We here at Koyuk Alaskan Malamutes support raw diets and Mountain Dog Food. Personal experience with Raw Diets have proven themselves to us .There was a time when we only fed raw, then like so many other I started to question myself and wondered if I was truly giving my dogs the best. I have had Alaskan Malamutes for over 40 yrs, grew up with them , and introduced my boy friend (now husband) to them. Our family dogs (Malamutes) were always fed raw and lived to ripe old ages of 13-15 years. In 2005 after a move to a new location and lose of raw contacts I decided to try a "High end or Premium" dog food.
The effect of "High End/Premium" Dog Food on Koyuk
There were the normal things to expect. Larger stool volume, odor, more tarter on the teeth; which lead to bad breath, weight gain, and more water consumption. The Dogs seemed to enjoy their food as they were always hungry and ready to eat, no matter how much we fed. All of the above goes unnoticed by most people that feed kibble . In 2007 just 2 years after feeding a kibble diet I lost three of my beloved companions to the human conditions, diabetes and cancer. Two years later, in 2009, another was lost to cancer.
I, again, looked at what I was feeding. Within two weeks of feeding a raw diet there was no tartar on teeth, no bad breath, and no doggy odor. they all returned to good weight with lean mussel mass instead of fat. Stool volume dropped to 1/3 of what it was on kibble and the smell was nothing in comparison.
They are still hungry and enjoy each and every meal as if it was their last , but they take the time to chew and enjoy what is in their bowls. They seem fuller after their meals because they are not looking for leftover "deposits" in their run to fill the gap. And Water consumption is lower as well due to the moister in the raw food.
Cancer & Diabetes are being found more & more often in dogs these day and I firmly believe it has to do with what we feed. Diseases that can easily be linked to sugar and preservatives, none of which you will find in a raw diet.
I am happy to say that we have once again found a reliable & constant supplier of Raw food for our dogs. Our dogs eat Turkey necks , chicken ( whole /ground and or necks & backs) fruits & veggies, tripe, pork neck bones , cottage cheese, eggs, fish (lake trout or white fish) moose, heart, liver. And enjoy every mouth watering morsel!
What is in our food?
We use chicken from inspected sources... NOT from a rendering plant! This chicken (comprising mainly of backs, thighs, drumsticks left from the de-boning process) is then either ground (bone-in) or left whole for those that prefer to feed whole raw meaty bones.
The ground chicken is then put into forms and frozen. For the meat/vegetable mixes; we mix the meat with a vegetable & fruit mixture containing 70% meat and 30% veggie/fruit. We encourage you to add leftover veggies from your meals.
- Carrots, Celery, Apples, Yams
- Dehydrated Alfalfa
- The vegetables, fruit and chicken are all ground together and then frozen.
What else do we add?
Nothing! Supplementation is an individual preference and tailored to each pet. You know best what your pet requires and can then add the appropriate amount to his meal.
We add, organ meats, a mineral and vitamin supplement, as well as kelp, to enhance the nutrient profile.
Low Fiber and Small Dog
we add organ meat, string beans, and remove the apples yams and alfalfa components.
The Cat Food is all meat for a true carnivore...
As with the core of a dog's diet the treats given to a dog can also be very important aspect of their diet. Often the best option for a quick snack lies with fresh vegetables such as carrot or cucumber. Alternatively you can make your own healthy treats:
During the winter months my oven is in work mode. With Sundays being our family day I like to cook up a few tasty treats for both my 2 legged & 4 legged family members. It is much easier to make something that both groups can enjoy while out on the trails. The whole house smells wonderful!
How much raw food should I feed per day?
The general rule that is used for how much food your adult dog requires per day, is 3% of his optimum weight. In other words a 100 pound normally active dog, would require approximately 3 pounds of food per day (raw meaty bones, meat, vegetables, fruit etc.). This amount can be split over as many meals as you wish.
- 100 pounds - 3 pounds of food per day
- 50 pounds - 1.5 pounds of food per day
- 25 pounds - .75 pounds of food per day
If your dog is overweight reduce the amount of food to 2.0 or 2.5% per day or increase the vegetable/fruit ratio. Some dogs need a certain volume of food in order to be mentally satisfied, in those circumstances increase the vegetable and fruit content of their diet substantially and reduce the protein levels. After tailoring the diet a bit you should be able to find a happy medium between a low enough protein/fat level to reduce the weight but enough volume of food to keep the dog mentally sound.Always, always, tend to under feed than over feed. We suggest under feeding for 2 days then over feeding on the third. That way you can contain a weight problem by varying the amount fed on the third day.
A growing puppy should get 4-5% of their body weight per day. There are suggestions that up to 10% of their body weight can be given but that maybe a bit extreme for most breeds. Measure the weight gain every couple of weeks and adjust the amounts accordingly. Regardless of the breed or the size of dog, a steady slow growth rate is the healthiest path. This is especially important for the large and giant breeds that are more prone to growth problems because of the sheer size. A lean look is always preferred in young growing puppies of any breed.
A nursing bitch should have as much as is required to maintain her weight and supply the puppies with ample milk. Very active dogs or dogs in a competitive, working environment will also require a much higher percentage of food per day, however the couch potato should get less. Common sense applies.
When to use supplements
While many believe supplementation is a basic requirement in food the reality is somewhat different. When you look at supplementation there really are only three reasons to include them:
- Replace something missing in the diet
- For performance
- To treat a specific malady or disease
If you answer no to all of the above the supplementation is not required. If the diet contains a large portion of chicken with bone ground in, a variation of vegetables, the occasional addition of liver, fish, other organ meats, beef, tripe, eggs, supplementation may not be required. All the essential nutrients - fats, minerals and vitamins are contained in those items. Of course that means they are not cooked. We do suggest the addition of Kelp, as that is an excellent source of iodine a mineral that has been leached from the soils of most vegetable farmed land due to overproduction. The emphasis should be on variety as that ensures a full and complete diet.
Do not get supplementation of the raw food diet, confused with supplementation of the dry commercial food! The dry commercial foods are lacking in essential fatty acids, and have been fortified with minerals and vitamins in their chemical forms. Both of these conditions create adverse reactions in dogs that respond well to supplementation. Adding these same supplements to a raw food diet can create different problems as the dog responds to an over abundance of one nutrient or another.
In most instances for the raw food diet 'less is more'. So when considering supplementation please check with a homeopathic vet and or someone familiar with the condition or expectations you are looking for.
Supplements that Koyuk Uses
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Salmon OilSeal
- Sea Kelp
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
Prepackaged supplements such as Udo's Ultimate or Herbal Multi-Vitamin can make the supplementation process much easier.
The importance of Vitamin D
For most of us, and our pets, vitamin D is produced in large enough quantities by a process of conversion within our bodies, using sustained levels of certain wavelengths of UV light. This process is an evolutionary trait found in virtually all mammals. However in certain conditions a lack of vitamin D can be produced. This occurs typically in northern latitudes during the winter when our pets are indoors all day while we work and then let out for brief periods in the evening or morning. The lack of available sunlight lowers vitamin D production and can produce ailments to varying degrees.
Given that vitamin D has direct influence over the absorption of calcium and phosphorus it has significant impact on development and maintenance of our pet's skeletal structures. Not as well known or understood is its effects on production of various enzymes that work with collagen structures in the body. These two issues lead us to consider that many of skin irritations and scratching that our pets endure starting about mid-November (in the North) may be the result of lowered vitamin D concentrations in the body. We now know that vitamin D is one treatment for psoriasis so it is not inconceivable that a sustained lowering of the vitamin's concentration could cause similar effects to a lesser degree.
The addition of vitamin D is achieved primarily through the introduction of cod liver oil into the diet. Although other marine based oils may provide higher concentrations of vitamin D in general terms the cod liver oil should be adequate. A typical dosage would be 5ml (1 tsp) for each 25 Kg (55 lbs.) of body weight per day. One caution though do not over supplement as this can cause negative reactions due to excess amounts of the vitamin.
Weaning puppies to raw food.
You can wean puppies from mom to raw food with relative ease. We have now had over 10 raw fed litters and what has worked the best for our dogs is as follows: At approximately 3 1/2 weeks of age (once their eyes are open and they are starting to get mobile) we give the puppies chicken backs (one to every two puppies). At this age, all they can really do is suck on the backs since their teeth are far too immature to actually get any of the meat off the back. We avoid chicken necks because the sucking reflex is so strong in Berners that they could conceivably inhale the entire neck. For smaller breeds necks should be fine. The pups are allowed to play with the backs for 10 - 15 minutes then mom is let into the whelping box to cleanup the food. This is continued for 4 or 5 days.
We have never had a puppy turn away from their first introduction to real food. The only complaints we get from them are after mom eats all the backs. They appear to instinctively know that the new smell is food.
After a few days of playing with the backs, we introduce their first meal of finely ground chicken (bone included). They immediately catch on that they can now eat the chicken. A week or two of only ground chicken then we slowly introduce vegetables and fruits to their diet, either mixed in with the chicken or on their own. Then gradually we introduce other varieties of meat. Of course the pups always have access to fresh cool water.
By seven weeks the puppies are eating whatever mom is having for dinner, which is of course only raw food. By this time, they are eating a wide variety of meats, bones, veggies, eggs, offal etc.
We allow the mom's to continue nursing the puppies as long as she wants (within reason of course). Since the pups no longer rely solely on her for their nutrition, the mother has a much easier time with the post- whelping stresses. When mom has stopped nursing the puppies, some supplements are added to the puppy's meals. This method has worked brilliantly for our dogs. We have not had a single incident of transitional diarrhea or intolerance to the food.
Bacterial Infections: Salmonella in dogs
There are many stories around about bacterial infections in dogs and from dogs. Here is our input. Now granted we have not done an exhaustive study to verify these opinions but those who profess the dangers haven't either.
Lets look at bacterial infections as a whole. In order for a bacterial infection to occur a couple of things have to be in play. First large quantities of bacterium of every sort are ingested on a continual basis just wandering around in our environment. Secondly there has to be a substantial amount of bacterium ingested by the pet or the owner, enough to overcome natural defenses for such incursions. The combination of these two incursions then causes a "bloom" of bacteria; the byproduct of which is toxins that are usually absorbed and evacuated through the kidneys/liver function. A stressing of these functions shows up as the infection.
In the raw fed dog his digestive system is acidic and promptly kills most bacteria, with the exception of some e-coli that propagate vitamin K for the dog. Barring that the normal immune response clean up the rest (far better than humans) and the short digestive process (3-5 hours) evacuates the balance long before the "bloom" can occur.
To prove this to ourselves we did a test on our own dogs. For a one week period in July we left chicken out to "turn" on the counter of the kennel. Now we did not do any bacterial counts to standardize the numbers but that was not our intent. The test we used was smell. If Tracey couldn't go in the kennel building because of nausea, the chicken was probably well infested with bacteria. Feeding our dogs for a week on this product produced no ill effects that we could see. Granted no blood work was done but the dogs didn't show any physiological changes either.
Now we do believe that dogs can and have contracted bacterial infections; however when they are investigated we always find that they have been fed either dry commercial food mixed in with the raw or many dog treats prior to feeding. This has the adverse effect of slowing the digestive system (it takes between 8 - 12 hours to digest dry food) causing the raw food to "hang up" in the digestive tract and create the "bloom". In dogs fed a dry food for long periods the PH levels of the digestive system are lowered to an alkaline base which also contributes to the "bloom" by not having the acidic material available in the stomach. NEVER FEED A MIX OF RAW FOOD AND DRY COMMERCIAL FOOD! If you insist on feeding a dry food separate them into two meals and feed the raw in the morning, the dry a night. Even then the problems may occur due to other circumstances.
As for the human hosts of the pet you should always use proper hygiene when handling raw meat products. Wash your hands and dishes well after handling the product. Do not leave the raw food lying open for more than 30 min. in the dogs dish. As for the fecal matter regardless of the type of food fed IT ALL IS CONTAMINATED WITH BACTERIA as a natural response in nature. Fecal matter is loaded with nutrients that support bacteria and will always have it regardless of the food that produced it. So don't be misled by those that would say only the raw diets have bacteria in the fecal matter it is a half truth.
In general terms proper responsive hygiene, and proper nutrition for your pet, is the responsible way to treat this issue. Do not let those with a self serving agenda scare you into feeding a diet unsuited to your pets nutritional needs. Take a common sense approach this issue will resolve itself.