How much meat is enough for my dog?
My dog is a 5 years old schnauzer that weights approx 23lbs.
I usually give him 1.5-2 cups of dry dog food per day.
I would like to switch him to real food. I understand that the majority should be meat protein. How much oz of meat should I give him? And what should I mix in with the meat? (my dog is slightly allergic to chicken)
Take a look at this question, the answer should get you started: http://pets.stackexchange.com/questions/501/how-can-i-ensure-homemade-dog-food-is-healthy-for-my-dog? ... "About 20% of the ... the diet should have some vegetables in it."
I understand that the majority should be meat protein.
Please don't feed just meat to your dog. Doing so will throw off the necessary calcium/phosphorous ratio, and will be missing a number of other macronutrients that dogs require.
Raw diets can be tricky, and there's a lot of contradictory science (and plenty of bad advice) out there. However, the majority of raw feeders will tell you that the diet should approximate the contents and ratios present in a whole lean carcass.
How Much to Feed
Requirements vary based on exercise levels, caloric content of the foods, and the quality of bio-available nutrients in whatever you're feeding. In general, though:
An approximate food consumption guide, based on raw meaty bones, for the average pet cat or dog is 15 to 20 percent of body weight in one week or 2 to 3 percent per day....Table scraps should be fed as an extra component of the diet.
— Dr. Tom Londsdale's Guide to Raw Feeding. Londsdale, 2006.
For your 23-pound dog, that means feeding around 1/2 to 3/4 of a pound of raw food per day. You'll have to experiment a little to find out what's optimum for your dog.
According to Unlocking the Ancestral Diet (Steve Brown, 2010) a raw diet should look something like:
- Protein: 49%
- Fat: 44%
- Carbohydrate: 6%
Other sources recommend up to 30% carbohydrates, but all the raw feeders I know personally tend to fall into the low-carb camp. Your mileage may vary.
Dogs require a calcium/phosphorous ratio of around 1.3:1. In practice, unless you're feeding whole carcasses, that means you should be feeding around 10-25% bone matter on average, in addition to recreational bones.
Personally, I achieve this ratio by feeding items with high bone content like chicken wings (close to 50/50 bone and meat) and supplementing with offal and a small amount of pureed vegetables, but there are other ways to get there.
Some dogs need help transitioning to a raw diet if they've been living on enzymatically worthless processed foods. A good probiotic and enzyme supplement can help; I think highly of Wysong AddLife as a one-stop supplement. I've also used NWC Total-Zymes to boost digestion with older dogs, and make sure to feed plenty of kefir or yogurt whenever a dog's diet is changing.
Raw diets are great for many dogs. I've been feeding both pets and working dogs on a raw diet for more than 10 years with great success. However, there's no substitute for doing your own research. There are a number of great books on raw diets; searching for "raw meaty bones," or "barf diet" on Amazon will turn up quite a few good ones. The classics include:
- The Barf Diet (Raw Feeding for Dogs and Cats Using Evolutionary Principles). Ian Billinghurst, 2001.
- Raw Meaty Bones Promote Health. Tom Lonsdale, 2001.
Both are a useful places to start, and will at least give you a baseline for evaluating other books on the subject.
Although other members might have some useful information to provide, questions like this are best answered by your pet's veterinarian.
You already know your dog is slightly allergic to chicken, but what about other meats? You wouldn't want to feed your dog something he or she is highly allergic to. Your vet will be able to tell you what meats your dog should eat as well as what amount should be.