Is Your Dog Food Killing Your Dog?

DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT A VETERINARIAN OR ANY FORM OF DOG HEALTH EXPERT. THE INFORMATION PROVIDED IN THIS ARTICLE IS BASED ON MY OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCES AND IS NOT MEANT TO OFFER MEDICAL ADVICE. PLEASE CONSULT YOUR VETERINARIAN FOR ANY HEALTH RELATED ISSUES CONCERNING YOUR DOG.

Allow me to introduce Maddie. She is a 2 year old Golden-Labradoodle mix with some terrier in her (aka a mutt). When we got her, she was filthy, had fleas all over her, and was living on a farm with about 9 or 10 litter-mates. When we asked what food she was eating we were shown a bag of the cheapest stuff you can buy, but it was empty and next to a small pile of veggies, so it is clear that she was not getting the best nutrition from the start. Since we adored her and instantly fell in love, we did what any owners would do and we went out and bought the “natural” dog food that was a little more expensive so we were sure that our dog was getting the highest quality nutrition.

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To our surprise, we had to essentially force-feed her by hand or trick her into eating by mixing some treats into her food. Even though we were buying top-of-the-line food that came “loaded” with nutrients, scientifically proven formulas, all natural ingredients, and a ridiculously expensive price tag, we could not get our dog to eat regularly. The uneaten dog food felt as if we were dumping cash directly into the garbage can.

After some poking around on the interwebs, we came across the raw food diet for dogs. What ensued next was an all out binge of videos and articles; you name it, read/watched it. It all made so much sense! The correlations between kibble consumption and poor dog health. The relationship between our the decline in American health and our dogs. The fact that our dogs are just as fat as we are. We are subjecting our dogs to the same things we put ourselves through! We had a strong feeling that switching Maddie would cause a drastic change in her eating habits and potentially her overall health, and boy were we right!

It is now nearly two years later and Maddie gobbles up every meal like it will be her last. She is healthy, youthful, energetic, and the best dog on this side of the Mississippi (that last one might be a little biased). We now see other dogs and can’t help but sympathize for them and the foods that their owners give them. They are overweight, sick, and making frequent trips to the vet that are running the bills up into the thousands. The problem, just as with human nutrition, is that owners either don’t know or don’t care that the food choices they are making are effecting their dogs health; sometimes both!

There are, however, many individuals that would be interested in improving their dog’s nutrition and believe it can impact their overall health but don’t know where to start. A raw food diet can be scary and certainly overwhelming. It goes against all the norms and you will be hard-pressed to find a local veterinarian that supports your decision to go raw. The mainstream beliefs are that it will give your dog Salmonella or kill them somehow.

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The truth of the matter is, dogs have been eating this way throughout their entire existence. Modern kibble was only introduced sometime around the 1930’s. This means that they have been eating kibble for, at best, 85-90 years. This is compared the the nearly 20,000 years prior that they ate raw meat, veggies, and some fruits! It should be to no surprise that those dogs did not have diseases such as cancer, obesity, or diabetes like many do now. Just like our ancestors did not eat breakfast cereal or potato chips, dogs did not eat processed kibble from a giant bag.

If you really care about your dog and his health, consider a raw food diet! Below are resources and some tips about what we feed Maddie. At this point, we’ve got it down to a pretty smooth science. Just like switching your diet to whole, natural foods that you are cooking, it can become overwhelming and a little stressful in the beginning. Take your time, have fun with it, and do the best that you can. You may not be getting your dog all the nutrients she needs right away, but know that whatever you are feeding her is much better than that nasty kibble!

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Feeding Raw:

How much and how frequently?

We give Maddie one, 8 oz serving twice daily

*She weighs 50 pounds

When to feed and how often?

  • We try to let Maddie wake up a little bit before we feed her. She is up with us at 5:30 a.m. and we end up feeding her sometime between 6:30 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. depending on our work schedules. We try to vary the times so she does not become dependent on her feeding time and can be pleasantly surprised each time she gets a meal. This also makes fasting, which we do occasionally, a lot easier because she is not expecting her meal. We push her feeding time a little later on the weekends to help this as well.

What do the meals consist of?
  • Muscle Meat is the majority of the meal (grass-fed ground beef, ground turkey, stew-meat, lamb).
  • Sometimes we swap the muscle meat for fish or add it in addition to. This includes herring, sardines, mackerel (not king), and smelts. Fish aren’t the easiest to find though, especially wild caught, which is imperative in most instances.
  • Add in a little bit of beef liver (too much can be dangerous, see articles below)
  • Other organ meat (heart, kidney, and other depending on how brave we are feeling)
  • Two to three table spoons of pumpkin (great for regulating bowel movements)
  • Alternating weeks with hard boiled eggs crunched in with shell (usually on weeks we don’t give her bones)
  • Berry mixture
  • Blended up frozen berries and spinach poured on top of food
  • *Coconut oil
  • Supplements – on a rotating basis we give phytoplankton, probiotics, and bone broth
  • Spices – We mix in some ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon occasionally
  • If she is constipated or has white, chalky poop (usually from bones) we give her a teaspoon or so of coconut oil and it usually clears things right up
  • Bones
  • We will replace the above mixture with a rec bone once or twice a week
  • Bones can be super dangerous depending on the type and how your dog handles them, do your research on what bones to feed and always monitor your dog when chewing bones. Never give your dog cooked bones!
  • We usually give Maddie neck bones because she does really well with them and she is really good at leaving the bone when she is done. Other dogs may try to swallow the hole thing so be careful.
  • Dogs can digest uncooked bones, but if they try to eat too big of a piece can choke.

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What about Snacks and Treats?

  • Maddie gets carrots all the time and absolutely loves them. She also likes lettuce but hates spinach. Every dog is different, so do some experimenting and find out what your pup likes! Make sure you do your homework first because there are some foods that dogs should not eat, such as onions or vegetables from the nightshade family.
  • We usually make her own treats by dehydrating London Broil, but there are freeze dried liver treats and some other ones that we get occasionally.
How do we meal prep?
  • We make Maddie’s food once per week by creating big burger patties and storing them in a couple of Tupperware containers. We simply put all the ingredients into a huge bowl, mix it by hand, and roll out some patties. At the beginning we tried to measure out exactly what we were giving her but now we can eyeball it and have a pretty good idea how big the patties should be. We weigh her every once in a while to find out if we need to adjust how much we are feeding her. Set aside a quick 15 minutes to make the patties for the week and then its done!
  • ***Using parchment paper between patties makes it a breeze to separate food at feeding time.
  • ***Putting the vegetable mixture or pumpkin into a mason jar also helps streamline the process.

Resources:

Use the articles and videos below to get started! Please do your complete research before jumping into the raw food diet. Although the diet is safe and effective, there are some protocols that absolutely must be followed to protect your dog.

Before You Begin/Intro

Raw Food Made Simple

Transitioning ***Important

Beginning Videos

Mistakes

Poop

Bone Guide

Bone Guide 2

Basic Treats

Vaccines

Bonus:

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