Nothing makes you loose your appetite quite like clipping the nails off of chicken feet

Owpid-20130427_113052.jpgh, the things l do for my dogs. A few days ago l picked up a couple pounds of Chicken feet or as the package proclaimed, chicken paws, for the pups. l have read that they are a wonderful source of glucosamine so l thought I’d try them out. Upon further reading, of course after l had already bought them, I discovered that you need to trim off the claws or nails before feeding them to your dogs.

Until a few years back, l couldn’t even bring myself to touch raw meat much less Chicken feet. Needless to say the “paws” sat in my fridge for several days. I would pull them out a couple of times each day with the resolve to finally get the trimming done. Then I would “chicken out” and put it off for later. wpid-20130427_112348.jpgFinally this morning l did it! l had to call my best friend in the process so we could chat about boys and keep my mind off the task at hand. When the job was done I put a few in the dog’s bowls and the rest into freezer bags. Now here it is a little past noon and l still have not been able to eat anything today. Not only did the chicken feet contribute to my lack of appetite but l decided to give the dogs some full sardines that l purchased from Primal as well. These are not the canned kind that I often feed to the dogs and Nakia at least quite enjoys. They are full on frozen fish.

Watching the dogs crunch into a whole fish did me in. Surprisingly enough though, I may have found something Nakia doesn’t like. She crunched into the fish bodies opening the carcasses, then left them for Rose to roll in. So, that is how my morning went, chicken paws, fish guts and bath time, all on an empty stomach.
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Family Dinner

wpid-20130418_2112210.jpgFor Christmas, my grandmother gave me a cookbook with a collection of her recipes. My grandma has always been a fabulous cook. Tonight I decided to try a new recipe from the book, Salmon Bake with Pecan Crunch. However, I did not have a few of the ingredients so I improvised. My version was made with a Walnut Crunch. I also decided tonight they animals would share in my bounty.

For Sensi, just raw sockeye salmon. He ate most of it which I am very happy about as he won’t touch the elk, deer, or pork I have tried to give him in the past.

The girls’ dishes looked so good I could have eaten them.

Human, dog and cat dinners

Human, dog and cat dinners

They had:

  • Raw sockeye salmon
  • Boiled asparagus drizzled with salmon oil
  • Finely chopped walnuts
  • Raw honey
  • and some raw pork chops left over from this morning, with bone for Nakia.

They loved, loved, loved their dinners tonight! I didn’t think Rose would eat her veggies but low and behold, they were one of the first to go.

Lucky dogs. What are some of the meals you guys prepare for your four legged kiddies? Share in the comment section below.

Dreams of owning a freezer

IMG_20130303_121156Earlier this week I stopped by my favorite place to get meat for the dogs, Clay Meier’s Game Processing only to find the doors locked. When I told my friend this she told me, “yeah, it’s their off season so we have to call ahead to get meat now.” This made sense. I don’t know why I thought a game processing place would be open even with no game to process. Although, I have to admit I really have no idea when actual hunting season is. I just start seeing men in camo and hunter’s orange on my usual hiking trails or sitting in their big trucks on the side of the road peering up the mountain side with binoculars glued to their eyes.

IMAG0715So, we called ahead and the owner’s, who live on site, were out of town but had someone coming in Saturday from 10:00 to 12:00. Because there were several of us who were trying to get products from Meier’s and the time window was so small we possed-up so that one or two of us could go down and get meat for the rest of us. (Thanks Jill!) My friend Ali and I usually split a 48 pound box of ground deer and elk meat with bones because neither of us can fit 48 one pound blocks in our freezer. Hell, I can barely fit the 24 pounds in mine.

IMAG1277Earlier in the day on Saturday, my landlord came to the house to take his beehive from the back yard. Unfortunately during the winter, moisture had gotten into the hive and killed all the bees. When he opened it up, the bodies just poured out. It is so sad to see tens of thousands of honey bees laying lifeless in a heap. The silver lining though is that they left most of their hive full of honey. My landlord was nice enough to give a rack which I am going to process myself and use for both me and the dogs. IMAG1288

Later in the day I stopped by my cousin’s house. While I was there she handed me an egg carton. Opening it revealed  a rainbow of chicken eggs. Green and brown, big and small! The picture really doesn’t do it justice. And here, yet another wonderful thing the dogs and I can share.

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That is one of the reasons I love feeding my dogs the way I do. We can share our food. If I get too much of something for me to eat, I can often give the left overs to the dogs. It also reduces the amount of food I waste. They help me eat things before they go bad.

freezerSaturday just seemed to be falling together as a stock up day for me. I never in a million years would have thought that someday I would have dreams of owning a stand alone freezer. Some day when it is more in the budget, or when I find one for super cheap that I can justify putting on my credit card, I will own an upright freezer.

So in the spirit of the day, I stopped by The Dog’s Meow to check out their green tripe selection. I picked up a few different packs of green tripe. OC Raw Dog has a frozen green tripe which The Dog’s Meow sells for about $7 for what I beleive is a pound. IMAG1294I also picked up some canned beef green tripe by tripett. They make green tripe from many different animals. Unfortunately, The Dog’s Meow was sold out of the lamb tripe so I got the beef. The sales associate told me they will be getting buffalo tripe in soon as well. The tripett beef green tripe costs about $2.50 a can at The Dog’s Meow. You can also buy a case of 12 cans for $32.99 from Amazon with free shipping which works out to be about $2.75 a can.

IMAG1296After my trip to The Dog’s Meow, I made a run to my local grocery store and bought a bunch of their clearance meat. I bought a little over 5 pounds of pork chops, half of which had bones and about 3 1/2 pounds of chicken drum sticks, all for total of about $15.00. Then came the really challenging part of my day, trying to get it all in my freezer, minus the cans, honey and eggs of course. Now you can really see why I need a freezer, ha ha. IMAG1297

The search for more cost effective ingredients and a bag of guts.

I am always on the look out for places to buy cheaper, good quality meats. Yesterday my friend Ali and I stopped by a local Mexican market, Rancho Market. I failed to take pictures unfortunately, not realizing until I got home that I should have. The selection at the butcher was amazing. They had so many different animal parts. Chicken and pork feet, tripe, cornish game hen, the butcher’s counter just went on and on. They guys behind the counter were super helpful and eager to get us whatever we needed. I ordered 2 cornish game hens, 2 pounds of cut up tripe, 3 pounds of ground beef, and a package of ox tails, which weighed about a pound and a half. Each of these came in a pretty pink bag. I am very excited to go back to try many of the other meats.
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That night I gave Nakia and Rose an assortment of goodies. I fed them some ground beef that I had previously defrosted. I didn’t want to give them the ground beef I just bought because I want to freeze that beef for three weeks to rid it of any parasites or bacteria that might make the dogs sick.

I gave them each a bit of the tripe. I wanted to see how they liked it. Tripe is considered an organ or offal and as you know Rose hasn’t liked the previous organ, liver, so I wanted to see who she would do with the tripe. I have to say, I had a really hard time handling the tripe. One thing that feeding my dogs RAW has done for me, is to help me get over my squeamishness concerning meat. Tripe is the stomach of a cow, or other hoofed animal. Most tripe that you get from your local grocery store has been processed and bleached white giving it little to no nutritional value for your dog. In the bleaching process the tripe is drained of its natural enzymes which are what make it such a great food for your pooch. My tripe was no exception. Although I didn’t realize I had bought the bleached kind until I did a little more research. What you actual want is green tripe. After yet more research and several calls, I discovered that The Dog’s Meow carries canned green tripe and just started carrying a frozen form. So, I fed my dogs the junk food version of tripe, but they still loved it! Of course, who doesn’t love junk food, secretly or not?
I added some of the ox tail to the girls’ dinner as well. When I put their dishes down it was like nothing else in their bowls existed.
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They went straight for the ox tail and each retreated to their own corner of the house to gnaw on it. Raw bones are already like crack for them but a bone surrounded by a large portion of meat? They were in heaven!

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After munching on the ox tails they went back and gobbled up the remaining contents of their bowls.
Then, this morning I gave Nakia what I have seen on discussion forums referred to as the TV dinner of raw feeding, a Cornish game hen. Being my first time feeding anything of this sort, I just cut open the package and plopped it in her dish.

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Worried about sanitation, I put her bowl outside regardless of the big snow flakes falling to the ground.

Being Nakia’s first experience with a whole bird, or any whole animal for that matter, she picked up the hen, dropped it and looked up at me then back at the bird as if to say, “What the hell am I supposed to do with this?”
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I left her to figure it out on her own, while I went in to feed Rose. When I came back out the bird was gone an Nakia was happily licking her lips.
As the day went on Nakia seemed especially proud of herself. Later though, I walked into the living room to a pile of throw up. As I looked at the mess I realized there was a plastic bag filled with hen random hen parts in the pile of bile. Being my first experience with a whole store bought bird, I did not know they stuffed this inside…I bet some of you are cracking up and shaking your heads. Live and learn. Oh, the adventures of RAW. Poor Nakia.

I must apologize. I just realized I have not written a post in nearly two weeks. Boy, time flies. I’m not going to make a bunch of excuses because I personally often find excuses to be pointless. I have been working on some more informative drafts and am doing research every day so I will have some better posts soon.

IMAG1082The past few days I have been adding a lot of different textures to my dogs’ food. I made a trip to Trader Joe’s the other day and bought some chicken halves with ribs for the dogs as well as low fat plain yogurt and some blueberries to share with the dogs. For Saturday’s breakfast, I chopped off some smaller pieces of the chicken for little Rose but gave Nakia a full half. I then added a spoon or three, depending on the dog of yogurt which I then added a few blueberries too. My dogs LOVE blueberries. Nakia, like her momma, seems to love popping things in her teeth, like blueberries and fish oil pills. I also added some of the squash puree which I defrosted earlier. I also cracked a raw egg into Nakia’s bowl and IMAG1083spooned a bit of it out for Rosie and spooned a little coconut oil on the dish as well. I then sprinkled the whole dish with cinnamon to give them a little more variety.

I have recently been asked if I mix all the proportions in the dogs’ food together or if I put in each element separately. I like to add each piece separately for a few reasons. I personally do not like my food all combined so I let them have individual portions.  I also feed them like this so I can watch which foods they go for first and last so that I can see which foods they love, like and hate. If it is something I know they need but they don’t like, I will then mix it with something they love.

IMAG1131For dinner that night, I gave them basically the same meal but changed the protein source. I fed them:

When feeding my dog RAW, how much do I feed and what proportions?

IMAG0823So, I’m getting a lot of questions along the lines of “how much do I feed?”. Well, personally I just kind of eye it for my pups. If they start to gain weight I know I’m probably feeding too much and if they look like they’re getting skinny, I cut back. If Nakia goes on a hard hike with me I’ll often give her a little extra, if she was having a lazy day on the couch a little less. Same for Rose. I just kinda “feel” it.

I know that’s not really the answer you guys want though so here is what I have for you all.

The best way to know how much to feed your dog is to use the following equation:

Dog’s weight x .02 or .03 = daily amount your dog should be fed

veggiesIf your dog is active or is under weight multiply his weight by .02 – .03. You can even go up to .05 if they are really under weight or the .03 just isn’t cutting it. If they are over weight or not very active multiply their weight by .017 – .02. This works out to be about 2%-3% of an under weight or active dog’s body weight or 1.7%-2% of an overweight or non active dog’s body weight. Puppies should be fed approximately 2%-3% of their expected adult body weight. If you don’t know what body weight your pup is expected to be, feed her 9%-10% of their current body weight and adjust as needed. Basically just pay attention to your dog. If your dog is over weight, feed them 2%-3% of their target body weight. If you feed them 2%-3% of their current body weight most likely they won’t lose any weight.

Rose, Nakia and their friend Lola waiting patiently for me to prepare breakfast.

Rose, Nakia and their friend Lola waiting patiently for me to prepare breakfast.

To find how many calories per day your dog needs, take their ideal weight and divide it by 2.2. This is how many kilograms your dog weighs. Take the number of kilograms and multiply that number by 30. Then take that number and add 70. This is the number of calories your dog should have per day.  It is their resting energy rate. In other words, their caloric need if they are just chilling around the house all day.

Take Nakia & Rose for example:

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The equation is:

lbs / 2.2 = kg x 30 = x + 70 = k/cal per day

Someday I will buy a scale for my kitchen so that I can feed my dogs the correct portions. Until then as I mentioned earlier, scaleI use what is known as the hand and eye method. Basically, I just eye out how much I think they should eat. I am a dog walker and take Nakia on long pack hikes with me. On these days I will feed her a little more than usual. If we are just sitting around the house on a lazy Sunday I will feed the pups a little less. They are both at healthy weights so my system seems to be working for us.

Nakia going to town on a raw bone

Nakia going to town on a raw bone

The general ratio for RAW feeding is 80% meat, 10% bone and 10% offal or organs. Where the general ratio for BARF feeding is 70% meat, 10% bones, 10% vegetables and fruits, 10% organ. I follow more of the BARF model because I try to emulate the nutrients they would get in the wild from their prey’s stomach matter. As you start getting into the swing of things with your dog you can adjust these ratio according to your dogs needs. Pay attention to your dog. You know when something isn’t right with him.

The 80:10:10 or 70:10:10:10 ratio does not need to be met every day. You can achieve this total ratio over several weeks. I know some people who feed their dogs offal only once or twice a month to reach their offal ratio goal.

Rose and Nakia's breakfast this morning.

Rose and Nakia’s breakfast this morning.

I feed my dog’s twice a day. Nakia and my old dog Zuke use to eat once a day but with the addition of Rosalie I added the second feeding. I have been told it can be dangerous for small dogs to go too long without food and I felt so bad that Nakia had to watch Rose eat and didn’t get any herself.  I know, I’m a sucker. I will discuss my findings on why you shouldn’t let a little dog go very long without eating in another post to come.

I realize this probably leaves many other questions unanswered like, “how much fish oil do I give my dog?” or “how many eggs do I feed her?”. I hope to answer all of these questions in the not too distant future. So stay tuned for more!