Monday, February 20, 2012

Best of Both Worlds

I have not posted about feeding raw food in a long time.... nothing serious or educational in over two years.  I used to feel more like an expert.  After all, I had successfully fed numerous greyhounds for ten years on nothing but chicken backs, necks, and leg quarters, turkey necks, beef, vegetable and fruit mixes, and different organ meats. My hounds looked and felt great.  My old dogs aged well.  Their mouths were healthy and teeth were clean despite no dental cleanings. 
Katie's teeth at age 10.

A friend joked once that greyhounds poop more than they eat.  That was my experience before raw food.  Stools were gross, enormous, and soft.  If poop can ever be called great, my raw fed greyhounds' poop was great.
Great on the left.  Not Great on the right.

But then Reagan came.  On the farm, she ate a typical mixture of commercial dog food and raw meat.  Once in my home, she was switched to the raw diet I was feeding.  As long time readers know, she lost weight and her coat was terrible.  Her stools were always a little icky and nothing like my other greyhounds.

Reagan's bloodwork showed she was vitamin B12 deficient.  Well, it was not her diet.  You have to be a strict vegetarian to eat a diet deficient in B12 and she was definitely not a vegetarian.  Eventually, we concluded that Reagan was simply unable to pull the nutrients she needed from raw food for whatever reason.  I put her on a high quality, grain-free, lamb based food (Acana Grasslands) and she has been fine ever since.  That all happened in the spring and summer of 2009.

So with kibble back in my house, I have morphed into a half and half diet for all of my dogs.  Most of them eat raw food in the morning (Reagan still gets a chicken back twice a week) and they all eat Acana Grasslands or Ranchlands in the evening. 
The half and half diet has advantages and flexibility.  Kibble is easier to feed when traveling or leaving the greyhounds with sitters.  Kongs can be stuffed with raw meat, veggie mixes, or kibble mixtures.  I feel good to be feeding my dogs a variety of fresh, whole foods and not something that looks like cereal (even if it is grain-free).  Plus, the raw food definitely helps keep their teeth clean too.  But chicken backs come in all different sizes so feeding a little kibble at the end of the day makes it easier to round out the portions to an appropriate calorie count.  I also feel less compelled to do elaborate veggie mixes when I know that the Acana dog food fits someone's idea of "balanced" and should contain all of the needed nutrients.
So that is what I am feeding now.  The best of both worlds I think.  I am not advocating one, the other, or both.  It just depends on the dogs and what works best for them. 

If you feed kibble, but wish to add a little raw food periodically, I think turkey necks are a good choice (at least for greyhounds).  They usually do not have a lot of skin or fat attached so it is easier on the digestive tract.  It is also an excellent raw meaty bone for teeth and takes some work for the dog (greyhounds) to consume. 
But OMG!  Sometimes they are huge!


gyeong said...

That sounds like a great addition. Will see where I can pick up some turkey necks.

Cat said...

Is dog kibble like horse feed where it's considered "complete" only if you feed in 24 hours the minimum of what the label lists for your animal's weight? Just curious, I know your dogs are doing great on what you give! (too many comments on the photo of Stephen to list and not be censored) ;)

houndstooth said...

I burst out laughing at that last picture! The breeder we got Kuster from does the same thing, a half and half diet. I like that idea better, actually. You reminded me that it's been a while since the dogs have had some turkey necks, too. Do you feed those instead of a meal? I'll admit, I usually do that more in the warmer months because it's too messy to eat in the house, but the girls love them!

Claire Krigbaum said...

Haha, that last picture cracked me up too!
I so wanted to feed raw. Rye wouldn't touch anything poultry and I gave up early on him. Amber loves it and I had her on it for about a week. She had eaten a half a cornish game hen one night and the next day we traveled to my inlaw's house so I brought kibble. She had a late breakfast of kibble that day and then that night, threw up. The next day she couldn't walk! We rushed her to the e vet and it turned out to be gas, so bad that she didn't want to stand up! So that ended my raw adventures. I thought it came from having raw and kibble in her stomach too close together, but I don't know.

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Yes, I would feed periodic turkey necks has a meal replacement.

Cat, I would assume so. I don't worry about balance too much. I don't think nature intended for anything to get a balanced diet in a 24 hour period... so I don't really aim for it either.

Karen said...

Pearl has similar issues with being able to effectively absorb nutrients from her food. We've put her on a probiotic and a digestive enzyme which has helped. Glad to hear you came to a good solution for all your dogs- when you have a dog with digestive issues it can be scary to think about changing up the diet but I've been thinking of adding at least some raw to Pearl's diet. Helpful to read about your experiences, this was the first I've heard of a dog not tolerating a raw diet well so now I will know what to keep an eye out for with Pearl.

K-Koira said...

I've been feeding raw for a little over a year now, and my dogs have both been doing great on it. I follow a bit of a different guideline though, as I do meat exclusively, and much less bone than it sounds like you use.

When I have put my dogs back on kibble for a day (like when I stuffed a kong with it to help occupy my dog while injured on crate rest), they have gotten really horrible gas, which they don't have with raw alone.

It is always interesting to me to see how other people feed their dogs, especially people who feed raw.

Hiking Hounds said...

No comment on the last picture. :-) Sounds like a great compromise for everyone. When Zephyr was sick and had the super suppressed immune system, etc., I stopped feeding my raw mixes. I didn't want to risk picking up any GI bacteria, etc. I was/am worried about everything. Previously I had been giving a combo of raw and kibble. I still give some raw backs and other bones. They love them and it's so good for their teeth. I don't ever want to have to have another dental done. Now I often add cooked meat to the kibble, which they really love. Thanks for posting this. I'm always interested in what others are feeding.

Kathy said...

I also do a combo. I do Acana kibble for breakfast & raw for dinner. I had read it was best not to mix raw & kibble in the same meal because raw is processed quickly through their system while kibble tales longer to prpocess. By mixing the 2 in the same meal, you would be causing the raw to remain in their systems longer increasing the likelihood of them picking up "bad" bacteria. Don't know if that's true or not, but just to be safe, I don't mix raw & kibble in the same meal.

Apex Agility Greyhounds said...

Summit is fed kibble but he does get raw marrow bones, and sometimes he gets a turkey neck for a weekend breakfast. I just bought two packs this weekend actually... so I'm sure he'll be thrilled when he finds out because he hasn't had a neck in quite a few months (I've been slacking).

Kini_pella said...

Great info! I love reading your food blog updates. What is your opinion on freeze dried grain-free foods? I read that it makes feeding "raw" (if it can be considered that) much less expensive and more accessible/easier for travel, but it looks kinda mushy? I just bought the dogs a bag and thought we'd give it a go: Maybe we'll see some more of the benefits of feeding raw? I hope we'll find out, because I'm totally jealous of your poo bag photo!

Greyhounds CAN Sit said...

I think Beryl would eat almost anything I do, but she's not keen on raw unfortunately. Frankie would be quite happy eating virtually all raw. I do a lot of cooking for them, chicken mince, rice with home made meat or chicken stock and some good quality kibble mixed in with a dollop of canine flax seed oil on top and some minced raw horse mixed in. That's about the only raw meat Beryl hasn't eventually turned her nose up at so far. Those turkey necks sure are huge! We can't get them here:(

Declan said...

Thats interesting. I have a very sensitive tummy and we've settled on a kibble that suits me. I've never had raw meat.. maybe its something to try out. Deccy x

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
GreyhoundGeek said...

A couple of questions for you Jen (Jenn?).

I recently went to a half/half diet (and incidentally chose Acana as well) and have been worried that I'm under/over feeding, since there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of info on portion sizes when feeding both.

I'm curious how much Acana kibble do your Girls get per meal (I have a female that looks about the same size as Seven).

When you do Chicken Necks, how much/many per meal? I'm currently doing a half-pound per meal, but this seems rather small compared to the average turkey neck that are often over a pound.

I assume you chose to feed Kibble at night in order to give it more time to digest?

Any other info on portions that you think might be important for a newbie?

Thanks for maintaining this awesome blog, Data (my grey) and I have been benefitting from it greatly over the last 2 months =)

(sorry for the duplicate post, Blogger had my info wrong the first time)

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Hi Greyhound Geek,

LOL... I can see why your greyhound is named Data. :-) I pretty much eye everything. The dogs that do great on raw get 1/2 - 1 cup of Acana. The true half and halfers get 1 - 1.25 cups of Acana. Everyone gets around a half pound, but I feed backs so they tend to be fattier than necks. So 1/2 of backs won't be the same in calories as necks. They also get some venison with ground bone sometimes. Or a beef organ/tripe mixture. Sometimes veggie mix.

If you are only feeding necks, I would probably feed 1.5 - 2 cups of Acana. Necks are just meat and bone, but usually no skin, no organs, no fat. Not much to them.

GreyhoundGeek said...

Thank you very much for the info Jen; I'll go ahead and adjust her meals accordingly =)

Marilyn Couch said...

Love this site so much. I would appreciate knowing what you mean when you mention "veggies" as the side entree with raw backs?
Kellen, our retired female racer, 8 years young, awesome Lady, eats dry Purina with canned lamb and rice. She eats well and we feed her treats. This weekend, hubby bought a Kong toy and we stuffed it with her dry food, cut up hot dogs and peanut butter. Her tongue was busy for hours :D
I have never given her any raw meats before, I worry about the bones getting stuck and I would die if anything happened to her that I caused. If this helps (the necks) to keep her teeth clean, I'm all for it. I printed out your 2 Treat Recipes which I will get busy with tomorrow to have on hand as a wholesome something she can munch on.
Speaking of "Awesome". Jennifer, you truly are and I commend you on your website and all the things you do for your Greys. Thank you and hope to hear from you.
(New here, so pardon my little rantings)..

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Hi Marilyn,
Thanks for the lovely comments. If you click on "Raw Food Diet" under "Other Topics", you will find lots of examples of veggie mixes. Avoid grapes and onions.

A dog can choke and die on anything they put in their mouths. Raw meaty bones are just another thing they can out in their mouths. I do not consider it additional risk. If anything, it might not agree digestively with some dogs, but then commercial dog food doesn't agree with other dogs. In 13 years and 10 greyhounds, I have never needed to seek medical attention because of a meal. Neither has anyone I know and my prior vet who treats a lot of raw fed dogs, had never had anyone come in for treatment (I asked her once).

Occasional turkey necks will not keep her teeth clean, but if you brush them everyday, turkey necks will be extra helpful especially if there is some tartar that needs scraping off.