ka.Iorna, I'm not an expert and we are new to raw. we use an Irish brand called Willow Run, and have now also included a UK/Irish brand called Paleo Ridge. Both are sustainable, locally sourced meats, paleo Ridge in particular follow an ethical philosophy using only organic and both use recyclable materials to package in. We have also found a Dublin based delivery company who use sheep wool for insulation to cut down on polystyrene.
However, here is how we started. I researched it for quite a while. We fed Orijen puppy kibble, against our vets advice who was pushing for hills Science Plan. Maggie did not like science plan, and she gradually went off the Orijen. We tried mixing orijen with chicken breast, cheese, warm water, chicken stock, toppers made from only cooked lamb or chicken, but she was just not interested. She never finished a meal.
when we moved to raw we decided to go with pre packaged to begin, and we will probably stick with that for a while. We were advised to mix it, one spoon at the first meal, then gradually increase until there was more raw than kibble in the bowl.
Meal 1. a spoon of raw and the usual amount of Orijen. Ate the majority of it.
Meal 2. Morning. 2 spoons of raw and reduced amount of Orijen. Ate half, the other half went with her to doggy daycare. It came home again.
Meal 3. Slightly more raw, slightly less kibble. She ate it all, but hadn't finished her b'fast.
Meal 4. As meal 3. She didn't eat it all, Maggie was not a great morning eater.
Meal 5. I decided to go all the way. We gave her a full raw meal, no kibble. Scarfed it down.
Meal 6. B'fast. We normally had to encourage eating this meal. Gave a full raw meal, all eaten.
As we have progressed we have been able to set her b'fast times to suit us. We used to have to give her B'fast at 08.00 or so, and hope she ate most of it by 10. Now we feed her at 08/09.00, and it's gone before we do anything else for the day.
We started with our pre packed meal, beef and veg, no bone. We added once or twice some minced turkey breast. We stayed on this for the first week. We introduced Beef, chicken, chicken carcass and legs with veg on week 2. Since doing this we now see a difference in the poos. They are now more solid, less dark, and dare I say it, more pleasurable to pick up. We have now started to add in the occasional raw egg, with shells, (LOVES that).
Our pet food store guy advised that we give her some frozen, so we did that this morning. His reasoning being that eventually you are going to forget to take the pre packs out of the freezer, and it is better that she is used to having frozen now and then, at this point, than when you are in a hurry and it's all you have. We made that meal half and half....half defrosted, the other half frozen. She initially looked at the frozen suspiciously, then took it out to the garden in a chunk and ate it.
We have in our freezer, Duck, lamb, pheasant, tripe and turkey mixes to use next. We will introduce those after a week on chicken, beef and bone.
Eventually we hope to be able to do it all ourselves and not buy pre packed. However, both Willow Run and Paleo Ridge are balanced with the correct amount of offal and bone, (which I am not that comfortable handling just yet), and the WR line also includes some Irish Sea weed.
we are also supplementing her with Beef Tripe treats, (freeze dried), and with a recommended marrow bone. We often freeze the beef tripe in a kong with yoghurt, (Maggie was not chewing down on kongs with kibble mixed in with yoghurt/Peanut butter etc. )
Like I say, I am not an expert, we are only doing this for 2 weeks now. We feed her 3.5% of her body weight...soon to move to 2.5%. We moved very fast on it. Once we started, we realised that she preferred the raw to the kibble, so we decided to bite the bullet and transition fully. I expected some diarrhoea, but we didn't really get any. I have also worked out that it is 50% of the cost buying the pre packed raw.
I find also that I am not having to hose down where she has poo'ed any longer. We never managed to get it all up in the scoop when she was only eating kibble.
For me, the biggest advantage is a puppy that eats her b'fast and dinner when it is served. tonight I gave her some carrot and broccoli as a treat, and she ate it. two weeks ago, she'd have sniffed and left it.
I realise that maybe this is all because she is feeling better now that the Giardia is treated. However, we have had this puppy now for nearly 6 months, and we have struggled with food and regular diarrhoea throughout. Since switching to raw, nothing. No diarrhoea, and she eats her meals. We have gone from 6 - 8 poos a day to 2 or 3. When she hears the meal being prepared she is there waiting.....when she was on kibble, my husband could often be found on all fours on the floor trying to convince her to eat.
I will say that my husband was not convinced by the idea of raw, but he is now. Once I explained that we need to treat her raw food as we would our own, (he was surprisingly ignorant of how to handle raw chicken!), he was less worried about salmonella poisoning. The pre packed meals make it so easy for us newbies. Scoop it out, weigh it and put the rest back in the fridge. Hubby was also worried about blood thirst. As our pet store advisor said...the dog doesn't know where the meat comes from...the meat just arrives. Like our kids. they don't really know where it comes from, it just arrives.
As I say, we're newbies. Maybe we might change our minds. But I have been pleasantly surprised by the cost savings, the reaction of Maggie, her apparent health improvements, and we, as flexitarians, are finding it is less time consuming than convincing a picky puppy to eat.
I also know that this is a major debate subject......but for us Raw is working right now, but more importantly, it is working for Maggie.
I don't know where you are based, but if in Ireland let me know and I'll send you a link to our pet store guy. I wish I had moved to raw months ago. It's not for everyone, and I respect that, but for us, it has been a game changer. MB