Should You Feed Your Dog a Raw Diet?

I started writing about feeding my mutt Ace a raw diet in 2011.

Today, there is more information available (good and bad) on feeding raw, and dog owners are more likely to know someone who feeds raw.

To feed your dog a “raw diet” means to feed her a diet of raw meat, raw bones, raw organ meat and sometimes raw veggies.

In this article I am featuring four members of That Mutt’s community who feed their dogs raw.

I thought it would be interesting to see what others are feeding, why they feed raw and the benefits they’ve seen in their dogs.

These dog owners are not vets or nutrition experts. This is just a fun way to see what others are doing and to help you decide if you should feed your own dog a raw diet.

This post is sponsored by Darwin’s Natural Pet Products.

Should you feed your dog a raw diet?

Here are four examples of dog owners who are happy feeding their pets raw and the benefits they have noticed.

Rik Rehman and Baxter the pitbull

Bailey, Colorado

Baxter has been eating a raw diet since he was 8 weeks old, and his owner Rik Rehman says his dog has always been extremely healthy.

Besides steaming some veggies, he feeds Baxter a 100% raw diet made from scratch each month.

“Our vet says he’s one of the healthiest dog he’s ever seen,” Rik said.

Some of the benefits Rik has personally noticed with Baxter include:

• No allergies
• A great coat
• Fresh breath
• Clear eyes
• Clean ears
• A strong immune system
• Energy that “won’t quit!”
• Great musculature development

“I’m just feeding him what they have been eating for thousands of years,” he said.

Rik feeds Baxter a variety of meats, organs, vegetables, fruits, oils and all-natural supplements to achieve a complete diet.

He said he buys almost all of this at a local grocery store and it has taken him years to understand the nutritional values of the ingredients and the quantities of each to use.

“I am a huge supporter of variation of ingredients,” he said. “After all, who wants to eat the same thing day after day and night after night?”

Rik also stressed how important it is to make sure your dog’s raw diet is properly balanced.

“I just don’t want people to think that they can just throw a few pieces of chicken, a porkchop or a steak in a food dish and call it good,” he said.

“Complete nutrition needs to be the paramount topic of discussion pertaining to feeding a raw diet.”

He believes it is important to put forth the effort to make certain our pets have the best possible nutrition available because that means “giving them the best possibility for a long, healthy and happy life.”

Joanne and Xena the German shepherd

Oregon

Joanne has been feeding her German shepherd Xena a raw diet for about a year.

Xena eats Darwin’s raw dog food because the pre-made food is balanced and convenient to serve. The brand has also been around a long time without many recalls.

The positive changes Joanne has noticed in Xena include healthier skin and a healthier coat. Plus, she said Xena is a happier dog and relatively healthy with no allergies or gut issues.

“I want to keep it that way,” she said.

“I feel feeding kibble for the life of the dog is like us eating dry cereal every day. It has taken me a lot of years and three previous German shepherd dogs to get away from kibble, though the others were fed kibble and added raw food.”

Joanne said she worries about the recalls related to kibble and dogs getting sick and even dying from dry dog food.

“I want to keep this dog as healthy as long as possible, hopefully avoiding cancer,” she said.

“I believe now, that dogs are meant to eat raw.”

She points out that dogs were eating raw food before kibble was even invented.

“Those dogs were mostly relatively healthy and lived longer than our dogs do now.”

If your dog would like to try Darwin’s raw food, the company has a trial going on where you can get up to 75% off on your first 10 pounds of food. Learn more.

Jessica and Major the German shepherd

Jessica Schwimmer started feeding her 4-year-old dog Major a homemade raw diet two years ago. She made the switch to raw because no dry dog food would agree with Major’s digestive system.

The changes she’s noticed in her dog include a “super, shiny coat,” less poop, no bad breath and amazing teeth.

“I don’t have to shell out $300 for a dental cleaning at the vet,” she said.

Jessica believes a “prey model” raw diet of raw meat, organ meat and bones is the healthiest because you know what’s in your dog’s food.

“With kibble, it’s a guessing game what’s in those little brown pieces. And the ingredients list … half the stuff I can’t even pronounce!”

Major eats 90% DIY raw and 10% premix “grinds.” He’s tried nine different proteins so far including chicken, beef, pork, turkey, camel, goat, lamb, rabbit and venison. He also gets salmon, pollock and sardines.

“He’s never had a reaction or intolerance to the proteins, as he did with kibble,” Jessica said.

When I asked her what she believes others should know about feeding a raw diet, she said the common recommendation of 80/10/10 (80% muscle meat, 10% organ meat and 10% bone) is not black and white. Some dogs, like Major, may require a bit more bone because it helps to keep their poop more solid.

“And hearing them crunch on a bone is a satisfying sound!” she said.

Major has two freezers dedicated to him and his food. One for his prepped meals and one for storage.

“I get a lot of my meat from freezer ‘cleanouts,’” Jessica said. “A lot of people appreciate it going to use, rather than the trash can.”

Timothy Grisack and Diesel

Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada

Timothy adopted his dog Diesel about 5 months ago and immediately started feeding him a raw diet.

There are many different raw dog food brands available, ranging from fresh, frozen raw to freeze dried raw. Diesel eats a pre-made brand from the store made with meat, organ meat, vegetables and bone.

Timothy’s decision to feed Diesel raw came after serious research, talking to two veterinarians and checking their recommended references.

“The compelling evidence I found consistent were lower vet bills and longevity of my dog’s life,” he said.

After switching Diesel to raw, Timothy noticed his dog had more energy during dog park visits.

He gives Diesel a daily supplement to make sure his dog gets daily enzymes, vitamins and fiber.

When I asked him what advice he would give to others, and he said while many experienced dog owners create raw meals from scratch, he does not recommend this without consulting with your vet first.

“The best way to love your dog is to do what is necessary to keep them healthy,” he said. “The food you feed them is priority number 1.”

Thank you to Rik, Joanne, Jessica and Timothy for sharing how you feed your dogs!

Do you have any questions about feeding a raw diet?

Let me know in the comments!

For the basics of raw feeding, see my post: DIY raw dog food for beginners

– Lindsay

 

46 thoughts on “Should You Feed Your Dog a Raw Diet?”

      1. Darlene Schaefer

        I started Brady on raw 2 1/2 yrs.ago when he was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma cancer. I have made all his meals at home, straight from the grocery store. A keto diet with raw meats & veggies, he loves his food. Now he is on a raw, kidney diet. I just started him on Darwin’s Intelligent food, he loves it. I truly believe this is the best way to feed my fur-kid and prolong his life along with regular fun activities, such as agility, frisbee, chasing balls & sticks, hiking & walks.

  1. Hi I have been feeding my doberman raw for about 3 yrs now after a lot of comments from my vet and friends. After losing 2 of my previous pets. I decided to put my doberman on raw. He is in good health. When I take him to the vet he comes out with a great health record. Even though my vet doesn’t agree with what I feed. My dog is now 6 active (still acts like a puppy) healthy beautiful coat and teeth. I love my dogs and I wanted them as healthy as possible, I only wish my other two had that benefit. Wish I had fed them a raw diet. They may still be around.

  2. I’ve always been very intrigued by the raw food diet, I would love to feed Sasha raw, but I’m concerned that I don’t know how to give her the right balance of nutrients.

  3. I would love to try this- one of my dogs began having seizures when he turned 2 yrs old. The vet said it is epilepsy and as long as they are short and not every day, he should be ok. But i do wonder if a more natural diet would help?

    1. Roseanne Coggan

      I would like to start feeding raw to my 3 1/2 lb. Chihuahua so he can get more healthy and put on more muscle and grow some hair where it isn’t growing now if thats possible

  4. Shirley Redfield

    I would like to try a raw diet for my dog Tex a Rhodesian Ridgeback hound. I lost another Ridgeback Kaylee to cancer about a year ago. Maybe a raw diet could have helped in the battle to fight off the cancer.

    1. Roseanne Coggan

      I would love to try a raw diet for my 3 dogs.Two have allergies to some foods and 1 is itchy all the time but doesn’t have any parasites. I think a change to a raw diet will benefit my dogs.

  5. I would like to try feeding raw to our chessie, but lack the time to properly research how to properly put it together myself.

  6. Yes, would like to try this raw food program all put together for my 1 & 1/2 year old Golden. I use a kibble and add various different things with it now; mackerel, sardines, raw egg I get direct from a farm, etc.but know I could do better.

  7. I would love to try this for my 2 dogs. Raw food is so much healthier than everything with all of the chemicals. Less of a chance for recall as it is not made in China. I am all fo keeping my dogs healthy.

  8. I have always wanted to try a raw diet with my rescue girl, Molly. I think it would be so much healthier for her. I must admit I’m a bit apprehensive about figuring out how to do a raw diet myself so this would be perfect for us. I would love to try this.

  9. Great article! I loved the different perspectives. (And I’ve long loved seeing Major’s meals on Facebook, he has the best setup.)

  10. I fed my previous dog raw but I moved and do not have a decent source of meat anymore for my current dog. I’m not fond of feeding grocery store meat because of the antibiotics, and growth hormones that are added to it. I would like to try the Darwin’s for my current dog

  11. My white Frenchie sheds like crazy and has allergies…I was told going on a raw diet would help immensely with these issues…I’m just a lil nervous but definitely want to go this route! Having someone who knows what their doing with this type of diet would definitely ease my mind!

  12. martha ortmann

    I feed raw to both of my boxers. One is almost 10 years old and in great shape even though she has refractory cluster seizures. The 2 year old is my performance dog. He has amazing athleticism and endurance

  13. Huge fan of raw feeding! I switched my girls almost 2 years ago and I’m also a pet sitter and right now I’m keeping 2 raw fed GSD’s! Their dad was nervous to tell me he feeds raw because he just moved to the area and wasn’t sure if it was common here. I’ve always wanted to try Darwins but it’s been out of my budget for 3 dogs.

  14. Sandy Weinstein

    i love feeding raw. i was feeding raw venison that the hunter gave me, however, it had e-coli in it and caused major problems and damage to my dogs. i recently learned that the FDA has a much higher compliance when feeding raw to dogs than humans because humans cook their food. the place where the hunter was getting his venison processed was not cleaning the grinding machine. almost lost my little gal and now she has liver disease and will be on meds the rest of her life. so i would really love to try Darwin’s raw that is made especially for dogs. my youngest has never been a fan of raw, she likes the freeze dried but her older sis loves raw. thank you.

  15. I’m interested in trying a raw diet for my mutt, Bea. I haven’t seriously considered one because my assumption that we couldn’t afford it, but it may be the case (like with humans) that prevention is the most cost effective route in the long run. Thanks for this information!

  16. I started feeding raw around 2001 as a part of holistically treating a cocker who was having rage like episodes. Helped turn his life around and he lived to be 16. Another bonus – None of my cockers have the stereotypical cocker ears since I dont feed any grains.

  17. Raw feeding is the best way to keep your pup(s) healthy and happy. And there is no easier way than to have Darwin’s delivered right to your door – and you can be confident that it is complete nutrition for your pet. My little tri-pawed “Rufus” would love a month’s worth of his favorite food 😉

  18. My boyfriend and I have been thinking of making the switch to a raw diet for our 4 year old GSD. We currently feed our dog Canidae Limited Ingredient and he has been fine and we rotate with a few other limited ingredient foods also. I’ve heard so much about how a raw diet, while being a well-rounded health diet, can really help a dog’s teeth and shedding..I think we’re gonna give it a shot !! We’re curious – do most people do DIY raw or feed a pre-mix diet ?

  19. I feed my dog Sophie premade frozen raw in the am and I confess kibble at dinner but I am always researching info on both. We are currently trying Darwin for her and My cat Moxie whos been on raw frozen from day one.
    Would love to win a free month for Sophie!

    1. Oh and Sophie and Moxie are both rescues. Mox was a foster failure . They decided she was home on her arrival.

  20. Lesley Roberson

    Ridgeway is a 3-4 year old Rhodesian Ridgeback/lab mix. I am giving him Prescription Hill’s Dog Food for Urinary Problems. I looked at the ingredients and the first listed was corn product. If I were to feed him Raw Food would it help with the Urinary Problems? Plus when I take him to the dog park, he gets tired very quickly.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I’m not sure what your dog’s specific urinary problems are, so you would want to talk with a vet about the best diet (perhaps a different vet). I do know that dogs that eat raw are very well hydrated due to the higher amount of water in the food so not sure if that would be better or worse for your dog. Darwin’s does make a specific prescription line for dogs with kidney issues. I know that’s not what your dog’s issue is but you could check out the ingredients and discuss with a vet about whether it’s a good fit for your dog. Here’s the link: https://www.darwinspet.com/product/prescription-meals-for-dogs/?inf=mutt

  21. Entering for the giveaway. My dog will be 2 this year and has been on a raw diet since he was a puppy. Healthy skin/coat, no ear infections, lean weight- just a few benefits, and hopefully long term health too

  22. My Dobie Jaxson is 4.5 years and in excellent condition so far. I think the canine specific probiotics and fatty acids from fish oils are providing huge benefits. Would love to try this on your recommendation! Remy looks incredible! We’ll have what he’s having! Ha ha!

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