It’s very encouraging to witness all the buzz surrounding raw feeding these days, because it demonstrates that many dog owners are questioning the long-accepted norms about how we look after our dogs, and in particular, how we feed them.

Thanks to this raw food revolution, there is a ton of info out there about raw feeding your dog. But it can be a little overwhelming, particularly if you are new to the game. So in this article I plan to bring clarity to the subject as I explain the basics.

First we’ll define the raw diet, within the commonsense framework of the “whole carcass model”. Next, we’ll look at the three major components – muscle meat; raw meaty bones and organ meat. And, finally we’ll talk about how to make up for things that may be missing from the raw foods available to us, in order to provide total balanced nutrition to our dogs.

The Whole Carcass Model

It’s probably accurate to say that to one degree or another, every approach to raw feeding a dog derives from the whole carcass model. It’s based on the premise that in the wild a dog consumes the entire prey; and thus, in raw feeding our dogs, we should seek to provide the same nutritional components that are found in the whole prey. To accomplish this requires going beyond simply feeding the dog whatever nice raw meat we come up with at the local supermarket.

Consider this: A whole animal carcass has bones, it has muscle meat and organs. Included in the latter are the stomach, the brain and yes, even the eyes – all of which are full of nutritional properties. Any of these crucial components not provided in the course of raw feeding a dog, must be compensated for in their diets. For example, you are unlikely to find brains or eyes at your local butcher. We might possibly find green tripe (unprocessed stomachs) at the butcher, but if not we must make up for the lack of this nutritious part of the prey in other ways.

Muscle Meat, Raw Meaty Bones and Organ Meat – the Feeding Ratios

Your dog will thrive, as did his wild ancestors, on a balanced mix of the 3 categories of meaty nutrition found in an animal:
Muscle Meat (often abbreviated to MM)
Raw Meaty Bones (RMBs)
Organ Meat (OM)

For maintenance, feed your dog about 2% of his body weight per day, but up to 3% in the case of puppies, high activity dogs and lactating females. For maintenance therefore, a 75 lb dog will get 1.5 lb, or 24 oz of food a day. Plan to provide 75% of that, or 18 oz, in meats of the above 3 groups and 25%, or 6 oz, in combined vegetable and fruit, grated or pureed. Provide meat in approximately the following ratios – again, we’ll use our example of 1.5 lbs per day:

MM 30% 5.4 oz
RMBs 60% 10.8 oz
OM 10% 1.8 oz

You can feed your dog either one or two meals a day. Either way, food totals for the day should add up to between 2% and 3% of body weight, as explained above.

Making up For What’s Missing

Eyes and Brains

Here, I’ll reprint a section from our article, Raw Food Diets for Dogs:

Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs), needed for healthy coat and skin, and for proper brain, joint and cellular function, are found in high concentrations in eyes and brains. Since we don’t typically have access to these organs for raw diets, it is necessary to add Omega-3 as a supplement. Good sources for this are flaxseed oil and fish body oil, such as salmon oil (but not cod liver oil). You can use capsules or liquid. If you use flaxseed oil and your dog gets an itchy skin, switch to fish oil. It’s a good idea to add Vitamin E which helps the Omega-3 to metabolize.
The dose of Omega-3 you give your dog should be as follows: Fish body oil capsules, 500-1000mg for every 10 lbs of body weight. Liquid fish oil; for dogs below 25 lbs, ½ a teaspoon; dogs 25-50 lbs, 1 teaspoon; above 50lbs, 2 teaspoons. For flaxseed oil, the dose would be 1 teaspoon per 25 lbs of dog weight.

Fruits and Vegetables

The first part of the prey that a wild canine eats is typically the stomach and its contents; the latter usually being a combination of vegetables and fruits – partially digested. Canines in the wild derive valuable nutrition from these partially-digested plant and veggie remains. How are we then to give them the same benefit? The key is to feed them fruits and veggies in a manner that is nutritious and digestible. Since dogs lack the enzymes to process the cellulose (fiber) and starch found in whole fruits and veggies, we must grate or puree this food in order for it to provide the nutritional benefit. Failure to render down the food in this way would result in its passing undigested through a dog’s G.I. tract, providing good fiber but nothing else.

Digestive Enzymes

When a wild carnivore consumes their prey’s stomach with its contents, it gets a healthy dose of digestive enzymes as part of the package. The stomachs of ruminants – grazing animals – have four chambers which use a combination of digestive enzymes, gastric juices and amino acids with which to break down vegetable matter.

Usually, we don’t get to feed our dogs with green tripe – the name for unprocessed stomachs (human grade tripe is typically bleached white, with all juices and other contents removed).

Therefore, we sometimes must supplement a dog’s raw diet with digestive enzymes. This is a recommended practice for the first week or two of feeding a raw diet, giving time for the dog to develop more of his own enzymes.

If you found this article helpful, I’d encourage you to sign up for your subscription to the German Shepherd Report (see box above, right). Not only will you get the Report, but I’ll also send you notifications of articles in the next couple of months which will get into details of the many foods you can use in putting together the raw diet discussed above.


As owners, we all should once in a while “take inventory” concerning our German Shepherds, to make sure we are providing him or her with the basic requirements for vibrant health and wellbeing.

I am basing this article on the book, Dr Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats (See end of article for details). The term “5 Pillars of Health…” is mine, not the author’s; but these five areas of focus that he discusses at length, concern the key factors impacting the health and wellbeing of your German Shepherd. While we have covered these matters in detail elsewhere on the website, here I’ll review them from Dr Pitcairn’s perspective; one which I find entirely sound, and backed by extensive study and field practice throughout a long professional career.

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Foxtail Grasses Explained

Foxtail grasses, which come in many varieties, are a potentially serious health risk to German Shepherds, and for that matter to any dog that may come into contact with them. Their effects on a dog range from external irritation to internal infection and organ damage. Untreated, such damage can be fatal. Foxtail grass is both common and widespread. It grows plentifully across the temperate and subtropical regions of Eurasia, northern Africa, and the Americas. It is also naturalized in Australia and New Zealand.

In the US, foxtail grass grows mainly west of the Mississippi, concentrating in the Great Plains – where wild bison feed on it. It is also abundant in California. Nevertheless, some varieties range into other parts including the mid-eastern regions.

The more common types of foxtail grasses include Cheatgrass, Foxtail Brome, Foxtail Barley, Foxtail Millet Needlegrass, Canada Wild Rye and Nimblewill.

In a moment we’ll get into some detail on the health risks to our dogs posed by foxtail grasses, and we’ll discuss both prevention and treatment. But first, let’s look at the nature of the foxtail grass itself, in order to better understand its hazards: Continue Reading


We’ve pushed up the publishing schedule this month in order to get out our book review of Dr Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats ahead of the book’s release date which is set for March 21!

At 500 pages the newest – and 4th – edition represents a significant makeover from earlier versions. Here I’m giving the briefest overview, or summary, of some key areas of focus of the book, and we’ll provide a link at the bottom for those who’d enjoy seeing the full review. In addition,  we’ve arranged a very convenient tie-in with Amazon: To purchase the book – at a great price! –  just click the purchase link below.

Micro and Macro?

While most of us will approach a book such as Dr Pitcairn’s Guide’ with a view to some specific benefit to our pets, the author does a good job of broadening the topic in ways that add greater understanding, at the same time resisting the temptation to get off on an overly extended tangent. He keeps things relevant. The reader comes away with practical solutions for improved health for our animals that allow us at the same time to exercise an enhanced level of good stewardship over the environment beyond our immediate surroundings. Continue Reading


If you’ve been following the recent blog posts, you ‘ll know we’ve been discussing Dr Richard Pitcairn’s holistic methods as covered by his book Dr Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats. This month we’ll veer from our planned food-related topic, and we’ll cover some other items which I think will be of interest.

Rumor’s Big Day at the Westminster Show

On February 14, at the 141st annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, the Best of Show award went to Rumor, a 5 year old female GSD. Favored to win the previous year, Rumor narrowly missed Top Dog spot in 2016, settling for Reserve Best of Show, or runner up. This year’s win was a first for a dog in the Herding Group since 1987, a title also taken by a German Shepherd. It was the 104th career win for Rumor. Continue Reading



In this second of 6 articles featuring the work of Dr Richard Pitcairn, author of the bestselling, Dr Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats. we’ll lay the foundations to Pitcairn’s approach to food. With 466 pages, the book covers a range of topics in some depth. In these articles we are taking an overview of key points. So, while space limits the detail we can get into here, I think the articles will serve as a helpful introduction to the important work of a leader in the field of holistic animal care.

Getting on the Right Path

Before diving in to our study, I’d like to make what I think is an important point. I happen to know wonderful, conscientious German Shepherd owners who use a higher grade commercial kibble, and their dogs seem to do fine on it. Others, however, have a GSD with a sensitive system, where no commercial food agrees with them. They’ve had the frustration of an unhappy, sickness-prone dog, and ongoing vet visits, trying to figure out the problem. Such experiences may lead to an owner experimenting with alternative diets. And often this is where they find the help they need as their dogs begin to amend and eventually flourish. Continue Reading


Learning from a World Leader in Holistic Pet Health

In the last post I introduced Dr Richard Pitcairn and his holistic approach to pet care. I was reminded recently of the extent to which he’s influenced a new generation of veterinarians as I read a couple of unrelated articles by holistic veterinary practitioners. Yet both authors cited Pitcairn as instrumental in their shift to a more natural approach to treating animals.

Perhaps this shouldn’t come as a surprise, given the reach of his book, Dr Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats (one of our recommended resources). Originally published in 1982, the book is due out in its fourth edition this March. In addition, in 1992 Pitcairn established the Professional Course in Veterinary Homeopathy, a year-long post-graduate training for veterinarians. By 2013, 500 had been trained in the program. Continue Reading


Something Missing

1“Tell your clients to feed their animals a good commercial pet food and to avoid table scraps” These words, according to Dr Richard Pitcairn summed up the instruction he’d received on pet nutrition for his entire time in veterinary college!

His first job found Pitcairn in a busy practice that handled small and large animals. It soon became clear that the optimistic predictions of great results from an arsenal of drugs and surgical techniques in which he was trained, represented a disconnect from what he was experiencing. In spite of his best efforts, many animal patients failed to show significant improvement.

Providence Intervenes

In search of answers, Pitcairn providentially received an offer to teach in a veterinary college. That move soon led to him resuming his own studies, digging deeper into the science behind veterinary practice. After 5 years, and getting his PhD degree, the answers he was looking for still eluded him. So began a lifetime pattern of reading broadly on matters of health, nutrition and immunity. He’d try out alternate approaches on himself; then with initial successes using a more holistic approach Pitcairn started using homeopathy and healthier, often raw, foods with family members and pets. Continue Reading


Humorous, But Not Recommended
Humorous, But Not Recommended

It’s been my observation that there are two trigger points that can get owners of German Shepherds, and other canines with substantial coats, to contemplate the merits of shaving their dog! The first is where an owner considers the solution to having a thick fur coat in warm weather is to take it off! The second trigger point can be exasperation at the amount of hair getting deposited all over a home during their dog’s shedding.

Other than the less-than-wonderful appearance resulting from a complete dog shave, you cannot blame well-intentioned owners in either situation. But well-intentioned is not enough, for we need also to be well-informed! Continue Reading


The Benefits of Dog Training

Training a dog well has two principal benefits: First, owning the dog becomes a more pleasant, rewarding experience; and second, trained properly, a dog often becomes much more contented and peaceful.

Good training results in benefits that extend beyond the basics of obedience, to the point of impacting the entire quality of life of the dog, and consequently, the whole family. By “good training” I refer to an intuitive, commonsense approach to conditioning a dog that takes into account basic dog psychology.

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