Benefits of Whole Prey
Updated: Jun 8
Whole prey tends to be less popular in the raw feeding world as it is usually harder to source and is not for the faint of heart. But whole prey is an excellent addition to a fresh food diet as it adds variety, fiber, enrichment, and more.
What is Whole Prey?
Whole prey is the whole prey or the whole intact animal. Intact means what the animal would look like if it were freshly killed. The animal fed includes the skin, fur/feathers, head, feet, intestines, etc.
Whole prey does not mean feeding a live animal to your pet. It is feeding an already deceased animal. Live feeding is NOT whole prey feeding. Animals that are used as whole prey should be humanely killed before feeding.
When whole prey is fed, it can be thought of as "complete" as long as it is not making up the majority of the diet. While whole prey is not entirely "complete," feeding it once a week is an appropriate amount without missing essential nutrients. Whole prey includes the skin, fur, blood, organs, and more in one neatly wrapped animal bento body box. Whole prey will vary in nutrients depending on the animal, environment, diet, and fat. Due to the nutrients varying, rotating with a complete diet is essential as the nutrients not found in whole prey can be balanced over time.
Organs & Glands
Whole prey provides a higher array of organs and, therefore higher concentration of nutrients. This includes organs such as the brain, eyes, liver, kidneys, pancreas, ovaries or testicles, spleen, and thymus. This does not mean that feeding only two organs is inadequate but highlights the variety that whole prey gives.
Whole prey is a great source of insoluble fiber due to the fur and feathers. Insoluble fiber is not enzymatically digested, does not dissolve in water, and ferments in the colon making it useful for bulking up the stool.
Whole prey encourages species-typical behaviors such as increased time and energy eating. The "feel-good" hormones oxytocin & serotonin are released when dogs chew, chomp, and tear. And the motion of tearing and ripping flesh also helps floss your dog's pearly whites. Dogs will often "play" with the whole prey sometimes, which provides great mental stimulation. Whole prey is a great sensory enrichment tool just by itself.
Introducing Whole Prey
When first introducing whole raw prey, most dogs are resistant to their food's new texture as they're not used to eating fluffy meals. Click here for a whole prey troubleshooting guide to help you and your dog successfully tackle whole prey meals.
Local Showers. Reach out to local rabbit showers as they will usually be more than happy to sell (or give) their deceased rabbits to you.
Hobby Farmers. If you have friends with their own chicken or quail that raise their own animals, you can often get animals that have passed to feed as whole prey.
Raw Feeding Suppliers. Online suppliers such as Raw Feeding Miami offer a variety of whole prey along with other raw feeding parts.
Respecting The Animal
Whole prey takes a high tolerance for gruesomeness, but it also takes high respect for the animal fed. Acknowledging that the animal allows our carnivores to eat a truly ancestral and biologically appropriate meal is just one of many practices that can give gratitude to the animal feed. Enforcing a zero-waste policy is important since the whole animal is a perfect meal; therefore, none of it should be wasted. Also, making sure to source humanely dispatched animals is another way to be as humane and respectful as possible.
How Much To Feed
If the whole prey is smaller, such as a day-old chick, it will not be enough sustenance to make up an entire meal. The smaller prey option can be fed alongside a smaller portion of their raw food. If providing a larger prey, feed by weight. For example, if the dog ate 8oz, feed an 8oz prey. As it is being fed so infrequently, this minor miscalculation
Freshly caught wild game, must be frozen at -0.4°F (-18°C) or colder for a minimum of 3 weeks or more to ensure that any parasites or worms in the animal are properly killed to make fit for feeding. In addition, remove the animal's intestinal tracts as this is where the parasites and worms will reside. Be aware of safe feeding practices for wild game and avoid rodents or other animals that may have consumed poison.
Skinning & Gutting
If you choose to skin & gut your whole prey, here is a video on how to skin & gut whole prey.
It's vital to understand that a pet owner who chooses to feed whole prey is not doing it for their enjoyment but to allow their pets to eat in an ancestral fashion. While whole prey is not required in a raw diet, it is a great addition.