I have been feeding raw since September 2001 so I most certainly do not have all the answers!! Lots of questions yet, some answers - but not all. I am not an expert, the way I feed is MY personal choice that I came to after much reading and researching. I feel that each person has to decide for themselves what is best - whether commercially prepared, home cooked or raw. I feed raw or a natural diet. I think for me and mine it is working out great, so I want to share it with others.
I came to feeding raw after losing all of my Danes, in four months. One was to old age, almost 10 - which for a Dane is not a bad age, but I sure would have loved to have her around longer! I lost the other 3 to bloat, hip dysplasia and cardiomyopathy - they were 2,3 and 4 years old! Bloat appears to be idiopathic - meaning there has been no DEFINITE answers as to why it occurs, but have you ever heard of a wolf bloating? There are many thoughts as to the why, I personally believe sometimes it's the dog - just an overly sensitive, non-adaptable dog, and perhaps its the food - meaning kibble. Hip dysplasia is thought to be genetic, but I think diet has a lot to do with it as well - with the way a dog grows and what sort of balance is in the vitamins, minerals and such. So to me it makes sense to feed my dogs as I do my human family - as naturally as possible. So the balance comes from the food they are fed - which is real, not processed. I would not feed my sons the same old thing for every meal that was pre-packaged with ingredients I couldn't pronounce and truly believe I was doing my best. I had never really thought of my dogs and their food until my dogs started dying, then I looked at every aspect of what I was doing, from my choice of breeders that I bought from, the pedigrees of the dogs I liked, and certainly the way I fed my dogs and other health care issues such as vaccinations.
I presently have 6 dogs, 2 older dogs, a lab mix and border collie, 8 & 9 years old, a 5 year old corgi - these three are fat!, and an 1 yr old corgi , a 10 mon Dane, and a 3 mon old Dane. So I am feeding various sizes with various requirements.
The basis of their diet is raw, meaty bones. I feed mainly chicken because of the costs and it's easy for me to get locally and keep in my freezer without eating up all the space! I watch for sales at the grocery store for pork and beef neck bones, ribs - pork and beef, and for whatever else catches my eye!
I also feed veggies, pureed and all mixed up, about 1/2 veggies and 1/2 with ground beef or turkey, and some sort of offal meat - liver, kidneys, heart - ground, yogurt, eggs, some honey and apple cider mix (its a 1/2 & 1/2 mixture), kelp powder, vit c powder, Berte's Daily Blend Vitamin and Mineral Mix and some oil -olive oil,cod liver oil or perhaps flaxseed oil.- I go by Dr. Billinghurst's patty recipe in Grow Your Pup with Bones. I then put it in serving size baggies and freeze. A normal serving size for the little and fat dogs is about 1/2 - 3/4 cup and for my dane about 1 - 1 1/2 cups. When I feed it I usually mix the veggies mix with canned fish - like mackerel-bones and all. I am not brave enough yet to do raw fish, but I am working on it!
I do this once a month so it is a great pile of veggies about 5# at least & 5# of meat all mixed in a HUGE pot. I DO NOT COOK ANY OF THIS. IT IS ALL RAW. I bought a 30.00 food processor from Wal-Mart that works great on both the veggies and the offal meat. I personally do not grind my RMB's (raw, meaty bones).
I feed my older, fat dogs about 1 1/2 -2% of their body weight. I want them to lose weight and they are- very slowly, which is ok by me. My corgi puppy is eating about 3-4% of her body weight - she pretty much told me I was feeding too much by leaving a portion of her share untouched for several days. My dane Annie is eating about 7% of her body weight,and Benicio is getting about 10% of his body weight.
To tell the truth these are all ball park estimates - I weigh stuff out every now and again just to see if the books are on target. The true way to see if what you are feeding is correct, is how your dog looks. If they look too skinny - like you can see hip bones - give 'em more! If they are getting a bit chunky looking cut back a bit! Sometimes it varies from meal to meal - esp. with the puppies. Now my fat dogs are a bit of a challenge - because there is no bone seeing or feeling - I know shame on me, but I am doing my best NOW, so anyhow I do not want them to feel as though they are starving, but they MUST drop some tonnage ,so I feed them only about 1 1/2% of their body weight, unless the weather is very cold or I know they have been playing a lot and I'll up the amount just by a bit. I do provide recreational bones so at least they can chew on something even if it's not exactly filling!
I also give the dogs salmon oil capsules or cod liver oil , vit e ,& vit c . I have to have a simple schedule for my family to follow when I am away at work.
The picture below is a food pyramid for raw fed dogs. Following that are links to informative site and books that I have read and recommend.
Raw Meaty Bones by Dr.Tom Lonsdale
Give Your Dog A Bone , Grow Your Pup With Bones, & The BARF Diet by Dr. Billinghurst
Natural Nutrition for Dogs & Cats by Kymythy R. Schultze,CCN,AHI
Switching To Raw by Susan K. Johnson
The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat by Juliette de Bairacli Levy
There are many more books out there, but these are the ones I have read.
Links of Interest
BARFers Home Page
Sample Home Feeding Diets
Diet Comparison Chart
Blue Grace Portuguese Water Dogs
Riveriene Farms - breeds w-holistic German Shepards
Canine Hip Dysplasia and Pet Food
BARF Diet and other feeding plans
Like I said I am not an expert but if I can help...