We get a lot of questions from family and friends about the unique diet that we have our dog on, so I thought I’d post a little about it. It’s been a while since I’ve posted and with not too many positive things to post, I thought this would be fitting. We have Penny Lane on a raw meaty wholesome diet. It all started in 2007 with that whole dog food scare where multiple brands were being recalled and that whole ordeal. We had just gotten this brand new puppy, we were new puppy parents, and didn’t know what to do! Our dog’s food was poison? What?! That is absurd! All these companies that we trust to make our animals’ food! So, we searched online for recipes on how to make our own dog food. Little did we know that we’d be embarking (pun intended) on such a new, different, and ever so rewarding way to feed our dog and change the way she ate forever!
My mom had mentioned that she heard a special on NPR about this “Raw Meaty Bone” diet that a veterinarian in Australia had “come up with” (I say that with quotes as I know dogs have been eating raw meat and bones since the beginning of their existence) for feeding dingoes. This intrigued me. Feeding my dog RAW meat? Won’t she get sick? What about salmonella? What about the bones? Is that safe? Are you sure? I had all these burning questions but was even more intrigued on finding out how this wholesome diet worked. I’ve never known a dog to eat anything other than dog food so I had no idea it wasn’t actually GOOD for them.
So, I dove a little deeper, my dog wasn’t a dingo so I wasn’t sure this was the diet for her. I scoured the internet looking for more information on feeding a domesticated animal this way. I found many many websites from veterinarians, breeders, and animal lovers galore with information on this. I couldn’t get enough information, it was fascinating! I read probably 10-15 of them and found my favorite one which has been my bible for Penny’s diet ever since.
Basically, dogs don’t get sick from raw meat like we do. They have special enzymes in their stomachs to help aid with digestion (just as we do for various things) and keep them from getting sick. No, they can’t get salmonella! Pheww, what a relief. In fact, dogs can find some old rotting, rancid carcus in the wild and have at it! And raw bones? Won’t they splinter and get stuck in their throats and intestines? Nope. Raw bones are soft. Have you ever scraped a chicken bone with your finger nail? You can scrape bone right off of it! And not only can they eat and digest them, but they are good for them, too! They help keep their teeth clean and strong and keep them from getting too “soft” in their old age which is what happens to a lot of dogs who eat too much wet food out of the can.
But why? Why is this diet any better for them than dog food? For one, dog food is cooked to temperatures up to 2000 degrees! And with temperatures like that, there goes the nutritional value, too! Sure, I know, dogs will go their whole lives on commercial dog food and get fat and the whole nine yards, they’re not starved, RIGHT?! Wrong. I learned that animals that eat a commercial pet food diet are starved for nutrition! Their eating commercial pet food is like us living off of the worst fast food chain. Sure, it will sustain us and keep our stomachs full, but it’s sure as hell not good for us!
Anyways, so there were way more pros than cons that we found so we decided to give it a try. The cons were that it was expensive and time consuming. We found that the price is about double the cost of dog food per month. Just as eating healthy for us humans is about double, sometimes triple the cost! But hey, we don’t have any kids and so we decided we wanted the best for Penny. (Oh and the cats but we can’t get them to touch the stuff!) We raised her on the diet from the time she was about 3 months old, but then a year and a half later we stopped. We were both going to school full time, I worked full time, money was tight, and just couldn’t keep up with it. She ate commerical dog food for another 2 years until just recently we started feeding her the diet once again.
Some of the benefits we found when we first started her on the diet was that it de-wormed her naturally! We took her to a dog beach (never again!) in Del Mar, CA when she was about 2 1/2 months old and she came back with worms. We had read that this was one of the benefits of the diet and so when we put her on it we were hopeful that it would work. It did! Within a week she had no more worms. She went through some detox, just as any animal would when changing their diet so drastically. Her pee smelled wretched (like dead fish!) and her skin flaked up a STORM. She was already a little flaky when we got her but she really flaked up once she started on this diet. About a month later she was clear of any signs of detox! No more flakes and in fact her coat was even more beautiful than before. Shiny! And the biggest benefit for US, other than seeing this happy, healthy beautiful dog was that her poop shrunk to about 1/2 the normal size. And that’s because she wasn’t eliminating all the filler from the dog food anymore. She was using up most of the nutrients in her food and then only eliminating some. It’s awesome. I would take a picture of before and after but that probably wouldnt’ be too appealing to anybody. Just trust me on this one. This last time we started it we only noticed a little bit of flaking behind her ears for about a month and then that was it. I couldn’t tell you about the pee stench because she pees outside in the dirt now, not in the middle of the kitchen as she did when she was a puppy!
With her diet of ground hamburger meat (with the highest fat % we can find), processed veggies, cottage cheese, and honey, she gets some food supplements. Just as we need vitamins, so do animals! So we feed her a lot of supplements, though really the most important one is calcium. So, if you ever consider a diet like this for your pet and the price of the supplements scares you away, don’t worry, buy only the calcium and your animal will still be okay. We feed her calcium (from egg shell powder), an enzyme supplement that contains liver and pancreas to help aid in digestion and provides probiotics, a glandular supplement to help nourish her glands and organs, another glandular supplement which primarily focuses on helping the kidneys and heart function better (since most pets who have eaten commercial pet foods will probably have weak kidneys or at least be more susceptible to kidney problems so says my fav website), an organic green food supplement to similate our carnivore friends eating the digestive tracts of prey in the wild (which is where they get so many important vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, chlorophyll, and valuable phytonutrients), and last but not least we add an ionic trace mineral supplement to her water (and the cats) which provides her with trace minerals, aka, the “spark plugs” of life that play a vital role in every cellular process.
There’s no real “recipe” when feeding her. You basically just need to worry about ratios. 2:1 is what we use for Penny. However much meat we feed her, we feed her half that amount in vegetables. When we first started the diet we just had to make her a huge meal and let her eat and eat until she was full. I know, sounds crazy. But she was starved for nutrition so it was important to let her eat until she was full so that her body could start to detox from the commercial pet food. Now I find that 1-1.5 pounds of ground beef, or a chicken thigh+drumstick and then her veggies and supplements is enough. We usually just feed her once a day, but if we start to notice that she is hungry (yes we can tell when she’s hungry) we will feed her twice. I try to be good on the weekend and spend a few hours one of the days chopping veggies and processing them and then dividing up all of her meat in plastic zip loc tupperware containers so that her food is all made for the week and we just have to add some hot water (to simultate a fresh kill) and wah lah! Some weekends I am not so good so we are stuck making her a meal every night. We usually only feed her chicken once a week to keep her teeth and gums healthy and clean because it’s kind of messy as she has to chew on it for quite some time in order to eat it. Luckily, we don’t have any babies or small children running around the house that we have to worry about them touching the floor after she is done and getting salmonella or anything.
So there you have it. I know I didn’t include everything because I can’t think of everything off the top of my head. But if you have any questions, I’d be glad to try to answer them. I’m no expert. I only have my one dog. But I do this because I love her and I’ve seen first hand the benefits of it. The time and money that it takes to do this diet is more than worth it at the end of the day. Plus, it’s really kind of magical. You lovingly put this lavish meal together for your dog while she sits patiently waiting and licking her lips, which she then devours and once she’s done she comes up to you, lays her head on your leg and just looks up at you with these eyes that say “THANK YOU”. That’s why it’s all worth it and why we do it.