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Why I Feed My Pets Raw

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Recently, both the American Animal Hospital Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) have taken a public stand against feeding raw diets to pets, warning that they are risky to pets and humans. However, many pet owners (like myself) are passionate in their belief that raw feeding is both safe and healthy for their dogs.

As someone who has been feeding my pets a raw diet for many years, I have witnessed first-hand the improvements in health, vitality and behavior they experienced simply by switching their diet to raw.

I was at my wits end with Nelson. When I adopted him from the SPCA he came with a horrible case of diarrhea. His vet diagnosed him with IBD and prescribed special diets and medication. Nothing helped. After months of getting nowhere with his treatment, a friend suggested I try feeding him a raw diet and explained how she’d had success with her cat who had the same problem.

The decision to go raw was not easy for me. I was, simply put, terrified. I’d heard the warnings about salmonella, worms, choking on bones, et al. My veterinarian, whose lobby is stocked to the ceiling with Science Diet, was not on board. I spent countless hours researching, joining forums, talking to people who had success with raw diet before I finally took the plunge.

I purchased a bag of Nature’s Variety frozen raw food from my local pet store, thinking, “They’ve already done the work for me. It’s a balanced meal. It can’t hurt to try it.”

Nelson gobbled it up as if it was the meal he’d been waiting his entire life for. Within 24 hours, much to my surprise and probably his, Nelson took the first solid poop he’d had in months. Yes, the results were that fast and I was converted.

In addition to Nelson’s obvious health improvement, within days I started noticing he was more active – with energy that I’d not ever seen in him. His skin and coat were looking healthier, he played harder and slept better at night. Within weeks, his physical appearance had changed. He was more muscular and sleek. Even my vet couldn’t discount the improvement in Nelson and he finally said, “keep doing what you’re doing!”

By this time, I was converting all of my dogs and cats to the raw diet and was seeing similar improvements in all of them. Some, like Nelson, were very easy to switch to raw. Others were a little more difficult to make the switch. You see, raw food doesn’t have an odor. It isn’t sprayed with animal fat to make it enticing to eat. It isn’t loaded with addicting carbs. Many of my critters would give me a confused look when I put a plate of raw food down in front of them. They didn’t realize it was food! My girl, Mandy, was especially reluctant to give up her kibble. I can look back and laugh now, because today she is my very best raw eater. Mandy will chew through whole raw bones now!

I look back on the days when I was stressing out about switching to a raw diet and think how silly I was. Ironically, I never once stressed over feeding my pets kibble – and how many pets have died since the 2007 recalls from kibble? Thousands. Yet we fear feeding them a raw diet. Why?

For one, we are concerned with bacteria contamination & Salmonella. Do you realize, all the 2012 Diamond Pet Food recalls that affected some 14 premium brands of dry and canned pet food were due to Salmonella? This is not a raw diet problem. What’s more, animal experts remind us that the canine intestinal tract is adapted to handle meats that have been contaminated with bacteria. Dogs have a shorter intestinal tract and a shorter digestive time and higher acid in the stomach. When combined with proper handling and washing hands, the risk is very low.

Some warn that parasites may exist in raw food. However, pre-freezing meats will eliminate some parasites. In the 5 years I’ve been feeding raw diet, I have not had any incidence of parasites in my pets.

It’s an incomplete diet. This was my biggest fear when switching to raw. It’s the reason I bought commercially made raw food – because the manufacturers did the work to balance it for me. I wanted to be sure my pets were getting the proper vitamins, minerals and nutrients they needed. And, after a year of buying commercial raw food, when I was much more comfortable with the concept, I started making it myself to save money. Since then, I’ve had complete blood and urine analysis done on all of my pets and they all pass with flying colors!

My raw fed pets have fresh breath, clean white teeth, small and odorless poop, muscular bodies, and increased energy. They make less trips to the veterinarian because they have few (if any) health problems. And they are fed for less cost than premium canned food. How many of us can honestly say this about our pets?

I’m not writing this to convince pet parents to stop feeding commercial dog food. In fact, I believe there are some great commercial foods available. What we feed is our choice. If you’re considering it, know that choosing to feed raw will put you in conflict with many vets and pet owners. When I saw the benefits in my own home and understood they far outweighed any risks, I became a raw diet feeder for life.

28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. Georgina Fishlock

    Aug 11, 2016 at 7:53 pm

    After the arrival of my Doberman on my door late one night. I bent over backwards to give this tiny girl the best. Instead all I’ve had is one very sick little girl who I couldn’t do a thing with, including walking her down the street. She’d stress out throw up lose condition and hair.
    Looking at all the beautiful dobies I new there had to something.
    Last week I started feeding her naturally and the results have blown me away. I have a happy dog who I took to the park!
    I picked up yesterday the complete herbal handbook for the dog and cat yesterday to see if I can’t improve things for my girl again. My vet is totally against it. But the results speak for themselves

  2. Jo

    Apr 5, 2016 at 10:29 am

    Hello and I’m hoping that someone feeding raw has come across this before, and could advice. Some time ago I switched my otherwise healthy sheltie (he had dental buildup and grease builds up quite quickly in his coat) to raw/home-prepared, but he’s been having intermittent but recurrent episodes of licking around the 7/8 o’clock region of his bum hole, and on the right side of his tail base. This occurs even if he’d had a good bowel movement. He’s also had more episodes of loose stools, and haven’t been able to put the weight he’d lost recently back on. I have honestly not been able to see any improvement with respect to his health, and the only thing that’s kept me going is knowing that this is better for him than processed kibble.

    I’ve fed both regiments that have or do not have veggies/carbohydrates; I feed a protein (beef/chicken/pork/fish), organ (usually pig liver, at times kidneys), ground eggshells, mix of low GI veggies and pumpkin, some turmeric, fish oil, and yogurt. I’ve also tried the Honest Kitchen mixes.

    Might anyone encountered this and have an idea what I might be doing incorrectly/ought to do? Thanks in advance!

  3. Michelle

    Mar 13, 2015 at 11:19 pm

    I feed all 4 of my dogs raw. I spent hours and hours doing research on my own. One of my pit bulls had severe allergies. I spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars trying to combat this awful issue. Allergy testing ,allergy shots, steroid shots etc. nothing worked. She was miserable. I had nothing to loose and just wanted her to ha a happy healthy dog. So I took the Raw Plunge. The results were truly astounding. After a very short time, I had my dog back. She no longer itched intensely for hours, had a dull spotty coat or runny eyes. She had her energy back and played and ran like never before. With 4 dogs, I can not buy the pre-packaged brands. I feed them whole chicken legs, thighs breasts. Turkey necks, backs. Ground turkey, ground chicken, ground beef and whole red meats. And lots of big red meat bones to chew on. I make homemade cookies filled with nutritious ingredients for balance. Alot of work but worth every penny. And no more vet bills.

  4. Raw Dog Food Pasadena

    Jul 10, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    We’ve been feeding our dogs our own raw diet as well. We tell our customers to investigate alternative foods to feed their pets. So many people settle for the off the shelf commercial product, because they can get bulk for cheap. In the long run this may be doing more harm than good to your animals!

    Be aware of what you’re feeding your pets, cheaper does not always mean better.

  5. Kristi

    Jul 7, 2014 at 10:48 am

    We feed our bulldog Stella & Chewy’s raw. It’s eliminated the allergies, sneezing, ear infections & coat issues he had when we got him. We buy the frozen type at our pet store but you can also find the freeze-dried version online, even on Amazon. It’s organic and includes, bones & organs also.

  6. Christa

    May 20, 2014 at 8:35 am

    This article came up in my email and I feed my dogs raw. Natures Variety balanced has something in it that my girl reacts to but with primal chicken grinds she doesn’t. I give them beef brisket bones and knuckle bones but I am worried they are not getting what they need in terms of complete diets and that they may end up lacking in some nutrients. Spirulina makes them sick and itch and omega 3 oil make them sick sometimes. They both weigh about 58 pounds and are looking healthy but I am unsure as to what they need and the websites are conflicting and confusing. Would be nice to have something to go by for weight etc as to what they need daily to stay healthy.

    • tkrtoma

      Jan 15, 2015 at 5:45 pm

      Look at the ingredients of the prepared raw foods and add them to your own concoction. One of my dogs does not do well with ground meat of any kind, so now I feed them beef, fish, chicken and lamb, cut up, but not ground, with spinach, broccoli, kale, blueberries, apples, pears, yams, etc. Not necessarily all together at one time, of course. The vegetables have to be finely ground or cooked, as dogs can’t sufficiently break down the vegetable to digest it.They really love getting chicken thighs and legs (I remove the skin) bone-in. They love it and it makes such a difference to their poop, their teeth and I think, their sense of satisfaction! They also eat bananas as snacks and other fruits such as melons and peaches. If they seem to need any oils, I put some on their food

  7. Kat

    Jan 10, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    I would like some info if you can send to me, I have made my own . I would rather purchase it done. Thanks

  8. Connie Arnett Carbon

    Dec 3, 2013 at 9:28 am

    I live in Michigan! What Pet stores sell Raw pet food? Is there a website? Where would I get a recipe to make my own? Thank you, Connie Carbon

  9. Yankee Shelties

    Jul 28, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    As a hobby breeder of shelties, I’ve been feeding raw for decades. I don’t have problems with stinky dirty ears, tartar covered teeth, big soft stinky poop that people who feed commercial food do.

    Since I have a number of dogs, I combine some commercial frozen raw food with buying chicken thighs in bulk and knuckle bones and beef organs from the local butcher. If I didn’t, as others have said, the cost would be prohibitive. Besides the act of crunching down on intact meat and bones is good for the dogs 🙂

    I feed all my litters of puppies raw and am working towards a variety of natural supplements to keep my dogs in top notch condition. It takes a lot of reading and discerning the ingredient labels of everything my dogs eat.

    My vet while not schooled in raw feeding respects my position and I respect him and his group for their expertise in other areas.

    It’s time we all realized that the commercial aspects of food (human or dog) is what drives what is put in the bags and on the shelves. Only when we as consumers say NO to shoddy products will things change.

    Anyone want to talk about vaccines now??? LOL!

    • Jim Bradley

      Oct 12, 2013 at 8:49 pm

      I do the same. I never have to deal with the symptoms of food allergies that dogs eating commercial food develop. While it takes a little effort and research, feeding raw is the best thing I’ve ever done for my dog. I also use dinovite like a lot of other raw feeders to balance nutrition.

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