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Guide to a Raw Meat Diet for Dogs

Updated on June 26, 2013

Why You Should Consider a Raw Meat Diet for Your Dog

A few years ago my Springer Spaniel Molly developed dry, itchy skin and I couldnât figure out why. After doing a lot of research, I stumbled over information on feeding a species appropriate diet, which consists of raw meat, organs and bones. The more I read about it, the more I understood that a raw meat diet is how dogs were meant to eat. And here I thought that paying a lot of money for a premium kibble was doing the right thing for her. I began feeding Molly raw meat and threw away the kibble about seven years ago and have never looked back. Here itchy skin went away (thanks to eliminating grains) and she has beautiful, shiny, soft fur that people always comment on. Plus her teeth are cleaner and at the ripe old age of 12, sheâs stayed pretty darned healthy.

As more information comes out about raw diets for dogs, more people are starting to explore options besides the tradition kibble diet. After all, you found this lens, so you must be curious about raw. Some people are concerned about allergy-inducing grains in dry food, the additives/preservatives and frequent pet food recalls for contamination. So letâs explore why a raw based diet might be a good option for your fur kid.

Did You Know?

Reasons to Make the Switch

Dogs are carnivores. A raw diet is a species appropriate diet. Look at your dog's teeth. They have the teeth of a carnivore.

Dog's digestive systems are different than ours. They have very acidic stomachs that neutralize the bacteria in raw meat. That, along with their heavy bile production, protects them from bacteria that would make you are me sick. By feeding a meat-based diet to your dog you are eliminating stress on their digestive system.

A diet containing raw meats such as beef, chicken, venison, turkey, pork, venison, lamb and others provided the essential nutrients for your dog in a form they can easily digest. They are not losing key enzymes destroyed by the high heat process used in making kibble. Remember that kibble was only invented in the last century. Dogs have been eating raw meat for thousands of years and in the short time kibble has been around dog's digestive systems have not adapted for them to live optimally on a kibble only diet.

Healthier immune system. Because your dog is eating as nature intended, their immune system will be healthier. Dog owners often see a reduction in dry skin and allergy problems, shinier, healthier fur and an increase in energy in their pets.

Cleaner Teeth. The gnawing and chewing that meat and bones provide dental stimulation and help remove tarter and keep teeth cleaner.

Important minerals. Raw bones contain calcium, phosphorus and trace minerals, important nutrients for your dog. The majority of the bone meal purchased by pet food manufacturers comes from China or Thailand. I don't know about you, but I tend to avoid any ingredients coming from China because of safety concerns, including high levels of heavy metals.

The gnawing and chewing also satisfies dog's innate need to chew. It provides positive mental stimulation.

You know exactly what your dog is eating. This is an important point. Do you REALLY know what is in that high end kibble you pay big bucks for? Remember that anything in a bag is processed and the labeling laws for pet food are rather lax. Even though the label says no preservatives added, they may already be in the individual ingredients before the manufacturer combines them at the final stage.

Veterinary schools typically only teach about commercial diets, they are not taught about species appropriate diets. Sadly, many vets are against raw meat diets because they just haven't learned enough about them.

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A Balanced Diet

How to Feed Your Dog the Right Way

Unfortunately, you can't just throw down a piece of meat and expect all to be well. Your dog needs variety and the proper ratio of meat, organs and bone to ensure he or she gets optimal nutrition. You should feed about 80% meat, 10% bone and 10% organ meat. Kidneys and liver are considered organ meat, while heart is a muscle and considered regular meat, not an organ. You don't need to be perfect every day, but try to see that over the course of a week your dog gets that approximate ratio. Some people find they need to feed a little extra bone to keep stools firm, and that is up to you and your dog. Incidentally, stools will be smaller and may be crumbly from the bone and that is norma.

The traditional guideline is to feed 2% of their body weight (for puppies feed 2% of their expected weight as a full grown dog).

Recommended Supplements

In addition to feeding my dog raw meat, there are a few supplements I feel are important. These are my favorites and ones I use personally.

Grizzly Salmon Oil All-Natural Dog Food Supplement in Pump-Bottle Dispenser, 16 Ounces
Grizzly Salmon Oil All-Natural Dog Food Supplement in Pump-Bottle Dispenser, 16 Ounces

This is a staple in our house. Great source of omega 3, 6 and Arachidonic fatty acid. Plus it's soy-free. Molly laps it up.

 
Nutiva Organic Hemp Oil, 24 Ounce
Nutiva Organic Hemp Oil, 24 Ounce

Has omega 3's plus GLA and vitamin E. Great for keeping your dog's coat healthy. I used it when Molly had a skin issue and salmon oil alone wasn't enough.

 
Ark Naturals Joint "Rescue" Super Strength Chewable for Cats and Dogs, 90 Each
Ark Naturals Joint "Rescue" Super Strength Chewable for Cats and Dogs, 90 Each

I've been giving this to Molly for several years now and it helps with her touch of arthritis. Tastes like liver and she thinks they are treats.

 
Dr. Mercola Complete Probiotics for Pets - Helps Develop A Healthy Digestive Tract - 14 Beneficial Bacterial Strains - Made In The USA - 90 Grams Probiotics Powder
Dr. Mercola Complete Probiotics for Pets - Helps Develop A Healthy Digestive Tract - 14 Beneficial Bacterial Strains - Made In The USA - 90 Grams Probiotics Powder

Has 10 strains of food bacteria with over 58 billion bacteria in every serving. Helps maintain ideal bacteria ratio, aid metabolism and help immune system. Good stuff.

 

What to Feed

Variety is the Spice of Your Dog's Life

Your dog will be thrilled to not be eating the same old kibble day in, day out. Variety is the name of the game with raw. You will want to start slowly and only feed chicken (bone-in) such as a breast in the beginning. There willl be an adjustment period for a week or so and your dog may have loose stools. This again, is quite common. It will go away as your dog gets used to his new diet. And did I say there will be less to clean up? Remember he doesn't have all those starchy carbs from grains, potatoes, sweet potatoes or tapioca, which are all common binders in commercial dog food.

After your dog adjusts, add in one new meat. Meats on the menu include chicken, turkey, duck, beef, pork, lamb, rabbit, venison, goat. Be careful not to serve cut bones like pork chops because those sharp bones can cause a lot of grief. Also beware of chicken wings and never feed them to medium or large sized dogs. They are a choking hazard and suitable for toy dogs only.

I like serving bone-in chicken, pork picnic roasts and pork ribs. I shy away from beef ribs and beef bones altogether because they are so hard they can break your dog's teeth.

More About Raw Feeding

There is a lot more you probably want to know before you start and you probably have tons of questions. You can continue reading about raw feeding on my blog here.

Thinking About Feeding Your Dog Raw? Let's Hear

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    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 3 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Daisy does well (or seems to be doing well) on a good, premium dry food, but I continue to think more and more about feeding raw. Thanks for this, uh, food for thought!

    • goldstandard lm profile image

      goldstandard lm 3 years ago

      Do you find that feeding your dog the Raw diet is more expensive than regular food or is somewhat comparable in price?

    • mollybellesmom profile image
      Author

      mollybellesmom 3 years ago

      @goldstandard lm: I find that it is somewhat comparable to a premium kibble, maybe a little more. It would be more $ for a large dog; mine is about 38lbs. I watch all the market ads and buy on sale. Ethnic markets are good sources too. Some people join co-ops or have hunters in the family, which helps. Another way to look at it is the savings you gain by not having to take your dog to the vet to deal with skin issues all the time.

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      I had my dog on a raw diet for two years without having any problems. I changed

      to a canned dog food and my dog got bladder stones and needed surgery. I want to go back to

      raw feeding but my vet said no, bladder stones will come back. Mickey is now on a RX dog food with corn grits chicken and pork by products and corn starch. please let me know what raw meat has the lowest amount of purine in it. I really need to get my dog back to a raw diet.

      Please help.

    • mollybellesmom profile image
      Author

      mollybellesmom 3 years ago

      @anonymous: A low purine diet can be quite limiting since red meat and organs are high in purine. This link has a list of purine content in various foods. http://www.acumedico.com/purine.htm Chicken, pork, venison and turkey should be ok and you may want to supplement with omega 3s and B complex since he's not getting organ meat. To get a more balanced diet you may need to add in some non-starchy veggies and eggs, which is not the traditional whole prey diet (certainly better than corn grits and pork by products!). You may want to work with a holistic vet. Good luck with Mickey.

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      This is a good idea from a nutritional standpoint. My younger Springer has a very sensitive stomach and gets the runs if her diet changes. The vet said she is just very sensitive but very healthy. Excellent lens thanks so much for sharing.

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      I live in the mountains with my britt. That's all he eats is meat. The nearest grocery store is 120 miles away. Deer antelope elk squirrel rabbits and whatever birds he finds he eats. Never looked healthier

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      We recently adopted a wonderful dog, however he has issues with anxiety. The pet behavior specialist recommended a raw diet, has anyone noticed an improvement in anxiety from this type of diet?

    • profile image

      htgt 2 years ago

      definitely, that happened with my two dogs, a balanced proper diet for carnivorous make them stable. Kibble have dogs always trying to eat more and more nonstop, its not proper balanced for a carnivorous even though they tend to say they are balanced, but still, is processed, not real food. It is like you eating processed canned food every single day for months or years, what would happen?, don’t have a doubt that besides health issues, it will bring with eat anxiety issues, physical and mental problems, overall you will be just a mess

    • profile image

      Ronald Johnston 20 months ago

      I have some dogs and feed them raw meat all the time and they love it. I can see the big difference between can food and real meat in my dogs. I own an online store http://www.pitbullsupply.com/Default.asp and have been researching a good way of placing some raw inventory on my shelves. Thank you for letting me share folks.

    • profile image

      Theresa 18 months ago

      i am a labrodor breeder.. i had 6 labs. 2 of my older dogs 12, and 8 recently passed away ( cancer) iam gonna be feeding my other 4 a raw diet, but i do have some questions. my nephew is gonna shoot me a deer this year just for the dogs , any problem with that? how much should a dog ranging from 72-93 lbs eat? just once a day or more. is any meat ok or is there absolute no nos. i raise lab puppies too would it be wise to start them in raw since the new parents may not want to continue with the raw? what do you think of the road kill.? some people may think that is gross but iam thinking why not i would probably stay awy from raccoons and skunksplease let me know your thoughts i want the best for my dogs

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