Raw Diet For Dogs: Can Your Dog’s Health Improve?

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Bowl of raw meat: raw diet for dogsRaw dog food diets are controversial. While some think this is the way dogs were meant to eat before dogs became our pets, others think dry dog food is the correct diet for our four-legged fur balls. In this article, we’re going to lay out the facts about raw food diets for dogs so you can draw your own conclusion about whether this diet is good or bad for dogs.

What Is a Raw Food Diet for Dogs?

A raw dog food diet emphasizes raw meat (often muscle and organ meat), whole or crushed bones, fruits, vegetables, raw eggs and some dairy. Raw diets started with racing greyhounds and sled dogs. It wasn’t until more recently, in 1993, when Australian veterinarian Ian Billinghurst proposed extending these diets to family dogs. He called this the BARF diet for dogs, which stands for Bones and Raw Food or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. He suggested dogs would flourish on BARF dog food since this is how they ate prior to being domesticated. He argued that commercial pet foods were harmful to the health of dogs. However, many vets and the FDA disagree with Billinghurst’s views.

Billinghurst and his supporters say the benefits include:

  • shinier coats
  • healthier skin
  • cleaner teeth
  • more energy
  • smaller stool

Risks include:

  • bacteria in raw meat pose a threat to dog and human health
  • if given whole bones they are a threat for choking, breaking teeth or causing internal punctures

Transitioning Your Dog from Dry Food to Raw

It’s important to remember that transitioning your dog to a different diet is a slow process. Below is a rough schedule you can use for this dietary shift. If you notice your dog isn’t feeling well, you should go back a day and proceed slower. For example, if your dog struggles with 1/2 serving, shift back to 1/4 serving for another day or two and then move forward.

Another thing we’d like to mention is that raw diets are only safe for dogs 12 weeks and older.

  • Day 1: give your dog only water, no food
  • Day 2: 1/4 of raw diet serving and 3/4 of regular diet
  • Day 3: 1/2 of raw diet serving and 1/2 of regular diet
  • Day 4: 3/4 of raw diet serving and 1/4 of regular diet
  • Day 5: full raw diet serving size

The daily serving size should be broken into two meals per day: one in the morning and one in the evening.

How to Determine Serving Size

We found this online raw dog food serving size calculator to help you know how much to feed your dog, or at least give you a starting point.

Learn more about a Raw diet in this video:

Raw Dog Food Recipes

Want to get your dog started on a raw diet? Here is a recipe you can try out.


  • 2 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 4 oz chicken livers
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 small apple, cored
  • 1/2 c baby spinach
  • 2 whole eggs (including shell)
  • 1/2 c plain yogurt
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil


Put carrot, apple and spinach in food processor. Process until finely chopped. Add remaining ingredients except beef and process until well combined. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and add the beef until well mixed. Form into patties the size of your palm and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Freeze patties and transfer to a storage container and keep frozen. Remove patties the night before and place in refrigerator to thaw before serving. Check out this video to learn more:

Raw Dog Food Brands

Give Your Dog A BoneBillinghurst’s book, Give Your Dog a Bone, has sparked commercially processed raw dog food diets to help pet parents who are short on time. These foods are freeze-dried or frozen to maintain their nutrients. They consist of grains, vitamins and vegetables. The pet owner purchases raw meat separately and adds it to the mix. Below is a list of the best raw dog food brands:

Why are you considering feeding your dog a raw diet?

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Growing up, Kimberly used to get the sniffles when she was around dogs. Thankfully, she grew out of her allergy and is now able to play and snuggle with dogs as much as she wants! She and her husband adopted Sally, a four-year-old hound mix, in early 2017, and she has brought so much joy into their lives. Life as pet parents has been very rewarding.

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One of my pugs had a terrible coat with dandruff and bald patches when I adopted him (18 months old). Official allergy testing yielded 14 different foods he was allergic to, including fish, rice, beets, carrots, spinach, corn, cow’s milk, potatoes, sweet potatoes, turkey, etc. So, I started him on raw meat from a butcher with USDA inspected (for animals) meat. I also cooked him an organic egg white omelet with green beans,green peas, and other “legal” vegetables in coconut oil. In addtion, he gets Primal Frozen raw nuggets. His coat now is shiny (he’s a black pug), no dandruff, and he seems to thrive on it. He just turned 12. I have a younger pug (adopted age 4, now 6) who was a show quality pug and show pug momma. She’s itchy and attacks her feet. Her muzzle is very flat, and she had surgery to help her breathe better. I put her on mostly raw, mixed with her Earthborn Weight Control kibble as a transition from her previous owner’s diet. She is allergic to wheat and kangaroo (!). Unfortunately, she still is itchy, so I’m trying to figure that out. It may be her breeding–show pugs are somewhat “deformed” in my opinion, so her genetics may be part of the problem.
I think you always have to look at both sides of the argument. Yes, there is always the potential that there are harmful things in raw dog food. But, if one were to look at the ingredients in dry or canned dog food, they would be appalled. The chemicals in those foods are incredible and often more harmful to dogs than people understand. I made the switch to raw dog food after my dogs just didn’t want to eat dry food anymore. I started ordering food online and its been an amazing switch. My dogs have never been sick from the food, they have shinier coats and healthier teeth. I would recommend it to anyone who is considering the switch and has a high energy dog.
What brand are you ordering online, if I may ask?
Please don’t use this kind of language in this forum. Not only is it improper, it makes you both appear ignorant.
Ew, I would NEVER give my dog raw food!
You’re probably a disgusting unhealthy person who knows nothing about nutrition.
Grow up Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I am all for RAW think it is the only diet for my pets. Keeps them healthier and I know exactly what they are eating. No roadkill or floor sweepings for my pets, only free range hormone and antibiotic free meats.
But it is just ew to others and that is ok too.
Margaret Montalvo
You may not eat meat. Canines of all walks of life started eating raw food. Don’t be so ignorant.