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

We 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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. I’m sorry that your dog had to have his spleen removed. I don’t know much about the spleen – I think it keeps a supply of blood stored in case of a bleeding injury, and it has something to do with the immune system but I’m not sure how it works.

    As to why vets aren’t on board with feeding raw – why aren’t our human doctors on board with Atkins or Paleo?

    Because they are only allowed to stay within the bounds of their “playbooks” and not give you any information outside that playbook, which is set down by the establishment.

    HillSideGina wrote on January 24th, 2011
  2. Hi there’s lots of good reading out there and lots of great websites that are all for raw that also have vets on that will answer questions for you. When we lived on Canada with my b/c the vets went mad when o explained she was on raw food, even though 5 seconds before they told me how great she looked, how clean her teeth are, how shiney her coat is and many other good things. Since moving back to the UK I have a fantastic vet who loves the fact that my b/c is on raw she is an advocate to the diet and everytime we go in asks me questions on how we feed so she can gather more information to pass on to other raw feeders. My b/c loves raw and looks amazing on it I will never change her from it :-)

    h wrote on January 24th, 2011
  3. AB Smith wrote on February 1st, 2011
  4. My family has two 180-200 lbs Great Danes and I have my own pit/boxer mix. They all used to be fed dog kibble until one of the Danes, Theo, consistently was taking trips to the vet as a result of bladder stones, kidney stones, at one point they thought he had valley fever. Then one day (two vets and a whole lotta dough later), our new vet instructed us to ditch the chow and put the all the dogs on a raw diet; ie- raw meat (not pork!), some veggies (like peas and carrots), and egg (shell and all), and we do use a little brown rice for a filler (…kind of have to with a 200lb dog). That was about 2 years ago now, and Theo has not had to go to the vet once since that day. As for the other two dogs…they LOVE IT! My dog won’t even take a mouthful of kibble anymore. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS to all dog owners for happy pups!

    Chelsea wrote on February 2nd, 2011
  5. Does anybody have recommendations as to where to purchase raw meat for a dog? I called a local grocery store, and they said they could order raw chicken necks for me at $1.39/lb. This sounded like a decent price, but I decided to keep searching. I called a few pet stores, and they seem to have the worst prices by far. A 6 lb bag would cost about $25. I found a few websites that seem to offer great prices (e.g., 40 lb bag for a little over $25), but I’m not sure how trustworthy they are, where they get their meat, etc.

    I’d love to hear from people who have more experience with this. Thanks!

    Tim wrote on February 7th, 2011
  6. i argued with my vet because she was telling me about how harmful bacteria can be. but i told her that dogs have a lot of stomach acids that kills e-coli and salmonella and they have a shorter digestive tract to pass things quickly. i told her that i respect her profession and she’s most likely an expert in taking care of an animal with medication and fixing them if they have cuts or anything, but she is NOT an expert in dog nutrition.

    check out my website:

    it explains the benefits of feeding raw meat/bones to a dog, the vitamins and nutrients you get from various animals and organs they can eat, and also different supplements you can give them.

    people DOGS DID COME FROM WOLVES!!! commercial dog food companies are somewhat new (started 100 years ago) from today. and dogs have been around since 100,000 years ago. WHAT DO YOU THINK DOGS ATE BEFORE ALL THE COMMERCIAL DOG FOOD COMPANIES!?!?

    monty wrote on February 18th, 2011
    • There are some scientists who believe dogs evolved from jakals. No matter what animal they evolved from, and despite genetic similarities, the domesticated dog is different from their wild predescesors. Human GI tracts are identical, anatomically, but functionally they are different (e.g., lactose intolerance, etc.). We are 98% genetically the same as chimps, but we wouldn’t want to share the same diet.

      I personally believe feeding homemade diet is better not necessarily because I can say commercial pet food is nutritionally inferior, but because I have control..

      Kate7 wrote on November 15th, 2011
  7. As an indication of how bad dog food can be for dogs, when I lived on the coast of Maine I found a surprising number of people who fed their dogs McDonald’s EVERY DAY. To my surprise, the dogs were living upwards of 20 years!

    The man who owns the Kennebunk Surf/Skate shop has two dogs. He was telling me that the one was deathly ill when she was about 13 years old (some organ failure. Liver or kidneys I think) and he figured that since she was dying anyway, he would just give in to her when she wanted McDonald’s. Long story short, after a little while of eating McDonald’s every day she made a full recovery and when I saw her in 2008 was a healthy 19 year old dog!

    How bad must commercial dog foods be if McDonald’s is a better option!

    Allison wrote on March 18th, 2011
  8. I also have a Dalmatian. I have not had a dog before and I did a lot of research before deciding what breed to get. Sadly Shadow has all of the food intolerances you can think of. Beef, Lactose, Pork, Venison, Turkey, Lamb, Duck, Wheat. Needless to say that it leaves me with chicken ONLY!!

    I bought Shadow from gypsies. I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW, I shouldn’t have, but I had him on my lap, he seemed quiet and sleepy and I could NOT leave him behind. He weighed 2lbs 2oz. They told me he was 8 weeks old, but my homeopathic/holistic vet told me he was 4 weeks, 5 weeks at the most. He was smaller than a kitten and he slept in my jacket sleeveand of course cuddles up to me in mybed at night as he was shivering and whining. He was VERY pink still!!!

    He passed blood after having him 10 days. Than again last year in July. Since I am struggling with his digestion, diarrhea, passing of water (sticky). His stool is curry colour and it seems to ferment. It shows bubbling, and he keeps having a pussy willie and and very red testicles (yes, he is still a ‘man’ ;-)(sorry for being so blunt).

    I have talked to LOADS AND LOADS of vets, forums, food companies, but NOTHING makes ANY change. My vet says he has IBD and the equiv of Crohns disease??? I am not sure what to believe?

    Shadow is back on the RAW food diet for 8 weeks now, but the diarrhea, water (sticky) is going on, so is the sticky, pussy willie and the red testicles. NO food or homeopathics and herbs make ANY change!!! I am at a loss!!!

    I have his food made by At the moment it cost me £108 every 2 weeks.

    viola woolcott wrote on March 28th, 2011
    • No matter where he got his start, he is your baby now and I know you love him or you would not be working so hard to help him. If that sweet little Dalmation (Shadow)were mine, I would go to the health food store and buy a package of Dr. O’Hhira’s Probiotics. I would snip one capsule into every meal he ate and I would keep it up until his IBD and Crohns were GONE!! You may even find that his food “intolerances” may disappear as well.

      Good Luck.

      Virginia wrote on March 28th, 2011
      • Hi Virginia – thanks for your reply.

        It is very very frustrating to see Shadow have such irritation/diarrhea/water. Dare I say, I wish it was that simple. I have done the probiotics (HIGH potency)for ages, also digestive enzymes, herbs, homeopathics etc. NO change, not even the slightest. I just cannot believe that there isn’t anything else I can do?

        The first 3 stools in the morning are normal, than they get thinner, are of curry colour and I see little bubbles (like fermenting?) and than it is JUST sticky clear water. ;-(

        viola woolcott wrote on March 29th, 2011
        • I forgot to say, Shadow is the fittest, healthiest, most muscley, gorgeous dog I have ever seen in my life, regardless of his condition. It is unbelievable really that he has what he has where he looks so so healthy. He is the most ‘sexy’ looking DAlmatian I have ever seen 😉

          viola woolcott wrote on March 29th, 2011
        • I’m sorry probiotics didn’t work for Shadow. I’ve had such good results with them. They do take a long time, but then, the problem took a long time asserting itself too!

          3 stools in the morning and more during the day seems a little overboard too. Mine have always gone once in the morning and once in the evening. I’d hate to have to pick up your yard!!!LOL

          Since I don’t know of any other help, I will just pray for Shadow and you and a long, happy life together. :)

          Virginia wrote on March 29th, 2011
  9. Hi Virginia – thanks for replying again. Shadow does not like to go in the garden, so I am lucky. 😉 I do pick EVERY single one up though when we go walking. He does 3 stools that are normal as I said and then its diarrhea and than water. He strains at the end. Shadow is quite a unsettled dog. He is stressed easily. And he does not like being touched by people when I go walking. Which of course, at times that is handy. He is also not castrated and he won’t. He is qite a scared, jumpy dog. He is so so so gorgeous and beautiful… 😉

    viola woolcott wrote on March 29th, 2011
  10. For those of you using a Raw diet for your dogs, what do you do when you board them at a Kennel for vacation? Do most kennels handle feeding a raw diet OK?

    Carrie wrote on April 1st, 2011
  11. Hi all,

    Has anyone tried the Taste of the Wild food? I switched my dog to this a while ago, and she’s loving it…

    It’s certainly not as good as straight meats, but it’s grain-free meat-based kibble, so I have to think it’s a step up. Thoughts?

    Amanda wrote on April 6th, 2011
    • My 2 Irish Wolfhounds just came off this food. They both loved it and did well. But I want to give raw a fair go.

      Trish wrote on May 27th, 2011
  12. I love all the comments and interest in this article! I know there are tons of different opinions and experiences, but just seeing so many people care about their dogs is awesome.

    I run dogs, both for fun and for money. I’m pretty in-tune with the health of the dogs I run. There are so many different factors that effect health, and diet is a big one. But there’s one thing I’d like to add to this discussion, and it applies whether you love or hate raw food.

    Please, please, please make sure your dogs have plenty of water. It helps with so many digestion, food and health problems.

    Most people just throw a bowl full of water down once a day, but that’s nowhere near enough. Go to your local kitchen-goods store and buy the biggest bowl you can find. Fill it to the top and watch your dogs go crazy. Some dogs will conserve the water in their bowl to make sure it never runs dry, and the dog will end up dehydrated. But when water is plentiful, they’ll drink up.

    When dogs are sick or lagging on runs, almost 90 percent of the time the problem is a lack of water. So fill up big bowls and let your dogs go nuts!

    mtrunner wrote on May 17th, 2011
  13. I feed 4 dogs raw.
    Can’t afford grass-finished for them so I buy the ‘shitty’ food at Winco, Fred Meyer, etc…
    But, I try and mix it up by buyi9ng lots of liver of all kinds, giblets, sometimes duck, hen, chicken, pork, marked down beef, lamb, etc…
    They get grassfed liver, knuckle bones and bone marrow once in awhile.
    I even check roadkill =P
    If it feels and smells like a fresh kill I take it home. Also, I take the ‘garbage’ off people that go hunting and throw away entire legs and heads off elk, deer and geese.

    Suvetar wrote on May 18th, 2011
  14. I have just put my 2 Irish Wolfhounds on a raw diet. My female seems to be having a hard time having a poop. She is poop’n more like a rabitt is this normal?

    Trish wrote on May 27th, 2011
  15. We are going to start our 2yo cavalier king charles spaniel on this tomorrow.

    Joe wrote on June 9th, 2011
  16. This is the first article I’ve read that relates a grain-free human diet to taking the same care when feeding our dog friends. I’m surprised that this isn’t mentioned more. My family is gluten free and when my youngest child decided to eat one of our dog’s wheat based treats, not only did I want it out of our house, but I realized that our dog wasn’t biologically meant to eat grains either. I wondered how it might be comprimising her emotional and physical health (as I had witnessed in my children before going gluten-free) and decided to make a big change for her. After only a week, I noticed a big change. She was already so much more calm and content, her eyes were brighter and most importantly, her sensitive belly (probably also partially so from anxiety since she was once a stray) didn’t seem bothered anymore…unless I gave her too much liver…but that’s another story!

    Joy wrote on July 18th, 2011
  17. Dogs are not omnivores. Jeez, even my 9 year old’s Biology for Kids book states “carnivore”. The pet food industry wants you to believe they are omnivores so they can load their kibble with cheap, readily available, easily preservable crap. They’ll also tout the benefits of “whole grains and vegetables”. Excuse me? We’re talking carnivores here!

    Dogs have no nutritional requirement for vegetables. As much as we human omnivores (and particularly us Primal types) embrace the valuable veggie, to a carnivore it is completely unnecessary. It is the dog version of the Primal attitude towards rice: yeah, you could eat it, but why bother when you can get the Real Thing from meat?

    RuralAspirations wrote on July 29th, 2011
  18. I have been feeding my dog raw exclusively for a year and a half. She had SO many problems on kibble and it just got worse and worse. She got fat from it and then she started losing weight as the constant bouts of diarrhea depleted her system. It was awful! And I fed a fairly expensive, “no-fillers” dog food. I put her on raw during deer hunting season and I haven’t looked back. Sammie is now healthier than ever. Everything that Mark says about raw feeding is absolutely true! Her teeth are cleaner, her coat is shiny, she doesn’t smell unless she’s wet even after not having a bath all winter long, and her poop does not smell at all. And it’s just as cheap if not cheaper than the dog food I was feeding her. I will NEVER feed any of my animals kibble again!

    Lorii wrote on August 4th, 2011
  19. What is the best method to wash up after you’ve served your dog raw meat? We started feeding this to him twice, daily, and are concerned we are contaminating our kitchen by doing it so often.

    Also, my dog is an Italian Greyhound. Having him eat the raw mean outside is fine in the summer, but cruel to have him do in the winter.

    Thanks for your suggestions.


    Holly wrote on August 12th, 2011
  20. Hello,

    I’m fascinated by the raw diet for dogs. I have never understood why we cook their food for them, they never did it themselves. I’m concerned however about salmonella and campylobacter and other nasties. Having read loads, books included, in order to make an informed choice for my puppy, to be collected at the weekend, most people say it is fine and they won’t affect her. Would it be better to start gently? I have found a totally meat based canned food, no grains, shall I mix it with raw? How about fish? I’m worried I will do her more harm than good even though I can see the sense in it all. She was weaned on kibble – yuk. Your help would be much appreciated

    Jane W wrote on August 12th, 2011
    • Just make the switch. It’s not hard to do. The yahoogroup RawFeeding is a great resource. Dogs are carnivores and should be fed biologically appropriate food! Daily intake should equal about 2-3% of their ideal body weight. Broken down into about 80% meat, 10% bone (covered in meat – never bare), 5% liver, 5% other organ. If you must, rawfeddogs . net has really good recipes, if you have a sense of humor. :) We’ve been raw feeding for almost two years and will never feed anything else.

      Abbe K wrote on August 25th, 2011
  21. I believe that the making the choice to put your animal on a raw diet is one that deserves very careful consideration and more information than this BLOG shows.
    It is widely accepted by scientists all over the world that dogs are not true obligate carnivores. They are in fact omnivores. The difference between carnivores and omnivores scientifically is more than whether or not they munch on vegetables. It has to do with protein requirements and the animal’s ability to synthesize their own amino acids and to excrete excess protein. Cats are obligate carnivores and perform better on a higher protein diet. This is because they are unable to synthesize all of their amino acid requirements on their own. They also have a better ability to excrete excess protein from their body. Dogs have lower nutritional protein requirements and can synthesize their some of their own amino acids.
    The risks from raw food diet include nutritional deficiencies and excess as well as public health hazards.
    Yes, dogs can get salmonellosis, E. coli, etc. It can make them very sick. Dogs can also act as asymptomatic shedders of salmonella and toxoplasma spp. This is a health consideration for your animal as well as your family. USE CAUTION!
    Puppies fed raw diets have been shown to get nutritional osteodystrophy.
    By the way, just because the bones don’t splinter it doesn’t mean they can’t cause an intestinal obstruction.
    The choice to put your animal on a raw food diet should be made with the understanding that there is no scientific proof. Instead of reading blogs and websites like “raw learning” go to pubmed or science direct and make your own conclusions based off of experimental studies. If you still believe after doing so that raw is better, then at least you understand all of the risks. This blog is just anecdotal and I can do the same when talking about how amazing my dog is performing on a formulated diet (which he is) and how beautiful his coat is (which it is). But I can also back up using a formulated diet with the hundreds of studies on nutrition and performance that have been performed over the years.
    Please use caution and be safe…keep your animals and your kids healthy and maybe consider doing cooked diets instead of raw.

    Sarah wrote on September 11th, 2011
  22. Hi there,
    We’ve recently made the switch for our bichon and Cavalier King Charles spaniel…We buy bulk ground chicken carcass in big bricks, and I’m wishing I could just make up lots of individual patties with vegies already in them and refreeze, but I’ve always assumed that re-freezing is a no no. And advice about this?

    Judy wrote on September 22nd, 2011
  23. My dogs have been partial paleo for 2 months now. After their last vet visit, where both had lots of plaque on their teeth, my 2 little dogs, aged 6 and 7 years,have been getting chuck steak or chicken wings for dinner (replacing canned dog food). They are still getting dry food for their breakfast(spousal compromise). One of the dogs, Saffie who has had a bald dorsal stip along her back and the top of her head for years, is now growing hair in her bald spots!! And the teeth of both dogs have improved out of sight.

    Kate wrote on September 27th, 2011
  24. No use in criticizing raw unless you’ve tried it with your own dog, then draw a conclusion. Since kibble is only about 50 years old, what did dogs eat before?

    We recently acquired a rescue corgi and the first day in our home we switched him to raw. He almost dances at the sight of the meat in his bowl. His teeth are cleaning up, and his fur shimmers with a silky gloss.

    Many of the kibble foods are produced by companies like Colgate, Nestle, Proctor and Gamble and we know the profit line is what motivates them. There’s no money in feeding raw so of course they’re not going to encourage it. Why should we line their pockets instead of what’s holistically best for our dogs?

    Andrea wrote on October 14th, 2011
  25. I have a 9 week old cocker spaniel. On our first vet visit last week, the vet told me to feed him Science Diet kibble and cooked pasta. When I mentioned other foods like fresh meat, bones and sardines,he replied, that no other food would be nessesary, and that most of the foods I suggested was far to fatty for a dog and would cause pancreatitis.

    I was shocked, and came home feeling confused as every dog I have ever owned I had fed a mixed diet to. I felt it was cruel to condem a dog to a life of bland dehydrated biscuits. Besides the question of quality of commercial foods in general, I certainly wouldn’t like to eat a boring monotonal diet of biscuits my entire life, no matter how many synthetic vitamins and minerals they contained!

    SO I came online to do my own research. Raw diets make sense. I started giving him fresh meat and chicken wings, goats milk with a few fresh vegies and herbs out of the garden in the processor. Also found K9 Natural, which has raw green tripe in it, which is near impossible to find anywhere here in Australia. It’s been a week and his poos have changed from runny very smelly, to firm and tolerable. Only time will tell if I am doing the right thing. But in my heart it feels better to feed a natural diet than a processed one.

    Melissa wrote on October 16th, 2011
  26. Can I also add. My cocker had only ever eaten processed dog food from the breeder. When I gave him fresh chicken for the first time it was amazing, I watched him come alive!

    Compare a dogs reaction to a bowl of kibble to a serving of fresh meat or a bone. If that isn’t evidence enough, than I don’t knwo what is.

    Melissa wrote on October 16th, 2011
  27. I think it’s important to remember that it’s vital for your dogs to also get a lot of raw vegetables in as well.

    Wild dogs are omnivores with a high opportunistic meat diet- I know when I’m just hanging outside with my dogs they’ll nibble on grass and leaves all the time.

    Also the stomach is generally one of the first things wolves eat in the wild which will have tons of vegetables in it unlike a lot of the meat you buy in stores.

    Also you should still take into consideration the quality of the meat you get because meat loaded with hormones and riddled with disease might be better raw than cooked for your pups, but could still cause tons of problems. Wolves that eat meat in the wild are getting a lot of nutrients from the vegetables that the animals eat that our US factory farmed animals can’t compare with. Go organic grass fed only and add tons of veggies to your dogs diet!

    Sylvie wrote on October 17th, 2011
  28. I have my dog on the Raw diet and my vet seems to think it is crap. He told me the green tripe is terrible and that this diet does not provide calcium.
    He eats turkey necks, chicken backs and feet and raw chicken and beef with the bone int from our local butcher.
    What are your thoughts. Does he need a supplement with this diet?

    Linda wrote on October 21st, 2011
  29. Mark, I’m impressed! I started following your site fairly recently, and stumbled upon this post in the archives. So many people look at me like I’m crazy when I say the majority of what I feed my dog is fresh animal products. The only thing I can think of is that you forgot eggs! So many people preach their benefits for people, and they can be arguably even better for dogs! Talk about healthy fats and just plain good :) My mini foxie loves them.

    Cassie T. wrote on November 10th, 2011
  30. I’ve read a lot of websites and posts debating the merits of a raw diet over commercial pet foods.. and the criticisms of commercial pet food. I sure don’t have a scientific/nutritional background to be able to adequately analyze which is better. For that matter, there are no scientific (long term, unbiased, double-blind) studies examining either one. What is published is biased and not credible.

    Health effects from diet, especially in dogs, take time (sometimes years) to manifest. Then there are genetic and individual characteristics, all of which means some animals tolerate bad nutrition better than others and Fido’s shiny coat may not be entirely attributable to his diet.

    Proponents of a raw diet for dogs base it, in large part, on the fact that dogs evolved from wolves. But there are scientists who claim dogs actually evolved from jakals. Even though dogs share a large percentage of genetic material with wolves, their domestication over thousands of years has led to differences in GI tract and more. Humans are 98% genetically related to chimps, but a similar diet obviously doesn’t make sense. Even if dogs and wolves were anatomically identical (they aren’t), it doesn’t mean they are functionally the same. Human GI tracts are anatomically identical, but functionality is different (e.g., lactose intolerance, etc.). All of which is to say, the idea of feeding our Golden Retriever – who wouldn’t know the first thing about ripping apart an elk – the same diet as a wolf, may not be exactly sound.

    We assume raw food is nutritionally superior to commercial pet food because, as humans, we’ve heard consistently that raw food has more nutrition than cooked food. And, it makes sense to assume raw food is better than commercial kibble which is extruded and subjected to temperatures known to destroy nutritional values. But does anyone know what nutritional levels animals need? Even the organization responsible for overseeing the pet food industry says the science is inexact and there is a lack of knowledge.

    To begin with, dogs have hinged jaws, unlike cows, for instance, who can ‘masticate’ veggies. This means dogs’ jaws are not designed to slide side to side to help digest veggies. If you feed your dog veggies, at least cook them to help with their digestion..

    At the end of the day, we plop the bowl down on the floor filled with whatever we assume is best for our animal. If they are healthy, we know we’ve made the right choice. Again, health problems can take years to show up, so maybe we’ve fed them well, or maybe the effects just haven’t shown up yet. Or maybe we got lucky with their genetics.

    I personally feed my dog a raw diet, but that doesn’t mean that I believe ALL commercial pet food is bad, or nutritionally unsound because I don’t know. I choose a raw diet because I have more control. That said, I am concerned about subjecting my dog to salmonella and no one knows for sure what that means over the long term. Within a few weeks I plan to cook her meat to eliminate the risk.

    Kate7 wrote on November 15th, 2011
  31. Salmonella is not an issue with dogs fed raw for a while. Dogs who have been fed raw will have a ridiculously acidic stomach to deal with bacteria-laden raw meats and to liquify bones. This is why dogs have been seen to busy bones with meat attached. Once bacteria rots the meat they’ll go back for the meat which is sweeter in taste. They can handle it. Raw fed dogs have stronger immune systems so they can deal with any bacteria that makes it through. They also start killing bacteria as they chew, dog salive is antibacterial while humans don’t have that particular antibacterial component in our saliva (forget what it’s called). Dogs fed cooked meats or carbohydrates have compromized immune systems AND less acidic stomachs, more bacteria survives and overwhelmes the dog making him sick. Does not happen with raw fed dogs. Some salmonella bacteria and e coli can pass through the dog’s digestive system and come out in the stool, you can say that the dog will be an asymptomatic “carrier” of e coli and salmonella. Well, surprise surprise, please wash your hands when washing up after dog stools! Besides, if YOU are healthy with a strong immune system (see primal blueprint) you will also be able to deal with a smidgen of salmonella or e coli making it into your mouth somehow. Anyway, don’t forget to provide our furkids with rich organs and small fatty fish too!

    Joseph wrote on December 13th, 2011
  32. IMO, no need for vegetables for dogs. Meat rots in acidic environment over time. This is not good for the dog. Hence their digestive system is short. It’s meant to take in meat and bones and organs, break it down, push it out quickly. There’s no time nor the proper enzymes to crack that tough cell wall (not cell membrane) to get at the goodness. I tried giving my dogs raw, grated carrots and corn when my education was still a bit lacking. Went in raw, grated carrots and came out raw, grated carrots. Also, went it corn on the cob and came out corn on the (different) cob. :) Meat, bones, organs on the other hand, they eat a chunk as big as their head. Their stool is barely the size of one of their paws. They use it.

    Joseph wrote on December 13th, 2011
  33. This is a great info source. we just started on raw for our goldendoodle. She had a bout of gastro prior to this and we wanted to do the best we could by her. We’ve been researching like mad while the dog yips for more of the good stuff. Just wondering if anyone has heard of nutrigenomics-a more specific way of zeroing in on what a dog might need based on its biogenetic make-up. Would this explain why some have an iron stomach and others are sooo sensitive to certain foods?

    c. palumbo wrote on December 13th, 2011
    • Back when feeding commercial my elder one was sensitive (many vet visits) and the younger one had an iron stomach. After cold turkey to raw, the elder one had violet diahrrea for a week and the younger one took it in stride. Now sometimes my elder one still had diahrrea but only once in a blue moon (three/four times a year) while the younger one, I can’t remember, maybe once or twice over the last two years feeding raw. I guess individual differences play a part. Never heard of nutrigenomics, sorry, but as long as you give the vital macronutrients and remove the poisons (grains/carbs) they will adapt. But if you’re new to raw feeding there is a transition time unless you’re lucky. Stomach acids were weak because carbs don’t need such strong stomach acids. Once you give them raw, stomach needs time sometimes to go back to what they;re meant to do, pump out acid do dissolve RAW, uncooked bones which are soft and pliable as opposed to cooked bones which are brittle and will generate shards. Also will happen when you introduce rich rich organs like liver. Start with heart, that’s always required, introduce liver later on. Both my dogs will have a bout of soft stool when given too much liver but it clears up next stool session. Watch the poo, best indicator. Too white and too dry and too hard to push out = too much bones. Too watery = too little bones. They also take the same fish oil that our family does, just twice a week for them since it’s formulated for 100KG humans rather than 8KG Shih Tzu’s. I wouldn’t worry too much with specifics, get over the hump and you’ll see great benefits. If you’re paranoid like I was about no veggies at all then try giving them some, won’t hurt really. But if you start seeing them in the stool the same color and consistency as they went in then you know for sure feeding it to them was completely useless. Good that you’re researching, very responsible dog owner! This IS a great info source, there’s better out there for dog nutrition. Funny thign is that I love my dogs, got them started on raw feeding after reseach two years ago. Myself, Primal Blueprint only two weeks ago. :S Oops.

      Joseph wrote on December 13th, 2011
  34. so where do you get raw meat for dogs….the store is expensive.

    dean wrote on January 31st, 2012
    • Watch the sales at the grocery store, stock up whenever meat is under $1.00 or $1.50 per pound. (Make sure it’s not “x% solution added”, the salt can give dogs the runs.)

      Make it known to family and friends that you’ll take any expired meat off their hands. Craigslist is helpful too. Also if you know any hunters, tell them you’ll take any scraps off their hands.

      See if there are any raw-feeding co-ops in your area:

      Some people have success talking to the meat department manager at their grocery store and getting meat past the sell-by date. Some people have been told no. (I’ve never tried it, I have 3 small dogs, I’d be overwhelmed with meat if I used this method.)

      My dogs have their own chest freezer, it’s helpful to have a lot of room when you find good deals.

      Abby J wrote on March 4th, 2012
  35. I know this post is quite old but I just came across it and read with interest. My dogs have been fed a primal diet since they were puppies, they’re now almost 4. They eat much better than we adults do. Our holistic vet recommended the diet since one of our girls has hip displaysia so we needed to keep her nice and lean to not put any unnecessary pressure on her hips. The other, it turns out, is actually allergic to beef (common in poodles), corn syrup and soy! So many commercial dog foods contain these ingredients, it was almost impossible to find a dry food that didn’t (there is one, a brand called ARTEMIS) So, fresh chicken wings and necks, organ meat and vegetables is what they eat. They also have fish oil, flaxseed oil (good for their coat) and one has a glucosamine formula to help manage any joint pain. Their stools are exactly as described above – small, odourless and turn white and crumbly in a day. We are often told our girls are too thin, but I think society is so used to seeing overweight, unhealthy dogs, that a slim, healthy energetic dog is unusual. Our girls weigh around 11kgs. When we got them from the breeder, we were advised that full size should be between 10-15kgs. On the weekend, we will meet for the first time one of their litter mates…he is the same height, but 23kgs…it will be very interesting to see the difference.

    Jo wrote on February 29th, 2012
  36. My dog has epilepsy and is going on for 5 years. He has been fed on meat fish and bones, with selected veg for about 2 years now. He is on full human medication for epilepsy and Epilease for dogs. He has bad itching and scratching problems, which we are treating. Any tips on addition to diet? we do put olive oil on his food and give him multivitamins. He is not a very happy doggie!

    Pamela wrote on March 13th, 2012
  37. Hello,
    my puppy is 10 weeks old now and I had him on the raw diet for about a week now (he loves it!). But my only concern is that now I notice his pee is a dark yellow almost orange. Not just in the morning all day. I did use febreze to get the smell of pee out of my house, but I haven’t used it days thinking it was that. Is that normal on raw food?

    Sara wrote on March 14th, 2012
  38. I have a 4 pound yorkie that is the pickiest eater in the world. He won’t touch kibble or canned dog food. After research and experimenting with his food interest I fees him cooked chicken breast and sometimes beef if he will eat it. I’ve tried raw and soft cooked eggs (he won’t touch it). Now he eats a mix of gently cooked chicken breast, raw chicken wings and chews on raw cow bones. He won’t eat veggies or fish or fruit at all. Even if I mix it with ground meat he is not interested. He is overall very healthy but has bad rank gas and white dry sandy looking stool. He has been eating this way for several months and the poop has been like this since. He is only 2 years old. Is this normal and should I try to feed him anything else?

    Carla wrote on March 16th, 2012
  39. this is a cool article. Feeding raw to dogs makes total sense. I switched my dog over to a raw diet a few months ago and he is doing great! I feed him a brand called OC Raw Dog. It is a complete diet and made from human grade ingredients! I am glad my dog is a “raw” dog now!

    packygal wrote on April 2nd, 2012
  40. I have a 3 year old BUGG. Lots of ‘environmental allergies” (tested tested and re-tested) and I have been buying the Raw Food diet consisting of raw beef/bones; fish; veggies BUT she is always hungry. Constantly and has put weight on. The other day I tried her on kibble from Natural Balance and she left her plate and I didn’t hear from her the rest of the day she was full and content.

    Mixing both slowly to introduce this new food and she doesn’t touch the raw. I would continue with it but she is clearly not getting enough and she is putting weight on however I do buy her the dried Oxtail and the dried pig ears from my supplier.

    I would have thought the other way around would be the answer because it is heavy on the meat and veggies but she doesn’t get full and is always tapping for more.

    What do u think?

    Natalie Sztern wrote on April 9th, 2012

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