Thursday, September 17, 2009

Question: Raw vs Prepared Dog Food

I feed our dogs mainly Canidae.

They get a small amount of Canidae wet mixed in with their Canidae All Life Stages kibble each meal.

Although I had to take Ranger off of Canidae because it gave him such terrible 'gas'. He is now on Costco's Kirkland Lamb and Rice and seems to be doing much better, but I have concerns about Kirkland dog food too.

The past few months I have noticed that Bonnie is beginning to get frequent loose stools on Canidae, so I started to blend some Kirkland into her food and it isn't really improving. When I switched her to a bland diet of rice & chicken/hamburger the loose stool stopped completely - but started again when she went back on the Canidae - which suggested it is the food.

Beth refuses to eat Kirkland so she gets 100% Canidae and seems to do very well on it.

Brynn doesn't care what food she gets, she would eat the siding off the house if I let her. This morning she was eating an apple off the tree and hauling around acorn squash from our garden. (I wish she would eat the zuccini, but she said she didn't care for it).

Meal time consists of following recipes and blending two to three different dog foods to get the right mixture. I am tired of it. I am tired of the constant cloud of green gas that chokes me every day.

If I had that much gas and loose poo it usually means I have a tummy ache. I don't like to think my dogs are not feeling well because of what I am feeding them.

I have been considering switching to a raw food diet for the dogs, but I do not know enough about it. Research I have done on the internet seems to be conflicting and is leaving me very confused.

I have some questions I would love to hear what you think. Please feel free to email me at or post your thoughts in the comments section on this post.

What do you feed your dog?

If you feed a commercially prepared dog food what one do you prefer? Why?

If you feed raw, what formula/recipe do you follow?

Is there a good reliable website or book that is NOT trying to sell me something available some where that can guide me?

Thank you in advance for all your help and suggestions!


Splash said...

I know what you're saying. All my dogs, sadly, need different foods.

My 6 year old Lab male gets Solid Gold Barking at the Moon (high protein, gluten free) or he gets gas and soft stools.

The 5 year old Lab girl gets Solid Gold Millennium (for doggies with weight problems) and she also eats poop when she can get it, along with candles, paper, pens, etc.

The 10 month old BC pup get Solid Gold Hund-n-Flocken.

They all get raw bones once a week, and some supplements. They also all get some of my dinner every night. I eat vegan and organic, so that actually meets the raw diet requirements as I understand it.

I like the idea of raw, I just don't have the time to pull it off.

I do like Solid Gold foods. I think the quality is really there.

Also, I make sure the foods do not get hot as I believe the nutrients can degrade if heated. I live in California, so that means the food is kept indoors. (and where my girl can't get at it!)

Can't wait to hear what others say!

Amy said...

YOU: What do you feed your dog?
If you feed a commercially prepared dog food what one do you prefer? Why?

ME: I used to, and I fed Orijen, which is grain free. The dogs did well on it, but they do better on raw, (and I actually find it less expensive to feed, too.) EVO, Barking at the Moon (Solid Gold), Wellness Core, are other grain free foods.

YOU: If you feed raw, what formula/recipe do you follow?

ME: I do feed raw, and I roughly follow the prey model diet, which includes green tripe, but not veggies.

YOU: Is there a good reliable website or book that is NOT trying to sell me something available some where that can guide me?

ME: When I started out I read Ian Billenhurst's _Give Your Dog a Bone_ but that was long ago. It was definitely helpful but my feeding has evolved since then. There are a number of large yahoogroups devoted to raw feeding. This site seems to have some helpful links:

Hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

We feed everything and anything but we stop feeding Canidae when they changed the recipe.

We feed sheep from Fido’s, Columbia pre mixed raw and high quality kibble + leftovers. All our dogs are doing well on that but we have two picky eaters that are driving us nuts.

And thanks, you made my week, I am sitting here with a big stupid smile on my face.

sweetpea_path said...

I sure do understand your frustration! and kudos to you for investigating your options. I do both - I feed Orijen for breakfast and for the dinner meal, I feed raw (usually organic, especially the beef) but I do often include cooked veg (some are digested easier, like carrots). I never feed canned food and her treats are chosen carefully (current fave is Plato Organic Chicken Strips).

I only have one dog, but she is allergic to grains. I found Orijen during the time of the dog food/melamine scare. They are a family-owned company and do not "import" any ingredients - its's all local (Canadian co.).

Here's a website that might help where you can read about many of the highly rated dog foods:

All the best in your search for optimal doggy health!

Ann said...

Carolyn, I work in a dog food store, and have fed raw for about 11-12 years. The bulk of that is feeding show/agility Samoyeds and a Pomeranian. Jane is not quite two, and my first BC.

I started on Wendy Volhard's raw diet, which is waaaay complicated. Moved to Ian Billinghurst, which freed me up a bit, and I finally got really comfortable after reading Kymythy Schultze's book, The Ultimate Diet. I've heard that Switching To Raw is great for newbies, but haven't read it.

Currently, I primarily feed Primal's Buffalo or Tureky Grind and Sojo's Grain Free veggie mix. I alternate the Sojos with Honest Kitchen Preference. I also use whatever meat I find on sale, though I have two dogs (of three) who don't do chicken, which is a bummer. I don't usually feed grains, because the Sams are such easy keepers, but will probably need to feed Jane more carbs in the winter.

When I travel, I leave either Nature's Variety or Primal patties for my husband to feed the dogs who stay home.

Since getting Jane, I've added kibble into everyone's diet. . .so if she goes to a trainer, she can eat kibble. They get a kibble meal every fourth or fifth meal. I switch it up all the time, but stick to grain free foods.

I like Acana (made by the company that makes Orijen, but it's a little lower in protein), Instinct, and Great Life. The ash content in Evo is too high for my tastes. I sell a ton of the Merrick BG, but don't use it for my dogs because all the formulas contain chicken.

Just a few thoughts. At our store, our raw business is growing all the time, as is the grain free kibble. Most of the employees at the store feed raw, to varying number and sizes of dogs/cats. We have some really great holistic vets in our area who recommend both our store and raw, and we've really turned some animals around with their health issues.

Last thought, a fantastic product is Optagest by In Clover For gas, loose stool, etc. Prebiotic with digestive enzymes. Love it! Sell tons and tons of it! Also, canned pumpkin. Good luck!!

Jaenne said...

Hey Carolyn - hopefully you got my very quick and short email I sent yesterday. Both Kip and Mo are eating raw. A great raw feeding resource that I found was Raw-Lite Yahoo Group. I would also recommend Carina MacDonald's book "Raw Dog Book" (Carina also happens to be the owner of the Yahoo Group). Carina keeps feeding raw simple and easy to understand. You can make feeding raw as complicated/exact as you want or you can feed it like easily and cheaply as possible. I find myself cruising the meat department for sales whenever I'm at the grocery store (a couple weeks ago I picked up about 35lbs of chicken on the end it came out to be about 89 cents a lb!). The dogs mainly get chicken, turkey and (canned) fish. Kip also gets beef (Mo has a beef intolerance). They also get cornish game hen once in a while. They don't get veggies, but do get plain, non-fat yogurt or canned pumpkin once in a while just to "spice" things up. If I do need to feed kibble for whatever reason, I like Nature's Variety Prairie, Instict, Innova (the regular formula) and Dog Lover's Gold. The only store bought treats that dogs get are the regular Innova treats...mainly because they don't seem to really like anything else, lol. I do make my own liver treats. I think if you switch to raw you're going to love it (and so will your dogs). You're dogs are going to have naturally, cleaner teeth (no need to go to the vet for cleanings - how much are you going to save right there?!), smaller, less smelly poos (and who doesn't love that?!) and many more benefits!

fulltiltbcs said...

All our dogs seem to be on different foods :-))

Innova Evo Red Meat
Nature Variety Raw Instinct--Chicken
Precise Chicken & Rice Foundation

And then two dogs get fed raw...Beef mainly...I buy the minces from Bravo (get them at wholesale cost) and add my own well for us.

I used to have all my dogs on Canidae, but when they changed the formula most of them got sick :-(

I have done the "from scratch" raw...and if I fed everyone raw I would, but it is easier using the Bravo premixes.

I have one dog that actually does BETTER on the Innova Evo Red Meat than she did even on raw! Go figure :)

The Border Collies said...

I feed raw exclusively. And it's not difficult - I rotate meat proteins every 1-2 days - chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, herring, duck. They ground (bone in mostly) meat in the morning, and turkey necks, chicken backs or pork hocks at night.

With breakfast I add either cottage cheese, yogurt, eggs, pumpkin or molasses, some salmon oil and sometimes vitamin e. Voila. Simple as that. It's NOT hard, and it's not time consuming :) I've been feeding raw for a decade, and raised 3 rescue litter on raw!

Lora said...

I've got nothing against feeding raw. I actually DO think it's good for the dog (in the same way that cooking our own fresh food instead of eating out of a box is good for us.) What I do worry about is keeping my kitchen clean... when I prepare raw meat, it's on my counter and I wash right up after it. When my dogs eat raw meat, it tends to splatter and be dragged all over the kitchen. Who wants to mop after every meal? (Or you risk Salmonella all over your floor.)

And the whole "raw food is the cure-all dog owners have been waiting for" is a bunch of bunk as well. I pet sat a couple of raw fed dogs. One had a super duper dry coat and the other stunk like doggy B.O. Both also had more tartar built up on their teeth than mine did.

Pat A said...

Try the Costco Organic dog food.
Their regular Lamb and rice was good for a while then they added Millet to it. Millet is a bird food. Our dogs started getting diarrhea from that and we went to the organic, it worked pretty good. They discontinued selling it on this side of the mountains so we went to Dick Van Patten's ultra premium and have not had problems with that. Some dogs have naturally soft stools and if the dogs ever drink from puddles, rivers, creeks or lakes, they can develop diarrhea from that.

Home cooked is good and raw even better if you always have the time to do it. We feed some raw and veggies and fruits in dog size portions to the dogs along with their kibble.

Pat A said...

Forgot to say you can cure a lot of the problems by just adding yogurt 3 to 4 times a day.
Get one that sets from use of the culture and not because they add food starch or products that jell it.

Monique said...

Ok so I am the odd one out here, and not afraid to admit it.

Dogs have co-evolved with humans for tens of thousands of years. They have eaten cooked leftovers of humans for tens of thousands of years. I feed prepared kibble and my dogs are happy, healthy and have compact, firm feces.

I feed Hill's prescription diet j/d to my older dogs who both have arthritis, and prescription diet t/d to my papillon for her oral health.

Working at the vet's office, we treat dogs for complications associated with feeding raw foods on an increasingly frequent basis. Examples:

1. Samonellosis (yes, dogs can and do get salmonella poisoning just like we do. It is not as common in dogs.) Dogs also can pass the salmonella and other organisms unchanged in the feces so please handle feces of raw-fed dogs carefully.

2. Obstruction of the GI tract and perforation of the GI tract due to swallowing pieces of bones, especially chicken wings or knuckle pieces that are too large.

3. Broken teeth! We extract broken teeth every week from dogs who have broken them by chewing bones. Yes, cooked, raw or synthetic bones all apply. Tooth fractures are painful and are costly to repair/extract. Studies in wild african dogs demonstrate severe tooth fractures in most individuals so we know it is not just cooking that makes bones tooth-breakers.

Here are the cautions I give people who feed raw:

1. All dog dishes need to be dishwasher-washed or bleached after every meal. Handle them just like you would handle a platter containing raw meat for yourself.

2. Dog faces should be wiped down after eating and don't allow the dogs to lick your face after eating.

3. Dog feces should be carefully scooped and hands washed.

4. Do not allow the children to handle the dog dishes without direct supervision.

How I choose a dog food:

1. Is it for my dog's life stages. "All life stages" means it must have enough calories, fat, protein and nutrients for growing puppies or lactating bitches, which is too much for my adult and senior dogs.

2. Has it been AAFCO feeding trial tested on other dogs under controlled circumstances. I don't want my dogs to be the guinea pigs. I would rather feed foods that have been tested and demonstrated to be healthful. Feeding trials are voluntary and NOT required by the USDA or any other organization. They cost a lot of extra money for the company and so the food will cost more. However there are many designer style foods out there which have never been feeding trial tested.

3. Do my dogs like it, seem healthy on it and have healthy gut/feces on it.

4. Does it contain a lot of beef (the #1 allergen in dogs). The pet store people will tell me that grain is the #1 allergen but there is a lot of research to the contrary.

5. Is it made with all US ingredients. I worry about anything with imported ingredients.

Monique said...


6. Does it contain a balance of protein and carbohydrates. Dogs need carbs. They are omnivores, not carnivores. Too much protein with not enough carbs can lead to protein-starvation. One of the most important part of the diet in canids who eat prey items is the gut contents of the prey - predigested vegetable matter :)

7. Does it contain animal digest as an ingredient? If so, it is NOT going into my dogs. This is rendered animal flesh, bones and organs digested through chemical treatment and the most icky dogfood ingredient ever.

Not every dog does great on every kibble. Many dogs eat raw for many years without any complications at all. However, for me and my dogs, as well as my recommendation to clients, none of the risks of raw food apply to a processed dog food. Yes, food recalls happen, but have not happened on US-exclusive ingredient diets, and they happen to raw meat for people too!

The dog food industry is very tricky. Tricks like ingredient splitting (listing rice, rice gluten, rice flour and rice hulls as 4 separate ingredients lower down the list rather than "rice" as the first ingredient, for instance is a legal way to diminish the perceived presence of rice in the food), wet-weights (ingredients are listed based on the pre-cooking weights for meats), and the misunderstanding of the word by-product (which includes all organ meats, skin, neck, marrow, bones, etc - healthful parts!) to think it can mean non-edible items, etc all wage the war between processed foods.

Ok, sorry that was a reallllly long rant but I get this question every day. Ultimately: does the dog do well on the food? Are the human family members healthy too? Then it is working :)

Erin said...

Interesting about the soft stool problem. Our Aussie had the same issue on any kibble containing chicken. We tried Canidae, EVO, and Solid Gold. She does the best on Kirkland Lamb and Rice. I just don't have time to mess with separate diets for all five dogs so they all get the Kirkland stuff and they're doing well. We supplement with fish oil for their coats and Brewer's yeast when I remember.

Pat A said...

I think dogs like people can develop allergies. Some things have more dogs allergic to them. When we have multiple dogs, quite often it is impossible to feed all dogs the same diet. The best we can do is find what works for us and our dogs and use that diet.

I love whole wheat bread and ate it for so many years and then a year ago developed an allergy not to white wheat flour but the bran in the whole wheat flour so no cannot eat that.

Kimberly-MyPets said...

I don't have a dog yet, but when we do adopt we plan to feed them raw. My boyfriend's neighbor cooks for his dog weekly in a crock pot and buys the food (rice, protein, veggies) from Costco. His dog wasn't doing well on store bought food, even the really good stuff, but his health has done a 180 on the raw diet.

I've been collecting recipes ever since we decided to get dogs and I hope to have my very own cookbook soon.

The Border Collies said...

I hate engaging in the raw vs kibble argument, but there are just a couple of fallacies presented here I feel compelled to dispel:

Dogs are NOT omnivores - canines, wild and domestic, are opportunistic carnivores, which is a fancy phrase for "scavengers." Dogs are in fact carnivores who gorge when food is plentiful and starve when it is not. They therefore will consume all sorts of things, but wild canines eat prey animals - ie, meat.

As for dogs 'evolving for thousands of years to eat cooked food' ... umm, sorry, what? Commercially prepared diets have only been available for companion animals for much less than 100 years. Dogs have typically scavenged off of man, which means eating whatever they could get their teeth into. When dogs began to be kept as pets, it was not uncommon to feed them milk and oats exclusively, as hill shepherds did, with the occasional supplementation of offal or similar. This would not be a particularly healthy diet either. But cooking meat for ones dogs (ie kibble) is a very new phenomenon in a very very old relationship between dog and mankind.

Here's an AAFCO Feeding trial: Imprison 100 dogs in small cages and feed them nothing but the brand of food you are testing. A certain percentage can die in the process, but it doesn't matter what from - as long as that percentage doesn't exceed the guidelines, your food is AAFCO certified. Just ask Iams!

Lastly ... I dishwasher dog bowls about once a week or every two, and only started doing that recently because I moved into a condo with a dishwasher ;-) I can't remember the last time I bought a bottle of bleach for anything either.

Anyway, I think you need to feed what works for you. I feed my cats a high quality (grain-free) kibble so I have no aversion to kibble in theory. I don't think raw is a cure-all and I am not evangelical about it. However, supposition and myth shouldn't make a decision for you!

BCxFour said...

WOW! Thank you to all who have left comments and emailed me privately. I have some research and thinking to do. I will keep you all up to date on what I decide to do!

Thank you again for taking the time to share with me your thoughts and feelings on this subject, it means a great deal.


Monique said...

Just a friendly reminder that I did not say kibble has been available for thousands of years - just that human leftovers have been :)

As I say, if it works for the dogs and the humans, then great.

Lastly, I feed Hill's because I have personally visited the facility where the diets are prepared, and have personally visited the facility where the feeding trials are conducted also.


Tristan - I'm a Heavenly King said...

Hey Carolyn,

Just saw your blog entry.
Just to share, I've been feeding both my dogs raw since they were 5months old puppies.

They thrived on the diet, with really easy to manage coat and much much nicer smelling poo (if there is such a thing) than kibble-times so no regrets :)

But all that said, it's really up to you. As long as domesticated dogs live, I'm sure we are going to hear the raw vs kibble argument over and over again. So do your research and follow your heart.

The task may seemed daunting at first, but after a while, you'll get into the rhythm of the prep so I won't worry too much about that part.

I feed my boys an assortment of beef, chicken, lamb, chicken necks and backs. For their veg requirements, I blend a mixture of celery, asparagus, pumpkins, apples, carrots, papaya and whatever other veg/fruits which are in season.

End of day, our feeding methods to our canine friends is like our relationship with them. Follow your heart.

Hope the above helps.

Cheryl said...

I have a 6 year old German Shepard that has been having increasingly worse teeth problems, skin problems. I have heard a lot about raw dog food lately, and decided to try it. I have only had her on it for about 2 weeks now and already her skin is appearing much better. no change in teeth yet, but it is still early.