RAW FOOD DIETS FOR DOGS: FACTS & TIPS

Origins of the Raw Food Diet for Dogs

Raw, or ancestral, diets may appear revolutionary. However, in reality they are the original food of the wild for dogs since ancient times. But as dogs got domesticated they started sharing human food. Then, in the late 1800’s an American, James Spratt started manufacturing the first commercial dog food.

Commercial dog food caught on. It was convenient and economical, and dogs liked it. Furthermore it was an easy way for food companies to market by-products and other low-cost ingredients such as corn and other grains.

But this convenience can come at the cost of good nutrition. For example, corn is a source of protein often used as a primary ingredient in inexpensive dog foods. But in nutritional terms it is quite inferior to good quality meat proteins. According to vet Dr Ian Billinghurst, author of the book “Give Your Dog a Bone”, commercial dog food can quite frequently be linked to diabetes, cancer, renal disease, arthritis and other degenerative conditions in dogs. But Billinghurst claims a dramatic drop in such conditions with dogs on a raw diet.  

Components of a Raw Diet for Dogs

Raw food is what is eaten in the wild when an animal is killed for prey. Wolves and other dogs in the wild will eat flesh, bones, organs, stomach and intestines, along with the predigested vegetable matter found inside. Included are high quality protein and fat and plenty of good calcium. The pre-digested vegetable found in the stomach and intestines is in a form easily assimilated by the dog.

Benefits of a Raw Diet for Your Dog

Health

Simply put, raw food diets contain the best ingredients for dogs, and none of the inferior ones found in lower-grade commercial foods. (for more on this topic, see articles: Food for Your GSD and Dog Food: Understanding the Ingredient Label). All this has significant implications for the health and overall wellbeing of your dog.

Raw diets have higher protein and fat contents than the minimums laid out by The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), which sets the guidelines for commercial dog food. Here are proportions as a percentage of the meal comparing a typical raw diet to the AAFCO guidelines:

  • PROTEIN: Raw diet, 56%; AAFCO guidelines, 18-32%
  • FAT: Raw diet, 25-30%; AAFCO guidelines, 8-22%
  • CARBOHYDRATES, Raw diet, 14%; AAFCO guidelines, 46-74%

From the simple comparisons above, it is easy to see that the AAFCO guidelines fall far short when compared to the quality of nutrition inherent in a natural (raw) diet. AAFCO minimizes the protein and fat requirements, while allowing the hard-to-digest cheap grains to comprise up to 74% of the meal!

Appearance

A shiny coat, sparkling eyes, clean white teeth, and a healthy well-nourished skin are often observed in raw-fed dogs!

The Nose Knows

Your dog will smell better, both his breath and his coat. Stools look entirely different (dry and crumbly), and their bad odor is diminished. Raw food is more completely digested by a dog, whereas a lot of junk in commercial dog food is eliminated in a partially-digested state.

Longevity

A healthy dog lives longer, and such is often the case with dogs on a raw diet.

Are There Dangers to Raw Food for Dogs?

Any time you are dealing with food, but especially raw food, knowledge and vigilance is required.  Because of either real or perceived dangers, some reject raw food out-of-hand. But we are going to review the pros and cons and let the information speak for itself. There are two potential dangers in raw food:

Bacteria

Fresh meat producers try to minimize the bacteria in their products, although the meat you buy in the grocery store is permitted relatively higher maximum bacteria levels than meat produced for raw feeding of pets. This is because grocery store meat is meant to be cooked. Many commercial raw pet food producers use High Pressure Pasteurization (HPP) to kill pathogenic bacteria. This process is USDA approved, including for organic and natural products.

Nature has also equipped our dogs with bacteria-fighting capabilities of their own, including large quantities of bile and of patriotic enzymes, both of which are bacteria-fighters. Dogs and cats have a pH1 acid level in their stomachs which is more acidic than human levels. But on a cautionary note, while this level is sufficient to kill a number of bacteria types, the class of bacteria named acidophiles actually thrive in high-acid environments where pH levels are in the 1 to 5 range. One such bacteria is E. coli. This serves to remind us that commonsense precautions should always be taken in handling food, whether for raw or cooked consumption.

Parasites

Parasites inhabit an animal’s gastro intestinal (GI) tract, which includes stomach and intestines. However, since we don’t feed these organs to our dogs, the concern over parasites is minimal. But on occasion parasites will migrate from the GI tract into muscle tissue. A simple precaution will provide the necessary safeguard: Freeze meat for three days before serving it to your dog, and any parasites will be killed.

Preparing Raw Food for Your Dog

There are many variations on the raw food diet, but we’ll give you the basic concept  – the whole animal carcass model, which closely replicates what your dog’s wolf cousins eat in the wild. As noted above, when they eat their pray, wolves consume all parts including the nutrient-rich pre-digested plant material in the stomach and intestines.

The Whole Carcass Model

With this in mind, the whole carcass raw diet includes muscle, organs, and meaty bones. Chomping up meaty bones is excellent exercise for your dog, and it also keeps the teeth white. The crackling and crunching noises as your dog chomps on the bones can be disconcerting at first, but you’ll soon get used to it. Here’s a short demo of assembling a raw-food meal. Note at the end of the clip the sleek, agile appearance of the dog.

 

  • Other Protein

Periodically feeding some salmon to your dog is a great idea. It is full of healthy omega3 fatty acids. Also raw eggs are good additions to any canine meal.

  • Fruit & Vegetables

For a balanced diet, fruit and vegetables need to be added. However your dog will not digest these in their whole form; they will pass through his system – providing good fiber, but not the needed nutrients. So you must grate or puree the fruits and veggies. You can make batches and freeze the mix into cubes for use as you need them.

The right proportions in your dog’s diet will be around 75% combined meat, bones and organs, and 25% combined fruit and vegetable.

Variety is the key. All the following are good for your dog: Carrots, parsley, spinach, garlic, lettuce, celery, watercress, asparagus, spring greens, beet greens, dandelions, apples (cored to remove seeds), oranges, grapefruit and pears.

Avoid onions, grapes and apple seeds.

Feeding Details for Your Dog’s Raw Diet

Quantity

Because raw foods are more digestible than regular commercial dog food, less quantity is required. A good rule is to feed your dog 2½%-3% of his weight in food per day. So an 80lb dog x 2½% = 2 lbs of food. Adjust the food percentage for the life-cycle of your dog. Pregnant or lactating females will need more – sometimes twice as much. Young pups will also need more. Older dogs will need less food. Keep an eye on the weight and appearance of your dog, and adjust meal sizes accordingly.

Meal Frequency

Feeding once a day works well with a raw diet, giving time for meat and bones to get digested between meals. In the wild, dogs often have a day or two between catching prey. Some people have their dog fast one day a week; and this may be a good idea.

Supplements

The raw diet we’ve discussed has great nutritional value. But it is advisable to do some supplementing. 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.

Digestive enzymes: While adjusting your dog to a raw diet, a digestive enzyme supplement is recommended until his system adapts, producing sufficient digestive enzymes itself.

Quick Tip: Dogs love to remove meaty bones from their food bowls and take them to a choice location, preferably with carpeting! Serve the food outside, or on a tiled floor, and the problem’s solved.

Break-In Procedure

If your dog has a sensitive stomach, or is more advanced in years, it is a good idea to transition into a raw diet over a period of one or two weeks. To do this, start by adding raw food to the established diet in a 30/60 ratio, progressively increasing the raw portion until it is 100% of the meal.

Conclusion

You may choose to get your vet’s input on the merits of a raw diet for your dog. And the best vets will put the wellbeing of their animal patients first, even if it means entertaining some new ideas and at times shedding a few pre-conceived ones.

But your local vet is human, with his or her own opinions and preferences on matters relating to best practices in animal care. If you ask your vet about raw food diets, you may or may not get an objective fact-based response, depending on his or her level of understanding on the subject.

If you decide the raw food is worth the try, you’ll need the courage of your convictions, and the willingness to blaze your own trail.

 

Note: Now that you’ve read the above article, you may enjoy hearing about another reader’s journey concerning his German Shepherd and raw food. Without spoiling the story, I’ll say this much – the story has a great outcome! See, http://germanshepherdplace.com/?p=2937

 

A Message from the Publisher

We’d enjoy hearing from you!
If you have a moment, let us know what you liked about this article. Plus, share your suggestions – we would value your input. Post comments below, or write, contact@germanshepherdplace.com.
Mark Mulock

 

 

AT GERMANSHEPHERDPLACE.COM WE PROVIDE INFORMATION, AND IN SOME CASES MAY OFFER OPINIONS. BUT WE DO NOT OFFER PROFESSIONAL ADVICE. THE INFORMATION PROVIDED MUST NOT BE VIEWED AS PROFESSIONAL ADVICE, NOTWITHSTANDING OUR EFFORTS TO BE FACTUALLY CORRECT. WE DON’T DIAGNOSE DOGS’ CONDITIONS, NOR DO WE PRESCRIBE REMEDIES. WE CANNOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY OUTCOME, INCLUDING SICKNESS OR DEATH, RESULTING FROM ACTIONS UNDERTAKEN AS A RESULT OF INFORMATION OR OPINIONS FOUND ON GERMANSHEPHERDPLACE.COM. BEFORE ACTING ON ANYTHING YOU READ ON THIS WEBSITE, ADVICE SHOULD BE OBTAINED FROM A VETERINARIAN OR OTHER QUALIFIED PROFESSIONAL.

58 thoughts on “RAW FOOD DIETS FOR DOGS: FACTS & TIPS

  1. Hi.

    I have a 7 month GSD cross Husky to which we have moved her onto the raw diet around 2 weeks ago. I get a variety of mince (lamb, beef, including hearts,, liver, kidney,) from a slaughter house ( sorry for the harsh labelling but i cant spell the name) i give her veggies and some fruits with salmon oil. I also feed a chicken carcas, and a few lamb rib bones daily. Im thinking about chucking some raw eggs into her diet too.

    I would just like your opinion on whether this diet is right. Her stools are much smaller dark and dry and they crumble. Is this normal? Do you recommend anything different diet wise. I have noticed her energy increase and her separation anxiety is slightly better ( we have tried adaptil will plug ins, thundershirt etc).

    This website is fabulous and thank you for your wisdom!

    Regards,
    Sophie

    • Hi Sophie,

      It looks like you’re off to a great start with your GSD/Husky’s new raw diet. Congratulations – it does take some commitment and effort – but as you’re already seeing, it is worth it. Yes, raw eggs can be a good way to add variety; but use them in moderation. A single egg in the diet two or three times a week is good (note that Avidin in raw egg whites can decrease absorption of biotin, sometimes leading to skin and coat problems).

      If your supplier can give you turkey necks, they are particularly good for keeping a dog’s teeth clean as she crunches up the vertebrae. From your description of Sophie’s diet, I couldn’t tell whether or not she’s getting reasonable quantities of bones along with her meat. Bones should be a regular part of the diet. The raw fed dog on a meat and bone based diet will tend to have light, even whitish colored stools. Sophie’s being darker may be an indication of the need for more bones. And, yes it is normal and healthy for stools to be dry and crumbly on a raw fed diet. This is because of the greater assimilation rate as compared with commercial food, where the dog must eliminate a lot of substandard stuff that the body rejects.

      As mentioned on the website, I highly recommend Dr Pitcairn’s book for plenty of insightful info. on raw diets for dogs (and cats). To read about it you can click here:http://germanshepherdplace.com/2017/03/pitcairn-book-review-summary/

      Wishing you best!
      MM

  2. Do I need to freeze the raw food first then defrost and give to my German Shepherd. I’m a little concerned as he has had 2 fresh chicken carcasses. He practically snorted them. I’m just starting him out on raw food.

    • Hi Nichola,

      Freezing first is a recommended precaution if there’s some doubt about the supply source. But so long as your meat is coming from a reliable supplier, you should be fine to go ahead and serve it fresh. In the event you end up freezing first, then do so for 48 hrs, thawing in the fridge for 12 hours, give-or-take, depending on size.

      MM

  3. Hi,

    Just watched the video and I wrote down foods found on the plate.
    We have an 11 month old GSD. His entire life, he has been a ‘picky eater’. We have gone through every high quality dog food in the pet store, where he will eat it for 2-3 days, then push his bowl away. Even if we crate him with the food bowl, he will not touch it. At one point, he went three days without eating… at that point, we bought a new bag of, again, high quality dry dog food, and he finally ate… but again, for only 3 or so days. It’s been a constant battle, and the Vet says he is a completely healthy boy, just underweight. There is no reason he doesn’t eat, other than he just gets bored with his food. It’s frustrating for us as parents, and I imagine him as well, being a hungry boy. He is 70 lbs… and a month ago, he weighed 75 lbs. So, he is dropping weight. We are going to try the raw diet…. but are wondering if there are particular meats to add fat, and if we should add any certain veggies (i.e. sweet potatoe, as he has a sensitive stomach).

    Look forward to your response,
    Sincerely,

    Two concerned GSD parents.

    • Hi Jamie,

      While I’m not in a position to give a definite answer to your GSD’s sensitive stomach and food issue, I believe I can help point you in the right direction. You have expressed an interest and openness to the idea of trying a raw diet. That’s the approach that more and more dog owners have been taking in recent years. Often the digestive sensitivities that dogs experience can be traced to a food intolerance that comes from chemicals, dyes and contaminants in commercial foods. Even foods designated as “premium” often fail to provide the healthy nutrition dogs need.

      The problem of a sensitive stomach will often simply go away once a dog gets onto a balanced raw diet. To address your specific questions about fat sources and recommended vegetables: Beef provides a high fat content, especially beef chuck; lamb legs and shoulders are good sources. No particular vegetables come to mind as being specially beneficial. As with human diets – try and use plenty of variety; in-season veggies usually being the best value. Two articles which will give you ideas on ingredients for the raw diet:

      1. http://germanshepherdplace.com/2017/01/nutritional-food-ingredients-for-dogs/
      2. The above article, which I assume you’ve read.

      I believe you GSD fellow will thrive on raw food, and eating should no longer be a problem. Be aware though that as with any food, a dog usually needs to get used to the idea of something new. So if your dog hesitates at first, no problem. Typically a break-in period is helpful when introducing new food. Introduce it by degrees, progressively upping the proportion of the new food vs. the old food. I know in your case he’s not thrilled about his existing food, so you’ll just need to use a little intuition as you get started with the new diet.

      I wish you success!!

      Mark M.

  4. This is a brilliant website. I am switching to raw meat feed gradually for my 7 months old long fur GSD. A few other dog owners (not GSD) feed their dogs frozen raw meat, directly from deep freezer. Is there any harm in feeding frozen raw meat (understandably, their teeth may break and tongue may be hurt). But my GSD has not shown any sign so far and actually enjoys more than thawed raw meat. Not sure whether to continue with the frozen state of raw feed. Could you please advise – many thanks!

    • Hi Jhuma,
      Congrats on your move to a raw diet for your dog! It’s true that a number of people do give frozen raw meat to their dogs, and without apparent problems. However, I still recommend that it’s better to thaw the food. I’ll give two reasons: First, that it is easier on your dog’s digestion to eat room-temperature food; and second, bones are particularly rigid when frozen – carrying the potential for damage to your dog. Thawing in the fridge is your best approach – for 12 hours give-or-take, depending on size. I wish you success!
      Mark M.

  5. Hi thanks for information in your artical I have a 13 week old German shepherd 9.5 kg feeding him 3 times a day 160g raw works out about 5℅ his weight with veg blended in twice a week and sardines or mackerel once a week , also add some yogurt and cottage cheese from time to mine lactose free, once a day I add 5 ml of salmon oil and a small amount of dorwest keepers mix to his meal he empties the bowl every time does this sound a good diet for my dog. Thanks

    • This sounds good Colin. While the Dorwest Keepers Mix is a product I’m not familiar with (not being available in the US, to my knowledge) I looked it up and liked the natural herb/seed/root/kelp ingredients as the means to provide essential minerals and vitamins; plus psyllium husks being good for promoting elimination. Your raw should include meaty bones and ideally some turkey necks from time to time, since they are particularly good for scrubbing the teeth. Good work – I think you have yourself a healthy GSD!!

      Mark M.

    • The short answer is no!!

      But caring for a German Shepherd is much more than short answers! A good raw diet should promote both physical and behavior-related wellbeing. While important, diet is only part of our responsibility as good owners. Training and regular vigorous exercise are important in order to ensure a balanced, contented and well-behaved dog.

      Sickness in a dog from a poor diet can spark aggressive behaviors, but a healthy, well-raised GSD can be expected to have a good, balanced temperament.

      I wish you success sir!

      MM

  6. Would there be a reason not to feed a high quality dry food in the morning & raw food for dinner. He is 7 months old & in very good shape.

    • Not at all John. In fact, this kind of compromise can be a practical way of balancing optimum diet (raw) with convenience (dry food). High quality is the key for the dry food – that way you are not undermining the benefits of the raw diet.

      MM

  7. Thanks very much for this write up. Very instructive!
    I have a GSD (8 months – Maximus!) and He’s been on raw diet from when I got Him at about 2 months old. Very healthy, energetic, intelligent and playful – Just as I desired.
    I feed Him chicken wings mostly, and sometimes whole chicken), and beef with organ meat – I get them fresh from the butcher in the mornings. I also give Him some Fish and raw eggs (like twice a week on the average).
    I’d like to know if what I’m doing is ok going forward or if there are any things that You think I should add to what I am currently feeding Him.

    • Hi Peter,
      Congrats on your initial success with feeding your Maximus on a raw diet! From the description you give you are off to the right start, given there’s some variety and you are including organ meat plus fish and raw eggs. In addition, it’s important that you include fruit and vegetables (prepared appropriately) and some supplementing. The latter is needed to make up the nutrients, in particular omega-3 fatty acids that are important for brain and joint function, and cellular health.
      Please refer to the above article under the sub-heading, Preparing Raw Food for Your Dog. Read under “Fruit & Vegetables” and further down under, “Supplements”. After you add the above recommendations, Maximus should be getting the nutrition he needs!
      MM

  8. Would it be normal for gsd 18 month to get loose stools on raw diet.she is on it 5 days.i think i may have given her to much organ meat.

    • Hi Robbie,
      Many dogs react this way to a change of diet, even when switching to a better-quality one. That’s why it is recommended to make the transition gradually, over the course of several days. Given you’ve had your pup on raw food for 5 days already – and I don’t know whether you transitioned or switched 100% at one time – but either way, you might want to go back to the original diet, and then add 20%…30%…40% etc, raw over time.

      Let us know how you do!

      MM

  9. Hello sir , I have a four year old GSD recently I switch to Raw food after reading all your comments on pervious queries, still after feeing Raw food my dog shows zero energy he is too dull and not at all demanding for food even his hears are shedding too much.
    Please suggest me what to do for his better health.

    • Hello Sir,
      I’m concerned from what you tell me that there is something more going on here than the effects of an earlier diet. It would be advisable to see your vet, who will probably want to do blood tests to see if there are underlying problems.
      We cannot go beyond general recommendations here; and your case certainly warrants direct attention by a professional,

      Best regards,

      MM

  10. i am having a very cute and demon german of 3months ,was adopted 1month ago.dear when i adopted him he was very healthy and i was feeding him 5-6 times a day (royal canon mini starter dog food).some times wheat ,rice and curd were also given.
    His vaccination is completed now .now i used to feed him 5cups, 2-3 times a day but still i find him hungry.and 1time i gives him wheat or rice in meal as this is our tradition food.
    But i am observing that he is loosing his weight, he is continiously eating soil despite i am giving him calcium tablet and iron tonic syrup.and the other hand whenever he eats wheat he got loose motions.does wheat is not good for dogs??
    Please guide me what i feed my dog and how much is to be given.because i cant feed him raw meat ,reason of our some retiual faiths.
    Thanks

    • I will try and offer some helpful suggestions: Since you cannot give your dog raw meat you need to look at other ways to provide the important nutrition, and in particular the high protein that dogs need in their diet. I will give you some suggestions on some foods to try:
      1. Grains: Some of the most nutritious grains for dogs are, oatmeal, cornmeal, millet and bulgur. Oatmeal and bulgur are very high in protein; and millet is very high in iron. All of these must be cooked for the dog to digest them.
      2. Legumes: These are a way of providing high protein at low cost. Some of the best are split peas and lentils – these ones have thin skins, so do not need to be soaked; just cook them.
      3. I also recommend you try and find a high-quality commercial dry dog food that your pup likes. This is in order to provide some animal protein (meat). You can look at food review at DogFoodAdvisor.com to help you find good quality commercial foods that may be available to you.

      Keep in mind that German Shepherds do tend to have sensitive stomachs. Therefore, any new food you introduce, do so by giving just a small portion at first. As he accepts that, you can increase the amount.

      I hope the above info is helpful!

      Mark Mulock

  11. I have a 2 yr old long hairs German Shepard when I got him he has long beautiful fur and chubby as he got closer to 1 yr old he started loosing weight flakey skin under his stomach is thick leathery skin I’ve dried everything and came across this forum I want to feed him raw food to he get him healthy and happy again he’s still playful but is always scratching and crying everytime he scratches idk what else to do

    • Hi Heather,
      I believe you’ll see dramatic changes as you change your German Shepherd’s diet. Sometimes a switch to a better quality commercial food will do the job. But in our opinion the best approach is to go raw if you can.
      Remember to transition gradually from your dog’s current diet into the new one. GSD’s stomachs are often sensitive, so even when going from a less-good food to a superior one, you’ll need to change over a few days or a week.
      Let us know how it goes Heather!

      Mark Mulock

  12. I m so glad I found this site… I have a 50 days old gsd pup… And he weighs 3.1 kg… I was feeding him Royal canine which 70 grams 3 times a days and I switched to raw food after reading a lot of good things about it… But now his stools r loose and plus he goes only once a day… Should I be worried??? And plus he’s hungry and cries for more food right after eating… I m giving him 115 grams of chkn meat 3 times a day as he’s still a small pup… Should I add anything?? Or change any diet.. Any advice would help as I m a complete newbie to raw diet

    • Hi Medha: Congrats on your move to a raw diet. Regarding the situation you describe concerning your pup, here’s the first thing that comes to mind: Some dogs by nature seem to have sensitive stomachs, and this includes German Shepherds. Because of this, a change of diet, no matter how good the new one may be, can cause a disruption to the system. Therefore, with any change it is advisable to transition gradually from the old to the new.

      At the start of this transition you would choose proportions something like 20% new to 80% old, for the first several days, then increase the amount of new to 30% or 40%. Observe your dog’s progress and if the results are positive, just keep increasing the new while reducing the old.

      In your case, the question is how to approach the transition, given the steps you’ve already taken, and your pup’s reaction. I’d suggest you backtrack and do something like giving him a 50/50 proportion in each meal of old and new diet. Do it for a week. If his elimination processes get back to normal, then transition back to the full raw diet. If not, then go the other way and transition back to the original diet. In the latter case, after a gap of a week or two you can start again, but this time as recommended above, beginning with about 20% raw to 80% of the other.

      Let us know how you do Medha, and good luck!

      Mark M.

  13. hello i want to switch to raw diet for my pet. in your article you did not mention on how to prepare them for feeding. Meaning when out of the freezer it is frozen cold. how to you prepare the raw meat for consumption? Just plain defrost it by air or microwave? I am left guessing . please advice thanks

    Charles

    • Hi Charles: The best thing is to thaw in the fridge, and then after that at room temperature for an hour or two (as needed depending on the thickness of the chunks) immediately before feeding your pet. You can go straight to thawing and warming at room temperature; but the two-step approach – fridge first, after that, at room temperature – is a safer bet, reducing the possibility of spoiled meat. In the event that you are thawing more than a single meal portion, clearly you want to keep refrigerated anything not being used immediately.
      MM

  14. Hi there I just got my GSD Obi he’s 13 weeks old and we have decided to go on the raw food diet. He absolutely loves it and he is so much more keen to eat the raw than the dry food. I’ve literally been looking into every article I can find on raw feeding as my sister feeds her malamute raw and it was her who suggested raw to me, and so far they’ve all been very consistent. Thanks for being very specific with your supplementing advice as that’s the main thing I worry about. One other thing I’m worried about as that he hasn’t moved his bowels since we switched, is that something I should worry about or will that correct itself? It’s been 1 1/2 days since the switch. Oh well, We’ll see how he gets on and hopefully get our Lhasa on to raw as well.

    • Hi Emsy. Congrats on taking the plunge into raw food for your GSD. The first thing that comes to mind regarding his initial lack of bowel movements is that his body is assimilating much more of what he’s taking in (that’s just one of the many indicators of the superior nature of a raw diet). So, he has less to eliminate – but that said, he still needs to have some bowel movements. Most likely his normal, healthy pattern will resume of its own accord. Given the lag time between your inquiry and this response – my regrets – I’m optimistic that things are already back to normal. Incidentally, raw food does tend naturally to promote good elimination.

      Here are a couple of guidelines for a healthy approach to stimulating bowel movements, if help is still needed:
      1. Plenty of exercise, in addition to its other benefits, is one of the most helpful aids to good elimination.
      2. You can increase the amount of bulk in Obi’s diet by providing more fruit and vegetable. As noted in the our Raw Food article, the normal relative proportions are 75% combined meat, organs and bones to 25% combined fruits and vegetables (pureed or grated). So, you might for a time go to a 70/30 or 65/35 ratio. Then, return to the 75/25 mix once elimination is normal.

      Let us know how things are going!

      Mark M.

  15. my 6 year old GSD all of a sudden started having intestinal problems and the runs and lots of fur falling out when combed , and malting , and his fur looked dry , he was like a skeleton covered in fur , it was awful stroking him we tried so many specialist dry and wet foods , got the vet involved , who just kept giving us all sort of pills and running tests , nothing worked he just kept getting thinner and thinner ,

    then I discovered the raw food diet ,( stupidly at first I though how the hell can a dog eat raw meat , I know I can’t for obvious reasons) , but then it dawned on me , dogs in the wild don’t exactly go to the supermarket to get their food

    anyway 3 weeks later he’s actually eating , not walking away from the food , he’s put weight on , his fur is soft and shiny and not coming out like it used to even when combed , no more pills or diarrhoea and he’s not smelly , he’s now the equivalent to a human ”beef cake” so to speak and

    • Hi David,
      What an inspiring story! And, kudos to you for going ahead and trying the raw diet in spite of your reservations – frankly I wouldn’t blame yourself at all for your initial skepticism. Commercial interests in the pet industry have had a powerful effect over the years on the way people think about pet food. So most of us have at some point had to let go of ingrained ideas from the “experts”. Thankfully, an increasing number of people are getting on board with healthier feeding regimens.

      Thanks for sharing your experience (and forgive my belated response!)

      Mark Mulock

  16. Really informative and educative. Thinking of getting a GSD here in Nigeria and just researching on feeding benefits of raw feeding compared to commercialized feeding.

    Thanks again for this great write up.

    • A big pat on the back to you for doing your research! In our opinion, time spent on checking into the raw diet is time well spent. I wish you success if you decide to go ahead and get that GSD!
      Mark M.

    • Ben: For a mature GSD, twice a day is a recommended frequency of feeding. If for some reason he or she can only be fed once a day, morning would be best.

    • Tina, In my opinion some chicken wings as a treat for your dog is fine. Here are the cautions to observe: First, give the meat only, because chicken bones when cooked become brittle and hazardous for a dog to eat. Second, because cooked chicken does not constitute balanced nutrition for a dog, the bulk of your dog’s food should consist of a complete and balanced diet, whether commercial or home prepared with all necessary nutrients included.
      MM

  17. I have started feeding my 6 month female GSD a raw food diet which is commercially made about a week ago. Quite expensive, but I can’t see myself cutting up raw meat when I barely eat it myself. After trying every brand of grain free kibble on the market and throwing most of it out, I thought I’d give it a try. She absolutely loves the raw food. I have increased the amount I was told to give her to 3-4% of her body weight and seems to be doing better. I can’t believe the difference in her stool and the smell of her breath. She is thinning out which is a little concerning considering she was at her perfect weight. Is it alright to feed something else with the raw food diet. I do give her fish skins as treats. Any help for this newbie is appreciated.

    • Hi Karen,
      Congrats on the positive step in feeding raw food to your GSD! Don’t be concerned about the slimming down that you’ve noticed since starting the new diet. This is very normal with raw feeding. We are used to seeing a slightly bulkier look, representing the accepted ideal weight for a conventionally-fed dog. But that tends to change with raw. If you look at “How to do The Raw Dog Food Diet Right” video above, you’ll notice Mark Bewer’s dog has that same healthy, lean look.
      MM

  18. I have an almost 12 y/o female GSD and she is less and less interested in her dry kibble. But loves the chicken and homemade broth that I put in it. So I think I am going to give this a try. And up the glucosamine in other forms…

    • It’s not an unusual situation for a dog to prefer the table scraps. Tasty as human cooked food may be to a dog, she’ll not be healthy on such a diet even with a few supplements. My recommendation would be to switch to a high-quality commercial diet, with human food just as a side treat; or, go with a full raw diet, if you can budget for the prep time and expense.

  19. Hi
    I have been having issues with my female German shepherd who is 4yrs old. She has been itchy her hair is thinning and U.S. smelly. Had her to the the vets prescribed prednisone which she took stopped the itches and the smell, but once stopped back to the same again was thinkng about doing the raw food.

  20. Hi there,

    My name is jamie and I’m looking into getting a German shepherd but wanted to know what cost for raw feeding is per month, as well how much to feed.

    • Hi Jamie,
      For a raw food diet, go with 21/2 to 3% of your dog’s weight, for total food for a day. For pregnant or lactating female dogs the quantity should be increased by up to twice the normal amount. Puppies also should be fed more than the 2 1/2 to 3% amount. How much more you feed dogs in these two cases is a matter of judgement. You must observe their shape and weight and adjust as needed. Raw food is very well assimilated, hence the relatively low quantities. Feeding twice a day works well in most cases. As far as the cost, that’s something you’ll have to price out in your local area as you seek out the appropriate sources to supply your ingredients.
      MM

  21. Jake is about 6 months old, adopted him 2 months ago. He is doing excellent on raw diet, chicken, beef, etc. Lots of energy, super soft coat, shiny teeth. However, in the past 4 days, he has been drinking more water, urinating more, concerned if he is getting too much protein? Is there a phone number I could call, or give you mine? I want to make sure I am doing the right thing for him, since this process is new for me. I have studied and studied the process, and his weight is perfect, appears healthy, but increase urine and water, is a concern. Thank you in advance, Worried..Mona..

    • This is something you should take to the vet – I’d do so right away! This is because tests are in order. In the event it is a urinary tract infection, which is quite possible, there is the danger of kidneys and/or liver also being affected. So time is of the essence!

  22. We started our gsd on raw meat gradually after trying lots of other things for her allergies. Thank u for this information. We have seen a gradual improvement slow but sure. I think we r on the right track. We bought her from what we now know was a puppy mill. Her allergies are off the chart. This is the result of bad breeding practices. Advice: know your breeder.

    • Thanks for writing Becky. I’m glad you are starting to see an improvement with your pup’s health. Congrats for both the gumption to try raw food, and for giving a good home and nurture to a GSD that needed both!

      MM

  23. i am so thrilled to find this site. I have recently switched both my German shepherd dogs to a raw diet, and they both love it ! my male is 14 months and very thin, I am wondering if I can increase the normal percentages for him without a problem ? my 8 month old female is well within normal range for weight, so I think she is fine. I cannot tell you how vehemently opposed to the raw diet their veterinarian was/is…to the point where he actually told me I was trying to kill them feeding them bones !! also, he said my male would NEVER gain weight unless I started adding lots of CARBS to his diet !! dogs don’t need CARBS !! it was a very discouraging experience – so finding this wonderful site has come at exactly the right moment !! thank you so much for such great information and encouragement !!

    • Hi Vanessa. I’m glad to hear your German Shepherds are loving the raw food! Yes, you should increase quantities as needed for your 14-month-old until she’s a reasonable weight. At the same time, bear in mind that dogs fed on raw food will tend to be leaner than their non raw-fed counterparts. Like humans, dogs have varying metabolisms and food quantity requirements. I wish you the best; and please keep us posted!

      MM

  24. Good for you Marika! Please let us know how you are doing after a month or two. We might profile some success stories related to raw food in an upcoming blog post.

    MM

  25. Thank you for an informative article on raw food. I have been told by so many that this is not the way to go, but I am going to start my GSD on it this week after reading this and hopefully her allergy skin itch will stop.

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