Yes, you read that correctly; I am not in favor of any raw meat diet! I know this may sound like a big change coming from me, but it is not. Anyone who has been reading this blog or who has brought their pet to me knows that I am a huge promoter of balanced raw diets for pets. The key word here is BALANCED.

Of course, different experts have different ideas of what constitutes balance in a pet food. The American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has their concept of balance based on the minimal levels of various nutrients to avoid diseases caused by nutrient deficiency. And I am in favor of conventional nutrition research. There is a lot for all of us to learn from this research. Unfortunately, because most pet nutrition research is funded by pet food manufacturers, the results must be taken with a grain of salt.

Those of us who favor the ancestral diet concept look to nature to determine balance. What would a dog or cat eat in the wild? What do their wild counterparts eat? What did their ancestors eat (from whom our pets have inherited their nutritional needs).

Instead of watching Purina commercials for nutrition advice, watch the wolves on Animal Planet. They do not graze in grain fields or dig for potatoes. They also do not whip out a George Foreman Grill and cook their catch. Our pets were designed by natural selection to eat a low-carbohydrate, raw diet.

While raw meat is a major part of the diet, an all-meat pet food would be very unnatural and unbalanced. Watch the wolves and wild cats closely. When eating their prey, usually the first place they go is to the abdomen. They eat the internal organs (loaded with unique vitamins and trace minerals) and get a dose of bacteria and veggies from the GI tract. Wild animals also eat many of the bones of their prey from which they get needed calcium.

Raw foods are important for pets because when food ingredients are heat processed, vital nutrients are destroyed. Not only that, the extreme heat processing that commercial pet foods are put through also causes cancer-causing compounds to form. For these two reasons I conclude that processed pets foods are unhealthy. However, unbalanced raw diets are equally unhealthy.

Raw meat alone does not make for a healthy pet diet! If you are homemaking your pet’s food it is important to get the balance right. I suggest reading Dr. Karen Becker’s book for more details on making a balanced homemade diet.

What is your experience with raw foods for your pets?

13 replies
  1. Deborah Daquila
    Deborah Daquila says:

    I was first introduced to raw when fostering a very sick diabetic(blind/deaf) cocker. Nina Wolfe owner of Animal Nature Pet Food store in Regent Square was the first person after trying several vets(didn’t know about Dr. Doug even though I was in Beaver County) to tell me that it was not that Lacey was a fussy eater, she said she is sick. She said she needs to change her diet to raw. She referred me to Beaver Animal Clinic where I saw Dr. Rhinehart and we put Lacey on a raw diet along with raw goats milk. Shortest version….she went from a fussy eater(which is VERY stressful when a dog is diabetic and NEEDS to eat) to cleaning her bowl EVERY single meal. Also her insulin when I got her was 11 1/2 units 2x a day and still going high and low..down to 5 1/2 to 6 units 2x a day and stable. The woman who adopted her said her vet said she was the healthiest diabetic dog he had seen. btw we got cataract surgery for this gal as well so she left much happier and much healthier. All of my dogs except a pom rescue I have are now on raw. You spend the money on their food or on the vet.

  2. Lestat1978
    Lestat1978 says:

    I have fed premade raw, but found it too expensive to stick with.

    It also turned out my dog is allergic to salmon, so I avoid anything with salmon oil as it’s most likely not processed in a manner that ensures no proteins slip through, and a lot of the NV products contain salmon oil.

    I was recently provided a lot of deer from a friend, but I’m still leery of the bones. It’s used as a topper at this point on their kibble.

    I also never witnessed any of the supposed benefits of raw – other than smaller stool.

    Have you reviewed the article in Nature regarding changes to the dogs genome and starch-rich diets? What is your take on it?

  3. brit
    brit says:

    While I often feed raw (usually in the form of chicken/duck or turkey necks for breakfast) I must admit I do cook most of the meat I feed my dog. However, I also use an adapter that comes with my juicer to crush fresh raw veggies and leafy greens and bring them through crushed but whole which he gets daily. I also frequently feed raw organic egg yolks and raw organic liver and heart. So while I do cook the store bought chicken/turkey and the venison from a local hunter my dog gets plenty of living enzymes. Breakfast is often baked sweet potato/goat yogurt or raw goat milk/rinsed canned salmon or cooked whiting rotated with the raw necks. For the cooked meats I add crushed egg shells for calcium btw. I make all my dog food, I do not trust any commercial food other than occasionally Aunt Jenis/Vital Essentials/Primal raw patties which I feed occasionally (usually lamb). I add Nordic Naturals fish oil caps or a sardine daily (canned/water/no salt) daily.

  4. Lana Roby
    Lana Roby says:

    Just started my Cushings 12 year old beagle on a “raw” diet. He’s been on “traditional” trilostane therapy for seven months and the only symptom that improved was heavy panting and fast breathing. His liver is huge, he’s lost a lot of hair, is very lethargic and has extreme muscle weakness, especially in his back legs. So we received feeding advice from a homeopathic vet who recommended staying on the Trilostane, for now, adding Nux Vomica, and the following diet. For every 2 pounds of raw, lower fat meat, use 16 cups of oatmeal, a cup of veggies, along with bone meal, kelp, nutritional yeast, Vitamins A and E, soy and garlic. I believe the recipe to come from Dr. Pitcairn, as the vet was trained in his homeopathic method. This seems high in starch and fiber for a Cushings patient. Also don’t know how often to use organ meats, as I have read that a low purine diet may benefit a Cushings patient? Hushy does need to gain some weight, and loves the food, so that’s an obvious plus so far. One thing I’ve noticed in just a week is that his “weepy” eyes, that he’s had for years, are much better. Thanks for your anticipated reply.

    • Dr. Doug
      Dr. Doug says:

      I studied under Dr. Pitcairn too. I think he basically looked at the composition of conventional diets and figured out how to make them more naturally. Definitely a different philosophy than mine. If you want to make a home made diet that is specially balanced for a pet with a medical condition like Cushing’s Disease, I suggest you consult a veterinary nutritionist. Dr. Susan Wynn is a holistically-minded nutritionist. http://susanwynn.com/

  5. Cheryl
    Cheryl says:

    Dr. Doug,
    We had our girls allergy tested by our vet and they are allergic to rice, oats, chicken, turkey, beef, pork, salmon and lamb (among other foods). Doesn’t leave much in the way of raw meats since we don’t live on the prairie and are not able to shoot bison and venison for them. Six yrs ago, I tried some of the prepared raw food diets and they ended up with Pancreatitis due to the high volume of different types of fat in them. Our Western vet put us in touch with a holistic vet (that he actually takes HIS dog too), and after sharing the test results with her and a lengthy discussion and research via our computers (vets/ours) while on the phone, we came up with a grain free dry kibble and some added veggies/fruits that we’ve been feeding ever since and so far, knock on wood, they are healthy. They can not have coconut oil, chickpeas or anything with added fat or they get upset stomachs. As much as I’d like to believe the “raw food diet” thing, I just can’t feed it to our girls. With all the poisoned dog foods/treats and recalls, I don’t dare buy them raw bones either. I just don’t want to take a chance. 🙁 Besides, there again, I’d have to find venison or bison; neither of which any butchers I know have.

    • Dr. Doug
      Dr. Doug says:

      Blood tests for food allergies are inaccurate. The only way to really check for food allergies is a food trial. You might want to experiment with giving your dogs a small amount of one of the suspects (like a piece of turkey). If there is no reaction in 3-5 days then that ingredient should not be a problem. It is true that raw diets are not for every pet but I’m not convinced that your dogs are allergic to all those foods.


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