Does Your Dog have Allergies or Digestive Issues?The veterinarian said Rodrigo wouldn't live long past his 3rd birthday...
I switched Rodrigo and Sydney to a raw food diet in 2013 after nothing else worked to ease Rodrigo's allergies and digestive issues. Within two weeks of switching to a partial (or hybrid) raw diet, I saw improvements in my dogs' health, digestion, and mobility. Coincidence? I don't think so. If you'd like to learn more, keep reading or check out my books available on Amazon.com.
Book 1: A Novice's Guide to Raw Feeding for Dogs
Book 2: 100 Questions Pet Parents Ask About Raw Feeding for Dogs
What is Raw Feeding?
Raw feeding is an attempt to replicate a natural and biologically appropriate diet for dogs. I’m not under the misconception that my dogs are wolves and that I need to feed them like wolves, despite what the Internet says about raw feeders. My dogs are domesticated canines, they are facultative carnivores, and while they were surviving on a kibble diet, they are thriving on a diet of fresh food.
Facultative Carnivores – Dogs are identified as facultative carnivores (not omnivores) because while they can survive on a plant-based diet, they thrive on a carnivorous diet.
Dogs ARE NOT Omnivores – There are people who will tell you that dogs have evolved to eat a high carb (most kibbles are at least 40% carb). After years of study and speaking with veterinarians and animal nutritionists, I've come to realize that this believe is a cop out by brands that want us to continue feeding our dogs a processed diet (aka fast food).
Benefits of Raw Feeding
I switched to a raw food diet for the promise of healing my dog's gut and improving his immune system. Over the years, I've witnessed more benefits with my dogs:
- the improved immune system leads to fewer infections, rashes, allergies, sensitivities
- the healthy gut leads to better nutrient absorption and solid stool
- healthy skin and coat, less of that doggy smell (fewer baths for my pack)
- smaller, less smelly stool due to feeding fresh food instead of a high carb, processed diet
- improved metabolism, healthier weight, more energy
- decreased inflammation, improved joint health and mobility
- healthy teeth and gums thanks to raw meaty bones
Why I Switched to Raw
I switched my dogs to a diet of raw food after one of my dogs, Rodrigo, kept getting sick. He was put on several rounds of antibiotics and racked up a high vet bill and we still didn’t know why he kept getting sick. He had food sensitivities, environmental allergies, digestive issues, skin rashes, recurring ear infections, he licked his paws until they developed sores, joint pain/arthritis, and he was aggressive (probably because he felt like crap).
When it became obvious that the veterinarian didn’t have a solution and after he predicted that my dog wouldn’t live long past his third birthday, I switched our dogs to raw. I saw an improvement in his health within the first two weeks; most of the issues that he was experiencing cleared up.
Today, I feed raw because it's species-appropriate. Fresh food is easier to digest, supports a healthy gut and immune system, lessens inflammation, and keeps our dogs healthy.
Raw Feeding Models
BARF (biologically appropriate raw food) Model Raw Feeding is a raw food diet that includes fruits, vegetables, and supplements. BARF Model raw feeders believe that vegetables are an important part of a dog's diet and provide many nutrients that are beneficial to our dogs' health.
Prey Model Raw Feeding is a raw food diet that includes meat, organ meat, and bone. This model more closely resembles what wolves eat in the wild. Prey Model raw feeders believe that vegetables and fruit aren't necessary for a dog's diet and only serve as fillers.
This is the model that I now feed to my dogs. It starts with a base of 80% muscle meat 10% bone 5% offal 5% liver and I add vegetables, raw goats milk, raw eggs, and supplements – all added to build a nutritious diet and satisfy each dog's specific needs. Read: The FrankenBARF Model of Raw Feeding for Dogs
NRC / Science-Based Model
NRC is a guide that many commercial pet food companies use (in part) to make sure that the food they produce is nutritionally balanced. There is a growing group of raw feeders who also follow the NRC guidelines because they believe this is the most accurate way to feed a nutritious diet.
Transitioning to Raw
I transitioned two of our dogs to raw via a Hybrid Diet, which means that I fed my dogs raw (premade, commercial raw from Darwin's Natural Pet Products) in the morning and kibble in the evening. I did this to make sure my dogs did well on the new diet and it gave me time to figure out my budget. Premade raw isn't cheap.
Ten months later, I joined a local raw food co-op, which made raw feeding more affordable by cutting my budget by 50%. Over the years, we've added more dogs to our family and I've been able to cut my budget further because I feed DIY raw. For five dogs (55 lbs – 75 lbs), I spend, on average, $300/month. Our other three dogs were transitioned to raw cold turkey.
And if it'll be easier to work with someone to transition your dog, you can work with a professional who formulates meals for pets: Work with a Meal Formulator
Feeding a Balanced Diet
There are a lot of people who are concerned about balancing a raw food diet. I don't believe that this is a concern because (1) there isn't one way to feed dogs; every dog is different and (2) there hasn't been a long term study conducted to show us what is necessary for raw fed dogs.
That being said, I worked with a friend to create a spreadsheet using NRC figures. The spreadsheet helps me better understand the nutrients in my dogs' diet.
Balance Over Time
I choose to balance my dogs' diet over time because this makes sense to me – I don't eat a balanced meal three times a day every day (nor do wild dogs), so why would I feed my dogs this way?
How I Feed 80/10/10 Plus
I don't use a calculator. Instead, I estimate the 80/10/10 because that's an estimate. I mix the meat/organs/bone with Dr. Harvey's Paradigm base mix and other nutrients. And I toss in fermented foods (fermented fish stock, vegetables, seeds) for natural probiotics to boost gut health.
Start Feeding Raw Today!!!
Raw Paws Pet Food offers quality foods and treats, from exceptional sources, along with guidance if you have questions.
If you're interested in transitioning your dog(s) on a raw food diet today, here's a list of items you can order from Raw Paws Pet Food to get you started.
I chose variety that will allow your dog to try different foods while eating a nutritionally complete raw food diet.
Need Help with Raw Feeding?
If you're still uncertain or if you're interested in DIY raw feeding, check out the following resources.
Raw Feeding 101
Raw Feeding Course / Coaching
by a Pro-Raw Holistic Veterinarian
by a Certified Pet Nutritionist