Green Living

Why Your Pets Should Eat Raw Meat

We have a new member of our family! I’m excited to introduce you to Sadie Sev Ella (named by Penelope, who has a flair for extravagant pet names – she named her goldfish Mowanda, Shoshawnda and Coral this summer). She is a pure-bred Boston Terrier and just turned 9 weeks old. Sadie is the sweetest little girl and we are so happy to have another dog in our family, and Penelope is thrilled to be a big sister! For the last year, she has asked us for a baby sister and a puppy EVERY DAY. We aren’t able to give her a baby yet, but we are so happy to be able to give her a puppy to love! Sadie is on the smaller side for her breed, she was the runt of the litter and her mama is on the small side. After having a big pit bull for so long, it’s so weird having a tiny dog underfoot, but she is already such a joy.

Our beloved Sky dog died this time last year and our hearts were broken. He was only 11 years old and we hoped to have several more years with him. We still miss Sky dearly. I bet he would have really loved Miss Sadie.

Sky was a well-loved and cared for dog, but he was our first pet and there are lots things we could have done differently. We are  excited to get a chance to do things differently with our new puppy Sadie.

One of the things we are doing differently is to give her RAW food.

I really hope that by feeding her the way dogs are meant to eat, we will ensure her a long and healthy life. Processed, dry pet food has only been on the market for 100 years and it is not good for dogs to eat that way. 

It’s kind of like how humans should limit their grains. Humans haven’t always eaten grains and our bodies’ processes haven’t caught up yet. And to top it off, the grains of today are in no way similar to the original grains humans first started growing and eating, nor do we prepare them properly these days either. Dogs and cats certainly haven’t made the evolutionary jump from being designed to eat raw meat to being able to digest grains.

Pets’ digestive systems are unable to process grains and of course almost all commercial pet foods have grains in it (it’s a cheap filler to drive up the pet food companies profit margin), not to mention questionable meat products and all kinds of processed fillers, preservatives and chemicals. All this crap going into your pets’ bodies puts enormous strain on their digestion and overall health. They are in a constant state of inflammation and eventually pathology (disease) manifests. I am convinced that Sky’s diet, in combination with overvaccination, is what gave him cancer at such an early age.

Simply put, raw food diets for dogs provide nutrition the way nature intended it, just like my dog’s ancestors ate. Cooking meat causes proteins to denature (think of shattering a glass vase and then gluing it all back together – it’s not the same glass vase). Proteins, vitamins and minerals are all more bio-available in the raw state, and that means your dog can better absorb these nutrients.

Feeding your pet raw food will heal allergy symptoms, provide them with healthy skin and coat, help them maintain a healthy weight, have smaller/firmer stools, cleaner teeth and breath, and increased energy and vitality.

What about salmonella, you ask? Well, the bottom line is that your pet’s GI tract is full of potentially harmful bacteria whether you feed raw foods or the processed stuff. In other words, your pet is already ‘contaminated’ with salmonella. Dry pet food (and other food from the grocery store) has potential to contain salmonella. Everything we eat does. It’s just a fact of life. Getting good food from local sources will greatly deminish the possibility of a salmonella outbreak, as well as just plain common sense and cleanliness in your home kitchen.

Dogs and cats are built to handle bacterial loads from food that would cause significant illness in you or me. Your dog’s or cat’s stomach is highly acidic, with a pH range of 1-2.5. Not much can survive that acidic environment – it exists to keep your pet safe from contaminated raw meat and other consumables. Remember, your pet’s body is well equipped to deal with heavy doses of both familiar and strange bacteria because nature built him to catch, kill, and immediately consume his prey.

baby puppy 3 weeks

About 8 years ago is when I first heard about raw food for dogs, I had read a bunch of holistic medicine and nutrition books. After that research, I stopped vaccinating Sky and began to make his food. I couldn’t yet handle the idea of giving him raw meat and thought that giving him good, grain-free cooked food would be healthy enough (don’t get me wrong, it was certainly an improvement from run-of-the-mill dry pet food). He also received raw egg yolk several times a week, a daily probiotic, and cod liver oil. Once Penelope was born, I no longer had time to cook his meals, so we switched to organic, grain-free canned dog food and still kept up his supplements.

But it wasn’t enough. He still died of cancer at almost 11 years old. A cancer that had taken over his whole body and caused him a lot of pain and suffering. If I could do it all over again, I would have sucked it up and switched to raw meat the moment I first heard about it. I wish I had gotten over my fear of handling raw meat for the sake of my dog’s health.

Don’t make the same mistake. Switch to raw meat today.

I was so lucky to find an open-minded breeder who, at our request, actually gave Sadie the raw food as her first food before she even came home to us – so her gut is pristine. While Sadie dog is a puppy, we are giving her Primal Pet Food. There is a natural pet store near us with frozen raw dog food in their freezer section. I thaw a small serving and feed her three times a day. As she gets older, I will start introducing cuts of raw meat with the bone. Raw bones are super important in a raw food diet.

Right now we are also supplementing her raw meat diet with raw goats milk – she is not a fan of water, but loves goat milk. Raw goats milk is a great substitution for breastmilk for puppies who are abandoned, not getting enough from mama, or as a transitional food during the weaning process. In the wild, wolves actually feed their puppies regurgitated raw meat as they wean off breastmilk.

But you can’t just give your dog a bowl of raw ground beef and call it a day. Other healthy pet tips ideas:

  1. Give your pet a daily probiotic.
  2. Don’t overvaccinate your pet, except for the ones required by law (and sometimes even those you can skirt by getting a letter of exemption from your vet). Same with humans, if you keep your immune system healthy and put good food in your body, your body is capable of fighting bacteria, viruses, and diseases. I stopped vaccinating Sky when he was about 3 or 4, but am happy that we know better now and Sadie will not be overexposed to harmful vaccinations. We are choosing to do Parvo and Distemper since we love to travel and go on long hikes, but we are delaying these vaccinations – she will not get Parvo until 16 weeks and Distemper at 20 weeks. We will have to keep her pretty close to home before then. We will wait till the very last moment for rabies, she will get that vaccination at 8 months of age. You can also ask your vet to give your pet half a dose. Most vets routinely give the same size vaccination to a 20 pound dog that they do a 50 pound dog, there is no reason for a small dog to have to process out that much toxins.
  3. Consider a Holistic Vet. The vet we have chosen is a traditional vet AND an acupuncture doctor. Very similar to our own healthcare for the humans in my family, we treat naturally first and pull out the big guns only when absolutely necessary. This vet is also gives homeopathic treatments with vaccinations, so you get what you need from the vax and then the homeopathic treatment helps the body handle the stress of the toxins.
  4. In addition to raw meat and bones diet, add raw egg yolks, cod liver oil, and bone broth to their food twice a week.
  5. Exercise your pet often. So much of what makes a dog happy is being walked and exercised. I learned that the hard way with Sky, too. Once Penelope arrived, the time we spent exercising him dropped off considerably and it was hard on him. Like any second time parent, we are going to do better now that we know better. 🙂 Quick tip: If you can only fit in a short walk for your bigger dog, try having him wear a weighted backpack for more of a workout and gives him a sense of having a “job” to do.
  6. Read Cesar Milan, The Dog Whisperer books. I have now read three of his books, they are all phenomenal. Just like you need education to be a great human parent, becoming a dog parent is the same. Take that shit seriously, and do your research.

For more research on feeding dogs raw meat, check out this book. 

So what do you think? Do you have any concerns about feeding your pet raw meat? Or are you ready to dive in and make the change?

You Might Also Like

  • Adriana
    January 9, 2014 at 3:37 PM

    We are proud parents of 4 dogs; 3 Mini-Schnauzers (2 are 8 years old and one is 2) and one standard Schnauzer that is 4 months old. The baby came from a very well-known breeder in California and only eats raw food. We switched the other boys to raw instantly – we were amazed at how much it changed them! Their coats shine, their bad breath is gone and the tartar in their teeth disappeared in just a few days! No diarrhea, no constipation. And they absolutely love it! Recently a friend of ours from Illinois that is a mama of 2 German Shepherds had trouble with one of them not wanting to eat their dry food anymore. She switched to raw and says she will never go back 🙂

  • Selah
    January 9, 2014 at 5:17 PM

    My 7.5 year old Newfie has been on raw since we brought him home at 9 weeks and his health is amazing. I include a number of supplements but have never given him a probiotic. Which one do you recommend for dogs?
    Also, thanks for spreading the word on this topic- I am passionate about raw feeding and the benefits it provides for our pets!

    • Stephanie
      January 13, 2014 at 3:19 AM

      Right now I am just giving her some of the same that I give Penelope. I will do more research to see if there is a more dog specific one that is truly necessary but I think that giving her what I give Penelope is just fine. Glad to hear your dogs health is so great!!

  • Heather H
    January 9, 2014 at 5:36 PM

    Love! I have two Boston Terriers and they are the best dogs ever!

  • April
    January 9, 2014 at 6:21 PM

    What is the cost of a raw food diet for an adult dog as compared to a quality grain-free dog food? I don’t have a dog (mine passed at 16 years), but cost is a consideration for many people. Your pup is adorable.

    • Stephanie
      January 13, 2014 at 3:20 AM

      Sorry to hear about your dog, always so sad, but how wonderful you got 16 years with him! You know I am not sure. I should look into that for a future follow up post. I think that buying raw food from a company like Primal, is more expensive that buying the meat yourself and portioning it out.

  • Kristin S.
    January 9, 2014 at 7:44 PM

    I’m curious how much it costs to feed your dog(s) raw meat, per pound and per month.
    Eating 100% real food (and grain-free) means my family devotes far more money to food than to any other part of our budget, and it’s only sustainable for us by buying whole pastured pigs, sides of beef, 30 chickens at a time and keeping an elaborate freezer inventory. It took us several years to convert over to this quality of meat, as our family has grown along with our healthy intentions. I agree that keeping pets healthy is important, but not as important as feeding our fellow people. I couldn’t justify buying meat for our dog as long as we live in a world plagued by human hunger (no one has to go far to find a need). I’ve felt guilty about how much food, health and warmth my family enjoys compared to those in need. Readers, that’s the shit we should take seriously before pampering our pets! I could never justify buying meat for our dog. We give her a safe home, good care and lots of love, and she’s healthy so far, thankfully.

    • Stephanie
      January 13, 2014 at 3:31 AM

      I am not sure yet, I will have to do a follow up post soon. But I do know that when we made the decision to add a dog to our family, we budgeted (what most families would consider a large amount of money to spend on a dog) for health care and food for her-money that is disposable income for our family after tithing. At this point in our lives, we would never bring in a pet into our family if we couldn’t afford to give them the absolute best quality food and care. We would rather go without having a pet, if it meant feeding them run of the mill dry dog food. I don’t consider giving my dog raw meat pampering, it’s just how they are meant to be eating.

  • nicole
    January 9, 2014 at 7:56 PM

    We started our chocolate lab puppy on raw meat for about a year to give him a good healthy start and we still supplement raw meat and bones quite often. The bones and cartilage are an important part of their diet as is organs (heart, liver etc are important to add) . Everything your dog would have eaten in the wild. Duck eggs are also very good along with chicken eggs. My family hunts so our dogs are blessed with several other types of wild game meat and bones. If you know someone that hunts , ask them to save the scraps (fat and all) after processing and all of the organs and bones they won’t use. Good luck on your venture!

    • Stephanie
      January 13, 2014 at 3:24 AM

      How cool! Thanks!

  • Jill
    January 9, 2014 at 9:59 PM

    Raw is the Best way to feed your dog or cat. Period. They are able to digest and utilize it unlike kibble. There are a lot of people who may not agree but animals get sick too. Often cats get diabetes because people feed them dry food and cats don’t have a strong thirst drive for water. Animals get cancer and a lot of the same diseases eating the wrong foods just like we do. IF you can afford it your dog should have a healthier life. Second would be a high quality dog food, wet food, grain free. And RAW bones are ok. It’s when you cook them that splinters form. Research research research. I feed my cat raw salmon and raw chicken. But he also gets kibble, grain free with meat as the first ingredient. I do what I can afford. I’ve read somewhere that the same meat/ animal protein everyday isn’t good so you may want to research that . Good luck with your newest family member!

    • Stephanie
      January 13, 2014 at 3:24 AM

      Totally. Yes, variation is key. I plan to start introducing new things soon, but wanted to get her fully adjusted to being away from her dog family and weaned completly before adding anything else in.

  • Jessica
    January 9, 2014 at 10:04 PM

    We have already made the switch. My dog’s health was getting really bad. He was becoming covered in these mysterious lumps. I knew in my heart what it was. Our family had already made a switch to eating more raw foods. And I figured it was silly of me to keep feeding him that crap in a bag. I would never eat it myself. He actually begged me for our sprouts one day. That was when I just dove in and figured he’d tell me the rest. His lumpy dumpies are going a way, quickly. And his cataracts is improving too. He can run up the stair now. I’m so glad his health is improving. We lost our other dog to cancer. Of course I kick myself now, but at least I learned in enough time to help the other one.

    • Stephanie
      January 13, 2014 at 3:22 AM

      That is so awesome your dog is healing!

  • Liz
    January 10, 2014 at 2:22 AM

    I LOVE Sadie! So cute! I have a Boston named Betsy who is 2.5 years old. Thanks for this post. I will definitely look into a raw meat diet. Currently, she is eating Science Diet dog food. I look forward to seeing more Sadie posts:)

    • Stephanie
      January 13, 2014 at 3:18 AM

      Thanks Liz! I love her too! So glad she has joined our family.

  • Jennifer
    January 10, 2014 at 10:18 PM

    we feed our two pups grain free diets with lots of raw eggs and additional proteins such as broths but do not feed raw exclusively because we, as a family simply cannot afford it. the pups (6 mos) are really so much more healthy than any other dogs I’ve ever had. it’s truly amazing to see the difference. We do vaccinate pretty aggressively because of where we live and because of our lifestyle (these are hunting and show pups). having said that, we still do not follow the whole schedule. Being an informed and educated consumer is a full time job sometimes, but the outcome, as you’ve stated is definitely more promising than not doing so,

    • Stephanie
      January 13, 2014 at 3:15 AM

      For real! I have spent so much time researching and getting ready for this puppy, but I know it will be worth it. I know I was thinking the other day, Sadie is less than 3 pounds and eats about 3 ounces of raw food a day (not including her goats milk) and I can imagine that feeding a great dane would be much more expensive!!

  • [email protected]
    January 11, 2014 at 5:19 AM

    Saving this post. We had a dog with skin and allergy problems, and I always wish I had done more, knew more, etc. Looking forward to doing a better job the next time, armed with this information. Thank you soooo much!

    • Stephanie
      January 13, 2014 at 3:13 AM

      You are so welcome! I know, looking back, when Sky was a puppy he had all kinds of skin allergies and issues. I know it would have all been eliminated if I had just known better! Ugh, but like you, just gotta live and learn.

  • Karis
    January 11, 2014 at 6:48 AM

    I am the proud mummy of a raw food eating 18 month old Australian Kelpie. She is the love of my life! When we first got her I researched all about what the best food was for her and was informed by our breeder of a specific dry food. For 8 weeks I fed her on this mix, thinking I was doing the best thing for my gorgeous new puppy. I started to notice that she was always itching and that her skin looked a bit flakey and dry in patches. It took 4 separate trips to different vets to confirm she had mange (which is what I had been telling the vets I thought it was.) The vet that finally confirmed it told me all about feeding your pet on a raw food diet. As soon as I walked out the door of that clinic I spent days researching. What had I been doing! How could I have been feeding my puppy this…. rubbish. I immediately changed her diet to completely 100% raw. I noticed a difference in 1 week. An interesting thing I also noticed was that she didn’t drink anywhere near as much water as she was getting so much from her new diet. (I can now always tell a biscuit eating dog by the amount of water they seem to lap up.) Long story short, I am now a complete natural pet health advocate. I don’t vaccinate her or put any flea/tick treatments on her. I use garlic in safe quantities to ward off parasites and she is living a super healthy life in Northern Western Australia. Every morning I make myself a green juice with heaps of different vege’s. I keep the pulp and rehydrate it with water to add to her meat for her dinner. She loves it! There is never a scrap left in the bowl. Cheers to happy raw food puppy dogs!

    • Stephanie
      January 13, 2014 at 3:12 AM

      Well good for you for doing better when you know better! What a lucky pup you have! Good call about adding garlic…I chopped up a bunch of garlic today and I was tempted to put a tiny bit it and start getting her used to it, but then I got too busy…will have to do it soon. So you don’t vaccinate at all? Do you travel or does your dog only stay in your yard?

  • Becky
    January 21, 2014 at 8:29 PM

    I’m glad to hear you’ve started your pup off on the right food with raw food.

    There’s two things I’d like to mention after reading your article and the comments section; Ceasar’s methods (while showy and exciting on TV) are not the best training methods to use. Unfortunately his method is based on faulty science that has since been disproven, and actually regretted publicly by it’s founder (Dr. David Mech). I’d suggest looking into positive methods, such as those suggested by Victoria Stilwell (

    Also, garlic can be extremely toxic to dogs, so before you give you new (very sensitive) boston puppy ANY I’d suggest speaking to your vet. You mentioned a holistic vet in the post and they’d have the best answer about safe limits.

    Congrats on the new puppy 🙂

    • Stephanie
      January 22, 2014 at 2:01 AM

      Thanks Becky, that’s a good point, I should have been more clear, I don’t do any of his training that requires choke collars and things like that. But I do love his whole philosophy about being the pack leader and staying in a calm/assertive energy.

  • McKenzie
    February 9, 2014 at 2:22 AM

    Hi Stephanie!
    I absolutely love this post! It can get a bit frustrating when so many people in my life don’t understand Raw dog food and even try to sneak our baby dry dog food when we are out of town! We can always tell because our Sheila will be itchy and have little scab-ish looking spots randomly on her body. I wish I could have stayed away from the vaccines but we adopted her from a shelter after she was about 9 months old. Not coincidentally, she was in there with a bad skin issue and we weren’t allowed to officially adopt her (only “foster” her) until it was healed. Magically, that happened right when we switched to the raw food! So thankful that options like that are on the market and that other owners are becoming aware of the relationship between diet and health issues!
    Sometimes I get nervous because we don’t have her on tick medicine but she is never in the types of areas for ticks but I think I would like to get her on a heart guard type if they have a natural one. If not, the new company I just got hired with, Energetix, has a lot of products that work on dogs for those types of issues. I even read a story about a lady who was able to get rid of her dogs tumor using their Phyto Rad Antioxident! I wish I could have discovered that one year ago when our dog Lily died from a tumor at only six and a half! But you live and you learn and now we know better for our dog/child Sheila
    Thanks for posting <3

  • ashley
    February 28, 2015 at 2:38 AM

    Hi I just got a 2 year old pit bull three months ago who was abused she is really good with our one year old son. The person who had her last said that they rescued her she was starved and beaten. She was skin and bones when we got her we were feeding her dry food but she seamed like she was not gaming any weight so we switched to raw meat two days ago. I hope this will help her gain the weight back

  • Sharon Teichera
    August 18, 2016 at 6:13 PM

    What raw meat do you feed your dogs. My maltipoo seems to love hamburger .
    What other meat can you feed raw???

  • Tina
    September 1, 2016 at 6:45 PM

    I have been entertaining the idea of switching my puppy to raw, and would not be hesitant at all if it weren’t for my 12 month old toddler. It seems every toy on the floor is communally no matter how hard I try to keep them separate, puppy kisses on the mouth, some serious sharing going on. My biggest fear is my toddler getting sick as a result of the raw diet.
    What precautions do you take given that you, too, have a little one in the house?