chronic symptoms. He also showed a strong allergy to chicken but it could have been the kibble as a whole and not just protein. I’m nervous about giving him chicken again, though. His reaction was bad as a puppy. Our vet tries very hard but doesn’t think antibiotics caused his reactions and also isn’t sold on full raw.

@Kazel no, urban/suburban. Rabbits are considered exotic meats and are very difficult to find or are very expensive. No one slaughters meat. I think if people had their way, we would not feed our dogs meat at all.

@Dunkirk my female is on RC rabbit and potato. Then I discovered that potato is an inflammatory food and possibly the worst thing she could be on. Kangaroo isn’t available and is illegal/banned in some states.

Would someone please post a sample weekly menu? What you feed, quantities and how often? It would help to know the dogs weight and activity level too. I’m still not sure what to buy.
 

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You can make feeding a dog like this a full-time job if you want to.



I would first try a base mix from a company like THK or Dr. Harvey's or Sojo's and simply add muscle meat (like beef heart or ground chuck) and see how your dog does on it for a few weeks before investing lots of time and effort (and trust) in Internet people who may or may not know what they're doing and may or may not someone qualified reviewing their recipes. (If you want a recipe, I'd invest in a consultation with Monica Segal or Balance It -- you can play with the Balance It recipe formulator to see how complicated it is to get the micronutrients covered.)



There's no way to guess what's going to be right for your dog. It might need 100% raw BARF-style with something like Feed-sentials added. Or it might need the bulk of fruit/veg (mine does terribly without the added fruit/veg of a base mix). Some do better with added grain too (which Sojo's has, in the form of oats). They're so individual once they have these issues that it's kind of like a detective game to figure out what they're going to thrive on -- if you can use a base mix to hone in on the kind of ingredient mix he does best on, you'll save yourself a lot of time an aggravation of constantly re-formulating on a spreadsheet. Rotating through a few of them might at least give you a simple, time-efficient way of honing in on ingredients you'd put in a home-made recipe in case you want to do a consultation.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Maggie, thank you. Yes, it’s overwhelming and I was not sure about the source of the information. She obviously doesn’t like supermarket chicken. My female has switched 100%. She loves it and is doing very well. My male is going to use the rest of the kibble and then I will start to switch. She had no trouble changing from kibble to the prepared base and dried beef, but when he was little I added ground hamburger to his kibble and he got diarrhea so badly I quit. How do I switch him over while avoiding that? Using Ziwi Peak seemed to help her. I can try that for him.

I read the ingredients of the base mix and I actually have every one of those fresh foods now, except for coconut. I think the one I have is sweetened. It’s all common human food that I buy each week. I am thinking about alternating between the base mix and preparing my own to save money. I’m still not sure of the calcium source as I’m not 100% sold on bones. I’ve heard too many horror stories. I read that you can give eggs with crushed eggshells. I’m convinced my dogs will eat anything, eat least my rescue. One day I caught her eating a paperback. She got the whole corner and part of the cover. Maybe someone spilled food on it.

I looked for the Segal book Jax recommended and didn’t find it yet. I plan to do a lot more reading.
 

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Eggs are really good for calcium. My advice would be grinding them up into a powder to avoid any sharp pieces cutting up the mouth. I know people will feed egg shells to their chickens instead of feeding oyster shells. Which could be another option. One thing that raw bones do have as a benefit is the marrow. I can understand the desire to want to avoid bones, I know for sure you want to avoid weight bearing bones. Perhaps you could get something to crush/grind them and mix into feed if you decide to go the raw feed route?
 
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