We feed raw and have been since Maggie turned about 6 months. I have to admit that we are loving it, as does Maggie. We have not had diarrhoea since switching from orijen kibble to raw. (Apart from last month when my sister gave her Christmas left overs without me noticing....that was an entire 24 hours of stomach upset.). On the Orijen the diarrhoea was less than we had experienced with Science Plan, but we still found that every week or so, we'd have at least a day where Maggie had the runs. That to be honest made the decision for me...she was so unhappy looking when having diarrhoea that I started more serious research into raw, as I'd been tinkering previously.
We do use a pre packed raw food. Approved by the food standards authority here, (tougher legislation and regs for pet foods in the raw area. You must be licensed to pack it and sell it, and only be a pet food company). It's a frozen mix of beef, chicken and veg, with the correct percentage of offal and bone, sometimes whole prey. We supplement it occasionally with a frozen superfood, 5% top up approx, of blue berry, black berry, green lipped mussels broccoli, organic hemp powder, seaweed and kale. She eats 500-600g per day. 'Breakfast' is a frozen chicken foot or duck neck. If the poo goes a little too chalky looking, we cut back on the breakfast for a day or two. She rarely gets the dark, mucous poo from too much offal. Poos are generally small, easy to pick up and don't smell. (The magpies in the garden love to pick them apart and scatter them around, if I haven't gotten out to pick it up before they get stuck in! Yuck!). Maggie now only poos up to 4 times a day, on kibble it was 6-8. Our vet was initially set against raw, but has become supportive and is actively researching for other clients.
We also feed raw treats mostly. Freeze dried beef liver/kidney, and chicken jerky which is basically freeze dried chicken hearts....😱. Also produced here by the same people we get the frozen main meal from. She particularly loves these, they have a great crunch factor.
For some reason Maggie turns her nose up at turkey and duck, so we tried a new brand of high quality food to try to mix up the proteins. Pork and apple, no thank you. Lamb and mint, nope.....chicken whole prey with green lipped mussels, yes please. so we supplement the regular food with the berry based superfood above and still have a box of surf and turf to try her on, might try this next week to see if we like fish.
I will say that she digs in to her dinner every evening with relish. We change up the feeding time to keep it interesting for her. We no longer use raw eggs, we did for a week or so, but she didn't seem to really like it. I have read that raw eggs are not really that great for them.
As for the risk of salmonella contamination, we treat Maggie's food as we would treat our own raw meat. (We're pretty much plant based now ironically!). Her food is kept frozen until the night before and defrosted in the fridge for the next day. It's kept in it's own container, on a shelf where it cannot drip liquid onto other food sources. The surfaces are wiped down with disposable kitchen paper and anti bacterial spray. Her bowl is lifted as soon as she is finished eating and washed out with it's own scrubbing brush with hot water, detergent and baby bottle sterilising fluid. We have a specific knife and spoon for her food, which is also sterilised at the same time as the bowl. The bowl goes into the dishwasher, after the above cleanse, on a hot wash twice a week. We wash our hands right after feeding and washing the bowl.
As we buy pre packed, for ease more than anything else, the containers are 100% compostable, and go into the food compost bins. We have had salmonella poisoning in our home before, but that was due to chicken for human consumption, before we had Maggie. Our vet often comments on what great shape she is in. I think this is why the practice has started looking at the raw diet for some of their clients as an option.
But raw is not for everyone, it's a matter of personal choice. We're lucky that it is relatively easy for us, and suits our lifestyle, even though husband is 100% vegan and I'm vegan 5 days out of 7.
We do give some cooked food, but that is mostly for a stuffed kong when we need to go out. Cooked chicken breast, peanut butter, blueberries, tripe sticks and some freeze dried liver stuffed into the big Kong keeps her occupied for at least 2 hours if we want to go out unaccompanied. We just cross our fingers that it doesn't roll under the sofa where she can't reach it, and then starts to get a little anxious, and will rip up a cushion I didn't think to put away. 😂