Raw FAQs PDF Print E-mail

I am not interested in re-inventing the wheel, so to speak, so I am borrowing - with permission - my FAQs from Jane Johnson, a raw food expert and breeder of Portugese Water Dogs.

Other excellent FAQs pages are:

You can reach Jane at http://www.bluegrace.com and the following, except where noted, is from Jane's perspective.


Ok, make sure you read this, it sets the ground rules and understandings.

This FAQ is NOT a bible! The raw diet, like life, has many different successful routes. I have tried to detail some of the basic questions that you may have which will hopefully get you onto the raw diet track.

People have different ideas about the raw diet and my suggestion if you become confused, is NOT to go back to commercial foods, but start thinking about what is best for your dog (or cat).

Start with the basics - raw chicken bones - carcasses, wings, necks. For the majority of raw feeders - that is the base of the majority of their dogs meals. However, if chicken is not available readily, use what is available locally - raw meaty - lamb, beef, venison, duck, rabbit, kangaroo, pig, raw whole fish. You get the picture.

Please note: Dogs do not have the digestive system to cope with grains. Grains are one of the biggest sources of allergies in dogs. Grains make up the majority of dog food company food sources. Many people find when they switch to an all natural diet, the allergies their dogs had disappear. This is common.

Not only is feeding raw cheaper to feed than commercial dog foods, but there are enormous savings to be made by not having all those vet visits to fix your dogs' allergies. Are you asking yourself yet, "why hasn't my vet recommended this?" Yes, I would ask that of them too. Unfortunately most vets receive NO education at university on dog diet other than what the commercial dog food company reps tell them! (yes, this is the education they PAY to get - unbelievable. Luckily, some universities are realizing this mistake and are making amends).

Check out whether your vet can give out objective information on a raw diet, or have they (like most vets) received their education sponsored by a pet food company?

Join a raw feeding email list

Please read this page, and please join the raw feeding email list by clicking here.

Another good one is K9Nutrition.

.... and keep reading below for lots more information..... There are also over 100 different other smaller raw feeding email lists that you can join. Most people are on 2-3 raw feeding email lists, although I'm on about 10. To see this list click here. If you are still stuck on which list to join, email me, and I will be more than happy to help you out.

What is Feeding Raw all about?

Feeding Raw - it refers to a type of diet fed to dogs (and cats) which totally excludes all commercial dog foods.

Why should I feed a raw diet?

A raw diet provides a range of benefits that commercial dog diets can never hope to even closely match. These benefits include:

  1. no doggy odour
  2. naturally cleans teeth - no need for toothbrushes, de-scaling jobs, or gum disease
  3. the time it takes for a dog to chew a raw meaty bones give their stomach adequate time to get the acids moving
  4. much less stools produced - and they are firm, and turn chalky after a couple of days decreased or non-existant vet bills (your dogs are healthier!)
  5. less cost for dog food - commercial dog foods are ludicriously expensive
  6. mirrors what a dog would be getting in the wild - and certainly even the modern day dog has a digestive tract exactly the same as a wolf
  7. puppies develop at a more appropriate rate - and quick growth spurts are avoided. A GOOD breeder will want to stop fast growth in any pup.
  8. the ripping and chewing involved in eating raw meaty bones develops the jaw, neck, and shoulder muscles of the dog. Commercial dog foods will never assist in this important muscle development.

What have people have reported?

People who have switched their dogs to a raw diet from commercial dog foods have found the following:

  • dogs who were previously un-energetic, and sluggish become completely new dogs once the raw diet feeding begins
  • allergies their dogs previously had on commercial foods, disappear once they start with the raw diet
  • arthritis has significantly reduced or disappeared in some dogs switched to raw
  • better weight control
  • no more doggy odour!
  • their dogs are living longer on a raw diet than what their other dogs previously had survived on commercial dog foods
  • that their bitches managed their pregnancies better
  • better weight and survival figures in puppies

Click here to read some more detailed true stories.

Why is commercial dog food not good for my dog?

  1. a dog's food should never be cooked. It should be fed in a raw natural state like nature intended. Cooking a dog's food ruins most of the nutritional value.
  2. dogs should have access to raw meaty bones. These clean their teeth, work and develop their neck and jaw muscles, and the chewing action prepares their stomach for the incoming food mass. Chewing bones also slows down the eating process considerably, making it far harder for a dog to over eat.
  3. dog foods have as their main ingredient cereals - the main ingredient your dog should be eating is raw meaty bones. And it is these very cereals that cause a range of problems such as allergies.
  4. commercial dog foods are laden with preservatives, colors (dyes), and salt. They have additives to make the food taste better so that the dogs will overeat.
  5. the vast majority of commercial dog foods have far too much carbohydrates in them. High levels of carbohydrates are linked to over-eating, diabetes, weight gain, and numerous other problems. Dogs should eat a diet with only a small amount of carbs.

Well then, why do so many people still feed their dogs commercial dog foods?

Yes, it confuses me too! However, commercial dog food companies have got the advertising part down amazingly well. They have entered the market at every point. With some companies, breeders and vets get major discounts and kick-backs for selling their product. They sponsor dog shows, they advertise in dog magazines, they get high profile people (including vets) to talk about their product.

And most importantly, their advertising campaigns are slick, and tend to make people feel guilty if they feed any other way.

And people are suckers for good advertising.

Let me make this very clear to you, I make no money from recommending a raw diet, so you can be assured, by making such recommendations, I get no financial kickbacks, nor will ever seek any. As a breeder of dogs I could make a small fortune by letting my dogs be in dog food commercials, and by selling on commercial dog foods.

I only recommend feeding raw because I want your dogs to be getting the diet that will make them the healthiest that they can possibly be.

But how will I know how much to feed my dog?

You feed your dog based on their energy requirements. It will differ for how much work your dog does, and what their metabolism is like.

As a rough guide, my adult male boxer (neutered) will eat one chicken carcass a day as the base of his meal, and then some other bits and pieces. The same goes for my Portuguese Water Dogs.

My toy poodle will have three chicken necks a day (or more if he's been a bit active) as the base for his meal.

Look at your dogs regularly - if they are looking a bit porky, then cut down on the fat in their diet. If they look a bit thin, then, an extra half a chicken carcass in the diet for a few days may be the solution.

It's not hard to do, and when you get into a routine, it's darn easy. Trust me!

But aren't chicken bones dangerous?!!!

This is one of the biggest myths of all time! Raw chicken bones are fantastic for your dog. They are soft enough so that they bend easily, and break well for the dog to digest.

On the other hand, cooked chicken bones can be a problem, and I recommend that you DON'T feed COOKED chicken bones.

So could a raw chicken bone kill a dog? Well I guess that anything is possible. Certainly scientifically you can't prove a negative argument. However what we do know is that dogs have died from inhaling kibble the wrong way and choking and suffocating to death.

Feeding your dog is about management of risk. No matter which path you decide to take there is always risk. There is always someone who will criticise your decision. However you, and only you can decide what is best for your dogs. Weigh up all the benefits and risks. Do your own analysis. Do your research. Do what will have the greatest overall benefit for your dog.

My dog tends to inhale food!???

This is common with some dogs who have been raised on commercial food who don't actually ever learn to chew.

You need to be careful with all dogs regardless of what they eat during their meal times. I've heard of dogs choking and dying on kibble, and dogs choking on raw meaty bones. - Just like I have heard of humans who have choked and died on a small piece of sausage or cheese.

You should supervise all meal times.

If a dog is scarfing down their food, I feed them by hand, in an isolated environment, until they learn how to chew. Chewing is critical for a dog. And literally some dogs need to figure it out as adults how to do it. Sometimes I will hold one end of the chicken wing and not let them swallow it until they have chewed it a bit. Puppies that I have brought up feeding raw meaty bones from an early age never seem to have these sort of issues. But you never can tell.

Some dogs will try and inhale even large meaty bones, so you really need to work with these guys carefully. They should eventually work it out.

There is an increasing understanding that best nutrition is achieved when feeding the whole carcass, rather than just bits of it. So to help a "scarfer" perhaps a whole carcass might slow them down. For more information about feeding carcasses etc, click onto Dr Tom Lonsdale's page here. Be also careful of the greedy guts who thinks s/he will be starving unless food is consumed in great quantities immediately. Most dogs will learn eventually, but others, well, it may take a long time.

So in summary, monitor meal times, and be sure to watch out for the greedy guts - and manage them carefully.

But what about bacteria on raw chicken?

So many good questions!

Ok, there is bacteria everywhere. Dogs have an amazing immunity system specifically designed to eat all manner of bacteria. And a healthy raw fed fed dog manages those bacteria without a problem.

E-coli, salmonella, etc are found on raw chicken, but those nasties are also found in your fridge, in your sink, on your floor, in your backyard, in your car, on the footpath, down at the park, and perhaps in your bed! Interestingly, the only cases I have heard of dogs dying from e-coli or salmonella, were dogs fed commercial dog foods.

The most important thing is to wash your hands thoroughly after feeding your dogs, and even after cutting up meat for your own meals. Our digestive systems are not quite as robust as our dogs, so we must protect ourselves.

I use a spray bottle containg white vinegar which I spray about when I need some disinfecting.

I have been feeding my animals a raw for several years, and have yet to have a problem with bacterial infections with my dogs. They are so darn healthy, they are never at the vets! Well, except for when I got them micro-chipped.

But my vet doesn't think that feeding raw is any good.

Then your vet needs some serious re-educating!

Keep in mind that vets are told very little about dog diet at university. In fact, in some universities, reps from the dog food companies, come and do presentations on dog diet, as part of the curriculum. Many vets get their education on dog diet by dog food reps.

And many vets make a lot of money by retailing dog foods.

If you have a vet that doesn't want to be re-educated, or will not discuss options, then that is a very sad state of affairs. Here's hoping you can find a better vet.

Given this age of the internet, there is absolutely no excuse for vets not to be educated on all feeding options. And there are plenty of vets on the internet who would gladly converse with other vets about feeding raw. You found this page, why can't they?!!

That being said, there are plenty of vets out there now who realise that there are significantly better alternatives to commercial dog food. Many vets who have changed their ways are very sorry that they did not "see the light" much earlier.

What do you feed your dogs, Jane?

    raw meaty bones - chicken, lamb, pork, whole raw fish (at least once a week), beef, rabbit
  • yogurt
  • whole raw eggs in their shells (I let the dogs crack the shells)
  • fruit and vegetables (I feed very little of these as dogs are a carnivore)
  • table scraps - but no cooked bones!
  • kelp
  • livamol - a livestock supplement containg all sorts of goodies, but it is mostly made up of molasses (Note: Livamol is only available in Australia)

What about grains?


Dogs do not have the digestive system to cope with grains. Most commercial dog foods contain more than 50% grains (yes, this includes all those fancy expensive ones too! ) Grains are one of the biggest sources of allergies in dogs.

My dogs have a diet that is high in protein, and low in carbohydrates - like nature intended.

Where can I buy this stuff?

Talk to your local butcher, abbotoir, or chicken processor. Many of the leftovers that these guys consider waste, us raw feeders people consider fantastic for our dogs. Things like chicken carcasses, chicken necks, chicken feet, and chicken heads are considered rubbish, and are sold for next to nothing. You should be able to get these fairly easily.

You can also try things like pigs' trotters (that's pig's feet), ox tail, lamb's necks. Some people also have access to ostrich carcasses, and deers. Be creative. And don't forget raw whole fish!

You also should be able to get overripe fruit and vegetables very cheap. One great suggestion is going to those places that juice fresh fruit and vegetables for juice, and ask for their leftover pulp. They will probably be more than happy to give it to you. Be creative!

In the Denver area, there are lots of options. Email me for more information!

Can I feed my pregnant bitch on raw food?

Yes! Yes! Yes!

This is the best thing you can do for your bitch.

I have actually changed the diet of a bitch I obtained, who was pregnant, to raw food when she was pregnant. I was certainly not worried about any cross over issues. For her, the potential damage of commercial foods to her and her puppies was my main concern. I couldn't get her onto a raw food diet quickly enough!

Mind you, she did eat one heck of a lot! So for pregnant and nursing bitches you will find that they need more food to cope with the demands of the little guys! And sometimes, a pregnant bitch will not want to eat a lot. You let your bitch be the judge. She knows her needs.

Can I feed puppies on raw food?

You most certainly can. And the good news is that unlike the commercial dog foods who recommend a confusing range of foods for different age groups, raw food fed dogs are fed the same regardless of age.

Of course, you won't want to feed that little puppy huge marrow bones! So, use common sense in your feeding.

How do I learn more?

There are several good books you can purchase. The one I primarily recommend is Raw Meaty Bones - by Dr. Tom Lonsdale.

    Check your local good bookstore and see what they have to offer.

    Also, I highly recommend you start surfing the internet. There are several good sites in the raw food web ring that will detail all you wanted to know and more about the diet. The webring is for people who only feed 100% raw food, and if you do, then you are encouraged to join the ring.

    You can see the web sites of those people feeding raw food by clicking here. These sites include those people with top show winning dogs, and those with the single companion dog - all these sites are linked by a common thread of feeding Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods to their pets.

    You can also join the Raw Feeding email list by clicking here.

***Dawn-Renee also highly recommends Sue Johnson's "Switching To Raw" as a 'how to' primer on raw feeding.

Other good books are:

Jane, you spend a lot of time talking to people about dog diet. Why do you do it?

Life is about learning. Part of my core instinct is to help people out. As part of this, I feel a great desire to ensure that we look after our fellow furry friends.

With my show dogs, I call the raw diet, "my secret advantage". On one level I would much prefer that my competitors don't feed the raw diet, as I know their dogs will not be in the same condition as my guys. But on the other hand, what I want most, is for dogs to be healthy, regardless of who owns them.

Interestingly now days, the raw diet speaks volumes in the ring, and we often get asked the question, "what do you feed?".

We often win dog food at dog shows. The first thing we do with that is put it in the closest trash bin. There's no room for that sort of rubbish in our dogs' diet. The health of my dogs is far too important for me to compromise it by feeding a vastly inferior standard of food that commercial food represents.

Pet shelters take heed - if you approach the right suppliers, you will probably find you can get ALL of the food needs of the dogs for free, or for a very low price. Email me for more information on how this can easily be achieved.

Last Updated on Saturday, 20 March 2010 12:07