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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 10 pounds of raw food delivered to your door for just $14.95 and free shipping. 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

See all of our raw feeding articles HERE.

– Lindsay

Lindsay Stordahl is the founder of That Mutt. She writes about dog training and behavior, healthy raw food for pets and running with dogs.

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Amanda Van den Berg

Wednesday 30th of December 2020

Hi I started raw feeding 2 months ago on my 2 Scotties (300g) each per day in evenings. Now they don't want to eat it all of a sudden? I tried it half portions twice a day as well. No go. Please help.

Dawn Newell

Tuesday 15th of December 2020

HI, I have been feeding my dog a raw diet for about 2 months now. My lab inhales food and when I give her the chicken legs etc. and it is gone in about 3 bites vs my Malinois, she takes about 3-4 minutes to eat hers. Should I be concerned about the lab with eating so fast? I am currently cutting up the meat and need to find a way to give her nutrients that she would get from eating bones. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

regs

Tuesday 18th of February 2020

My dog loves raw foods but of course, I need to have a variety of foods to feed him. Thanks for sharing!

Shelley P

Thursday 25th of April 2019

My dogs eat freeze-dried raw food. I'd love to try just raw with them.

Randy Daniher

Thursday 25th of April 2019

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!

Lindsay Stordahl

Thursday 25th of April 2019

Haha! Remy says, thank you!