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Raw Food Diet for Dogs

What is Raw Dog Food?


By Patrick Mahaney, VMD


Is it possible to make a raw food diet for dogs? In a word, yes. But first you must understand what is raw dog food. Raw food diets emulate the way dogs ate before the existence of commercial dog foods. After all, dry, canned, and other styles of cooked food for dogs were mainly created as a means of convenience. Unfortunately, this convenience may sometimes affect our pet's health. Here are some reasons you may want to consider a raw food diet for your dog.


A Brief History of Raw Dog Food


Prior to domestication and during the thousands of years before the creation of commercially available dry and canned dog food, canids killed live prey or scavenged on carcasses, vegetation, and the fecal material from other animals. None of these nutrient sources were cooked, unless the sun, environmental temperatures, or opportunistic bacteria provided sufficient heat. Dogs often endured extended periods between significant meals, on which they would gorge. To survive, early canines ate whatever they found whenever an opportunity presented.


These ancestors to today’s companion dog were likely not pristine examples of health, as malnutrition, intestinal parasites, and other diseases stem from inconsistent feeding and lack of appropriate veterinary medical care. However, modern society is now faced with an epidemic of overweight and obese dogs suffering numerous preventable and often irreversible ailments stemming from overconsumption of poorly balanced pet food. Fortunately, there is an alternative style of feeding for dogs — raw feeding.


 Benefits of Raw Whole Foods for Dogs


According to some veterinary nutritionists, dogs that eat raw whole foods tend to be healthier than those on other diets. Why? There are inherent beneficial enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and other energetic qualities in meats, fruits, vegetables and grains in their natural, unprocessed forms that are denatured or destroyed upon cooking.


"Nature’s products are so much more beautiful and complex, containing biological activity, harmony, and synergy," wrote Dr. Judith A DeCava in her book Good Foods/Bad Foods.  "Human products cannot come close to Nature’s work and are clearly lacking in many important areas."


For instance, many nutritionists believe dogs that are on a raw food diet are less likely to have adverse allergic reactions to the ingredients.


Transitioning Your Dog to a Raw Food Diet


If you are interested in feeding your dog raw foods, consult with a veterinarian to see if your dog is a suitable candidate. Veterinarians which have trained in eastern, holistic, or other methodologies are often more open to the raw approach. They may also have suggestions as to which balanced diets are available at your favorite pet food retailer. Homemade diets are always an option, but may be difficult to create and maintain over time due to the cost and ease of cooking key ingredients, leading to "recipe drift."


Image: Rudchenko Liliia / via Shutterstock


Comments  7

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  • Raw food cures
    10/13/2013 06:39pm

    Our dog Britt developed gastrointestinal issues as a pup. He would get gas and diarrhea. At that time he was getting a real good, organic kibble. Switched to canned lamb and rice and he got better. Researched this issue and decided that the evidence is clear - best diet is raw food, so that's what he's been getting for almost 15 years now. Typical meal is some (approx. 4 ounces) turkey meat with cooked veggies (carrot, green beans) and a raw turkey neck. We add a good supplement to the ground turkey meat - either NuPro or NuVet - two great supplements. Bottom line - dogs don't hunt for grain based kibble - they hunt for meat.

  • Prey Model Raw Fan!
    11/24/2013 01:57pm

    I started my 4 Boxers and small Peekapoo on a Prey Model Raw diet March of 2013 after struggling with weight issues and other problems my dogs were experiencing. I had tried every high priced, top quality dog food on the market. Now, my dogs are thriving, less poop, beautiful skin and coats, no bad breath, gas or health issues. I spent countless hours researching PMR and finally documented my findings. I am asked daily by my doggie network for a copy of my paper. Over 12 of my friends at my dog park have since transitioned to my formula. Can't rave enough about the results we've all had. Nothing short of miraculous and so simple. Please feel free to reach out to me if you'd like more info on what I've learned. I'm not a dog food vendor or professional nutritionist. Just an average dog owner that went down a path of discovery out of sheer frustration. So glad I did!

  • 03/03/2014 11:43am

    Hi I am currently going to switch my dogs to raw diet and was wondering if I could get your formula you use. I went once but did to much at once and i think if i could follow a recipe for the first time till im more comfortable would help a lot. I have 3 dogs but my pit basset hound mix has tones of allergies and arthritis and would think he could benefit greatly from a raw diet. thanks

  • 08/08/2014 06:37pm

    I am very interested in your dogs diet. I have been hunting around so if you would send me your receipe information, I would be most appreciative.
    Thank you,

  • 05/14/2016 09:16pm

    I know this post is older, but would you please share with me your Prey Model Raw diet and how best to transition slowly. I have a boxer who has a sensitive stomach and is on Royal Canin Ultamino, for dogs who have food allergies. The vet put him on this kibble, because he had a bout of irritable bowel syndrome. I have heard so many good things about the raw diet and I would like to transition my boxer. Thank you!

  • 05/27/2016 08:37pm

    Boxerluver, our boxer, Marley, was just diagnosed with lymphoma. He is only 6 years old and we want to get him on a better diet - high protein and low carb. Any suggestions/recipes would be much appreciated.

  • Exclusively Raw
    05/04/2016 02:56pm

    I wasn't a raw feeder at first, I believed like all others that my dog would become aggressive eventually want to eat me! Well my dog tried fresh pet at target and loved it so much, i cannot get her to eat kibble. Which is an expense on my part but already her weight and overall health have improved and will eventually save me money by not having to go to the vet too often. So I exclusively feed raw, however fresh pet is about $5-6.00/lb and i just couldn't keep up. I now buy from http://www.happeedawg.com/ and they are about $1.85-2.15/lb, way cheaper! They have beef and chicken meals as well as specialty items like beef hearts and chicken necks!

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