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Feeding Guide and FAQ's

Why should I feed RAW?

Raw is raw. It might sound obvious but it includes uncooked meat, bones and organs (and sometimes vegetables). Cats and dogs were in existence long before man created dried dog food. Dried dog food was invented for the convenience of man, not for the benefits of pets. They are, both domesticated and wild, carnivores and are anatomically built for eating meat. Biologically Appropriate Raw Food diets are based on fresh foods such as raw meat and bones, fruit and vegetables and are designed to replicate the animal's 'ancestral'  diet. Humans are the only animals that cook their foods and we know that cooking breaks down many of the proteins and amino acids in raw meat, destroying much of their nutritional goodness.RAW diet gives -

  • Quality ingredients
  • No high temperature processing
  • No filler, no grain
  • No artificial additives or preservatives.

What is RAW food made of?

Recipes are made from a single British meat source (lamb, beef, chicken, turkey, venison or rabbit), fresh chicken bone (except for our chicken-free recipe), fresh organ meat, seasonal, fresh vegetables and herbs. There is absolutely nothing else in there.

How much RAW do I feed?

All dogs are different and the amount of food they need depends on their daily energy requirement which varies according to many factors including their breed, activity level, age and environment.  Our easy to use feeding guide will do the calculation for you. In broad terms small and medium adult dogs need a daily ration of 2-3% of their bodyweight. Puppies may need more, (please refer to our feeding guide BELOW), older and large breed dogs will require less.

Is the amount shown on your feeding guide per meal or per day?

Per day. All feeding guides are only guides and it is safe to feed less or even slightly more to suit them as an individual. 

How can I tell if my dog is the correct weight?

Your dog should have a natural waist when viewed from above. For very long-haired dogs you may have to feel this with your hands. You should also be able to feel the shape of the individual ribs with just a little pressure when running your hands over your dog’s chest. If his ribs are nowhere to be found he is overweight but if they are very noticeable he probably needs more food.

Should I feed my dog more than once a day?

While your puppy is growing he or she will need several meals a day. Whether or not you feed an adult dog more than once a day is up to you. A dog’s digestive system is designed to have periods of plenty and then time off

Why don't you use lids or easy-to-peel film on your containers?

We believe that all responsible raw food producers should use leak-proof containers. This is the practice for all human food, is a legal requirement for pet food (EU Regulation 142/2011) and is plain common sense from a food safety point of view. We appreciate the extra  of using an ‘ice cream’ tub with a lid to keep a partially consumed pack of  in the family fridge but these tubs WILL leak (turn one upside down to test it). 

Thank you for your understanding.

Why do you include raw ground bone in  RAW complete meals?

Raw meaty bones are an integral part of feeding a raw diet. Raw bones are a complex source of calcium and a wide variety of nutrients, minerals, essential fatty acids and vitamins. The central parts of most bones contain marrow, which is highly nutritious.  recipes include ground bone which will provide the above mentioned nutrients but will not have all the behavioural and emotional benefits of chewing on a raw meaty bone so you should still feed raw meaty bones for ‘recreational’ purposes at regular intervals.

Why aren’t there any grains in some RAW meals?

There are conflicting views on the use of grains as part of a natural diet. Some vets advocate no grain at all but lots of vegetables instead, and some believe a diet based on just raw meaty bones is all a dog needs. Others recommend a small portion of grain in the diet. So what is the truth?

The basic controversy has arisen because of the very high cereal content used in processed pet foods. Many canned and dry dog foods contain up to four times as much cereal content as meat. There is little doubt that grain is the cheapest source of energy for dogs but they are not designed to eat such a high content of carbohydrate. Even worse, cheap cereals are often used as fillers. Cheap cereal has little nutritional value other than its calories.

It is this fact that has led some vets and nutritionists to broaden the issue on cheap carbohydrates to encompass grains in general and to suggest that dogs should not, and in fact cannot, digest grains.

Dogs often ingest grains when they catch and eat live prey, however no canine in nature accesses grain as a significant food source. An important point to mention here is that dogs cannot digest whole grains. They do not graze fields of barley and eat the grains. The same goes for plant material and fruit. Dogs have a poor ability to digest intact plant and fruit material (they lack the teeth and saliva enzymes to break down the cellulose plant cell wall).

Grains contain mostly complex carbohydrates – a group of nutrients dogs simply do not need. Dogs can turn those carbs into energy but a significant concentration of grain in a single meal can hamper the chemistry of the digestive process by lowering the stomach’s acidity level, making digestion of other food less effective.

So the final word on grains and carbohydrates in general. Unprocessed grains have no place in the diet of a dog. Processed grains can have value for dogs with sensitive stomachs or which are sick as they lower the acidity level in the stomach. However, as a standard component of a regular diet even high quality, raw, cracked or crushed vegetables need to be used sparingly. 

What are digestive enzymes and probiotics, and why is their use recommended?

Digestive enzymes break down food so that it can be absorbed and utilized by the body. Raw food contains enzymes which supplement those produced by the body. When your cat or dog eats for eg,Cotswold RAW they receive plenty of enzymes from the natural ingredients, hence there is no need to add any supplements. When they eat  processed food, which is devoid of enzymes, the enzyme-producing organs must work overtime to compensate. It doesn't matter what you put into the body if the digestive system is not equipped with enough enzymes to break it down and put it to good use.  Supplemental enzymes can, therefore, be beneficial when feeding processed food and in cases of digestive disorders.

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria. They are normally present in a healthy intestinal system. Beneficial bacteria keep unwanted bacteria from disrupting homeostasis. Beneficial bacteria are killed by antibiotics and for a dog recovering from such treatment the supplemental use of non-dairy probiotics can help re-establish normal intestinal function.

Is fibre good for dogs?

Dietary fibre plays an important role in the dog’s digestive process just as it does in humans. However, again as in humans, fibre is very difficult to digest and because the dog’s digestive system is so short the majority will be expelled in the dog’s faeces. Too much crude fibre also reduces the dog’s ability to digest and absorb protein. 

Isn’t fat bad for dogs?

Absolutely not.  Fat is the best, most easily digestible and usable energy source for dogs. It provides more than twice as much energy per gram as protein and is the preferred energy source used during aerobic respiration. Dogs also don’t suffer from the same cardiovascular issues as humans and they can tolerate very high levels of fat. Fat is also required to absorb the fat soluble vitamins A, D and K. At Cotswold RAW we maintain a protein to fat ratio of approximately 2:1 in  recipes (slightly lower (ie more fat) in our 90/10 recipe and somewhat higher for puppies).

Can you cook your raw foods?

We do not recommend this. Cooking alters the composition of the food and destroys nutrients hence we cannot guarantee that the meals will be complete and balanced after cooking as they are designed to be fed raw. If necessary warm the food in an oven dish (not in the microwave)

Why is my dog drinking less water daily? Should I be concerned?

No, there is absolutely no reason to be concerned.   Unlike kibble, raw food is full of naturally occurring water. Kibble takes a lot of water to re-hydrate whereas all the moisture needed to digest raw food is contained within it. Having said that, always ensure that your dog has an adequate supply of fresh water available.

Is my dog at risk from infections by eating raw meat?

Dogs have a very different digestive system to humans. It is designed to cope with a certain level of bacterial contamination and food moves through it much more quickly. A happy, healthy dog is much less likely to present a health risk to humans but sensible hygiene precautions must still be followed. RAW products must be handled and stored in the same way as any meat purchased for human consumption.  design and packaging make this easy – the sausages come in their own edible wrappers, all packages are heat sealed and easy to store in the freezer.

What about the bacteria?

The safety of  foods is top priority  and they face the most stringent food safety protocols. All  fresh foods are presented in such a way that handling is minimised and, wherever possible, waste is eliminated. This means no contamination of bowls, feeding areas, kitchen surfaces or bins and no unwanted smells. 

Human grade meat (especially poultry) often contains bacteria. The Animal and Plant Health Agency tests all pet food manufacturers (raw, wet and dry) to ensure that salmonella isn’t present but nevertheless ALL raw meat has the potential to contain bacteria. These bacteria are not harmful to your dog but they can be to humans – which is why we are always careful in handling raw meat for our own consumption.

The same rules apply when handling raw food for your pet. Keep the product in a sealed container - once defrosted use separate utensils for serving raw meat and wash them and surfaces with hot, soapy water. Wash your hands thoroughly and open and dispose of any packaging carefully.

Is it safe to feed bones to pets?

Only if they are raw.  Cooked bones are low in moisture and can easily split or cause choking. Raw bones are moisture rich, softer, more flexible and easily digested in the high pH of a dog or cat’s stomach. Raw meaty bones are an integral part of feeding your pet a raw diet and should be fed at regular intervals. Raw bone contains natural nutrients  such as glucosamine and chondroitin, the omega essential fatty acids and of course calcium, phosphorus and other bone building minerals such as magnesium, all in the correct ratios. Our recipes include ground bone which will provide all of the above mentioned nutrients but will not deliver all the behavioural and emotional benefits of chewing on a raw meaty bone. Choose a bone about as big as the dog’s head – too big to swallow but small enough to handle.

At what age can a puppy change onto our adult food?

We recommend starting to change to our adult recipe at 20 weeks. This is not set in stone though and your puppy can continue on our puppy recipe, which contains slightly higher levels of protein and calcium, up to 12 months of age. 

Will my pet’s stools be affected if they are changed over to a raw food diet?

The answer is almost certainly Yes, and for the better. The stool represents the difference between what a dog eats and what it has digested and absorbed.  Your dog will excrete less is because most of the food he or she is now ingesting is being properly utilized by the body...thus, less waste.  

The general observation and feedback we hear from our customers feeding a RAW diet is that an animal on a RAW diet, with the appropriate amount of raw bone, will have a smaller, drier, more solid stool that may appear chalky white (due to the bone content) and that is consequently much easier to pick up.

The harder stool will also improve anal gland function as the stool will allow the anal glands to naturally express themselves through passing.

Can I feed  RAW food and kibble at the same time?

Raw food is better for your dog so we recommend not feeding kibble at all. However, we all lead busy lives and kibble has the advantage of a long shelf life and so is convenient to use. If you must feed kibble, find a top quality, grain-free product. some raw nutritionists suggest that raw and kibble should not be fed at the same time (as different enzymes are required to digest protein and carbohydrate) but in our experience most dogs can cope, However it's best to think of it as you would your own food - maybe a ready meal when you get back late from work but a wholesome meat and two veg when you have the time to prepare it!

Is the switch from dry food problematic?

When changing a dog's diet their digestive process needs to change. The same is the case when switching from a commercial dry food to a raw  diet. In addition though the body may need to rid itself of toxins and impurities as it adjusts to the intake of proper nutrients.  Depending on the overall health of your dog, this may last several weeks or no time at all.  The most common problems are probably runny stools and itchy skin but these symptoms will soon disappear. 

How do I keep and defrost your frozen meat products?

 mince and sausages can be kept in the freezer for up to nine months. Transfer to a resealable container and defrost in the fridge. If you’re in a hurry, soak in hot water in the kitchen sink.  RAW mince and sausages will keep for 48-72 hours in the fridge. Do not refreeze meat that has defrosted.

A fit, healthy adult cat or dog requires 2.5% of its weight in food per day. The guide below might help, or you can contact us for assistance if your pet is young, old, overweight or underweight.

We’ve compiled this table as a guide to feeding quantities pets need. Let’s look at the first line to understand what it means. A pet in the minimum weight range of 2kg would need between 40 to 60g of food per day. A similar pet in the maximum weight range would require between 80 to 120g per day.

Please remember these are general guidelines. Active and working dogs will need more food.   
Breed with typical dog weights in Kg. Weight   Min Wt Range Max Wt Range
2% 3% 2% to 3%
Chihuahua, Yorkie, Toy Poodle 2-4kg 40g 60g 80g 120g
Cairn Terrier, Jack Russell, Pug, Whippet 4-10kg 80g  – 200g 120g 300g
Beagle, Border Collie, Dachshund, Staffordshire Bull Terrier 10-20kg 200g  – 400g 300g 600g
Airedale, Basset, Bulldog, Chow-Chow, Dalmatian 20-30kg 400g  – 600g 600g 900g
Boxer, Greyhound, Labrador 30-40kg 600g 800g 900g 1200g
Bloodhound, German Shepherd, Old English sheepdog 40-50kg 800g  – 1000g 1200g 1500g
Alaskan Malamute, Bull Mastiff, Great Dane, St. Bernard Plus 50kg  —  —  Plus 1500g