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Raw Food Diets - Are They Healthy?

Proponents of the raw food diet basically say that dogs should be fed raw meat, vegetables and bones...basically what they would eat in the wild. In addition, they say that your dogs should never eat grains, rice or other carbohydrates. Why? Apparently, grains are one of the biggest sources of allergies in dogs and, because grains make up the majority of commercial dog food, our pets will be free of allergy-related symptoms once they start the raw food diet (and they won't have flatulence).

When can your dog eat chicken bones? Apparently on the raw food diet. I was taught to never give a dog chicken bones, but it seems you can if they're raw because raw bones are not dangerous - they are soft enough to bend easily and break well for the dog to digest.

Those in favor of the diet claim dogs are healthier, have more energy, require fewer trips to the vet, have fewer weight problems, produce much less stool and stool is firm and disintegrates easily. Apparently raw food also cleans the dogs teeth and reduces body odor.

And now, the other side of the coin. From what I've read, those not in favor of the raw food diet claim that there is not enough evidence to support the health claims and there are nutritional imbalances, meaning your dog is not getting enough of the vitamins and minerals they need.

If you decide to start your dog on a raw food diet, there will be a period of detoxing where your pet will be vomiting, have diarrhea, bad breath and itchy skin. Also, I've read that their fur can fall out but it's to make way for the new growth.

There does not appear to be a lot of vet support for raw feeding, however, many vets are like doctors - they benefit from commercial dog food manufacturers much in the same way medical doctors get kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies.

From what I've read, the raw food diet is more expensive and time consuming than buying a big bag of commercial dog food at the grocery store, but the choice is yours. read some more!


Anonymous said…
Not enough evidence? The evidence is in the amazing amount of sick dogs at the vet who are on kibble! My dogs are on the raw diet and are very well!! My oldest one who acts like a puppy again, had cancer that you could feel in his chest. It was the size off a fist. I threw away his dog food and put him on raw meat. Two years later he is very well and very happy! He also suffered from depression and was loosing his hair. Everyone is shocked to learn that he is ten years old when they see him now. He looks so young!
Anonymous said…
Our Shih Tzu is raw fed and he is happy and healthy. Clean white teeth, clean ears, smaller stools, great coat and pleanty of energy. When we did the switch for him there was no vomitting and only a few days of itching in one ear. He was a bit sluggish for a week but after that he was great. We recently rescued a Shih Tzu that came from a mill and will be switching her from kibble once she is more adjusted to our home.
We do not make the meals around children or older people because of the potential for illness but my husband and I have had no problems with handling the raw meat. At our vets office a few months ago I met a man with a lab on the raw diet and she was 18 and looked great. Even our vet didn't oppose our choice of the raw diet. His only warning was cleaning up after prep to protect human health. We love the raw diet.
Anonymous said…
hi .. when can i start doing this i have a 3 month old shit tzu .. done 2 deworming and the last booster coming up on may 9 .. at what age should we start on feeding them raw?
C.J. Denis said…
If you want to start your puppy on a raw food diet, there is a website where they have a list of vets who support the raw food diet (also called BARF). You can search for them based on where you live. For a dog so young, I would check with one of those vets at what age you can start them on this diet.

Jeannie said…
There is a wonderful yahoo group called Natural Health Care for dogs They have a rather large article base and recommended reading as well as members that have been feeding raw for over 20 years, a couple of veterinary naturopaths, trainers and of course a lot of people just wanting more information.
Anonymous said…
I have 2 Shih Tzu boys, aged 8 & 9 months respectively, I was advised by a behaviour specialist to switch them to a raw diet, which I did without any problems, they both loved it and used to clear their dishes in no time at all, after a routine visit to the vets, she advised against the raw diet and advised a complete dried food, which I introduced, the problem is that one of the dogs is now extremely picky and almost has to be hand fed to encourage him to eat a reasonable amount of food, I have tried various complete foods, cooked chicken, cooked mince, all of which he seems totally disinterested in, can anyone offer some advice please
Jeannie said…
Just wondering why you would take your dog's off a raw diet they were doing well on to put them on total garbage (kibble) with NO nutritional value for your little carvivore? Vets know NOTHING of true nutrition. I recommmend a consultation with a veterinary NATUROPATH or joining the Natural Health Care For Dogs yahoo group for support and information on how and why raw diets are safe and healthy!
cherry blossom said…
my shih tzu has been raw for two years, these are the things i noticed, weight gain, more active, teeth still need cleaning, goopie eyes still, hot spots gone,ear infections not as frequent. smaller poops, hair is nice and thick, grows yorkie seems fine. i think raw is not for all dogs, it is good for some, not for all.
Dr Jeannie said…
@Cherryblossom -
you are describing a healing crisis which is normal and desirable for dogs on raw diets that have not been on raw all their lives. Hot spots, gunk in the eyes, etc. This will pass if you don't suppress it. The teeth needing cleaning most likely means you are NOT feeding them raw bones or their teeth would be beautiful and clean by now. Raw diets ARE for all dogs but one must do their homework and/or have a mentor to switch a dog to raw so one knows what to expect and how to do it properly. has some great articles and other educational tools available. :-)
cherry blossom said…
you are correct, my yorkie will down a bone, but my shih tzu will not, she did the first year, but refuses them now.i add egg shells for her now. how do you force a dog to chew a bone?
Dr Jeannie said…
I suggest a consultation with a veterinary naturopath or someone certified in animal naturopathy. While some veterinarins support raw feeding there really are not that many out there yet. OR find someone who has been sucessfuly raw feeding their dogs for many years and them mentor you. There is a little more to it than just giving them raw ground meat and/or a marrow bone to gnaw on. Dogs, being carnivores are not designed with teeth to or jaws to chew. They are made to tear, rip, shred and crush only. To expect a dog to chew anything is physically impossible for the dog. I am putting the finishing touches on my book that will have a lot of detail on feeding the raw diet along with other ways of naturally rearing our dogs. Meanwhile, I do have a few articles that may help at: Dr. Jeannie
Regin's Travels said…
Isn't it RAW MEAT contains bacteria and parasites? That's my only concern. But I believe in RAW food, I'm just afraid of bacteria and parasites that might go to my dogs system. Please clarify me on this.
Tammy Burgoyne said…
I have a male Shih Tzu, 2 days before his 2nd birthday I took him to an agility/obedience class. He was ok but a friend commented on his slightly over weight frame and his lack of energy. She told me about raw feeding and I decided to give it ago. It has been 6 weeks now. The only issues was 1 day of runny stools and that was it. He is thriving. He goes for a weigh in next week so we shall see. He seemed to have a lot more energy at class this Sunday so it is not hurting him..
Anonymous said…
My Shih Tzu is almost a year old. He smells stinky and itch a lot. I suspect the food I give him which is cooked home food causes this. I am planning to switch him to raw diet. Can you please give advise how to feed my dog? How many times to feed him and how many grams should I give. Thanks.
Anonymous said…
I have a shihtzu that is 5 1/2 and has always been on kibble. We got a pitt 6 months ago and my husband decided to put her on Raw. I like it because stool is small and she has a lot of energy. Well now my shihtzu tries to sneak her raw food so and gets diarrhea everytime he gets even a little bit of it, but he LOVES it. So I wanted to switch him but just was looking for advice on how to switch and what to expect. He already has a sensitive stomach so I am nervous he's gona have diarrhea for a long time or that he wont adjust to it. Any comments or suggestions is much appreciated.

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