[2019] Why Vets Support Raw Dog Food Diets

One of the barriers to feeding your dog a healthy raw diet is finding a vet who supports raw dog food diets.

It’s so much easier to feed your dog a natural raw diet when you can talk openly about it with your vet and get their feedback, support and recommendations.

Unfortunately, some vets are not comfortable recommending a raw diet. Instead, they recommend dry dog food. Often, it’s a brand they carry in their actual office like Science Diet or Royal Canin.

This post is focused on vets who DO support raw dog food and what you can do if your dog’s current vet does not support raw.

This post is sponsored by Darwin’s Natural Pet Products, a company that delivers natural, frozen raw food for dogs and cats.

Learn more about Darwin’s special trial offer here. They offer 10 pounds of raw food for up to 75% off!

IN THIS POST:

Vets support raw dog food diets

Dr. Darla Rewers is a holistic veterinarian in Seattle who often recommends a raw diet to her clients at Ancient Arts Holistic Veterinary Services.

There’s no single “right” diet for all pets, but she said feeding raw meat and bones can benefit most dogs and cats.  

“Raw food, when fed appropriately, is less inflammatory than heat-treated food,” she said. “The long term benefits of feeding fresh foods, whether raw or cooked, often mean less allergies, digestive distress, anxiety and fewer trips to the vet.”

Vets who support raw diets

Dr. Jennifer Ramelmeier is a veterinarian with Holistic Vet Services who also supports raw diets. One of the reasons she recommends a raw meat diet for her clients is because it’s easier for dogs and cats to digest.

“Raw meat is what their wild predecessors ate and thus what their digestive system is meant to process,” she said.

Why are some vets against raw feeding? 

If you feed your dog a raw diet, then you’ve probably experienced how difficult it can be to find a vet who supports your decision. Hopefully this is changing as more vets and pet owners are familiar with the benefits of feeding their dogs raw.

In my experience, the following are 5 reasons some vets do not support raw diets:

1. Most vets do not have a background in nutrition.

There is a lot of misinformation out there about raw diets as well as a lack of education towards nutrition, Rewers said. “Most veterinarians have one nutrition class during their years of education.”

She explained how big corporations help to supply pet food to vet students while telling the students that a pet’s nutrition is covered with their line of products.

“The class load is ridiculously challenging already. Few students have the time or energy to further their training in nutrition.” 

See That Mutt’s post: Why do vets recommend Science Diet?

While Rewers was in vet school at the University of Florida, she said she learned about nutrition through the holistic vet club. They would bring in speakers to discuss raw and home-cooked feeding options. 

Ace the black lab mix sitting in field with dog backpack

“Holistically minded vets tend to foster more learning in the nutrition department,” she said.  “Nutrition is the foundation for all the building blocks of cells in the body.”

Rewers has now been practicing medicine from a holistic perspective for 17 years. She attends the American Holistic Veterinary Conference where there are multiple lectures and classes on nutrition. 

2. Some vets fear that dogs will get sick from raw dog food.

“In general, our culture is afraid of bacteria to the point of sanitizing everything to death,” said Rewers. “We need to live in harmony with the good microbes.”

She explained how raw fed dogs have better biodiversity of gut microflora than kibble-fed dogs.

“We are learning that a diverse gut flora is essential for adaptive immune systems,” she said. “Eating real food that is still ‘alive’ in the sense of not completely devoid of all microbes actually is good for the body.”

There’s always a chance a dog could get sick from raw food, but Rewers said this is often because the dog’s gut is not in prime condition due to years of eating overly processed foods.

“Care is needed with any change of diet, but especially from kibble to raw food,” she said. “A transition like this should be overseen by a holistic vet with an interest in nutrition.”

Vets hear stories about the occasional dogs that get sick from raw food because those are the dogs that end up at the vet. The dogs that do not get sick from raw food are not heading to the vet with upset stomachs. 

Dogs can get sick from raw meat, but the chances of this are very low. 

In 15 years of recommending raw diets, Ramelmeier said she has never had one of her patients become ill from raw food.

“I have, however, seen my patients get ill or die from contaminated pelleted diets,” she said, referring to dry dog food.

It’s more likely for the dog’s owner to get sick from handling raw meat because we can’t handle the bacteria as well as dogs can. 

Of course, most of us don’t get sick because we use common sense and wash our hands after touching raw meat or eggs. We also wash countertops, bowls, etc.

3. Some vets worry dogs will choke on a raw bone. 

Vets only see and hear about the dogs that run into problems with raw bones. They generally don’t hear about the thousands of dogs that eat raw bones with no issues.

It’s up to the owner to feed the dog bones that are safe and to supervise the dog to make sure he is chewing the bone. You don’t want your dog to break off and swallow jagged pieces.

Raw poultry bones are generally safe for dogs because they are soft, pliable and easy to digest. Cooked bones are generally not good for dogs because when bones are cooked they become hard and can splinter or break into sharp pieces. See That Mutt’s post: Which bones are safe for dogs?

It’s rare for a dog to choke on a raw bone, just as it’s rare for a dog to choke on a toy, bully stick or rawhide. Yet, it can happen.

See our post: Are rawhides bad for dogs?

What happens a little more frequently are things like fractured teeth from chomping on a raw beef bone or a blockage from swallowing a large chunk of bone. For this reason, I only recommend raw poultry bones for most dogs. These are soft and pliable and easy to digest. 

*Tip: If you’e worried about feeding your dog raw bones, a ground raw diet from Darwin’s is a good way to go. The raw bones are ground in with the meat. Learn more here.

4. Only a small percentage of dog owners feed raw food.

Veterinarians work with a huge variety of pet owners. The majority of these pet owners are not necessarily interested in feeding a raw diet. I couldn’t find a statistic on what percentage of dog owners feed raw, but I’m guessing it’s less than 5%.

Since most dog owners don’t feed a raw diet (yet!), vets don’t feel the need to bring it up as an option. Hopefully this is changing, but right now a lot of vets likely feel it’s not worth it to invest the time into learning about raw feeding. They’re busy enough already as it is!

Likewise, most dog owners do not want to research how to prepare a homemade raw dog food diet. They also don’t want to take the extra time to make the raw meals. So I get where vets are coming from.

I don’t go around trying to convince people to feed their dogs raw either. Most people simply are not interested, and that’s OK.

Vets who support raw dog food

5. Some vets think raw dog food diets are only a “trend.” 

One of my old dog Ace’s vets referred to raw diets as a trend.

However, as more people begin feeding raw dog food, vets will not be able to shrug raw diets off as a “fad” any longer.

As people become more informed, they are going to be even more interested in feeding their dogs and cats raw food. More people are switching to a healthier lifestyle and buying more organic food for themselves, their families and their pets. This “trend” is not going away anytime soon.

Which brings me to …

How to discuss raw feeding with your dog’s vet 

Hopefully many of you have found wonderful veterinarians who support raw and encourage raw dog food diets. Let me know your experience in the comments section (good or bad). 

See my post: Interview with a vet and raw feeder

In general, raw dog food diets are becoming more popular. There are probably 100 different raw dog food companies these days from frozen raw food such as Darwin’s to freeze dried raw options. 

This makes it much easier for dog owners to safely feed a balanced raw diet without much effort, however, it’s still important to have a vet on board.

Here are my two suggestions for discussing a raw diet with your vet.

1. Don’t give the vet an opportunity to say no.

Simply, avoid yes or no questions such as, “Do you recommend raw diets?” Or, “What do you think of raw diets?” 

These types of questions make it too easy for the vet to dismiss raw and recommend Science Diet.

Instead, the discussion needs to start with something like, “I am feeding my dog a homemade raw diet, and I really like how it’s going. Do you have any suggestions?”

Or, “I’m feeding my dog Darwin’s raw food, and it’s going really well. Do you have other clients who feed this brand?”

Talk about raw dog food the right way

Vets are more open to the idea of raw food once they realize you’ve already done your research and are feeding raw already or are seriously thinking about doing so.

Vets care about their clients, and they are generally willing to talk about raw food if they’re approached the right way.

I’ve worked with about 12 different vets over the years between my two dogs and two cats, and I’ve learned to approach the topic by telling them I am feeding my dog a raw diet. I don’t ask them if I should feed raw.

A common response is that the vet will think I need a specific reason to feed my dog raw such as a food allergy. Instead, my current dog Remy has no known allergies at all. I just want to feed him the best diet of real, fresh ingredients.

2. Schedule an appointment to specifically talk about diet.

Diet is usually a three-second conversation during the average wellness exam, right?

“What are you feeding him?”

“Darwin’s.”

“OK.” (Then moves on to the next question.) “Is he on any flea prevention?”

Schedule a 15-min appointment or phone call

You can make a point to bring the attention back to your dog’s diet, but I’ve found it works best to set up a 15-minute phone consultation or an actual appointment to specifically talk about raw food. 

This forces the vet to be prepared to discuss raw and to be more open to the idea. It also shows how important it is to you and that you care about the vet’s feedback.

When I originally started feeding my dog Ace a raw diet 8 years ago, I set up a phone call with his vet to talk about the idea. She is a vet who recommends and sells Science Diet, but she was open to talking about raw food. She even gave me some valuable ideas.

For example, she thought I should start with raw chicken since that is what Ace’s dry food was made from at the time. She also thought I should try the “slow transition” route of mixing the dry food with raw food and gradually weeding out the dry. I did this, and it worked well for us.

She went on to say that some of her clients were already feeding a homemade raw diet and had shown her some of the recipes for feedback.

Had I simply asked her, “Do you think I should be feeding raw?” she probably would’ve said no. But because I took the time to explain my thoughts and she took the time to listen, we were able to find common ground and work together for Ace’s sake.

3. Feed a pre-made balanced raw dog food brand.

I feed my dog Remy balanced raw meals from Darwin’s. I know he’s getting all the minerals and nutrients he needs for a properly balanced raw diet. This is almost as easy as feeding him a dry dog food. I simply open the fridge and unwrap two patties for him at each meal and place them in a bowl. Done!

You can try Darwin’s for your dog and get a great deal through their trial offer. It’s 10 pounds of food for just $14.95. No code required. 

It’s scary for some vets when they hear their clients are making their own raw or home cooked meals because these meals may not be properly balanced. When you’re first discussing a raw diet with your vet, I highly recommend you start out by discussing your favorite pre-made raw brand.

What to do if your vet does not support a raw diet

Ace the black lab mix hiding in tall grass on a trail

Option 1: Don’t tell your vet you feed your dog raw.

Unfortunately, a lot of dog owners feed raw and decide not to tell their vet about it since it’s so much easier not to. Sometimes it’s not worth the trouble.

This is the approach I’ve taken in the past, and it works OK. I totally get it.

However, it’s unfortunate because then the vet is seeing these healthy animals but thinks they’re eating dry food. It doesn’t help our “cause.”

The vets are only hearing about the “bad” experiences of raw diets when other clients tell them their pets are sick from eating raw meat.

Option 2: Tell your vet and “agree to disagree.”

This is a better option in most cases. Simply tell your vet your dog eats a raw diet, and don’t discuss it much more beyond that. As long as you’re not having any issues, the vet will probably just dismiss your dog’s nutrition.

Option 3: Find a new vet.

If your dog’s vet doesn’t support raw food or if they’re actively against raw feeding, perhaps it’s better to move on and find a different vet. I know some people don’t have that option. If you’re in a small town or rural area, there may only be one vet.

The best way to find a vet who supports raw may be to find local dog owners who feed raw and ask them which vet they use. 

If your area has a natural pet food store, the workers there may also be able to recommend a good vet. Obedience clubs and breeders are other good resources.

How to find a holistic veterinarian

Recently I switched both my current pets from a traditional veterinarian to a holistic veterinarian (who also practices traditional medicine).

I had been feeding my dog a raw diet already without much discussion. However, when my cat was diagnosed with kidney disease, I decided I wanted to feed him a prescription raw diet from Darwin’s instead of the prescription canned food from Science Diet.

See my post: Best diet for cats with kidney disease

Rather than being open to this, my vet told me she would not support a raw diet and would not write me the prescription to Darwin’s kidney support food. Actually, she directed me to call a nutritionist from Hill’s Science Diet. I did not call them because of course Science Diet is going to recommend its own food, which is dry and canned – not raw.

Holistic vet near me

To find a holistic vet in your area, you can do a google search for “holistic vet near me” or “holistic vet Bozeman” (or wherever you live). There is also this search tool that might help you.

I was fortunate to find a Holistic vet in my town fairly easily who is a much better fit for us. The drive takes me 20 extra minutes both ways, but for the most part that’s doable. Our other vet was literally only a mile away and would’ve been much more convenient to stay with her office had she only been more open to raw diets.

Our new vet wrote us a prescription for the Darwin’s kidney support formula immediately and is open to feeding both my pets a raw diet. It’s like night and day.

Talking to your vet about raw dog food

What it comes down to is vets should not be ignoring the benefits of raw diets anymore. As dog owners become more and more informed about the importance of real food in their dogs’ diets, more vets are going to be on board as well because that’s what their clients want.

It may seem difficult at times, but we are heading in the right direction.

As Ramelmeier told me, “Raw diets are the gold standard in food for our pets” and we should do our best to get them off dry and canned food if we want them to live longer.

In the comments, let me know your experience talking with your dog’s vet about raw diets. Hopefully it has been a positive experience!

69 thoughts on “[2019] Why Vets Support Raw Dog Food Diets”

  1. Are you familiar with “lie of omission”? Well, that’s the relationship I have with my vet. Her exclusive reason against raw is because “bones are dangerous.”

    She pushes Science Diet — and I disagree that most vets are not influenced, it’s no different than human doctors being influenced by big pharma salesmen — and when I mentioned I gave Hershey a chicken wing she flipped out. A while after I started giving RMBs, Hershey gulped the last joint of the wing whole. I was sitting two feet from her, watching her eat, and her gulp was faster than my hand. We happened to have a vet appointment the next day, I mentioned what happened and that she had exhibited no signs of obstruction and that she also hadn’t passed a “chalky” stool yet. The vet didn’t even know why I expected the stool to be chalky. {roll eyes}

    Ever since then, I’ve just kept my mouth shut. She marvels at how clean Hershey’s teeth are and always asks, “Does she like to chew on things?” I simply answer “Yes.” I don’t tell her it’s RMBs that she’s chewing.

    I also have a story about pushing drugs without even thinking…after my aforementioned camping trip I told the vet that Hershey was so excited she was going for almost 30 hours straight. The FIRST thing out of my vet’s mouth was, “I can give you tranquilizers for her.” WTF?! Trank her because a 1-year-old puppy is excited by a new environment?!

    For annual checkups and vaccs, my current vet is convenient. But for anything more serious, I’ll be looking for a new vet.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Oh, wow. Thank you for sharing these stories! I absolutely hate when anyone even thinks of tranquilizing a dog because of its energy. Vets should know better. I definitely think you should find a new vet!

      1. I never revisited the topic. If you tell her what you feed, she’s fairly ambivalent. If you ask her opinion, out comes the Science Diet spiel. I’m not a huge fan of the patties though so I don’t see myself going that route.

        Since she hasn’t needed anything other than vaccs (knock on wood) and Comfortis scripts I’ve been lazy about looking for a new vet.

  2. I have to disagree too that most vets are not influenced by dog food companies. My last vet pushed Science Diet, sold Science Diet and would not hear about anything but Science Diet. After doing a lot of research, I left him and Science Diet, which also contributes heavily to veterinary college and offers a lot of scholarships to students.

    I also had to seek out a new doctor after an argument that showed he knew far less about nutrition than I did.

    Until medical schools begin to realize that food is as important as their drugs and surgery, we are pretty much on our own.

  3. Lindsay Stordahl

    Perhaps I am a bit in denial about vets pushing Science Diet all the time. I want to believe they are not influenced by the dog food companies, but in reality, they probably are without even realizing it. I know that Science Diet contributes to veterinary colleges. Pretty much every vet I’ve been to has pushed Science Diet.

    And for anyone who didn’t know, Hills Prescription Diets and Science Diet are the same company.

  4. All else aside, the vets’ biggest point is the safety (whether it’s the issue of the bones or the bacteria). Which I find funny, because there are always some dog food/treats recalls because of bacteria or worse.

    That said, I decided to play it safe and feed home-cooked. I’m a yellow-belly and Jasmine had enough problems for me to take any risks at all. She’s doing well on her home-cooked diet.

    A friend of mine switched to raw feeding her dog, and her dog never thrived as it does now.

  5. As you know I’m a big homemade raw fan, and I TOTALLY agree with you on the main point – that many dog owners may not be willing to spend time to research what their dogs should eat, and a haphazard raw diet that is missing in essential nutrients may be worse than a dry dog food.

    But, as I’ve constantly said – once you have a system of a homemade raw diet in place, it’s really quite simple.

    At Biggie’s early puppy visits, our vet was skeptical of the raw diet. By the time we brought him in for his 1 year checkup, he was pronounced healthy and then when I told them he ate a homemade raw diet, they were no longer skeptical.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I’m glad Biggie is continuing to do so well on the raw diet. He’s lucky to have such a great owner who cares about his health.

  6. I could kiss you!

    I’ve been feeding only raw to my animals for over four years now. Charlie, with whom I started raw, is ten years old, and looks half his age.

    Emma came to be in incredibly poor condition. Think about some of the worst abuse/neglect cases you’ve heard of, and she was somewhere on that spectrum. She also has incredibly sensitive allergies to over 90 allergens, including cotton, poultry, fungus, trees, grass, dust, and mold.

    Tigress came to me ten pounds overweight having been free fed dry food all her life.

    Raw literally saved my animals.

    My vet is really awesome. She’s a conventional vet who dabbles in the homeopathic. She knows that I do my research and she goes with what I want to do. She’s pro raw, but does sell kibble.

    I’ve done some research into vets and nutrition and what I found out was really shocking. For the most part, they get only 1-2 classes in nutrition. Here’s the kicker: those 1-2 classes are funded and provided material by the likes of Science Diet and Purina, etc. So of course that’s what they’re gonna push. Those big companies are also the ones giving grants and funding research at all the major vet schools.

    I used to feed whole raw pieces – whole chicken, venison and pork rack of ribs, etc. I even used to feed prey model raw – whole Guinea Pigs, rats, mice, quail. You name it, my animals have eaten it. Lately I’ve been feeding ground whole animals from hare-today.com frozen and stuffed into Kongs for the dogs, and thawed out for the cat. The frozen Kongs keeps the dogs occupied for much longer, which helps as both of my dogs have some separation distress. Charlie’s actually on meds for full blown Separation Anxiety, so the longer I can keep him occupied, the better.

    I feed under the 80% meat, 10% edible bone, 5% liver, 5% other organs breakdown. I don’t make a “mush” for my dogs out of veggies and fruit – I think it’s a bit ridiculous and has never been proven that wolves eat the stomach contents – it’s actually been documented that they shake it out.

    I actually used to work for Stella and Chewy’s and they’re really the only pre-made raw company that I recommend. And that’s after working for them and really knowing what goes into making their food. And they have some of the most excellent people working at their headquarters. And their owner’s a wonderful woman. My only gripe with them is that they don’t have a food sans fruits and vegetables (for that I use their Crunch treat line, though it is more expensive). It’s actually the primary treat that I use to train my own and clients’ dogs (I’m a professional trainer).

    So long story short, I’m so happy you wrote this post!

    1. Hi Ettel,
      I’m a behaviourist and noticed that you said your dog is on meds for Separation Anxiety, if you email me I can chat to you about the incredible results we are getting for this “condition”?? I am a raw foodie too and agree with everything you said, so if you are open minded this info will help you heaps as it did me. I can now reverse sep anx in over 80% of cases in a short time, no drugs. Very exciting. Cheers
      Emma

      1. Hi Emma,

        I came here looking for information about raw diets for dogs, but got intrigued by your post as I have a pup that suffers from mild separation anxiety. Can you share some details?

  7. Lindsay Stordahl

    Thanks for checking out my blog and commenting! I had no idea Charlie is 10 years old. He does look about 5! And Emma is about the cutest dog I’ve ever seen. I love pitbulls.

    I appreciate hearing any kind of feedback from others who are feeding their dogs and cats raw food. I am very glad to hear you approve of Stella and Chewy’s. After all, they ARE a dog food company. What makes them better than, say BARF or Nature’s Variety?

    1. Well BARF is an outdated way of feeding raw. It has a really weird formulation that’s something like 50% bone, and includes an obscene amount of supplements, as well as a veggie/fruit mush. Most people who feed raw do not feed this way anymore. They also advocate the feeding of marrow and femur bones which can and often do serious damage to dogs’ teeth (I started out feeding the BARF model, and Charlie’s actually chipped several teeth on femur bones).

      Nature’s Variety is another premade raw company. I like them less than Stella and Chewy’s for several reasons. One is that they source at least one protein from China (all of S&C’s is sourced from the US). They’ve also had at least one recall in the past year, which is a huge no-no. S&C does bacterial checks on all their batches before they’re sent out to be sold (I think they’re the only company that does this), and they also put their food through some process (I forget what it’s called) that kills any bacteria that may be present. NV does neither of these.

      The downside to any premade food is that you as a consumer, don’t control what’s actually going into the food, and it’s a LOT more expensive than doing it yourself. That said, freeze dried raw is perfect for camping, hiking, etc. where you can’t keep meat frozen for an extended period of time. Also makes for awesome training treats.

  8. We have 2 vets, a holistic and a conventional vet. Our conventional vet was anti raw and his reason was because 1) he doesn’t know enough about it to be a source of information or help if needed and 2) most people do not take the time to learn and can endanger their pet by not giving the needed food/vitamin etc.

    He knows Sophie is fed Primal with some raw bones and since she is healthy, has a wonderful coat, clean teeth, no ear problems etc, he never pushes Science Diet (which his practice stocks). He also is well aware that I did a lot of research before I switched her to Primal.

    Our holisitc vet is great! She is pro raw if it meets the needs of the particular dog. She is a great source of information and I couldn’t be happier we found her.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      That’s cool that you have two different vets and a good relationship with each. Is there a reason why you don’t just switch to the holistic vet?

      1. The holistic vet is about 30-mins away on a day with no traffic. Our other vet is 5mins from my house. The one closer to our house also has convenient weekend hours. I figure it is best to have both of them in case of an emergency.

        I am so happy we found the holistic vet. Our other vet is wonderful but was stumped about what to try with Sophie as a puppy. She had giardia 8 times, weeks/months apart and numerous digestive issues.

        He didn’t want to keep giving meds non stop and was at a loss as to why she couldn’t fight illnesses off. He told me to look for holistic vet because his next approach was to schedule exploratory surgery to see if anything was abnormal and he wanted to leave that as a very last resort. I appreciated that he didn’t just push a stressed out/worried puppy owner for financial purposes. He was looking out for Sophie’s best interest. Another reason we continue to use his practice as needed.

  9. Lindsay Stordahl

    I hear ya. Our holistic vet (who I’ve never gone to) is a good 25 minutes away. Our local vet is very close.

  10. Don’t forget to add some electrolytes to Ace’s water. If he’s having serious digestive issues you might want to also add some. I’ve told vets what we feed and have had them say that some dogs thrive and some dont. CV and I have noticed that DOG has been itchier and more flaky the last 8 months. Our vet recommended Fish Oil and he gets three capsules a day along with a Salmon based wet food and high end kibble (Canine Cavier) After three months he’s finally started back to normal. After reading your blog I’ve been thinking about moving them both over to raw, need to check with CV though. Does Stella and Chewy’s ship to Alaska?

    On another note about nutrition my horse vet (who does have a small animal clinic) in AK does work a lot with nutrition. Since they’ve been practicing for over 20 years in the State they have found that most horses are low in Vit E, A and Selenium. Being low in A and E can cause muscle fatigue and weakness as well as sensitive skin. What is nice about her is she doesn’t push grain but preferes beet and rice bran as well as lots of forage for horses. I don’t take the dogs to her but actually to the lady who owns the horse stalled next to mine! It’s a small world! Good luck Ace!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Thanks for the idea on the electrolytes. I think he will be fine now that he is off the antibiotics, though. I guess we’ll see!

      You can put in your zip code at this link to see if Stella and Chewy’s is carried anywhere near you: http://www.stellaandchewys.com/store-locator/index.php I don’t know if they ship to Alaska. I”m assuming not.

      Interesting about most horses being low in vitamins E and A. Not surprising, either.

  11. Thanks for an interesting blog post! I’m a six month puppy and I’m lucky enough to be fed raw food all the time. On my first visit to the vets the vet asked my humans what they feed me. They reluctantly replied ‘raw food’, expecting the vet to be all against it. My humans were surprised to hear the vet was fine with it, she even queried whether they had taken the time to research and feed me a balanced diet with meat, bones veg and all. So we were really quite lucky to run into a great vet straight away!

    We actually had more problems at the butchers, he didn’t want to sell us chicken carcasses interestingly enough as he though I might choke on the bones :o)

    Looking forward to hearing how you get on when you start the raw diet again.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Glad to hear from someone who is doing well on raw food. You are lucky to have a vet that cares about you and understands so well.

  12. We aren’t full time raw but I do mix some occasionally with Stella’s dry (Orijen) food. I mentioned it to my vet and she sort of just rolled her eyes and kept quiet. The funny thing is she and many others regularly tell me how gorgeous her coat is. One guy said, “You know I had a pit bull but it’s coat never, ever felt like that; that feels like I’m petting a horse!” They never ask but I know it’s the food. I would happily go full time with the raw diet if I were more organized and had more freezer space. There are lots of Hispanic and Asian butchers around my house. I think this business of vets being in denial about nutritious meals is bunk. They should be all over the pet food industry demanding they eliminate corn and grain filler but that would lead to a world full of healthy pets, less demand for vets, and big business pharmaceuticals. ack.

  13. Lindsay Stordahl

    Sigh … vets really should be all over the pet food industry about eliminating grain and corn fillers. Instead, it’s only the “crazy” dog owners who don’t feed their dogs grain-based food.

  14. I think you are right about most vets being uninterested, or perhaps it’s more that they are uninformed, about nutrition. As you said, this is very often the case with “people doctors” as well. I know this to be true since I’ve been seeing a lot of doctors lately after my cancer diagnosis and they are not much help in the diet/nutrition category for preventing recurrence. It’s changing, but ever so slowly.

    While I agree with all your points, I don’t see myself making this switch to raw. I hope that doesn’t make me seem like a “bad” dog owner. At this point in my life, I do want easy and convenient. I do wish there was more control over what pet food companies are allowed to put into their products. This is another area the vet community has dropped the ball on in my view. After the recent recalls, I do think/worry about this more.

    While I am not planning on making the switch, I do plan to talk with my vet about the raw food plan and get her reaction. I’m also going to see if she is willing to recommend a healthy dry commercial product. I haven’t really done this. Your posts are making me think more about what our dogs eat and that’s a good thing! Thanks.

  15. Lindsay Stordahl

    You should look into a natural, grain-free brand like Nature’s Variety Instinct or Evo. There are plenty of other natural brands as well. You just can’t buy these brands at the grocery store, Wal-Mart or Fleet Farm, which can be an inconvenience, depending on where you live.

    I am so lucky to have a natural pet food store a few miles away. I can trust that everything in the store is safe for my animals. Here are all the dog food products she carries. You may want to see if any of these foods are carried in your area: http://www.naturalpetcenter-nd.com/dogfood.html

  16. Thanks for this great series on raw diets! There are a number of commercial raw diets on the market, most are great. I too have done some research on raw food vets and nutrition as well. As someone posted above, I found that vets only get a couple of classes on nutrition. I have also attended a number of seminars given by holistic vets. I know several holistic vets in my area and they have also told me that they only received a couple of nutrition classes that were sponsored by Science Diet.

    I have recently switched my black lab, Molly, to a commercial raw diet. She had the same issues Ace had with the dandruff and constant itching. The vet wanted to put her on antibiotics and prednizone. The raw seems to be doing the trick., she is itching a lot less, and seems to be a lot more comfortable. I wouldn’t recommend anyone using a homemade raw diet unless they have consulted a holistic vet and really done the due diligence on percentages of protein, carbs, veggies, etc. Most commercial raw diets have already done this and are good for your dogs.

    Lindsay,
    I can get you the information for a great holistic vet that does phone consultation and is very well respected if you would like. Just email me if you are interested.

  17. Lindsay Stordahl

    Thanks for the info, Rick! Glad to hear your dog is doing well on a raw diet. I am happy with Stella & Chewy’s so far.

    I would love to get the info of the holistic vet. I’ll send you an email.

  18. Annabelle's mom

    Recently I switched my cats & dog to a homemade raw diet after reading many articles on pet food diets. This is still a fairly new transition for us, but we’ve experienced no troubling problems so far. Since my pets have been eating homemade raw, the cats and the dog poop less. Their feces are more compact, dense, less smelly, and I haven’t noticed any diarrhea as when they used to eat dry, commercial kibble (yuck!) Unlike many doctors who treat both humans and animals, I DO have educational training in nutrition, as I received my B.S. degree in Human Nutrition. This certainly affords me a bit of an edge when dealing with doctors of all varieties. Not that I’m more intelligent than an M.D., but I’ve learned over the years that some M.D.s act as if every patient that arrives for an office visit is a complete moron in regard to health issues. True, many average Americans have little or no knowledge of health, wellness, and disease, and if someone learns only about health & disease from the mainstream media, then there’s little hope for true learning to occur. I’ve found many vets’ attitudes toward pet-parents to be similarly condescending. In my case, when I begin discussing my pet’s medical issues, most doctors seem startled that I even have knowledge of basic anatomy and disease processes. At that point, they sometimes realize I have some grasp of medical terminology and their condescending attitude toward me fades (somewhat.) Or, because I am an educated, informed pet parent, they feel threatened for whatever reason, shut me out, or ridicule me for my beliefs/knowledge. Once they reveal their true colors, I won’t trust them or use them and I move on to find a vet I can trust who treats me and my pets with the respect we deserve. For many years, I believed a myth that vets were superior in compassion and skill because they work with animals. I’ve given vets the benefit of the doubt and I still do, but I am now much more skeptical and not as trusting of vets based on some recent veterinary tragedies my family has suffered (see my blog site.) Back to raw foods, I believe one must do a lot of research to become informed of the requirements of feeding raw. It’s not a move for the faint of heart, and it can be a bit time-consuming and messy to do it right. That being said, I find it no more laborious and detailed than cooking for my family, as I enjoy cooking and eating at home. I purchased a Tasin-108 meat grinder from the One Stop Jerky Shop in WI. It grinds up small bones nicely, which I then mix into whatever meat I’m also grinding. I put the veggie/fruit mixture into my Kitchen-Aid blender and puree that with the other ingredients that need blending. I provide variety in the selections I make. I don’t use garlic and onions, as I read one diet that advocated adding garlic into the diet. I AM bothered by the conflict-of-interest with Hill’s Science Diet having a large, prominent display next to the check-in counter of every veterinary office I’ve visited in the 2 states I lived in (Maryland and Texas, 2 extremes in many areas, for sure.) Also, nearly every vet I’ve ever used has recommended or pushed Science Diet. Years ago, I bought into their hype. But my eyes opened up as my animals each got sick and died from dietary-related diseases (esp. diabetes.) And then the massive pet-food recall of 2007 happened, and many pet-parents had an awakening. This awakening is what strikes fear in the hearts (and pocketbooks) of most veterinary practices. They are engaged in business, that’s the bottom line. And since most commerical pet-food companies are in bed with veterinary practices, there is a lot of networking, perks, and kickbacks, I’m sure. This whole affair is really not much different than American politics, is it not? So, yes, I do have a problem with the affiliations between commercial pet-food companies, the FDA (which does a poor job of regulating most things which fall under their jurisdiction), and unscrupulous veterinarians. I’m not against veterinarians, but I’m still hoping to find one I can trust who is not simply a mouth-piece for big, corporate American interests (i.e., pharmaceuticals, pet-food industry, etc.)

  19. Lindsay Stordahl

    Thank you for your comment. It’s unfortunate we can’t trust vets to give us accurate information. I am also bothered that every vet office I walk into has Hill’s Science Diet displayed.

  20. My dog has been eating raw for about a year. His fur became glossier so I thought it was good for him. But now I’m not sure. He had to be hospitalized last week for pneumonia. Because it was spread evenly throughout his lungs, the vet felt sure it was a bacterial infection that came from his bloodstream. I can’t help but wonder if that bacteria came from his raw diet (Nature’s Variety and Primal). He’s doing much better now on antibiotics, but I think I’m going to stop giving raw. That was too scary.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I don’t think it was from the raw food (then again I’m not a vet). My dog also came down with pneumonia when I switched him to raw, but I believe it was a coincidence. The commercial raw food companies go out of their way to make sure the food is safe. And dogs are able to handle a lot more bacteria in their food than people. Still, you should definitely feed your dog what makes you feel comfortable. I almost scrapped the whole raw food idea as well because I was having too many second thoughts. Now I’m a full believer in raw food, although I do not believe it’s the only way to go or that all dogs should eat raw.

  21. Congrats to you for being brave enough to withstand veterinary pressure (sounds like you don’t have a holistic vet in the area) and sticking with your own experiment.

    I work at a natural animal pet food store. We sell only top quality dry foods, dehydrated raw, raw, canned and cooked diets.

    I have a feeling that vets think entire chicken carcasses with little balance or care being taken when feeding. While some people do feed chicken carcasses with veggie mixes, it is not the only way to do raw. Vets are unfortunately, very misinformed in this field. YES, their educational LECTURE (not even a whole class) is sponsored by Hill’s Science Diet.

    Raw can be done in many ways. Amount to feed is based on weight, and proportions can vary from 60% meat (for older dogs, etc) all the way up to 95% (Stella and Chewy’s raw is 90-95%). Some meats are ground with bone in. Sometimes bone isn’t as easily digested by some dogs, requiring only muscle meat and a calcium supplement (like seaweed or eggshell). There are many ways to do raw.

    Some dogs, like those with a weakened immune system, cannot handle raw, but still thrive on a cooked diet enhanced with digestive enzymes and probiotics. Cooking food kills these vital molecules. They are inexpensively replaced with plant based supplements. Enzymes also enhance any dry food diet, increasing nutrient absorption and decreasing feeding amount.

    It is sad indeed that vets are still so adamant about lettings dogs just get by. At this time, 50% + of pets over 10 years of age get cancer. I feel this is no coincidence. The amount of literature exposing the harmful practices of low quality dry foods is abominable, including using rendered fat from euthanized animals, excessive meals, by product and corn/wheat/soy. It’s a truly frightening age to live in.

    Maybe raw food is garnering a lot of attention, but it is by no means a “trend”. I almost NEVER get customers coming back to say “i’m over the raw food thing, I’m going to go buy some purina.” Once owners see the benefit of raw, home prepared or another high quality food (dry, dehydrated or some hybrid) they are hooked.

    I began making my dog’s raw food shortly before you wrote this article. It was very much trial and error to begin, but I have it down well now. In fact, I just typed up 5 pages of instruction on how it is prepared should something ever happen to me. This sounds excessive, but I truly only spend 45 minutes every 2 weeks to prepare her food and freeze it. I make a veggie mix and buy a grind at my work (contains meat, bone and organ). So, for the time commitment of a feature length film, I rest well knowing my dog is at the pinnacle of health. She looks amazing, acts like a puppy (at 7) and gets a lot of attention from strangers for looking so incredibly healthy.

    Your own dog will always be your barometer. How many dry foods have people tried because their dogs end up turning their noses up? Raw is no different. There are MANY options (Bravo, Primal, Stella & Chewy’s , Halshan, etc.) as well as options for at home. The beauty of holistic care is that you treat each animal as an individual and tailor a diet for them.

    I applaud you. Every time I post anything on Facebook, like a picture of a stew I’m making for my dog, or a photo of her gnawing on a buffalo bone or eating a whole mackerel, I catch flak from a veterinary technician friend. She tells me I am killing my dog.

    Dry food has killed my other dogs. All of my previous pets have had untimely deaths, their poor bodies stricken by rapid growing cancer. You know what feeds cancer? Sugar. You know what causes copious amounts of sugar in the body? Overfeeding of carbohydrates. Know what has an overabundance of starchy carbs? Dry food.

    If your pup should ever get sick again while on raw (like an infection), simply switch to cooking your meat, adding calcium and enzymes for the duration of the illness.

    As a last thought…so many are quick to blame raw food for pet ills, then dismiss it instead of adapting. Like I said, cooking the food for awhile would be beneficial for an ill dog. Just like people food, we can get bad batches, or are in a compromised state from other factors and happen to come down sick. This doesn’t mean it is evil. Yet, pet parents are willing to tolerate itchy skin, massive flea infestations, red, inflamed toes, itchy ears, yeast overgrowth and cancerous lesions. Often they do not consider or realize it is their low quality dry food, or even a food their dog may be allergic to.

    We are quick to vilify that which is not mainstream or widely backed. The things we are unfamiliar with become a scapegoat. Do more research, check your sources, see your pet get better. That will give you truth. Find what makes your pet thrive, not just survive. (message to naysayers).

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Aubrey,
      I have since switched my dog back to a quality dry food due to cost. But your comment has me thinking about raw again. I know it is the healthiest way to go for most dogs (heck, most people, too!). But I don’t feel guilty feeding my dog a grain-free, natural dry food for now. He is eating Evo right now. Do you think adding digestive enzymes or probiotics is necessary when the dog is eating a quality dry food? How about when they are on a commercial raw food like Stella & Chewy’s? Just curious what your thoughts are on that. I know there is no right answer and every dog is different. I like to rotate what my dog eats, but I don’t like dealing with a doggy upset stomach so he pretty much eats the same food all the time with few treats, few bones and few table scraps (I sound like a bad mom!). Do many of your customers rotate which brand of food they feed?

      Thanks so much for the informative comment.

  22. Hi Lindsay,
    I live in San Diego, CA and my vet has never pushed me into buying any of their dog food products in his clinic. I do see a lot of Science Diet, Eukenaba etc., but I guess that is part of the business side of running a vet clinic. I am happy to have found a vet like him. He even gave me a high-five when I told him I feed my dog the same chicken leg quarters that I feed my kids. I do add Honest Kitchen dehydrated raw food and other vegetables that we eat that might have gotten too soft for our liking and a squirt or two of salmon oil. I have been to 3 vets and all of them told me my dog could die from the chickens I have been feeding her and then handed me a sample bag of whatever dog food they’re endorsing.
    My German Shepherd pup has been on a raw diet for more than six months now and she is doing so great. She has no doggy smell, her coat is so shiny, she’s not fat and no itchy skin. I have fed her various “upscale” kibble like Orijen and Acana no grain but she would still scratch and scratch and we would go back to the vet for one skin problem to another.
    I totally agree with you that not all dog owners would have the time, energy to feed their dogs healthier. And sadly, the same goes with us humans. I don’t remember where I read this, but a poll was made with 200 people and was asked would they eat healthier if they just had more money and 86% said yes. Feeding raw is more expensive that commercial kibble. I am not wealthy and we are a family of five (4 humans and dog) with only one income. But I am able to feed my dog human-grade food. I literally almost never go to a pet store to buy raw food and it has saved me a lot of money. I do shop from one grocery store to another. I buy chicken quarters, chicken feet (for snacks), chicken necks and back for under $0.90/lb. I mix with beef hearts, beef liver, beef tripe. These are more than a dollar a pound and I buy sporadically. I recently bought a $60 dehydrator to make sweet potato chews and chicken jerky because god knows how much more expensive those natural chews are and I could buy a sack of sweet potato in my commissary for $3. Chicken breasts are almost always under $1/lb. That is A LOT of chews for under $4. In short, I have learned to go around the high price of feeding a dog healthier food.
    Also, I am not saying that dog owners who feed their dog kibble do not love their dogs. It’s a matter of gaining knowledge and getting information about raw feeding. Some dog owners I meet in the dog park have never even heard of raw feeding and they’ve been owning dogs for years. It is not a trend. The information is just not out there as if there is a stigma. Why? Maybe because a lot of vets don’t approve of it. They don’t recommend it. They scare us about it which do not make sense at all. Would they feed their children Cheetos instead of real cheese? Would they feed Spam instead of real pork. And answer is No. Which is my point exactly.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Thank you so much for your comment. I do think people should worry about their own eating habits before they worry about their dogs. For example, I don’t eat 100 percent natural, organic or raw food myself. I think my dog will be just fine eating mostly natural kibble.

  23. veronica baquero

    Enjoyed reading all the comments and questions! I have a 2yr old white German Shep. Living in FL, he suffers a lot from allergies. Had tummy issues right off the bat, many problems. Could not find a Kibble that didn’t upset his tummy. He would gobble it down, then choke & throw it up. Got to the point that he would not even look at his food. Could not keep weight on him. I started to look into the raw diets about 8 mths ago. The change in him has been wonderful. We still battle allergies, but in FL it comes with the territory. He loves his raw diet, can’t wait to eat! Along with his raw food, he gets a raw chicken quarter 2 x a day. All has been pretty smooth with the Vet. Until recently. He loves his vet & has great buddies there that he plays with. They have a great kennel & lots of fun playtime. I picked him up yesterday after a weeks stay. I supply all his prepared food & chicken while he stays there. The vet tech came out to the lobby, as we were picking him up & launched into a lecture about the danger of the chicken leg quarter. Not to bring this again, how he could die from the bone splintering…. I’m not sure how to deal with them. I was taken aback by the confrontation, & my daughters said I was “pissed off”. We are leaving on another summer family trip & don’t know how I should proceed with the Vet.? Any suggestions?

  24. Hi

    I’m in the UK and when I spoke to my vet about changing to BARF she was very guarded in what she said – just “Well, if that’s what you want to do….)

    She now feeds her own dogs raw food! (I’m not suggesting it was because of me; a local butcher, also one of her clients, feeds his dog raw food, so I think she just got to thinking the issue through.)

  25. I found your blog because I am so irritated with vets and their issue in regard to feeding raw. I have had my cat for 7 years. The entire 7 years she has had irritable bowel syndrome. The past 3 years it became unmanageable. She went from an 11 pound cat to a 6 pound cat. She was throwing up daily, her butt was permanently raw, she would drip blood, puss and feces all over the house and at least twice and hour she was in her litter box straining. I took her to a dozen vets, I fed her PX food, limited ingredient diets, grain-free- I switched proteins, she took steriods and got injections as well an antibiotics. Nothing helped this poor kitty and then the stomach cramps started. She would barely be able to walk across the room crippled in pain and crying. I had no idea what to do and was scared for my little kitty cat. Anyhow, my frustrations and worries mounted. I kept asking if I should switch her to wet food and if Isabel, my cat might have an allergy to kibble in general- the vet would condescendingly say that wasn’t the case, blah blah blah… So, finally I decided to ignore my vet and try feeding raw. I’m not about to make my own food, because I don’t know how to formulate food that will give Isabel all her dietary needs, but I bought the Nature’s Variety Raw rabbit cat food- Immediately the diarrhea stopped, in fact- Isabel didn’t poo for almost 2 days. I took her to the vet and they said she wasn’t suffering a blockage and not too worry. When she finally pooped (I know gross- but I have to share), it was a solid poop! She has never had solid poop in her life. Anyhow, I have been feeding her the raw food exclusively and she hasn’t had IBS at all since. One day she ate a little bit of my other cats dry food and again, immediately she had a little diarrhea and some blood leaked out, but I am more careful to keep her away from other kitties food. I would feed them both the raw, but I can’t afford it- so I try to at least give the other cat a better quality food.

    Anyhow, I have gone to 2 different vets since and they deny that the raw food has helped my cat. Literally they are like that’s impossible, it must be something else. I actually will no longer go to either, because they have lost credibility with me. One of then tried to tell me how bad Nature’s Variety is for animals because of pathogens and what not. I explained the NV is pasteurized- Perhaps they should actually learn about the food rather than giving a biased opinion without conducting any research.

    As much as I hate to do it, I feel no other choice other than to find a holistic vet- and I am not always a fan of holistic medicine- I just don’t understand why it’s so hard for vet to believe that my cat is allergic to kibble of all sorts. It’s not that wild of an idea. They are probably all processed the same way regardless of the ingredients and something in that process creates an irritant for my cat.

    Also, might I add, the NV raw food doesn’t give the runs like canned food and the cat’s poo barely smells. It’s sort of amazing… I really wish I could afford to feed both cats raw only.

  26. In addition, Isabel is much fluffier, her coat is really thick now and she is no longer getting dandruff like she was prior to the raw feeding. She is also incredibly playful and full of energy (when she’s not napping that is).

  27. I have had a great experience with my vet about switching my dog to a raw homemade diet. She asked the details and when I told her, she was very impressed and supportive. She said she was very glad that I added the meaty bones and thought the 1/2 ounce of whole milk yogurt was good, too. She said the only suggestion she might make was to add a Missing Link vitamin. But I haven’t, because I add locally harvest seaweed and I think that takes care of trace minerals, etc. I know the source of everything Joey eats and I know the ranchers and farmers who raise and grow the food. And we now have a rancher offering raw pet food at the farmers market for $3.99 a pound, which is a great price.

  28. I just started my Dane on raw food. He is very against it. My dog was having bad gas, his poop was grainy like a cow pattie. A few days into it gas stopped. Stool firm, he just seems better. But the vet is very very against this. What to do I am not sure.

      1. Lindsay Stordahl

        Are there other vets you could talk to? I can relate because my dog’s vet does not recommend a raw diet, either. Once I talked to her briefly about it, she realized I was going to do it anyway, so now she supports me without necessarily agreeing.

        My dog always has loose poop when he eats kibble. When he eats raw, the problem goes away instantly.

  29. If you like your vet, it can be helpful to print out good information or at least provide a link to a good source. If you’re not wild about your vet, you might call several until you find one who supports a raw diet. My vet asked me details and when I told her how I made Joey’s food, she offered her complete support. She said, “I’m very glad you’re including the meaty bones, that’s very important.” When I said he also got a spoonful of local whole milk yogurt at each meal, she said “Wow, I wish you were feeding me!” There are supportive vets out there; you just have to find one or educate yours.

  30. My vet just called and said since the raw diet is helping his stool and gas, keep going with the raw diet. The only thing I did notice he does not as playful. He still plays but not as much.
    I have a Great Dane.
    Not sure why he seems sleepy so much since raw diet started. But I am hopeful it works forever. My vet said if anything seems unusual as far as instead of doing so good if he takes a turn then call him. I am so happy about raw. My dog has had so many issues with his stool and gas. Now it is better poor dog he is 2.

  31. We are in the UK. We have a GSD rescued from a puppy farm. She had mammary tumours removed before we got her. She had constant runny poos, which she ate. She ate everything outside too, including seaweed which made her more unwell. She was constantly hungry. We had to muzzle her when out. She was losing weight and was regularly monitored at the vets, where she got vitamin B injections. After 6 months or so we gave up on vet visits as (a) they couldn’t tell us what exactly was wrong and (b) she still wasn’t putting on weight despite the vitamin B. We changed her diet first to home-cooked, then grain-free, then raw. Once on raw she rapidly gained weight and is now normal, with a good coat and much brighter eyes. She is no longer coprophagic and shows no interest in seaweed, and is never muzzled now. A good result.

  32. Liz Silvester

    So glad I found blog post; it’s given me the encouragement I need to start both my mutts – and my cat – on raw. My friend who feeds her dogs a raw diet said the vet is against it. My dogs are on dry food at the moment and one of them has just had to have her teeth de-scaled and a recent limp investigated (possible arthritis). As a raw diet is purported to help with both of these issues, it would mean fewer vets’ visits. I would imagine animal-loving vets do only the best for our dogs, but they do have a business to run. Of course, I’m being cynical, but it does make you wonder… Thank you. By the way Lindsay, what are you feeding your dog these days?

  33. Hi All the Raw Food Diet enthusiast!
    It is great to hear the support of Raw. I Live in Alberta, Canada, and have 12 dogs of my own as well as 7 cats. Not to mention 2 horses. All my cats and dogs are on the raw, and I am now a distributor for “Doggy Style” Raw made locally in Edmonton, Alberta. I foster dogs and board dogs and have had about 90% of my boarding babies move over to the raw. Everyone and I mean “everyone” has had success. I have tried every brand available in our province and have found Doggy Style to be the best. I have a 16 year old Flat coat retriever, who has been on it for 11 years. I attribute his good health and longevity to his “raw” diet. I also do use probiotics and use raw with ground veggies and fruit. I can not say enough about the raw and it’s benefits. I have a Great Dane, 3 Australian Shepherds, 1 Flat coat retriever, 1 Bicon Shitzu, 3 poodles, 2 Yorkies and 1 Yorkie cross. They are all rescues except for 2 and have benefited extremely from it. I have 7 cats and they are fine specimens, too! I do add Taurine for my cats, as they require it.
    From my 11 years with feeding raw, I can support it and always will. Good Luck to all of you, and it is so great to see people who care so much about their animals.

  34. Hi

    I have just come across your blog and I want to share my experience. I am an expat living in Taiwan. We have 7 rescue dogs.

    About 4 years ago we changed over from dry dog food to raw food. We get off cuts of duck, pork, chicken and beef , sometimes goat.

    4 years ago we adopted a 9 year old Labrador who literally was on his last legs. He lost his back leg due to a trap. Quan had ear problems, skin problems, kidney problems you name it. Our vet, Sean (the owner of the rescue center) and his vet said that Quan would be living his golden years with us. Not more than 16 months. That was 4 years ago. Quan runs around like a puppy, plays with the other dogs and is always up for a walk. He is now 13 and keeps up with our 2 yo mixed. Bailey (a Golden) had terrible ear problems and a smell about it. We found out that it was caused by a protein in his body. After 6 months on raw food his ears cleared up and he doesn’t smell.

    Our latest , Savannah (a Tibetan Mastiff) has terrible skin problems and after a few weeks with us you can see a huge difference. Her coat is starting to grow back so nicely and it shines. You can see that silky black coat coming through.

    My dogs don’t have that “dog smell”, they poop much less, they never get sick. In 4 years they haven’t had a single tick or flea. They don’t get any Program or any other preventative medicine. My dogs run around in long grass or they go into the rice paddies. Before we started on the raw diet they always managed to pick up a tick or so from the paddies. Not any more.

    The best thing is that I told my vet that I was feeding raw and he was quite keen to know what I was feeding. We give them cooked rice and a rainbow of raw vegetables (orange=carrots, red= tomatoes, green etc) they also get off cuts of different meat. He has seen that my dogs are healthy, that they don’t have skin or ear problems and that Quan is still running around with the other dogs. 🙂

    A few weeks ago when we took Savannah for a check up he told me that he had started feeding his dogs raw and that he was going to try. Big grins from me.

    My furkids are happy and healthy and the best thing is that I know what goes into their food. I know what they are eating and it has worked out so much cheaper doing it myself than buying. I support the local farmers by buying my veggies from them. Over all , better for all.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Wow that’s such a great example. I’m so happy to hear your dogs are doing well on a raw diet. I have never heard of dogs not getting fleas and ticks while on a raw diet. Why do you think that is the case? I give my dog a topical flea prevention once or twice each summer to be on the safe side, but I don’t like putting those chemicals on him. You’ve encouraged me to start feeding a wider variety of vegetables and meats. I tend to keep buying the same old things for myself and my dog and that’s not necessarily the healthiest way to go. I have never given him rice, but I may also try that.

      1. Hi Lindsay
        I am glad that you are going to start feeding them a wider variety of veggies. I forgot to add that they also get food about 3 times a week on top of their food. We have many fruit trees in our yard so they get papaya , bananas and others, And yes I know bananas aren’t supposed to be good for them but Bailey, Taisce, Lady and Quan just love them.

        I believe, and it is my own opinion – I have no facts to back it up – that is has to do with the garlic we add to the food and that they have a rainbow diet. My grandfather always used to give his dogs garlic pills, the ones for human consumption, and he never had problems with ticks or fleas. Growing up my mom would give our dogs the same garlic pills. I will never forget them. They were in these capsules and when you popped them it was oily LOL It might also have to do with the fact that we only eat organic GMO free veggies, and my dogs get what we get. I don’t know. All I know for a fact is that before they were on raw we had ticks and fleas, even with Spot On or Program and now we don’t.

        1. Lindsay Stordahl

          I think that’s interesting about the garlic and it makes sense to me. Some people will probably criticize and say garlic is toxic to dogs, but that’s only in huge quantities and depends on the size of the dog, of course. I’ve given my dog garlic tabs as well in the past. Thanks for giving me more to think about! Ace loves bananas too, by the way.

  35. Was interested to read about the possible link between raw diet and lack of ticks. Our long-haired GSD (raw fed) picks up ticks daily at the moment. I read somewhere that rose geranium is good for deterring them. I came across some handcream that has rose geranium in it, rubbed it on my hands then wiped over the fur on our dog’s head, which is where we see most of the ticks, so the cream isn’t contacting his skin. Result! No ticks on his head for the past 4 days.

  36. That is interesting to know because geraniums are natural insect repellants. We don’t have them in our garden but we are planning to plant a few to get rid of the mosquitoes. I believe that if it works and it is natural then why not. I know the plant grows wild in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique but you can get a hybrid species. Might be worth your while to see if you can get it and plant it in your garden.

  37. My dog was on raw food until recently. We’ve been having issues with hotspots and allergies. We took him off poultry and replaced with llama. Because he lost 15lbs on llama, we were concerned he wasn’t getting enough protein and fats in his diet. He was very lean prior and not over weight beford llama. We reintroduced turkey and the poor dog broke out again. So, we decided to put him on Orijen. Immediate results plus he loves the food. This company offers dry freeze organic food for cats and dogs. We are stopping with raw food after 14 months of allergies and sticking with Orijen. Though we’d like to support the raw food diet, not all dogs can handle it. We did major research and only choice a premium brand with no fillers or other harmful additives. All ogranic and based on the wolf diet. We have a newfoundland dog so giant breeds need lots of protein and healthy fats compared to other sizes. Best choice for our big guy’

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Yes, agreed. Raw diets are certainly not for all dogs. Origen is a great food. I’ve fed it to my dog many times.

  38. Hi

    Happy too see this site, but to my dismay I have had an awful experience with a vet who I drove over an hour to see who claims to be homeopathic/holistic. I thought based on my phone screening, she supported raw type diets. But after seeing her, she is not at all for the raw prey model camp. She seems to be going into the BARF camp; supplementing heavily and lots of fruits and veggies. I am a member of rawpreyfeeding groups, but I do some holistic/herbal suppliments within the diet. I started with Pitcairn’s raw recipes and my dog had a bought of mange and skin issues. So tapered off that and now do the 80% muscle, !0-15% bone, and 5% liver and 5% organs. I feed pancreas, kidney, and a few others in the 5% group.

    I went to the vet because he either has lyme or some type of infection which seemed to stem from a river swim. I am waiting to see blood work results, and hoping it will all be treated successfully. He is having issues with muscle sensitivities on back legs. So what seemed to be mild soreness from over running may soon be due to some other issues. He defininately has some sort of infection, they could not get accurate results because they said his blood was too fatty. Lol, I normally feed 10% lean, and I wasn’t thinking, but I had given him some skin on his meaty turkey bones. I don’t usually give backs, rarely but unfortunately he had one today.

    I am so sorry that raw is getting blamed for health reasons, ecause my dog was doing very poorly on good quality grain free kibble with toppers. He was a mess, and that is why I switched. It has only been a little over a month and I can say, with the fish oil, milk thistle and some other suppliments with limited steamed veggies and say kelp, raw carrots and a few others, he has looked better then ever. His muscles look great, coat is finally getting better and softer, and skin issues have subsided. I just hope the blood work comes back showing only an infection and not something more serious. If so, I understand and truly am also a believer that raw is better.

    I have come across another holistic vet that only does acupuncture and nutrition. Supports raw, but is not real familiar with raw prey thinking. But I have done my research, and have slowly introduced more variety of meats. And I agree, dogs drink less water, because the meats have water. They digest better with food that is not dried up to nothing, but added suppliments. It just doesn’t seem the same after you go raw w/organs for the vitamin and nutritional value.

    Don’t give up on raw.

  39. I have been feeding raw for 5 months now and every bit of it is fabulous. The bones scare me, obviously, but there has never been anything serious enough to go the vet over yet. I know it has to happen at some point but I’m not going to now, that’s for sure. My dog is a little under weight, my raw feeding got off to a rocky start.. Calculation errors.. However he has maintained his slightly under weight body (with high fitness levels) for a few months now and now I am confident I can start packing on those lbs. No problem. I would like to go to the vet to discuss his raw diet, his weight.. etc.. but I am to scared. I know I can’t go back to the vet he’s had his whole life. First of all he hates him, second of all I hate him and third is that its a clinic practically sponsored by science diet (my vet was wary of my dog being on a more natural kibble). I have called a few places in town and I have a few contenders but think I might actually wait until his next check up and vaccine update which is mid next year.(Hopefully I can locate a natural/raw vet and travel there) My dog is young and thriving and that’s and understatement. I am proud of myself and my dog and I am so confident that this is right (he used to refuse to eat his kibble on a weekly basis and he has never even once hesitated to eat any of the biologically appropriate food he is fed) I don’t want to be grilled about every little detail only to be put down by someone who is less educated on my dog and his nutrition than I am. It might be crazy to some but if my dog can survive on dry unregulated trash food from a bag, it can eat my well researched, biologically appropriate food. PS if your scared of doing it just do it, I completely disagree that raw food isn’t right for all dogs. (unless your dog has a deadly disease and they have medicated food.. although things like kidney disease and thyroid conditions.. etc are likely reversible via raw food) To say a balance raw diet isn’t for all dogs is like saying some humans are just meant to eat hamburger helper and ramen noodles their whole life.. Everyone who is committed to educating themselves, sticking to the diet and is able to afford it should feed their dog raw and remember what this article speaks to, which is– your vet probably isn’t educated on canine nutrition and therefore should not be trusted to give advice on the matter. Trust your gut and your pups smile! (:

  40. I am sorry but I think that you are wrong when saying that vets do not think about their wallet before thinking about dog health.
    A sick old dog is the best business for any vet, and who will remember after 10 years that the vet was the one who recommended dry food…?

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