What is Prey Model Feeding?
PMR is based on the knowledge that physiologically, the digestive tracts of our dogs, even the tiniest Chihuahua, are exactly like the digestive systems of their wild counterparts: wolves! PMR is meant to resemble, as closely as possible (within the confines of modern living) the diet that our carnivorous best friends have been eating for thousands of years. In the wild, packs of wolves will work together to hunt down a fresh meaty meal of bison, deer or other wild mammal. They then dine on the whole carcass. Bones, organs, muscle meat, fat, connective tissue, even skin and hair (or feathers, in the case of poultry) all make up the diet of the wild dog or wolf.
Prey Model Raw feeding is meant to be modeled on that knowledge. Since I am not exactly planning on going hunting and tossing Ella Bean and Louis whole, dead animals, fur/ feathers and all, the next best thing is to use PMR guidelines to use ratios and proportions of these animal parts combined to make up the diet. For instance, I recently purchased a hormone free, antibiotic free, cage free baby duck from Whole Foods. I brought the duck home, cut it up into appropriate sized portions for Louis and Ella Bean and feed them the duck over the course of about a week - bones, organs, skin and all. I do the same with chicken and I also purchase beef parts (including heart and green tripe and other offal) to give them a rotation of different types of proteins.
Different protein sources ensure that the diet is well balanced and also keeps the dogs psyched to see whats getting served at each meal.
What about the bones? Do they present a choking hazard?
The short answer is, no. Raw bones do not splinter and the ripping, chomping, tearing and crunching on the bones and meat gives my dog’s jaws and necks a healthy workout and keeps their teeth sparkly and clean.
Has a dog ever choked? Yes. It is vital to supervise your dog while feeding PMR and you may want to read up on performing the canine version of the Heimlich maneuver, just to be cautious. That said, by teaching your dog to take it slow, you ensure his safety (and eliminate a lot of gas! Dogs who gulp food swallow lots of air and in turn - create quite pungent odors!). Dogs used to eating kibble or BARF ground raw meat diets usually scarf down their food and don’t chew. To teach your dog to properly chew before swallowing, you can hold one end of his meaty meal while he gets to work on it for the first couple of feedings, until he gets the hang of it.
In order to limit the mess associated with PMR, I feed my dogs in what I call their ‘feasting cages’ (just basic crates). I always wipe the crates down with antibacterial wipes after meals to keep things clean. Its also a good idea to have grooming wipes on hand and wipe down paws and faces after meals, as things do get messy!
Why take this alternative path?
Besides pure interest in providing my pets with the best possible nutrition, I have become increasingly skeptical of allowing corporations to dictate the contents of my dogs meals. I like being able to select my own meats and meat and offal sources, use animals raised ethically and without the use of hormones or antibiotics and frankly, not support the pet food industry. There are plenty of great companies out there, but I just feel more comfortable whipping up my pup’s meals, like my food, myself!
The pet food industry would have us believe that exact ratios of nutritional elements are vital to our companion’s health. This farce supports the industry, keeping the corporations in business, since we pet-parents are clearly too ‘uneducated’ to make sure the diets of our dogs are nutritionally complete, we must buy their nutritionally complete products.
Well, is every meal you eat completely balanced? No! Of course not. We aim for nutritional completeness over time - eating different fruits, vegetables, grains and other sources over time, ideally resulting in healthy living. I apply this concept to my dog’s diets as well. Through research, I know what a healthy diet should look like and over the course of each week, make sure to provide enough variety to achieve optimum health!
I have worked with a vet to ensure that I am getting my pups everything they need and while this type of feeding may sound complicated and time consuming, I assure you, its really not. The most time consuming part is when I bring home a new hunk of animal and need to carve it up.
Once a week, I spend about a half an hour chopping up chicken or duck and then, its just a matter of ensuring I have the next day’s meal defrosted. The most time consuming portion is the actual feasting - in which all the work is done by the dogs anyway. My pups spend anywhere from 10-20 minutes chewing their meaty bones and slurping down organs. Its my quiet time! The dogs are safely confined, engaged in an activity they love and I just kick back and enjoy the quiet and watch my teeny pups behave like their wild cousins. Its totally like my own personal National Geographic!
For people with larger dogs, I imagine its even less time consuming as less portion control needs to take place. I bet a 75 pound dog could pack away a small chicken without much thought!
The benefits are many. Healthy teeth and gums; strong, developed neck and jaw muscles; shiny, thick coats and bright eyes and no suffering from allergies. My dogs also have excellent breath (no plaque!), very little doggy odor and their excrement is compact and has little to no odor. Now, don’t get me wrong, they both can still clear a room with their farts, but all in all, life with this type of feeding is a lot less stinky!
On another note…
So, yes, I am pretty down on the pet food industry and actually, our food industry as a whole. The 2007 pet food recall, the largest product recall in US history changed the way many Americans think about their food sources. The recall brought to light the tightly knit relationship between food safety, health policy, international trade and the relationship between government and corporations (Nestle, pg. 3). This recall ended up showcasing the capability gaps in safety standards, especially where international sources are used to produce and manufacture different resources.
Now, recalls have extended to human food products, children’s toys and many more consumer items. As responsible consumers, we must take ownership of the items we purchase, be they to feed our pets or feed ourselves and know where our products are sourced from.
No longer do we live in a society where our meats are slaughtered locally, our produce eaten seasonally and our grains baked at home. We are so far removed from the foods we eat that we do not connect what we ingest to what the product actually is…and so many processed and packaged foods (pet food included!) is so laden with chemicals, its barely food! No wonder obesity is rising at epidemic rates, both in humans and animals! No wonder cancer rates are rising, mental illness and immune disorders are on the rise…We all are what we eat.
This isn’t an issue of being ‘green,’ being a conscious consumer, or shopping at Whole Foods - it is about limiting the exposure living beings have to the toxins present in our foods, both processed and whole. We need to return to healthier, simpler ways of eating, emerging with our health and the health of our beloved companion animals, intact.