Rodrigo and Sydney were puppies when I first heard of raw feeding. Friends were telling us that feeding their dog a whole, raw chicken eliminated his allergies. They raved about this new diet and it sounded crazy to me. We feed our dogs a raw chicken from the grocery store? Where do we feed them? What about the salmonella? What about the bones?
I smiled politely, made the appropriate noises, and forgot about the conversation. That is until Rodrigo developed a rash again and it was worst than ever. He had been on antibiotics o and on for a year and the drugs weren’t doing his gut any favors. I needed an answer other than more drugs. So I switched him to raw feed- ing.
I have four dogs; Rodrigo and Sydney will be 6 years old in March; Scout and Zoey turned 2 years old last October. By the way, Rodrigo’s allergies are gone.
Benefits of Raw Feeding
The following benefits are what attract dog owners to raw feeding and I have experienced these benefits with my dogs.
- Shiny, healthy skin and coat; less shedding
- Strong, clean white teeth, fresher breath
- Improved immune system
- Allergy Relief, less itching and no more ear infections
- Better Digestion, less gas
- Smaller, less smelly poop*
- Healthier Weight** and promotes lean muscle and stronger bones
- Supports joint health
- Fewer vet visits
- Fleas stay away, because they don’t like the taste of our dogs
- Better smelling dogs, more time between baths
- It’s cheaper than feeding our dogs kibble
5 Myths About Raw Feeding for Dogs
Today, more people are aware of raw feeding as brands hit the pet stores and more dog owners and veterinarians approve of the diet. Despite the growth in aware- ness, misconceptions about raw feeding remain and I hope to clear up a few here.
1. Raw Feeding isn’t a Balanced Diet
If you do your homework, you can create a balanced diet for your dog. One mistake I often see is a dog own- er buying a family pack of ground beef or chicken wings and feeding that as a raw meal – this is not a balanced meal and, if continued, can lead to malnutrition and other health issues.
I feed our dog based on a model that I created specifically for my dogs after a lot of research and consulting with veterinarians:
• 65% muscle meat (alternated weekly)
• 15% raw meaty bones
• 20% fruits, veggies, o al (organ meat), eggs, and/ or raw goat milk
I add supplements to our dogs’ meals specific to their needs, which include a digestive supplement, a joint supplement, a high quality sh oil, and an overall immune system supplement.
READ MORE about what I feed my dogs.
2. Bacteria in Raw Meat is Harmful to Dogs
A dog’s digestive system can handle the bacteria in raw meat. In my experience, raw meat that is allowed to sit out at a temperature that allows bacteria to grow causes a problem with one of our dogs. He has a sensi- tive digestive system and I’m unable to source raw meat from our grocery store. This meat arrives at the store thawed and sits on display until purchased. The tem- perature the store stores the meat at is appropriate for people who are cooking a meal; not for raw feeding. Visit the dog food advisor to find out more tips.
Otherwise, I have not had any issues with bacteria in raw meat.
3. Salmonella Puts Humans at Risk
If someone has a compromised immune system, they should discuss raw feeding with their physician. Other- wise, as long as you wash your hands thoroughly and clean the kitchen; you’ll be ne. Someone once told me that if you can make a turkey dinner without getting sick, then you can feed raw.
4. Raw Bones are Dangerous
Raw bones can be dangerous, so I’ve taken a couple precautions to protect my dogs.
- Our dogs are only given raw bones under super- vision; this allows me to keep them from trying to swal- low a bone hole and I can see which bones are a good t. For example, I no longer give our dogs rib bones, because they splinter into long shards that make me nervous . I’m concerned about the risk of a puncture to their esophagus or digestive tract.
- Our dogs aren’t allowed weight bearing bones, because they’re too hard, in my opinion, and there is an
increased risk of breaking teeth. Imagine how strong a bone must be to hold up a 2,000 pound animal.
Our dogs are allowed duck necks, turkey necks, beef knuckle bones, and beef knee caps. In my experience, these have been the safest with our four dogs. They satisfy our dogs’ chew drive while cleaning and ossing their teeth.
5. Raw Feeding is Expensive
At first, feeding our dogs a raw food diet was very expensive. I once spent my tax return on a month’s worth of raw food for four dogs. Scary. I had planned to purchase a treadmill that year.
Today, I source all of our dogs food, treats, and supplements from a local raw food co-op. This has shaved 50% o my budget. Also, making raw meals at home is significantly less expensive than feeding pre-made raw meals.
The money I do spend is offset by the money I save on veterinarian appointments. Before switching to raw, vet appointments and prescriptions were a constant. Today, our dogs go in for wellness checks once or twice a year.
I feed our dogs a raw food diet, because I believe it’s the right diet for their species. I see the benefits of raw dog food every day in our four dogs.
If raw feeding is something that interests you, I suggest doing your homework to learn what works best for your dog and for your lifestyle. There are many Facebook groups and books on raw feeding. Seek out a veterinarian who is experienced in the diet for more guidance. And, of course, my blog is all about my experience feeding raw to our four dogs. I welcome you to subscribe to the free weekly newsletter.
About the Author: Kimberly Gauthier is the blogger behind Keep the Tail Wagging, a blog about raw feeding, dog supplements, and raising littermates. Kimberly and her boyfriend are raising two sets of littermates in the Pacific Northwest where they enjoy a property with plenty of room to run and explore. Kimberly finished her first e-book on raw feeding called Raw Feeding from A to Z. Rodrigo, Sydney, Scout and Zoey are all herding mix dogs, including Blue Heeler, Border Collie, Catahoula, Australian Shepherd, and Labrador (a lover, not a herder).
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