This is definitely a controversial topic, and I’m not trying to step on anyone’s toes or incite argument. We’ve just embarked on the owning-and-feeding-a-dog-adventure, so I want to say up front that I’m well aware that I don’t know everything. And I’m open to learning more.
Before I share how we are currently feeding and plan to continue feeding our new Kangal x Boerboel pup, Areli, I want to tell you the questions that guided us in choosing a diet. They are the same questions we ask when figuring out what to feed ourselves.
How did God design dogs? What did He plan for dogs’ food?
Dogs, descendants of wolves, are carnivores. We don’t buy the current arguments that dogs have evolved into omnivores. So if they are carnivores, they need a carnivore’s diet. It doesn’t matter whether the dog is wild or domesticated, as a dog can feed carnivorously in either scenario. (Here’s the big picture on a dog’s diet.)
Even if the dog is domesticated, we look to the wild model to reveal God’s post-flood design. As a carnivore in the wild, a dog would be hunting and consuming prey — namely, raw meat, bones and organs. Perhaps some berries and greens would be eaten. Grains have no part in the carnivore diet (and according to what I’ve read, are difficult for dogs to digest and a cause of allergies).
For domestic dogs, the “raw feeding” model approaches dogs as carnivores, and suggests feeding them accordingly. Therefore, that’s the basic approach we’re taking in our home. (Read FAQs on Raw Feeding.)
“Raw feeding” is a diet based on a range of different raw meaty bones and organs, or whole prey food items, such as chicken, quail, fish, eggs.
According to many in the “raw feeding” movement, the ideal ratio of meat, bones and organs is 80% meat, 10% bone, and 10% organ. A dog should eat 2% to 3% of its estimated adult body weight per day. A puppy should eat three to four times per day, decreasing the frequency as the dog grows older, to one or two feedings by the time they are a year old. I suppose there are variations in this, and paying attention to the dog’s health and cues is important.
Benefits of raw feeding
According to the above mentioned Raw Feeding FAQs, here are some benefits of raw feeding (click the link to read more):
- no “dog” odor
- naturally cleaner teeth — no need for brushing!
- less and firmer stools
- healthier dogs — saving money on vet bills
- saving money from purchasing expensive dog foods
- ripping and chewing of raw, meaty bones develops the jaw, neck, and shoulder muscles of the dog
How are we “raw feeding”?
We’ve had a puppy for a little over a week, so we’re still settling into food sources for the long haul. But here’s what she’s eaten so far. Just before Areli came to us, we were given four big bags of pastured turkey scraps — meaty wings, necks and backs — which turned out to be great first foods for Areli! But not exactly the meatiest parts of the turkey, so we supplemented the lacking meat with whole eggs and raw milk. She goes to town on her food, munching on the bones like a pro. She came to us at 8 weeks old and had been eating kibble (presumably).
Two of the four bags of turkey were gone, and we needed to butcher two ducks. One was a bully drake, and the other had been injured by the bully drake. B. did all the work (go, B.) of butchering, skinning, and eviscerating. I took over from there. Yeah, my part was easy. Cut up and bag the ducks for refrigeration.
Areli ate the two ducks — meat, bones, and organs — in pieces for about four days. She loved every bite. At 8 weeks old, she knew instinctively to bury bones. The ones she didn’t eat, anyway. Only, she puts her bones just 1/4″ below the surface of the ground. Too cute!
I have lots of beef liver in the freezer from US Wellness Meats and I plan to feed Areli some liver every couple weeks. For training treats, we have homemade jerky. She doesn’t like it as well as the raw meat. 😉
I’m not sure if we’re feeding the right amounts yet. She seemed pretty skinny when she got to us, but she was part of a big litter and may have had trouble getting as much milk as she liked from her mom. We think she is filling out, though.
In our first days with her, I am sure I wasn’t giving her 2% to 3% of her estimated adult body weight in food per day. This is mostly because she wasn’t finishing all her food at every meal. Now, she gobbles up everything and in twice the quantities as the first week. This morning, she buried what was left of breakfast (a chicken breast), and that was after 12 hours without food, so I think we hit capacity. It feels good to know she’s eating her fill.
From here on out, we’re going to share duck and goat meat with her. I’ll buy organic chicken if I have to. I know of a source of rabbit; I just need to follow up on that. I have some whole salmon in the freezer, and honestly will be relieved that I don’t have to debone it for our eating. 🙂 The rest will come as we trust in God to provide the sources!
Even though getting creative with meaty bone sources will probably prove less expensive than buying dog food (and potential vet bills), it will still make an impact on our budget. Therefore, we’d like to raise as much of Areli’s food ourselves as we can.
Raw feeding resources
Researching this topic, I ran across wonderful resources. I highly recommend the eBook “Work Wonders” which is the easy version of “Raw Meaty Bones” — everything else is free!
- Raw Feeding FAQs
- Myths About Raw Feeding
- “Work Wonders: Feed your dog raw meaty bones” ebook (excellent!)
- “Raw Meaty Bones” ebook
Looking for more Traditional Cooking School dog related posts?
Anyone else doing raw feeding? Thinking about it? Have any tips to share about how to save money, or creative ways to find naturally raised raw meaty bones? I look forward to your suggestions!
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We’ve been giving our Bullmastiffs a partially raw diet. We started all raw at first but they got too thin. It definitely makes the “waste” a little more manageable!
Steph Stone says
Wardee, I’ve been feeding my foxhound a raw diet for almost 4 years. Unfortunately, we can’t afford to feed him high quality meat (particularly since he’s allergic to chicken, ugh) but his entire diet is raw meat with the exception of scraps the toddler drops and dried lamb “trail mix” for training treats. It immediately resolved his weight issues (he had been 30lbs overweight) and drastically improved breath, ear infections, and some skin problems.
Talk to your local farmers. They might be able to save extras and either give them to you or sell them to you for cheap. While Jefferson’s diet is primarily grocery store turkey… he also gets pastured beef heart, liver, and kidney and pastured pork hearts, tongues and liver. For a while we were able to get free beef lung from our farmer (it always would depend on the inspector at the slaughterhouse) but after a while he got so he wouldn’t eat it.
I also feed the cats a raw diet, but theirs is a ground recipe from catnutrition.org. They’re both former diabetics who have not needed insulin in 4 years and are roughly 15 and 16 years old respectively. I’d feed them whole prey as well, but one of them is teeth-impared (from previous bad diets) so the grinder does the chewing for them.
Holler if you need any feedback along the way. We’ve been there, done that, and cleaned up the bodily fluids. LOL
I own a veterinary hospital and have been a veterinary technician for many years. We have just started selling raw diets at our practice. We sell Nature’s Variety Instinct Frozen Raw, which comes in many different types, i.e. rabbit, duck, chicken, venison, etc. Our vets did alot of research before deciding which brand to carry, as far as the nutrition goes. The only thing that makes me nervous with what you are doing is giving them the bones. I’ve been in many surgeries to repair the damage that some bones can do after they’ve eaten them. This raw diet has everything ground up in it, so as to eliminate any of these issues.
Rod Hartman says
I live where there is nearly always a supply of road kill venison. Would this be a good diet for a shepherd mix; and would there be any concerns about the damaged portion if the meat is relatively fresh?
I had a six month old Husky I had to put down because he had big and small pieces of bone that had tore his insides up . I will never give my dogs bones again.
T Miller says
I’ve also heard that the bones can be harmful (particularly small sharp bones like chicken and fish). A dog training friend says he does not feed raw chicken bones to his show dogs but boils the bones first which I know defeats the purpose of raw diet. But I’ve heard large dense bones are fine.
Carol G says
Congrats Wardee! You have one lucky pup!
For others who are interested in making the awesome decision to raw feed your pets I suggest you first research to learn about the basics of raw feeding and then join a raw feeding food co-op (great source to purchase a variety of foods at better prices than you can get by yourself) or a facebook or yahoo group to learn from and ask questions until you run out of them. There are also many blogs and raw feeding breeders that post good info on their websites. People who have experience are the best mentors and are great resources for any issues you have during your learning process. Ask questions! It is not really hard, but there are some basic guidelines that will reassure success in offering your pet a healthy, balanced, species appropriate diet. We have all been there and can help!
Please, please DO NOT serve bones that have been cooked in any way to your raw fed pet! Once cooked the dog/cat cannot digest them and that is also what makes them harder and more apt to choke, crack a tooth or splinter and cause issues.
I have been raw feeding my GSD for over three years (since he was five months old) and while there is a learning curve for both you and your pet, which is nothing really hard, but there are some basic guidelines to follow. Yes, bones are a necessary part of a raw diet, but they must be raw and edible which excludes large, weight bearing bones and a few others. Research and ask questions! Some examples of edible bones that I find safe are bone in chicken/other poultry breast/backs, thigh, leg (turkey legs may be tooth crackers), chicken leg quarters, wings and necks depending on size of dog/cat (can be a choking hazard for some larger dogs that cannot seem to figure them out) as well as young pork/beef/lamb/venison ribs, and duck necks (larger than chicken, but smaller than the turkey necks.) Remember, there is a learning curve for your dog too. Most dogs will chomp, chomp then swallow as large of a chunk of food down their throat as they can fit, but do not be alarmed when they then hork it back up and re-chomp it to a size that will work. They will learn what works best for them and figure out how to take in each kind of bone in time. You should make a practice of watching your dog eat to see their eating style and what bones you individual dog eats well. It takes about two weeks of raw feeding for your pets stomach to increase the amount of acid to digest the bones totally so you will notice pieces of bone in their stool in the beginning and that is normal.
Many people worry about the mess of raw feeding, but I found it easy to train my dog to eat from a bowl placed on a towel. He knows when that towel is spread on the floor he is to eat only on it. If he removes something from his bowl he sets it on the towel then eats it when he gets to that piece. All I have to do is rotate towels and wash them. No mess. I spray down my meal prep area with 50/50 ACV and H2O mix with about 10 drops each of lavender, eucalyptus and tea tree oil essential oils added to sanitize it.
Do not add liver into the diet until they are successfully digesting the meat with bones well and then slowly add liver and build up to the desirable amount as too much too fast will cause the infamous cannon butt (projectile diarrhea) because it is so rich. All dogs/cats are different in the amount of bone they will need to balance their stools when they become loose once liver is introduced into the diet. The amount of liver is not negotiable and needs to be built up to the 5% of the diet (as part of the 10% organ requirement) as it is loaded with dense nutrients. Adjust the amount of bone by watching the consistency of the stool. Bone makes the stool firmer and liver loosens the stool so there will be a custom fit balance of bone to the required amount of liver for each individual pet.
Please READ, ASK and constantly research to learn as you go. Find a successful raw feeder who abides by the basic 80% muscle meat including heart/10% edible bone/10% organs [kidney, spleen! lung, pancreas! etc . . .] to include at least 5% liver ratio as close as possible to learn from. While all pets will differ a bit in their need for bone to balance the liver to maintain a good stool consistency, the stated ratio is a good goal to shoot for. My GSD took a long time to acclimate to the 5% liver and required a little more bone than other dogs seem to get the good stool.
There is also two schools of thought on serving veggies to carnivores because of the debate whether they eat them in the wild or eat the stomach contents of their omnivore and vegetarian prey. If you choose to feed veggies, blend them to break up the plant cell walls so your pet gets access to the nutrients otherwise you are just adding filler because they cannot digest the plant cell walls. Again, the feeding of veggies and fruits is still debatable in the scientific community so make your own decision here. I choose to feed tripe because my dog loves it (God-awful smell, but good stuff) and I sprinkle on about a tsp. of organic alfalfa and organic kelp powder mix on my dogs food. Also, since he does not like fish and I do want to give him a good variety of meat sources, I add a shot of Grizzly Salmon Oil with some vitamin E oil too (salmon oil can cause Vit. e deficiency so I supplement the Vit E) just to make sure he gets what he needs. If you feed a good variety of foods and have access to grass fed meats for your pet then they should not need supplements. My GSD, Zeke has went from being sickly from a reaction to his puppy vaccines to optimal health in a matter of months from when I first began to raw feed him so I am a firm believer in the species appropriate diet. Also, kibble and raw foods digest differently so mixing them is not a good idea as it will cause digestive issues. When you make the switch, do it all the way. If your pet is older it may take them time to acclimate to the texture and learn how to eat raw food, but they will make the transition and be all the healthier for it.
Congrats to all who will make the effort to learn and feed their pets species appropriate diets! It will soon become an easy routine for you and you will be so happy to see your pet reach optimal health. You will notice improvements even in what appears to be a very healthy kibble fed pet and will safe money on teeth cleanings and vet bills so everyone benefits. I still brush my boys teeth with coconut oil on an electric toothbrush just because he likes it and I figure it will not hurt to be preventive even though his teeth look amazing from crunching bones and chewing on his bully stick and Paddywack treats. The last bonus of raw feeding I want to mention is the tiny stools they have due to their body using most of what they eat and lack of filler waste. My 94 lb German Shepherd Dog only produces a couple of inches of stool waste each day since he has been raw fed as apposed to filling a pick up bag when he was kibble fed as a 30 lb pup. Easy for me to keep my yard clean and pick up his stools when we are on our walks.
Sorry this post was so long, but I just want to help you with this awesome decision because I have seen how well it works on my own happy, healthy boy.
Hi Carol. I wanted to ask a question about using frozen meat. I can purchase pastured whole chicken from my local food coop at a very affordable price. They take the whole chicken, bones as well but no organ meat, grind it up and freeze it.
I’ve read that you should use raw meat that has ever been frozen and I’m trying to find out why this would be a problem and wondering if you know why.
If I can find out if the above is true then I was considering placing them on a cooked diet, albeit all homemade. I am wondering about the bones that have been minced along with the meat and if this represents a problem in the overall balance of the nutrients they are getting. There shouldn’t be a problem with any splintering as they’ve been ground up and it would possibly be good because if cooked there would be bone broth in their food.
I appreciate any advice you can give me 🙂
heather harris says
I would love to do this for our dogs, too, but I am nervous about all the bones…do they not choke on them?
Heather, if you visit the FAQs link above, it will ease your worries. 🙂
We feed our 2 farm cats raw as much as possible, which amounts to about ~75% of the time. The challenge for us is finding sources. The cats love liver & kidney thawed from the freezer, raw milk from our goats, and the occasional egg. Raw eggs from the store don’t hold their interest for long. Canned food fills in the gaps. We saw a huge difference for the worse when we shifted to dry kibble for a couple months last spring, which convinced us to keep working at it.
I have done quite a bit of research on this topic, too and about 8 months ago I decided to try it out on my cat. I had a bunch of points from SwagBucks that I had free Amazon giftcards so I bought a pack of frozen tukey raw pet food from a seller.
We had to introduce it slowly because her body was not used to it and she would throw it all up- eeww.. raw meat throw up- it was gross. But after around 1-2 weeks I was feeding her all raw.
But then she was diagnosed with kidney disease and I was having trouble finding good research if the raw diet was good for that. And of course the vet did not back me up on the raw diet.
So now she is back to canned, expensive, prescription food- it costs more that the prepared raw food diet shipped frozen to my door did.
But that said.. in the future when our pets pass away and we get new ones I will feed a raw diet from the beginning. I am just convinced that it is better for them.. it just makes comment sense.
How did you get your cats to switch to the raw diet? I tried so hard…pork, chicken, beef, turkey all ground and whole. I even made them the tastiest food with homemade stock and all the skin and organs cooked until mush. It smelled so good! They won’t eat any of it! They will eat seafood but I don’t think that eating tuna at every mean is good either. I was going with the they’ll eat it when they’re hungry enough, but they went on strike. I asked our vet about it, who supports raw diets, and he said that cats are very different from dogs. He has seen cats die from kidney failure because they refuse to eat the food the owners give them. Our cats eat only 1 type of dry food as well…Finicky! They’ve never been table scrap eaters either. Do you have any tricks to help them change? I know they should be eating real food, but they just don’t agree with me. Thanks!
I’ve switched six cats to raw, and the toughest took months and multiple tries.
In a nutshell, I went from free feeding kibble, to meal feeding, to feeding kibble with canned food, then raw chopped meat mixed into canned food. Eventually, the chunks got larger and the canned food became less. When I introduced legs and wings on the bone, I shredded the meat with a knife so they could chew it more easily.
I don’t know- she just ate it, she liked it. If you cats will eat regular canned food why don’t you try mixing it in- a tiny bit at a time and gradually increasing?
Or if they like dry just mix a tsp of the raw on it- to coat, maybe they would try it.
Yippie for raw feeding. I just switched my 11 year old cat to raw last week. I had been thinking about it for about 3 years. I had a kitty who had kidney failure. I had done research on raw feeding at that time. He was just too sick to save. I had tried raw feeding with my two other cats but one of them would just not convert. He was a junk food addict. I gave up.
Well my junk food kitty had to be sent to heaven about 6 weeks ago. He had cancer all over his body. I believe that if he had been eating a better diet he might still be with me. So in three years I have lost two kitties to the top two killers of kitties. I want to do my best with the one I have left. She absolutely loves the raw. She has always begged for scraps like a dog. Whenever I was preparing dinner I would toss her a little tidbit. She has always had a very loose stool. Ever since I have been feeding raw it is firm and formed.
Any future cats that I get will be put on raw. No more canned or kibble! Let’s hear it for species appropriate feeding!
Steph Stone says
Katie, the topic of switching cats from dry food to canned or raw is much too long to discuss here. Are you on Facebook? I’m one of Wardee’s friends – feel free to friend me if you use it. I can help you figure it out. Dry food is the feline equivalent of eating junk food fortified with vitamins for every meal… but it is so hard to switch them when they can be such stubborn kitties!
Jen, cats with kidney disease can eat raw with a few modifications. One of mine has been in early renal failure for about two years (probably since I got him 4 years ago, honestly) but is very stable. I adjust my recipe slightly for him. There is a vet named Lisa Pierson (her website is http://www.catinfo.org) who for a small fee will give you a ground raw recipe that is appropriate for your cat’s medical condition. You just have to send her some info and bloodwork. Depending on how severe the kidney disease is, it could be as simple as adding cooked egg white to the food (that’s all I do) or adding an inexpensive phosphorus binder that human kidney patients use.
Can ya’ll tell that fixing the diets of my critters helped me fix my own? I’ll talk your ears off about it. LOL
This is really interesting. I saw at the feed store there was an “all raw food” for dogs and cats, though I didn’t think to inquire about it. We don’t have a dog, yet. I wonder if it’s kibble or if it’s some sort of meat mix? I’m going to find out next time I go.
We had two big dogs( Rott and Dobie) and lost them both to bone cancer (age 12, and 13 years). Since then I have read that this may be caused by the high amounts of fluoride in the dry dog foods (we had fed Science Diet over the years). When we get another dog in the future I will definately feed a raw, “real food” diet.
I would just mention – one of the things i’ve learned in recent dog training is that wolves often eat already dead meat- and firstly eat out the guts, which contain roots and fruits that the ruminant animal ate. So no, they shouldn’t eat just meat. They should also eat fruits and vegetables. My gold retreiver was notorious for picking all the strawberries out of the strawberry patch. Yes, all my dogs have also loved to eat dead squirrels and horse manure – but i strongly believe you should feed raw veg/fruit as well as meat. I’m feeding Pocket a raw diet – but definitely want her getting a balanced meal, so i buy the prepared raw diets that have tons of awesome ingredients that would be more difficult for me to provide her on my own.
We have fed our dog raw for all but the first six months. He is a large breed, and at eight years old, he has people regularly think he is only two or three. He gets eggs, a chicken quarter, and apple every day – the apple will get changed up depending on what is fresh/local/seasonal. He also loves veggies – I have to keep him from eating my tomatos off the vine and last year he knew where the radishes where and would dig them up and have himself a fest. He is happy, healthy and very active for a large breed dog.
The cats will ONLY eat eggs from our farmer that we gets pasture raised ggs from – store bought and they know it and walk away. Though the cats still get kibble – I try to make sure it is of the highest quality. Cats need a lot of taurine in there diet and I have no sat down to figure out the correct balances.
I am getting a large (giant) breed dog and would love to know more about your dogs diet as they were growing… I am considering raw, but I am not sure if I can afford it… I do want to provide the best I can though.
Sustainable Eats says
This is one of my goals for this year – to get our very old dog onto first more nutrient dense, North American made food and ultimately onto raw food in order to decrease her carbon footprint. We are down to the tiniest garbage can now for waste and it’s half full of dog poop. I’m ready to be done with that! Next stop, composting toilet for her.
Just a tidbit on getting cats to switch foods. Our cats were reluctant to eat raw food at first. But I accidentally found out one day that they LOVE nutritional yeast. LOVE it. They lick the outside of the container whenever I bring it out. So I started sprinkling that on their regular canned food, and then when I tried them on raw again, I sprinkled a good helping of nutritional yeast over the meat. They still weren’t wild about it at first, but it was enough to get them to start eating it little by little. That was 2 years ago, and they’ve been all raw ever since.
If they don’t like nutritional yeast, the process may work if you find something else they love that you can sprinkle or pour over the food they currently enjoy, and then switch to raw. It just has to be something that they can’t seem to resist.
Cindy (FarmgirlCyn) says
I have an 85# Golden who has allergies of some kind. Stinky, smelly ears and is always licking his paws. I have tried a recipe found online consisting of ground turkey, rice, broccoli, carrots, eggs, and yogurt or cottage cheese. You cook up the meat then mix in the cooked rice and steamed veggies. Problem is, this stuff is not cheap! So…I bought a $50 bag of lamb/rice dog food (for dogs with allargies) and have been mixing that with the homemade stuff. He eats about 2 cups in the morning and 2 cups in the evening. Not sure he is getting enough as he cleans his bowl up lickity split!
Wouldn’t feeding a raw diet be very pricey? I would be more than willing to do it if I thought I could afford it.
I am so impressed by this and by how many commenters also feed their animals raw foods! Awesome everyone!! 😀
I would think that a canine in the wild would also eat the contents of their prey’s stomach, which would probably contain some vegetables. I just wonder if a small amount of veggies and fruits might be a good idea?
Yolanda, you are correct. They do eat the contents of their prey’s stomach, but along with the vegetable matter they consume are the enzymes of the prey’s stomach that has already started to digest some of that vegetable matter. These enzymes help the canine utilize the nutrition in the vegetable matter. When we feed straight vegetables to our dogs they do not get the benefits of the enzymes from their prey’s stomaches to help digest those vegetables. A good way to introduce those enzymes with vegetables is to feed tripe. There is a yahoo group that you can post your location on and find out if there are any raw food suppliers in you your area. Many of these suppliers offer tripe or whole rabbit, etc. It is carnivore-feed suppliers, https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/CarnivoreFeed-Supplier/info
I love hearing everyone’s stories, I’ll have to work with my son on improving our dogs diet with this info. As usual with healthy living, the battle is with time and energy…
Here is my two cents worth!
We butcher our own animals, so while we trim the meat we have two discard piles: dog food and pure fascia (connective tissue that does not digest!). Then I cook up the bones with veggies for broth and all the drained stuff goes into sandwich baggies to freeze for dog food.
When we started feeding this to our dog she bulked up with muscle and looked really good. Then we ran out of dog food and (being an experimenter) I just fed her scraps. after about 6 weeks she looked good but I could tell she was better off with more carbs in the dry dog food. Feeling I don’t have time to make a grain/vegetable blend for her dinner to go with the meat scraps I chose to provide her a baggie of meat scraps and dry dog food daily.
My son is in charge of feeding her and he has not been giving her the meat scrap baggies.
I am glad to have this gnowfglins page for him to read and so we can work on improving her diet, she is about 7 and showing her middle age…
Probably the best source of raw dog food is to find livestock keepers who have old/cull animals they would sell cheap and the cost of butchering and freezing would be the main expense. Old horses (sounds cruel, we all love horses, however they are large animals that get too old…)
Thanks everyone for your comments.
Really interesting. When we first got our dog (german shepherd) I was making homemade dog food, but it was cooked. Chicken, carrots, peas, a little grain, etc. Well, I allowed life to get in the way, money got tight and homemade dog food went away. I have been doing bagged stuff ever since. We have to doctor up the junk, just so our dog will eat it.
Homemade dog food is not something I can do right now, but it has always been in the back of my mind to get back to it at some point. I know my doggy would love it!
I need to read the info about the bones also, I was always worried about that.
Thanks for posting about this, and I would love to hear updates as your puppy grows.
Elizabeth E says
I did a lot of reading on this topic when I had two big dogs, and they occasionally got raw meaty bones and once or twice, when I was out of money for dog food, frozen chicken.
In that long-ago reading, I came across several mentions that dogs should not have salmon. I just did a search on the topic — apparently raw salmon carries a parasite that is very harmful to dogs. Here’s one link on it:
This link doesn’t say whether freezing destroys the parasite, but cooking does.
Looks like great plan! It seems to me you might easily be able to raise enough rabbits to supply a lot of your puppy’s food.
Many thanks to your other readers for all the info on raw cat foods — I will be looking into them.
Elizabeth, thanks! Someone else wrote to me about salmon possibly being harmful, and I appreciate it — I will definitely look this up before I feed her the salmon. 🙂
Miranda and Yolanda — Thanks for mentioning canine behavior in the wild, eating the guts of their prey. Definitely food for thought! My husband perked right up at your comments. 🙂 The “big picture” link up there does mention this, too.
I really am interested in this and want to ask your opinion on this line of reasoning:
So to summarize the basis of this discussion; wild wolves eat primarily bones and meat therefore the descendants of wolves (domestic dogs) should be fed bones and meat.
While its probably true that the big timber wolves were filling a specific niche in their environment by preying on bison and large mammals, there are many other canine animals that ate a large variety of foods. Fox and coyote are what I am thinking. In a super quick search just now I found this sentence about the diets of foxes:
“Diet also varies seasonally: foxes eat more earthworms and birds in spring and early summer, more mammals in winter, insects in summer and fruit in the autumn.”
Perhaps I am justifying my observation that my dog needed more than just meat and bones.
I am looking forward to hearing what everyone thinks about this.
Christina, those are good thoughts! I am not sure I know the answer, but I would suggest that while a dog can eat a variety of things, I would prefer to feed the optimum foods. Of course, we’re still trying to figure that out. What seems to be the common thread is that yes, the dogs in the wild will go after the entrails and eat the remains of grasses, berries and seeds there, but the majority of the diet is meat, bone, organ and connective tissue.
The salmon thing is interesting.
In Alaska, a family friend used to live in the bush and he fed his dog team a diet of salmon. He dug a pit and filled it with salmon. Then he would chop a salmon in half and toss them to the dogs. In the winter when the dogs were working more and had to keep their body temperatures up, he would build a fire to make salmon soup to feed them.
Then we moved to Douglas county Oregon and everyone freaks out about salmon poisoning. When our dog got salmon poisoning and spent several days in doggy ICU I finally got the big picture: When salmon swim up river to spawn they stop eating and begin to rot as they swim upstream to lay their eggs. They die shortly after laying their eggs. The dead rotting fish sometimes wash up on land for dogs to find. The dogs eat the rotting fish and get very sick and frequently die. Some say that fresh salmon can cause salmon poisoning as well, but I don’t understand why we never heard of it Alaska where the beaches are strewn with dead fish.
I hope that helps.
Christina, the salmon thing is SO interesting! So you think that rotting salmon is different from fresh, vibrant, healthy salmon? That makes great sense to me. I am so glad you shared the story of your Alaskan family friend.
I dont own a dog (only did when growing up) but I have heard lots of things about dogs from other friends. One suggestion I heard is mixing sprouts in with the meat. One friends’ dog had really bad skin issues and once she fed her dog real meat with sprouts it cleared up the skin problems within days (not sure if it was the real meat or sprouts). Thought this might help you!
Good for you for making your own food! I have been doing it for over a decade, and am so pleased by the results compared to prior decades of feeding kibble. I agree with Miranda that _some_ veggies are important, because carnivores eat a lot of ruminant stomach contents too, I think they need those vitamins from partially processed plant matter (dogs don’t digest veggies well on their own, they need them to be ground or streamed first). I do also feed grain, becuase it makes it more affordable- those big guardian dogs eat a LOT of food! 😀 And I add in viatmins, Dr Pitcairn’s “healthy powder” (kelp, lecithin, yeast, alfalfa) and whatever I think each individual needs (dogs over 4, I add gucosamine, arthritic dog, I add anti-inflammatory herbs etc).
Since I switched to homemade food, all of my dogs’ “normal” troubles went away: flea infestation and allergies, dental issues, body and breath odor, and their “output” is much more manageable and less offensive.
I do think it’s cheaper, too, but I haven’t done the math lately to verify that. I can certainly say I rarely have need for a vet, so that’s a huge cost savings rigth there! And the best part: if you ever burn dinner or get tired of leftovers, the dogs are always thrilled to take care of that for you! 😀
It seems like there is no way to know for sure what is optimal, and that it may well be different for different dogs of varying sizes, breeds, environmental circumstances, etc. I actually think that the fact that many dogs seem to thrive on kibble (and garbage dumps for feral dogs) is a testament to how hardy most dogs are, that they are able to do well on nearly anything.
Though I think it’s useful to look at the wolf diet as a starting point, we have to remember that though dogs did stem from wolves genetically, that was thousands of years ago, and they have since diverged significantly in phenotype. All wolves completely fail to thrive on kibble, and are not able to reproduce or pass essential survivabilty tests on kibble. So that alone implies they are quite different from dogs.
There is good research that shows dogs are closer to a coyote in terms of frame, brain size and tooth development (as well as behavior). Coyotes and dogs have lower protein requirements that wolves have, because they have a much smaller brain and frame they have to power. So that would imply that a varied diet of small rodents, berries, grasses, seeds, and scavenged “finds” may be as appropriate for the dog as the coyote. It’s possible that the high protein wolf diet is too “hot” for a dog, as very high protein diets can be somewhat toxic, as many Atkins diet followers find out.
But, I think we can read books and discuss it academically all day long, ultimately, nobody knows, and there is no funding for someone to research it. I think the bottom line is, just find what works for your dog, and that may be totally different from what works for your neighbor’s dog. The beauty of homemade food is you can continually tweak it until you find a combination that is both affordable, available, do-able in your routine, and seems to allow the dog to thrive the best and prevent illness. I think it would be hard to do any worse than kibble, so anything you do at home is probably worth doing! 😀
Michelle, thanks for sharing all that. Obviously you have studied this stuff more than I have! Thanks for giving us things to think about. As usual, nothing is as cut and dried as we might like. I agree with your bottom line — it is hard to do worse than kibble! But even more than that, we are all trying to find what works for our dog and if we’re committed to that, that’s the most important thing. I love seeing your healthy dogs on your blog!
One of the most interesting books I’ve encountered on the origin of dogs is Raymond Coppinger’s book, the short part of the very long title is just “Dogs.” Some of his assertions are controversial, but I do think he’s onto something- he’s done a lot of work with coyotes, feral dogs in different countries, and different breeds of working dogs, and has some interesting ideas and observations. His book is really focused on behavioral studies, but a lot of it ended up being food for thought for me (no pun intended) on dog diets, because of his observations of very healthy “garbage dump dogs” in 3rd world countries. It’s really a good read!
Michelle — Sounds like a wonderful book. 🙂
I am so interested in this topic and have been thinking for months about this…ever since starting to eat real food myself I have been thinking my dog shouldn’t be eating prepackaged synthetic food either. THe problem I am having is that no one has addressed the biblical perspective. I have been trying to find info on what dogs might have eaten according to the bible. Because I don’t see dogs to have decended from wolves. didn’t God make each animal of it’s own kind? so, the only verse I have found so far is Matthew 15:27 “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”
so, this would point to dogs eating table scraps and left overs. whatever was needing to be thrown out as waste even. this could be raw, cooked, meat or vegetable, bread, porridge…anything.
I am wondering if anyone else has other information on this as I am really trying to decode a very hard to decifer subject.
I am loving all the discussion and learning new things. thank you all for sharing!!
Deanna, I am sorry not to respond to this yet.
I have wanted to do some reading on the subject and to be honest, this is more my husband’s expertise than mine, and he’s a little busy just now.
I clicked over to Answers In Genesis to see what they said about animal “kinds” such as are mentioned in Genesis 1:25: “…everything according to its kind.” They have a short, simple little article called “Variety With Kinds” that I think explains this well.
Please read it, but just now I will quote the pertinent parts:
From this, I can understand how every dog — wolf, coyote, jackal, and all the modern breeds we know — are the same kind.
And by way of example, our new dog Areli is half Kangal and half Boerboel, as far as “breeds” go. Interestingly, the Kangal breed descends directly from wolf and jackal. (I hope I’m remembering correctly what my husband told me the other day.)
The verse that you brought up mentions that dogs eat scraps, but that’s pretty much all it says. I don’t see how it implies either way whether that is ideal or God’s design.
And even the idea of design is actually quite hard to know. Prior to the flood, no one — not human or animal — ate any meat. They all ate plants, fruits, and seeds. Then after the flood, God commanded us that we should eat of every living thing. At this same time, animals became carnivorous. Whether this is because of lack of other food or the Lord turned “on” something in them, or a combination, I don’t know.
Since then and in our post-flood world, the wild dog kind’s historically accurate diet was prey/carnivore. As others have pointed out, they would also feast on the entrails (seeds and all) or other foods seasonally, such as berries, grasses, and such.
I still am of the opinion that besides the meat, bone, organ and connective tissue, the dogs would be consuming smaller amounts of the berries, grasses, and such. I think others could be right here, that those are needed also — if not for a season then small amounts consistently.
Once again, I’m beginning to explore this myself. I sure have been enjoying this discussion, and I’m grateful for every point of view!
thank you so much for responding. I have been doing research lately too and am loving what I am finding. I have come to the same conclusions you pointed out and am so facsinated with the whole thing 🙂
I have experimented with raw over the last month and it took my dog a while to get the hang of it (she is older and used to packaged food) but she now waits at the fridge every morning for her egg! I am now trying to find a good source of quality raw meat for her that isn’t going to cost an arm and a leg!
If you have more info as you go or want to update how it’s going with your dog, I would love to hear it!
Michelle, can you tell us more specifically how you make this work in your life? Do you make up a weeks worth and leave it in the fridge? Or fill cheap baggies and freeze for daily dispersal? Have you made a recipe you follow or just wing it?
I was just on an airplane with a seeing eye dog and trainer. She (a whole foods junkie) said that just buying a corn-free kibble makes a HUGE difference and is what she recommends. She said that dogs need the fiber and nutrients of plant matter, that is why they eat grass. She suggest feeding fresh raw produce as treats: whatever kind they like, some dogs like carrots and another likes apple.
Interesting anyway. Thank you everyone for your input.
Christina, that’s pretty amazing that you sat next to someone like that on the plane! I am curious what big a percentage of plant matter she recommends? Just treats would suggest not too much in respect to the overall diet — or does she also recommend some at meal times?
I would agree — corn-free kibble would be a huge different in a dog’s life!
Christina, when I started initially, I followed advise from books more closely. But as I gained confidence and saw my dogs’ health bloom, I started to wing it. I have five dogs to feed, 2 are huge, so I put together their meals from scratch each day, and just eyeball it. I have used a juicer in the past for the veggies (adding the pulp back in), but now find that steaming them in big batches in a rice cooker or big stock pot is easier for me. (I think it’s generally accepted that dogs have too short a digestive tract to derive much nutrient from veggies unless they are broken down somehow, from grinding or cooking.) I also cook batches of grains in the rice cooker. I do very roughly: 1 egg, 1/3 veggies, 1/3 grain, 1/3 raw meat in their evening meals, and then give a piece of raw chicken, bone-in, in the morning. I try to do raw meaty bones as often as possible, but it’s not easy for me to do this, since I have to lock them outside so they don’t make a mess.
I route a lot of leftovers into their dinners too, things we “forget” in the fridge a few too many days, the stale heels of bread, something burned, etc. They are not picky! 😀
My mom does something completely different though. She has small dogs, and she does do a lot of make-ahead. She juices big batches of veggies and grinds meat and freezes them. She doesn’t use much grain, other than in baked “liver cookies” she uses for daily treats. A lot of people are wary of grains, but they work for me, and lower the cost quite a bit compared to trying to do mostly meat.
Forming the intial habit of making the dog food is hard, remembering to buy the stuff, thaw meat, steam veggies, etc. It’s probably easier to not do it all-or-nothing, but keep your kibble around as a backup for days you forget, and slowly transition. Some days I still forget something. I keep canned veggies, beans and fish on hand for those days. I don’t stress about times like this, just like I might eat a grilled cheese sandwich on a hurried day, if the dogs get a banana, some cereal and canned salmon for dinner, no biggie! 😉 I am definitely not perfect.
For those just starting out who don’t want to read a tome on the subject, I really love the books Kymythy Schultze has written. She lives near me and teaches classes on raw feeding, and is a total sweetie who has an amazing health journey story of her own. Her dog/cat food book is little, only 80 small pages, and can be read in an hour or so and is a good place to start. You can always buy some big reference books for later, to look up things if you are trying to address a specific problem.
Good luck everyone!
Michelle — Thanks for yet another book recommendation!
I am interested in your mom’s liver cookie treat. I have also read about drying liver for treats — then it will still be raw but more handleable for treats.
Oh, and I wondered — at the morning meal, do you serve the egg raw?
We have been serving Areli a raw egg morning. I don’t give it to her in the shell because I don’t want her to think she can eat our duck eggs. Any thoughts on this? Am I making too much of it?
Rebecca B. says
My dog (large breed) used to steal the whole old shells from my compost pile to chomp on, always was worried and frustrated, until I saw a raw food feeder (our trainer) give his dogs the whole raw egg. He said and Dr Pitcairns book also said that the shell gives them needed calcium. So I’ve just been plopping a whole (pastured) egg in his bowl and he’s happy as a clam. His sister, my parents dog, also snags egg shells, so I think it’s pretty common. Also our dog is about 8 months now and for teething I’d give him a nice cold carrot or cucumber from the fridge and even some other veg scraps like zucchini ends etc. We haven’t taken the raw food plunge completely, but today is our last scoops of commercial dog food and we’re going to switch. He’s a huge dog and I want to make sure that his size is appropriate/balanced and I can’t judge correctly with dry or canned since he’s 90+lbs and only 8 months. But the weight to raw food ratio seems more manageable, though I doubt we’ll save much money cuz he’s such a beast.
Thanks for article!!
This is awesome!! We’ve just got a new huntaway pup and I’m not too keen on her having dry food. I can get 18kgs of veal offcuts for $1p/kg for her but any ideas on what else can I give her to ensure a balanced diet? Any suggestions would be great! The only thing I’m wary about is giving her whole, shelled eggs as we have chickens running round and I don’t want her ‘egg-gathering’ on the side 🙂
Bridie, I have been wondering the same thing (on the whole eggs), so I haven’t been feeding Areli the egg in its shell. I can’t help wondering if I’m being too cautious, though.
I hear that chicken leg quarters are great and have a great balance of meat, bone and connective tissue. Then feeding an organ every two weeks supplies the organ need. I think those are the basics, but I’m not sure whether you are wanting to go with or without veggies/fruit/grains.
I don’t feed a whole leg quarter to Areli because she’s pretty little and ends up burying it. So I alternate a drumstick or a thigh or a piece of bone in meat about that smaller size at each of her daily 4 feedings.
Wardee, my mom bakes her liver “cookies” kinda like you would do traditional (human) cookies. She purees the liver in a food processor, then adds goodies to it- grain, eggs, peanut butter, pumpkin, veggie grind, garlic salt, or whatever. Then smears it on a baking pan and bakes it like “bar” style cookies. She cuts those up into squares and freezes them in small quantities. Dogs go nutty for her treats, she teaches 4-H dog training classes. Of course people bring off-the-shelf treats and try to train with those, their dogs are bored of the treats and won’t focus. My mom pulls out the liver and pumpkin stuff and the dogs are right at attention wanting to know how to get a hold of those! 😀 They will do backflips for them!
Dog show people often just bake liver by itself for treats, and people sell freeze-dried versions of it commercially, so I’m sure you could do your own dehydrated version. Though I suppose some would consider that to be a biohazard, walking around with uncooked liver in your pockets or hands, given the proximity of it to the intestines during butchering…
I do add eggs to the dogs’ meals each day, raw. Some people crush the eggshells for extra calcium, I am too lazy, and the dogs pick them out if there are big pieces, and leave them on the carpet. 😛
Re: Areli learning to eat eggs from the yard, I definitely think this is a possibility for a clever dog, and I know of some dogs who know how to break open shells and help themselves (as well as shell peas, dig carrots and the like). I had a friend who hunted with his dogs, and sometimes he would “open up” a bird his dogs had just retrieved and hand it to them to eat. They never seemed to make the connection, that the things they were retrieving could be eaten, w/o a person eviscerating them first. But, that’s a bird dog for ya, so hard-wired to do a soft-mouthed retrieve, I’m not sure it ever occurs to them what is *in* their mouths! 😉 They are ding bats! 😀
If nothing else, I think you could train a dog not to take things to eat w/o permission, but that could be a lot of work. And if the dog is independent enough, they might just ignore the “rules” whenever they get a chance. Especially LGDs, they are pretty independent, definitely not bred for trainability and obedience to humans, but rather for having minds of their own and using them! So I don’t blame you for keeping it a secret from Areli where eggs come from! You may regret it if she ever finds out! 😉
Tammy Lee Rodriguez via Facebook says
we feed our cats a raw diet. 🙂
Aminah Luqman via Facebook says
my Steele is raw fed and awesome 😉
Alyssa Fitzgerald Bush via Facebook says
Mercola’s pet section has so much great information about how exactly to feed our pets raw food. How much, what ratios and how often!
Georgia Brinkley via Facebook says
Thanks for sharing! I’ve recently transitioned our cats to raw meat/organs/milk (should be bones, I know, but we’ll get there…)
Lisa Hughes via Facebook says
We raw-fed our Aussie (he just recently passed) and our cats (down to one now). I plan on raw-feeding our future Aussie puppy.
Jodie Hummel Godush via Facebook says
Thank you for posting this…it’s a consideration we are having here in our home as well.
Clara Cueva via Facebook says
with my dog’s food allergies, we’d go broke feeding her a raw diet. We have found two proteins that don’t make her sick (and that she is willing to eat)… salmon and venison. 🙁
Jeanie Wardell Burton via Facebook says
Cats too. We feed our two with a primal raw food diet.
Georgia Brinkley via Facebook says
also, I have just bought rabbits to start breeding in order to share the meat with our cats. and I am transitioning the rabbits diet from pellets to “salad” that I can grow/forage myself.
Bobbi Sanchez via Facebook says
This is something I am so convicted about. We have a 15 mo old Anatolian Shepherd that I want to cross over from a no grain dry dog food to raw. I just have no idea how to make the transition!
Liz Allie via Facebook says
I consider raw is best, but when one has more than one dog, it is more than difficult. I tried it for a time and was so sick of handling meat…literally. If I had one or two pets, I’d do it again. I will throw them raw from time to time, but not everyday, two times a day. I do use a “high quality” no grain, grass fed kibble as the staple. They also get raw milk as they so desire. thanks for posting.
Susan Watts via Facebook says
Aww.. what a cute pup!
Suze Peterson Harrison via Facebook says
My older dog wants nothing to do with raw meat unless it’s ground red meat or liver warmed in butter. My beagle blend joyously eats anything, raw, cooked intended for him or not, bones and all. He had a lot of allergies when we got him-constantly sneezing, puking and scratching-even on Wysong. While we can’t feed them a raw diet, we have found that Fromm Dog Food has helped the beagle reduce is allergies to occasionally itchy ears (and Fromm has a program buy 12, get your 12th free program). My brother in law from Australia thought it was strange we don’t feed a raw diet!
Susan Watts via Facebook says
We had our dog.. we usually gave her vegetable water for her meal …
Emily Pendergrass via Facebook says
I feed 4 dogs and 1 cat a raw diet…as you know! 😀 Its been about 2.5 years and I can’t see it ever changing. Feel free to ask any questions 🙂
Kim Clough Kalua via Facebook says
Arna Tuoto Banfe this might interest you.
Alice Benham via Facebook says
I’m so thankful to have a store very near us that specializes in raw diets for cats and dogs. My two dogs love it, and so far so good with their health!
Tyra Denson via Facebook says
Interesting Coby Carwile
Cheryl LaPorte via Facebook says
I think it would be wise to ask a Veterinarian who has studied Nutrition in Veterinary College. Not lay people who don’t understand nutritionally complete diets. Veterinarians will tell you that it is dangerous to feed bones….costs thousands to have an intestinal resection done from perforating the intestines from eating the bones not to mention what the dog goes through. Lucky the owner who feeds it and not had problems, and it is luck. PLEASE read the following article it includes X-rays from eating bones.
Cindy Kroll Grauer via Facebook says
we started feeding our first dog raw almost 11 yrs ago, after she died we got a new rescue dog with so many health issues, almost all have cleared up on a raw diet, the cats will occasionally eat raw, esp the mice that are raised for them. we raise rabbits, poultry and goat to feed us and the dog/cat
Cheryl LaPorte via Facebook says
@Clara if you live near a veterinary school I would take her there. You get many great minds working her case up, good teaching moment. When my husband was in Vet school they got
Many interesting cases and the same for
My daughter who is in vet school presently.
Tim N Heather Langdon via Facebook says
Veterinarians get most of their nutrition training from pet food companies like science diet unfortunately. Our cats have done amazing on a raw meat bone and organ diet. Raw bones do not cause the problems cooked bones do.
Tim N Heather Langdon via Facebook says
Also, I raise cats not just own a couple pets. Kittens have never been healthier than on this diet. Moms have maintained weight and health through out pregnancy and rearing of kittens.
Mrissa Teresa via Facebook says
I think anything, literally ANYTHING, is better than that vegan dog food crap. ANIMALS ARE OMNIVORES. ::smh::
Janis Moore via Facebook says
I feed my dog raw on weekends 100% and off and on during the week depending on what I have. I am able to get venison,beef, lamb, chicken and emu parts (liver, hearts, kidney, tongue, gizzards, necks and trim) from local Vermont hunters and farmers after they butcher their own animals. I also buy farm raised and grazed LOCAL beef, duck, goat, lamb, rabbit, etc on sale Plus grow all my own vegetables and eggs and trade with others for what I need.(Fish and fruit) I always grind up the veggies (dogs can’t digest unground veggies) and add a dollup of yogurt to 1 meal per day. Dry food and raw food should not be fed together. They need different enzymes to break them down, so feed them separately at different meal times. Raw in am and dry or canned foods pm. If your dog looses weight initially, then add 1- 2 cups of cooked oatmeal (Old Fashioned Quaker Oats- tall red box) to each meal. Whole Foods and Co-ops will sell you their almost outdated meats Veggies and fruits for cheap if you will pick them up on a routine basis. My dogs use to die from cancers at age 5-9, now they live til 17. The only difference is the food.
Brandis L Roush via Facebook says
I absolutely think this is the best diet for dogs and cats (especially cats). I did it for a while this summer, but a variety of factors led me to stop (lack of easy availability, cost, time, etc). It is something I would consider going back to once my cats are a little older- luckily they got a lot of raw for a good part of their kitten-hood, and I still give them a whole chicken (as in whole- with everything but the head and feathers, I had some roosters this fall that were on the way small side, so when my processors came I just had them kill and pluck, but not gut them and saved them for the cats) every week or so and they still LOVE it, so not only did they get all that awesome concentrated nutrition during their formative years, but they won’t be hard to transition back to raw. But MAN nearly grown kittens eat a ton of food!
Sarah Wiederholt via Facebook says
I have fed my dogs raw for years. They are older now and when I take them to the vet they are always amazed at the condition of their teeth and their overall health. Then when I tell them I raw feed they tell me raw feeding is bad. Hahahahah. They are just like people doctors.
Charlotte Deibert via Facebook says
Great post, we switched to a raw diet for our 2 dogs! Best thing we could have done, they are doing great are very health and never sick and have never had to have their teeth cleaned. Raw bones from non-weigh bearing areas of large animals are best and don’t damage teeth. My dog swallowed a whole chicken leg, we were worried until we saw it in his poop and it was soft and rubbery. Never ever feed cooked bones, these are the problems that vet have to take care of.
One caution concerning Salmon….wild salmon contains a parasite which will make dogs sick…so make sure you freeze it first…it is safe to feed it then as the freezing kills the parasite.
McKenzie Wagner Goldberg via Facebook says
Ashley Viruet Christinna Viruet
Just an FYI I thought I’d heard you shouldn’t feed raw salmon because of some parasite
Hi, Nice to see a post on raw diet for pets. I am an avid backer for this type of diet for so many reasons, some very obvious… what did cats/dogs eat before dry/canned dog food? It started for me about 18yrs ago when I got a sickly kitten. Vet wanted to put it to sleep but I knew that healthy diet can turn humans around, why not a cat. Cats are a little different from dogs in their needs, they’re carnivores. I researched raw diets, bought a balanced supplement to add to ground raw meat with oil and my kitten in 6 wks was healthy and vibrant. I had many indoor cats, they all got the raw diet and flourished, making it to a ripe old age. I also fed my small dogs a raw diet, they loved it but again balance is the key. I bought a balanced supplement to add to raw meat for them. I also feed raw bones. The dogs are very small so I buy beef ribs, have butcher saw them in half. Never, ever give cooked bones to a dog, as they can splinter. Dogs also can have some carbs too… veggies, apple, a little rice/quinoa, etc., they like the variety. I was on raw diet lists for years and people would come on those lists as their dogs/cats had: itchy skin, allergies, continuous ear infections/candida , intestinal problems, kidney issues, etc. As they converted to a raw diet all that went away. IMO, feeding dry dog food is the worse diet possible for a pet. Even the no grain, expensive ones can create health problems although they’re certainly better than the cheaper versions. Dry food needs a lot of water to be digested and go through the intestinal tract, dehydrating the animal. Also, its other ingred/chemicals in dry that can cause allergies. I never fed raw fish and kept even cooked fish to a small percentage. Feeding a cat just a diet of fish cause a deficiency in their system. And my last tip… have your pets teeth checked yearly! I can’t stress this enough. An infected tooth can kill an animal, or make them very ill. This can make them not want to eat. When you take them to a vet, they appear healthy otherwise. A good vet will look in the mouth but even then most times you can’t see the infection unless its very obvious. Some people think the animal is just being finicky when they don’t want to eat but they can have an infected tooth or several bad teeth which makes their mouth sore. Now its easy to get an animal on a raw diet, most pet food stores carry a refrigerated/freezer for raw diets. Very easy and your pet will be healthier for it!
I have found friends to be good sources of raw dog food as well. With the popularity of buying meat from local farms by the half, whole, or quarter, I have lots of friends who end up with raw meaty bones and offal that they don’t want. As a result I get a good portion of the raw diet for our Anatolian this way. We also raise chickens, turkeys, ducks, and pigs, which supply a good source of food. My husband also hunts, so she gets lots of squirrel, venison, and other game meats.
I have found adding a supplement of kelp to her breakfast of home raised eggs and raw milk kefir to be beneficial, it will help balance out any micronutrient deficiencies she might have in her diet.
I will also feed small amounts of cooked vegetables as well as fermented grains on occasion, but it’s a very small amount. I read once that animals will eat the stomach contents of their prey and thus they would be getting a kind of fermented veg/grain depending on what prey they were eating (mostly small game). That made sense to me, so when she’s not getting a whole prey diet I’ll add fermented veg & grain in tiny amounts. My thinking is that it should contain trace minerals and other things she won’t be getting solely from the meat.
Our dogs get some cooked meats – but they also get Stella & Chewys’s Chicken Steaks.
Our vet was pretty excited about their dinners and treats.
Our little Shih Tzu was always having stomach issues until I found this food. He’s been on it for at least five years and is quite healthy. No health issues except seasonal allergies and some ear itching that seem to accompany it.
Jan Gordon says
I have been feeding my West Highland White Terrier a raw diet for three years now. I used Dr. Karen Becker’s Book as a guide. I found a Holistic vet locally who helped me set up the feedings, and selected all the vitamins, minerals and supplements to add to help him with his immune system, due to his history of allergies. Jafra, my dogs name, loves the food, and would not eat anything else after he started getting the raw food mix. An untrue fact about raw diet is that you no longer need to brush their teeth….please brush their teeth, because you will be adding in some vegetables to the mix. I was told by the vet to not feed him too much in the way of organ meets. One rule of thumb is when you buy the organic meat, be sure that it has been frozen for three days before feeding it to your pet, this will rid the meat of any parasites. I found that one pound of meat usually is enough for five meals for a pet that is 24 lbs. I buy the canned organic pumpkin, squash, and/or the pureed sweet potato to add to his meals. He gets about 1/3 Cup of vegetables to 1/4 Cup of meat. At first all of this is intimidating and seems like a lot of trouble, but he loves the food so much and has done so much better than on any of the commercial dog foods. I recommend that you either buy her book or find a holistic vet in your area to guide you, and monitor the feedings, supply you with all the nutrient add on’s to balance the meal. After a while the routine is no big deal and easy to throw together. I suggest that you write down the food/supplement mixes for both breakfast and dinner for someone else to refer to if you are away or sick, and cannot feed your pet. That way they will get the proper proportioning for their meals.
there are “behaviors” that can develop on a farm/homestead with an exclusive raw diet so be aware. The idea that vegetable matter is mere filler is false… I know of and heard of countless dogs who will “steal” their favorites from the garden… corn, tomato, cuke whatever. I am also NOT in agreement that all dogs are descendant of wolf,as presented in the evolutionary model. I believe God made animals after their kind and that included a variety of canine animals… in the similiar manner we have a variety today tho many breeds have been cultivated from the original varieties.
have been feeding my two dogs raw for two years, I do add some homemade sauerkraut, carrots , cucumber, oregano, shredded cabbage, and the one loves pieces of fruit such as watermelon, Apple (not the pips) mango. Give liver, kidneys and occasionally tripe (when I can find it here in the big city butchers)
I do still have two questions ……
What raw bones can they get? They happily eat whole chickens with all the bones, as well as beef marrow bones where they basically just lick the marrow out. But I have been hesitant to give them other bones – advice please from people with experience on this. The one is 10 kgs scottie with strong jaw who will attempt to crush any bone it gets, the other is a 34 kg gentle giant.
And… How much fat should they get, and how much is too much fat as in marrow, chicken skin, coconut oil, etc.
Thanks for great comments so far
Susanna Honeychurch says
Thanks for sharing your experimentation.
You probably are aware, but I just thought I would mention in relation to your comment about your puppy ‘filling out’ now. Dogs are supposed to be thin and most people over feed them, and view a healthy weight as underweight. You should easily be able to see your dog’s last 2-4 ribs, whilst she is at rest (not puffing). So if you can’t see any ribs (without looking for them) she is too heavy. If you are concerned about her being underweight, the easiest way to tell is by whether you can see the edge of the pelvis. If you can easily see the points of the pelvis protruding above the hip, she needs a bit more food. I feed my dog according to his appearance, and I find that looking for these two physical features makes it easy for me to keep him in a healthy weight range. Otherwise, dogs are like people, in that they will eat more than they need if they are constantly given more than enough, especially whilst they are young.
Another thing, just in case you are not already aware. I notice you have a very large breed puppy. I don’t have experience raw feeding, but I know that large breed puppies have specific nutritional requirements. The danger in feeding them a generic puppy food/diet is that they will grow too quickly, leading to bone & joint problems later. For example, a small dog will have reached adult size by about 7 months old, but a large dog will still be growing until around 14 months old. I don’t know the exact percentages, but I would recommend to look at the percentages used in premium brand puppy food which has been designed for massive breeds, compare to the percentages in regular puppy feed, and try to emulate the large breed quantities.