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Your Guide to Feeding a Raw Diet for Dogs

For Healthier, Happier, Longer-Lived Pups

I’ve been feeding my dogs a raw diet – raw, uncooked food that is similar to a dog’s ancestral eating patterns – for many years, and there is NOTHING that will make me go back to anything I’d tried previously.

Why? It’s simple. 

My dogs and cats live longer, healthier, happier lives.

My dogs who have eaten a species-specific, natural raw diet have had fewer medical problems, they’ve easily maintained a healthy weight, their meals are delicious and satisfying to them as carnivores (although they can digest plants, more on that in a moment), and they are mentally and emotionally satisfied as their diet aligns with their nature.

At The Healthy Animal Healing Center, we provide a variety of excellent foods for cats and dogs that aren’t raw. How come??

Not everyone is ready to begin a raw diet. It can seem different and strange, even a bit gross to some, so we provide the very best foods we can to meet people where they’re at.

If you want to do the very best you can for your dog, but you’re new (and a bit skeptical) about feeding raw meat to your dog, this article is for you. 

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • The “feel it and see it” health benefits of a raw diet for your dog

  • Safely transitioning your dog to a raw diet

  • How while it’s more expensive in the short-run, the long-run benefits will have you saving money

Dog eating raw diet food

Buckle up, we’re going raw!

Is a Raw Diet Good for Dogs?

A raw diet for dogs, often referred to as feeding raw, focuses on providing pets with natural food choices that are close to what great-great200 granddogs would have eaten in the wild. This diet typically includes a combination of raw meat, bones, and organs.

Historical and Biological Basis for Feeding Raw

Dogs were perfectly designed to be meat eaters! Just look at their sharp teeth and short gastrointestinal tracts. A raw diet is perfectly suited for them. Historical evidence and biological studies suggest that dogs have thrived on animal proteins from the get-go. 

Raw Diet Components

Meat: Forms the foundation of the diet, providing essential proteins and fats.

Bones: Usually included both for nutritional calcium and phosphorus and for dental health.

Organs: Rich in vitamins and minerals, organ meats are a crucial part of a balanced raw diet.

Some fruits and vegetables: Although not strictly needed, they do provide many benefits

The Science Behind Raw Diets

Research points to the high digestibility and bioavailability of nutrients in raw diets, which can lead to better health outcomes compared to processed foods, especially kibble that’s been cooked under such high heat that anything nutritious has been killed. 

On a raw diet, studies suggest that dogs improve in coat quality, energy levels, and overall vitality. 

Feeding your dog a raw diet not only supports their physical health but also aligns with their natural dietary needs, helping them live a dog’s best life!

The Benefits of a Raw Diet for Dogs

Now that you understand what a raw diet really is, let’s get to the good stuff: why this diet is going to help your companion live a longer and healthier life.

You’re going to notice evidence on the outside:

  • A healthier coat that’s shiny and softer

  • Ease of movement as they’re zipping around and playing

  • Fewer skin issues like itching and dandruff due to the healthy barriers the healthy fat provides

  • Reduction in allergies and all the itching, scratching, sneezing, and tummy upset that comes with them

  • Cleaner teeth and healthier gums from the gnawing and chewing that acts like nature’s toothbrush

  • Less poop! Meat is much more highly digestible than other foods. That means that their bodies are able to absorb and use the nutrients more efficiently – and much less gets passed as waste. Score! 

  • Better behavior. When you eat bad, you feel bad. When you feel bad, you make bad decisions. The same is true for dogs. A raw diet provides more stable energy levels to combat anxiety and hyperactivity. And being able to act on their natural instincts, to eat the foods they are biologically meant to eat, enriches them mentally and emotionally.

You’re also going to see evidence on the inside…of your wallet.

Healthy dog from feeding raw

Yes, feeding a quality raw diet is more expensive than the bag of kibble you can purchase at the big box store.

But as is true for all of life, you get what you pay for. Garbage in, garbage out.

If your goal is to have your dog live longer and be happier, you’ve got to keep your eye on the long term savings:

  • Stronger immune systems mean fewer illnesses

  • Fewer illnesses mean fewer trips to the vet

  • Fewer trips to the vet mean potentially thousands of dollars saved over the course of your pup’s lifespan

It’s time for all of us to invest in health, for pets and their pet parents.

Feeding Raw Safely

Let’s address the elephant in the room, the dreaded contamination from raw meat.

Does it exist? Yes. Will it cause a problem for you and your dog? No.

Let me say this first, if you think canned dog food or kibble are processed so that they ensure safety, think again.

There are voluntary “guidelines” for food manufacturers to follow, but they’re just that, guidelines. We know what happens to following guidelines over following profit.

The FDA will step in when things go really awry, but they don’t perform regular spot checks or audits. They simply respond after the fact. If it’s bad enough.

YOU, though, can be your own safety division when you feed a raw diet:

  • Choose quality meats that have been raised ethically – pastured and grass fed is best

  • Choose meat from animals raised on an organic diet

  • Choose raw food manufacturers who also adhere to these standards and use excellent hygiene protocols

  • Rely on the experts at The Healthy Animal Healing Center or other trusted, vetted sources to guide you and who only sell products that meet these standards

Pathogen Risks

Humans are susceptible to the ill-effects of pathogens like E. Coli and Salmonella, but dogs? Not so much. Their saliva is full of pathogen killers and their stomachs are full of acid that is a ph level ten times lower than our own.

Some of these pathogens can come through their feces, so you must be sure to pick up and dispose of them properly and wash your hands.

And to be sure your tender human digestive system doesn’t ingest these pathogens, use the good skills you (hopefully) learned from your mother:

  • Choose good foods (ethically raised, organic meat)

  • Wash surfaces that have touched raw meat

  • Wash your hands after dealing with raw meat, fruits, veggies, and poop

  • Store food at the correct temperature

  • Use separate utensils and cutting boards for raw dog food preparation to prevent cross-contamination.

That’s it! 

Raw Dog Food For Beginners

If you and your dog are new to the idea of feeding raw, here are a few tips that will help you make the transition easier.

Slow is the Way to Go

You might be on board with all the benefits that await your dog, but your dog’s gut isn’t quite ready to dive in yet.

To transition your dog to feeding raw:

  • Start Slow: Begin by introducing small amounts of raw meat into your dog’s regular meals. Gradually reduce the amount of their current food while increasing the raw components over a period of several weeks. We’re talking increasing by teaspoons for small dogs. This gives your dog’s gut a chance to adjust easily.

  • Mix It Up: Variety is the spice of life! Rotate different types of meats and organs to provide a range of nutrients and to help your dog adjust to various textures and flavors.

  • Keep Your Eyes Peeled: Pay close attention to how your dog reacts to the new diet. Look for positive signs such as more energy and a shinier coat, as well as any negative reactions like gastrointestinal upset or allergies. Always seek the advice of your holistic veterinarian or canine nutritionist if you see anything concerning.

Freezer to Fridge to Bowl

Whether you’re choosing the make-it-yourself method or are buying a raw diet from a raw food manufacturer, here are the basics you need to know.

Store the majority of your raw food in the freezer. Then, defrost a few days worth of food in the refrigerator (not on the counter!), keeping the defrosted portion in the fridge until the next meal time. Don’t keep the raw dog food in the fridge any longer than you would your own raw food. 

I recommend letting the food warm to room temperature before serving. It’ll be more appetizing that way.

While your dog is primarily a meat-eater and doesn't NEED fruits and vegetables to survive, they do offer lots of benefits. Aim for 10-20% of your dog’s diet to be plant based with things like:

  • Leafy greens

  • Green beans

  • Broccoli

  • Carrots  

  • Peas

  • Seaweed 

  • Pumpkin

  • Squash

  • Sweet potatoes

  • Blueberries

  • Blackberrie

  • Pomegranate

  • Apple

  • Melon

A balanced raw diet isn’t just meat and veg, it’s should include fresh bone 

and organ meat (liver, kidney, heart, spleen).

Although you can make your own homemade mix, it’s certainly easier and more convenient to purchase a raw diet mix from a good manufacturer. Remember, just because they offer the best nutritionally sound food for your dog in the form of raw nutrition doesn’t mean all companies do it ethically or well. DO YOUR RESEARCH…or let us do it for you.

To determine how much to feed your dog: 

Feeding a raw diet to a dog
  • Use a good dog food calculator (we recommend this one)

  • Consult a holistic veterinarian or canine nutritionist

  • Follow the manufacturer directions on quality commercial raw food packaging

Is giving your dog raw meat really safe? Remember, dogs are built differently than humans. They’re like our children, but they are canine children, not human children. Add in all the scare tactics the big kibble industry has employed, and it’s no wonder people often type into Google “Is raw meat bad for dogs” or “Is raw meat safe for dogs to eat?” 

Hopefully, you’ve seen that yes, it is safe, and yes, it is good for dogs. I would argue, it’s essential for dogs.

If you want your dog to live a healthy, happy life – and I know you do – the experts at The Healthy Animal Healing Center are here to help.

We’ve done all the research for you, we carry only the finest brands, and we understand the fear and trepidation that comes with doing something new like this.

Our experts will walk you through the process each step of the way. And if you’d like to examine not just the diet for optimal overall health, please schedule a Total Wellness Consultation today. You’ll have our undivided attention on the specific needs of your pet, and you’ll walk away with a custom Total Wellness Blueprint that covers all parts of your pet’s wellbeing, body, mind, and soul. 

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