Raw Beginner - Help Needed with Optimising Diet for Performance
We have an 11 month old Beagle. We started feeding her a raw diet 3 weeks ago.
Until recently we'd fed Beanie on Burns mini-bites. It kept her very lean - too lean according to some breeders and show people. But the vet always said she was in great shape. We tended to agree with our vet. Our pup has been a member of a whippet racing club (Beagle division) since she was 6 months old and every week without fail she'd get noticably faster.
Then for a variety of reasons we decided that a raw diet was our best way forwards (mainly because she has pollen allergies and we've found studies in human allergy sufferers that suggests to us that raw food might help).
In the three weeks that she's been on a raw diet she's put on 1.5 lbs (which is a huge amount for her - she'd been at a tiny 9.6 kg since she was about 7 months old. She's always been a very muscular little pup (but not bulky), but this extra weight is muscle bulk. Also her rib cage has really opened up. I'd say if anything there's less fat coverage on her. People have commented that she's looking good and we have to agree. It's as if the raw diet has quickly matured her from a lanky teenager to a lean, muscular adult.
If we didn't have any physical test to go by we'd be raving about the wonders of a raw diet!
In the past three weeks at the racing she's not only stopped improving, but has actually been slightly slower, and we feel that her endurance is down very slightly too. (Although she is still very fast and has way above average stamina).
Now in my mind the real test of how well a diet suits a dog isn't how it affects looks, but performance. If a diet causes the dog to be slower or have less endurance then I feel it must be lacking in something and probably isn't keeping her in the best possible health.
The first point that I need to make is that there's no guarantee that her poor performance or improved looks has anything at all to do with her diet. It could just be part of the natural maturing process. But it *seems* to be food related.
We want to stick with raw rather than panic and go back to kibble, so we're hoping to learn more in order to adjust the balance of her diet to suit her better.
Here's what we're feeding her:
She's currently on raw for breakfast and kibble at night. (We aren't brave enough to do a complete switch over yet)
For breakfast a range of *very lean*, top quality meats including skinless boned chicken breast, lean steak, lean beef mince, turky mince, chopped turkey thighs, tripe, white fish, raw sardine - occasional raw liver and a tiny bit of other offal. Perhaps a couple of chicken wings, a lambs neck and a marrow bone or beef knuckle bone each week. And a wide variety of liquidised vegetables.
Some thoughts that I've had:
1. Her kibble was fairly high carbohydrate, very low fat and fairly low protein (19% I think).
2. Her current diet is much higher in protein and fat, but has no/little carbohydrate.
3. I've read that fat is a better source of energy in dogs than carbohydrate. This is based on studies of canine athletes - both endurance and spped. Does it take time for a dog's system to adjust to running on fat rather than carbohydrate? Or could it be that she's not getting enough fat (she has lean cuts of meat)? She is a very fit, active little pup that has always stayed very lean despite eating a lot!
4. What about carbohydrates - has anyone found that their dog does better if these are included in a raw diet? I know research has shown that they aren't necessary but does anyone's experience say otherwise?
Any suggestions/thoughts/ideas very welcome!
Especially from people with experience of tweaking the diet of competetive or working dogs. Beagles are endurance animals, but Beanie loves to sprint - chases are her favorite game. So I guess her physical demands are similar to that of compettive agility dogs. (In fact, she's starting agility classes in a week or two).