Raw meat is exactly what a Boxer dog should be eating, but it’s important to understand how to feed it properly.
The key thing to know is that it is essential for your Boxer to consume raw bones along with muscle meat.
Your Boxer also requires organ meat in his diet on a regular basis to receive all the necessary nutrients.
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Why Feed Raw Meat?
Owners accustomed to feeding dogs kibble are often unsure about giving raw meat to their Boxer.
In fact, it’s more natural for a dog to eat raw meat than to eat kibble.
Kibble is cooked, highly processed and full of preservatives, fillers and contaminants.
One 2015 study found every dog food that was analyzed tested positive for the cancer-causing chemical glyphosate, which is the active ingredient in the weedkiller Roundup.
Dog food companies also frequently use sub-standard ingredients not fit for human consumption.
Terms like “meat meal” are used to cover up this type of practice.
The drug pentobarbital, commonly used to euthanize dogs, cats and some horses has also been found in more than one brand of dog food in recent years.
On the other hand, fresh raw meat, bones and organs are what dogs have eaten throughout evolution.
It is what dogs ate for a million years prior to domestication.
It is what their closest living relative, the wolf, still eats.
It’s what many pet dogs continued to eat, with the addition of table scraps, until the invention of canine fast food, or kibble — convenient for owners, terrible for your Boxer’s health.
The dog biscuit was invented 160 years ago.
Kibble only became widely popular in the United States in the 1930s.
It was even later in countries like Australia, where the convenience of dry dog foods didn’t catch on until the sixties.
Australian vet Dr Ian Billinghurst, who pioneered raw feeding and wrote Give Your Dog a Bone: The Practical Commonsense Way to Feed Dogs for a Long Healthy Life, attributes many of the diseases that have become commonplace in modern dogs to this widespread adoption of kibble feeding.
The emergence of veterinary dentistry as a specialty followed the advent of kibble, first in the US and then in Australia and elsewhere.
Many vet clinics promote annual dental cleanings under general anesthetic because, according to VCA Hospitals, more than 80 per cent of dogs over the age of three have active dental disease.
It’s a problem not encountered by raw feeders. Studies show when dogs are fed raw meaty bones, dental calculus reduces by more than 80 per cent within just three weeks.
That so many owners have been convinced to believe a shelf-stable, manufactured product is healthier for dogs than their natural-born diet is a testament to the power of advertising.
That conventionally-trained vets are willing to recommend kibble speaks of the influential relationships the dog food industry has cultivated with veterinary schools, including financial ones.
It’s also a sign of how poorly educated vet students are when it comes to canine nutrition. The British trained Dr Tom Lonsdale, author of Raw Meaty Bones Promote Health, is one vet who’s spoken publicly about the this problem.
Increasingly, though, individual vets are taking it upon themselves to learn more, after questioning why so many of their patients were in such poor health, and after seeing the benefits consistently experienced by raw fed dogs.
There is now a Raw Feeding Veterinary Society and prominent vets like Dr Karen Becker fully embrace raw diets for dogs.
Time after time, owners find that all manner of health problems disappear once they switch their dogs from kibble to fresh, raw food.
Things like itchy skin, goopy eyes, bad breath, bad teeth, “sensitive” bellies and numerous other complaints — many of them common in Boxers — become a thing of the past.
Dogs previously diagnosed with “food intolerances” and “chicken allergies” go on to eat the same foods with zero problems when they are fed raw.
What About The Bacteria In Raw Meat?
Dogs are designed to eat raw meat.
Their stomach acid is much stronger than ours, which is also why they’re able to digest bone so easily (as long as it is raw).
Naturally occurring bacteria in raw meat pose no problem to dogs.
You can avoid the contamination of meat with other bacteria with proper food handling and by sourcing high quality meats including human-grade meats from the butcher or supermarket.
Feed the meat as fresh as possible or thawed from frozen, if necessary.
By the way, dog food recalls occur on a regular basis on account of contamination of cooked, manufactured products with salmonella, mould and other problems.
So, feeding store-bought dog food, whether dry or canned, is no protection against the possibility of bacterial contamination.
Feeding fresh meats gives you far more control over ingredients, freshness and quality.
Does It Matter Which Kind Of Raw Meat?
Dogs can eat all kinds of animals, from white meat like chicken and other poultry …to red meat like beef and lamb ..and fish like sardines.
Game meats like rabbit, deer and kangaroo are ideal because they are leaner than the products of human agriculture which are deliberately fattened for slaughter.
If you’re feeding farmed meats, select lean cuts and remove the skin and all visible fat.
The Importance Of Bones
You must feed edible bones as part of every meat meal your Boxer receives.
Feeding raw meat without including bones is “a disastrous way to feed any dog” and will ruin a growing puppy in about a month, according to Dr Billinghurst, who developed the BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) style of raw feeding.
In his book, Dr Billinghurst explains that the deficiencies and excesses of an all-meat, no bone diet cannot be corrected by adding calcium powder.
Besides being a vet, Dr Billinghurst is also a dog breeder, having raised both Rottweilers and Great Danes.
He weans litters straight onto raw chicken necks and wings at about six weeks old. The bones are ground at first… but after about 10 days, the pups crunch up whole wings and necks.
Bones contain every nutrient a dog needs except for one amino acid (methionine) and some of the B vitamins.
The methionine and most of the B vitamins (which are also made by dogs in their large bowel) are supplied by muscle meat, making a raw meaty bone a complete food for a dog.
What Edible Bones Are Right For A Boxer?
Chicken bones make great edible bones for pet dogs.
Every bone in a chicken’s body is digestible by a dog.
As well as being soft, chicken bones are affordable and readily available.
Chicken frames (carcasses with most of the meat removed) can be fed whole to Boxers.
You can also use chicken backs, chicken necks, wings, legs..any part of a chicken will work as the edible bone component of a dog’s meal. Experiment and see what works best for your dog.
Rabbits are fantastic too, but can be quite expensive and are not as available to most owners.
Edible Bones Vs. Recreational Bones
There is a distinction in raw feeding between edible bones, given with every meal …and recreational bones, which are given perhaps once or twice a week.
While edible bones must be swallowed for the dog to derive the benefits, recreational bones are chewed on but sometimes not totally consumed.
The purpose of recreational bones is not only nutritional, but for teeth cleaning and psychological satisfaction.
So you want them to take longer to eat than a chicken frame.
When selecting recreational bones, avoid marrow bones which are full of fat and so hard that they run the risk of cracking your dog’s teeth.
(These types of bones are often sold sawn into pieces and labelled as soap bones.)
Opt instead for non-weight bearing bones and ask the butcher to leave them as close to whole as possible.
Non-weight bearing bones are softer and don’t have such a large center of fatty marrow.
Lamb necks make just about the perfect recreational bone for a Boxer.
Your dog will probably consume one over about an hour.
Bones And Safety
You have probably heard horror stories about bones being dangerous for dogs.
This applies to cooked bones which should NEVER be fed.
Cooked bones are brittle and liable to splinter and pierce the gut wall.
Raw bones are a different matter entirely.
It’s a good idea to give a bone that is larger than the dog’s head if you can, so that they have to work on grinding it up rather than being tempted to swallow it whole.
You may want to take away the last bit, before it gets so small that your dog might be inclined to gulp it.
The final chunk of a lamb neck will likely cause no problems even if swallowed, as the bones come from a young animal and are highly digestible.
Always supervise the chewing of bones.
Are Raw Grinds And Mince Meat Good For Boxers?
Ground meat is to be avoided.
If you buy pre-made grinds, they will — without exception — be too fatty.
This is because grinds are made by mincing up whole animal parts without removing the fat.
It’s not profitable to remove it. Only dog owners themselves will go to the trouble.
And it’s important you do.
As already mentioned, farmed meats are dramatically fatter than the wild meats dogs evolved eating.
So, unless you remove the fat, your Boxer will be consuming far too much of it.
Even if your dog is not overweight, consuming too much fat creates an excess of waste in your dog’s body which will, over time, lead to disease.
Symptoms of fat overconsumption include itchiness and scooting. You may notice this after you feed a fattier than normal meal, or a meal that is too large.
Home-made ground meat
Ground meat including bones, as long as you do the grinding yourself, is fine.
Grinders like the Altra Multifunction Electric 6-IN-1 Meat Mincer will do the trick.
Grinding might be appropriate if you’re weaning a puppy from mother’s milk or are feeding an old dog entirely without teeth.
Otherwise, you want your dog eating the bones whole.
The crunching and shearing action of the teeth on the bone is important for dental health.
Raw meaty bones are nature’s toothbrush!
Chewing on bones is also incredibly soothing for dogs. You will see the enjoyment written all over your Boxer.
What’s more, the tearing and ripping is great exercise.
According to Dr Billinghurst, bone eating promotes proper development of the neck musculature in puppies.
How Much Raw Meat To Feed A Boxer?
When raw feeding, give 3 to 5 per cent of your Boxer’s ideal body weight.
For a 68 pound (31kg) Boxer this works out to be 2-3.4 pounds (930g – 1.5kg) per day.
Start there and tweak according to your dog’s needs.
You’ll need two sets of scales to properly raw feed your dog:
- Bathroom scales such as the RENPHO Digital Scale to keep track of your Boxer’s weight
- Kitchen scales like the GreaterGoods Digital Food Scale to weigh your dog’s food
To lower the chance of bloat, which is a risk in deep-chested breeds, you probably want to feed that to a Boxer in two separate sittings.
Use a slow feeder bowl like the for the muscle and organ meat.
Make sure the bowl is ground-level, not elevated as raised platforms have also been associated with bloat.
The bones will take time to crunch up, so they slow feed themselves.
In terms of the breakdown of meat:bone:organ, make sure every meal contains both muscle meat and edible bone.
This might mean diced lean beef and a chicken frame.
Once or twice a week add in some offal (organ meat) at about 10-15% of the total weight of food.
The organ must be a secreting organ. (Heart counts as muscle meat.)
Most raw feeders give liver, with occasionally another secreting organ like kidney.
Raw feeders differ on how much of the meal should be meaty bones and how much should be muscle meat.
A good rule of thumb is to feed enough raw meaty bone to get solid poops.
This usually works out to be about 60% edible bone and 40% muscle meat including offal.
60% raw meaty bones conforms with Dr Billinghurst’s recommendation.
Feeding only muscle meat and no bone will give liquid poop, as will too much organ meat and too much fat.
Raw-fed poops will be small, hard and noticeably odorless compared to the poops of kibble-fed dogs.
The pooping process will be slower too. This is not constipation.
Can I Feed Raw Meat With Kibble?
Ideally you want to feed your dog a 100% raw diet.
However, if the best you can do is to feed one or two raw meals a week, this is better than none.
Any way in which you can reduce the amount of processed dog food your Boxer eats, the better off your dog will be.
Even the addition of raw meaty bones once or twice a week as a chew will be beneficial.
If expense is the issue, think of it this way:
It’s either spend money now on quality fresh food, or spend money (and heartache) later on vet bills to try to deal with the disease that is so often the result of poor diet.
Buy in bulk, join a co-op or seek out relationships with local farmers in order to reduce your costs.
Some committed raw feeders who live on properties even grow and slaughter their own chickens and rabbits for their dogs.
Maybe you’re a hunter — or know someone who is — and can source your own wild meats.
How To Transition From Kibble To Raw
Dog food companies typically advise a slow transition from one brand of food to another, gradually decreasing the proportion of the old food while increasing the proportion of the new.
This is not necessary, or even necessarily a good idea.
A better way is to simply fast your dog for 24 hours to give the previous kibble time to completely clear from your dog’s alimentary canal.
Then you can start raw feeding.
Make the first meal a small one, perhaps a quarter of the full amount.
Another option is to fast for 24 hours and then feed a small amount of mashed sweet potato for one day before commencing meat.
The advantage of the sweet potato is that you know when you see bright orange poop that you have a full stop between the old kibble diet and what’s to come.
Transitioning A Boxer Puppy To Raw
With a puppy, fasting is not advised.
You may instead want to wait just 8 to 12 hours maximum between the last of the old meals and the first of the new.
Puppies process food faster so this should give enough time for the previous food to move through.
Feeding Plant Foods To Your Boxer
Cooked sweet potato (or yams) and very well rinsed and cooked quinoa is an acceptable alternate food for dogs on non-meat days.
Researchers such as those with the Voyageurs Wolf Project know that dogs in natural conditions do not eat meat every day.
It’s more like three times a week — even less in times of scarcity.
Dogs are “facultative” carnivores. This means meat is their preferred food source but they can eat a secondary food — fruit, in nature — when prey is unavailable.
(Cats, by contrast, are “obligate” carnivores and have to have meat all the time.)
Wolves in Northeastern Minnesota eat as much as 80% blueberries for a whole month at the height of Summer.
For most efficient digestion, and least digestive discomfort, make sure you feed fruit/plant separately to meat as it digests much more quickly than meat.
Where Should I Buy Raw Meat For My Boxer?
A butcher or supermarket is all you need.
Organic and grass-fed is best, if you can afford it.
Otherwise, any fresh raw meat is preferable to kibble and other processed dog foods.
Don’t fret too much over the organic issue.
Animals store toxins in their fat tissue.
By removing the skin and all visible fat you are not only returning the fat content to more natural levels.
You are also sparing your dog many of the chemicals that the cow or chicken was exposed to during its life through things like chemical worming (drenching), the eating of herbicide-treated grass etc.
My Boxer Is Allergic To Chicken. What Meat Should I Feed Instead?
Forget the idea that your dog is allergic to chicken.
You will likely find this is not the case when you feed it raw.
If you still think you’re seeing a problem when your dog eats chicken, avoid it for now and try again later.
Food allergies are actually rare in dogs.
What is more likely to be going on is that your dog is having a reaction to the toxins in the particular chicken you are buying.
Intensively-farmed chooks are notoriously fed often GMO grains, pumped full of growth hormones and antibiotics and vaccinated multiple times in their six to eight week lifespan.
Organic, free range chicken is worth trying before you decide your dog has an allergy to the protein.
While it’s not necessary to “rotate proteins”, it can be good practice to feed a variety of meats over the course of your dog’s week or month.
Chicken contains a different balance of fats, for instance, compared to beef.
By giving a range of meats, you cover your bases and give your dog the best of all worlds.
Other Sources Of Protein For Your Boxer
Once or twice a week — or occasionally — you can also feed:
- Raw eggs (yolk and white, and ground shell if you like)
- Raw sardines (fresh from a fishmonger, not tinned as these are cooked)
- Green tripe
These are all high quality foods for a dog with significant health benefits.
Not every day foods, because they are all quite high in fat, but valuable as natural nutrient-rich supplements.
But Is Raw Meat A Balanced Diet For A Boxer?
Dog food manufacturers’ claims of “complete and balanced” meals are a marketing gimmick.
As long as you are feeding edible bones, muscle meat and offal, a raw diet will be balanced.
The key is to achieve balance over time, not in every bite.
Balance over time is how wild dogs do it.
Raw meat, fed along with edible bones and organs like liver, is an optimal diet for your Boxer.
This is the same diet dogs thrived on throughout their evolution and even after domestication.
What changed all that?
The mass marketing of kibble to the modern dog owner, who was sold convenience at the expense of their dog’s health.
These days, there is increasing acknowledgment even by conventional vets that a raw meaty bone-based diet is the best way for a dog to achieve and maintain lifelong health.
Just as humans are told to eat less processed food, and more fresh food… the same applies to dogs.
Feed raw and watch your Boxer flourish.