I often see discussions about a dog's health issues where some well meaning person jumps in to inform a dog owner that had they fed their dogs a raw food diet, their dog wouldn't be experiencing health issues. A friend of mine experienced this recently and it pissed me off.
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” ~ Source Unclear
I am a proponent of raw feeding and I changed the direction of Keep the Tail Wagging to promote a species appropriate diet, share my experiences, and encourage others to feed their dogs raw. I am a dog mom and dog nutrition blogger; I'm not a veterinarian or canine nutritionist. No amount of blogging or research will qualify me as an expert in raw feeding for dogs (other than my dogs).
Whenever I see someone get on a high horse and use their passion to inform other dog owners of the grand misstep of feeding a commercial kibble diet, I shake my head. If you dig a little deeper, you might realize that you're communicating with someone who is dealing with their own guilt. However, lashing out at others doesn't inspire change. I'm still waiting to meet the dog owner who switched to raw after being attacked for half a day on Facebook.
Why I Feed a Raw Food Diet to My Dogs
I switched to raw feeding, because kibble wasn't cutting it for Rodrigo. My other dogs were doing okay, but Rodrigo's gut was being destroyed. I didn't know what was happening at the time; I just knew that chronic ear infections, diarrhea, allergies, canine arthritis, and food intolerances weren't normal for a young dog.
I kept encountering people who were talking about raw feeding and I decided to take the leap. Nothing else was working, why not try this? – a week later, I was happy that I made the switch when I noticed that Rodrigo's skin rash was gone (not healed, gone).
I started with Darwin's Natural Pet Food, transitioning to DIY a year later. Today, I feed our dogs a mix of…
- my own model, FrankenBARF, and
- premade raw from trusted brands (Darwin's Pet, Vital Essentials Raw, Steve's Real Food, OC Raw, and Raw Paws Pet Food).
Raw dog food works for my pack and health issues are a thing of the past. But does that mean everyone should feed their dogs raw food? Hell Yes!!!! Yes, I think raw dog food is the best diet for all dogs. I'm one of those crazy people who say that dogs, all dogs, are descendant from wolves (yes, your little chihuahua too) and they should be fed a species appropriate diet. Yes, somedays I feel like James Marsden in that RAV4 commercial.
But that's just an opinion by someone how is excited about her dogs' success on a raw food diet.
5 Reasons You Shouldn't Feed Raw Dog Food
I've written a similar post sharing why I think people shouldn't feed raw dog food. While some people are telling people aggressively that they should feed raw, you'll often find me shaking my head and thinking “raw isn't for you, my dear.”
1 – Your Dog Has a Health Issue that Makes Raw Feeding Complicated
If you Google most health issues and raw feeding, i.e. Cancer + Feeding Dogs Raw, you will find plenty of articles and discussions that will confirm that you can feed your dog a raw food diet after a cancer diagnosis. Many people believe that a species appropriate diet is the solution to most health issues and I'm one of them.
But is it really?
Unless you're working with a veterinarian experienced in your dog's health issues and a raw food diet, you could be rolling the dice here. But not everyone has access to a local holistic veterinarian and are faced with doing a lot of research, consulting with fellow raw feeders, and praying for the best. If you're not willing to do the homework and take the risk that what you learned is right, then raw feeding may not be right for your dog.
2 – You Don't Have Time to Research Raw Feeding
All of my dogs are healthy, but I find myself researching various aspects of their raw diet all the time. At least once a month, I'm messaging with my friend Tina about something related to raw feeding or dog health – it never ends.
Over the past three years, I've learned about…
- creating a balanced diet,
- sourcing affordable, quality proteins and organ meat
- identifying allergens
- recognizing various health conditions
I'm so in tune with my dogs that I can make immediate adjustments to their diet and supplements to address any health mishaps that come up. Even more freaky – when I clean the yard, I know each dog's poop. I feel psychotic.
Granted, not everyone needs to go to extremes when it comes to raising and feeding their dogs, but homework is involved.
3 – You Don't Have a Raw Feeding Support System
If you're new to raw feeding, you're going to need someone on your side. I'm lucky, because I have two amazing veterinarians, half of my friends feed raw, and thanks to my blog I'm connecting with raw feeders around the world. Whenever I have a question, I pick up the phone and dial, text, or message someone.
Of course, plenty of people have been feeding a raw food diet on their own for years. That works great for plenty of people. But if you're like me, it's nice to connect with someone and understand what's right or wrong. Should I be worried or is this normal?
4 – You Can't Find Affordable, Quality Sources for Raw Dog Food
I became a raw feeder in April 2013. I was ready to go back to feeding kibble (or half kibble, half raw) less than a year later when I spent over $800 on premade raw after throwing away $200 of raw chicken that made our dogs sick. I was right, there's no way I can afford this diet!
Last month, I spent $960 on dog food. If everything lasts 90 days (which is the plan), it'll reduce my monthly budget to $320/month which is $80 per dog each month (it was $500 or more per month). This budget includes ALL OF THEIR FOOD!
I belong to a local raw food co-op where I buy the bulk of our dogs' food, treats, supplements, and supplies. The balance of their food comes from the grocery store (organic veggies) and now that I have a garden, I'll be able to cut this cost ($25-30/month with sales and coupons) as well. Because of these savings, I'm able to continue to afford one order of Darwin's Pet (beef and green tripe) each month.
Check out this post listing 21 ways to save money on raw feeding.
5 – You Can't Get Over Your Discomfort with Handling Raw Meat
This is a big one for a lot of dog owners, especially ones who are vegetarians or vegans. I saw a post in one of the Facebook groups I love, RawFeeding Rebels, where comments of a discussion were closed, because people couldn't get past someone's choice to raise rabbits to feed their dogs.
I know people who raise rabbits, cows, ducks, turkeys, and other animals to feed their family, including their dogs. Where do you think meat comes from? Insert eye roll here. These animals are raised in amazing conditions and slaughtered humanely. It's cheaper than buying at the grocery store, where we're spared the visual of an animal's face, and healthier, because these animals are fed a healthy diet, allowed exercise, and they aren't subjected to hormones, antibiotics, or other chemicals.
Climbing down from my high horse to be honest.
I couldn't do it. Even if someone came to the house and slaughtered the animals for me, I don't think I could do it, because I become attached. I can't kill and eat something I name and I'll name all the animals. This isn't a judgment about the choices made by others, many of whom I buy meat from, it's just me being honest about my limitations.
Don't Be a Dick to Non-Raw Feeders
When I first started researching raw, I nearly didn't bother switching, because raw feeders can be such asshats. I was chastised for feeding pre-made, for feeding raw in the morning and kibble in the evening, for making a frozen yogurt and fruit treat, and more. I can't tell you how many groups I was thrown out of before I started my own. And a year into my group, I was chastised for asking people to be nice!
Look, I get the passion. I often do happy dances when Rodrigo drops a solid deuce. When I meet another raw feeder, it's like meeting a sorority sister – even if it's a guy and even though I never belonged to a sorority. And if you ask me what I feed my dogs, I'll happily talk until your ears bleed.
But are you surprised? I have a blog about my dogs' raw food diet! ‘Nough said.
Despite my passion and unqualified believe that raw feeding is best, I try to tone it down when I'm speaking to non-raw feeders, because I'm not Dr. Karen Becker, who also states that a species appropriate diet is best for our pets, in a kind, respectful manner.
When someone shares their dog's heath issues and concerns, support them, because it's a difficult and scary time. If you're curious, ask them if they've heard of raw feeding, but don't pressure them about it and don't rub their face in the kibble they feed to their dogs. It's not nice, it doesn't help the situation, and it gives all raw feeders a bad name.
Stop being a dick! Now join me in a Solid Poop Happy Dance…