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Raw Feeding: Is It Right for Your Dog?

Whether you’re a new pet parent or a seasoned veteran, you understand that dog nutrition is important. You may have heard about raw feeding, but is raw feeding right for your dog?

I learned about raw feeding years ago as a new pet blogger and pet parent. I had a dog that seemed to have several protein sensitivities because no matter what kibble we fed him. He developed digestive issues, ear infections, a rash, itchy paws, and chronic diarrhea. I went from chicken, to beef, to lamb, to salmon and for the first couple of months. He’d be okay on his new kibble, and then all of the symptoms would creep back.

During this time, his veterinarian repeatedly prescribed antibiotics, which were a temporary bandage and not a cure. Not to mention, the repeated doses were destroying my dog’s gut. During my research on a blog post, I came across the concept of raw feeding. After more research and more vet bills, I decided to give the diet a shot.

Two weeks of a partial raw diet (raw in the morning, kibble in the evening) and my dog was better. What my vet couldn’t correct in two years, a diet of fresh food was able to correct in two weeks.

And – Voila! – another raw feeder was born. I switched to a full raw diet after we ran out of kibble and never looked back.

What is Raw Feeding for Dogs?

Raw feeding is a diet that consists of raw meat, bone, organ meat, and other fresh foods. It is said to replicate the diet of the Grey Wolf, a relative of our dogs. Yes, even your adorable Shih Tzu.

I’m sure you can imagine that there’s a little more to feeding a nutritious diet to our dogs, but not much more. Here’s an example of what I feed to my dogs…

  • Wild goose
  • Beef organ meat blend
  • Ground duck wings – for bone
  • Base mix – to provide additional nutrients
  • Sardines, oysters, or a fish recipe from a commercial brand for Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Raw, pasture raised egg

I also add supplements based on each individual dog’s health needs.

There are several ways to feed raw. You can choose to feed a commercial diet or you can feed a DIY raw diet following a raw feeding model, however, many people have adapted their raw diet to meet their dog’s individual needs. I, for example, feed a modified BARF (biologically appropriate raw foods).

Benefits of Raw Feeding

What made raw feeding appealing to me was that dogs fed a raw diet have fewer allergies and food sensitivities. But there are vastly more benefits to feeding raw and I’ve witnessed them all with my dogs over the past eight years.

  • reduced inflammation, improved joint health and mobility
  • healthy teeth and gums thanks to the raw meaty bones
  • improved skin and coat health
  • improved immune system leads to fewer allergies and sensitivities
  • reduced doggy odor and fewer baths
  • healthy gut improves nutrient absorption
  • smaller, less smelly stool
  • improved metabolism, healthy weight

Is Raw Feeding Right for Your Dogs?

As much as I’d like to believe that ALL DOGS should be fed a raw food diet, this simply isn’t the case. I believe that healthy dogs will thrive on a raw food diet, however, if you have a dog with a health issue, raw feeding may not work for your pup. Everyone has different opinions on this, however, I work with a pro-raw veterinarian with my dogs. I trust her to let me know if I need to take raw feeding off the table (or out of the bowl).

So far, this hasn’t happened and we’ve had a dog with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency and a dog with cancer – both are fed raw and are healthy.

Not every veterinarian is supportive of a raw food diet, but this is changing as more information is published about the benefits of raw feeding. Feeding Dogs, a book by Dr. Conor Brady, was published in 2020 and explains in detail all of the benefits of feeding fresh food and Dr. Brady provides scientific support for the information he shares.

But if a pet parent finds that a raw food diet isn’t right for their dogs, then a cooked diet that is formulated to meet a dog’s nutritional needs is a great alternative.

Learn About Feeding a Raw Food Diet

There are many resources for pet parents who are interested in learning more about raw feeding. You can look to Google for research, join a raw feeding group on Facebook, or read a few books about raw feeding.

I published a book, A Novice’s Guide to Raw Feeding for Dogs, that shares my journey as a raw feeding and is a great starting guide for pet parents. You can also check out the Resources Page of Keep the Tail Wagging to find more resources, including a Raw Feeding 101 online course.

Check out Keep the Tail Wagging to follow my journey as a raw feeder, learn tips to make raw feeding easier, and more.

The post was written by Kimberly Gauthier who is the owner and editor of Keep the Tail Wagging, a blog about life with dogs, raw feeding, and raising dogs naturally. Kimberly also maintains an educational group where pet parents come together to discuss various topics on raising healthy pets and a podcast with a friend about dogs.

Kimberly lives in the Pacific Northwest with her better half, their four dogs and opinionated cat.

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