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.
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. 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 do I include and how did I know he was going to get all the nutrients he needs to be a healthy boy.
With some research and the help of a pet nutritionist, I got off to the right start. With raw feeding becoming more popular amongst pet parents who are wanting the best for their pets, finding someone to help you get started is easier now. There are a number of amazing websites that offer these services including Perfectly Rawsome and SoCal Raw Fed Dogs. I used a nutritionist that no longer practices in Australia but I learnt so much from speaking with her. 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 vegetables to add to your pug’s diet.
- 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.
- Variety is key and you should feed 3-4 different proteins over the course of each week or one a week on rotation over 3-4 weeks.
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.
We follow the BARF diet that consists of 70% meat, 10% bone, 5% liver, 5% other secreting organ and 10% fruit & veg. So what are the options for each of these components?
Meat: There are a variety of meats you can choose from. It is recommended that you feed one protein for 2 weeks to make sure there are no reactions for your pug. Then you can introduce one new protein at a time to know what works for them. Some good meat options include chicken, beef, lamb, kangaroo, turkey, goat, venison, pork, rabbit and some novelty proteins like crocodile, wallaby and possum. Some of our favourite proteins are beef, lamb, kangaroo, turkey and goat.
Bone: Fresh meaty bones are the best bones to feed. They also need to be soft edible bones so your pug can easily digest them. For small dogs like pugs, it is best to go with poultry bones like necks, wings, feet and frames from chicken, turkey, duck and quail. Chicken necks can be a good one to avoid with pugs though as they can easily choke on them. Since chicken is off the menu due to allergies for us, we like duck feet for bone content as they are chock full of collagen plus they are narrower than necks and less likely to be choked on.
Offal: Offal is just as important to include in a balanced diet as bone is. It provides essential nutrients for your pug to survive. Offal should not be any more than 10% of their food intake. Liver is a must but also no more than 5% to ensure there isn’t too much Vitamin A being given. You can get liver from most animal sources such as chicken, beef, lamb, kangaroo and pork. It is best to rotate these as each animal provides different levels of nutrients. Now when it comes to other secreting organs, you can look for kidney, spleen, pancreas, testicles, brains, thymus and ovaries. Just like liver, if you can source different secreting organs from different animals, you are going to provide a great variety of nutrients for your pug. We have been able to source liver and kidney from beef, kangaroo, lamb and pork but that’s been it until recently being able to source goat spleen.
Fruit & vegetables: When choosing fruit & vegetables to include in your pug’s food, go for the lowest carb options possible. For fruits, it is best to stick to blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries on a regular basis with different fruits once or twice a week for variety. For vegetables, green leafy vegetables are the best but you can include in alternating mixes some other beneficial vegetables too. We like to choose from kale, spinach, broccoli, brussel sprouts, asparagus, cauliflower, carrots, celery, parsley, mint, oregano, pumpkin, capsicum (bell peppers) and green beans. Vegetables and fruits are best digested when they have been pureed. This allows your pug to get as many nutrients out of them as possible. I like pureeing them and putting them into fun moulds to freeze and add to their meals. You can also mix the fruit & veg puree into their meat & organ mix which is especially good for fussy eaters.
Supplements: Supplements should only be given for a specific reason though there are a few supplements that I would recommend for all pugs. A general vitamin supplement like Augustine Approved’s SuperBoost, which is great for itchy skin. If your pug is good with turmeric, I would look at adding Golden Paste for cancer fighting and health boosting benefits. Coconut oil is another great supplement especially when feeding low fat meats and to help improve skin. I see so many people recommending fish or krill oil as a supplement and I did initially do that until I read how quick they can go rancid so I choose to get fish oil into their system with actual fish like sardines, salmon and mackerel. There are so many supplements that can be added but finding the ones your pug needs is more important than including any just because someone else has.
Meal prepping will make life easier for you. I started by making up 2 weeks of a meat, offal, fruit & veg mix and freezing it in meal sized portions. Then I would add supplements and bone at meal time. 2 meals a week would be sardines. Nowadays, I prepare 4 weeks of food into containers for the pugs. I include everything they need for their day of meat, offal and bone. Sardines are fed 2 nights a week and salmon once a week. At meal time, I add supplements and their veggie mix that are kept in the freezer. Each morning, I grab the following days meal out to defrost in the fridge. It will take me a couple of hours every 4 weeks to prep meals. I find it relaxing but everyone is different. For those who really hate meal prepping, there are so many great ready to go raw options on the market. You just need to find one local to you that you and your pugs love and you’ll be good to go. Just keep in mind that whilst meal prepping can be time consuming for some, more often than not, it is much cheaper.
I changed Ref over to this diet in November 2014 and at that time he weight 9.9kg. 6 months later and he was down to 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. There are so many experience people out there who can guide you on how much to feed. You may like to search for a pet nutritionist to help guide you. If you want to give it a go yourself, check out my raw feeding for pugs series.
- Rodney Habib’s Planet Paws
- Dr Karen Becker
- Dogs Naturally Magazine
- Dr Jean Dodds
- Canine Ascension
- Raw Fed & Furry
- Keep The Tail Wagging
- Perfectly Rawsome
- SoCal Raw Fed Dogs
- Augustine Approved
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.