A topic of perpetual debate and passionate opinion's amongst raw feeders. The "Prey Model Raw (PMR)" diet. Is it good? Is it bad? Do people even really understand it?
To start, I'm going to rewind a bit back to when I personally started my journey into learning how to feed my pets a homemade raw diet. I was not involved in any forms of social media when I started my journey. Yeah, I may have been that old person who thought it was all silly and I had no interest in it. I only became involved in social media with my creation of Rawpetsrule to help others feed their pets better. Of course I now am beyond grateful to have made the amazing friends I have through my social media, but holy crap am I glad I wasn't relying on social media to educate me on raw feeding basics. There are now more than ever so many conflicting "right ways" and "must do it this way" ideals out there and they often don't line up... at all! All of this makes it extremely frustrating and down right difficult for someone new just looking for guidance. It's like you need to pick your "team" and follow their rules. God forbid you think about an idea that falls outside your chosen teams ways of doing things. If you haven't experienced this then consider yourself lucky because I get the pleasure of hearing stories from people ALL the time that have been basically stressed out or even insulted to the point they think " we all be crazy" and abandon the idea of feeding raw altogether. That saddens me and quite frankly piss's me off! It shouldn't be this way.
Now, prey model raw.
This is one very popular method of putting together a homemade raw diet. The problem I see is this method has literally morphed before my eyes over time within the raw feeding community as a whole. I initially learned to feed this way BUT for one, it was more commonly called the "franken-prey" model of feeding. The same 80/10/10 was outlined but was emphasized much more that this set of percentages was just a GUIDLINE, not a rule. The premise of the diet was to most closely recreate what an entire animal would be composed of using a variety of piece's and parts from different sources. The whole ideal came about for feeing this way is based off the averages of what a whole animal contains. Assuming that, you know nature, Mother Nature if you will, knows far better than us what is correct. Quite frankly as a person who follows what I feel is a healthy mix of science based and nature based ideals I most definitely agree nature doesn't get it wrong. However humans certainly do! What started out as a guideline to create the components of a whole animal, AKA franken-prey, is now regularly being simply referred to as the "ratio diet". People are too often trying to follow the percentages to a T, like it's a law rather than being the guideline it was intended to be. Expanding the model to 80/10/5/5 to emphasize that liver and an additional organ need be fed is also now much more common. Great! Except animals contain more than 2 organs and many people will never deviate from this example, again treating the guidelines as a rule. Thus one area where this method can go wrong and gets labeled as a "bad" diet.
There are issues if your going to follow a prey model diet strictly. By strictly, I mean you feed only meat and only in these exact proportions, switching protein sources minimally and occasionally. But this dose NOT mean this model can't be worked within and fed to healthy adult dogs, cats, & ferrets. All of which I feed and all of which I offer franken-prey style meals in their food rotation. You simply need to break free of the strict 80/10/10 prison - it IS flawed! The whole reason people can & do make claims that ratio diets are "bad" is because when analyzed against outlined nutritional standards ( most commonly NRC guidelines) these diets usually fall short in a few common areas. Often having both extreme lows and highs in make up as well as unfavorable mineral interactions. As someone who analyzes diets I can confidently say making a few modifications to a prey model diet can improve it immensely. Also, I will point out that most people feeding PMR diets are not feeding the same thing day in and day out. So, simply analyzing a single meal fed is not giving an accurate depiction of the entire diet being fed, and we are often feeding items that no nutritional data has been established for. Just because the USDA dose not have info on what's in a duck head you shouldn't feed it??
That's ridiculous! Of course you should!
Let's Break Down This Diet!
The first area of the diet I'll address is liver. This model says to feed 5% liver. Ok, but all liver is not created equal. Ruminant livers (beef, lamb, goat, venison ect.) are high copper livers. These livers contain a much higher amount of copper. The low copper livers would be your chicken, turkey, & pork livers. Pork liver is actually unique in itself as even though USDA nutritional data will show copper as being present due to unique circumstances pork liver as far as our dogs & cats are concerned has zero bioavailable copper. So feeding a straight 5% liver can be improved on.
Here's how I do it: If feeding a liver that falls in the high copper category feed it at no more than 2-3% . This still gives you more than enough vit A but keeps copper from going through the roof.
If feeding a low copper liver you can feed at 5%. If feeding pork liver your best result comes from halving the portion of pork liver with a high copper liver ( 2.5% pork & 2.5% high copper liver).
The other organ, this model says feed 5%. Ok, I just generally disagree with this. Why? Because if your following the above suggestions on liver then you certainly can feed more than 5% of other organs. Other organ can refer to may things! Brain and kidney, for example, offer very different things to the diet. Organs can be more challenging to source and therefore, many people have only one or two that they always use. The most ideal situation is to remember this model is attempting to recreate an entire animal and feed small portions of each ( kidney, spleen, pancreas, brain, testes ect..) not necessarily in each meal but over the week in appropriate proportions to the "animal". If your selection is limited, most diets when analyzed do hold up nutritionally when this other organ is increased at least some from the standardized 5%, how much is dependent on the overall diet and the individual pets tolerance. What I'm getting at is don't think your cap HAS to be a strict 5% it can be more & often benefits the diet to be more. Also use more than one, no need to stop at one only.
The edible bone. Oh how this element of the diet tends to make people crazy! The prey model diet says 10% bone ( this refers to the bone on its own) . The calculating by raw feeders to come up with how much of a chicken neck or a duck foot is 10% bone is enough to cause some people to throw in the towel! People tend to overcomplicate this area more than any other. But before I even address how to figure out how much, is 10% bone the rule? No, it's a guideline! In fact if I break down the ratios in NRC meals I have formulated the happy spot is more like 12-15% bone for dogs and a bit less for cats. And guess what the type of bone you use makes a difference! So to this point I highly suggest if your following this model to utilize more than one bone source. You also don't need to meticulously cut and trim every bone in item you feed to the gram to fit your percentage. Some days it can go over, some days it can be under, unless your massively going far above or below consistently it all works itself out in the end. I will also point out that the commonly used bone in cut percentages are also to be used as a guideline. Use your eyes and look at the cut you are holding, if guide says a duck neck is 50% bone but the one your holding is extra large or small and looks visually to be more/less.... then it is more/less! Again, guidelines are not rules so don't obsess! Ultimately nature is going to dictate the meat: bone ratio in each & every animal and it won't be as neat & tidy/precise as we'd like it to be.
The muscle meat portion. This model says to feed 80%. This in itself is misleading. To many people this simply means any meat will fit without consideration of it's classification. Within this meat group, we have skeletal meats, tendons & ligaments, all the non secreting organs, the skin & cartilage (ears & tracheas), hearts, tongues...the list goes on! You ideally should not limit yourself to any one of these meat items in excess or exclude any if you can get them. These are all parts to the whole animal and all have different things to offer. Keeping in mind again, what proportion would these be in the animal as a whole? There's your guide. A decent guideline is to make at least 25%-30% of this non secreting organs (lungs, hearts, gizzards ect.) and to vary the skeletal muscle you use. In poultry breast & thigh are very different, in pork - loin and shoulder are different, utilize as many as you can. Different cuts from the same animal are going to offer different nutrients. Don't get stuck on one if your feeding this model. Again, go back to visualizing what would be in the animal as a whole.
The other issues this model of feeding can present will mostly be in part because we can do our best to recreate an animal but we can't do the job as well as nature has. We also are often using factory farmed animals. These meat sources present their own set of challenges/issues. I'm not getting into that here but in a nutshell just know for example a wild rabbit and a farmed rabbit are NOT equal, not even close!
What can you do to improve? For this you need to think beyond the model. Even your most varied diet will still have holes to fill. This too though can be remedied with a few intentional additions. Most commonly these will include items like:
1. Fish - for adequate omega 3's & vitamin D
2. Oysters - zinc is a common low, and even if its close or met it tends to get the short end of the stick when it comes to mineral interactions, more is almost always needed. There are other options than oysters but oysters are easiest.
3. Mussels- specifically blue mussels are often needed to boost manganese. Green tripe also provides it so a combination of the two works well or sufficient of either.
4. Seeds - seeds can be a source of healthful fats and are the easiest way to fulfil vitamin E , specifically sunflower seeds. A naturally derived E oil can also be used.
5. Eggs - these add a whole slue of things to the diet and I always recommend adding eggs - duck, chicken, quail ect. Eggs are great!
6. Nutritional yeast - this is more common in cat diets than dog diets due to their RA for specific B vitamins but this is a great source of B vitamins if you are not feeding sufficient sources ( pork is great, other red meats are good too). Plus its a nice flavor enhancing "seasoning" to add. B vitamins are water soluble and need be filled daily.
7. Fiber - fur & feathers are the preferred fiber source to the carnivore. If you can feed them- do it! If not your pet may require a fiber source in vegetation or use of something like psyllium husk.
8. Iodine- its going to be low in part because its not reported for many foodstuffs that it is known to be in. But you can fulfil it with a food like kelp or even salt if the diet permits it.
These are the most common places the PMR diet can fall short in. This is not to say, depending on what exactly you choose to feed that there may be more. Then there are also a long list of beneficial "extras" that will also make your diet just that much better. That list is far too long to get into here. But a word to the wise- understand why you are adding something don't simply do it because you see it in another bowl on social media. Add foods with a purpose!
So, the prey model diet, is it a picture of perfection? No. Is it a "dangerous" or "bad" way to feed? I still say NO as long as you have an understanding of where and what you might be lacking you can most certainly meet your pets needs AND do so in a more relaxed and natural way. I think people are often surprised to hear me say this because I do formulate NRC balanced diets. Yes, I do. I take care and attention to detail when formulating a diet for a client because it would be irresponsible of me to not make sure a meal will 100% meet a pets needs and be as "perfect" as it can be on paper. BUT my own pets eat recipes I create sometimes, eat PMR based on how I do it outlined here sometimes, and my pets all also eat whole prey meals regularly. I don't adhere to any one set of "rules".
Here's the thing, nutrition and the guidelines within it, regardless of how you tackle it are not carved in stone. No one has all the answers, because all the answers are not out there to be known! We have guidelines to follow - yes NRC guidelines are still just guidelines. Guidelines that were created in response to the need for standards to create "complete and balanced" foods available to the masses. Let's just be clear complete and balanced is a marketing term above all else. No species on this planet "needs" to eat something perfect on paper every single time it eats - this is a humanized ideal. We like things to be perfect when in fact the perfection of nature is that perfection simply dose not exist!
With that said, you do YOU & happy healthy feeding!
Lets talk about cats and bones!
It's always amazing to me how many people come to me with the question "can my cat eat whole bone?", well the answer is yes! Most definitely YES! Bone is a really important aspect of the cats raw diet. Bone is most important for calcium, but it also provides other minerals to a lesser extent. So, today I'm going to be discussing cat appropriate bones and safe alternatives.
Cats have a much smaller range of bones they can safely consume versus dogs but they can eat whole, raw meaty bone. For cats the selection is for the most part limited to poultry bones from things like chickens, ducks, or guinea foul. Further limited to select parts specifically such as necks, feet & or toes, and wings or wing tips. They can also consume all the bone from small species of birds such as quail or partridge & small mammals such as mice.
Now, if your cat is not of the picky variety and will eat these bones and your able to easily source them for your cat, your all set!
When it comes to feeding bones you should always supervise your cat. While bones of appropriate size are considered safe, a cat can still try to chew off more than they can handle, if you know what I mean! Just like dogs, cats can be "gulpers"... I have one! I' once witnessed one of my own slurp down half a quail leg, foot & all like a piece of spaghetti before I could stop him! He was fine & didn't choke but could have. So, be there & supervise just in case. I recommend all pet parents, raw fed or not, know how to preform the Heimlich on your pets just in case! It may not even be food related that the knowledge could save your pets life!
But what if your cat wont eat bone?
Some cats, many cats, especially those who have not been on a raw diet consisting of whole bones they have to chew, simply won't eat them. When this happens you need to find an alternative. Grinds of the bone in parts or bone in grinds are an option and would be my first choice. Having the bone ground up in the meat will often be all the fussy cat needs to get them eating their bones. For some cats this still won't get them eating the bone. I've literally seen a cat meticulously pick tiny bone pieces out of grinds. This also can be a more challenging item for people to source, especially if the budget does not allow for online ordering from raw food suppliers. Now, you could grind the bone in parts yourself but the cost of a grinder that will do bones isn't exactly cheap either. But of course if it's in the budget go for it! When using bone in grinds just be sure you know the percentage of bone in the product you are using.
So, what options are left?
My first choice for a bone replacement is bone meal or MCHA powder. Both are powdered bone. The difference is one in cost, bone meal is significantly less expensive and two, bone meal is a cooked product where as MCHA is not. I'm sure some of you are wondering what is MCHA? Microcrystalline hydroxyapatite calcium, or freeze dried New Zealand grass fed bovine bone powder. MCHA calcium is a much higher quality product than bone meal and because its not a cooked bone product its also identical to whole raw bone nutrient wise. Bone meal is still very similar to actual bone and contains calcium, phosphorus and the other minerals found in bone to a lesser extent. For cost and sourcing sake more people use bone meal than MCHA. This is fine just be sure to source a human grade product form a reputable company. I'll give my recommendations at the end of this article, with links.
What about egg shell?
Egg shells are an excellent source of calcium, yes. They are not an acceptable substitute for bone in a healthy cats diet. Why? As discussed earlier bone is much more than calcium, egg shells are primarily calcium. They can however be a replacement for bone in an appropriately formulated diet for cats who need a reduced phosphorus diet such as those with kidney disease. Now if you need added calcium in the diet egg shell powder is great! Just don't replace your cats bone source with it unless you have a medical need to do so.
So make sure if your making your cats food they are getting their bones or one of the acceptable substitutes so that they are receiving complete nutrition. As always, Happy Feeding!
Links to products referenced:
If I were asked to choose one item, one super convenient way to improve what's in your pets bowl.....canned sardines would be my pick!
What can sardines bring to the bowl?
What you want to look for when choosing them?
How to serve?
Simply drain & feed. The amount needed will always be dependent on the overall diet of your pet. A general guideline that will fit into most diets is approximately 1.5oz of sardine per 50lbs of pet weight per day. Now you don't have to feed daily you can feed the entire weeks worth divided into 2 or 3 days of the week. Example; if your dog requires 1oz a day & the can is 4oz you could simply feed the entire can every four days. The sooner you use up the can once opened the better.
Now, 'm focusing on canned sardines today, but of course raw frozen sardines as well as many other species of oily fish are also suitable for feeding. This is not implying that they are better in any way just an alternative great for fussy eaters or people who are not comfortable feeding raw fish.
So let your furry companion enjoy the heathy benefits of adding sardines to the bowl, and as always, happy, healthy feeding!
Do you feed eggs? Eggs are a wonderful addition to the raw diet. Eggs are considered to be a complete food source. After all, the contents of an egg contain everything needed to grow a new life.
Although I feed chicken & duck eggs as well, quail eggs are my favorite! They are a cute little egg that are a real nutritional powerhouse. Their small size makes them a great addition to a pet of nearly any sizes diet without adding too many calories. I rarely use anything other than quail eggs in my cats meals because they are just the perfect size for a cat.
According to a study in the International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, eating quail eggs supports healthy organ function throughout the body. They are even thought to have properties that can fight disease & purify the body.
These eggs may be small, but good things can come in little packages! The quail egg contains six times more vitamin B1, fifteen times more vitamin B2, and have been demonstrated to contain significantly more vitamin E.
?? Does your pet suffer with allergies??
If so quail eggs could actually help. The ovomucoid protein present in quail eggs is considered an anti-allergenic. Think of it like natures anti-histamine. Plus, this protein is said to boost the immune system.
The quail egg is a neutral egg. For comparison, a chicken egg is acidic, and a duck egg is alkaline. This means it can safely be incorporated into both a warming or a cooling diet for those who follow traditional Chinese medicine.
The quail egg is considered a "safe" egg. Due to the quail having a higher body temperature and the egg containing the enzyme lysozyme this isn't an egg that can harbor salmonella. In fact humans regularly consume raw quail eggs for their notable health benefits.
Do I really love quail eggs? Yes!! As a matter of fact I love them enough to have 2 years ago started raising my own quail so we always have an ample supply of these awesome little eggs.
So, if you've never tried quail eggs go out & get yourself a dozen, or 4 to add to your pets diet. They are the perfect little addition to your homemade diet or even commercial pet food diet.
Until next time... Happy egg eating!!
First off, what is iodine & why should I care about it? Iodine is a trace mineral, it is essential & necessary for many functions in the body but most notably the thyroid. Iodine is essential for healthy thyroid function. Low levels can even contribute to behavioral issues like sudden aggression. Here's the thing though, too little iodine in the diet...causes problems. Too much iodine in the diet...again, causes problems. Both scenarios will likely lead to thyroid gland disfunction. If you feed a commercial diet (kibble/canned), then iodine has likely been added in sufficient amounts in the form of : potassium iodide, potassium iodate, sodium iodide, or calcium iodide,. Do not add more.
Here's the deal. MOST homemade diets are low in iodine if specific foods are not fed to include iodine. For example if you feed a strict prey model diet (80/10/5/5) with nothing else added, your probably, no, your going to be low. The exception is if you feed whole prey, meaning you feed whole animals in their entirety. If you are regularly feeding whole prey to your dog/cat then iodine isn't going to be an issue....it's in there! Not surprisingly, the thyroid gland in an animal is rich with, you guessed it, iodine! Now understandably most people aren't doing this.
So, if you don't feed whole animals where can you get iodine in adequate amounts into your diet?
The most iodine rich foods come from the sea. Seaweeds, fish, shrimp & oysters are good sources. Also a large chicken egg contains somewhere around 24mcg, actual amount is of course dependent on the hens diet. Now things like shrimp aren't going to hurt your pet if they eat them but it's not something you want included regularly or in the daily diet. Fish, well the amounts can vary quite a bit and well there are a lot of factors...is the fish whole? Is it an iodine rich species such as cod which contains 90mcg in a 3oz portion. With fish it can turn into a bit of a guessing game. Don't get me wrong you should feed fish, just don't rely on it solely for iodine. So what's left & easy.....seaweed.
Seaweed, specifically Kelp!
Kelp is the food where we can turn to easily & naturally meet iodine needs. Kelp is a large brown seaweed that is most notably rich in iodine. (Side note: Do NOT add kelp if your pet knowingly suffers with thyroid problems, consult a holistic vet.) You can easily add kelp to your homemade diets with the use of a quality, measurable kelp powder.
Now, if your wondering how do you know what your dogs iodine requirement is? Do a quick math calculation once & then write the number down so you don't have to do it again:
You take your dogs weight in kilograms to the power of .75 (the ^ button on your calculator), this number is your dogs metabolic weight. Now you multiply this number by 29.6. The result is your individual dogs iodine needs.
Or if you prefer based on calories:
Recommended allowance per 1000kcal is as follows:
Adult dog & puppies: 220mcg
Adult cat: 350mcg
FYI: The Now brand I have recommended is 450mcg in one scoop.
Now this is important. Don't assume your diet has zero iodine in it, as discussed earlier foods like fish & eggs have measurable amounts and meat has some (very minimal), so take this into consideration when dosing kelp. For example if your dogs requirement is 300mcg iodine you don't need to feed this all in kelp if the meal has oysters or fish & egg in it. Just scale the amount back a bit. Your better off to not over do it!
As important as fulfilling nutritional needs is don't let it become too technical, or stressful. Nothing in nature needs "perfect" measurable amounts of anything in every meal of every day. It just doesn't work like that, despite what some people will lead you to believe. Having the knowledge to know where & what may be coming up short in your dog or cats diet gives you the power to intelligently make some additions or changes in how you feed. Ultimately giving them a better shot at longer, healthier lives with you!
Sources: NRC Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats 2006
USDA database food search , FDA.gov tyroid/safety
Fat, one of the single most overlooked aspects of the diet. Fat can be a good thing & fat can be a bad thing. Lets take a closer look at the effects of fats & what impact they could have in the diet.
First off, fat is an essential part of the diet. Fats are critical to every single cell in your pets body. Fat is used as a source of energy, it is necessary for neurological development, and adequate amounts of the right fats are needed for absorption of fat soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E & K).
Where the fats come from is important.
A quick look at the ancestral diet of our dogs and cats will reveal something very important. Meat high in fat was not part of the diet. Wild game, which as we know is the most nutrient dense & "gold standard" of meats is quite low in fat (approx. 10%). Wild prey animals are lean. They are lean, red meat.
Now understandably most of us are not feeding a diet of all wild game meats. We are relying on meats from animals that us humans are responsible for feeding. What goes wrong here is that we basically create animals that have a much higher fat content than anything in the wild ever would. So this is where you need to be careful when selecting your pets meat.
We know red meats are very important in the raw diet. The diet really needs to incorporate at bare minimum 50% red meat, really the more the better. Here's the part where people often go wrong. The fat content of the meat you choose is really important! Why? Because as the fat content of the meat increases, the protein & mineral/vitamin content of the meat decreases. There is a direct relationship here that should not be ignored!
Take a look at ground beef. Its probably one of the first things many people grab when looking to add red meat. Now ground beef can be purchased in varying fat contents. Usually from 70% -93% lean.
Lets look at just protein content first.
The 70% lean beef would give you 43g of protein per 1000kcal.
The 90% lean beef would give you 118g of protein per 1000kcal.
The beef with the lower fat content contains more than 2 times the protein! This is important considering the recommended minimum amount of protein for a growing puppy is 56.3grams, and even an adults minimum recommendation is 45grams. That's bare minimum needed. The fattier beef isn't looking so good already.
Now lets look at the comparison of some minerals.
The 70% lean beef would give you 10.7g of zinc per 1000kcal
The 90% lean beef would give you 27g of zinc per 1000kcal
Again, less than half the zinc in the fattier beef!
How about iron?
The 70% lean beef would give you 4.9g iron per 1000kcal
The 90% lean beef would give you 12.7g iron per 1000kcal
That's quite a difference!
Now can you see the emerging trend here? You can take most any vitamin or mineral and compare them in the two and you will see the fattier beef will always contain significantly less nutrition. In most cases about half. If you'd like to compare nutrition yourself head to: https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list and search for the foods you'd like to compare.
As a general rule if your meat is over 10% fat, the bulk of your calories will come from fat. Now fat is needed but it's one of those "too much of a good thing" scenarios because as you can see the higher the fat content of your meat the less nutrients your going to get.
It really all makes sense when you look at the composition of the ancestral diet.....10% fat & 20% protein is the average composition of your wild game. You can talk about nutrition as technical and scientific as you want but the simplicity of it is we optimally are looking for the solution that would match what these animals would naturally eat...the whole wild prey animal.
If your interested in learning more about the ancestral diet I'd highly recommend this book:
So hopefully if you never considered how the fat content of your meat affected the diet you now have a little bit better understanding of a simple change you can be mindful of when selecting the meat you feed your pets..... and just how much of a difference a little fat can make!
Do you include fish in your pets diet? If not you really should start. Matter of fact raw fed or not adding the proper fish to your pets food can make a big impact on your pets health. It's one of the best and easiest fresh foods to add to your pets meals. Fish provides one of the most bioavailable sources of DHA & EPA. But that's not the only reason to feed fish.....
The two biggest reasons for feeding fish are: omega 3's and vitamin D. Fish can be used to balance omega's in the diet. Maintaining a healthy balance of fats in the diet is so important & feeding oily fish is a great way to balance out a diet heavy in omega 6. Vitamin D can also be a concern in a raw diet. Both dogs and cats must obtain vitamin D from diet as they can not manufacture it from sunlight. If your not feeding any free range or pastured meats or wild game meats your diet will likely be low in vitamin D. Fish is an excellent source of vitamin D and an easy way to ensure your pet is getting enough.
The type of fish you feed dose matter. You want to feed primarily the small oily fish that fall low on the mercury scale & high in omega 3's.
Using the chart above that would be the fish located in the top right corner.
My top choices & the fish I regularly feed include, sardine, mackerel, anchovies, smelt, and salmon. For sardines you can use the canned sardine just be sure to choose one that is packed in water not oil & look for a brand with the lowest sodium. In general you want to feed wild caught fish not farmed fish and you want to steer clear of fish from the Pacific northwest/ China. If the wild fish is fresh, treat it as you would any wild meat & freeze it for a couple weeks prior to feeding.
Another bonus of feeding fish is guess what if your feeding whole fish your feeding whole prey! Yes, a wild caught whole fish is technically a whole prey food. It is an entire animal including all the harder to find components in a raw diet like eyes, brains, all the glands and organs. This is probably the easiest way for anyone to include the benefits of feeding whole prey into the diet. No, its not exactly the same but its still a whole animal & still getting the benefits from all those extra parts contained within the whole fish.
How much fish to feed? Well, there are a ton of variables to this but to keep things simple a good rule of thumb is to feed 1oz of fish for every pound of raw food fed. This can be added daily or on dedicated days of the week. This amount can be later adjusted to your individual pets needs if necessary.
A word of caution with cats. Cats can be what I call "fish junkies". meaning they can become obsessed with fish and refuse food unless fish is mixed in. If your cat is like this & unfortunately many are due to cat foods being way too fish heavy, then be vary cautious about how much/ how often your giving them any. Contrary to what the flavors of cat food portray, cats should not consume large amounts fish. I plan to elaborate on this in a future post.
One last note. I do NOT recommend using fish oil in place of fish. There are a whole slue of reasons for this but the big one is rancidity. Due to the extremely unstable nature of the fats in fish oil it will oxidize & turn rancid when exposed to air. Meaning, every single time you use it, it's oxidizing a little more. Many fish oils will be bad long before they even get to you, others may not be but will turn faster than you will use them. Even the capsules, they are porous, air gets in, they are no good! I just don't like fish oils and cant recommend them.
Feed whole fish instead, they have so many more benefits anyway!
Before you think about the how you need understand the WHY. "Why feed your dog or cat raw food?" I cant even count the number of times someone has said this to me! It's a really simple answer, but the mindset of the average dog & cat owner is that their pets food should come from the pet store in a bag or a can. It's hard to convince someone to make the switch who has known no other way of feeding their pet...EVER!
To truly understand why dogs and cats should be eating raw diets we need look no further than the biology that is right in front of your face, or rather in your pets face. Look at their teeth. They are the teeth of an animal that is meant to eat meat. Sharp teeth, meant to rip & tear flesh, yes even your littlest, cutest pouf-ball pups and kittens are undeniably carnivores. Comparing the skull of a wolf to our domestic dogs skull they are nearly identical. Also, they can't chew in the way we humans or other omnivores do. Their jaws can only move in an up & down motion to crush and not at all in a side to side motion needed to grind down food.
Next lets look at their saliva. Dogs and cats don't have any salivary amylase, the digestive enzyme present in saliva. This enzyme would be beneficial if the animal were intended to eat carbohydrates and starches..... but they don't possess it! So this is a big clue that these animals aren't intended to be eating the carb filled foods on the shelves. Instead they have enzymes present in their mouths that kill bacteria! Ever see a dog eat poop? They can eat poop and not get sick! Not that we want them eating poo but fact is dogs sometimes do it...and not get sick.
The last thing I'm going to touch on today is the digestive tract. The length of an animals digestive tract is another clue as to what diet is going to be most appropriate for the animal. Your dog and your cat have short digestive tracts. A cats digestive tract is a bit shorter than a dogs but the dog still has a significantly shorter digestive tract than an animal classified as an omnivore. This means they have much less time to absorb nutrients. So what goes in, to get the most from it should be unprocessed, whole nutrient rich food in an unadulterated state... AKA best choice....raw! The longer an animals digestive tract the more complex foods, like vegetation & grain, they can break down.
Without getting too in detail these are just a few major reasons behind the why. But if your still not convinced think about this, every species on this planet has a natural source of nourishment including our cats and dogs.... well kibble doesn't grow on trees … just saying!