Dog Owners Experience with Raw Food for Dogs
We switched our dogs to raw dog food in April 2013 after months of research and the encouragement and support of friends. I started with a raw / kibble diet – raw in the morning, kibble in the evening. This is an affordable way to ease into a raw food diet and I was hesitant to change our dogs’ food cold turkey. By June 2013, our dogs were on a full raw food diet, which I ordered from Darwin’s Natural Pets, located in Seattle, WA.
Why Raw Dog Food?
I first learned about raw food for dogs when friends told us what they fed their dogs. They were raving that their dogs’ allergies went away, their dogs didn’t smell, they barely had to pick up dog poop, and on and on. I was intrigued, but knew that it wasn’t as easy as tossing a whole chicken in a dog bowl. So I set out to learn more.
I learn by reading (see my reading list below) and talking to dog lovers who feed raw, I learned that the benefits to raw dog food are…
- Healthier, shinier skin and coat
- Allergies clear up
- More energy, lowers hyperactivity
- Healthier digestive system; smaller, less smelly poop
- Better appetite
- White, clean teeth
- Decreased dog odor
- Healthier weight
- Fewer vet visits
There are several raw dog food books that I recommend to anyone who is interested in making the switch:
- A Quick-start guide to Raw Feeding by Louise Chapman
- Raw Dog Food: Make It Easy for You and Your Dog by Carina Beth Macdonald
- Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs: The Definitive Guide to Homemade Meals by Lew Olson
- A Quick Start Guide to the Raw Dog Food Diet by Caesar Owens
- All Natural Raw Dog Food by Angela Phillips and Dyan Kidd
- 10 Easy Raw Dog Food Recipes by Lindsay Stordahl (fellow pet blogger)
All of these can be found on Amazon.com and all of these are available for the Kindle.
Our Experience Feeding Raw Dog Food
I’m happy to say that the above list of all the great things about feeding raw is true! Our dogs are healthier, happier, and I couldn’t be happier.
- Rodrigo has a sensitive tummy, which led to occasional soft stool, was allergic to chicken kibble, licked his paws obsessively, and had a rash on his lower back. All cleared up.
- Sydney was overweight and was the first one to get that doggy smell. All cleared up.
One of the things I was warned about was that our dogs would get salmonella poisoning if we fed them raw – this didn’t happen. The humans in the family are fine too (we wash our hands). If you handle raw chicken when cooking for your family, then you can handle raw food. Another warning is that our dogs would become wild and aggressive – nope, didn’t happen. We’ve had nothing but a great experience with the raw food diet for our dogs.
Feeding raw isn’t as simple as I had been told, but it’s not complicated once you get into the groove of the diet. The questions I get most often are…
- What do we feed?
- When do we feed?
- How much do we feed?
- What do we add? and
- How much does it cost?
I will try to answer each of these questions. Keep in mind that this is one dog owner’s experience and when you start comparing notes with other dog owners, the answers will vary based on the dog breed, the dog’s size, and the food being fed.
Rodrigo and Sydney are Australian Cattle Dog mix, 3-1/2 years old (they’re littermates) and weigh approximately 80-85 pounds.
What do we feed?
We feed our dogs the Zoologics line by Darwin’s Natural Pets. It’s delivered twice monthly (every other Friday) in a box with dry ice to keep it frozen. Our dogs eat all of the proteins: chicken, duck, turkey, and beef. Rodrigo hasn’t had any trouble with the chicken recipe, although he had an allergic reaction to chicken kibble.
The Darwin’s Natural Pets is a premade food that lives in our freezer (I take 2 packages out each night to thaw in the sink). The food is 70% meat, 30% veggies, contains no grains or fillers, and the meats do not contain hormones, steroids, preservatives or other chemicals.
When do we feed?
Our dogs eat in the morning and evening; basically before and after work. They eat in the kitchen out of stainless steel dishes; making clean up easy. On the weekends, our dogs are fed raw, meaty bones and other raw meat treats on towels.
They eat on hardwood floors, not carpet.
How much do we feed?
I’ve read so many feeding recommendations. We started with 2% of their body weight daily thinking that this was ideal; it actually helped our dogs lose weight (they look so good today). Now we feed them 2.5% of their body weight daily.
I cuddle with the dogs each evening partly because they’re so adorable and partly to become very familiar with their body so that I quickly find anomalies and I can make sure they are maintaining their weight. We increased their serving to 2.5% when we felt that they’d lost enough weight. We’ll cut back if they start gaining; mostly we’ll be cutting back on treats, not food.
What do we add?
Every morning, our dogs also get Wag Lifetime Joint Care supplements (broken up and mixed into their food), fish oil (one caplet each), a teaspoon of ground flax seed for seasonal allergies and fiber, and a dollup of 100% pure pumpkin for digestion. I’m looking into adding Turmeric to their food too; this acts as an antioxidant and some say that it’s a cancer preventative.
How much does it cost?
Our raw food budget is slightly less than $400 a month for 2 dogs. I know plenty of dog owners who spend less than $200 for 3 dogs so don’t let the price scare you away. Buying premade food is expensive and when it’s shipped, it costs even more. $70 of the number I shared is for shipping (Fedex).
Once I got over the sticker shock, I noticed that we haven’t been to the vet since we started feeding raw; we used to go a few times a year for various ailments. So far, any health issues we’ve experienced have been very mild and managed at home – mostly seasonal allergies that are treated with an all natural, healing cream by Dr. Harvey’s.
Interested in switching to raw food?
I get emails all the time from dog owners who are interested in feeding raw and I advise them to do their homework, speak with their vet, and check out Facebook groups for raw feeders. It takes multiple sources to help you with your choices, because not everyone has the answer, but everyone does seem to have an opinion.
Ultimately, the choice is yours to make, so don’t be bullied into rushing into this decision. Take your time so that you can be sure that it’s the right option for you and your dog.