One of the best decisions I made for Ref was taking the leap and changing his diet. It was a decision I didn’t take lightly and it is something I had been considering for more than 12 months before I took the leap. And let me tell you, it was definitely worth it.
So what was I feeding Ref before the change? From a puppy, I took the vet’s advice and fed him kibble. That way he would get the nutrition he needs to be a healthy dog. But I actually just gave him kibble for one meal. I have always fed Ref twice a day as he got so used to the routine. So kibble was his breakfast and then I cooked up some fresh meat like beef mince, chicken or turkey mince along with a stack of veggies. I’d bag up half a cup of this and freeze it. This would be his dinner every night along with a whole carrot and a Dentastix. I always thought this was a great diet for him. He didn’t get a lot of treats either but when he did, they were usually ones I bought from the supermarket or pet store.
I lost count of the times that the vet told me that Ref needed to lose weight. I tried reducing his dinner portion size but it made no difference. So with this, I had to find a better solution for him. I read a bit about the raw diet but never really knew the best way to take on the raw diet especially since vets always recommend kibble as the main diet option for dogs. I was ready to make the change but where to start was a different story. How did I know how much to feed Ref, what ingredients to do I include and how did I know he was going to get all the nutrients he needs to be a healthy boy. Now that is where a professional comes in to it.
I had a consultation with a pet nutritionist. Yep, a pet nutritionist. They do exist and it was exactly what I needed to go in the right direction. We discussed Ref’s current eating habits, any health problems he has and how we would make changes to his diet. The information I learnt in that hour phone consultation and in the following emails was incredible. So here are some things I learnt:
– Kibble does not clean teeth! Considering I have yet to meet a dog who chews their kibble, it is just not possible for inhaling kibble to clean teeth.
– Ear infections can be caused by too much sugar or grain in their diet.
– Human grade foods are the best option. If you can’t eat it, then neither should your dog.
– Bones, like chicken necks, chicken wings and other raw bones are an important part of a dogs diet.
– There is a list of super foods for dogs that include coconut oil, carrots, sweet potato and kale. Check out these Pretty Fluffy articles here and here for a superfood list and their benefits.
– The leanest cut of human grade meat is kangaroo. This is readily available in Australian supermarkets in mince form and for cheaper than most other minced meats.
How I like to see things now is that dogs are just like humans and thrive on the freshest meats, fruit and vegetables. Just think how you feel eating junk food every meal, every day, every week of the year. And then think how awesome you feel when you eat the fresh meat, fruit and vegetables. It is the same for dogs. So I can hear you asking, but what are you feeding Ref exactly? Let’s get to it then.
On the advice of the pet nutritionist, Ref’s diet consists of 35% meat, 30% bone, 10% offal and 25% fruit & vegetables. So what are the options for each of these components?
– Meat: Human grade mince such as kangaroo, chicken, beef or turkey. The key to choosing the best meat is one that contains no more than 5% fat. I go with Kangaroo mince because it has only 2% fat content.
– Bone: bones must not be cooked as they are dangerous for dogs to eat. And these bones don’t have to be those big meaty bones you don’t want hanging around and stinking out the house. Chicken necks, chicken wings and beef brisket are great to choose from. I chose chicken necks as they aren’t too big, they are a soft bone and Ref does actually chew them. If your pug doesn’t chew chicken necks, stay away from them as they can easily choke on them. Always supervise them when eating raw bones.
– Offal: This can be liver, heart, kidney, brain and more. I have gone with chicken liver as it is very cheap and readily available.
– Fruit & vegetables: Choose from fruits like strawberries, apple, pear, blueberries and a whole lot more. Good vegetables to include are carrot, zucchini, green beans, kale, celery, red capsicum, steamed sweet potato and pumpkin. Popping in some fresh herbs like mint and parsley is also great. Check out the Om Nom? app for what fruits and vegetables you can and cannot feed your pug.
– Supplements: I add supplements to Ref’s diet to ensure he is getting all the vitamins and minerals he needs. This includes a vitamin supplement, atlantic kale, coconut crunch and fish oil or coconut oil.
So every fortnight I make up Ref’s food based on the above ingredients. I choose a mix of fruit & veg, wash it, put it through the processor along with the chicken liver & herbs so it is nice and fine and mix it through the mince. I bag it up and store it in the freezer in meal size portions. None of this is cooked so it is prepared and into the freezer in half an hour. I also buy the chicken necks in bulk and freeze them.
Every morning, Ref gets one chicken neck and one portion of his fresh food mix. I add his vitamin supplement, atlantic kale (for his teeth) and fish oil (or coconut oil) to his food and mix it through. His dinner consists of one portion of fresh food 5 nights a week with some coconut crunch. The other 2 nights he has half a tin of sardines with the coconut crunch. He also gets a carrot and a kangaroo tendon every night.
I changed Ref over to this diet in November 2014 and at that time he weight 9.9kg. 6 months later and he now weighs 9kg. His coat is shinier and softer than before. He barely passes wind now and when he does, it doesn’t stink the place out. And the biggest change I noticed was his behaviour. He is now much calmer, in particular when we have visitors. He used to be crazy excited and took an hour to calm down when visitors came. Now he is still excited to see people but he calms down in about 5 minutes. These are just the most noticeable benefits of going raw. I am so glad I did and I know Ref is too. He enjoys his food more than before and doesn’t miss the kibble one bit. A healthy pug is a happy pug mum. And that I am.
Please note that I didn’t include measurements and quantities of food as this really needs to be tailored to each dog and their needs. You should definitely seek the advice of a profession like a pet nutritionist or a vet who is open to the raw feeding method. My recommendation for a pet nutritionist is Alla from Foodie Pooch who is based in Melbourne.
What do you feed your pug? If you don’t feed them a raw diet, are you considering changing them? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.