Dear Mark: Health Effects of Neutering, Grain-Free Dog Diets, Ideal Dog Diet

For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering three questions from last week’s Weekly Link Love comment section. They’re all about dogs. First, are there negative health effects to neutering or spaying? Second, do grain-free dog diets give dogs dilated cardiomyopathy, a kind of heart disease? What’s the alternative? And third, what is in my opinion the ideal dog diet—and should everyone be feeding it to their dogs?

Let’s go:

Mark, wouldn’t neutering dogs cause some long term negative health effects in them, as I assume it would in humans?

As you might expect, removing a dog’s testicles or ovaries—major reproductive and endocrine organs—can have negative effects. That’s just common sense, and we have observational studies paired with physiological mechanisms to make the case. The best-studied complications are cancer and joint disorders.

Among German shepherds, 7% of intact males were diagnosed with a joint disorder. 21% of males who’d been neutered before age 1 had a joint disorder. 5% of intact females were diagnosed; 16% of spayed females were diagnosed.

Among a group of 700+ golden retrievers, 5% of intact males had hip dysplasia, while 10% of early neutered males had it. No intact dogs had ever had any cranial cruciate ligament (an important ligament in the dog knee) tears, while 5% of early neutered males and 8% of early spayed females had torn one. 10% of early neutered males had a diagnosis of lymphoma, three times the rate of intact males. In females, late spaying (after 1 year of age) seems to have increased the rate of certain cancers, including hemangiosarcoma (a blood vessel cancer) and mast cell (breast) tumors.

Similar results with regards to joint disorders have also been found in labrador retrievers.

Both spaying females and neutering males appears to increase the risk of heart cancer, a fairly common cancer in dogs. Spayed females have the greatest risk of all.

Early spayed or neutered Rottweilers have an increased risk of bone cancer, another common disease to the breed.

Neutered/spayed dogs have a higher risk of hypothyroidism.

Intact dogs have higher metabolisms and lower appetites. The opposite is true for neutered dogs, which could explain the rise in pet obesity.

If you’re going to neuter a dog, I’d recommend waiting as long as you can. At the least 1 year, and ideally longer until sexual development completes. That allows the dog’s joints, muscles, and skeletal tissue to reach its full potential.

Also realize that the sex hormones aren’t only about sex or physical/structural development. They also help determine mental and psychological development.

Interesting SwS post about dogs. I would caution people to make assumptions canines need the same diet as people. Recently, many folks are discovering that dogs on a grain free diet seem to have a higher likelihood of developing hart issues. My house is kind of an n=14 experiment and I would guess that our dogs get on the active side in terms of exercise. We also have three dozen sheep, two dozen ducks, and a bunch of chickens. My wife is a dog trainer so in addition to our dogs she works with a bunch more. Too much info to post here but look up diet-associated dilated cardiomyopathy and some of the recent studies. The research is not yet to the stage where they know what causes DCM but it appears that dogs that are on “boutique exotic grain free (BEG) diets seem to be much more likely to develop DCM.

The way this research is presented in the media, most people assume that the problem with grain-free diets are that they’re too high in meat. That dogs need “heart healthy whole grains,” just like people supposedly do.

The reason “grain-free” dog diets are linked to dilated cardiomyopathy is not that these animals are eating too much beef, lamb, chicken, and fish protein. It’s that they’re replacing the grains with potatoes and peas, lentils, and other legumes and inducing taurine deficiency. Taurine deficiency-induced cardiomyopathy is well-established in cats, who cannot synthesize taurine on their own and must consume it directly in the diet. Dogs can synthesize taurine themselves, but they’re also adapted to a diet rich in taurine-rich meat, so it’s smart and evolutionarily congruent for them to also eat high-taurine diets—which must contain meat.

Say what you will about grains. I’m no fan of them for dogs (or humans, for that matter), but they do possess the amino acid precursors for taurine synthesis.

A response from a veterinary nutrition researcher at Tufts University claims that taurine probably isn’t the cause, instead suggesting that the “exotic meats” found in grain-free diets are likely candidates. She goes on to warn against raw-fed diets as well, since they “increase your dog’s risk of many other health problems.” She fails to specify which health problems raw meat and bone diets increase, but since she has some acronyms after her name we can trust her.

It’s odd, because I’m aware of some actual benefits to feeding dogs raw meat and bone diets:

Improved immune gene expression, indicating lower inflammatory status compared to kibble-fed dogs.

Improved gut biome compared to kibble-fed dogs.

Purina funded the Tufts University veterinary nutritional center where the writer of the article resides, which may or may not have affected her opinions.

In your opinion what should we feed our dogs?

Ideally, we should feed our dogs a well-formulated, nutrient-dense diet based on raw animal foods: muscle meat, bones, organs, seafood, eggs, quality dairy, and select supplemental foods. In other words, the ideal dog diet would look a lot like a really good carnivorous human diet.

The problem is that you have to do it right. It’s easy to do it wrong. One thing the dog food companies are pretty good at is avoiding gross deficiencies. The calcium:phosophorus ratio will be right. Most of the nutrients may be synthetic additions to refined junk food, but the basics will be there. This doesn’t always hold (see the dilated cardiomyopathy scandal mentioned above), of course, and it tends to cause chronic diseases like obesity and diabetes from mismatched macronutrients, but at least a kibble fed dog probably won’t develop osteoporosis.

Certain fish are dangerous when fed raw without adequate preparation. Pacific-caught salmon off the coast of California, Oregon, and Washington can carry parasites that kill dogs (and other canids like wolves and coyotes). Freezing long enough at a low-enough temperature will kill the parasite, but you really have to be careful.

Dogs need to eat bones for the calcium and to keep their teeth clean, but they can break teeth on the wrong kind of bone. Load-bearing ruminant bones are good for gnawing, but not for eating. Do you know the difference?

Dogs need connective tissue, just like people. People can just throw some collagen powder in their coffee. Dogs really can’t. Are you going to seek out chicken feet, pork skin, beef tendons, green tripe for your raw-fed dog?

Dogs need organs, and not just liver. They need heart and kidney. Can you source it? You willing to handle it?

Dogs who spend all their lives on kibble only to be given a plate of turkey necks, beef liver, and lamb trim might not know what to do with themselves. Just like people who’ve spent their lives in restrictive high-heeled shoes can get into trouble when they try running a marathon in bare feet, dogs who are used to hoovering up kibble can get into trouble when they try to eat a neck for the first time.

None of this stuff is a deal-breaker. It can be done. Ideally, it should be done. But it does take time and energy to do things right. It’s harder—and better, don’t get me wrong—than just dumping some kibble in a bowl.

I’ll write more on this in the future. For now, check out this older post on raw-feeding dogs I did (and this one for cats).

Take care, everyone. Thanks for reading and if you have any follow up questions, let them loose down below.

TAGS:  dear mark

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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53 thoughts on “Dear Mark: Health Effects of Neutering, Grain-Free Dog Diets, Ideal Dog Diet”

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  1. Thanks for this post, Mark!

    A word of caution for dog lovers — I used to give my Belgian shepherd those cow/horse hooves that pet stores sell, thinking they’d supply some nutrients. She loved chewing them, but sometimes she swallowed large chunks. Once a chunk got stuck in her intestine, and cost her a few feet of gut and me a bunch of money. Luckily she survived OK, but I never risked that particular type of treat again!

    1. An excellent “chew” are Icelandic Ram Horns. They are grown from hair and collagen (not bone) so they are digestible… I give them to my dogs every 3-4 nights for 7-10 minutes (I set a timer).

  2. I supplement a Costco grain free diet with various parts I can buy. The pups seem to love pork neck bones, pork feet and cow hooves, which I get for them from Walmart. Plus, they sometimes get the good cooked meat I make for myself, issue for that is a use a lot of onions, making it off limits. I figure my approach is reasonable, especially as I realistically know I will not be researching canine (or feline for that matter) nutrition anytime soon. Perhaps I should throw some grass fed neck bones their way, rather than keeping them all to myself.

  3. I’m sorry, are you recommending people DON”T spay/neuter their pets?!? Am I reading an article in The Onion? Is it April 1st? What the hell is going on??? Dear Bob Barker is rolling in his grave and thousands of dogs and cats will be unnecessarily euthanized today (and tomorrow, and the next day, and the next….) because there are just too many of them.

    1. No, there are other ways to sterilize an animal that don’t remove their hormones; I believe in Europe that is done more readily because of the understanding that stopping hormone production over a lifetime causes health issues.

    2. You can always get them a vasectomy etc. It’ll make for an overall less invasive procedure, too.

      Not spaying / neutering early makes a massive difference in joint health – my family didn’t neuter their current dog as soon as the previous dogs (they were done at 6 months; current dog still isn’t neutered at ~2), and he has puppy-flexible joints still. Previous dogs lost their flexibility within a few months of neutering.

    3. Bob Barker was wrong. Sorry. If you cannot be a responsible pet owner then yes you’ll need to alter your pet AFTER 2 years of age… but you’re increasing the risk of deadly/non-operable cancers.

    4. There is no need to overreact and be hostile or mocking towards the author. Mark is simply explaining the side effects that can come from neutering/spaying. There are absolutely negative side effects as well, think of how our own bodies respond to out of whack hormone levels, things like mood swings, weight gain, muscle loss, joint issues, depression, etc; the same issues can effect other animals as well. I grew up having five dogs over the course of my childhood and not one was neutered or spayed; guess how many puppies they had – zero. They also all lived to be 14 years or older, and were all large breeds. My current dog is also not spayed. If you are the type of dog owner who doesn’t keep a close eye on your pet, lets them roam at will, or keeps intact males and females together without supervision, then yes you should probably have your dogs altered. However, it is very easy to keep an intact dog from breeding; all you have to do is pay attention. Some breeds are also more disposed to joint problems than others, and some breeds (sighthounds in particular) are highly sensitive to anesthesia; I had a friend lose his female greyhound during a spay operation because an incompetent vet wasn’t aware that they need to be dosed differently than some heavier bodied breeds. As a result I’d rather not take the chance with my own dog. Just realize that there are many ways of dealing with an issue, and that sometimes the dominant cultural narrative isn’t always the only way.

      1. Couldn’t agree more, Dave.

        The dominant cultural narrative is the biggest problem in most of what ails us humans, not to mention this planet. We are all too afraid to stop listening to the mob. That’s why our kids can’t seem to live without the likes on social media.

        But with MDA and others we sure can take back our good health and fight the common narrative with results, both human and animal.

  4. So, one thing I’ve always wondered about “wild mimicking” animal husbandry (grass/pasture fed, free range, no hormones/antibiotics, etc.), what effects does castrating them have when it comes to eating them? Especially when it comes to 4 legged animals, the way I understand it is we’re eating mostly castrated males.

  5. My aunt just brought this study up to me last week, regarding what I feed my 2 year old lab. I’m am curious to hear your suggestions. We fed him a frozen raw product when we first got him (what the family we got him from had fed him), then tried a freeze dried raw product. Both proved very difficult and expensive for our lifestyle. He now gets a grain-free kibble with raw topper mixed in.

    I’m very curious as to you suggestions. I want to feed him well, but the fully raw is not an option at this time.

    1. The pre-mixed frozen raw foods are very expensive, especially for a larger dog.
      I feed raw chicken, cooked livers, beef on sale, etc. and veggies, canned cheaper salmon, etc.
      Good kibble is now quite expensive per pound so “real” food is really not more expensive overall and it is REAL food.

      1. Jill… try canned sardines in water NO SALT…much better than salmon… you can even get Iceland Pure sardine/anchovy oil (a couple squirts in their dinner). the smaller the fish the BETTER.

    2. I make my own raw dog food from a variety of sources (variety is another key to this being healthy long term). Granted, I’m willing to spend a little more than most people, so my dog gets things like whole quail, goat, rabbits, etc. There are two cheaper ways to do it that I found. One, if you can find a grocery store that sells chicken quarters by the case (I could get a 40 lb box for $19), and then add in 10% liver and kidney or whatever organ meat you can find at the store. Ethnic grocery stores are best for this, they often carry “bull fries” and “sweetbreads” in addition to the more common kidney and liver. The second is if you can find a butcher or a local farm (the place you buy your half a grass-fed organic cow for yourself perhaps?) ask them if you can have the organs. I once got a whole cow stomach (yay green tripe!), lungs, heart, liver, etc. for FREE. One cow stomach is a good 30 pounds of dog food, and the rest you can mix with your other protein sources. I’m working on my current farmer allowing me to do this. 🙂 More and more people are asking for it, so they’re getting more open to the idea.

      Also, if you hunt or know anyone who does, you may be able to get deer guts or scraps from processing in the fall. I’ve also been known to go squirrel hunting just to feed them to my dog. Just make sure anything wild was a healthy animal and is deep frozen at least 30 days to kill any parasites. Also I wouldn’t feed the skin or brains of a wild animal, as those are the most likely places you will find transmittable disease. Sometimes if you’re lucky, you can find old freezer burned meat on craigslist.

      For others who are willing to spend a little more, I get whole chickens (feathers and all), quail, and rabbits from an online retailer that caters to reptile owners and zoos. Shipping adds considerable expense, but if you’re lucky enough to live close to a place like that, or close to a reptile show they travel to, you can pick it up yourself.

      Also whole sardines/mackerel from the fish market or grocery store. Stay away from bigger fish with hard spines. There are only two raw animals my dog won’t eat, and he eats EVERYTHING. One is fish with hard spines. The other is rats (farm raised – I tried it cuz it was cheap. But they smell so horrible on the inside I can’t say I blame him!)

      I hope this helps!

      1. Rambler, (and anyone) simple question: raw?
        I should NOT be cooking the food?
        I offer a variety of foods to my doggie including hearts, liver, chicken, etc. veggies … but I cook it all ….
        Should it be uncooked?

        1. There are pros and cons to each. Cooking destroys nutrients, and raw requires more attention to sanitation and safety. There are really only two hard rules: don’t feed cooked bones, and don’t feed raw vegetables. Cooked bones splinter vs shatter, and are more likely to cause injury. Raw veggies aren’t dangerous, dogs just can’t digest them, so it’s kind of pointless. They come out looking the same as they went in.

          Personally, I feel that raw is easier to be healthy. Cooked, you have to add a lot of supplements to make up for what is lost in cooking. In any case, if you’re feeding any homemade dog food as more than just a topper, do a LOT of research on your own to determine the best recipe for you and your dog.

          As a topper or treat, it really doesn’t matter if they’re cooked or not.

    3. You shouldn’t feed both kibble and raw in the same meal. They should be fed at least 5 hours apart because they digest differently. Do one in the morning and the other at night if you’re going to feed kibble to your dog.

  6. The early neutering/spaying really irritates me. I’m a cat person as I’ve said but male cats, their faces totally change if you give them a chance. They develop jowls like Sylvester the cat. Until I allowed a male to develop fully, I thought that was artistic license, but it’s not. Males look different from females if you let them develop. I didn’t have any spraying and we tolerated his bouts of nervousness until he was about 18 months old. He started acting like he might spray and even then we held off a bit longer. He never actually sprayed. When he did that I’d pick him up and hug him to calm him and we went through cases of feliway. But it was worth it. He’s a communicative cat with a domineering personality and physically larger than our female cat, who developed a rounder body with a more triangular kitty face. She was actually harder to wait for. Hugging her didn’t stop the heat. I really think that if a person isn’t willing to go through a bit of stress to allow a cat to fully develop before “the knife” then maybe they’re not dedicated enough to be mommy to a fur baby. I see people treating animals like they’re disposable and it just isn’t my favorite view of humanity. Obviously they weren’t allowed outside so it’s not about population for me, it’s about robbing them surgically of something their body naturally does. It’s almost heresy to talk about it though, so thank you for the opportunity.

  7. The pre-mixed frozen raw foods are very expensive, especially for a larger dog.
    I feed raw chicken, cooked livers, beef on sale, etc. and veggies, canned cheaper salmon, etc.
    Good kibble is now quite expensive per pound so “real” food is really not more expensive overall and it is REAL food.

  8. I like to use the USDA food database for nutrients like Taurine. Last time I looked, scallops were the highest, whole food, in taurine. I didn’t realize it was an issue for dogs. But I share my scallops with my furry family members whenever we make them. And I make sure not to flavor them with onion. That’s the hard part.

    I researched the raw option. I was tempted by this delivery service that sends you whole rabbits (gut removed but organs intact) frozen and then grinding that up. I decided I wasn’t ready for that much responsibility. I make a vitamin mix with taurine and sprinkle it on food (the pet vitamins don’t seem very high quality to me). I give them a human quality fish day, they get part of any meal where the meat was cooked without onions, probably three times a week. And when I can find it, they get thawed, raw smelts. It’s getting harder to find that in supermarkets. But I’ve given them pieces of fish fillets or canned sardines, if I couldn’t find it.

    So basically I decided to supplement a high quality diet. I switched to Organic canned food when they were around 5 years old. If you’re already buying high quality, the cost difference isn’t that bad. But it might be more economical to go the “ground rabbit” route if you have lots of animals. I only have 2.

  9. I have 2 rat terriers that are now 14 and 12 years old. Both of them were rescues from puppy mills. I got them at roughly 2 years and 8 months. They were both severely male-nourished.
    The older one could not keep any food down and I was buying food straight from my vet. The food was very expensive.
    10 years ago give or take I switched them to a grain free kibble and to this day they are still thriving. Now they are also in a great home, get a lot of love, tons of exercise, and terriers tend to live longer anyway, but I attribute the food I have them on as a big reason they have been so healthy for so long. The dogs each weight about 25 pounds and they are solid muscle. I have had next to no health issues with them for the last 10 years. Sadly they are getting older now but they are aging as gracefully as can be.

    I do give them a few supplements for joint health, they get table scraps in the form of cooked salmon skin and bites of grass-fed beef steak. For the most part though it has been 1 cup of grain-free kibble a day for the last 10 years and they have been thriving.

    Many of my friends have switched their dogs as well and are getting great results as well.

  10. Mark, would there be any harm or benefit in throwing in a scoop of collagen on top of my dog’s raw meat&veggie patty?

  11. I’d really be interested in any commercially-available brands you’d recommend. We have two rescues at home–a 13 y.o. 70 lb dog and an 8 y.o. 65 lb dog. We’ve had them for about three years now. While they are both incredibly healthy and active dogs, we’re paying about $700 per month in freeze-dried food. We’re lucky enough to be able to afford this, but I’d really like to know if there are any good options out there that are more reasonable for our large dogs. Thank you!

    1. Susan, we’re long time raw feeders at my house (mostly cats until we added our pup a year ago). The highest quality product we’ve found is Small Batch out of San Francisco. See if you can get it directly from the company or through a distributor at your favorite pet store. It’s not organic, but I haven’t found a pet option that is, and the quality of Small Batch far exceeds others on the market. You won’t pay more than you’re currently paying, and maybe a little less. Hard for me to judge because our dog is only 50 lbs.

    2. Highest quality raw (to purchase) is by far Answers. They will formulate for you, they will work with you if you have dogs with kidney or pancreatic issues… EXPENSIVE but my next puppy will be raised to one year on Answers, then transitioned to my homemade raw.

  12. Mark, would there be any harm or benefit in throwing in a scoop of collagen on top of my dog’s raw meat & veggie patty?

  13. We have an almost 7 y/o white West Highlands terrier. We decided against spaying her, and we don’t over-vaccinate her. (Read into that whatever you like.) Certainly we have to be careful with her when she’s in heat, but we’ve never had much of a problem with any of that.

    We feed her a homemade diet that’s mostly beef, chicken, turkey, pork, occasional shrimp, and liver–all of it is cooked, never raw. We give her an egg several times a week, canine-appropriate veggies, and occasionally cottage cheese. She gets cooked beef/buffalo tendons to chew on. She’s a small dog–about 18 lbs.– so it’s quite affordable. I also buy sprinkle-on dog vitamins that I get online (Call of the Wild brand).

    She’s a very healthy, energetic dog with a thick, lustrous coat, and she lives as natural a life as we can reasonably provide her with. She has never had any health or allergy issues of any kind, so I’m certain we’re on the right track. Thing is, you can’t feed dogs a garbage diet and expect them to be healthy animals.

  14. Love this post on my favorite subject…dogs!
    We have a 95-pound muscular yellow lab, thanks to keeping him in tact and feeding raw. After switching from kibble to frozen carnivore patties and marrow bones, his ear infections completely disappeared. It is pricey at $350/month, but the health benefits are amazing. He is totally primal, just like the rest of the family!

  15. More and more people are rescuing dogs and cats instead of going to breeders (legit or backyard) and that’s a good thing. The problem is that virtually every rescue organization and shelter neuters their animals to reduce overpopulation. So it’s almost impossible to adopt an intact pet. I’m not sure what the answer is, but I tend to lean in the direction of a shortened life rather than a miserable, lonely life.

  16. I trust the Tufts University vets on nutrition more than most any other source. I think most vets are similar to human doctors in that they know a little about animal nutrition but are not experts.

  17. After feeding our cats raw for decades, it was our natural tendency when we added a pup last year to the family. Our dog eats so healthy that I joke I’m going to rename her “Keto.” I’d never given any thought to the negative implications of spaying and neutering (this article was such a “duh” moment), but our vet had us wait a year and my pup just start menstruating before her surgery, so I am hoping that we found a sweet spot in her development.

  18. Just to make a correction, mast cell tumors are not the same as breast cancers in dogs. Mast cell tumors are tumors made up of mast cells which are cells containing histamine granules.

  19. Dogs will eat fruit in season in the wild, and it’s consistent with a raw food wholefood diet to give them apple cores and such, or even peas.
    I find my dog poops more easily with a little food like this in her diet. I also include eggshells in her food if she doesn’t have a good bone at the time.
    Iodine deficiency is a snag I hit with another dog and it responded quickly to kelp powder. The symptoms are white blotches on skin, mastitis, and fearful behaviour.

  20. All of the spay/neuter research you quoted was done on large dogs. I was prepared to let my Yorkie x Poodle mix wait until she turned 18 months but my vet recommended I do it much earlier — because Yorkies and Poodles both have an extremely high incidence of mammary tumors which greatly increases with age. I did my own research to confirm this and subsequently, she was spayed at 5 months. Just like people, dog breeds differ since we have spent so many years making them special in one way, we can screw them up in other ways. Be willing to check out breed specifics before making every choice about your pet.

    As to collagen powder — I do throw a couple of heaping tablespoons (organic, grass fed hydrolyzed collagen) into my coffee mix in the morning I mix it with a little salt and apple cider vinegar in the evening on occasion, as well. But have you ever tried it in plain water??? Tastes like glue — maybe because it is pretty much glue. Some dogs might not care. Mine do. You can mix it with broth I imagine, or I make a cooked mix of meats with a few veggies, all ground up together (plus nutritional yeast, bone meal, and a few other goodies that works as a base for their diet. Some of my guys eschew raw meat. Go figure.

    1. I agree with you on the breeds, however mammary cancer/tumors are detectible and operable. removing the hormones they need makes ALL breeds susceptible to cancers like Lymphoma and HSA that are not operable and always deadly … and fast.

    1. Yes! what about cats. I do not find good information. It would be great to see a similar post about effects of spay/neuter on cats.

  21. Canines are scavengers. They are omnivores. They will eat road kill and small prey they kill themselves. If they catch and kill a rabbit or small rodent or even a bird they will crunch the bones and eat the soft, sinewy intestines and the organs. They will eat the stomach and the contents of the stomach which will be vegetation. A dog will stalk a lizard and insects and will eat both.
    Dogs have not changed in 10000+ years so we should be feeding them as close to a raw meat and bone diet as we can because this is what they ate when they hunted and when they came upon a carcass already picked over by a larger predator. This includes raw veggie scraps. I supplement with olive oil on par cooked broccoli from my dinner and coconut oil dolloped on my dog’s meal to help keep his skin healthy. Also raw eggs, shell and all, apples and bananas. Dogs are scavengers first and foremost. They need to crunch and gnaw on raw bones, they need to open the bone up to get to the marrow. My dog loves to lick out the dregs in the yogurt tub and he likes cheese too. Did I mention he is a 12 year old GSP, uncut and only vaccinated with puppy shots? He is sprightly with no joint issues, not overweight, no skin diseases and no aggression.

    I also give him chicken frames and necks and wings. Chickens are barely 2 months old when killed here so the bones are tender and softly crunchy. The giblets are eaten raw too.

    Another interesting thing I’ve read lately is about dogs and onions. I wondered about that so I looked it up. The risk is only a risk if your dog eats an entire onion at one sitting. I can’t see my dog doing that.

    Grain fed dogs are at risk of intestinal obstruction which is an emergency. Twisted bowel occurs in dogs fed a grain-based diet.

    One last point, when the vet said to my husband, wow his teeth are so clean and strong! What do you use to brush them? My husband replied, are you joking?? Who the heck brushes their dog’s teeth?? When he got done laughing he told him about the raw bones. The vet had nothing to say. He didn’t try to sell the pricey stuff on his shelf though…

    Thanks Mark.

    1. Bravo Jennifer…. thank you. Love hearing from like-minded individuals!

    2. Interesting! Maybe I should give a little bit of egg shell to my Boston Terrier? She is my “helper” when it comes to rinsing the dishes, just does it with her tongue. A whole egg will give her sulfur issues, well, probably only an issue for me who doesn’t like the smell when it comes out the other end.
      I give her pumpkin as a treat after her morning walk. She gets apples, carrots, any fruit I eat but her all time favorite is watermelon, that was a surprise to me for some reason. However, the “grain free kibble” is what she gets with a few teaspoons of my lunch mixed in. The only allergy she gets is from rolling around in grass, not every time so I’m thinking it’s what is on the grass in the park when it happens.

      1. Yep, my GSP loves watermelon and he has decided that any scraps the chickens get are good enough for him too. It’s all about the fear of missing out I think. I have to feed them separately as they don’t share! It is funny to watch the dog munching through a quarter of a watermelon, rind and all. He gnaws on mangos too. The flesh is super sweet and the seed is too big to swallow so he just kind of sucks on it. When he’s done the chickens have a go.

        Dogs will eat duck eggs or bird eggs or chickens eggs or lizard eggs raw so backyard chicken/duck farmers with dogs need to pay attention! Eggs are almost the perfect food.

        I freeze pieces of fruit or cheese or meat or veggie peels in containers with water for my dog to gnaw on in the summer when it is really hot.

        Public parks are sprayed with roundup so no wonder dogs get ill after rolling around in the grass.
        The legacy of that poison will linger for generations I fear.

  22. Hi all, I don’t comment often, although I’ve been a reader for years. However, I think I’ll drop a line her to recommend
    This was actually how I started in the primal culture, as I was looking for an alternative diet for my cats, because feeding these predators factory-made kibble made no sense…
    Turns out, the same was true for humans 🙂

  23. Fed my GSD raw for most of his entire life – lost him 5 weeks ago to severe allergy issues BUT for the brief period of time that he was dog food fed, his stools were huge loose and unhealthy appearing. This was never true on raw, his body used the food fully and left behind only very small, firm amounts of waste.

    Great article Mark – the only thing I would argue again is heart is considered a muscle meat, not an organ.

    Miss my GSD terribly – like a hole in my heart. Sooner or later I will feel up to another and he too will be raw fed.

  24. I make food for my cats. I add a supplement for the calcium and phosphorus, plus liver and some other things. One cat is 20 this year, the other is 16. The vets double check their age every time I take them in for a check up, they can never believe how old they are. I must be doing something right. There’s a website by Lisa A Pierson, DVM, about feeding your cat raw foods, why you should, and how to go about it.

  25. Hi Mark… glad to see this article. I am a anti-neuter/spay, no unnecessary vaccinations, no flea/tick/HW poison, raw-fed dog mommy. Neutering a male dog doesn’t EVER need to be done. Be responsible. Neutering does not help or change behavior, sometimes it does for the worse. Intact dogs cancer rise (mammary/testicular) rises like 1/10th of 1%, while spayed/neutered dogs the risk of DEADLY cancers (lymphoma and hemangiosarcoma) increase exponentially. Feed Raw. Its easy, great books out there from awesome holistic vets and nutrition experts (which most conventional vets aren’t… they get about 1/2 a day of nutrition training and that is paid for by Purina!) Kibble=Death…sorry to say. Yes, many dogs survive and thrive but wow the amazing changes I’ve seen I Raw Fed dogs. PS. Don’t buy anything from chain pet stores. full up preservatives, poisons etc. Check out Dogs Naturally Magazine for a lot of wonderful articles by experts in the holistic and natural veterinary world.

  26. Could you do a similar post on effects of spaying/neutering cats…

  27. I’ve fed my almost 5 year old dog raw since we got her at 12 weeks, transitioning her from kibble to raw one meal at a time. I also feed her salmon oil daily. She has a beautiful coat! An good source of well-balanced raw food is Oma’s Pride.
    Fortunately I live near a pet store that runs a coop for purchasing it. Check it out online to see if there’s one year you.

  28. With regards to the delay in spaying/neutering dogs to prevent health issues, I’m gonna say, spay/neuter early. The risk of creating litters of unwanted animals is too great. Most pet owners aren’t responsible enough to ensure that there are no accidental pregnancies. We already euthanize 1.5 million shelter animals (670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats) each year. The number has dropped over the years as a direct result of the increased number of animals getting spayed or neutered before reaching sexual maturity.

    In addition, early spaying and neutering eliminates the chances of dogs and cats developing testicular or uterine cancer and greatly reduces the chances of them developing mammary cancer if they are spayed before their first heat. It also reduces behavior issues that can result in animals being abandoned or taken to the shelter where they are most likely going to be euthanized. So, on the whole, I think the benefits far outweigh the risks.

    1. hi, I agree in the need to spay/neuter domestic dogs and cats (unlees you are a breeder). There are enough evidence about the millions of euthanized dogs and cats in the world!
      I was reading the article about the 700+ labradors, and they say: “the only data used were from retrospective veterinary hospital records”; I was thinking… if we were reading about people, we just didn´t “believe” too much in an article where only people that went to a hospital was studied (maybe a lot more of sick people there?).
      [Sorry for my English! I wish to post in Spanish, so I can tell exactly whay I mean…]
      Best regards!

  29. Finally getting around to an anecdote about our 14 yo large breed dog, Lydia. She had had two litters when we acquired her and she was spayed soon after at 4. In the last year of her life, I had gotten distracted or busy and reverted to significant amounts of processed food. Liddie started urinary incontinence. Infection was not an issue. Had words with self and reverted to raw: chicken frames, beef heart, weekly liver etc. She became dry and remained so right up until a rapid decline after six months of better quality of life.

    Her companion was spayed at 8 with only two episodes of visiting male management. She was complimented by a vet friend as having the best senior dog figure compared with his clients. She then put on 6 lb over time and died at 14.

    Current dog, 10 yo 80lb Pointer X, is doing very well on a raw regime (plus bone stock). He’s active, and sound despite a ball chasing hobby on droughted ground and having inordinately long legs.

  30. Can somebody please tell me a dry dog food that I should feed my miniature dachshund?! I’m so overwhelmed and just need to know the best one out there. Thanks!