I have fed my Siberian Huskies raw on the BARF diet for 3 years or more. I was having many skin problems and the answer was to FEED RAW. I, or should I say my dogs, have not looked back since.
My first malamute is now three and a half years old and when I got her as a nine-week-old pup she was fed on dry food. As I had no experience of feeding a Mal on raw I decided to keep her for the time being on ‘complete’ feed, with occasional raw meat and meaty bones. I was unaware at that time what their growth rate is. In addition, did not know of anyone that I could contact who already fed raw to a Mal. By the time she was nine months old I had completely changed her to the BARF diet.
In January this year she gave birth to 10 very health pups with an average weight of 1lb 6ozs. Although I had not set out to find her a mate fed on raw the pups father had been fed this way since joining his human family as a puppy. What a wonderful start for my pups.
Now came the hard bit, How do I feed these pups raw? I read Dr Billinghurst’s book ‘GROW YOUR PUPS WITH BONES’.
At three weeks old their teeth were through and with ten pups mum was in pain when feeding them. She looked in agony when feeding. You could see in her face “Oh, those teeth.” Therefore, I started to wean them. After telephoning Lynn Harrison to check what she started her pups on, I then took the bull by the horns.
My butcher provides me with whole chicken minced to a pulp including the bones. Each pup was given a teaspoonful, raw, which disappeared in one second. The next meal I increased this to two spoonfuls and so on. By three and a half weeks old they were getting a third of a pound of this meat mince each, and at four weeks I tried them on chicken wings. Well!! At Lynn’s suggestion I cut the wings into thirds and gave each pup it’s own bowl (each pup had its own bowl throughout weaning) with one wing. “Watch that keeps them happy chewing” Lynn said. I should have known this was a Malamute not a nice table-mannered Siberian – the wing pieces did not touch the sides of their mouths! At this point I thought I had killed my pups. I waited twenty-four hours to see if they had any bad reaction and watched the rear ends. Nothing happened of course so I then gave them a whole wing each. This did take them a bit longer and for the first time warning growls could be heard. Off in different directions they all went to find their spot for a peaceful chew.
I was now introducing a variety of meats. Hearts, beef, lamb, pork, and pork rib bones, chicken mince, wings, and fruit & veg. Liver was a bit strong for them so I gave them just very small amounts until they went to their new owners. By twelve weeks they could handle this one. Their titbits were apple, banana, or pear. Blended vegetables were added to one of the daily meals three times a week. The fruit they had daily. They were all gaining weight at a nice steady rate and not once did I get loose stools.
By four and a half weeks the chicken wings were being swallowed whole, so I then gave them whole chicken quarters – one each, for one of their meals. I also fed pilchards, mackerel and sardines. Their breakfast would consist of porridge and one of the three mentioned fish; lunch breast of lamb on the bone, cut like a rib, or chicken wing/portion; evening meal minced or diced meat as above, with vegetables as mentioned; fruit in the afternoon.
Mum, at the height of lactation, was on four pounds of meat a day with blended vegetables in one of the meals, also meaty bones or chicken carcass. A lot of chicken was fed to her for protein, and lunch consisted of two bananas, two pears, one apple, and orange. She enjoyed this meal best of all. She also stole a melon one afternoon when I was not quick enough to get her fruit bowl ready.
I made one mistake when feeding her after she had the pups. In the book I have mentioned it stated to give the bitch a lactation diet mix which I did. This caused her to have terrible loose stools. I knew I must be doing something wrong because she was not ill and the pups were fine. I got the book out and read it in the small hours of the morning to see if I could establish what I was doing wrong. The last sentence of the chapter told me – Do not feed ARTIC BREEDS in this manner! However, what do I do? The book did not say.
Lynn got an early morning call from one worried owner – ME. “What do I do? How will I know she will get enough goodness without this mix?” “Don’t worry” was her reply. “Feed as you have done the last weeks of her pregnancy and if the pups are growing okay then she is getting enough. She will tell you when she wants more. Just watch the pups, if they are growing okay then mum is fine.” Apart from her being a normally greedy Malamute who will do most things for food, Lynn was right. I just continued to feed her normally, but lots more of it. Immediately after the pups she had a figure any woman would kill for. By the time the pups were ten weeks old she ASKED me to put her in harness with my boys. She went a short run the first time much to her disgust. The next week we were up to a five mile run and since then much more.
At the time of writing, the pups are now four months old. All those that I have seen which are fed on the BARF diet are growing at a nice steady rate, photographs of the others show the same. Well muscled and not fat but just right. Mum is getting her coat back, her figure and muscle are excellent. She has been back on her normal BARF diet for several weeks now and enjoys playing with her pup all day long. Mother and daughter are doing fine.
Never again would I feed my dogs on a complete food only. If anyone would like to speak to me about feeding raw please feel free to contact me.