Do you consider yourself a healthy eater? Most of us, believe it or not, put some consideration into our daily meals; we may think about our calorie intake, nutritional values, or the types of food we’re consuming. But what about our dogs? Well, they don’t get such luxury. We place a bowl of food in front of them and expect them to gobble it down. But are we feeding them the best possible meal we can?
If you’re here, chances are you’re interested in providing your dog with healthier, more nutritious meals.
After all, you are what you eat.
What is Raw Feeding for Dogs?
Raw feeding is the process of serving dogs a diet of raw meat, raw bone, and raw organs. The principle is that by feeding fresh food we are…
Benefits of Raw Feeding for Dogs
Raw feeding puts the power in your hands. You control the ingredients that are going into your dog’s bowl. On top of that, consuming raw food provides dogs with an influx of highly available nutrients. This means that they are able to digest and use the nutrients in raw food far easier than they would with kibble.
What does this mean?
More nutrients = healthier pup!
So what can you expect with a raw diet?
- healthy skin and shiny coat
- clean, white teeth
- fresh breath
- a healthy digestive system
- stronger immune system
- decreased allergies
- less inflammation
- improved joint health
- healthy body weight and muscle mass
- no doggy odor
- smaller, less smelly poop
- fewer veterinarian visits
Like many pet owners, I transitioned my dogs to a raw food diet to clear up ongoing health issues. Rodrigo, our first dog, had a long list of health issues including itchy paws, skin rashes recurring ear infections, daily loose stool and diarrhea, food sensitivities, and joint issues. Most of Rodrigo's health issues cleared up within two weeks of eating a hybrid (raw in the morning, kibble in the evening) diet. Today, he's a very healthy, active senior dog who loves to run, explore, and play fetch and tug-o-war.Rodrigo's first vet said my dog would live a short life. He was wrong.
How to Transition to Raw Dog Food
There is no one right way to transition your dog to a raw food diet. To learn more about the different methods visit my post about transitioning: 5 Steps to Transition a Dog to Raw Dog Food
Throughout my raw feeding journey I’ve used different methods. I transitioned Rodrigo and Sydney by feeding them commercial premade raw in the morning and kibble in the evening until we ran out of kibble. Scout and Zoey were transitioned cold turkey; they were eating kibble when we picked them up in Idaho and they had their first raw meal when we got them home that evening.Transitioning to raw doesn't have to be complicated.
Choosing a Raw Feeding Model
There are 2 main models of raw feeding, Prey Model and BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) Model.
The Prey Model aims to best match the way your dog would eat in the wild. That means, whole prey, fur, feathers, and all! The Prey Method does not include fruits, vegetables, or dairy of any kind.
Much like The Prey Model, the BARF Model also symbolizes a dog’s ancestral diet. The main difference is that the BARF Model does allow for the inclusion of raw fruits and vegetables.
The beauty of raw feeding? Both models can be modified to better fit your lifestyle or dog’s needs.
What do I do? I feed my dogs a modified version of the BARF model, which means that I start with a base of 80/10/10 and add additional foods to make sure that I'm meeting my dogs' nutritional needs.
80% muscle meat
5% offal (aka secreting organs like kidney, spleen, pancreas, brain, and testicles)
5% liverI like knowing that my dogs are eating a balanced raw diet.
From there, I add additional whole foods to meet their daily and weekly nutrient requirements. Sounds complicated? It's really not complicated. I've been feeding this way steadily for several years and learned that I'm meeting their nutritional needs through a nutrient test for pets.
To better understand the nutrients my dogs need, I created a spreadsheet based on NRC (nutrient requirements) for dogs. By doing this, I was able to identify holes in my dogs' diet and make the appropriate adjustments.
Easy Raw Dog Food Recipes
If the idea of raw feeding is exciting but daunting, don’t worry. It’s totally normal to feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to begin.
That’s where I come in.
I offer tons of free resources to help you get started and to make your own easy, raw meals at home.
Stop in every Friday for Raw Foodie Friday where I give you raw meal ideas and inspiration.
Why Not Start Now!
In 2004, Morgan Spurlock, an American independent filmmaker, shocked the country with his film Super Size Me. Morgan only ate McDonald's for 30 days, super-sizing his orders when given the option. In that 30-day period, Morgan gained 24 pounds, developed a fatty liver and increased cholesterol, experienced mood swings and other mental and health issues.
Seeing the rapid decline in the filmmaker’s health was still a shock. Today, more than a decade later, many of us work on our own diet, but many pet parents and veterinarians are okay with feeding pets a highly processed diet daily. Why?
If you’ve been hesitant or unsure about feeding your dog a raw food diet, it’s time to dive into the why. Visit the Resources page to dive deeper into the world of raw feeding – it doesn’t have to be difficult, messy, or expensive.