Why should I feed
raw food to my dog?
Dogs are carnivores that evolved eating raw foods. Commercial foods
are generally heat processed which alters or destroys nutrients and
essential enzymes, so dog food companies try to add back what they
destroyed, but they donít always know whatís missing and what
proportion is best. For example, cats were developing problems and dying
when fed commercial food until it was discovered that taurine was
needed. Although itís abundant in raw meat, they didnít know until
recently to add it to commercial food. Itís only in the last 50 years
or so that people started feeding dogs commercial foods. And itís
quite a coincidence that during this time dogs have developed more
cancer, heart disease, and allergies Ė just like people who also eat
Wonít raw food
make my dog sick?
Dogs have a short digestive system that is designed to eat raw food.
Cooked, commercial dog food takes longer for dogs to digest and often
ferments before it is digested.
What about bacteria?
Bacteria is present almost everywhere. It only causes problems when
the immune system is stressed. If youíre still worried, consider
Salmonella: infection is usually acquired by ingestion of food
contaminated by Salmonella-laden feces. Which is more likely to be
contaminated by feces, bags of kibble stored in a warehouse or chicken
parts wrapped in plastic for display at your local grocery?
Dogs, and their wild
ancestors, have survived eons by eating raw meat. Because they have
survived by eating raw meat (sometimes rotting, dead things) it clearly
shows that nature has adapted dogs to deal with the bacteria found on
their food. People, however, may be at some risk when handling raw meat. Just like you would do when preparing
food for yourself, be sure to thoroughly clean your hands, counters, and
any utensils that come in contact with raw meat.
cook the meat?
No, and there are several reasons. First,
dogs evolved to eat raw meat. Second, cooking causes bones to become brittle and dangerous.
NEVER feed cooked bones to your dog! Third, cooking will
destroy enzymes and anti-oxidants essential to your dogís health. Many years ago Francis Pottenger M.D. did an experiment with cats. He fed one group of cats a raw diet and a different group a cooked diet.
Soon, the cats eating a cooked diet developed problems such as tooth
loss, skeletal deformities, behavioral problems, paralysis, heart
lesions, and arthritis. By the third generation, these cats could no longer reproduce.
Fortunately when these cats were later feed raw food, many were restored
What is the best
type of raw food?
The best food for your dog may vary depending on his individual
needs. The basic diet, however, should consist of mostly succulent, raw,
meaty bones with the addition of some organ meat, plus a little muscle
meat. Some people feel that vegetables can provide additional nutrition.
However because of the design of the dogís teeth and his digestive
system he probably wonít be able to derive much nutrition from fruits
and vegetables unless they are cut very fine, mashed or lightly cooked.
What are RMBs?
RMB stands for "raw, meaty bone" and includes any meaty bone
that can be completely, or almost completely, consumed by a dog. The
appropriate RMB will vary by individual dog; for example, a chicken wing
may be an RMB for a Dachshund, but barely a gulp for a Rottweiler. RMBs
are NOT the large, weight-bearing bones such as beef marrow bones and
knuckle bones. These are generally too big and hard for a dog to
consume. Sometimes these large bones can be given as a recreational bone
and taken away when the meat has been stripped. However many people
prefer not to give these types of bones because they can cause chipped
and broken teeth.
How do I make sure
my dog gets a complete and balanced diet?
By feeding a varied diet based on raw, meaty bones you will achieve
a balance over time. Because chicken is widely available and fairly
inexpensive, many people feed mostly chicken. However you should feed as
wide a variety of foods as your dog will eat (and as your wallet can
handle). For example, chicken backs, necks and quarters, rabbit parts,
turkey, pork necks and feet, beef, goat, fish, eggs (whole, including
the shell), deer, elk, buffalo, kangaroo, and the list goes on...
Canít my dog choke
on a bone?
Yes, dogs can (and have) choked on many things including bones,
kibble, tennis balls, sticks, socks, etc. Dogs can also break their
teeth on bones. Therefore it is best to feed bones of a manageable size,
which generally includes poultry, rabbits, and non-weight bearing bones
of larger animals. Although the bones should be of a manageable size,
the pieces should be large enough so that the dog has to tear and chew
rather than gulping it whole which could cause choking.
If you're still worried
about feeding bones to your dog - thanks to the propaganda that dog food
companies have spewed for the past 50 years - you can still get most of
the benefits of a raw diet by feeding ground meat. Don't just buy
hamburger or even ground turkey, because neither contains the necessary
bone. Although they may be fine for an occasional muscle meal, your dog
needs the additional nutrients found in bones. You can buy a raw diet,
ground and specially prepared for dogs, however you can never be sure
what ingredients are actually in these packages. You can ask your
butcher to grind for you, however he will probably decline because of
the extra wear on his equipment caused by grinding bones. You can buy
your own grinder and do it yourself, however you will probably be
limited to the softer poultry bones. In a pinch, you can add some ground
egg shells, however this isn't the best long-term solution.
Are there any foods
that I should not feed my dog?
Other than poor quality commercial ďdog foodĒ you should NEVER
FEED your dog cooked bones or chocolate. Cooking makes bones brittle and
dangerous. Sugars, grains and dairy products should also be avoided.
Sugars provide no nutrition and may increase your dogís chance of
developing diabetes or cancer. Some dogs can tolerate grains, but they
break down into sugars and may also contribute to allergies. Except for
puppies nursing their mother, dogs should rarely (if ever) eat dairy
products as it is not a natural food for them and may contribute to
digestive upsets and allergies.
Can you give me some
You don't really need any recipes, as such, just remember to give your
dog a varied diet. You can relax and stop obsessing. You don't calculate
the exact percentages of protein and carbohydrates or the amount of each
vitamin and mineral that you eat, do you? Feeding your dog a healthy
diet isn't difficult. The majority of his diet should be raw, meaty
bones. Add some organ meat (e.g. heart, liver, etc), plus a little
boneless (muscle) meat, and maybe some mashed up vegetables. You can
throw in some eggs (whole, including the shell), some fish (again,
whole, if possible), and perhaps some yogurt (with active cultures to
help digestion). If you feel more comfortable with some structure when
you're first starting out try giving 9 meals of RMBs, 2 meals of muscle
meat, and 3 veggie meals during one week (provided you feed twice
daily). If you look in the 'fridge and there are only packages of muscle
meat when you're supposed to be feeding an RMB, don't worry! Give an
extra meal of muscle meat and relax. Your dog won't care. Just remember
you're striving for balance over time.
Another way to help you
visualize what to feed is called the prey model. Think of a chicken or
rabbit, the whole thing, before it gets cut and wrapped for display in
the meat section. Try to feed your dog the proportions found in that
whole prey animal - a percentage is bone, a percentage is meat, and a
percentage is organ meat.
Also be sure to feed a
variety of meats, not just different parts of a chicken - also try
turkey, lamb, pork, rabbit, fish, goat, beef, deer, and any other meat
that might be available in your area.
How do I determine
how much to feed my dog?
As a starting point give your dog about 2 to 3 percent of his ideal
adult weight. If your dog is very active, you may need to feed a little
more. If your dog is more of a couch-potato, you may need to feed a
little less. A good way to tell if you are feeding the right amount is
to run your hands over your dogís ribs. If you can feel the ribs, but
not see them, your dog is at a good weight. It is healthier for him to
be lean rather than fat or skinny. Puppies should also receive about 2
to 3 percent, but not of his current weight, rather 2 to 3 percent of
his ideal ADULT weight. Also, you donít have to give your
dog the same amount every day. You donít eat exactly the same amount
every day, do you?
A varied diet of raw meaty bones with a little organ meat and
occasional muscle met will provide all the nutrition the average dog
needs. Some people feel that meat from commercially-raised animals may
not provide the same amount of nutrients as meat from wild animals,
therefore they supplement with salmon or fish-body oil. These oils
contain high amounts of Omega-3s that may be deficient in the
commercially-raised animals. Also some dogs, particularly dogs with
health issues, may have greater requirements for certain nutrients.
How do I start?
It's usually best to start simply: one type of RMB for the first week or
two. Don't add any supplements or try several RMBs for a little while,
at least. Give your dog some time to adjust to this new food. Some dogs
do best on a cold turkey switch rather than half-kibble and half-raw,
others may need to be eased into the new diet. Remember to keep it bland
in the beginning. You might start with chicken or turkey and feed wings,
necks or backs for the first few days. Some dogs may take a little while
to adjust, and you may see some diarrhea. If so, you can try adding a
little canned pumpkin (not the pie filling) or increase the amount of
bone as compared to meat. You may also see a little vomiting. Sometimes
it's bits of bone that he just couldn't digest, other times it's a
yellow foam that means his stomach is empty. Raw meat usually digests
faster than kibble, so you may need to feed more often. For a beginning
dog, you may want to add some yogurt with active cultures or some
digestive enzymes to help his digestive system handle this new food.
As your dog adjusts,
you can add another type of RMB (not just a different body part, but a
different species of meat). Feed just those two meat types for several
days to a few weeks until your dog seems comfortable with his new diet.
Then gradually try different foods. See what your dog likes. Some love
fish, some hate it. Some love veggies, some won't touch it. Wait to add
the richer foods, such as liver, heart or eggs, until you're sure that
your dog is handling the basic raw diet.
My vet says there
have been no studies to determine whether raw feeding is better for
dogs. How come?
And who would pay for these studies? Dog food companies? Most of the
evidence that raw food is better will probably always be anecdotal. But
what a body of evidence it is, considering dogs have been eating raw for
thousands of years and only started eating commercial food within the
last 50 years or so. By the way, ask your vet how many hours he or she
spent studying nutrition in school. In all the years of veterinary
school, most vets only receive about 4 hours instruction on nutrition.
And those 4 hours are often presented by representatives of dog food
Do you have any
Be sure to research all you can about feeding a raw diet. Give your dog
the kind of food that you feel comfortable feeding. If you can't feed
whole "prey" animals, feed parts bought from a store. If you
can't feed whole bones, try feeding ground meat with bone included. If
you can't feed raw, try cooked food. There are no guarantees, but
feeding a fresh, wholesome diet (however you serve it) has got to be
better for your dog than the chemicals and fillers found in most
commercial dog foods.
The information given here is to help you learn more about
your pet and not to replace your veterinarian's advice.