Sunday, October 25, 2009

The magic white box (or, the most expensive part of raw feeding)

This is Kip's favourite new thing:

It's the magic white box that food comes from.  Apparently, if you sit in front of it long enough, it will dispense yummy food  (this works for humans as well as dogs).   And the space allocation is much more fair to those in the house that actually pay for the food*!


But...but...but...why is Kip's space empty???

What?  Doesn't everyone thaw 3 turkeys at a time in their bathtub**? 

Getting serious for a moment, I think having a freezer (even if it is small chest one) is really helpful for raw feeders.  Turkey was on sale for $0.99/lb - a great deal (well, better at least a better deal than the last time I bought some).  And I have found other meats on sale for that price, and limited the amount I bought due to freezer space (well, actually I didn't limit as much as I should have...).  Having a large freezer allows me to preserve food for myself, and stock up on cheap meat for Kip.  Yes, it's an investment, and yes, it takes up space I really don't have (which is why I spent more for an upright instead of a chest freezer).   In a perfect world, I'd have a freezer just for meat, which would allow me to take advantage of even cheaper (like free) meat sources (from hunters, butchers, etc.).  But, unless I build a back porch (which won't happen for a few years, if ever), there simply isn't room for two freezers, and I do need a lot of freezer space for myself as well - and not just for ice cream!! 

The freezer cost almost $700, and of course, there is the yearly cost for electricity.  But even if it was dedicated to just dog food, if it means I can buy a lot of meat when it's on sale, then the freezer will quickly pay for itself.

Other new raw feeding equipment:

I went to a meeting of the garden club my parents are members of, and oddly enough, one member works for a flooring company and had brought in old sample pieces of vinyl flooring as a fund raiser for the club.  So, for a $2 donation, I got a nice piece of vinyl that I'll use for Kip to eat off of, instead of the grungy towel he's currently using.  Cheap, easy to clean, and easy to store away when it's not in use.  And when the flooring guy overheard me chatting about getting a second dog one day, he gave me a second piece!  Which just goes to show you can find the most useful stuff in the oddest of locations!

* Hey, the ice cream was on sale.  So were the carrots.  And those are individual-sized homemade chicken pot pies on top of the ice cream, waiting for me to wrap them up after freezing.

** Yes, the tub will be cleaned after the thaw!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

This is why

People don't really understand why I switched to raw.

This is one part of the reason:


Melted Plastic

Think it will ever change? I'm just glad I don't have to worry about it anymore.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Money, money, money!

Another cost update:

I just finished portioning out all the meat I have left in the freezer, and there is enough for another 8 weeks, exactly. So, I thought it'd be a good time to do a cost summary.

What I've spend so far: $194.85

# days fed:

Starting on Feb. 18, I fed Kip one meal a day of raw, and one of kibble, just to get rid of the last of it. That lasted until March 23, then it was totally raw. So, 34 days at half portions equals 17 "days". March 24 to October 17 (8 weeks from now) is 208 days, for a total of 225 days.

That works out to $0.87 per day. WAY under my $1.00 target!!

And the good news - I'm getting better all the time at finding cheaper meats, generally under $1.00/lb. So that cost should stay low, if not lower, than it is now.

So for those that say raw is expensive - here is the proof that it's not.

Mind you, raw does have some associated costs to it, but more on that tomorrow...

Friday, July 10, 2009

OMG! Look at what raw feeding has done to Kip!

It's turned him into a CAT!

Silly dog! I haven't posted in a while, since there hasn't been anything to say, really. All is well, and we're working our way through the insane amount of meat purchased last month (thank Dog for parents with large freezers).

I have noticed Kip "grooming" after each meal though. It's odd - he never did this after eating kibble, and his beard is actually less smelly now than it was then. So I don't know why he does it - but it is cute!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I've lost all reason

Apparently, cheap meat prices make me lose all sense of proportion.

How the @#*%&# did I think I could fit almost 50 pounds of meat in the freezer compartment of my fridge? (Remember, I bought some for me too - it's not all Kip's).

Here's evidence of the advanced level of my insanity:

Note how much of the freezer Kip takes up. He also hogs the bed.

To understand the enormity of the problem, there is still over 25 pounds of meat left in the fridge. Obviously, the ice cream has to go.

I've been using the space atop the two containers on the bottom shelf to hold a cookie sheet with portioned meat bits so they can freeze, and I can bag them all in a large freezer bag without using smaller bags for each piece - by freezing them separately, they are easy to remove individually when needed. It takes more time, but it vastly reduces the number of plastic bags required. After all the meat is frozen, that space will be claimed by the ice cube trays required for the vast quantities of gin and tonic that I will soon be consuming to block the memory of trying to fit 50 pounds of meat in a space designed to hold 10 pounds.

Well, I'll be busy trying to find a rift in the space-time continuum to increase my freezer space, and eating ice cream. Wish me luck!

Friday, May 29, 2009


This is why I desperately want a freezer.

Chicken drumsticks and thighs - $1/lb.

Pork shoulder - $1/lb.

Beef liver - $1/lb.

Whole chicken - $1.50/lb.

Beef roast - $2/lb.

I bought over 42 pounds of meat for slightly just under $55.

That averages out to ~$1.30 a pound, and brings my running average to around $0.93/day.

Counting the meat I already have in the freezer, I have enough meat to fed Kip until September, and really cannot fit one more ounce in the freezer. But I am SO tempted to go back and get more - really, $1/lb!!!!!

(And yes, I actually bought some meat for me too!)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The devil is in the percentages

Kip was getting 1/2 a pound of meat a day, and dropped to below 21 pounds. I'm not too focused on weight, but more on how he looks and feels - and when I can start seeing his ribs, and easily feeling his hip bones and spine, I get concerned.

So, I upped his daily amount, closer to 3% of his ideal adult body weight, or ~11 oz/day.

And the porker packed on the ounces (can't really say he packed on the "less than a pound").

So, new plan:

We're back to ~8 oz/day, with the occasional extra meal thrown in if we've had an extra active day, or I see him getting a bit too skinny again.

One exciting OT thing - my shed got built, so his agility equipment (just jumps and weave poles... for now!) is here for us to play with - yippee!!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Organization, you're getting closer

I posted recently about trying a new method of organizing Kip's food, and it's working for me - yippee!!

I "splurged" and bought two more containers. Each container holds 4 days worth of food (Kip is up to 12 oz. from 8 oz. per day, so each container holds ~3 lbs of meat). Based on past experience though, I am changing one thing - the organballs now go into their own container, as they got a bit too mushy for my liking (Kip had no issues, but I was slightly nauseated trying to scoop out soggy organ mush).

Today, I got out all the previously portioned meat, and the 4 empty containers, and organized them as follows:

1 chicken back (~40% bone)
1 turkey with bone (~40% bone)
1 chicken breast with bone (~20% bone)
4 boneless pork
2 boneless turkey
2 boneless beef

Added to that will be a few ounces of organballs, which are ~1/2 heart and 1/2 organ, to round the 4 days out at slightly less than 10% bone and around 10% organ.

These container are relatively cheap (under $4.00 each), but I think they'll be strong enough to hold up to repeated uses. They fit somewhat okay in my freezer, but I'm going to wait until I get a real freezer before buying anymore. Ideally, I'd have enough to hold around a month's worth of food, which would be ~8 containers, plus extras for extra meat (which is currently in the plastic bags).

The best part, in my opinion, is the ability to pull an entire container, and throw it in the fridge, without having to worry about bone percents, meat variety or leaks and spills - all the averaging of percents and varieties is done when filling the containers, so after that, feeding is almost automatic.

Another thing I tried, and will do again, if I have the freezer space - cutting up meat, and placing it on a tray in the freezer to freeze in individual pieces, and then pop those all into a ziplock bag together - pre-freezing allows me to grab individual chunks without thawing the entire pack, or having to package each into an individual plastic bag, which I was finding very wasteful.

It's been trial-and-error but it is all coming together!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Good day

We had a good day on Thursday - our first trip to a new vet. I recently moved back to the area I grew up in, and needed to find a new vet. There are not a lot of vets around, so I more need to find a vet who will listen to my concerns and work with me, rather than try to find the perfect vet.

My two main areas of concern - a reduced vaccination schedule and the fact that Kip eats a raw diet.

Dr. Vet said that while he will not recommend a raw diet, as long as the dog is healthy, he won't oppose it. No, it's no perfect, but at least he listened to what I had to say, and didn't try to sell me on kibble.

And he's fine with a reduced vaccination schedule - yippee!! He said that clinic actually recommends a 3-year schedule on the distemper group, even though that's off label, and went on to expound on the fact that the vaccine companies are behind the times, and won't change the label recommendations since that would cut into their profits, etc.

In fact, he went on at length about a number of things.

At great length.

I was there almost 2 hours!

But - Kip has a clean bill of health, I found a vet I'm comfortable with and life is good.

(Off topic - while I was in the waiting room, and while paying the bill, I saw about 6 other dogs come and go. The vast majority were severely overweight, and the nails!! So long on one, the poor dog's feet were splayed out. One dog was literally dripping with un-brushed undercoat. Not to brag, but maybe my vet is willing to listen to me since Kip is slightly underweight if anything, is bathed and brushed, and has trimmed nails??)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Organization, you continue to elude me

Organization, organization, organization. Sigh.

I'm still working out the best system for me. I was putting each portion into a small ziplock bag, then each meat type/cut together into a larger, labeled ziplock bag. The bags don't take up a lot of room in the freezer (bonus!), but the masking tape labels didn't stick, the larger bags are hard to reseal after a while, and the bags leak blood all over the fridge while thawing (that's what I get for using cheap bags, I guess). Additionally, since the bags were leaking, I stopped saving them for re-use, meaning I am throwing away a LOT of plastic.

Also, I'm not great at remembering what I gave Kip to eat yesterday, the day before, etc., making it a bit harder to keep track of bone amounts, organball numbers, etc.

So, on to Plan B. I bought some cheaper plastic containers, large enough to hold 4-5 days worth of food. I got 2 to start with, as I don't want to waste a lot of money on a system that won't work any better then the one I'm currently using, but it gives me something to start with. Below is one container with 4 days worth of food - a large turkey drumstick, some bone-in chicken and boneless beef, along with some organballs.

In theory, I can load these up with a few days worth of food, freeze them, and then put them in the fridge to thaw and feed from. If I get enough (and if this system works for me), I could prep a number of them at one time, and then have 1-2 months worth of meals ready to go, all in reusable containers. It just means freezing whole cuts when they are on sale, and thawing a bunch at a time to portion out and re-freeze in the container. Which is doable. Again, the lack of freezer space really needs to be addressed soon!!

Friday, May 1, 2009

I heart independant butchers!

We have a great independent butcher in the area, and I recently got a uncured "ham" (shoulder? leg? I don't really know my meat cuts!) for $1.19/lb. I portioned it out, and it ended up costing a whopping $0.80 per day - cheap, and boneless too! The only thing, it has a lot of skin and fat, which in small amounts, are great for dogs that can tolerate it. Some dogs can't tolerate too much fat, so I'll have to keep an eye on Kip when he eats this meat.

The running total to date: approximately $1.15 per day to feed raw. (Without those cursed "bargain" turkeys, I'd be at $0.98 a day!!!!) Yes, it's more expensive than cheap kibble, but it's about the same (or less) than premium kibble, and I feel a lot better about feeding Kip real, unprocessed food. And Kip likes it too!

My costs are going to go up a bit though, as Kip is getting a bit skinny, and, as the warmer weather is finally here, we will be more active. So, I've increased the amount he gets daily. He is getting ~3% of his weight per day now (~8 oz of meat, plus ~2 oz of organballs mixed with an egg or sardine to make it irresistible to Mr. Picky Dog), and I'll keep it at that for a bit, and see how it goes.

I think I'm getting better at getting cheaper meats, and figuring out which sales are really a bargain, and which aren't. I'd also like to start sourcing some alternative meats, like rabbit and fish, but, until I get a real freezer, buying those in bulk (generally the most economical way) just isn't an option.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Small things make me happy

Kip is getting a bit thin, so I gave him an egg today in addition to his normal meat, and before I fed it to him, I had a bright idea - mush up a organ meatball into it, since it's still hit-or-miss if he eats them on their own. The result - a perfectly clean bowl, and no vomit - yippee!!

So, until the "organballs" are gone, I think that's how he'll get his daily allotment. And the egg should be good for his coat too.

Yes, it's a small thing, but it's amazing how happy you get when you finally figure out how to get your dog to eat something!

Friday, April 17, 2009

The heart of the matter

I am a lucky person, really. Kip is a GREAT dog. He's easy to train, he has a great temperament, and he has had no health issues to date (knock on wood). Kip has never destroyed anything except his toys, was a breeze to house-train, and loves every person he meets.

For my first-ever dog, Kip is a blessing.

But he will NOT eat his organs. Sigh.

Again, I should really count my blessings. He eats chicken, beef, pork and turkey now, with no problems. But the three things he had either refused or had issues with - beef heart, liver and kidneys - we are still trying to deal with. Heart is a meat, not an organ, so the fact he won't eat it isn't a big issue - but I had a few pounds of it, and didn't want to throw it out. The fact that he refuses kidneys, and doesn't deal well with liver, however, are bigger issues - he needs organ meat as a necessary part of a balanced, healthy diet.

I decided to grind up the heart, kidneys and liver together, freeze in 1 ounce portions, and feed one or two a day as "treats". My thinking was that he will eat liver, and will eat tiny bits of heart as long as they are frozen solid, so this might work.


Day one - ate one in the morning, no problem.

Day two - ate one in the morning with some convincing on my part, ate a second that evening, and promptly vomited. Okay, let's limit it to one a day, until he gets used to them.

Day three - ate one in the morning, no problem.

Day four and five - no way, not eating that.

So, last night, I thawed one, and spread it on the turkey he was getting for supper. That worked - as he had no way of getting the ground-up meat off the turkey meat.

Keep you paws crossed that that continues to work, and hopefully I'll find some chicken organs to try him with next. I really don't want to have to continue to make organ pate for my dog...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Turkey - person, place or thing?

Turkey the person - that would be me. Turkey the thing - that would be the two turkeys I thought I was getting a great deal on.

It's Easter, and turkey was on sale for $1.79/lb. I figured there would be less waste (i.e. a higher meat-to-bone ratio) in a turkey than a chicken, and at that price, I'd be getting a good deal. Additionally, turkey would add a bit of variety to Kip's diet, always a good thing.

Let me stop for a moment and review some things. I want to stay at ~10% bone, averaged over a few meals. Chicken can range from 20% (breasts) to over 40% (wings and back) bone, and even averaged over time, any meal with 40% bone is not a good one, in my opinion. Kip eats around 1/2 a pound a day, and I try to portion that into 2 meals. So, 4 oz. of chicken breast (20% bone) can be followed by one 4 oz. meat-only meal, while 4 oz. of chicken leg can be followed by 2 meat-only meals. As a rule-of-thumb, boneless meat is more expensive to buy, so it's a balance between buying cheaper meats with bones and buying enough boneless meat to average out the total bone amount. Clear??

After portioning, I decided to take the breast meat off and feed as boneless, and to discard the rest of the rib/breast/back bones - they just appeared much too bony for my liking. Maybe it was just the way I portioned the turkeys, but when I looked at the back and breast sections, once the breast meat was removed, I saw a lot of bone, a lot of skin, a lot of fat - and very little meat. (They went into the stock pot to make turkey soup for me, so they weren't a complete loss).

So, at $1.79 a pound, I ended up with 22 days worth of food (44 portions) out of two rather small turkeys, at a final cost of $1.66 per day. That is by far the most expensive meat I've bought to date, when calculated by portion rather than by pound. To put that into perspective, I also bought 3 beef roasts at $1.99/lb, that worked out to $1.11/day - not bad for beef!

Now, if you had a larger dog that ate more than 1/2 pound a day, then whole turkeys (and whole chickens) might be a better deal, as the portions can be adjusted to have a better meat/bone ratio. But for me, from now on, unless whole poultry is really cheap, I'll stick to the legs I can by for $1.47/pound - they work out to be a much better deal, even though I'm not getting the breast meat.

And Turkey the place? It's just there to make the title flow better :)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Things I've learned so far

1. Teaching your dog to take all of his treats on his pillow DOES NOT work for raw food. Note to self - start feeding in the crate, and wash the pillow covering. In hot water. With bleach. Then throw it away.

2. Egg shells are fun. Fun to lick out. Fun to chomp into tiny little pieces. And fun to leave scattered about the carpet. Note to self - eggs with shells are now outside food.

3. You get really strange looks from the check-out clerk when you buy ~$30 worth of meat - and nothing else. Especially when half of it consists of heart, liver and kidney.

4. Seeing beef roast on sale at $1.99/lb gives you a warm tingly feeling. Note to self - must really look into getting a real freezer soon.

5. You start to look at roadkill in a slightly different way...

6. Kibble breath is not a problem anymore. (But sardine breath isn't that great of a replacement - fortunately, it's temporary.)

7. You also get really strange looks from people when you tell them you feed raw.

8. And it's frustrating when you explain all the reasoning, the fact that it is no more expensive than good quality kibble, etc., and they still think you are "spoiling" your dog.

9. My parents surprised me though - it does help that they have a cat that kills and eats anything he can.

10. It's a lot easier that I was expecting!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Have a heart


This is how last week went:

Monday am: last of the kibble (yippee!!)
Monday pm: beef heart, whole chunk - wouldn't eat, so I removed it after 15 minutes or so, put it back in the fridge.
Tuesday am: ditto beef heart
Tuesday pm: ditto
Wednesday am: cut up the heart - no go
Wednesday pm: tried freezing the cut-up heart a bit - no go
Thursday am: ditto
Thursday pm: was at Mom and Dad's. Mom caved in and gave Kip some raw chicken
Friday am: wouldn't eat the beef heart
Friday pm: ditto
Saturday am: ditto
Saturday pm: I caved in, and gave Kip chicken to eat

Out of 10 meals (from Monday night to Saturday night), Kip ate once.

He will NOT eat beef heart. ARGH. It is a cheap, readily available form of beef, and he will literally starve rather than eat it. He eats chicken, he eats pork, no problem. He eats other beef cuts, no problem. But not heart.

And he can survive without eating beef heart - but it is so affordable for beef, that I'm loath to give it up. Plus I have a bunch in the freezer that I'm sure as hell not eating!

I also have to solve the organ dilemma, to stop Kip either not eating the organ at all or vomiting them up everywhere. I'm tempted to grind up some of the heart, kidneys and liver in appropriate ratios, freeze the resulting mixture in small "meat balls", and see if that works - give one or two every day as a treat, or as Kong stuffing.

Finally, Kip has out-stubborned me in something. One thing in two years - that's not too bad, right?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Chicken Pot Pie

I should learn not to gloat.

Yep, Kip ate the liver. And then, soon after eating a chicken leg last night, managed to produce copious amounts of vomit. Honestly, I didn't know he had that much capacity.

There was vomit on the floor,
There was vomit on the door,
There was vomit on the rug,
On the couch and on the tug,
There was vomit everywhere.
Even in the poor dog's hair.

Other than the vomit, he was fine. Not lethargic, no fever, so no rushing to the emergency vet. He was fine this morning - he ate breakfast, and his output was fine, and through the normal channel this time.

So, I'm blaming the liver. Possibly too much, too soon. So, we'll try again, with a smaller amount this time. Who knew getting Kip to eat organ meat would be so %*&#@* hard??

You do realize, of course, that this is fate getting back at my for refusing to eat liver, tongue or any other "innard" as a child. Sigh.

Oh, and I won't be eating chicken pot pie anytime soon...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

If you can't beat them...

trick 'em!!

I mentioned Kip's first exposure to kidneys recently - it didn't go very well, funny as it was. Tonight, it was liver's turn. So, I thought I would add value to the liver, by turning it into a treat.

Yes, I cut up a few ounces of liver into smaller chunks, then stuffed the chunks into Kip's kong.

By the way, the kong is the purveyor of All Good Things.

Then, I made it even better - by putting the kong on the counter, and working with Kip for a few minutes, heeling around the house and practicing long sits.

It worked a treat, pun intended.

Liver has never disappeared so quickly!

I have to try this with kidneys, to see if it's fail-proof.

Now excuse me - I have to go wash out a kong...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The last supper

Okay, not really. But this is how supper went last night:

Me: Kip, supper time.

Mr. Potato Brain: This is a beef rib. I had a beef rib last night too.

Me: And?

MPB: It's, um, leftovers. I don't want leftovers. Can't I have some chicken instead?

Me: No. Eat your supper.

MPB: FINE. Ohhh, look, Squeaky Squirrel.

Me: Kip, get your supper!

MPB: squeak squeak squeak squeak

Me: Kip, get your supper!

MPB: squeak squeak squeak squeak

Me: {picks up beef rib, puts it back in the fridge}

MPB: HEY! I was eating that! I want it back! STARVING!!!

Me: Nope. You had your chance. Breakfast will be at 8 tomorrow morning.

MPB: STARVING!!! I'm calling Animal Control and telling!

Me: Fine - but how are you going to manage the phone without opposable thumbs??

MPB: Damn you and your logic. *#&$*#@ opposable thumbs!!!!!!

Now note, this is the first time Kip has EVER passed up food. EVER. I'm thinking he just wasn't hungry enough to work for his food. He still gets kibble for breakfast (until the bag is gone), and I'm sure if I had given in and put kibble down, he would have scarfed it up in seconds. But sorry Kip, but I'm more stubborn than you are. You want your supper, you work for it. Silly boy.

Update: Supper tonight:

Me: Kip, supper time.

Mr. Potato Brain: Num num num. Chew-gnash-chew-chew-chew-gnash-smash-chomp. Can I have some more please??

Saturday, February 28, 2009

... in for a pound.

Proponents of prey model raw diets suggest a diet of 80% meat, 10% organ and 10% bone - the theory being that is the proportion in "real" whole prey.

Chicken generally forms a high percentage of the diet for a lot of raw fed dogs - it's cheap, and readily available. However, chicken is really high in bone percent. Here are the numbers, according to the USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory

Back 44%
Breasts 20%
Thigh 21%
Drumstick 33%
Wing 46%
Whole 31%

Once your dog is on a raw diet, you want to average this out - so you would generally feed 1 or 2 boneless meals for every chicken-with-bone meal. But note the backs and wings. Over 40% bone! That might be a bit too high to feed, even followed by 3 boneless meals. Again, if you have a bigger dog, you can feed a breast with the wings or back attached - but for smaller dogs, this might be too big of a meal.

This is something to keep in mind when buying whole chickens. Depending on the price per pound, breasts or legs might work out to be a better price than whole. If you think about price per serving, vs. price per pound, this makes more sense.

For example, those whole chickens I bought. They were ~$6 each, and I cut each into 12 portions, or 6 days worth of food, which works out to ~$1 per day. But, if I take out the wings and back, then each chicken provides 8 portions, at ~$1.50 per day. I can get packs of legs (3 legs and thighs) for under $4 each, which provide 6 potions, at ~$1.33 per day. The good thing about whole, though, is you get the breast meat, which is generally quite expensive, and has a better meat/bone ratio than the legs.

One option for the "bony" chicken parts, is to feed along with organ meat. I might give that a try, but I still need to incorporate more "meaty" meat in Kip's diet. And that is generally where costs increase. I need to keep an eye out for sales - and buy a freezer!

Friday, February 27, 2009

In for a penny...

So, is raw more expensive? Well, it depends on the kibble you are feeding, and how cheap you can get meat for in your area. I'm Canadian, so prices here tend to be more expensive than for my neighbours to the south. Ultimately, you need to do your own cost comparison. And there are many ideas to cut the cost of raw - tell friends and family that you will take freezer-burned or unwanted meat, make connections with hunters to take excess meat of their hands, let your butcher or meat manager at the supermarket know that you will take expired meat, etc.

Since I'm a "left" brain, I did the following calculations:

Premium kibble:
Amount fed per day: 0.33 pounds
Weight per bag: 13.50 pounds
Days per bag: 41.14
Cost per bag: $41.80
Cost per day: $1.02
Raw (guidelines are 2%-4% of ideal adult body weight):
Kip's weight: 22 .pounds
Cost per day: $1.02 (to keep the same as kibble)

Percent of body weight: 2% .
Pounds per day: 0.44
Cost per pound: $2.31 .

Percent of body weight: 4% .
Pounds per day: 0.88
Cost per pound: $1.15.

So, depending on the percent it will take to maintain a healthy body weight for Kip, I need to keep the cost of the meat between $1.15 and $2.31 a pound.

I'm starting Kip off on about a half a pound a day - somewhere between 2% and 2.5% of his body weight. This might be a bit low, since smaller dogs generally need a higher percentage, but we'll start there and see how it goes. So, if I can find meat for ~$2 a pound, I'm staying within the budget.

So far, this is what I've bought:

Chicken legs & back: $1.47/lb, $6.87 total, 18 portions
Whole chicken:$1.99/lb, $20.55 total, 36 portions
Beef heart: $1.47/lb, $2.78 total, 7 portions
Beef kidneys: $1.49/lb, $1.87 total, 4 portions
Beef liver: $1.69/lb, $2.18 total, 4 portions
Pork roast: $1.99/lb, $6.17 total, 12 portions

Total cost: $40.42
Number of portions: 81
Number of days: 40.5
Cost per day: $0.998

I'm right on track, with the dollar-per-day cost. Yippee!!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

All you need is love...

and a good knife.

A few other things come in handy as well- like a scale, a knife sharpener, plastic "ziploc" freezer bags, and tape and markers for labeling. Whole meats tend to be cheaper per pound, and with the right equipment, it isn't hard to cut them down to portion size. The size of each depends, of course, on your dog. With Kip, to start at least, I'll be feeding twice a day, so each portion should be around 4 ounces.

This is what a chicken looks like, portioned in ~4 ounce pieces. I know from previous dissections that each drumstick and thigh will weigh between 3 and 4 ounces - so those are one portion each. Cut off the wings, cut off the back, cut the back into two, and each breast into two. Viola - one chicken is now 12 pieces. I have been buying whole chickens for years for myself, so this isn't new to me. But believe me when I tell you - with a little practice, it is very easy to portion a chicken. And, the bigger the dog, the easier it is - as you will need fewer cuts.

A poor picture, but this is 3 whole chickens, all bagged and ready for the freezer. I separate each portion into it's own small freezer bag, then group all the different types into a large freezer bag, labeled with the meat and type. So here, there are separate bags for backs, wings, breasts, thighs and drumsticks. This way, I can remove each portion individually to thaw in the fridge, and I don't have to hunt though the freezer to find the piece I want.

I cut up 3 chickens, one pork roast, one beef heart, and some liver and kidneys in one session. From start to finish, it took less than two hours, including clean-up, to prepare one month's worth of meals. Not a bad use of my time, in my opinion!

A note about food safety. We are dealing with raw meat here. I have worked with microorganisms for the last 15 years, and I tend to be a bit lax about them - but not to the point of stupidity. The one thing you don't see in these pictures - the sink full of hot soapy water with a cup of bleach added. This is used to wipe down everything - including the markers and knife sharpener. Everything washable gets washed in this water (as I don't have a dishwasher). And I do not use "antibacterial" dish washing detergent. EVERY soap and detergent is antibacterial, and the chemicals added to the ones marketed as "antibacterial" have the potential to increase bacterial resistance. This is something I will not be a part of. There are fantastic cleaners that will not add to bacterial resistance - bleach being the best (as well as being cheap and readily available). Vinegar is another. And good old soap, water and air work great too. So, be smart, and be safe.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

You want me to eat what????

Kip's first exposure to beef kidneys.

Silly dog. This is what he is thinking: "I don't know what it is, but it is not food, and thus shall not remain in the food bowl"

Saturday, February 21, 2009

We survived!

We survived Kip's first raw chicken meal. No vomiting, no emergency trips to the vet for lodged bones (yes, I worry to much), and firm poop this morning (oh dear, another poop report. I am turning into the crazy dog lady).


Friday, February 20, 2009

The first supper

I finally bought some chicken, and Kip's "output" is back to normal - so I figured we'd try this raw thing.

This is a ~4 oz piece of chicken back - very meaty, but some bones as well.

The first impression: "WTF?"
"What am I supposed to do with this?"
"Maybe if I try this side?"
"Or this side?"
"Mom, don't just hold it - do something with it!!"
"Ooooohhhh, I have to bite it! Why didn't you say so in the first place??"

And because I couldn't resist - if you listen closely, you can hear the crunching!

And for dessert? A nap on the couch. Now doesn't that look like a satisfied dog?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The tooth, the whole tooth, and nothing but the tooth

One thing that raw is supposed to benefit is dental health. Yes, you can take your dog to the vet every year or so for dental work - but that costs money, and requires anesthesia. Since I'm frugal (okay, cheap) and all surgery comes with a risk, I'd rather have Kip eat food that cleans his teeth naturally - and without resorting to those "teeth cleaning" dog treats that are so prevalent in the pet stores. I'm not too sure how those are supposed to work anyway, since any that I have bought for Kip last on average 2.845 minutes before being consumed.

Any group of raw feeders will rave on about how clean their dog's teeth are. And, I hope to join those ravers given time. But, I am aware that memory is a selective thing. So I decided to get some proof, in the form of "before" pictures. That way, I have something to actually compare to, and to either support or disprove a raw diet's effect on the Kipperdog's canines.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Put three raw feeders in a room...

and you'll get 17 different opinions on how to do it correctly.

Okay, that is a bit of an exaggeration. But if there are a lot of debates around commercial food, there are just as many debates about homemade.

The big one - BARF vs. "whole prey" model.

BARF stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food, and was developed mostly by one person, Dr. Ian Billinghurst. It specifies a diet of ~60-80% meat and bones, and the rest fruits, vegetables and dairy products such as cottage cheese. The theory, as far as I know, is that the fruits, etc. provide vitamins, minerals and probiotics that are either required or beneficial to the dog.

This diet can get quite complicated, at least to start, in my opinion.

And complicated diets can sell a lot of "cookbooks". Do a search on any on-line book store, and you will get hundreds, if not thousands of results.

Then there is the "whole prey" model. The theory here is Mother Nature knows what she is doing, and provides everything a wolf (and therefore a dog) needs in it's appropriate prey. Being as most of us either do not have access to whole prey, or are unwilling to have a deer carcass in the back yard for a few weeks for the dog to gnaw on (what would the neighbours think??!!), it can be summed up as 80% meat, 10% bone, and 10% organ (5% of which should be liver).

It's less complicated, but there are still things to work out - do you try to balance those proportions every meal? Every day? A few days? A week? How much fish is too much? How many raw eggs are too many?

So, what do I think? Wolves are carnivores, but they are also opportunistic scavengers. So, they will not pass up ripe fruit if they find it in the wild. However - just because they eat it, doesn't mean they require it. And wolves definitely do not eat any dairy products.

I know, I know. Dogs are not really wolves. But, they are. Their dentition, their guts, etc. - as much as the outward appearance has changed, the innards are the same.

So, I'm a "whole prey" model proponent - and not just because it's easier. To me, it makes biological sense. However, there are "whole prey" people out there that are adamant that dogs should eat NO fruit/veggies, etc. I don't go that far. Kip loves apples and pears. Does that mean he has one every day? No. But if I'm eating one, I'm going to continue to give him a piece. Same with carrots, green beans, etc. I look at them as treats. And, they are not bad for him - simply "not required", the same way chocolate isn't "required" for healthy humans (mentally healthy though... that's a different story!).

And why this post? To let you know, and to reinforce it in myself, that there are MANY ways to feed your dog. And, as long as your dog is healthy, there is NO wrong way. There is a way that is right for me and my dog; that doesn't mean your way is wrong. If you ask my advice, I'll give it, but I will NEVER tell you what you are doing is wrong!

Now go give your dog a chicken wing :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Poop Report

If you spend any time around people who feed raw, eventually, the talk will turn to poop. I understand that what comes out of your dog is indicative of what went it, and what happened to it on the trip from one end of the dog to the other, but...

Or should that be "butt"?

I really don't want to talk a lot about poop. It really isn't my favourite topic. Really.


I've screwed up already. Sigh.

I still have a half a bag left of kibble, which I don't want to throw away. So, I thought I'd slowly transition Kip to raw, by feeding kibble for breakfast, and raw for supper. Similar to how you would transition from one kibble to the other. Sounds good, right?

Except, I ignored the advice about how to start feeding raw - you start with chicken. Bland, boring, beige chicken.


I got a couple of beef steaks on sale this week. So that's what he has been eating for supper for the past 2 days. Since I haven't actually started feeding raw yet, that's okay, right??


Poor Kip had diarrhea last night. Not bad. Not uncontrollable. Not in the house, fortunately.

He's fine now.


Back to kibble for a while - until I can go get some chicken parts!

Monday, February 16, 2009

In the beginning...

I am going to do it.

I've read, I've researched, I've thought, I've listened, I've weighed pros and cons, and, I've finally decided.

No more kibble for Kip. Well, no more once this bag is gone. We are going raw. Okay, okay, Kip is going raw. I still prefer my meat a little more well done.

I'm scared of screwing up.

I'm scared of harming Kip.

I'm scared of becoming a crazy dog lady.

But, I'm tired of researching dog foods, and debating protein levels, and to rotate or not to rotate, and if grains are good, bad or just ugly. And then finding one I like, paying through the nose for it - and hoping it's not part of a recall or lawsuit before the bag is finished.

I'm tired of not trusting the food I am giving my dog.

Dogs have existed on raw food and table scraps for thousands of years. They have existed on kibble for ~50 years. And I do realize the advancements science has made into canine nutrition. But... there seems to be more and more dogs out there with food and allergy issues. Can we attribute all of those to processed dog food? No. But there has to be some link between them. Do I think everyone should feed raw? No. I think everyone should do what they think is best for their dog, and, more importantly, what they can afford to do.

I fed Kip Iams for the first year of his life. I then switched to a higher grade food- and saw a remarkable improvement in his coat condition. I see this as just another step in trying to make sure Kip is as healthy as can be.

There may be issues. Schnauzers are known for two things - bad teeth, and being prone to pancreatitis. I hope that feeding raw will keep his teeth healthy, and that, as long as I watch the fat levels, pancreatitis won't be a problem.

This blog will, in part I hope, prevent me from going any further down the "crazy dog lady" path. That way, interested parties can follow our raw adventures - and those that think I'm already too far down the "crazy dog lady" road can choose to point and laugh instead ;-)