The philosophy behind feeding a dog a “raw food diet” is that dogs are historically creatures who thrive on raw food, surviving on scraps, refuse, and hunting for what they eat. Commercial dog food is a recent phenomenon, only coming into the picture within the last 100 years. With the commercialization of dog food evolving quicker than dogs can biologically transition to kibble/dry food as a “normal diet,” many dogs are not able to appropriately process dry food and as a result, suffer from allergies, skin conditions, and other illnesses. For these dogs, eliminating dry food and going back to what dogs historically eat cures them of their illnesses. Many studies have been done to support the practice of feeding raw. Below is an essay from Stacy, who feeds all of her Barrett dogs a raw diet.
We have been feeding our dogs raw now for more than 3 years. We have seen numerous benefits which is why we choose to do this. I’ll start by saying that when we brought home our first Weimaraner puppy, we chose the “best” kibble money could buy. Our girl, Harper, struggled with loose stools, itchy skin and hives, gas, anal glands that needed constant expression, and three bouts of sickness in her first year of life.
We knew there had to be something better out there. We tried various brands of “5 star kibbles” but found that they all caused the same issues. Our vet use to offer a raw food class one Saturday every month so we signed up and attended. It was thorough yet very confusing. We were taught many things in the class but first and foremost, that raw feeding is NOT for everyone. You MUST have a dedicated set of knives and scissors that are ONLY used for raw food. Safe handling is of utmost importance. Cleaning and disinfecting your prep area is vital as is washing your hands thoroughly. While dogs can handle the bacteria sometimes found in raw food, humans cannot. I do not suggest raw feeding for households with small children, elderly, or anyone with a compromised immune system.
Another downside to raw feeding is cost. Our vet provided several recipes so that we could make the nutritionally balanced raw dog food ourselves. It can be done but is VERY time consuming so not always practical for the average busy family. This is where the higher cost comes into play. We choose to buy from a lady who produces, packages, and distributes her raw food on a monthly basis. Red Angel Raw is the name of her company. We buy the “prey model food grinds” that are grinds of muscle meat, organ, and bone. We vary the proteins between rabbit, turkey, beef, duck, and lamb. We also supplement with vitamins. We started with a multivitamin powder from our vet to sprinkle over the food but are now feeding the NuVet Plus Vitamins. It’s easy and the dogs think they are getting a treat. With the evening meal, we add in Greek yogurt and organic pumpkin. All four of our dogs also eat green tripe 3-4 times per week. Green tripe stinks so we do this outside ONLY! We don’t add it in with their meals. We serve it on paper plates by itself on the patio. Our dogs also enjoy organic raw eggs a few times per week. They eat the whole egg with the shells. Our dogs also love sardines canned in water. Baby carrots, snap peas, blueberries, and bananas are the fruits and veggies we feed daily as supplemental snacks. They also get raw goat’s milk (when the mommy goats aren’t pregnant) on a daily basis. We do NOT feed grains. Some whole grain is okay but we find our dogs do better without them.
Even with all the cons of raw food, it was a game changer for us. We transitioned Harper from kibble to raw over a week’s time but it was difficult at first. Harper did not want the raw food. In fact it took her 3 days to actually start enjoying it. Once she was on raw food, the changes we saw were immediate. We asked ourselves, “where is her poop?” She poops one fourth of what she did before and the stools are very firm. Her body is absorbing all the raw food nutrients whereas with the kibble that wasn’t the case. Oddly enough, her poop didn’t smell like it before either, a win-win for us. Harper has had ZERO allergy issues since on raw. No itchiness or red eyes. The hives were gone! Harper sleeps with us in bed so we really noticed the gassiness. She NEVER has gas now, EVER! Not one time has she had to have her anal glands expressed. Since being on raw, they clear themselves with the hard firm stools. Last but not least, Harper has been the picture of health since eating raw. She hasn’t been sick since we switched and her coat is shiny and healthy. Raw has most definitely boosted her immune system. It keeps her fit and trim. When we add up how much we spent in vet bills plus the high quality kibble during Harper’s first year of life, totals exceeded the cost of raw feeding.
We now have four dogs, all on raw food diets. For our youngest, we feed one half Red Angel Raw whole prey rabbit grind and the other half a commercial product, Small Batch or Northwest Naturals. Commercial products rated by AAFCO should have an “A” rating meaning they are good for all life stages. They have the right ratios for growing pups’ nutritional needs without adding extra supplements. Another local Phoenix based company is Suzy’s Doggie Delights. This company differs from Red Angel in that the do offer grinds with added veggies and supplements. They also offer the simple recipes so you can control the add ons yourself.
Raw feeding can be extremely beneficial for your dog but at the same time, it can be harmful. It must be done the right way. You cannot go to the grocery store and buy a pound of ground beef on sale to feed your dog each evening. They will suffer nutritional deficiencies! That being said raw food, done correctly, can have extensive and long lasting benefits.
- First piece of advice: educate yourself. Get to know the different schools of thought on raw feeding and talk to as many people as possible.
- Second, talk to your vet. Many vets do not agree with raw food diets but you’ll find that the holistic veterinarians support and promote them because they realize all the benefits.
- Third, know that the raw diet for a puppy will differ greatly from that of an adult dog. You must meet the nutritional demands of a growing puppy in a nutritionally balanced way.
Here, Dog Food Advisor compares this ancestral diet to dry kibble: https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/best-dog-foods/raw-dog-food/ There is no doubt as to which comes out on top.
- Dogs Naturally – Raw Feeding Primer
- Canine Journal – Raw Diet For Dogs
- Whole Dog Journal – Dog Breeders Who Only Feed Faw Dog Food Diets
- Raw Pet Bistro – B.A.R.F. Diet for Dogs (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food)
- Pet MD – What You Need to Know About Raw Food Diets for Dogs
- Home Alive Pets – Raw Dog Food for Beginners: Everything You Need to Feed Your Dog Raw
- Outside Online – So You Want to Get Your Dog on a Raw-Food Diet
Last updated: January 2021