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 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. I have a Caviler King Charles Spaniel that devours chicken wings and organ meat like nobodies business.

    Tyler wrote on December 16th, 2010
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. AB Smith wrote on February 1st, 2011
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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: http://www.dogscamefromwolves.com

    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
  16. 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
  17. 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 http://www.darlingsrealdogfood.com 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
  18. 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
  19. 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
  20. 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?

    http://www.tasteofthewildpetfood.com/products/dig_deeper/

    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
  21. 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
  22. 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
  23. 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
  24. We are going to start our 2yo cavalier king charles spaniel on this tomorrow.

    Joe wrote on June 9th, 2011
  25. 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
  26. 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
  27. 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
  28. 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

    Holly wrote on August 12th, 2011
  29. 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
  30. 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
  31. 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
  32. 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

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