from the yahoo raw pups list

(not berners, see "mailing lists" on main menu)

Hi All,

A few months ago, in early January (ed. 2009), I joined this group and started (after reading A LOT) my Irish Setter puppy on RAW. I read all the faqs and asked questions here and I just wanted to thank everyone for the help and support and share my experience to encourage anyone who is considering going this route.

In the beginning it all seemed a bit overwhelming; raw meat, guts and stuff, bones, percentages, amounts. It all left me feeling inadequate, but with the info I had in hand I went ahead and dumped the kibble.

We haven't looked back, and now my parents are moving their 2 dogs, a Schnauzer and an Irish to RAW as well.

What it boiled down to for us was this; Cara will weigh around 55lbs when full grown. At 8 months she still has a bit of growing to do! 2.5% of 55 is 1.4 (a pound and a half or so)which works out to around 10lbs a week. So 8 pounds of meat, one pound of offal and one pound of bone.

She gets between 1 and 2 chicken quarters a day usually. Sometimes she gets a hunk of chuck roast with a bone in it as a change, if there is a good deal on it at the butcher's. Twice a week or so she gets a nice whole fish instead, like a mackerel, with guts still in it. Four times a week she gets a gut muffin as a snack.

That's it. Easy. I can't imagine now why it seemed so complicated. I guess it was just unfamiliar.

A few technical bits that have helped me;

I bought small cheap rag rugs at IKEA for 3 bucks. I keep one down in the kitchen and that is Cara's eating mat. Meat stays on it, nowhere else in the house. Every time she took her meal elsewhere I got it back from her and brought it back to the mat. Now when it slides off the mat she picks it up and drags it back on herself! I replace it every few days and at the end of the week I run a load of them in the wash all by themselves, with LOTS of baking soda to keep them fresh. We don't have a back yard so outside was not an option for me.

I buy the quarters 25 at a time for .99 a pound, and have the butcher bag it in 5 quarters to a bag. These go home and into the freezer. One bag at a time comes out, enough for 3 days or so, depending on how active and hungry she is. I keep the meat in the small produce drawer by itself. That way the drips don't spread.

I buy the mackerel already flash frozen individually in a plastic bag of 5. These go directly into the freezer as well and I pull them out and serve them still frozen. That way they are not a mess and don't smell.

I buy a pound each of; chicken heart, liver and gizzard, beef or pork kidney, and beef brain. I chop up the kidney to match the liver in size, mix it all up and dole it out into muffin pans lined with muffin papers. I freeze them and then put them in a Ziploc bag to store. My daughter dubbed these 'Gut Muffins'! I serve them frozen for the same reason as the fish, which she calls 'fishsicles'. I make the gut muffins once a month or so.

In the beginning she had really runny stools and mucous and a bit of blood. Sometimes she got too much bone and was constipated and cried when she went. The fish and gut muffins usually make one of her stools softer, but most of the time they are small and firm and don't have much smell. Rarely do they have mucous. Some days she skips eating, and I put the hunk 'o meat back in the fridge. Some days she comes to her mat a third time and looks politely at me to let me know her stomach thinks her throat's been cut and would I PLEASE do something about that?! I have learned to listen to her and trust her to let me know what she needs.

We have traveled successfully with a small cooler sized for drinks with her meat for a day or so in it and just hit a local grocery store for chicken for resupply. We skip the fish and muffins then. Too messy! I take her mat along with us with a bag to keep it in. Mostly we we travel we have found outside place for her to eat, but in a hotel the mat is handy to have.

When the cat kibble ran out a few weeks ago I didn't replace it and she is happily munching raw (in slightly different proportions, a lot more fish for example) along with Cara.

Mostly what I have realized how easy it was once I got a routine going, and that it didn't have to be complex.

Good luck all and thanks!

Sara and Cara

from the berner-l

Our dog Moka is on a barf/raw diet. We feed her mostly meat and bones but add wheat germ to her mince meat to increase the volume of her stools (anal glands problems).

Moka was fed a kibbles/canned meat diet for over a year before we found out about the natural feeding. She has always been a picky eater and was a lazy/slim puppy. She showed no interest in food whatsoever and we were desperate to find something she'd eat. We decided to switch her to raw feeding after much readings and research. It's been a year now and I will never go back to kibbles or canned meat.

Her coat has never been so shiny, she LOVES her food and has way more energy than she used to. She is bouncy and loves to run in the fields. I'm completely sold and I know that's what I'll feed my next puppy.

Talking about Bilinghurst, he also wrote "Grow your pup with bones". It explains BARF feeding for puppies/pregnant or lactating bitches. I must admit I haven't read it yet (although I own it) but it is probably a good source of information that I am planning on reading before getting a puppy.

BARF= Bones And Raw Food.

It is a diet that removes kibble and uses bones and raw food. It does take some effort to get used to but it is worth it. I feed my dogs pretty much a raw diet. I started about 2 years ago when the USA had problems with dogs dying from eating contaminated kibble. I was shocked at the number of kibbles that were recalled and since Australia imports many I decided that I wanted to control what my dogs ate.(We didn't have any problems here but it was enough to be a catalyst for me to remove kibble as the foundation of their diet). I now have control over the quality of food they eat, and I enjoy the ritual of making up their meals strange as it seems and people have commented that they eat better than they do:).

I also suggest that you join naturalberners yahoogroup ( and be a lurker. This group discusses a lot about diet and about the medical things that affect our beloved breed. It is a great resouce. Also if you join naturalberners there are some really good archives that you can read back on.

Naturalberners provides plenty of information and whilst you may feel that some comments come from zealots with an particular agenda; they are there to make you think. You decide what information you want to take onboard now and what you need to take onboard later. You don't have to be a raw feeder to join but use it as a resource because it does give you options to consider. I have to consider that some foods recommended are not readily availabe here (like Bison) but we have our own cultural quirks (e.g. kangaroo) that is not readily available in the USA.

I belong to a couple of other groups and lurk and when the dogs are sick, people will come to BARF or similiar as a last resort and often see great results from changing from a high kibble based diet.

I also found that their water intake went down by a third and the amount of poop produced also went down by about the same and doesn't smell anywhere near as bad as dogs fed a canned and kibble diet. (Also the farts are fewer and less smelly. I really notice the difference if I get lazy and try to shortcut.) Their coats are soft and shiny and I like the results.

Ian Billinghurst wrote a good book that is worth reading called Raw Meaty Bones and I suggest that you read. There are also good websites on the net. I lurk on naturalberners and learn volumes - more than I'd ever learn on my own and it is easily accessible.

I'm at the point where I ask my vet some really probing questions rather than take his word as gospel thanks to naturalberners. I'm not sure that he likes my asking quesitons:) but he is also a raw food feeder too which is good so I'm not completely at odds with his ideas and philosophy.

I got my first berner almost 11 years ago. AFTER I brought him home somebody told me about this list. I had never been exposed to such a wonderful resource! How fortunate for you that you found the list before getting your puppy!

It never occurred to me that there was any other way to feed my puppy other than high quality kibble, but on this list I was exposed to some great discussions about diet. I found that some feed kibble, and are passionate that that's the best way to go, and others feed various raw diets and are equally if not more passionate that that's the best way to feed. I think all are motivated by truly caring about the dogs and wanting to do what's best for them. The wonderful thing about this group is that different viewpoints can be discussed so that everyone can learn. Open discussions benefit the dogs more than anything else in the long run!

Because of what I read on this list, I made a few attempts to go the raw route when my boy was a puppy, but at that time I decided I wasn't educated enough and didn't want to hurt my boy in any way. When he was 9 and having some health issues a holistic vet suggested a raw diet. So at that time I switched and I honestly believe it bought me an extra year and a half with my boy. Since then I raised one puppy on raw starting at 9 weeks, and am currently raising another. My new puppy came from a raw feeding breeder because natural rearing is now very important to me. So she has never had a single bite of kibble!

You should know that there are different versions of the raw diet. When I hear "BARF" I think of the "bones and raw foods" diets which can include veggies, grains, yogurt, and other things that don't come directly from an animal source. There is also the "prey model" diet which is limited to meat, bones and organs. That is what I feed (since Dec. 2007) and my dogs have all thrived on it. If you are interested, here is a wonderful list where you can learn more about this diet.

I think if I'd have found the above list when my berner boy was a puppy I'd have had the confidence to feed raw then. There are many experienced raw feeders (some 20+ years feeding raw) there and they are always happy to answer questions. much like the wonderful group here!

I think in the end we all have to do what we believe is best for our dogs. You sound a lot like me, truly wanting to learn and do what's best, which is why I decided to come out of lurking and respond to your post. I wish you the best with your new puppy! Enjoy the journey!!!

Both of our dogs, an 8 year old Golden Retriever and a 7-1/2 year old BMD, have been given Brewers Yeast Powder with garlic and Vitacaps for large dogs since the day we got them. I get both products from Fosters and Smith (no affiliation). Up until a year ago they were fed Science Diet Maintenance and every new vet that saw them commented on the lushness and color of their coats and the excellent condition of their skin. A year ago, during our severe drought and heat wave, both dogs experienced hot spots for the first time. After treating the hot spots I started both dogs on the BARF diet, supplemented with 1 tbsp. Brewers Yeast, Fish Oil 1,000 mg, and an antihistamine (50 mg Diphenhydramine HCI). Their coats are truly beautiful and their skin is clear and supple. Since being on BARF, both dogs have much more energy, poops are minimal, firm, and odorless, the GR's chronic ear infection has disappeared, and the Berner's signs of incipient liver disease have disappeared. Both dogs took to the diet like they had "died and gone to heaven". I'd be glad to send anyone details about what I feed them privately if you are interested.

When I first started feeding a raw diet I was not feeding bones (had not found a good source yet). My then 2 year old girl had some tartar build up on her teeth. Once started on raw foods, no bones, the tartar literally fell off her teeth within a months time. Althought the bones help to keep the teeth clean and I am sure the enzymes in the food probably aid a bit in this also also it is the PH of the dogs system that keeps the teeth tartar free. A dogs PH is on the acidic side. Meat is acidic as well as several other ingredients that generally go into raw fed diets such as apple cider vinegar. Kibble, containing the amount of grains that it does is generally less acidic and sometimes, depending on the formula, more alkaline. Another bit of the picture is most likely that dog's saliva has no digestive properties as does humans so when crunching on kibble a pred-digestive process is not started. Dog were truly meant to gulp their food down :)

Adding a teaspoon or so of good organic apple cider vinegar (not the distilled white vinegar) into the dog's water may help to keep the teeth a bit cleaner as would the occasional feeding of fresh meat's.

I feed my dogs like the scavengers and opportunists which they are and nothing in my "fridge" ever gets wasted. I feed a "natural" kibble as a kind of a "base" and for something to use when I board from time to time, such as when I travel to Detroit to visit Mom. For example, this evening, Moses' dinner included a bit of a sandwich bun from my own dinner, a little bit of the turkey from that sandwich, a little lactose free milk (the only kind that I can drink) and some kibble added. We had been to the market today and it is raining heavily out so I gave him a raw meaty bone to while away the after dinner hours. I have never has a problem with any of my dogs when changing a food (not that I give them huge amounts of a new food at once). This method has served me well. Most of you know that I required fairly immediate and unexpected surgery in May last year to remove a pituitary gland tumor. Moses' breeder (God bless her!) took care of the Bernerboys for ten days during this time. The lads did not care much for the kibble I sent with them and they had absolutely no problem feeding the diet eaten by Kim's dogs. Too, once when they were boarded, they were refusing the designer kibble that "Mommy" had so carefully and lovingly selected for them and the kennel owners offered them some of the kennel kibble, which they ate eagerly and without upset. It is not that I advocate heaping portions of new foods on a regular basis but I do worry about the delicate manner in which this rugged farm breed must sometimes be treated in order to thrive.