Experience Matters: Why I Don’t Feed My Dogs a Raw Diet

I don’t feed my dogs raw.

GASP!

I know. It’s kind of a big deal. And I may get totally obliterated by the Internet Bullies, but by now, I’ve gotten used to it.

Here’s the thing.

My dogs… they are my entire life. They are my best friends, and they form the foundation of my business. While my dogs are darn stable and have no issues when I walk out the door to run errands, I, on the other hand, suffer separation anxiety when I’m away.  

It’s OK to call me crazy. It wouldn’t be the first time.

When I first started my journey in dog training, I drove myself completely insane with two things: (1) Keeping my dogs healthy and (2) Guilt that I wasn’t getting it right.

I was so afraid I would do something wrong, that I spent countless hours scouring the internet for the latest information on diet, training, and vaccinations. I was convinced that if I didn’t do everything “by the book,” my dog would get sick and it would be my fault. I was terrified that I’d misstep. And I loved them too much to let that happen.

The problem was, there is NO BOOK.

Go ahead. Poke around online. Find scientific research that supports things like a raw diet. And then go ahead and keep looking. Because I’m certain you’ll find scientific research in support of kibble.

And surely you’ll find arguments for and against vaccinations, with scientific research supporting either stance. And of course, you’ll find arguments both for and against holistic remedies, coconut oil, fish oil, raw eggs, and the like. And don’t get me started on the many opinions out there, each with their own supporting evidence, about dog training methodology.

The information is so convoluted, and there is SO MUCH of it. Navigating it all can get overwhelming. And it can be so easy to think you’re going to get it wrong, and your dog’s health will suffer as a direct result. And that’s terrifying!

So here’s what I did.

I bought what I believed were the best foods. I wrapped my dogs in proverbial bubble wrap. I went through phases where I vaccinated. Then I didn’t. I tried it all.

And I learned, over the decade or so that I FREAKED OUT about my dog’s health, that there is one thing that matters more than any Internet Forum. More than marketing agendas, and more than scientific studies.

The one thing that matters most (to me at least) is my experience.

Here’s what I mean. You bet I will research and weigh information. You bet I will read about dog foods, vaccinations, heartworm preventatives, etc. And you bet I will form an educated guess (because that’s what it really is, right?) about what will be best for my dog. But then, I will apply my information and gauge my experience. And it’s only through experience will I develop a plan.

I do the same thing in my training. Plainly stated, my experiences mean more than any scientific study. Because I can guarantee for every study that says one thing, I can find one that supports a counter hypothesis.

Guys, I’m a biochemist by degree and a statistics nerd who actually TAUGHT statistics for several years.

I promise, I can argue just about any study you throw at me. I can absolutely insert a good amount of reasonable doubt.

So when it comes to forming an opinion about my dog’s health, I use the studies to fuel my choices. After that, how I proceed is purely experiential.

For example, when I was navigating dog food choice, I cycled through it all. I have a LOT of mouths to feed at any given time, so what the dogs eat matters.

I fed pre-packed balanced raw food I was able to buy in bulk. But my dogs began dropping weight, and before long, my working dogs were skin and bones. Even with supplementation, we struggled to keep weight on a few of the really active dogs.

I moved on.

Next up was high-quality kibble. I tried Orijen – and hated it. Then we tried Merrick, Innova, Wellness, and Victor. But with all of those foods, we could never strike a balance. Some dogs would get digestive upset. Some would be thin, yet others would bulk up. I’d regularly find myself stocking two or three dog food options in order to keep everyone at their best.

Back to raw we went. The websites and forums were convincing! This time we went for meat, bones, organs and fat only straight from the butcher. Worst. Choice. Ever. The inconsistency, intermittent vomiting and diarrhea, coupled with a broken tooth on one of my malinois and a partial obstruction on another, and I jumped ship fast.

We migrated to a whole prey model, feeding primarily birds and rabbits whole, with smaller, more digestible bones.

We supplemented. We didn’t. We played around so much with their darn diet but couldn’t get something that worked for everyone.

Through all of our experimentation, I realized one thing very quickly. I’m not a scientist. Well, I am. But not a dog food expert. There are gobs of information available online and experts popping up on the daily. Unless studying this is your career, there is someone out there that knows more than you.

Malinois standingLate last year, despite quite a bit of peer pressure and, let’s be honest, bullying, I made the move back to kibble. I couldn’t deal with the hours meal prep took. I couldn’t deal with skinny dogs. Or vomiting. Or diarrhea. Or inconsistencies. I feed a truckload of dogs every day. It’s not just one or two diets I’ve got to get right.

These days, you’d be hard pressed to pry the kibble I’ve chosen for my dogs from my hands (or my dog’s bowls). Go ahead. Throw a study at me. I won’t be swayed. Why? Because I found a family owned pet food company with a kibble that works for everyone. A kibble that not only reads well in ingredients, but also performs well for EVERY one of my dogs. The high energy Malinois hold weight, the low energy basset hound isn’t getting fat and doesn’t have to feel deprived. Cleanup of doggy messes has never been easier, and there is rarely gas (unless we get crazy on the treats). I’m a convert. And I won’t budge. My dogs are doing better than ever, and that means more to me that a study I found online, or what someone says on a nutrition forum.

I share my story with you for a few reasons.

First, if you don’t feed a raw diet, believe it or not, it’s OK. People get passionate and can bully a bit if you opt for kibble or (GASP!) grains. But you need to choose what works best for your dog and your situation. Don’t take the Internet Forums as gospel. If a particular diet makes them sick, they struggle to gain weight, or they gain TOO much weight, don’t be afraid to try new things. 

If you don’t love kibble, that’s OK too. I’ll always celebrate your choices because they are in fact yours and I know you are doing what works best for your dog.

You know your dog best.

Second, if you are passionate about your nutritional choices, your vaccination choices or any other choices, please seek to educate, but let dog owners make their own decisions. Don’t bully other dog owners. We are all trying to navigate this maze the best we know how. We all want what’s best for our dogs. Let’s not forget that. And just ask my basset hound, Mimi: Raw doesn’t work for everyone.

And finally, you can’t control everything. So stop freaking out. Take it from me, you can’t wrap your dog in proverbial bubble wrap. It isn’t good for them, and it isn’t good for your stress and anxiety. Do your best. Educate yourself, but don’t drive yourself crazy. Make a choice and let your dog tell you if it’s working for them. Your experiences are more important than anything you read online. So trust them.


For those who have asked, I feed my personal pet and working dogs Nutrisource High Plains Select formula and I feed Nutrisource Super Performance formula to the working dogs in my kennel. You can read about their products HERE. And HERE is a link to their store locator.

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63 Comments

  1. Cheryl Zovich

    Reply

    Great post! I feed Eagle Pack Lamb & rice. I’ve fed it off and on for 14 years and yes, I’ve stepped away with disastrous results. Raw led to an ER visit and pancreatitis in one dog, chronic diarrhea in another. I tried other variations of Raw; Dehydrated. Home cooked. Pre-made. None of it did what everyone was raving about and with multiple dogs and horses to feed daily, it was a royal pain in the neck. I tried other kibbles … brands touted to be ‘better than’ what I was already feeding. I got gas, tummy noise that kept me awake nights and lots of loose stools. Every time I strayed and then went back to Eagle Pack all was well until I let the naysayers badger me into trying something else. So like you, I won’t switch again because no matter what you think or do your dog isn’t going to live forever anyway. There. I said it. Once you deal with that brutal reality the great food debate becomes a moot point. 😉

    • Julie

      Reply

      I’ve fed mine Eagle Pack for a while, and for the most part they’ve done well on it. One of my dogs developed a food allergy (probably chicken), so I had to switch him to a hypoallergenic food. But before he developed some chronic senior dog problems and the allergy, he was doing well on Eagle Pack.

  2. Elizabeth

    Reply

    Thank you so much for posting this! I too have gone back and forth between feeding raw and feeding kibble. Both have their merits, but we are on kibble now and I think this is where we’ll stay. Thank you for sharing what kibble you feed as well!

  3. Jee

    Reply

    I fed raw for about a year. Like you, I went through a phase where I obsessed over every little detail, it took some time to grow out of it. I was obsessed with researching raw food providers, keeping bacteria at bay, and making sure green tripe didn’t touch anything I would be exposed to. The meal preps were exhausting. I got to the point where I caught myself trying to place an online order with a local farm that sells organic, grass-fed meat. I was ready to drop over$200 on “organic and grass fed” meat for my dog. It dawned on me that it was ridiculous that I was willing to do this without a second thought, knowing that I was an unemployed and full-time student struggling to pay my rent. It was ridiculous.
    Now my dog is on Diamond Naturals lamb and rice. I throw some broth and coconut oil in there once or twice a week just to make myself feel better. I can argue the health benefits of turmeric for dogs all day, yet can never put myself on a consistent schedule. No one who meets me will ever say that my dogs are not well-cared for, or that I do not love them. Learning to find balance in my life is a never-ending journey it feels like, and I appreciate all the little tidbits of knowledge I collect along the way.

    • Reply

      Thanks for sharing your experience. Those are awesome points. Key statement: “No one who meets me will ever say that my dogs are not well-cared for, or that I do not love them” YES!!!! We all feed what we feel is best. And we all love our dogs!

  4. Reply

    Thank you for this. I’ve only fed my dogs kibble, they do very well on it. One of my dogs has an autoimmune disease necessitating daily prednisone.
    Sure, I’ve had people telling me that “switch to raw, he’ll straighten out”

    My experience has been that when I change his food, just from Canidae kibble to Origen or Acana kibble, he has a flare up of his disease. He’s doing well now, and I refuse to use him as a test subject.

  5. Carol Crosby

    Reply

    Great post as always. Food for thought LOL. I’ve fed raw for the last 6 or so years and moved to it from kibble because my dogs were having so much trouble on the kibble. Believe me I paid top dollar too for what was considered the best. Skin problems, gastric upsets, refusal to eat etc. were frequent. The many kibble recalls didn’t help either. Happily when I moved to raw everything cleared up and my dogs were happy eaters so I became a convert. It’s hard to move us when we find what works. I’m not a hard ass though and I respect choice. In fact the raw movement, I believe, has influenced the kibble folks to look at fillers vs real protein in dog food so we get better choices now. I’ve fed my three from puppyhood (and two before them) with raw and I have a good system now so it doesn’t kill a lot of time. If I had a pack I might feel differently. I have a nice butcher friend too so I get liver, tripe, meat bones, hearts, tongues etc on the cheap. I belong to a co-op for blends and chicken necks. lately, after a bit of research, I experimented and tried some of the kibbles that look more like freeze dried food. The dogs like them as training treats too. I could someday see myself mixing raw with kibble, especially if my sources dry up or get too expensive but for now I’m OK. The dogs probably don’t care but a bowl or kibble that looks like bits of cardboard every meal vs a bowl of mixed meats is just more appealing. That and a good meat bone rib to chew on and it’s doggy heaven. At least this owner thinks so. Two Mals and a Dobe seem to think so too. Love your blogs. Thanks

    • Reply

      Yes! I love this comment. That’s the beauty of the dog world I think. We can do what is best for our dogs and support one another even though we may do things a bit differently. I love the concept of raw. I just couldn’t ever seem to get it right for my dogs. So I love when folks have good luck with it!

  6. Reply

    I’ve been feeding raw for 20+ years and my dogs do great on it. But very dog is different, and it’s awesome that there are so many options for people to feed their dogs what they need to be at their best! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the focus could be on the joy of the freedom of choice vs “you have to do what I’m doing”/bullying (in everything!)? My mantra? “Allow. Allow. Allow.” 😊

  7. Leigh Smith

    Reply

    Since dogs have been opportunistic scavengers for thousands of years, and they still manage to keep healthy enough to procreate in some of the toughest areas of the world to live, I am guessing that well made kibble and an assortment of cooked or raw stuff on top when convenient or possible, is going to be a better diet than most of the aforementioned animals have ever seen.

  8. Reply

    People are weird about their own diets, so no surprise that they’re also weird about what they (and others) feed their critters, too! I’m always interested in what works for people and I love learning new tricks; I do recreational raw bones now, frex, and it has been a really positive change! But any time food talk starts looking like magical thinking and cure-alls, I’m out. There is a level in investment that inspires good research and decision-making and then there’s a level that clouds judgment.

  9. Reply

    Oh I understand science people need science , i a nurse understand

    I went to school for just that ,not to be inadated with internet pros and cons
    Had to learn physiologically the canines abilities
    And of course all issues consider in health also
    One of my favorite educators a chemist ,from Belgium studied canines for decades he did search and rescue also. Morgen eliasen. Unique
    But his studieds ,was in depth ,so much to know in how to do it right.
    Puppies digestive tract are immature till 4- t months ,so that is done much differently then most know ,otherwise it can set them up for digestive disorders all their lives ….

    Then are we really mimicking nature properly ,just a lot more to it. Just me I want to do it the right if I can,but I do like to help dogs feel better also !

    I do raw ,but it’s different then anyone else,

    I have opportune to do it ,I own a retail shop and I’m a certified nutritionist for canine equine and feline with American Council Vetrinary Naturopathy

    I. C An only tell by my testimonials ,of my own experiences in what I see right in front of me, I’m a big observer !! U hav to be , nursing helped with that

    My rescue x military’s ,improved skin wise , thrilled to eat all the time ,that I like

    But I also had dogs not well on raw or kibble had to cook ( no fun ) but u do it !

    So , the jury is out
    It’s the multi generational issues of today that our dogs are not the same wolf in the living room theory ,
    But built exactly alike ,just the two are living two different lifestyles now ,so
    I like the wolf in my living room hearty tuff ,nothing gets them sick a constitution like cement

    I still think if u are happy the dog is ,if u r confident and know they r fed to their work and needs and show that, then you r on the right track,
    As soon as u see tendon ligament weakness or anything else .always check diets and supplements ,even with raw !
    Thk you
    Diane Stern RN. C.c.n.c.
    Ps
    I do a whole food supplement I like by a phd in nutrition ,
    Whole Foods safer for liver and kidneys FYI

  10. Amy Samida

    Reply

    I’m super tired of the raw feeding bullies. I feed my dogs a combination. They get kibble, raw, home cooked, and canned. They are thriving and have excellent blood chemistry results. I’m very happy with how healthy they are. As a veterinary nurse, I’ve seen plenty to make my decision. I’ve seen raw fed dogs thriving and raw fed dogs dying. Same with kibble and everything else. As long as we feed our dogs the best quality we can, I’ll wait for peer reviewed studies (which are just starting to show up) before I start bullying anybody into feeding a certain way.

  11. LeeYong Wong

    Reply

    Thanks for sharing your story…. I started my Norfolk Terrier when she was a puppy on kibbles… she was certainly allergic to this and that – then I decide to give commercial raw a try and I noticed a huge difference in her overall appearance… I think it depends on the dog – no two dogs are going to be the same – even in the same household… you have to do what works for your pup… and that’s really the bottom line. 🙂

  12. Alec

    Reply

    After feeding only 2 different brands of kibble food (20% fat) to over 800 working/sporting dogs encompassing a wide variety of ages, breeds for an average training stay of 3 1/2 months over the last 24 years, I can’t remember a single one that did poorly during their stay. That includes a great many dog that arrived on some special owner or vet prescribed diet then switched to my food.

    I (GASP) feed once a day, slightly damp and don’t ever intermix their current food to transition new dogs to my brand.

    I say feed whatever your dog(s) do well on.

    • Carla

      Reply

      My dogs would have a heart attack on once a day, lol.

      Maybe if started from puppy, but my 19 yr old Sheltie is more accurate than an atomin clock at feeding times (2x a day), and my others are right with her.

      We travel lot from coast to coast, so lots of time changes, they adapt.

      I also went through the various “only this is the best, you must feed this” trying to please everyone phase, including home made raw (blech, and no fun to travel with). but no more.

      I did enjoy this article

  13. Erin

    Reply

    Very well written. I hate the trend of judging other people based on what they feed, . If the dogs are healthy, then that’s all that matters, not if it’s raw or kibble. I love your blog, keep the posts coming!

  14. Ruth

    Reply

    Yup. I’m pretty happy with my kibble feeding program for my 2 critters. One of them has skin issues and we have absolutely jumped down some rabbit holes trying to sort THAT out and where we are now is mostly good.

    We chased the ‘food allergy’ rabbit for a while and ultimately I found that he simply does best on a relatively low carbohydrate food. So we go with a grain free, high protein food and his yeast issues are 99.9% gone. (and OMG the Science Diet Z/D, which is the allergy diet, was the WORST. FOOD. EVER. for him.)

    I tried a run of a single ingredient raw diet for about 6 weeks as part of the food elimination/trying to figure out allergies process and mostly I found it was a gigantic pain in the arse (Dogs thought it was fantastic though!). I don’t live close to a grocery store so it meant buying a lot at once and then having to immediately do a massive meal prep (refrigerator space is small too) to get it all in the freezer. Feeding during warm weather was fine (out on the deck or grass and have at it critters!) but cold weather feeding sucked as I either froze in the yard watching them (I wasn’t comfortable with leaving them unsupervised) or policing the ‘keep it on the towel’ dance. So once I realized that the raw thing wasn’t causing enough improvement in his skin to be worth the hassle we went back to kibble. And we went through LOTS of different brands and flavors. I finally decided that food might not actually be the issue (beyond him down better with low carb). I grabbed a can of athletes foot spray and treated his belly and feet like he had athlete’s foot and well, no more yeast issues. Go figure.

    Now if anyone has a magical cure for his dry skin I’m all ears (seriously. From greasy yeasty boy to dry itchy boy. He just can’t win!). Currently we’re trying some coconut oil in his diet but I don’t think it’s helping at all.

    And it’s not just the main food that I’ve explored and converted on either. Chew toys too. I have pit bull shelter mutts and they are both pretty powerful chewers. I loved giving them real bones and antler to chew because they lasted, the dogs loved them, and hey! Healthy right? Well a few cracked and chipped teeth later and I finally listened to my vet and got bones and antlers out of the mix. And now I’m dipping my toe into the world of rawhide chews. It’s hard folks! I’ve been told and read and heard for so long over and over that rawhide is the most dangerous thing out there but it’s what my vet recommended. And…. I think I agree now. I had to find the RIGHT rawhide (no ‘bone’ shapes because they can get hunks off and swallow big pieces). So in case you are in the same boat, take a look at Wholesome Hides brand thick retriever rolls. One dog starts at one end and eats it like a burrito, the other has been slowly unrolling it. But they haven’t managed a single large and scary chunk, I think we’ll get about 3-4 hours of chew time out of each of them, and the dogs think they are fantastic. These are the ones I’m talking about https://www.mickeyspetsupplies.com/Wholesome-Hide-USA-Rawhide-Super-Thick-Retriever-p/retrrollst.htm

  15. Debbie

    Reply

    Thankyou so much for this. I have two Tibetan terriers who are so different. Try we’re both on kibble/tinned food doing well. I have a friend who convinced me that I was feeding my dogs rubbish, so I switched to raw. Well after battling on and off with one for 3 years I switched her back, she’s doing fine, better than fine. my friend thinks I’m wrong and says it doesn’t matter if she doesn’t like raw it’s better for her, make her eat it! I’m sorry wrong or not I want my dogs to enjoy meal times, not dread them. I’m in the uk but going to check out the kibble you feed. Thankyou again for not making me feel like a monster.

  16. Rhoda E

    Reply

    I have fed raw for 15 + years, three generations of raw fed in my house. BUT it is not for everyone, and I preach that on the FB “raw fed” groups. I also feed kibble, freeze dried, and every bitch that is pregnant will get kibble added to her diet, and every pup will leave on a mixed kibble and raw diet.

  17. Estela

    Reply

    I have a very anxious dog and when he was a puppy the vet put him on wet food cause he was having gastric issues with dry food. The one day, he had a severe anxiety phase (we moved to another house and that freaked him out) and he stop eating all of the sudden. We tried everything, from raw food to every brand of canned, frozen and dry food…. after many trips to the vet, the pet store and the internet, we settle on cooking for him. He started eating cooked chicken with frozen peas and carrots… until he had another crisis.
    The anxiety is under control for now, and his feeding is getting better. And because the anxiety and crazy feeding gave him a bad case of pancreatitis, he is now on a broiled chicken (store bought) diet with some turkey ham. Lately, I’ve been adding kibble to his chicken and he seems to like it and really looks forward to it.
    As he is getting healthier and happier, he is working better with me and will re-trained him on a feeding schedule. The only good thing about all this is that my dog is not food driven, so I can eat on my bed with him next to me and he won’t even bother…

  18. Reply

    What a sensible and calm post about food! I do feed raw, but it’s a choice, not a religion. We keep kibble in the house. The foster dog eats kibble. If I forget to thaw something, my dogs eat kibble. Raw involves a ton of time, and a ton of freezer space, and not everyone has access to those resources the way I do. And internet bullies… well, that a whole separate post, isn’t it?

  19. UrbanCollieChick

    Reply

    I tried raw because my current dog, also my first ever…an Australian working kelpie, came from a sheep farm where they ate both kibble and raw. The farmer encouraged me and said not to be afraid to try everything. And when I got him, he was VERY skinny ( this didn’t just look like a good lean working weight) with a dry and flaky coat, and she handed me a bag of Taste of the Wild kibble. She said her dog s only got the runs when going back to kibble from raw. So I went raw altogether. At first it seemed okay. He got mucous poop with raw chicken, so I fed other things. It seemed good for the first couple of years. Fur got more lustre and the teeth lost their brown stains.

    However over time, he was less and less tolerant to other foods. He was great at carefully chewing raw bones. No obstructions. He took his time even when starving. But I also noticed it was taking more and more food to keep weight on. He also was getting mucous more often, then here and there he got watery runs! Like water shooting out of a hose! Everyone fed amounts guesstimated by their dog’s weight. So much food per pound of body weight. It turned out that in terms of actual calories fed, that could be extremely calorie deficient, especially depending on what you fed. NO ONE in raw feeding forums ever spoke in terms of calories, and they considered adding grains or carbs blasphemy, even if it added needed fiber and calories!

    On top of that, feeding it in NYC was madly expensive. I’m still paying off credit card debt largely attributed to raw feeding!

    I’ve done the gamut. I’m not saying I’ll never feed a little here and there or, wonder of wonders, COOKED fresh foods, but commercial dog food is just fine! If it weren’t, dogs wouldn’t have survived this long on it and the research is better than ever. Companies know how much dog owners care these days and they have responded.

  20. Reply

    Great article, thanks.
    I went though a similar process and also being confronted with skinny workingdogs finally decided to go back to kibble and choose Royal Canin and my whole pack, from retired 13,5 year old to full active KNPV sport dogs, are doing really well on their program. Great stool, good weights, excellent coat condition and more.

  21. Nancy

    Reply

    First I would like to say that if you feed your dogs raw because “it’s all the rage now” that is doing it for the wrong reasons. In the past I have fed my dogs/dog kibble then went to kibble & raw. For the past 4 yrs my current dogs are fed all raw and I believe are doing better than my past dogs on kibble. When I first started them on raw I also did tons of reading about it and made it sort of a project to put their food together which was time consuming. Now I buy complete mix (protein, bone, organ) from a local company, occasionally throwing in eggs, cottage cheese, other organs, etc. so it may take a little longer to put their bowls together at each meal but all 3 dogs are doing great on it. I will agree that it is more difficult to keep weight on an active dog feeding it raw and agree that for households with many dogs it can get expensive. Everyone needs to do what they feel is best for their dog.

  22. Reply

    Meagan, you know I love you and your training methods and all…but a scientist vs someone with a degree in HEALTHCARE is no comparison. I have treated and CURED CANCER HOLISTICALLY as well as MRSP, where the vets that used conventional medicine basically bout KILLED my dogs. You can’t PAY me to feed my dogs kibble with the nasty poop they leave in my yard from ANY of the kibble I have tried. I make my own raw mix, grind it up with a $700+ grinder, add some vitamins, add some supplemental dehydrated raw and only do core vaccines as per Dr Jean Dodds protocol….guess what? Poop that disintegrates into white dust in a week, no more allergies (having dogo argentinos, they are very prone to allergies, but not since I stopped most vaccines). Oh, and the dehydrated raw I give is USDA CERTIFIED. As far as your dogs being thin…I guarantee you weren’t feeding enough and you were just going off the bag recommendations. Mals that live in kennels have a tendency to not rest and spend a lot of energy on, well, being mals….the % of food based on weight MUST be dramatically increased to support that metabolism, can’t use that 2.5-3% of the wanted body weight crap. ANd one MUST increase the amount of FAT , can’t go by the ratios for a normal house dog that is on the bag of store bought raw premade crap. Both my going on 12 year old male and going on 9 year old female dogo argentino run and play like puppies still, no signs of arthritis and in great health.

    • Reply

      forgot to add, I have a full kennel full of dogs all on the same raw diet, not just 2 or 3 housedogs, and they ALL do great, different breeds too.

      • Reply

        another thing…why do you think cancer is so prevalent in dogs? KIBBLE. Why do you think humans have cancer and so many health ailments ? PROCESSED FOODS, JUST AS KIBBLE is processed.

          • Alexo

            I’m a raw feeder too, and I’ve tried kibble, it just never worked for my dogs. I watch other peoples dogs for periods of time, they are fed kibble, and when they stay with me they get switched to raw. They have never had intestinal issues, and if anything, they go home much healthier than they came.

      • Jackie d

        Reply

        The main thing that causes in cancer in both dogs and humans is… Old age. I would bet my bottom dollar that the next most important factor in dogs is genetics, and after that it is most likely to be obesity, as with humans. A dog can get fat on any diet.

    • Reply

      It’s awesome that it works well for you. It didn’t work well for me. And we fed our dogs as much as they would eat and supplemented with significant amounts of fat. We tried many protocols with no luck. Pre-packaged balanced, food straight from the butcher, etc. We supplemented per a holistic doc’s recommendations. And still my dogs were thin with occasional stomach upset. So I found something that works better for me. And I’m very happy with it. Like I said, I’m thrilled that raw has worked so well for you. That’s awesome! It’s not for me though …

  23. Reply

    I have to admit that RAW feeders can be almost religious in their devotion and drive to make converts. We should all have that kind of passion to make things better in our world. That being said, I had a dog live well into her teens eating (gasp) grocery store dog food. Of course now I read ingredients, read reviews, supplement our locally made kibble with fresh food, and watch our dogs weight, etc etc.
    If the dogs are thriving, no need to make big changes. Thanks for your 2 cents.

  24. Ashley

    Reply

    Well put! would love to know which kibble youre feeding and liking, my guess is Fromm but Im not 100% sure. Currently have a dog on raw but digestive issues are a big deal

    • Reply

      I use Nutrisource High Plains Select. They have a guarantee that your dog will not get digestive issues and they have one of the lowest return rates in the industry. Very highly recommended. It’s the only one that’s worked for my crazy, varied pack 🙂

  25. Alexo

    Reply

    Thanks for sharing. I feed raw, and have done it since I can remember. I’ve done a lot of research, and I’m not afraid of kibble so I have done my research and tried it as well, as I use a lot of food for training. I haven’t found a kibble that works great for both of my dogs, and I enjoy, a.k.a. love mixing food. I also got into dehydrating the raw food that I mix, and make my own “kibble”. Both of my dogs are now, aside from doing sports such as agility, being active on farm chores, moving livestock, and keeping some types away from the humans while feeding. They are really active and I pride myself of the shape they are in. Know your dogs and what works for them. It’s all about what works for you and your dogs.

  26. Rob

    Reply

    I’m very sorry to hear that you’re getting a lot of “heat” for your post. We should be supportive of one another and do what is best for our dogs. Raw isn’t for everyone, not all dogs like or can tolerate it and it just isn’t as convenient or as easy as dry food, especially logistically speaking.

    Conversely, dry food isn’t for every dog either.

    Do what is best for your dog and share your experiences with others and you should be able to do so openly too.

    Dog training isn’t black and white and can be summed up perfectly with “how long is a piece of string?” Like every person, every dog is an individual and should be treated as such.

    Keep up the good work.

  27. Mary Beam

    Reply

    Actually, there is a tiny bit of research on feeding of Canine Lupus Famliiaris, the dog. The problem with research is it cost. In both time and money. I remember when Kibble was first on the market aback in the early ’50’s. Until then, most dogs were fed what people eat. Now, that said, I do not recommend any specific diet. What you feed your dog is up to you. In the end, we are all responsible for our own decisions. If someone wants to know the best diet for their dog, I always suggest they do their own research. My personal choice is to feed a variety. Some people feed one thing and one only. I have no problem with that. I feed primal frozen and freeze dried raw along with turkey necks, duck necks, chicken parts, eggs and organ meet. Some people cannot manage this either due to cost or personal problems with handling raw foods. And, that is ok with me. I also make sure my dogs get some kibble. Not knowing what the future will bring, I want them to be able to digest as many types of food as possible. That requires that they have the bacteria in the gut needed to digest and get the most nutrients from their food. Here is the study I mentioned above. http://www.ukrmb.co.uk/images/Research%20Paper%20-%20Raw%20Diet%20v%20Kibble%20Diet%20.pdf It is from the UK. Here is one from Tufts University.
    http://vet.tufts.edu/wp-content/uploads/raw_meat_diets_memo.pdf So, yeah, the research is out there but so are sites that are predigest both for and against either type diet. And, no matter what you do, stuff happens. Cancer happens. Diseases happen. Injuries happen. All we can do is what we think is best in our situation.

    • Reply

      Depends on the day 🙂 On any given day, I’m responsible for the care and feeding of anywhere from 8-14 dogs, most working dogs. They aren’t all mine though. Many are being raised and trained for my clients. My personal pack is 6 strong 🙂

  28. Reply

    I have to admit, I sometimes don’t read your articles (like most of us, there’s never enough time in the day, but when I saw the title of the article, I was intrigued to read why and what you chose to feed. I do store demonstrations and community events for Nutrisource. And trust me, I am NOT a salesperson. But when you have a food as great as NS, you don’t have to be. It sells itself. I could write a book on why the food is so great, and list the many people I know who have switched to this food. I always tell people to do what is best for their dogs. You have to do what works. I have worked for them since 2011 and can count on one hand the number of people who tried the food and it didn’t work for their dog or dogs. I won’t go into all the reasons it’s so great. All I can say is if you’re looking to make a switch, try a bag. It’s 100% guaranteed you can return it to the store you purchased it from. Even if the reason is your dog just doesn’t like it. Thanks for taking the time to write about what I feel is an amazing food and an even more amazing company too work for!

  29. Patti

    Reply

    Great article. I feed a mix of raw and a little bit of kibble with fantastic results. The raw is from a company that makes the meals for us, organic, affordable, local. We buy it frozen in one pound or two pound servings. Totally convenient. If it wasn’t for this solution I wouldn’t bother because it’s a lot of work.
    Both dogs are in complete opposite life stages. A 4 month old Malinoi. A 7 yr old doberman with end stage liver fibrosis. The diets work thru trial and error and tons of research.
    As long as owners are educated and look to their dogs for feedback without bias then they are doing the best they can.

  30. Sue Betteridge

    Reply

    I switched to raw nearly four years ago as my little collie suffered from allergies.. She was diagnosed with a dustmite allergy ( as are most dogs. it seems) but her condition was much worse in the summer, so we suspect grass/pollen or something similar.. She was on immunotherapy for four years, which alleviated it but did not solve the problem.
    Since switching to raw she is 90 percent better. Last year I stopped the immunotherathy and she has continued to improve.. Also the anal glad problem to which she was prone has resolved. So has her coat.
    My GSD eats really well. Their poos are small and not evil smelling.
    They are fed mainly DIY meals, supplimented by high quality commercial for the meats I cant obtain locally.
    Having said that, I have friends who feed kibble and have fit and healthy dogs!
    Hope this is helpful.

  31. Reply

    I feed Northwest Naturals frozen raw for the most part. There is a big difference in stools when I feed kibble. They go from small and compact to large, mushy mucousy.
    They seem to do well on raw and I have small dogs so it is not as expensive for me.

  32. UrbanCollieChiq

    Reply

    I fed my kelpie raw for a few years. It was great, until it no longer worked. My dog slowly revealed, as we had to eliminate one food at a time, that he was developing what we suspect to be a mild form of IBD. Scoping was not done but under the guidance of a veterinary IM/gastroenterologist, we did bloodwork which had a value considered pretty consistent with IBD onset.

    Maybe the bacteria itself caused an imbalance or issue, but my dog had parvo AND whipworms on the farm where i got him, and where he was being fed a mix of kibble and raw to being with. All I knew then was when he came to me, he had been put on Taste of the wild under the presumption he would be eating dog food. He was skinny as hell and his skin was dry and flaky, his coat rough in texture.

    The raw had cleaned the brown from his teeth and his coat has lustre, and it took him time to finish his meals, so I was happy for a time. However I live in NYC and the location, plus the more and more obscure and exotic meats I was trying to use as chicken, beef etc, become intolerable to him, cost me a fortune! I’m still paying off CC debt from it to this day.

    We ultimately had to abandon raw and now, on the other end of the spectrum, we feed a hydrolyzed kibble from Royal Canin. After a year or so I found I could give him one sterlized marrow bone stuffed with his kibble, 1x a week, for teeth cleaning. Nothing else help. He’s a very careful chewer so I don’t have real worries that he’ll break a tooth, but I do supervise. But other than needing other items for teeth cleaning, the kibble has his coat just as luscious and shiny and soft as the raw diet ever did, even with raw lamb fat! The kibble is made from feathers and corn! A horror to most dog food foodies today. It wouldn’t be my first choice normally. The Rx kibble is pricey too. But my dog has all the energy and shine he ever had on the raw diet. So I cannot complain. There’s sardine oil in it too. It must be refined to remove proteins.

    What can I say? It works!

    I am not against raw but it is definitely not for all dogs, and needs some careful considerations. A lot of the raw groups out there run by dogmas, myths and half-truths. Some of these guys feed road kill, raw deer ncluding all parts ( think Hydatid tapeworms), and meat that has rotted a bit. Some insist every dog can handle it! Please be careful who you listen to!

    Better yet, pay a few bucks to talk to a professional with a background in dog nutrition. There is no “nutritionist” degree for dogs, but there ARE programs in Animal Care through universities. Monica Segal was educated at the U of Guelph and is pretty fair. Susan Lauten has a PhD in biomedical sciences and an MS in Agriculture, specializing in animal nutrition. They can help you formulate a diet in raw or cooked fresh foods.

    Yes, COOKED! Since when is that not a fair compromise?

  33. Lynda Jao

    Reply

    Thanks for this post! I am a first time dog parent and we bought into the whole raw diet thing when we got our dog as a puppy. Because we didn’t want to break the bank, we fed our bloodhound mutt a mix of raw food and
    kibble. He gets 1 raw Patty and 1 cup kibble, 2x a day. The thing is, he is only a 50 lb dog. I think we are feeding him almost 2x what his body weight should require and he’s still so skinny (his ribs can be seen). He’s not food motivated and begrudgingly eats most of the time – he sometimes throws up bile from not eating. We tried Nutrisource for the first time the other day and he gobbled it up. Is it possible that the 50% raw is making him too lean? Do I test by going 100% raw or 100% kibble?

    • Reply

      It’s hard to say without seeing the ingredients in your raw but I’ve always struggled to get my dogs to hold weight on raw unless I was feeding a considerable amount of fat. I think you could absolutely experiment by giving him 100% raw or 100% kibble. But I can’t imagine 2 cups of kibble + raw is making him thin. For my dogs, I feed a considerable amount more than recommended because they are highly active. For their weight, it is recommended 3-3.5 cups of kibble and I feed 6. 🙂

  34. Jackie d

    Reply

    Hallelujah. Yes, the raw brigade can be very bullying, and very dismissive of the experiences of people who don’t feed raw. My dogs didn’t even like raw much, apart from the bones; then one of them managed to crush ‘safe’ raw bones into razor sharp shards and had bloody diarhoea for days. Meanwhile a friend’s dog nearly died of an obstruction. I have now found a kibble that suits one of my dogs (orijen) and a wet food that suits the other (meatlove). Everyone else’s dog will vary!!!

  35. Reply

    Thank you for sharing your story! I have a very similar one and this made me feel better. I’m obsessed with my mini schnauzer, Jane. She’s 6 years old and I still have been trying to find the right food for her. First of course it was kibble, then eventually we started adding Stella & Chewys raw patties to her kibble, then we switched to Honest kitchen, then with the raw patties, then The Honest Kitchen with raw turkey from the grocery store that we made into patties ourselves, then back to Stella & Chewys and finally a brand that I won’t mention but that my local organic dog shop HIGHLY recommended and pushed hard. They LOVE to also bully and tell you what you should or shouldn’t be feeding, what you should be doing differently, raw raw raw. Well, this has been a very scary mistake to listen to them and not listen to myself and my experience. They talked me into buying this raw turkey product that has rave reviews. Because the protein was the same and we were only switching brands, I didn’t think I needed to transition the food. Two days later my dog has chronic diarrhea, she’s throwing up and we ended up at the vet being very very scared. It was the new food and affected her terribly, as it was too rich for her and higher fat content. We’re lucky we didn’t lose her and the vet tells me how important it is to keep her on a consistent diet. I think I’ve learned my lesson, a very pricey and scary one and will stop continuously searching for something better. Think its time to just feed what works and that is NOT raw for us!!

  36. CJ

    Reply

    I have found the opposite when it comes to “bullying”. My goldendoodle is currently thriving on pre made raw. I am constantly made to feel bad about my choice. “She sure licks up whatever that stuff is” “There is nothing for her to chew” I don’t really respond and never try to sway anyone one way or the other. If I ever do talk about my feeding choice, I am always dismissed. It makes me question myself, especially since this is my first dog. I guess I need to find a different kind of support group. Your post about your experience and choice helped, so thank you. 🙂

  37. Reply

    I have done raw and kibble and have found that raw is expensive and works, kibble is cheap and works. I use a kibble that my dog is adjusted to for his staple (anytime you switch kibble even if for the better, it could cause some stomach issues if not done gradually), however, I do supplement raw ground beef or slightly cooked chicken when its available. Also leftovers from dinner, I wash off seasoning and give him the carrots, beets, rutabaga, and any meat. He doesn’t like fish or squirrel, and rabbit weirds him out too. He doesn’t like lamb. I also supplement with egg, both raw and cooked as it presents itself. I have too kids so wether they accidentally drop a raw egg or suddenly decide they no long like them after their mother graciously prepares their breakfast, plenty of eggs would go to waste if I did not choose to use it for my dogs benefit. I too really enjoyed your blog.

  38. Marsha

    Reply

    Great read and so refreshing to read something that isn’t so set in stone and bullying other options out there.
    I’ve had such a hard time feeding my pug (when I got him as a puppy I did a lot of research on kibble- grain and grain-free) tried both after and, a few times of eating the kibble he would grow bored to the point of not eating it what so ever once even going three days without eating!! I ended up needing to always either use coconut oil or a topper to put on top of his kibble so he would eat it. I watched a documentary on netflix on dog food and the kibble industry and I was floored. I didn’t know what to do anymore and as fate would have it a raw dog food store opened up not too far away from me. I switched him to raw and of course he ate it up! Slowly, however he started developing infections (yeast and even podo dermatitis) Since switching him to raw I saw the vet 3 times and she kept giving him antibiotics that would mask the problem and the symptoms started again when he was off the medication. I was in denial because everything that I read online was saying all the symptoms Winston was having, a raw food diet would cure! I did extensive research to the point where I felt like I was becoming a nutritionist.
    He just recently got off antibiotics ( I forgot to mention that while he was on kibble, he never had any of these issues) and began licking his paws and scratching his ears. I believe that this is of course some sort of allergy, I did the elimination diet and had him on a salmon and lamb blend with various organ meats (tripe, heart, liver, etc) as I believed that was a protein he was okay with because it’s the protein that was in the kibble when he was a puppy.
    All in all, I am not bashing the raw diet at all. I do believe it works wonders for some dogs but something in me told me that it just wasn’t right for Winston. He’s a pure bred pug, my mother got him from Serbia from a man that has been passionately breeding them and competing them in dog shows for 30 years. I know all dogs are the decendants of wolves but call me crazy to believe that a pug who has been breed to be a lap warmers to Chinese emperors and German shepherds will have the much different dietary needs?!
    I now have him on canned food so we’ll see how it goes!

  39. Mary

    Reply

    Thanks for this article. I was feeling guilty for switching my 2 year old dog back to kibble from raw. I had been reading the articles about feeding dogs a raw diet vs. the “evil” kibble. So, although he seemed perfectly healthy and at a good weight, I transitioned him from a locally sourced kibble to a well-known, high quality, nutritionally balanced, frozen raw brand. He dropped a lot of weight on the raw food diet, looked too skinny, and he also lost all of his fluffy undercoat during the cool fall season when he should have, instead, been growing more. He maintained his usual energy level but he really didn’t look right, and it frightened me. I put him back on the kibble and he gradually put the weight back on. He is at a healthy weight again. Also, his is eyes look brighter and his coat is fuller and shinier again, like before I switched him to the raw diet. I also like to give him raw eggs, sardines, yogurt or kefir occasionally, which I was doing while on both the raw and the kibble diets.

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