Frequently Asked Questions about Raw Diet for Dogs
....your questions answered
Q - My vet says feeding bones will kill my dog
A - This is a common belief among Vets, as many a
Vet has had to remove a cooked
bone from a dog's stomach and they automatically seem to believe all
bones are bad. Vets get
approximately 4 hours of nutritional training during 5+ years of vet
school and those lectures are sponsored
by pet food manufacturers. As a result, most Vets are ignorant when it comes to raw feeding which
is why it helps to say you feed a homemade diet if they ask. Vets will
blame everything on raw if the dog is fed raw and then they don't look
for what's really wrong with your dog.
Q - My puppy keeps trying to swallow his food whole!
A - Some dogs who have never come across raw food
before can get a little confused or over-excited and some may even try
to swallow the food whole. Ideally, particularly in the beginning, feed large enough pieces that
can't be swallowed whole, or alternatively hand feed by holding onto one
end of the portion until the dog gets used to chewing it properly. This is something particularly important with puppies in the
beginning. With dogs that might be possessive about their food, hand feeding is a great way to
Q - Why do you say no vegetables or dairy?
A - The prey-model diet ensures that the dog
acquires the optimal balance of bone, organ and meat. In fact, latest
studies on wolves and wild dogs have determined that contrary to
previous belief, wolves and dogs shake out the contents of the stomach
before eating the highly prized stomach (tripe) rather than eating the
contents as well. No vegetables or dairy are therefore needed as the prey model diet
approximately mimics the kind of carcass your carnivore would be
consuming in the wild if it were hunting for its own food, such as
rabbits or birds etc.
Q - My dog keeps vomiting his food
A - Usually (if there is no underlying medical
condition) vomiting indicates that the stomach is rejecting the food
because it can't handle it. Usually, this is when there are any of these
- too much food - feed smaller amounts over
- too much fat - reduce fat and skin
- too much bone - reduce bone content
- pieces swallowed are too large - this is
the most common cause because the dog gets over-excited at his new food. As above, hand feed large pieces instead so that they gnaw on it
whilst you hold the other end until they relax that this is their new
Also, with dogs that have been fed kibble for many
years, their stomach acid is often a little bit weaker, thought to be
because carbohydrates don't need as much acidity to be digested. Try
feeding smaller amounts, more often, while they adjust.
Q - My dog got a mix of diarrhoea and constipation from raw, why is that?
A - A dog that gets both diarrhoea and constipation
is most likely from too much fat and too much bone - for example a pig’s foot that is both very bony and very fatty,
or a duck carcass which is also bony/fatty. Some dogs can
tolerate this for occasional meals, yet new to raw dogs and/or dogs with
sensitive constitutions can't, so always feed according to the health of
When monitoring your dog's stool, bear the
following in mind:
- Too much bone = constipation (some dogs can only have 10% bone or
less, some as much as 25% - each dog is different)
- Too little bone = loose stools
- Too much organ = loose stools (introduce organ nice and slowly)
- Too much fat/skin too soon =
loose stools (build up fat and skin content nice and slowly)
As discussed in the
rawfeeding guide, the
approximate ratios to build up to are 80% muscle meat, fat, sinew / 10%
edible bone / 5% liver / 5% other organ). So monitor your dog's stools until you get the ratios just right
for your dog.
Q - My dog just doesn't like raw! What can I do?
A - It's quite common actually, especially with
older dogs who have only ever known kibble their entire lives. Some
don't like the 'wet, squidgy' texture of raw after their hard kibbles.
There are several options:
- Try a different meat type to start off with.
- Sear it very lightly in the pan, not
enough to cook it, just enough to give it that cooked smell and texture,
then gradually reduce the amount of searing over the course of several
- Feed it very slightly frozen/partially
thawed and then gradually decrease the ratio of frozen.
- Grind it for an interim period, and use
gravy etc to flavour, so they get used to the texture of raw yet still
with tempting gravy.
- Tough love (unpopular with owners, yet
unlike a cat, a dog will not starve itself, it will eat what is given
The options are endless really. Dogs that refuse
raw are usually objecting to the texture and strange smell. Some of the
tougher meats like mutton can overcome the texture issue, as does
searing in the pan etc. Experimentation is the key, to see what works
for your dog.
Q - My vet says my dog will get worms and parasites from feeding raw
A - Yes, there can be parasites in raw meat. The
parasite issue is something that Vets use as a scare tactic, telling you
that your dog is going to die if it eats raw meat because it will get a
weird parasite. They neglect to tell you the very low incidence of these
parasites in meat reared for the human market; nor do they tell you the
most "deadly" of these parasites come from things like infected sheep
placentas or stillborn calves. Simple solution, do not feed those things
to your dog. If the dog looks like it has parasites, simply get a stool
sample or blood sample taken.
Freezing meat can help kill many parasites (such as
the parasite present in salmon that CAN cause a deadly disease in dogs;
freezing fresh raw salmon, steelhead, trout, and other salmonids for at
least 24 hours before feeding effectively disposes of the parasite). As
long as one exercises caution in obtaining their meat, parasites are a
Worms thrive more on a carbohydrate laden diet than
they do on prey-model raw. If you are worried about worms, do a fecal
test and if positive your dog can be wormed holistically. Generally speaking, if your dog has a healthy immune system, it
can deal with these parasites before they even get a chance to establish
themselves. Parasites hate a very healthy host. We have found this
to be very true through our work at
K9 Rescue and
once we get the dogs onto raw food, worms are a thing of the past.
Q - My vet says my dog will get Salmonella poisoning and other bacteria from
A - Dogs are surprisingly well-equipped to deal
with bacteria. Their saliva has antibacterial properties; it contains
lysozyme, an enzyme that lyses and destroys harmful bacteria. Their
short digestive tract is designed to push through food and bacteria
quickly without giving bacteria time to colonize. The extremely acidic
environment in the gut is also a good bacteria colonization deterrent.
Vets often point to the fact
that dogs shed salmonella in their faeces (even kibble-fed dogs do this)
without showing any ill effects, as proof that the dog is infected with
salmonella. In reality, all this proves is that the dog has effectively
passed the salmonella through its system with no problems. Yes, the dog
can act as a salmonella carrier, yet the solution is simple - do not eat
dog faeces and wash your hands after picking up after your dog.
Add to this that there has been research done
showing that dogs do not carry Salmonella in their saliva or on their
skin, not even after eating 100% Salmonella infected raw food! But, when
they do eat Salmonella infected food, about one third of them will show
a moderate concentration of Salmonella in their faeces - yet no clinical
signs of being sick.
As vet Dr Tom Lonsdale writes: "I put forth that it
is the kibble, not the raw meat, that causes bacterial problems. Kibble
in the intestine not only irritates the lining of the bowels but also
provides the perfect warm, wet environment with plenty of undigested
sugars and starches as food for bacteria. This is why thousands of
processed food-fed animals suffer from a condition called Small
Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, or SIBO. Raw meaty bones, however,
create a very inhospitable environment for bacteria, as RMBs are easily
digestible and have no carbohydrates, starches, or sugars to feed the
Q - Doesn't
feeding dogs a raw diet simply increase the demand for factory farming?
A - Not if you are creative and make an effort to find
suitable sources of food. Wherever possible try to feed 'second grade' meat which is meat that is
either not approved for human consumption or undesirable (such as some
organ meats etc) yet it is approved for animal consumption and would
normally go into pet food anyway. It's a bit more difficult in some poorer countries where many of
the parts that are seen as 'not fit for human consumption' in the West,
are sold for soups etc, however there is still plenty available if you
ask local butchers or wholesalers. Also go direct to farms, especially
small scale organic farms who may be more approachable and whose waste
meats will be of a higher nutritional value. The easiest approach is probably to explain that you 'Make Your
Own Dog Food'. In the UK, some EU countries and USA, there are specialist
companies that buy 'second grade' meat and bones and sell it to pet raw
feeders, either as it is or turned into ready packaged raw meals.
Q - Are the E-numbers listed on supermarket processed chicken safe for my
A - Some meat, often chicken portions (legs, quarters,
breasts) can be "enhanced", which basically means tumbled in phosphates
so that it absorbs more water and hence greater saleable weight. Some dogs can tolerate these additives fine; some may get upset
digestion/itchy skin from it. Try to avoid these meats wherever possible. These additives are usually listed as E numbers so check labels.
Avoid labels that contain any E numbers.
Q - The meat
I had in the fridge wrapped in plastic cling film has become 'slimy' and
doesn't smell so good even though it is in date, is that safe for my dog?
A - As a general rule, try to avoid storing meat in
plastic. If it is bought or thawed in plastic, remove the plastic as
soon as you can to allow the meat to breathe. This is in fact also good advice for meat we are going to consume
ourselves! Plastic creates unnatural bacteria that a dog's stomach is
not designed to cope with natural bacteria from old meat stored
naturally on an open plate or in a glass covered dish for example are
absolutely fine for dogs even if it smells ripe to us!
Q - What can
I use for training treats?
A - Anything meat or fish based such as cubes of
meat, organ or even fish such as baby herring or whitebait - for easy
handling cut meat into small strips, then place on a wire mesh tray and
place in the oven on the lowest temperature setting and leave it to
cook/dry out for several hours until dry, then place in a glass jar.
They do not need to be refrigerated - you can put them in your walking
coat pocket and keep there for weeks. The dogs love them - they're
crunchy and they keep coming back for more!
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