Eight years ago, raw feeding was a mystery to me. I had heard about this way of feeding but had been programmed for well over a decade to believe that dogs were supposed to eat kibble. Raw feeding was very different from anything I had known. I had inquired with a couple of my long-time dog mentors as to their thoughts on the raw feeding phenomena which was gaining popularity. They all dismissed it as being no better for your dog than kibble. They warned me of the risks associated with feeding raw. They would tell me raw is not balanced. They would tell me dogs can get sick from salmonella poisoning. It’s too expensive they would tell me. I listened to them mainly because when you are used to doing something, it’s easier to stick with what’s comfortable. Humans in general resist change. At this point in time, I was no different. I was intrigued by the idea of feeding raw. The logic made sense. It aligned with the way I viewed human nutrition. I’m a firm believer that health is derived from real whole foods. Processed and convenience foods are bad for the body, especially long-term.
I started out feeding the old Sportsman’s Choice dog food from Sam’s Club back in the mid 1990’s. I believe they stopped making it or changed the formula which led me to start buying Diamond brand dog food by the pallet from Tractor Supply. Everything was business as usual, until it wasn’t. Out of the blue I had two dogs die randomly in the same week, and a third dog was looking terrible. One of the dogs that died was at my mother’s house. It was very strange, but there was one common denominator. They all were eating the same dog food. It was at that moment that I decided that I was done trusting a label on a bag of dog food to tell me what I was putting into my dogs bodies.
I am regularly asked what I feed my dogs. To the dismay of many, there are no secret formulas or supplements. When I first started, I religiously followed the diet outlined in the Pit Bull Bible by California Jack (John A. Koerner). I would weigh everything and I would never leave out an ingredient. As time has passed I have developed my own way of feeding. It is predominately based on the diet of California Jack’s. In my diet you will not find measurements, because I do not measure my dogs’ food. I simply adjust the amount of food I feed based on the size of the dog, their age, activity level and overall appearance. If the dog is looking a little lean, I simply add more food. If the dog is looking a little heavy, the dog will get less food until he is where I would like him.
As you will see, there is nothing special or over the top with my dogs’ daily maintenance feed. It is basic, yet provides all that the dog needs in order to thrive. A common mistake I notice some raw feeders make is going over the top with what they feed. They want to do the best that they can for their dogs and in doing so they get extra creative with their raw meals. In many cases, this causes more harm than good. As an example, there seems to be a fad among raw feeders to feed a variety of exotic ingredients every day. While variety is good, consistency is also needed. It’s important to find that balance. Less is sometimes more in life, and I think feeding our dogs is one of those cases. The above diet is a general guideline as to how I feed. In the winter months when I have access to venison scraps the dogs will get venison meat and bones supplemented into their meals. I like to rotate my oils: Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, 100% Pure Wheat Germ Oil, Fish Oil, Vegetable Oil, Leftover Oil from Cooking, etc. Variety to the diet is good. Just try not to go overboard. Try not to over-complicate it. If you want to substitute beef liver in place of chicken liver for a few weeks, cool. If you want to substitute beef in place of the chicken for a few weeks, no problem. One thing I do not like, and I see and hear too often are people who try to feed raw the lazy way. Meaning, they give their dogs a chicken quarter a day and say they are feeding raw. This is not ideal. The dog surely needs more in terms of nutrients and vitamins than what can be derived from only a single leg quarter. Do not do that. Take the extra time and add your organ meats and the rest of the basic ingredients.
I’ll close this article by saying that experience has taught me that neither dogs nor humans were meant to eat processed foods. It is not up for debate with me. If you are a die-hard kibble feeder, more power to you. However, you will never convince me that kibble is healthier for dogs because it is simply not true. I’ve seen such a transformation in my dogs’ health and longevity from changing their diets. Good luck and if you have any specific questions feel free to hit me up or comment. I’ll do my best to help. If you want to have a debate over kibble versus raw, save your time because I’m not interested.