Fats…are something that a lot of people are socially trained to think of as bad, unhealthy and something that shouldbe avoided. While there is SOME truth to that in regards
to some kinds of fat, good, quality fats are something that I’ve found to be as essential to a raw diet as organ meat, and bone. The general ratio breakdown for what we feed our dogs on a PMR diet has been 80:10:10 for meat:bone:organ. But the longer I’ve been feeding raw, helping others switch and seeing the long term effects of diet, I have come to find that it really should break down into a ratio like 70:10:10:10 for meat:bone:organ:fat.
Quite often I’ve found that dogs start out doing great on raw! Beautiful, lush, shiny coats and then after a few months to a year skin and coat quality start to decline. Shiny coats turn dull, healthy skin turns dry and flaky. Why is this happening?
What it really depends on what you feed on a regular basis. Is your meat sourced from factory farms or do you feed a diet of higher quality meat (organic, naturally reared, grass fed)? Higher quality meats are generally high in good fats, omega 3 fatty acids, particularly grass fed red meats. But meat from factory farmed animals (specifically grain fed animals) are lower in quality fats due to species inappropriate diets for livestock (c’mon…cows shouldn’t even eat corn!).
If your diet is sourced from factory farms I suggest adding in fat supplements like salmon oil (not a generic fish oil- you want a named fish oil so you know the source, I also don’t recommend cod liver oil as it is high in Vitamin A) or increasing grass fed red meats to help make up for the lack of omega 3 fatty acids. Another thing you can do is go to a butcher and ask if they have fat trimmings from grass fed red meats as you can add that in like a supplement…just a small glob everyday.
A lot of times factory farmed meats are fed because they’re affordable and people have to do their best at sourcing meat. Heck, we do! We buy factory farmed chicken and turkey for approximately half of our dogs’ diet to help keep cost down and while I know that it’s not ideal, I know that I’m doing what is best for my dogs in my situation. The other half of their diet consists of high quality grass fed red meats. We also supplement with salmon oil. Don’t ever feel bad about doing your best in your situation!
The “bad” thing about fats is that they are RICH! They cause digestive upset, they can cause pancreatitis if you’re not careful. How do we get around these things? Adding them in slowly, methodically like you would for organ meats. Once on a well rounded diet of varied protein sources, consider what your rotation consists of. If it’s mostly factory farmed meat, you’ll want to add in more high quality fats. Do this SLOWLY! Just like with adding in organs, add small amounts at a time (dime sized or smaller depending on size of dog). If you see GI upset, then get them back on track FIRST before trying again. Add in an amount half the size as last time and go from there. This may be tedious and take months, but slow and steady is the best thing for you, your dog and your carpets.
You also have to consider any health problems your dog has already. History of pancreatitis, liver or kidney issues, etc are all important to keep in mind when increasing the fat intake of your dog. Since dogs are all individuals, I suggest consulting your veterinarian about increasing the fat content of your dog’s diet before proceeding…of course tell them why and how. I don’t ever recommend lying to your vet about what you feed your dog. If they don’t like it either find a new one or stand up for yourself, it’s important that your veterinarian knows what you feed because it can affect what they do for your animal in their care.