Yep. I feed my dogs a raw diet. Yes, raw meat, with bones. Even for my 4lb teacup chihuahua. I know it’s not for everyone or every dog, but since switching to raw 4 years ago, I will never go back to dry processed kibble unless I absolutely have to.
You mean, you cook for your dogs, right?
No. Raw. Uncooked. Unprocessed.
Because I am in control of what my dogs eat. I know where their meat comes from. I know how it was stored, how it was handled, and how much is in their diet. I can supplement as I see fit. It is healthier, more holistic, I see less allergies in dogs on raw, better coat, better energy, less shedding, less poop! Everything is far more useable, so you get less waste product! And, because my dogs LOVE it. It is so instinctive for them, and they probably feel like mega bad asses when they chomp down on the bones and crush them. Cooking takes vital nutrients away.
I thought bones were dangerous to feed to dogs?
Only if you cook them. Cooking bones dries them out and makes them brittle and sharp (and takes away much of the nutrients – but you already knew that). Raw bones, at an appropriate size, contains calcium and phosphorous. The yummy marrow inside is primarily fat and blood components, super nutritious stuff. There is also cartilage mixed in there, which is a great natural source of glucosamine.
I heard feeding raw makes dogs mean.
The dog food industry has only been around for about 75 years or so. Before that, dogs ate table scraps and raw from our meals. Before that, they hunted alongside us, killing and protecting. Before that, they were on their own, doing the wild dog thing. Fact is, dogs are predators and carnivores and have always eaten fresh killed prey. Feeding our pet dogs a raw diet now doesn’t suddenly change their nature and make them vicious in anyway. They don’t suddenly develop a taste for blood, they have always had it.
My vet said not to feed raw.
The AVMA does have a policy that prevents veterinarians from recommending raw diet to your pet. This is due to concerns of salmonella contamination to the public, especially in therapy dogs. Most therapy dog groups will not allow therapy dogs to be fed a raw diet, because the dogs are typically exposed to seniors, children, and the general public and the fear is they may have salmonella on their face and paws that can spread to people. So your vet actually cannot recommend raw due to this policy.
So, what about that salmonella?
Your dog’s stomach can handle it. Just be safe and smart with handling, it is raw meat, after all. It’s no different from handling raw chicken that you’re going to cook for yourself. And don’t make out with your dog when he still has some chicken skin hanging from his teeth. Feeding dry food alone isn’t surefire safe against salmonella either. Remember the big pet food recall of 2013? There are recalls all the time on commercial pet food and treats.
What about other potential germs and bacteria and parasites in raw meat?
Freeze it! Freeze your meat for 2 days before thawing it out again to feed your dog, and this should kill any remaining bacteria you’re worried about.
But how do you know how much to feed?
Math! The ideal amount of raw food to feed your dog, is 2-3% of your dogs ideal body weight. Feed on the lower end if your dog is already chubby or generally low energy. Feed on the higher end if your dog is looking to gain some healthy weight or has very high energy.
Brazil’s ideal weight is 60 lbs. Being high energy and fast metabolism, I feed her 2 lbs of raw diet per day, which is just above 3% of her weight.
I used a cheap-o kitchen scale in the beginning to weigh out the dogs daily meals. It doesn’t need to be exact and right on the dot, every time. After a while, I can eyeball how much to give each dog. Look at your dog! If you think he’s looking a little too sausage shaped, feed a little less for a few days. If he’s looking a bit on the thinner side, feed a little extra for a few days. In the summer, I feed more in general because we are more active. Reverse in winter when we are less active.
Ok. So what exactly do you feed your dogs?
The fun part! Let me first say, that my method is my method because it works for me. There are many methods and models of raw diet out there. Follow the one that makes sense to you, and works for your budget and your dog.
I feed from this list, daily:
- chicken quarters
- chicken backs
- ground turkey
- ground beef
- turkey necks
- whole rabbit
- turkey legs
If I find it and can afford it, I switch it up with something exotic like goat, venison, or buffalo.
Typical add ins I throw in daily, especially when I find them on sale, or it’s been a while since they’ve had it in their diet:
- canned plain pumpkin
- canned mackerel
- canned sardines
- goats milk
- coconut oil
- plain greek yogurt
- hard boiled whole egg OR raw egg yolk only (not raw egg white)
- turkey gizzard
- chicken feet (lots of natural glucosamine here!)
Add ins I throw in when I happen to have it at home (aka, I don’t go out of my way to buy specifically for the dogs):
- cottage cheese
- juice pulp (for me, this is usually dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, etc.)
This sounds crazy expensive.
It depends on what you’re comparing it to. For me, feeding this method of raw diet is actually cheaper than feeding all the beasts a high quality commercial dry diet. I spend on average roughly $60-$70 per month on dog food for three dogs. I buy chicken when it is 69 cents a pound or cheaper. The supplements last me about 2-3 months per container. And I spend less on poop bags now.
This sounds like it takes a ton of work.
I stock up on chicken quarters or chicken backs, whichever I can find on sale. Then I split it up into daily portions when I get home, in ziplock bags and freeze it all. Any special meats, I buy a bit at a time when it’s on sale and do the same.
After the initial stocking up and prep work, which takes me about 30 minutes, tops, I’m all set. Daily feeding ritual just means grabbing a defrosted bag of meat, dumping it in the bowl, and adding in any other additional food and supplements.
How do you feed them all this meat without making a mess?
In their crates. Where I can wipe down with lysol or whatever you disinfect with, easily. Or, outside, if you don’t have kids rolling around in the same area.
Ok. I want to try it. How do I start?
Slow! Your dog needs to rebuild enzymes in his stomach to help him digest raw, since he hasn’t had to yet. Continue feeding your dogs usual food, and start adding in little bits of ground meat or chunks of meat. After a few days of that, add in chicken necks to add in the sensation of cracking small bones. Then start slowly weaning your dog over to raw. First 25% raw for a couple weeks. Then 50% of his diet for a couple weeks. And so on.
Can I just feed him dry food and add in raw every now and then?
Yeah, why not. But it’s kind of like eating McDonald’s for lunch everyday and having a kale smoothie afterwards. Not the best ideal overall picture. But at least you’re getting something healthy in.
What about your little chihuahua?
Bones should be appropriate for the size of your dog. I can’t give Brazil anything drumstick size or smaller, she will swallow it whole. Rio, being 4 lbs and having bad teeth, gets ground meat and chicken necks.
I tried giving my dog raw. He had diarrhea.
If you have never eaten clean or healthy, and then all of a sudden, I fed you super green raw juice for a few days, I guarantee you would poop your brains out too. Start slow! Wean your dog over to the raw diet. With that being said though, some dogs just can’t handle a raw diet. If you feel this is your dog – stick with a diet that works for you and him!
I can’t give my dog raw bones, he gets aggressive about them.
If your dog resource guards, anything, you need to find a trainer.
Will this turn my dog into a vampire?
…Yes. Just kidding. Maybe.
Moto eating his dinner consisting of two chicken leg quarters, half a can of sardines in olive oil (no salmon oil today because he’s already getting fish & omega-3), spoonful of plain greek yogurt, one raw egg yolk, teaspoon coconut oil, one vitamin E pill, half a teaspoon of SeaSupreme and half a teaspoon of Super C1000 calcium powder.