Swap to Raw Diet

Our Process of Swap Over to Raw Diet - Alfoxton Changeover
We had always fed our dogs what we had been told was good quality dry food, but after attending a Training Conference and some specialists presented information about how commercial foods were made we decided to look into our diet program.  By December 2011 we commenced feeding our adult Aussie dogs with the VAN - (Vets All Natural Complete Mix, which looks very like old fashioned muesli) initially we were mixing this with a Chicken and Vegie roll - the dogs did really well, their coats in particular became thicker and very glossy however one big thing was also the improvement in the droppings, especially how the poo no longer had such a strong smell nor did it have the colour and consistance of wet dry kibble - I suppose you have to think, what goes in one end does come out the other!

The VAN muesli was easy to prepare - just a case of mixing one cup of dry ingredient with just over one cup of cold water and letting this sit for a few hours. By using cold water we ensure that there is no 'cooking' which can take away some of the nutrients. The muesli then expands as it absorbs the water and then is ready to serve - we found this amount was enough to share between three dogs for each meal. We actually found it easiest to make up 2-3 days of VAN Mix at one time and kept this in the fridge.

Puppies

At the end of January 2013 we decided to try with our puppies... so we began weaning the 'M' Litter of four pups on the VAN puppy diet. We mixed the muesli with eggs and yoghurt for 2 meals and then with mince for the other two meals. It was very easy to handle and the pups thrived. Again we found the poo remained fairly solid and no strong smell. One big advantage was we noticed the mother dog would continue to clean up after the puppies even after they were weaned even up to 6-7 weeks old. The sleeping area was clean each morning and pups where no longer smeared with the droppings as mum was hoping in and cleaning the babes. Pups from this litter went home with families in March and we asked that they continuing to use the VAN, we were able to monitor the development via email and then a catch up around 10 months old... we also got to see them at the Annual Picnic when they were about 14 months old.

Puppy Weaning

We wean and raise all our puppies on a Raw Diet. Between Kylie and myself we have raised on only raw, about 18 litters up to 2019. 

Pups at 21 days - initially starting with some beef mince human grade - for the first two days we feed each pup twice a day by hand which gives us the chance to see how much they ate and how they take to the food individually. Once they are all keen then we have flat trays on the ground they squirm over sucking up the mince.
Pups 25 days - we now start mixing the Vets All Natural PUPPY MIX (soaked in water) at a ration of about 25% VAN with 75% mince.  After a couple of days we introduce some yoghurt, a splash of oil and egg mix.
Pups now 4 weeks - This is when we also start to change the mince from the supermarket mince to the pet mince - we also start them with chopped roo meat. We tend to avoid chicken meat as we had previously had a couple of incidents with adult dogs getting sick and at each occassion chicken had been included in the food so as a precaution we decided not to use this with pups. The other concern we have with chicken meat is that often the product is sourced thru intensive grazing farms and we have to question what additives are given to the chickens. We do however start to add a tin of sardines to the pups meal perhaps every second day. 
Between 5-6 weeks of age we start adding some large chunks of meaty bones for the pups to rip into about 3 times a week - plus we will add family type leftovers... veggie stews... pizza crusts.... some pasta... chips.... fruit.... This will help to prepare pup for going into a family home where they will get varied foods. About the only thing I don't feed the very young pups is kibble... I don't care what brand it is... processed food is processed food... sometimes it just has prettier packaging.

Create Variety : Once a pup is perhaps a four or five months they can easily start to adust to various foods. We think it is better for dogs to have variety in their diets this means they are more likely to continue to build a healthy gut and prevent them becoming deficient in certain nutrients... We use the Vets All Natural with meat and yoghurt as our base diet, but then mix the meat by using beef, roo, lamb, fish. We also make veggie stews using things like potato, pumpkin, carrot, silverbeet, celery. Also happy to give the dogs various fruits.. they often get some banana, apple and will happily steal watermelon if we don't watch out.

Worming : We now find we don’t need to conduct out first worming of pups until after 6-7 weeks old. Initially we were worming fortnightly as recommended by the manufacturers and vets, however we often found we would have a pup become a little flat and droopy, we even had a couple of occassions where we thought we might lose a pup. Instead we decided to drop the worming and just wait till the pups were up and running and showing they had a strong gut health before we added any chemicals to their system. Since changing to first worming being from 7+ weeks we have not had any trouble with the litters.

Note : One thing we find with weaning pups...each time we add a new thing to their diet we watch for a couple of days to see how they have all reacted. If there is no real change to their health and their droppings seem fine we can then try something new.

Roo Food

In February 2013, we had contact with a retired butcher who has taken up as a local kangaroo eradicator. He is able to provide a regular supply of kangaroo mince - So now all our Aussies Dogs are being fed the muesli and either beef or roo meat. The roo mince we have access to is 100% kangaroo so unlike many of the pet shops there is no added beef or horsemeat to the mix. The big advantage to roo meat is that it is completely organic - as the roo is wild grazing and can choose his own feeding whereas farmed animals will often be fed grains which may contain chemicals or processed feeds.

Training Classes

We have now had a few others in the training class start to run this feed program with their own dogs and the reports are very positive. Most dogs seem to adjust to the food within about a week, but once they get used to the change they seem to be very keen on the raw diet, even the dogs that were not previously enthusiastic eaters. One of our Team has a dog that is always on a diet to keep his weight down; they have found it much easier to keep his weight under control.

Cost Comparison

As far as cost went, my first impression was that it was going to cost a great deal more, however the 15kg bag of VAN Adult Muesli cost about $150 delivered, however it lasted four dogs nearly two months and my dogs are being fed twice a day due to the amount of exercise as well as Keeda being pregnant. So perhaps with the traditional commercial foods I could reduce the costs of feeding slightly however I feel the improvement to the dogs is worth it.

Overall Impression

We are very impressed with the condition of all the dogs. Although our breed are usually dogs with lovely thick coats and no of skin problems. We still felt the dog’s coats had improved.

We particularly notice that, the droppings are now dark and fibrous and no noticeable smell. Much easier to pick up the poo as there are solid lumps and no squishy landmines to negotiate. There have been a few clients with dogs who were very fussy eater and difficult to maintain their weight. When we recommended trying the VAN they have reported back that the dogs are enthusiastic for their VAN dinner and a noticeable improvement in their coats. However you can expect that some dogs will take a week or so to accept. Consider with human kids - they would happily eat the chips and hamburgers every day and will turn their nose up at salad... but once the dogs are used to the healthy (sugar/salt free) diet they are happy to eat.

Update: 2019
Well we have been feeding the Raw Diet now for many years and we are very happy with the results. Kylie and myself have had 15 litters since changing over the raw and we still feel it is the best choice. When we have contact with the puppy families we find that wells more than half of the families continue using the raw or pre-dominantly raw and we are very happy to report great feedback from these guys. Certainly when we seen the older dogs we can see how great they look. Congratulations on the Alfoxton Family members who have made the effort to continue the program.

Weight Control
We have also had a few of the Alfoxton Aussies with trouble from getting to heavy - they had been. feeding commercial diets... (need a Jenny Craig diet).. we have recommended that they change their dog's onto the raw diet but exchange the VAN Adult Complete Mix for the VAN Weight Loss Complete Mix  and the families have definately found that it has been easier for them to keep control over their dogs weight without feeling they have to starve the fur kids.  One thing we have found feeding raw diets, is that it has been very easy for us to control the dogs weight as they get older even after they are desexed .... our first Aussie 'Keeda' Ngalla Tiponi..  is nearly 14 years old and still weighs 21 kg and although she sleeps most of the day she will also run around with other dogs and skips along going for her walks.

Example 1 - Brin, was from our 'I Litter' born in 2011 - a big boned boy who weighed in at 34kg and with only 3 months after changing to the Weight Loss has been able to get their weight down to a healthy 28 kg. He has been maintaining his weight at around 27-28kg for the last few years but he remains on the Weight Loss VAN otherwise his weight starts to increase.

Example 2 - Dax, from our 'H Litter' born 2009 -  Dax is an older Aussie who's weight had snuck up to nearly 40kg, the poor boy has struggled to exercise. Their vet then put the dog on an expensive commercial diet food and while the family were away for a month the pet sitter probably got a little lazy... when they came back from holidays Dax was 44kg and could hardly move. The family rang me in early 2018 and they changed him onto our recommended weight loss program and been very committed with regular walking - after 4 months he had dropped 4 kg and was now able to go for big walks with the family so the weight is continuing to drop off... a further 6 months later he had dropped another 5 kg and he is back to running with his dad so the weight loss should continue. Hopefully he can get down to a more realistic 28-30 kg....

There is no question now as to what is best - we now recommend the VAN to everyone and believe that this provides a much better diet for our own dogs.

Alfoxton Raw Diet ...... the following is the basic idea of what we use for the average dog..... we try to keep things simple as we dont wish to make it really complicated, especially as we are feeding multiple dogs.

  • Vets All Natural Complete Mix - approx 200gm of made product
  • Raw Meat - either roo, beef, lamb - approx 200gm of meat
  • Greek Yoghurt - 1 dessert spoon
  • Olive Oil - 1 teaspoon
  • Tin of Sardines or Tuna - perhaps 2 or 3 times a week
  • Ox Neck Bone - perhaps 2-3 times a week
  • Most leftovers from the family table