Myths vs. Reality
Myth 1: Raw-fed dogs become aggressive.
Reality: Raw-fed dogs can become calmer through proper nutrition and the ability to express instinctive behavior.
Myth 2: Raw-fed dogs die from bacteria and salmonella.
Reality: A dog’s highly acidic stomach has the ability to fend off and break down harmful bacteria. A species-appropriate raw diet provides the necessary nutrients for a healthy gut, and a healthy gut equals a fantastic immune system!
Myth 3: Raw food is incomplete.
Reality: A properly balanced raw food diet is the most complete way to feed a dog. Nutrients are highly available and digestible, without fillers, preservatives, chemicals, and synthetic supplementation.
Myth 4: Raw dog food will make you sick.
Reality: Practicing proper food hygiene with your pup’s food is the most effective approach to this. Apply the same care to your dog’s food as you do to your own, and you’ll be fine.
Myth 5: Feeding dogs raw is time-consuming and difficult.
Reality: It can be as elaborate or as easy as you choose. There are so many ways to feed raw, and finding a balance of what fits your schedule and wallet for the long term will be your best bet.
Myth 6: Raw dog food is expensive.
Reality: It can be as pricey or as affordable as you choose. Again, finding a balance of what fits your schedule and wallet for the long term will be your best bet.
Myth 7: Bones are dangerous for dogs.
Reality: Raw, pre-frozen, appropriately sized bones are not only not dangerous, they’re a necessary addition to a dog’s diet. Bones are fantastic for dental care, nutrition, and mental stimulation.
Myth 8: Raw food diets can only be created by professionals.
Reality: How long have dogs been living with humans? Way before degrees and certificates were around, and certainly way before the bag of processed kibble was invented and marketed as complete nutrition. Following what we see in nature is our best bet.
Myth 9: Raw food diets are only for large or specific breeds.
Reality: A dog is a dog. Food is food. No matter the size of a dog, healthy, appropriate, fresh food is essential.
Valid Concerns and How to Address Them:
Bones are necessary to a healthy diet. Here are the critical factors to keep in mind:
Only feed raw bones. Cooked bones, no matter their size, are incredibly dangerous for a dog. I cannot emphasize this enough. Check out the resources section of this chapter to learn about some of the (many!) problems with cooked bones, which range from broken teeth to potential death within an hour. Smoked bones, even “natural” ones, go rancid and can cause a host of other health problems.
Just like meat and fish, bones need to be pre-frozen for at least seven days (ideally at least three weeks) in temperatures below -0.4F (-18C) to kill tapeworms. Tapeworms can be present even in meat inspected by a butcher.
Bone size matters. It’s best to avoid feeding large bones like beef femurs and large shanks because they can cause tooth fractures. We stick to bones that are easily chewable, such as turkey, duck, goat, and lamb necks and shanks; chicken carcasses; quail carcasses; and chicken necks, feet, and heads.
Your dog’s size matters. For small dogs, chicken necks, wings, feet, and heads are great.
Always defrost the bones first, then introduce them slowly into the diet. Always supervise.
Don’t be alarmed if you see crumbly, lighter-colored stool. This is normal and aids with natural anal gland self-maintenace. (Another win!)
This is a very real, valid, and dangerous subject. We’ve often seen and been contacted about dog parents who switch their dogs to a raw diet and actually end up doing more harm than good.
How is this possible?
Dog parents go to the supermarket and grab some steaks and ground meats, and think their dog’s diet is complete. This is playing with fire when it comes to your dog’s health.
A raw food diet isn’t complicated, but you need to understand what makes it complete. Feeding muscle meat is only one piece of the puzzle. A raw diet done incorrectly will definitely be incomplete, and wreak havoc on the health and well-being of your dog.
DON’T RISK IT, DON’T WING IT. Be patient! Learn, understand, implement, and adjust.
BACTERIA & PARASITES
All meats, fish, and bones MUST be pre-frozen for at least 7 days in temperatures below -0.4F (-18C) to kill tapeworms. Tapeworms can be present even in butcher-inspected meats. Dr. Karen Becker recommends freezing for 21 days to kill off all parasites.
CAUTION: Although dogs are meant to eat raw food, they are not meant to eat rotting, moldy, or spoiled meats, fish, or eggs. Dr. Karen Becker explains that you should prevent your dog from eating rotting carcasses, questionable meats (such as roadkill or dead animals you stumble across on a walk), and animal feces to avoid a host of health issues and even possibly death.
What’s in the Next Chapter
We’ll do a comparison of the cost between kibble and raw food diets. The information will surprise you!