I have been feeding
my dogs a completely raw diet since 1992. As my dogs have aged
I have seen the benefits of this diet first hand. All my dogs
are enjoying good health, long lives, and great energy. They
look forward to meal times and do not refuse to eat and are
not picky eaters.
The change to raw
came through my male German Shepherd, Balkan. He never seemed
to do well on kibble and would often refuse a meal. The vets
could not find anything medically wrong with him and this started
my quest and research into canine nutrition.
of the first workshops I attended was with a visiting veterinarian
from Denmark named Finn Smed. His message was simple, dogs are
made and are meant to eat a raw diet, not kibble. Finn has extensive
experience and credentials to support his perspective. He remembers
as a student in vet school in Denmark listening to veterinarians
from the U.S. lecture on problems often seen in dogs. One of
the major problems being bloat and torsion. The class had never
heard of these problems and finally mentioned that to the speaker,
whose comments back were, "you will, as soon as dry dog
food companies come to Denmark." Up to this point, kibble
had never been heard of. Pet owners in Denmark were feeding
raw meat, left over food, and whatever else they had around
the farm. Sadly, the visiting vets remarks and predictions were
true. As kibble was introduced to Denmark, the pet population
started experiencing problems that had previously not been seen.
is a big supporter of feeding tripe to pets as the main source
of protein. He has dedicated his years as a veterinarian to
educating owners to raw feeding, the health benefits, and minimal
to no vaccinations. Finn sees many dogs/cats that other vets
have ‘given up on’. He will only see a new client
if they are willing to switch to raw. In many instances, the
problems that were seen disappeared. After listening to Finn’s
lecture, I decided to put both my dogs on a complete raw diet.
loved his new diet and once on raw, never refused a meal. He
also stopped suffering from digestion problems and lived to
be 12. The other dog I owned at that time was a rough collie,
named Sierra. Sierra was 6 when I switched her over to raw.
There was no health reason to do this but I wanted to do ‘one
thing for all’. What surprised me with Sierra was how
much she changed being on raw. Sierra had dislocated her hip
as a young dog when she ran into a tree. The hip was very ‘tight’
when it was put back in thus I never had any issues with it
again. She was suffering somewhat from arthritis as she had
slowed down a bit and I could tell it bothered her at times.
Once she was switched to a raw diet, however, her energy and
activity level increased dramatically. It was like she was a
young pup again! Sierra lived a good life to the age of 13 ½.
She was never on pain medication.
is now many years later, and every dog I have owned since has
been brought up on a raw diet. Puppies, litters, old dogs, young
dogs, have all done extremely well. I have never had to deal
with any salmonella or other bacteria issues. (this is often
the first thing that those against raw will bring up as a ‘big’
danger). It is ‘believed’ that dogs systems deal
with bacteria as they were intended to, without any problems.
Others argue that they cannot deal with it. I don’t know
the ‘scientific’ answer to this but I do know from
my experience it is a NON issue.
raw during a time when ‘few’ people did this and
NO vet I knew except Finn would recommend it, was not always
easy. Initially, I learned to not say too much to my vets about
what my dogs eat. However, I would often get the comment, your
dogs are so healthy, what do you feed? Their response was always
the same….’shock’ and then a lecture on how
feeding raw meat was not a ‘good’ thing. When I
would remind them of how healthy my dogs were, they would say,
I am ‘lucky’ nothing has happened.
as the years went by, more and more people and more importantly,
veterinarians were starting to speak out on the benefits of
feeding a raw diet and the ‘shortfalls’ of feeding
kibble. I attended
every lecture/clinic I could find to gather more information
and more importantly to find others who were also feeding raw.
At this time, books were also starting to come out on the subject
and thus began my extensive library into the raw diet, balanced
whole foods, balancing a good diet etc. Today, one can find
many others feeding raw, a veterinarian to support their decision
to feed raw, support /advice on line, and many sources to purchase
food for the raw diet. I have even found in the past few years
stud dogs that are on a raw diet when looking for breeding partners
for my dogs. Having said that I also understand how for some
all the above are a struggle. I do feel that those just venturing
out into feeding raw need support, information and often a ‘mentor’
to come along side them as they start down this nutritional
choice for their pets.
feeding raw to our animals is not something that takes years
of studying for, it is something that one should research and
be committed to. One of the ‘best’ moments I have
experienced is when my long time vet said to me, I am not sure
how I feel about you feeding your dogs raw meat, but I sure
cannot argue with their health. She then started to refer some
of her clients to me for advice when she felt their dogs/puppies
were not quite getting everything they needed in their raw diet.
Sadly, this vet has since retired!
is not a ‘miracle’ for every ailment out there affecting
our pets but it is a healthy choice and often does change or
diminish problems one might be seeing with their companions.
I am not going to go into great detail in this article as there
are many books, veterinarians, articles on the web/in stores
etc that can give you much more detailed, solid information
regarding raw feeding. However, as someone who has been doing
this for many years, brought up puppies/litters on raw and continues
to enjoy long happy lives with their dogs, I do want to highlight
some of my experiences!
following are some concerns I have heard/read over the years
regarding feeding raw meat and some of my experiences.
Feeding raw meat to dogs increases the risk of infection
by micro organisms and risk of a higher incidence of parasites.
I have read and heard the reasoning behind this many times,
but my experience with it does not match up. As I said earlier
in all my years feeding raw meat to adult dogs, young puppies,
weaning litters, sick dogs, etc, I have NEVER had to deal with
either of these issues. In fact, quite the opposite when it
comes to parasites. Prior to feeding raw, I dewormed my dogs
regularly. After raw feeding, none of my adults/puppies have
had worms. In my litters, the puppies have significantly less
round worms (if any) when they are dewormed the first time.
Is this luck? I highly doubt it. Has their environment changed.
Yes, as a matter of fact it has but not in the sense that some
might think. 10 years ago I started sheep herding with my dogs.
Thus, now they had assess to MULTIPLE amounts of fresh ‘stools’
that they often gulped up! 8 years ago I started to raise my
own sheep/flock. So now, my dogs had daily assess to fields
that were littered with stools from sheep. Even in all this,
I have not had parasite problems with my dogs.
parasite that is increasingly becoming a problem in our dog
population is giardia. Giardia causes dirarreah. Giardiasis
is most frequently associated with the consumption of contaminated
water, although it can be traced to vegetables (often through
the watering /soil). I am amazed at how many pet owners are
asking to have their dogs vaccinated against it. (there is a
vaccine now for this). What is not understood about giardia
is that in most cases, a healthy dog (or human for that matter)
is not affected by this organism. Their body deals with it!!!
However, many veterinarians will prescribe Flagyl as a treatment
for it. This ‘can’ work, but not always and Flagyl
can be VERY hard on the system. My dogs are CONSTANTLY in streams,
lakes, drinking dirty water, etc. They have never come down
with Giardia. Perhaps this is luck or coincidence OR perhaps
it is because they have a healthy immune system (due to raw
feeding and minimal vaccinations) that enables their bodies
to deal with such parasites.
Concern: Some breeds have genetic predisposition allergies
to beef or inherent allergies to fish or chicken.
really not sure what this has to do with raw feeding. If a dog
has an allergy to specific meat, stop feeding that meat. Just
like you would do with kibble feeding. There are a variety of
meat choices one can make in raw feeding and the ‘best’
choice is to actually use ALL the different meats on a regular
basis by rotating them. A thought to consider here is also vaccines.
It is no surprise to me that many dogs/pets are coming up with
allergies to different proteins. Bovine protein is used in MANY
vaccines. (some use serum from poultry) and through over vaccinations
we have actually caused allergies to the meat protein. At one
lecture I was at where this was brought up the veterinarian
felt that many dogs who show an allergy to a protein in kibble
can still eat the ‘real’ meat protein (without processing)
as the body assimilates the food differently.
The meat that we can buy at the store is NOT the same as
the meat that a wild dog/coyote may eat from a natural kill.
Commercial meat has been processed and exposed to many factors
that make feeding it to our companion pets potentially harmful.
Meat that is processed and sold through retailers has been exposed
to a number of chemical agents. There are 72,00 chemicals now
in use in the USA. Commercial meat, even "Organic meat",
can be (and most likely is) exposed to most of these 72,00 chemicals.
the above makes you want to continue to eat meat huh! The thought
process behind this is that cooking the meat gets rid of this.
Do you really believe that? It might perhaps get rid of some,
but certainly not all. I also think, if HUMAN grade meat is
exposed to all the above, can you IMAGINE what the meat [not
suitable for human consumption] that goes to dog food is like?
One should look and the source we are buying our meat from.
One thing raw feeding has done for myself overall is look carefully
at my meat sources, ‘where’ I buy it from, and what
I can do to make things ‘better’. I don’t
need to worry about the lamb/mutton I feed. I raise it myself
and it is exactly what the coyotes ‘eat’ in my back
field when they raid and take a young lamb. Only difference
is I had my lamb killed by a skilled person. Goes directly from
there to butcher, to my house. No chemicals ‘inside’
the meat and none outside. I have also now started to buy all
my meat and my dog’s meat from a local butcher where the
use of chemicals is reduced. I am also looking to produce my
own beef. Chicken is harder. Thus, again, I try to get the ‘best’
I can from my local butcher (all human grade). Tripe is easy.
There is NO processing done on it by the time I get it. It is
still green, slimy and stinky! No chemicals/bleach etc.
cannot ‘dispute’ some of the above, but I can say
from my experience, that feeding raw meat does not seem to have
affected my dogs negatively, and it does not seem to have shortened
their lifespan. In fact, quite the opposite in both cases. If
you do extensive research into what meats/products go into pet
food/kibble, the above statement seems so irrelevant. However,
if one was really worried about all the chemicals in raw meat
and felt that high levels of heat/cooking ‘rid’
the meat of the chemicals, then perhaps cooking the meat is
a better choice than raw for them. This would still be WAY better
than feeding factory manufactured dog food. As a side note,
adding some apples cider vinegar to the dogs food/water might
be a GREAT choice to help get rid chemicals in meat that can
be cancer causing. That is why it is a HUGE benefit to marinade
meat in apple cider vinegar and/or lemon juice prior to cooking.
(Cooking does not rid the meat of these).
read an article that stated: The Glycemic Index of Foods
(Internet web site at www.glycemic.com) shows that raw carrot
can cause the pancreas to produce much more insulin than the
same amount of cooked carrot. The overload of insulin will then
cause the dogs liver to have problems the same as a diabetic
human would experience. I do think this is important to
read and remember. When feeding vegetables to our dogs, we NEED
to choose a variety of them and NOT overuse the ‘cheap’
ones. However, I do not know of any raw feeders that feed enough
vegetables to cause ANY problems. I likely feed more veggies
than most and have never had the problem. It would seem ‘humans’
are more at risk for something like this with the ‘fads’
of certain diets!
Bones: Chicken, pork, and beef rib bones can splinter in your
dog's mouth, throat, or stomach, causing cuts or piercing the
intestinal wall. In severe cases, internal bleeding can cause
Statements on feeding raw bones to our animals is a HUGE debate
and one that is talked about all the time to ‘discourage’
raw feeding of bones. My experience tells/shows me that dogs'
digestive tracts are designed to eat raw meat and bones. The
heaviest concentration of hydrochloric acid is on the stomach
wall. The stomach churns when food is admitted and the heavy
items such as bones are forced to the outside wall. This process
easily breaks down these bones and allows the body to absorb
the calcium/phosphorus from the bones. I have chosen to feed
most of the bones in my dogs diet ground. Thus, most of the
bone they get is from chicken. Having said that I do feed young
puppies/dogs lamb bones, as they are VERY soft, chewable and
digestible. My older dogs do get beef knucklebones to ‘eat’.
This helps clean teeth, and builds strong muscles. The softer
of these bones are eaten, chewed, swallowed and digested. The
leg bones of larger animals are only given to my dogs for SHORT
periods of time as ‘recreational’. They can be hard
on dog’s teeth and cause breakage so I am careful. I have
never had issues with bones splintering, causing cuts etc. I
have on occasion had some bone get stuck in the mouth (between
teeth) and have to remove them. I do not feed pork/rib bones,
but I know many who do and have no problems.
dogs swallowed bones? Yes. I also know of a two that have died
over the hundreds of thousands of dogs that I know of on a raw
diet. This is why I choose to be careful with bones. When you
consider the number of dogs/cats that eat raw, these statements
are not a huge concern. HOWEVER, if one is really concerned
about bones, then feed them GROUND! Solves the problem!!! From
my perspective a FAR greater problem and one that has caused
ALARMING numbers of deaths in our pets is the recalls on processed
dog food. Recalls seem to becoming a common practice these days
in the pet food industry. In the latest recall through Diamond
Pet food, over a HUNDRED dogs/cats have died in a 2-month span
(and the numbers keep rising) due to poisoning that happened
in the corn that was in the food. I cannot believe that consumers
who buy processed pet food are not outraged and do not demand
better quality control!!!!
please note: when feeding bones to your pet in a raw food diet,
the bones MUST be raw!!! Cooked bones DO have the associated
problems/risks with them that are mentioned. They are brittle
and useless to our pets as nutrition when they are cooked.
Concern: "I am very much against the raw food diets,
many dogs can do well on a raw food diet. However, they have
the potential to be life threatening. Any food that can potentially
kill even one animal is not worth the risk."
If this were truly believed, then kibble would be OFF the market
today. Kibble has killed, caused serious short term and long
term illness, chronic diseases in pets for decades and yet continues
to be fed, marketed and make BIG $$$$.
are a few of the arguments one hears often regarding raw diets.
I encourage everyone who is going to change to feed raw to do
some research. Look into the ingredients that go into dry/canned
dog food. Educate yourself! Attend seminars, talk to people,
listen to other people's experiences! There are a ton of books
out there now written by some very knowledgeable, respected
people who can help one understand the basics of feeding raw
and give you support changing your dogs diet. More & more
people are seeing the benefits of feeding natural and there
are professionals out there that will work with you!
We all take responsibility for feeding ourselves & our family
a healthy, balanced diet......... we do the same for our dogs!