have been feeding a raw diet to my dogs since 1992. I have raised
puppies on it, pregnant bitches, working dogs, litters of pups
and old dogs! All have done extremely well. I have never had
an issue with bones and the dogs not digesting them. I usually
feed my chicken necks/backs ground, but the dogs get lamb/beef
bones to chew on and digest. I have had a broken took in one
dog, so I am a bit more careful with the larger leg bones. I
do not feed grains in my diet for the dogs. I do not believe
grains are necessary to a dogs diet and can be detrimental to
some, especially those with digestive issues/problems and/or
It is interesting
to note that dry dog foods are mainly cereal, consisting of
a large part of corn, wheat, rice and soy. While dog food companies
would have you believe that grains are a good source of protein,
the fact is that dogs have a very difficult time digesting and
utilizing protein from carbohydrates. Studies show dogs do best
on animal protein, and the higher the quality; the better the
protein is assimilated. The poorer quality proteins create stress
on the dogs kidneys and it makes proper nutritional digestion
changes the amino acid chains and renders many of them unusable
for dogs. Studies in the 1970's found dog foods lacking in many
of the necessary amino acids. It also destroys the digestive
enzymes and beneficial bacteria (acidophilus, etc) necessary
for good digestion and digestive tract health. High heats also
kill omega 3 fatty acids and change fats into difficult to digest
material. While many dog food companies do add omega fatty acids
and beneficial bacteria, these nutrients do not withstand the
packaging or shelf life for extended periods. Dog food companies
attempt to make their diets complete by adding synthetic supplements
to meet industry sanctions and Nutritional Research Council
standards. I, in turn, try to feed a diet to my dogs that allow
them to get most of their nutrients, minerals, fatty acids,
digestive enzymes, protein from whole food sources that have
not been damaged by heat.
The diet I feed is
taken from several different sources and my own experience.
I do not follow a 'strict Billinghurst' diet for a variety of
reasons but I do like what he has to say and do recommend his
book for reading and as a reference to others. I am very fortunate
that I live in an area where many people feed raw and I have
several 'sources' of foods available to me.
Veggies & Fruits:
1/2-1 cup raw juiced vegetables and fruits per dog. The amount
may vary according to size of the dog. Larger dogs get 1 cup,
smaller ½ cup. I don’t think there is a ‘set’
amount to feed. I tend to feed more veggies than many who feed
raw as I feel it is important. If I have an overweight dog,
I might add more veggies as filler (and/or add pure pumpkin
to the meal which helps a dog to feel full). My older dogs tend
to get a bit more veggies as well.
I use: carrots, beans, cucumbers, zucchini, green leaf lettuce,
celery, yams (cooked if I feed them), garlic (minimal…usually
2-3 times a week and approx. 1/8 tsp. for each dog), fresh parsley
(minimal amount), apples, pears, kiwi, oranges, cantaloupe,
melon, pineapple, and whatever is in season or on sale.
I tend to stay away or use minimally the night shade
veggies. I don’t necessarily use all these veggies all
the time, but try to give my dogs a variety. I think it is important
to not overuse a veggie/fruit, which is sometimes easy to do
when certain ones are in season.
For years, I used
my food processer to process the veggies and fruit. As my dogs
have aged and as I have done more research I have gone to juicing
the veggie/fruit. The juice is added to the pulp for feeding.
I have found that my dogs do better and their stools are MUCH
smaller with this mixture being juiced rather than finely chopped.
Although it may initially be more work, I recommend the juicer.
You will be amazed at how fast you can actually wash/juice this
mixture. I usually do enough up for 3-4 days and it is stored
in the fridge in a pail.
Meat & Bones:
Again the key is to use a variety of sources/proteins. Some
people will feed the proteins separately (one day chicken, next
day beef, next lamb etc). I am not that precise. I often mix
the proteins daily.
I use: raw ground chicken necks & backs; ground turkey neck/backs
mixed with heart & liver and the gizzards; beef mixture
(consists of cuttings off other cuts of meat, liver/heart/kidney
mixed in, ground and frozen), lamb/mutton (ground), tripe from
different sources (ground raw green that is bought frozen),
raw egg yolks, and some canned fish (sardines etc), liver, heart
, kidney, and beef/lamb bones. All my meat is HUMAN grade and
usually bought at a butcher. I raise my own lamb/mutton so know
it is organic, however, the other meat is the best cuts I can
find but not usually organic.
Supplements I use:
Solid Gold Sea Meal
Vetri Science Vitamin Supplement
And the list goes on….
Vitamin C Powder (this is given
to all my
Pregnant bitches, older dogs, and young pups).
Live Culture bacteria through yogurt,
or a powder
Egg shells crushed
Omega Oil (usually a salmon oil
but I will also try to alternate oils with a variety on the
A lot of what I supplement
into their food will depend on the circumstances at the time
(ie. being pregnant, sick, age etc). My dogs are very active,
especially during certain times of the year. During these times
their diet may change to meet the their ongoing physical requirements
When I travel with
my dogs, I have done a variety of things, which will depend
on where I am going and what is available 'at the other end'.
If I am somewhere where I have access to a freezer, I
often chose to buy a ready made raw food on the market. If I
do not have access to a freezer, I improvise, depending on how
long I will be away. Generally speaking I have always been able
to find an already prepared raw food diet along the road to
feed. If it is for a short period of time, I may 'overfeed'
the dog before and after with the ingredients that may not be
easily accessible while I am away. For instance, I will feed
extra raw meat before and after my trip to make up for not feeding
it daily during the trip. Of course it is not as 'handy' as
feeding a cup of kibble but for me it is worth the extra packing
and work. Several companies are coming out with a freeze dried
product that you just add water to while you are away. This
will be very convenient and although it is not ideal, it is
Lastly, I also want
to mention that I try to fast my dogs one day a week. I have
chosen Saturday because that day for me is usually 'unpredictable'
and therefore I enjoy NOT having to feed the dogs etc. I fast
the dogs because I believe this is essential for a healthy digestive
tract. It gives the body an opportunity to completely empty
itself of everything. As well, fasting allows the dog to give
its energies to other parts of their body that may need healing
or attention. The dogs have adjusted to not being fed on that
day as well (although at times, I do hear some whining.) NOTE:
I do not fast a puppy - usually they start the fast around 18-24
months of age and I do not fast a sick dog (unless necessary).
I also choose a different day to fast a dog that is competing
on the weekend.
I am often asked the amount to feed a dog. There is no hard
and fast rule around this. One needs to consider the breed,
age, activity level, digestion of individual dog, time of year
etc. Generally speaking puppies eat more than an adult during
their ‘growing’ spurts. My largest dog is 100 lbs
and he eats the LEAST amount of food (including my border collie!).
His body just seems to pack on the pounds quicker. My male that
is 88 lbs eats the most. He burns his off quickly. Generally
speaking I feed between. 1-2 lbs of meat to a dog that is between
65-85 lbs. once a day. One may need to experiment a bit with
the amounts for each individual dog
How To Switch: How
long should I take to switch my dog(s) over to this new diet?
There is no definitive answer here. Some people feel that you
should take a week for every year of the age of your dog. So,
if your dog is 2 yrs. old then it should take 2 wks. of gradually
adding raw to kibble by increasing the raw and decreasing the
kibble over this time. Others feel that you should switch "cold
turkey". I don't think there is any 'right' way of doing
this. I usually tell people it depends on your dog, its health
and what you have been feeding. For young healthy dogs changing
without a gradual process can be easy and often the dog has
no problems. However, if your dog is older, has had some health
issues or is presently experiencing some difficulties, a more
gradual change over may be preferred.
Detox: When I switched
my 5 dogs over to raw, I saw very few signs of detox. In a couple
of them, their coats became dry and they shed it out completely!
However, when the new coat came in it was awesome!! My oldest
dog was Sierra (7 yrs. old). She was suffering from arthritis
and was very stiff and sore. I was shocked at the change the
diet had in her. It was like she was a young pup again. Her
pain was almost non existent! Balkan, the dog that started me
on my quest has never experienced his stomach problems again.
They totally disappeared with the raw diet. He also became a
very good eater!!
some dogs do experience more detox than others. I had already
started to do less vaccines, and I had not treated any of my
dogs with steroids, pain killers etc. I was also feeding a high
quality kibble (Solid Gold) prior to the switch. Their bodies
did not have to rid themselves of a bunch of toxins as others
dog may. In GENERAL terms, the more you have treated your dog
conventionally for allergies, with steroids, worms, vaccines,
etc, the more detox you may see in your dog with a switch to
raw. If you are experiencing some detox, WALK, WORK through
it! A big mistake that some make is blame the raw diet for the
detox symptoms there are seeing and experiencing in their dogs
and give up and switch back to kibble. Yes, the raw may be responsible
for the detox but the end result is a healthier dog!
4 cups of whole wheat
flour (here I will sometimes substitute rye, oat, potato, rice
1/3 cup powdered milk
2-3 Tbsp. brewers yeast
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 10 oz.can beef/chicken consumme
2 Tbsp. oil
1 Tbsp. garlic
Combine dry ingredients.
Add remaining ingredients. Mix well and knead. Roll out 1/2
inch thick and cut into favorite shape. Place on greased cookie
sheet. Prick with fork. Bake for 40 minutes at 375 F. Leave
in oven at lowest temperature to harden (at least 2 hours).
My dogs love these biscuits!!
2 cups whole wheat
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup powdered milk
1/4 tsp. garlic
1/4 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. bacon fat or margarine
1 egg (beaton)
1 Tbsp. molasses
water, approx. 1/2 cup
Combine dry ingredients.
Blend in fat or margarine. Add egg and molasses. Mix thoroughly.
Add enough water to form a dough ball. Roll out 1/4 in. thick
and cut into your favorite shape. Place on greased cookie sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes at 375F.