Over the next three months, you are going to learn all you need to know about feeding your dog a raw diet.
Most of my raw dog food posts will be divided into two parts. The first will be a raw topic I want to cover such as reasons to switch your dog to a raw diet. The second will be an update on how my mutt Ace is doing on a raw diet.
To start this trial, I created a page dedicated to the pros and cons of feeding your dog raw dog food. Feel free to check it out and leave your ideas in the comments. There is always more we can all learn about what to feed our dogs.
Why did I decide to feed my dog raw food?
I am crazy. And my dog is bloodthirsty.
No, actually I’ve been researching the benefits of raw food for myself and for my dog for about three years now.
I’ve tried eating 100 percent raw food (vegetables, nuts, fruit), but it’s not realistic for me at this point because I don’t get the calories I need. I run and walk dogs all day, and I can’t get by without eating a lot of calories. I eat at least 4,000 calories per day. It’s just not realistic for me to cut out cooked foods like bread and pasta.
Also, North Dakota does not exactly have a wide variety of raw foods, especially in the winter. Fruits and vegetables and nuts are expensive.
So what I do is try to eat as much raw food as possible each day, incorporating raw salads, smoothies, juice and nuts into all my meals when I can.
I still eat dairy products. I still eat grain. I eat a lot of eggs and seafood. I don’t eat chicken, turkey, pork, beef or other meat unless it’s a very rare occasion, like if a friend goes hunting and shares some pheasant or deer meat with us. You know, like, real meat.
I still eat and drink all the food that’s bad for us like pizza, cookies, beer and soda.
What about my dog?
I want what’s best for Ace, that’s all.
A raw diet is the obvious healthy choice when it comes to canine nutrition. Does that mean my dog will not be allowed to eat cooked food, kibble or natural dog treats? Of course not. But the majority of his diet, at least for the next three months, will be raw meat.
Raw dog food is the healthiest way to go for most dogs because raw food is natural. It has no by-products. No preservatives. No grain (unless you choose to add it). It has no chemicals. No dyes. No corn.
I will know exactly what my dog is eating. Plus, raw food contains enzymes that make digesting food and absorbing nutrients much, much easier on the body. These enzymes are destroyed when food is cooked, so remember to get a fair share of raw fruits and veggies yourself!
Ace on a grain-free kibble (pre raw-food trial)
Prior to this raw food trial, Ace was eating primarily a natural dry dog food called Evo. This food is grain free, high in protein (chicken and turkey) and low in carbs. It is one of the healthiest choices for a dog when it comes to kibble. Because Ace has been on a high-quality dry food for several years, I hope he has an easy time adjusting to a raw diet.
Prior to Evo, Ace ate other natural brands such as Solid Gold and Nature’s Variety Instinct. Before that, I had him on Purina One chicken and rice because I didn’t know any better and a vet had actually recommended it to me. Plus, it was affordable.
Ace’s health before the raw food trial
My dog is a 5-year-old fit and healthy black lab/hound? mix. Still, he’s had a few minor health issues while on a grain-free kibble diet worth mentioning.
Ace gets about two ear infections per year. He seems to be getting them less often while on the grain-free kibble vs. regular kibble. I still don’t know if the ear infections are diet related or not.
My dog is always itchy. I don’t know if this is related to his diet or if it’s something in the environment like dust or even just dry air. He is itchy in the summer as well, although not as bad.
In the winter, Ace has some pretty bad dandruff. It’s noticeable because of his black coat. He scratches himself enough to make his skin bleed, mainly on his chest. He usually has a few little sores and scabs from all the itching. He also licks and chews his feet, tail and legs all the time.
An allergy test could help me figure out what could be causing Ace’s allergies (or whether he even has true allergies), but his symptoms haven’t been bad enough for me to justify the test.
Ace has white teeth – look at those chompers! I never brush his teeth and I have not been good about buying him raw bones or other goodies to chew. He does chew on his Nylabones here and there. I’ve always been careful not to feed him “people food” that contains sugar.
He has some plaque build up, though (I assume that’s plaque?). I don’t expect it to go away on a raw diet, but if it does, that would be great!
My dog sheds a lot. I know that is true of most dogs, and Ace is a lab, after all. But still, there is black hair everywhere no matter how often I brush him and how often I vacuum.
Simply put, my dog shits a lot less when he’s on a grain-free food. Like, a lot less. His poop is very solid, easy to pick up and it doesn’t leave nasty streaks in the snow or grass.
Even when he eats an organic kibble with grain, the poop doubles, and it’s loose and gross. If Ace eats a lower-quality kibble, this dog can poop like you wouldn’t believe! Five bags are needed for just one walk around the neighborhood.
The more nutrients in the food, the less waste the dog produces. What a concept. I imagine I will notice even more of a difference once Ace’s body adjusts to a raw diet.
My dog is always thirsty
Ace has always had an obsession with drinking all the water in sight. I believe this is partly due to his diet (and partly due to my dog being a bit nutty). His kibble (Evo) contains 10 percent moisture. The pre-prepared raw food patties from Stella and Chewy’s are 70 percent moisture. I suspect this will make a big difference for Ace and his water obsession.
Last I checked, Ace was a healthy, lean 65 pounds.
Ace started getting gray hair around his muzzle about a year and a half ago. He just turned 5 on March 1. I doubt a raw diet will reverse the color of his hair, but I wanted to make a note of it just in case.
My dog has low to medium energy. Lately he’s seemed even lazier than normal. He only walks about 2 miles per day, and when he’s not walking he lies on his bed and sleeps.
Sometimes he follows me from room to room (especially when food is involved), and of course he gets really excited if someone comes to the door or if we play fetch or go to any of his favorite parks. And even though he has little energy around the house, he is still up for walking/running distances of about 5 miles. Afterwards, he is a complete pile.
My dog eats raw food – day 3 update
Note: This is week one of a 12-week raw food trial for my dog Ace. Stella & Chewy’s is sponsoring this trial by providing Ace with 90 days worth of pre-prepared raw dog food patties.
Today is day three of Ace’s 90-day raw food trial.
Over the last three days, two-thirds of Ace’s meals have been kibble while one-third has been raw. Stella & Chewy’s is sponsoring Ace’s 90-day raw food trial by providing him with pre-prepared raw dog food patties.
Stella & Chewy’s recommends a gradual switch from kibble to raw just like you would switch from one kibble to another. Ace’s vet also recommend a gradual switch. This is not the case with all raw dog food companies and vets. Some recommend a quick switch because the combo of dry food and raw food can be hard on a dog’s digestive system.
Stella and Chewy’s raw dog food patties are extremely convenient. There are twelve 8-ounce patties in each 6-pound bag. Ace will be eating about three patties per day once he’s fully switched over to raw. He absolutely loves the raw patties! I do too, because the ingredients are natural and safe for my dog.
For the first two days on a kibble-raw combo, Ace showed no signs of an upset stomach. None. I honestly had him sleep in the laundry room because I was worried he was going to have explosive diarrhea in the middle of the night. I’ve heard enough horror stories of dogs getting sick from raw food. But Ace has been fine.
Today is the third day and his poop was a little loose on our walk this morning (just like it is when he switches to a different kibble). Hopefully that will be the worst.
I may be imagining it, but I swear my dog’s coat already looks shinier and healthier. He has no noticeable dandruff today, either. Could be a nice coincidence.
So far the trial is going well. 🙂
Natural Pet Center in Fargo is the best place to find a large variety of natural, grain-free or raw dog and cat food.