Raw diet for dogs: Why we made the switch with Dagny

Written by Diane on. Posted in on Dagny the dog, posts

dagny-raw-food-diet About three weeks ago, Dagny’s diet got a whole lot more fun for her. Much to her surprise, dry kibble just disappeared out of her bowl, and instead, she was given yummy hunks of raw meat like beef, beef heart, liver and a host of other raw diet options that she loves to scarf down. Switching to a raw diet for dogs is not the right choice for everyone and I’m the first to say that. Some dogs can live perfectly healthy lives eating kibble, but Dagny is not one of them. What is a raw diet for dogs?

Why did we switch Dagny to a raw food diet?

Read on!

First off, I’m not a vet or nutritionist. There are various schools of thought regarding the raw diet and I’m not looking at any of them critically here. This post is about my personal experience with the raw food diet for dogs. Why did we decide to go raw? It wasn’t because of any strong nutrition convictions, nor was it to be trendy or to fulfill a need to make my life considerably more difficult. The reason why we decided to switch Dagny to a raw diet was simple: She was having major diarrhea from kibble and after trying a couple varieties (holistic, grain-free, etc.) and consulting with her vet, we thought we’d give the raw diet a try in an effort to spare her intestines and our carpet the trouble.

We’ve been diarrhea-free since we started feeding raw and the best part is that Dagny LOVES her food. Yes, it’s a little more work, and yes it’s a little more expensive, but we spent a pretty penny at the vet three times trying to get to the bottom of her glorious diarrhea issue. So when you look at the whole picture and her health overall, the cost of the raw diet seems to equal out in the long run.

What is a raw diet for dogs?

A raw food diet is exactly what it sounds like. It mirrors what your pet would eat in the wild and doesn’t contain any commercial kibble. Instead, a raw diet revolves around feeding your dog a fresh and varied diet that is made up primarily of raw meat. Isn’t that dangerous? Not if it’s done right. You have to remember that a dog’s digestive system isn’t like ours. They have an extremely short digestive tract and a dog’s stomach has more hydrochloric acid than a human’s making it easier for them to process raw meat.

A raw diet for dogs is too hard

Think you can’t handle feeding your dog a raw diet? For anyone reading this who says, “Oh, I can’t do a raw diet myself,” I’m here to tell you that you can. If I can do it here in France in a tiny kitchen, so can you. A raw diet for dogs isn’t super involved but you do have to know what you’re doing so your dog doesn’t develop a deficiency and plan a little bit more. If you don’t feed your dog raw meaty bones, you’ll need to add a calcium supplement. But it’s not complicated. A raw diet book that I bought to help me figure this out is called Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs: The Definitive Guide to Homemade Meals. It contains lots of useful info on how to prepare a raw diet for your dog as well as variations based on any special conditions your dog may have. You’ll also need a food scale, at least in the beginning, to measure out the right portions of food. Also, before changing your dog’s diet, speak with your dog’s vet and talk to as many people as you can about it. There are several risks to keep in mind when considering the raw diet, so make sure you really do your research.

Benefits of a raw food diet

Have we noticed any changes in Dagny after switching to a raw diet? Yup. First and foremost, the diarrhea disappeared within a day and in its place were smaller, more compact stools. Her poop is very dark in color and barely smells. Her coat is much softer and her coat shines as well. She also had a little dandruff before and now it’s gone. Coincidence? Probably not.

Pre-made raw diet options

primal-stella-and-chewys-raw-diet

No time to make your dog’s food? If you live in the United States, there are a bunch of companies that make prepackaged raw patties and nuggets that you can buy online or at your favorite pet food store. Primal, Stella & Chewy’s and Nature’s Variety have great options that are frozen raw and freeze-dried. A raw diet for dogs doesn’t get easier than that. If you’re more of a DIY type, have the time and/or are looking to save a little money, you can do what I do and make batches of food on the weekend that you freeze until it’s time to use it. France really needs to get in gear with distributors of prepared raw diets for dogs. Stella & Chewy’s and Primal Pet Foods, are you listening? The only drawback to buying pre-made raw foods would be the cost especially if you have a large dog. One 14-ounce pouch of Primal’s freeze-dried formula is about $25 and and a 16-ounce bag of freeze-dried food from Stella & Chewy’s is about the same price. That won’t last long. But, if money isn’t an issue and preparing raw meat meals isn’t your thing, these companies make it really easy for you to feed your dog raw.

How much does a raw diet cost?

As I mentioned above, a pre-made raw diet can get pricey. But what about a homemade raw diet? I’d estimate that I spend about 9 euros per week on meats (rabbit is more expensive so we buy that sparingly) and an additional 3 euros per week on the vegetable and other protein components (sardines, eggs, etc.). Her supplements last a while, so I’m not sure of the weekly cost. So each month, her food costs about 48 euros, which, right now with the favorable exchange rate, comes out to US$62/month. If you’re looking for the cheap route, feeding your dog raw isn’t an option. But like I said, her vet bills weren’t cheap and I feel we’re making an investment in her health. But that’s just my opinion.

Raw foods: So what does Dagny eat?

Raw-diet-for-dogs Here’s a snapshot. She eats all kinds of raw meat including beef, beef heart, chicken and rabbit as well as organ meat like liver. About once a week she’ll get some sardines and all this is mixed with various vegetables, her calcium supplement and fish oil. There are many other items that have a perfectly healthy place in a raw diet for dogs as well like raw eggs, yogurt and cottage cheese. This week, her meat component consists of ground beef and beef liver along with cauliflower and spinach. One caution about liver. There’s something about liver that when mixed by hand, just smells awful. The smell doesn’t come off my skin no matter how many times I wash my hands. But hey, you do what you have to do for your dog, right? We make up a week’s worth of patties and freeze them so all we have to do is thaw one out the night before and it’s ready to go when it’s time to eat. If we have time to go to the grocery store in the afternoon, we’ll buy some chicken and just chop up the pieces. But our homemade frozen patties work wonders when we don’t have time to make her food.

Dagny says she doesn’t have any complaints. And if she’s happy, so am I. :-)

Disclosure: This post was 100% my opinion and I was not compensated in any way by the companies mentioned.
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Comments (13)

  • Debra H

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    We had the exact same experience with our Gracie. But we went MUCH longer trying to resolve the diarrhea issue and tried MANY more brands of kibble and canned food. Even cooked fresh chicken with rice did not help that much. We tried raw in desperation to find a solution. We started with some raw lamb and pureed raw veggies as a test. Same as you… within ONE day the poop was better and within two totally normal for the first time in 6 weeks. And she used to be so picky but she LOVED her raw dog food and we have never looked back. We got a second Cavalier who was already being fed raw food by his breeder, so both of them get Stella & Chewy’s organic raw patties. We just thaw and feed. I can’t understand why these brands have not made a foray into France…. it is beyond me. Good for you for finding a way to help your Dagny.

    Reply

  • Christine Snyder

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    I’m happy to hear that Dagny is doing so well on her new raw diet. She deserves all the best that life can give her, and she has a wonderful mom to make that happen.

    Reply

  • nina

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    I’m so glad sweet Dagny loves her new diet! :) I wonder how Charlie and Micky will like it.. they already love their food. I will be making my trip to the local butcher asap xxoo

    Reply

  • Kitty

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    I am glad you found a solution for Dagny’s diarrhea problem. Personally I am still uneasy about raw meat. I used Grandma Lucy freeze dried with cooked chicken for my dog, Bee.
    What do you use to tie up Dagny’s ears? It is lovely.
    Kitty

    Reply

  • Pam

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    This is a really great post about a raw diet. A lot of useful information.

    Pam & Oskar

    Reply

  • Meghan

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    I always think about making the switch with Bentley, right now we are doing Blue free (grainfree) small breeds, it is the first dog kibble I have been able to get him to eat with out mixing wet food in with it. I wanted to try some of the raw brands. BTW I need to do the same thing with Bentleys long cavie ears, I was going to knit him a snood but it has been so long since I have knitted I am not sure I can remember how.

    Reply

  • Ashley

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  • Vanessa

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    Great article with lots of useful info. Our four dogs are on kind of a mixed regimen — a little kibble, and then raw whatever-meat-and-veggies-we’re-having-for-dinner. They’re pretty healthy. If cost weren’t an issue, we’d go all-raw, but we do what we can. Close to nature is always better.

    It’s not that different from when our kids were babies. Hang on… that’s not as bad as it sounds. Rather than feeding prepackaged mystery stuff in little glass jars, we just put a little of our dinners in a blender (just the healthful, non-spicy stuff) , then froze the result in ice cube trays.

    Reply

  • Monica

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    hi there,
    So have you been able to find raw food in France? My dog is on raw and we are moving to France in a few weeks- would appreciate any vendors that you are aware of- also are you in Paris or elsewhwere?
    Cheers,
    Monica

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Hi, I’m in the Loire Valley not too far from Angers. There are no commercial raw food vendors that I know of in France. Closest I could find was a Belgian brand but they didn’t sell online. If you make your own meals, the local butcher is your best bet. I ship my dog’s to myself from the US. Works for us. Good luck!

      Reply

  • Cecilia

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    Hi, Any news about distributors of raw food in France? I am making my own but sometimes it would be good to be able to buy BARF mix.

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Hi Cecilia, unfortunately no. I contacted major suppliers and none of them export to France due to the legal and financial hurdles. Pain in the butt, I know — thank goodness I have a small dog! Good luck

      Reply

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