Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
21 Aug

The Primal Eating Plan for Dogs

250889210 b51d6bb154We imagine many of our readers are strict adherents to the Primal Blueprint. You’re downing almonds by the bushel, guzzling fish oil, and avoiding grains like the plague, but what are you feeding Fido? Our bodies have had over ten thousand years to get used to agrarianism – and the stuff is still killing us! Commercial kibble has only been around for fifty years. Imagine how dogs feel.

Consider the wolf, a dog’s closest relative. Wolves are hunters and scavengers, relying primarily on animal protein. They are not, however, accomplished chefs. Check out a wolf’s den. No pots, no pans, no range stove. Not even a salt shaker. They were on the raw diet before it became hip. You won’t see wolves feasting on Purina; they eat raw meat, and lots of it.

Genetically, dogs are virtually still wolves. They weren’t even domesticated until 15,000 years ago. So, for some 5,000 years the furry guys were tagging along with hunter-gatherers, munching on the leftovers: meaty bones, organ meat, maybe a bit of mammoth rib-eye (if they were lucky). They were scavengers – like their wolf ancestors – and they flourished as our utilitarian companions. Why else did we keep ‘em around for so long? Sure, eating our leftovers may not have been the optimum doggy diet, but it was certainly better than the dry, over-processed sawdust that passes for dog food today. Modern dogs are pampered softies. Store-bought dog “food” works for them because they don’t do much more than sit around and sleep.

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And does commercial dog food really work? Well, it certainly keeps them fat and alive. On the same token, the Western grain-based diet keeps us fat and alive, too, but we all know how we feel about that. Just as Big Pharma’s tendency to prescribe expensive band-aids masks the insidious nature of modern nutrition, so too does the veterinary community give the impression that cancer, bone disorders, and other canine illnesses just happen to man’s best friend. Nutrition, according to them, has little to do with it. But just in case it does, they just so happen to sell an expensive kibble – Science Diet, Nutra-Max, or whatever garbage their corporate sponsors have paid them to promote – that will fulfill all of your dog’s dietary needs. What luck!

Before you listen to the vet, check out the ingredients on the package. For you Primal Blueprinters, the results will shock you. You’ll see stuff like lamb meal, ground rice, wheat, corn, sorghum – and that’s for the premium brands! Why would you feed a carnivore grains? Somehow, we doubt wolves were out there shucking corn and harvesting rice. And just what is lamb meal? From Wikipedia, it is “the dry rendered part from mammal tissues, prepared for feeding purposes by tanking under live steam or dry rendering.” After all that processing, what little remaining nutritional value of the “meat” cannot possibly counterbalance the filler ingredients. The dog gets full, and even happy (hey, we all know that dogs will eat anything with a stupid smile on their faces), but the nutritional deficit adds up. You can stick with the kibble, but prepare yourself for a lifetime of vet bills, doggie dental bills (the most preventable expense ever), and vast amounts of smelly stool.

The truth is following a Primal Blueprint for dogs is the best way to ensure happy, healthy dogs. Best of all, you’re already used to preparing your own Primal-friendly meals, so the transition to a specialized dog diet shouldn’t be a huge leap. It’s easy, too: no cooking, no seasoning, no prepping. Just look at what wolves eat (read: any meat they can get their paws on) and go from there.

The Chow

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A Primal eating plan for dogs should consist mainly of organ meat, raw meaty bones (like chicken carcasses or turkey necks), and muscle meat, naturally and humanely-raised if you can swing it – just like us! Really, any animal product is acceptable. Wolves ate a wide range of animals, but it’s probably unrealistic to feed your dog antelope, elk, and deer on a regular basis. Some pretty affordable options include:

Turkey: necks, backs, wings, drumsticks, gizzards, hearts
Chicken: carcasses, backs, necks, legs, wings, organs, eggs
Whole, oily fish: sardines, herring, anchovies, mackerel
Beef: stew meat, ground chuck, organs, marrow bones

Dogs don’t need filet mignon to lead happy, healthy lives. The first things wolves go for are the organs of a fresh kill. They prefer the cheaper, fattier, more nutrient-dense meats, and sticking to them makes it possible to feed your dogs grass and range-fed animal products.

The Transition

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Going from traditional kibble to raw feed can be a little unnerving for newbies. Try to resist the impulse to do a half-kibble/half-raw dietary transition. This will only confuse the dog’s digestive system and lead to explosive diarrhea. Remember – you’re not switching kibble, you’re replacing poison with real food! Go cold turkey (pun intended). Puppies are blank slates and will take to the diet immediately, but older dogs may need a couple days to get used to the new food. Prepare for detox if your dog’s been on kibble for awhile. Vomiting, diarrhea, bad breath, and itchy skin are all par for the course. Don’t worry… ride it out!

Stick to fairly basic foods at first, like turkey and chicken necks. Dogs love to gnaw and chew bones, so this will come natural to them. If your dog’s a gulper (and most reformed kibble eaters are), hold the bones for them while they eat to promote proper chewing. Once they’ve figured out how to chew, you can start adding different meats.

The Benefits

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To truly see the benefits, you have to try the diet out for yourself. Results tell the tale, but some common benefits include:

Shiny, soft coats: the Primal eating plan for dogs will imbue your pal with a beautiful luster. Heads will turn at the dog park; you better get yours spayed unless you want a promiscuous, irresponsible single mother on your hands. Fish oil supplementation makes this even more noticeable.

Pearly whites: eating clean food and chewing raw bones will clear up any plaque deposits and leave your dog’s teeth gleaming.

Lower vet bills: eating food the dog is evolutionarily designed to eat will take care of the allergies and minor illnesses that account for most vet visits.

Lower costs: buying wholesale and shopping for bones and organ meats are actually considerably less expensive than purchasing “premium” commercial dog food.

A happy, long-living best friend: the oldest dog on record was an Australian cattle dog named Bluey who dined exclusively on kangaroo and emu. Your dog will live a healthier, fuller life on a Primal eating plan.

Firm, odorless poop: on a raw, Primal eating plan, dogs waste little of what they eat. That means stool is small, hard, and without much odor. It also turns into white powder after a day or so, making cleanup effortless. Also, the added strain of passing hard stool will naturally express your dog’s anal glands, rendering another expensive vet trip obsolete.

Common Concerns

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Don’t dogs choke on bones?
Not on raw ones. Cooked bones splinter, and they can get lodged in a dog’s throat. Raw bones are pliable, and the calcium content is absolutely integral to a dog’s health. Plus, chewing bones keeps the teeth clean. No more astronomical dental bills!

What about food-borne bacteria? Isn’t raw meat dangerous?
Wolves seem to do just fine eating days-old carrion. Dogs’ stomachs are equipped to handle bacteria in much the same fashion, so don’t worry about contamination. Still, humans are vulnerable, so wash up!

What if my dog is constipated?
Again, the straining is actually good for your dog. But if it absolutely refuses to come out, a little raw canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) will do the trick. Raw pumpkin also firms loose stools.

How much should I feed?
Let’s use a sixty-pound retriever mix as an example. Assuming it gets plenty of exercise, feeding about a pound and a half to two pounds of assorted meats and bones is plenty. Everything varies from dog to dog, of course. If you can’t feel its ribs, reduce the food. If its ribs are a little too prominent, feed more.

Just meat?
Vegetables can be added to your dog’s diet. In fact it is recommended. Carrots are fun to crunch, and broccoli, spinach, and celery can be ground up and added to a mixture of ground meat. Supplementing with fish oil is also recommended for a shiny, healthy coat.

Have Fun

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Have fun with it. Your dog is an incredibly eager eater, and watching the transformation is a true joy to behold. Go slowly and listen to your instincts as a Primal eater yourself.

Do you have dogs you feed Primal food? If not, are you thinking about making the switch? Hit us up with a comment and share your stories!

Kamia The Wolf, storm gal, This Year’s Love, Crocodillicus, tanakawho, NiteLynx Flickr Photos (CC)

Further Reading:

What is the Primal Blueprint?

The Definitive Guide to Primal Eating (for Humans)

Raw Meat (for Humans)

The Primal Eating Plan for Cats

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Does anyone have any experience with their dogs urine concentration on a raw diet? I have quite a few dogs and most have low sediment/concentration of their urine. Some vets have told me that it is NOT normal for a dog to have low concentration but Im wondering if thats cuz they have very little experience with Raw diet.

    Any info on this topic?
    thanks!

    Trish wrote on April 22nd, 2009
  2. I noted some time back that a book was in the works. That book is now published as “Ol’ Shep’s Well-being: A Natural Perspective” :o)

    The author Euan Fingal has offered up a free ebook (pdf) to try to help us understand how we might improve our well-being and that of our domestic animals in general, but especially that of our canine companions. The book brings together ample unbiased natural sciences evidence, and the experiences of many naturally oriented caregivers, to clear a convincing swath through the propaganda surrounding well-being, and the misguided understandings it fosters.

    To learn more about the book, and to download it, see the journal entry:
    http://www.achinook.com/journal/2009/6/18/ol-sheps-well-being-a-natural-perspective.html

    Incidentally, the previous Ol’ Shep articles have been superseded by the book, which is much more comprehensive, and more thoroughly researched, referenced, and reviewed.

    Relative to the topic of this blog (diet, which is only part of all the book addresses): What it all comes down to is that to deny that a natural species appropriate diet is a necessary component for natural, optimal well-being, is to deny nature—i.e. the evolution of a species, and its optimal, natural diet [in the true scientific sense].

    My best to you and yours,
    Lee C

    Lee Cullens wrote on June 26th, 2009
    • Lee, this is a great link, and I’m so happy to have found it (and thank you for posting!). I read extensively as a ‘hobbyist’ about the topics covered in this document, and it’s great to find such a condensed piece covering all it does.

      Michelle wrote on November 23rd, 2009
  3. Thanks for this, Mark (I know I’m coming in really late!)…I’ve fed a carnivore-appropriate diet to my five dogs and one cat for nearly 9 years now.

    FWIW, chicken is not one of the better protein sources for dogs….low in a lot of essential nutrients. Turkey is a much better choice in the fowl department, and overall red meats (beef, pork, deer, moose, elk, some lamb) are much better choices for dogs.

    All my puppy buyers are required to feed a raw diet, and they all do so with interest, understanding and enthusiasm!

    Laura Norie wrote on June 27th, 2009
  4. Great article. I am feeding our 2 dogs a species appropriate raw food diet. They love it and so do we. It does seem strange at first- seeing them cruch bones, but it does work. TexasOrganicHome is my GREEN blog.

    Betty Saenz GREEN REALTOR wrote on October 1st, 2009
  5. Great article. I began researching raw when the pet food recalls started a few years back. Both my 15lb minpin as well as my 110lb presa canario are thriving on raw. On a typical day at my house they eat raw chicken necks, some organ meat, a little yogurt or cottage cheese, a small amount of veggies (usually carrots, broccolli, kale, or green beans) as well as fish oil and solid gold seameal. They LOVE bananas as a treat. My favorite thing about this diet is that I can feed them something different daily if I choose and they NEVER have bowel issues. One day I can feed beef, the next, turkey, the next fish, and so on. Variety is certainly not something you can get away with when feeding dry dog food without some serious tummy upset. The health aspect is priceless. Their teeth are cleaner than ever, no more tarter or bad breath, shiny coats, solid stools, not to mention I no longer use any flea or tick preventative and I strongly beleive that their immune systems are stronger than ever which is why they stay parasite free. A raw diet is absolutly the most healthy thing you can do for your dog. The benefits are endless. I will NEVER feed my animals anything sold in the pet isle of the supermarket ever again. I wish more people would educate themselves and give thier pets a longer, happier, healthier life with a raw diet.

    Allison wrote on November 21st, 2009
  6. I have a 20lb chihuahua terrier mix who suffers from seizures, her vet did find she has low thyroid function. Ive never put her on meds and am really looking into transitioning her to a raw diet as a way to control/prevent these seizures. Im hoping this will be a better way for to get the vitamins and minerals that she might not be getting from her current diet, any suggestions or info on raw diets for dogs with seizures?

    Monica wrote on January 1st, 2010
    • Is your dog on a raw foo diet now? My 20 lb Boston terrier has been having seizures for a few months. He’s 9. Has been on medication that is not working so I threw it in the trash last night. Starting the transition into real food today.

      Primal Toad wrote on July 12th, 2012
  7. I have a 13 year old cattle dog mix. He developed seizures at age 3 1/2 (when my first child was born). I believe the seizures are emotional but also related to rawhide chews. We had him on phenobarbitol but I took him off it a few year later when read it would damage his liver. I switched him to a raw meat diet over 6 years ago. I purchase an oat mix from Sojourner’s dog food. We buy hamburger in bulk from the warehouse store and freeze it in serving-size lumps. The meat and oats get mixed with water. He immediately had better breath. Now he only gets seizures during thunderstorms and July 4th. His health isn’t perfect. I have considered easing back on the oats and upping the meat percentages.
    My vet didn’t understand why I feed him raw meat. I tried to enlighten her and she was polite, at least. Whenever anyone asks, I always answer: “dogs don’t cook in the wild”.

    There is a dog nutrition guideline called BARF, which stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones and Raw Food. When I read about it many years ago, you had to do all the shopping and preparation. Now it seems there are companies willing to sell you BARF packages.

    Valerie wrote on January 6th, 2010
  8. Just wondering if someone could give me a good example of a starter meal for a puppy and adult cats on the raw diet. My husband and I are considering putting our newly adopted Goldendoodle and 2 cats on the diet, since we follow the Blueprint already, but honestly don’t know where to start. Thanks again for any info!

    Erin wrote on February 25th, 2010
  9. Erin,
    We just started transitioning our new puppy to raw food. I want it to be a relatively slow transition for both of us. She’s 7 mos old. We got her at 5 mos and she was on dry food already, so we kept her on that for the time being. Just this week I started by mixing an egg into her breakfast and giving her some meat trimmings at night. For example, last night I gave her the tips off the chicken wings I was making. She also got some dry food at that time, too. I have also given her a cup of hamburger or an extra raw pork chop.
    And she has a real bone that she chews on all the time.
    I didn’t research transitioning at all, I just started including in her diet a raw version of the proteins we were eating at the time (eggs for breakfast every morning). I plan to do more research on exactly how much meat she needs and how much variety she needs and have her switched over fully in the next month.
    I’ve already noticed a difference in her behavior. She’s very excited all night when she gets some raw meat for dinner, and she behaves better during the day. Less sniffing around looking for food, too (even though she rarely eats all her dry food this is something she’s done from the start).
    Let us know how it goes!

    Kristie wrote on February 25th, 2010
  10. By far the best and most informative resource for feeding dogs raw food:

    http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/rawfeeding/

    You need a yahoo account to view this forum.
    Use the search function!

    DajM wrote on April 8th, 2010
  11. I switched my 10 yr old golden retriever to a raw diet (mainly chicken w/bones, turkey necks, Raw Meaty Bones, and organs) and in 6 days she ended up so sick she was in pain and distress, refused all food, had pale gums, and had to stay at the vet’s for a day to receive subQ fluids, pain meds, and GI meds to try and turn things around. I was beside myself with worry and grief.

    My vet told me she sees lots of problems from feeding raw meat and bones in her practice and those ‘soft’ bones that people say can’t splinter…CAN splinter, CAN perforate the intestines, and bacteria in the raw meats CAN cause issues for dogs.

    While there are lots of stories about dogs doing well on raw diets, MY dog was in distress and pain from switching (cold turkey, no less) to a raw food/raw meaty bone diet.

    I feel it’s important to present all info, including the fact that a raw diet may NOT be the right thing for one’s dog.

    Nat wrote on April 25th, 2010
    • Many dogs are very sensitive to changes in diet and will get diarrhea very easily.

      The ideal way to transition a dog into raw is to introduce one new food at a time. So start with bland chicken legs or wings, then a couple of weeks later add some chicken liver, wait a couple more weeks and feed some ground beef, etc.

      This way you will find definitively what bothers your dog. Mine finds liver to be bothersome, and too much beef is too rich for him, so I adjusted accordingly.

      HillSideGina wrote on January 21st, 2011
  12. You are right. the raw diet is not for all dogs. Mine have been on it for 3 years now and are doing just GREAT!

    You did make SEVERAL mistakes however, so don’t blame the diet completely.
    1-Cold Turkey is Not a good idea. Any change in food should be done in stages.
    2-your dog is probably too old to change -especially cold turkey.
    3-you probably bought her raw meat and bones at the local grocery – not Organic Grass Fed. You bought bacteria.
    4-Too many bones!!! How about some plain old ground beef? Organic Grass Fed of Course! Bones are treats – to be fed once in a while – not every day. Mine are still chewing on the ones I gave them last month!

    I pray that your Golden will live many more years on whatever food you choose to feed. Goldens are a beautiful breed and I’m sure yours is VERY special.

    Virginia wrote on April 25th, 2010
    • Then why does the blog say above,

      “Remember – you’re not switching kibble, you’re replacing poison with real food! Go cold turkey (pun intended).”

      “Stick to fairly basic foods at first, like turkey and chicken necks.” (–> yes, that’s what I fed, in addition to chicken thighs).

      You said, “you probably bought her raw meat and bones at the local grocery”

      –> and you would be incorrect in your assumption. I purchased from a new local butcher shop with fresh, high quality meats, fowl, and fish.

      You said, “your dog is probably too old to change -especially cold turkey.”

      —> How would you advise one to transition to this type of diet? If a 10 yr old golden retriever is ‘too old’ for this diet, then what would you feed such a dog?

      BTW, my golden’s diet consists of non-grain kibble, fresh broccoli, fresh carrots, fresh cauliflower. NO wheat, corn, soy, or other fillers. No grain, no dog treats. Her ‘treats’ are fresh veggies and occasional fresh fruit like strawberries.

      What you write contradicts what’s posted in this and other raw food blogs. No wonder I (and I’m sure many others) are confused.

      Nat wrote on April 25th, 2010
    • Bones are a very important part of raw-feeding a dog. Feed the type of bones depending on the size of the dog and his/her teeth. You want the dog to be able to break the bone into swallow-able pieces. Bones too large or hard for the individual dog to eat are good for “recreational chewing/chawing” – these recreational bones are the ones that will keep your dogs’ teeth clean.

      Throw recreational bones away after a few days – they get harder and harder and your dog may chip a tooth.

      HillSideGina wrote on January 21st, 2011
  13. Sorry if I offended you! That was NOT my intent.

    Where does your new local butcher buy his meat??? From the Cattle Farms or from an Organic Range Fed Farm? There’s a HUGE difference.

    I transitioned my Pom at age 8 gradually. At first just snacks of the new food, then combined old & new and finally in about a week just organic range fed. Worked for my dog.

    Your dogs diet sounds extremely good. Where do you find non-grain kibble? I’ve looked all over for it and cannot find any. What brand do you use?

    Every individual will have contradicting ideas. We are, after all, individuals! Every person is different and every animal is different. What is great for one may not work for another. We all have to find our “thumb print”.

    Please don’t take offense – I don’t when you slam me.

    Virginia wrote on April 25th, 2010
  14. You didn’t offend me as much as confuse me. And I didn’t ‘slam’ you! I asked for clarification on your advice.

    What you wrote makes sense, but it also differs from what is written in Mark’s blog (above) as well as what is proposed by other raw food advocates (who say to not feed ground meats and bone). I’m trying to figure out what will work with my dog to give her the best nutrition but not cause her any stomach/GI distress, which is what happened last week.

    BTW, the dry grain-free food I speak of is “Taste of the Wild.” There are other non-grain foods out there as well. These are premium foods made of human quality meats and protein sources, NO by products, NO soy, NO wheat, NO corn, NO grains. Some holistic vets recommend that food as one part of a diet (note I said ‘one part’, not the entire diet). I’ve been supplementing with fresh chopped broccoli, raw carrots, plain boiled chicken, and vitamins/supplements like Omega 3s, etc. Meat/protein comprises the highest % of my dog’s diet.

    Nat wrote on April 26th, 2010
  15. Your dog’s diet sounds pretty good to me! I wouldn’t change anything except maybe boiling that chicken.

    I will look for your brand of kibble here in AZ.

    Currently I am using Buffalo Blue. It’s supposed to be all natural human grade as well. I hope we can trust the companies that write these labels!!

    Virginia wrote on April 26th, 2010
  16. Virginia – Grain Free kibbles are now found in abundance but you will (usually) have to find an independent retailer to source appropriately high quality diets. Some of the many brands available include EVO, Wellness Core, Orijen, the above mentioned Taste of the Wild, Canidae, Nature’s Variety “Instinct” I think Blue Buffalo may have one now too? There are several others available as well and some are still better products than others and certain dogs will do better on a one grain free kibble than another and it can be a matter of testing for your individual dog. I would recommend going to the websites for the listed brands and doing a store search for your area, you should be able to find something close, I hope.

    Nat – that’s really unfortunate that your poor golden had such a poor response to the raw food. It’s very true that some dogs will do better on it than others and certain formats of raw will work better for some dogs than others. As a long time raw feeder with a degree in animal nutrition I have had to switch my youngest dog to a home cooked diet (far more labour intensive for me and heavily researched to be a perfectly balanced diet including supplementation with individual vitamins and minerals) due to a copper/zinc deficiency that manifested on the raw diet she was eating. That said, I will continue this until she has returned to an ideal state of health and then carefully return her to a more balanced raw food diet. Quite frankly, I spend more time prepping her food for a week than I do for myself, yes, she is spoiled. Personally I have a problem with bone heavy diets being considered a raw food diet as it can very easily lead to similar imbalances in many dogs, this was the actual problem with my dog as I found out the ground chicken I was using was actually ground chicken backs, so much lower in meat content than I had originally understood. Knowing that now I would feed a more meat heavy product along with the ground backs or eliminate the backs and stick with whole backs and necks in the future for the chewing benefits. Its a live and learn item.

    One question for you, you said you were using whole chicken thighs, were you using the drumstick as well? I have found that bones of that size are a high risk item because they can be broken and swallowed in large chunks vs necks which are much small, softer bones pieces to begin with.

    As for confusion, no kidding! I get people every day asking me to clear the air between what they’ve seen on tv, read on the web, been told at other pet stores and by their vets and sometimes it is the craziest, nuttiest, most nonsensical things imaginable. My personal favorite is dental kibble, the carbs cause build-up in the first place! I’m just waiting for cracker companies to come out with things like “dental triscuits”

    Simone wrote on April 26th, 2010
  17. Oh wow – sorry about the novel guys, this is just my favorite subject in the whole wide world

    Simone wrote on April 26th, 2010
  18. Not a problem! Lots of good information. Thanks!!

    Virginia wrote on April 26th, 2010
  19. Yes, I *was* including the drumstick on those chicken thighs, though I was cutting everything with a cleaver.

    There’s another important piece to the puzzle here. My dog was just diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma and had her spleen removed almost 3 weeks ago. I have my 1st oncology consult tomorrow morning. I was switching her to a raw diet because I’m (of course) desperate to do anything to help her. Even though she was on a healthy diet already, considering, I wanted to do more.

    I also have her on lots of supplements…some, like Omega 3s and Glucosamine and Cranberry she’s been on a very long time. Others, like Milk Thistle, CoQ10, Turmeric, Cat’s Claw, etc. I just started this week.

    Our time is thus limited together and of course I’m heartbroken. My goal is to give her the best quality of life for as long as possible. My plan is to use a combo of whatever I can (chemo + healthy food + supplements & herbs) and prayer.

    Nat wrote on April 26th, 2010
  20. I’ve been where you are several times in my 72 years and my prayers are most certainly with you. May she live a long and healthy life!!! My Pom is 11 now and we are doing the supplements too. I am hoping she will stay as healthy as she is now for another 10 years!!! Not asking much, am I??

    Virginia wrote on April 26th, 2010
  21. We had a wonderful cocker spaniel. I KNEW kibble wasn’t quite right, but we fed him kibble and as he reached his elder years he stank horrifically all over; breath, skin, fur, poop, everything. He also developed subcutaneous lumps, fortunately not cancer, but lumps nonetheless, ranging in size from a flat quarter to round golf balls. We paid the vet $400 to remove one that was the size of a baseball. We had him put down at age 13.5 human years; old for a cocker, I know, but his last 18 months of life were not quality in any sense of the word. I am still filled with remorse and guilt, even after 3 years. I will NEVER again feed an animal, dog or cat, that aweful stuff. I believe it is the cruelest thing a human can do. It is tantamount to feeding your child nothing but white bread for its entire life.

    Years and years ago a neighbor got a puppy and when I gave her bones for her, she said she wouldn’t give them to her because her vet had her watch a video about making sure to not give bones (nor table scraps), because they were harmful and to give milkbones instead. Of course the video was produced by milkbones. Why didn’t I insist on properly feeding our sweet gentleman? Pure stupidity.

    Mary Anne wrote on May 12th, 2010
    • We had a Cocker Spaniel Mix for 14 years and he stunk horribly too.
      His eyes looked horrible, the skin was dull, the teeth almost nonexistant…black to the gumline and gums infected so badly you couldn’t tell it was flesh.
      Our Mastiff died of renal failure at the age of 4.5 yrs old. It crushed me…I couldn’t even hold his ashes after he was cremated. I went into a deep depression for 4 years and didn’t want another dog to replace him.

      Then I started my research. Come to find out what killed my beloved dogs and made them suffer so horribly was kibble…DUH, right? How could I be so darn stupid, really…

      I blame it on being in my 20’s and listening to stupid ‘breeders’.
      Now I have rescued 4 dogs, 1 large Pitbull, 1 English Mastiff and 2 tiny Dachshunds and they’re doing wonderfully on their raw diet.
      The Pitbull is going on 5 years and has the whitest teeth I’ve ever seen on an adult dog. They’re also very calm and I’ve never had a dog fight in my house EVER.

      Suvetar wrote on May 18th, 2011
  22. I recently switch my dogs diet to RAW. We had a Great Dane sent to a trainer and thats how I heard about. Greg Needham of http://www.NeedhamsObedience.com suggested it to me b/c thats how they feed thier own dogs. Ive really been able to notice the difference in health since switching.

    Heather wrote on June 3rd, 2010
  23. A full two years after the posting and it’s still useful! Thanks so much for it! I ran across it while searching for puppy weight loss on a raw diet.

    About 3 months ago, we switched our 4 year old Spaniel to a raw food diet. We’ve tried various combinations, but she loves two chicken legs in the morning and at night (just about 1 pound) the best. I went mostly “primal” myself, and it just seemed right to do for her, too.

    Her eyes are brighter and the note about teeth is so true! Last vet visit, her teeth were a messy abomination. Since going raw, they’ve whitened up dramatically.

    My only concern is her weight loss. She’s active and happy, but she’s lost a good 5 pounds since we started. Maybe I’m just too used to the bloat caused by kibble?

    Becky wrote on June 18th, 2010
  24. We just recently (about a month ago) switched our two mixed breed dogs to the raw diet. So far we like it, but its proven to be a bit more expensive than we were expecting. I understand its a much better, healthier diet for them, and I don’t mind spending more money for them to live better, but it just seems like I’m spending more on raw food for them for the month than I am for myself. Our options seem pretty limited in our area, and I am mostly relying on the local grocery (for now).

    Where are the best places to buy in bulk? Should I try direct from a butcher instead?

    What are the most nutritious parts I can feed my dogs (i.e. turkey necks, stew meat, ground chuck??).

    Currently I’m feeding chicken wings, gizzards, and hearts, beef stew meat, occasional ground chuck, occasional chicken liver, along with chopped carrots and green beans, with a piece of banana about once a week for a treat.

    Any suggestions for me? I know we’re just beginners, but we want to do the best for our dogs and we’ve been having a hard time finding information!

    Conner wrote on June 24th, 2010
  25. I’m getting my first puppy today. i follow the raw diet myself, so i know all about how good it is. i was just wondering what would be best for a small husky mutt, and how much to feed it.
    thanks :)

    Moniku wrote on July 15th, 2010
  26. We switched our Boxer over to raw food this spring. We joined the Yahoo Raw Dog food group and followed all of the recomendations to the letter. We started out feeding meaty drumsticks, but she was still hungry, so we added in some boneless thigh to increase the meat content. She was still hungry, so we added in organ meat. She was still hungry and after all this time was begining to lose weight, so we doubled the recomended amount of food. We kept her there for a week thinking it might take some time for the weight to come back on, but she was still hungry all the time and starting to look VERY boney. Finally, we just couldn’t watch her get any thinner or be hungry any longer, so we switched her back to dry dog food. After just a week on dry dog food the weight all came back on, she stopped being hungry all the time and she finally came into heat (she was 9 mos at the time).
    We still give her some raw meat a couple times a week, but we will not be putting her back on a raw diet ever again. I feel very bad for having put her through this. It most definitely did not work for us.

    MamaRobs wrote on July 15th, 2010
  27. Connor- I have also had problems trying to find local sources of raw meat and bones for my animals. Right now I am feeding about half raw, half kibble, only because my only source for now is the grocery store. The cheapest I have been able to find is chicken legs & thighs for $.77 to $.99 cents per pound on sale weeks. That doesn’t seem too bad, but I have 2 big dogs, one small dog and 2 cats. If anyone has any information on wholesale meat sources, please share! Mark mentions saving money by buying wholesale, but I just have not been able to find that type of source where I live.

    Johnnie Ann wrote on July 27th, 2010
  28. Johnnie,

    Wow! I wish I could find meat at $.99 per pound, the best I can find is if I buy in bulk at Sam’s Club, it’s still about $1,69-$1.79 per pound!

    We just recently decided to do a mix of raw and kibble as well. Its gotten too expensive for us to feed them just raw all the time. Unfortunately this city isn’t very good pricewise on meat, unless its pork :/.

    Conner wrote on July 27th, 2010
  29. I have two aging poodles and a young labradoodle. I have been feeding raw for a long time. Recently one of the old poodles had to have his spleen removed due to a very large 12.5 lb tumor. Biopsy results not back yet.
    But the discharging Vet told me to
    NEVER give this dog raw again due to the
    fact his spleen is now removed and he
    has no ability to filter unwanted bacteria and infections. Anyone had an experience with this situation.

    Kjeanne wrote on August 17th, 2010
  30. One of my dogs was born with a liver problem and doesn’t do well on raw food.

    They eat cooked grassfed ground beef, turkey, chicken, and fish, along with pureed steamed veggies and an occasional pureed baked sweet potato. I supplement their food with an herbal vitamin/mineral blend from Animal Essentials, bone meal, and a probiotic.

    The are happy and healthy, no skin issues, no health or behavioral problems.

    One piece of advice: No matter what you feed your dog, don’t over vaccinate or over medicate if you want them to live long, healthy, happy lives.

    Suzan wrote on August 20th, 2010
  31. My boys did some dog sledding last winter at the Boy Scout Northern Tier High Adventure Camp in northern Minnisota. What do the outfitters feed their sled dogs who they depend on for their livlyhood? Raw chicken. Period. They get it from local butchers who take raw chicken meat, bones, skin, and organs and grind it up and freeze it into big blocks. The Scouts take the blocks with them on their treks, and at dog feeding time, hack off chunks, melt them (but don’t cook), and feed it to the dogs who love it! They had several sled dogs who where still enthusiastically pulling sleds in their late teens.

    Jim O wrote on August 26th, 2010
  32. I had no idea, never really thought about it either.

    By the way, the pictures of the dogs are adorable

    Jeff wrote on November 11th, 2010
  33. my friend raises neopolitan mastiffs and raw feeds them, now that he has 3 of them, bags of chicken from walmart are getting expensive. he would like to purchase in bulk of 50 pounds or more, but we cant find anywhere to get this much meat, chicken or pieces and parts. any ideas for southern california, phoenix or las vegas area? any help is greatly appreciated

    roo wrote on November 22nd, 2010
  34. My 11 year old american cocker was on a partly healthy but cooked food diet. Cooked organic grains, meats, veggies, bones, and some Wendy’s here and there. She developed arthrithis to the point where she had to drag herself to the food bowl. She did not want to walk either (she was about 15 pounds overweight). I have put her on a raw food diet, and she does really well. Her eyes cleared up, (she had all that gank in her eyes), ears are better, she lost some weight,and now the beauty of it: her arthritis is gone! She not only walks normal again but can even run a little and she is very happy (you can definitely tell). Also, I had given her Raw Organic Apple Cider Vinegar when she had a bladder infection. For the record, it healed it all up without a vet involved. I gave her one Tablespoon in her dry food every day for month and then reduced it to 1/2 Tablespoon. She also detoxed and had that black rope coming out of her bud. So, ACV has taken care of that also. However, since I have been feeding her raw in the evening and some organic dry food in the morning her stool clings to her bud and sticks to her fur in a smeary mess. I don’t know why. I don’t want to give up raw food feeding. Any suggestions?? Hope someone has a solution. Thanks in advance.

    Regina wrote on December 4th, 2010
  35. Add some raw pumpkin to her wet food. It helps to dry up runny poop and softens hard poop! Can’t beat it! ONLY RAW PUMPKIN – NO pumpkin pie filling! Big difference there!

    Virginia wrote on December 4th, 2010
  36. I have a Caviler King Charles Spaniel that devours chicken wings and organ meat like nobodies business.

    Tyler wrote on December 16th, 2010
  37. I have just started a raw diet (meat ONLY) with my two dogs, and so far so great (2 weeks in). They honestly seem so excited and happy to eat! I am a little confused though… I have read more info that references dogs as carnivores, yet many people are feeding fruits and veggies and even grains! I don’t see why the dogs “need” these at all? The fruits and veggies maybe won’t hurt, but I’d think they would be better as treats or occasional roughage. I think feeding grains is counterproductive though. Also, if your dog is eating enough meat to bone and organs, shouldn’t supplements and oils be unnecessary? Too much supplementation and oils can cause digestive issues and/or stress on organs. I have stuck to chicken thighs and carcasses for these first introductory weeks, but will add whole fish and other meats slowly, one at a time. The dogs should get enough omegas with the fish shouldn’t they?

    Also, I’ve read many sites that suggest chicken necks and wings aren’t the best choices for dogs because there isn’t enough meat to bone ratio (80-20-ISH), and that they are more of a choking hazard. I haven’t experienced this myself, and I have a friend who feeds her dog ONLY chicken necks and organs with no problems. I wanted to bring it up for discussion though as the chicken necks are so inexpensive (here).

    I have found so far the raw feeding is easier… I don’t even need food dishes. I have taught my dogs to stay on their own towels, and they will lay there and chew, bones and all. I had to feed my bigger dog the chicken carcass (half at a time) so that he would “chew” more and not just chomp and gulp/swallow. He literally had to learn to chew. He never used to finish his kibble (just gulp some down), even though we mixed it with canned “meaty” food (which still contains wheat fillers!). He eats every last bit of his raw meat now, and is so energetic and playful. Our other dog (puppy) is almost 4 months, and he can devour a chicken leg or quarter easily – he chews and bites at it well. Their poops are firm, darker, and less stinky. Our older dog always passed gas (STINKY bad!), and that’s gone away! I think their coats are already shinier too.

    I’m living in Africa at the moment, so finding sale chicken and so forth isn’t really an option, but the butcher has been great selling me whole chicken with organs in bulk at a much reduced rate. I had to negotiate with him, but it’s well worth it. Try local small butchers where you live, or go right to the sources… organic farms, even hunters (wild game is a nice meal too). Some friends of ours feed whole rabbit, squirrel and such to his dogs, but they live very rurally also. I think there are certain game to freeze first to make sure there are no parasites, but you can get that info online. There are a lot of whole fish and other interesting meat pieces around here, so it will be an experiment in what my dogs like and can handle. Every dog is different, but I do think they’re all meat eaters! Anyone want to share what meats their dogs particularly enjoy?

    What a nice discussion site – I look forward to reading more.

    Terra wrote on January 3rd, 2011
    • The pacific ocean salmon carries a parasite that kills dogs.

      Always cook fish that comes from oceans.

      Suvetar wrote on May 18th, 2011
  38. I’ve just registered here at MDA to start the paleo lifestyle, and was delighted to see Mark has not forgotten our four-legged friends!

    I’ve been feeding raw meat to my dog for over eight years – he is the best looking wiener dog I’ve ever seen – shiny hair, white teeth, muscular – so healthy.

    I will read thru the other comments and see if I can add any helpful suggestions.

    HillSideGina wrote on January 21st, 2011
  39. I agree that the Yahoo raw-feeding group is the best source of info and knowledgeable people willing to answer questions. They were there over eight years ago when I started.

    I use a vinyl picnic cloth under my dog’s bowls and he knows he is not allowed to drag bones off the mat. Recreational bones I feed outside.

    A good, cheap find – Target baby wipes – they are great to have at home and the car for your doggy messes.

    A great treat find – dried anchovies at the Asian markets – the ones that are used for boiling for stock.

    Stay away from rawhides, yes it sounds like a natural food but it isn’t – they’re highly processed with chemicals.

    It does get expensive feeding multiple dog or large dogs raw meat. Try your local hunter’s co-ops for all kinds of game, and small butchers’ for chicken frames.

    Portion example – my 20-lb dachshund’s regular meal portion is two chicken legs and about a half cup of whatever veggie we are having. He hasn’t wanted to eat breakfast in many years.

    For those who have tried and did not like to raw feed for whatever reason – don’t despair. I believe that even cooked whole foods and table scraps from a healthy human diet is still 100% better than feeding commercial dog food. If you are worried, you can supplement with a daily vitamin.

    HillSideGina wrote on January 21st, 2011
  40. Why are most Vets so opposed to the raw diet? I had been feeding my dogs raw for several years. One of my dogs had to have his spleen removed due to a tumor that grew from an injury. When I talked to the Vet at the Emergency Care facility where he had the surgery, she said he wouldn’t eat anything they tried to feed him. I told her that it wasn’t surprising to me since he eats a raw diet. She about ripped my throat out…telling me all the errors of my ways and that he would get NO raw from their hospital! She also told me that since he doesn’t have his spleen, I must stop the raw diet. I have moved to cooking foods for my 3 dogs since I can’t feed raw. They all eat together and this one boy that had spleen removed was raised from weening time on raw chicken wings, I don’t feel I can offer the other two raw in front of him…he would go bonkers since he loves raw so much. I wonder if anyone knows if indeed I would be putting him in danger since he doesn’t have his spleen to filter bacteria? Thanks!

    Kjeanne wrote on January 21st, 2011

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