Feeding my dog raw dog food

Note: I have released a new ebook with 10 raw dog food recipes and a guide to raw feeding.

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?

Black lab mix Ace in the snow near Lake SuperiorI 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.

I hope you’ll check out my page on the pros and cons of feeding your dog raw food. You may also be interested in learning more about the cost to feed raw dog food. Unfortunately, it’s not cheap.

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.

Ear infections

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.

Itchy skin/dandruff

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.

Teeth

Closeup of black lab mix's front teeth with no plaqueCloseup of black lab mix's incisor with some plaqueAce 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!

Shedding

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.

Less poop!

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.

Weight

Last I checked, Ace was a healthy, lean 65 pounds.

Gray hair

Closeup of black lab mix with gray muzzle/faceAce 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.

Energy

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.

22 thoughts on “Feeding my dog raw dog food”

  1. Are you going to do any self-prepared raw (especially RMBs) or stick exclusively with the patties? I understand the sponsorship aspect but ingredients aren’t the only reasons for feeding raw. “Active” chewing and mental stimulation are a huge bonus of RMBs…gave my gal a beef rib this morning and not only did it keep her occupied for 4 hours straight (no lie!) but she’s been curled up dozing for the 5 or so hours since. Plus, it cleans away any yellow stuff on her teeth (I’d call it plaque too, but not sure what the difference is between tartar and plaque…don’t even know what the difference is on human teeth, just know they’re both bad.) 😉

    I don’t feed exclusively raw because 1) I choose not to deal with the measuring and ratio-ing of offal to meat to bone and 2) I need kibble for unsupervised meals in frozen kongs and buster cubes as well as training. I supplement grain-free kibble with RMBs, some offal, some raw boneless meat, and whatever I happen to be cooking with that day…she loves most hard fruits and veggies and she loves vacuuming day because that means she gets to devour an egg shell.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I definitely want to start giving Ace raw bones. As far as preparing homemade raw meals for him, I’m not sure if I will go that route or not. This was an easy way to start transitioning to raw and see how it goes. Thanks for the info. Nice to hear about what other dog owners are doing.

  2. I have had Hank on and off raw food diets. It is expensive and involved a lot more shopping! He is returning to it slowly after developing inflammatory bowel disease and hence was on a very limited ingredient food for a while (or the best I could manage – he is a world class scavenger). He loves the food and looks good on it – and he is 11. Think about adding some pumpkin if you are not already. It is packed with good things and it helps bulk up the stool.

    The ear infections and itchy skin could be allergies. If the amount Ace drinks increases think about getting him tested for diabetes and Cushing’s disease.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Thanks, Judith! He seems to be less obsessive about drinking already. I make sure to keep water available at all times so he knows it’s not going anywhere.

  3. I switched our four year old bulldog to mainly raw about a year ago. We buy various meats from the local supermarket. The meats he invariably eats raw are hearts, steak, mincemeat, chicken necks; the ones we sometimes give to him raw, sometimes cooked are kidneys, chicken meat (obviously de-boned if cooked), chicken giblets, chicken hearts; the meats invariably cooked are lambs fry.

    Our boy probably slightly prefers cooked/warm meats, maybe because that is what he was fed when younger, but he is not too fussed.

    I don’t think I give him enough muscle meat as opposed to offal, so am trying to alter that.

    The percentage kibble he eats is probably only 10% of his diet. We tried stuff like Orijen but he didn’t like that, so he eats a probably inferior local kibble/biscuits which he rather likes.

    We may have fed him a too high protein (lot of meat) diet when he was smaller as he is about 90lbs, way heavier than the 50lb standard. (But we gave him a lot of exercise when he was younger, and though he walks less now he still just loves his walks) – here is a link to some pictures of our boy, by the way – http://bulldogdomain.com/forum/index.php?topic=27599.0

    Although I’ve heard that a raw diet is meant to lead to firm stools, our boy has always had a bit of a problem with runny stools, except if he eats a lot of dog biscuits or chicken necks. I’ve read to try tinned pumpkin for that, but haven’t tried it.

    He is a very healthy dog with no allergies and the most beautiful shiny coat!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Aww, he’s a cute dog. Thanks for sharing your experiences with raw food for your dog. It’s helpful for people just starting to try it.

  4. Good for you for making the switch to raw!!! I wish more people would realize that almost all kibble should be called krapple. Plus, I sure don’t want to eat the same dry pellets for 10 years. Why would my dog?

    I feed my dog mostly raw and some grain free kibble (Orijen) for training and convenience. I have decided to (mostly) not purchase pre-made raw food. After doing a lot of research I came to believe that dogs do not need veggies or vitamins and it is best if their food is not ground up. Luna loves fruits and veggies and still gets them as treats (kale is her favorite) but her raw meals consist of whole meat chunks. I will not support factory farming (I eat mostly vegetarian myself) so her meals are expensive. No matter the cost, I have made a commitment to feeding my pets ethically raised species appropriate food. I am not rich at all but I chose to bring animals into my home and it is my responsibility to give them the best possible life. (No, this does not mean spoiling. It means doing what is right.) However, I have found a store that sells older meat at half off. I have also been given free meat from people cleaning out their freezers. I mostly purchase chicken halves or the cheapest cut of beef that I can find. I have also found that some butchers sell beef heart (sounds gross-dogs love it) for cheap. She has also eaten boar, venison, and pork. A local organic butcher by me does make ground up dog food that is only $2 a lb so I do buy that sometimes.

    I have been told that dogs should not be given weight bearing bones because it can crack their teeth. I must admit that I do give Luna marrow bones and deer legs. She loves them. I just need to be careful because if she eats too much bone she becomes very constipated.

    Also, I have started making my own dogs treats. I just dehydrate meat and liver. It is super simple and way cheaper then buying overpriced crap!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Thanks for sharing your experiences and tips. That is very helpful, especially for someone just starting to feed their dog raw. I plan to try making some homemade raw food for Ace, but I just don’t think I have the time to keep up with it.

      1. There’s no “making” in our house. It’s just open up the package of meat…cut it into 1/2 lb chunk and serve. Luna doesn’t seem to mind eating it frozen either. (Her humans might often forget to defrost her meals.)

        1. Lindsay Stordahl

          Oh, OK. Good point! Sounds easy! I forgot to have Ace’s food defrosted this morning. Oops. He didn’t mind eating it pretty frozen either.

          1. Frozen works really well. It stopped Hank just inhaling it. I just chuck the pieces out on the lawn (or area without too much snow or an icy crust, if there is snow on the ground) and he has has to find them.

            I also freeze the pumpkin. I will mix a large can with a few dollops of tomato paste and sometimes some “meat juice.” I put one generous tablespoon in dixie cups and freeze them. Most days I will throw one of those out on the lawn too. It takes him a while to get the pumpkin mix out and eat it.

            I like that it takes him time and he has to use his brain. The mind needs exercise as well as the body.

  5. I know I’ve talked about having Eli on a raw diet many times. He did so well on it, I’m not sure why I switched back to kibble! His coat was softer, very shiny, he only pooped once a day, the list goes on. There are several reasons I switched, one being that I was making my own raw food for him and it was kinda gross. The low point for me was trying to chop up a beef kidney…Eli loved them but they really smelled like urine and were not easy to grind up! I would make enough food for about 2 weeks, freeze it, but it got rather time consuming and very messy on the days I would make it. I wasn’t sure he was getting all of the nutrients he needed either. Not to mention traveling with the raw food was rather inconvenient. Since those days, he’s pretty much been on Evo, and lately I haven’t been impressed with it. His coat is rather dry, although he doesn’t seem itchy, I feel like he’s missing some nutrients. I don’t think I want to go back to making my own raw food for him, and I’ve tried one brand of prepared raw food but I didn’t really like that. I just bought a small bag of freeze dried dog food to mix with his kibble, I will have to see how that goes. Even if I switch him to raw food, I will probably still feed him kibble, since I have a lot of toys that are mentally stimulating and make him work to get the kibble out.

    Have you thought about switching your cats to any other food? I noticed there isn’t nearly as much info on cat food on the web as there is on dog food. I feel like if I switch Eli to something better I should also upgrade Millie’s food, too. She’s eating a high quality kibble now, but I feel like I should feed them the same quality of food.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I don’t know much about the freeze-dried raw food, but it sounds like a good option – sounds easier to store and serve.

      I’ve thought a lot about switching my cats to raw as well. They eat Felidae kibble right now. I figured I’d try raw with Ace first and then maybe switch the cats. Beamer will obviously eat anything. He used to bring back whole rabbits when we lived in Moorhead and let him outside, but that’s another story … Scout is a picky eater, but I know if he had no other option he would eventually eat whatever we give him 🙂 Scout has some major allergies, so he is the one who could benefit most from raw. Another issue is Beamer’s food obsession. We have him on one of those automatic feeders that drops food at certain times so he’ll sit and stare at that rather than harass us. In the mornings he used to get really annoying, waking us up wanting to get fed. Now he just sits in the laundry room by his feeder about two hours before it drops food. 🙂

  6. Yeah, as much as you exercise and your location certainly make more raw foods in your diet a challenge. I feel so fortunate to have an abundance of produce here but I find that I am too active to cut out cooked carbs like tortillas, rice, and pasta also. I just need more calories also.

    I wanted to put Gus on raw foods but my hubby has issues with it. We do, however, feed him freshly prepared food. Nothing Gus eats come from a can or a bag. He gets human meats and rice. In addition, I do get him bones quite often. His teeth look pretty darn good also. If we feed Gus any kibble we found that his flatulence is especially foul and abundant. He does have a sensitive tummy though.

    I hope Ace does well on his food trial!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I think Gus eats better than a lot of people. And you certainly eat better than me and most people I know.

  7. Looking forward to reading your blog. My 3yr old Lab mix has been on Primal for 2 years now after a year of the food rollercoaster. I always like the opportunity to learn more about raw and others’ experience with raw feeding.

  8. Lindsay Stordahl

    Thanks for your comment! I will be reading your blog as well! How does Sophie like the Primal food?

    1. She loves it and does well on it. She has a fast metabolism and is very active so she is eating a little under 2lbs a day to keep her at 65lbs. The price can be overwhelming but she just can not tolerate kibble. I tried to get her back on kibble once about 6 months after she started Primal. Within two weeks she was an itchy, stinky mess. Her ears were bad. In short it was a complete disaster. I put her back on raw after a few weeks of the kibble.

      We tried preparing raw food on our own and that was also difficult for her. So for now we are staying with Primal and add a few turkey necks/chicken backs throughout the week.

  9. The staple for her is the chicken formula but she also gets duck, turkey/sardines, lamb and very rarely quail. We tried the beef formula a year ago and she would not eat it. I may try it again to see if she will eat it now.

    I was looking at the Primal site and they now have rabbit so we may give that a try too at some point.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *