Have you ever wondered what the big deal is about this so called species-appropriate diet, and what the benefits of raw dog food actually are?
What people who switched their dogs from kibble to raw say about the benefits of raw dog food:
In preparation for this blog post, I did a little digging around the raw feeding scene to see what people had to say about their pups after they switched them from kibble to raw.
These are the most common phrases they used:
- Dogs are lean and muscular
- No health problems
- Improved joint health
- Pumped about eating
- Fur stays shiny and soft
- Solid, odorless stools
- No allergies
- Dogs can’t wait to eat
- No more scratching or itching
- Dogs have silkier fur
- Whiter teeth
- Better energy level
So as this list suggests, there’s a ton of benefits, and I’ve seen them ALL, from a strengthened immune system to clean teeth and a drastic decrease in allergies.
My own experience as a raw feeder: 5+ years of experiencing the benefits of raw dog food
I’ve been feeding raw dog food since 2015, began making my own in 2016, and got my certification as a raw dog food nutrition specialist from Dogs Naturally Magazine in early 2020.
That said, I have personally witnessed the power of raw dog food in my own 3 dogs, 2 Boxer mixes and 1 Feist mix. All 3 were kibble-fed before I started them on raw.
With Missy & Buzz, my Boxer mixes, I didn’t know any better when I adopted them at 8 weeks of age, and fed them kibble and wet dog food for the first 3.5 years of their lives. That’s when Missy was diagnosed with cancer, and I found out about raw dog food.
When I adopted my new pup Wally, he was a little over 1 year old and had been fed kibble. I immediately switched him over to raw dog food because he was an itchy mess.
The benefits of raw dog food in my 3 dogs Missy, Buzz, and Wally:
The vast majority of dogs will LOVE and eagerly devour their raw dog food! This was definitely the case with my 3 pups.
No surprise with Missy and Wally because they’re both secretly Labs at heart. As in they’ll devour ANYTHING that makes it into their bowls, regardless of whether it’s kibble, wet, or raw dog food.
Buzz however was a different story. He was always my SUPER picky eater back when I fed him kibble. I constantly had to figure out ways to get him to eat and switch brands as well as flavors within the brands. But once I offered him raw dog food, this changed. All of a sudden, he couldn’t get to his meals fast enough and he’s NEVER turned down a raw meal.
My point here is that unless dogs are truly kibble addicts, they will love eating their raw dog food! More on kibble addicts in my blog post Your Dog Doesn’t Want to Eat his Raw Dog Food? Try These Easy Hacks.
Less Vet Bills
Recently, I took Dr. Dee Blanco’s, DVM, “Feeding Fresh Course (Part 1): How to Feed Your Pet Real Food”. She’s a holistic veterinarian who is a passionate advocate of feeding fresh, raw dog (& cat) food.
I really enjoyed a phrase she used to describe one of the major benefits of feeding raw dog food, the fact that you’ll be paying MUCH less in vet bills. She said: “pay the grocer or pay the doctor”.
I couldn’t agree more! Since I started feeding my pups raw, I’ve spent a lot less money AND time at the vet’s because the pups are healthy!
Of course I still took Missy & Buzz, and now Wally, for their yearly wellness exams, but I no longer have to dish out money for allergy medication, ear cleaning products and/or teeth cleaning procedures.
Soft, shiny coats
I first experienced the difference in coats with my Boxer mixes Missy and Buzz. I always thought that they had nice looking coats when they ate kibble and made sure to brush them almost daily.
It wasn’t until I started feeding them fresh, raw dog food that I saw what a healthy dog coat actually looks and feels like. It’s shinier and feels a lot fuller. Their previous coats looked dull and felt thin in comparison.
No more dog smell
The benefit of switching from kibble to raw that surprises people the most is the lack of dog smell. That includes me! I’ve been working as a professional dog walker and pet sitter since early 2012, and have worked with hundreds of dogs by now.
It still gets me every time I walk into a client’s home whose dogs are kibble-fed, and I get hit by that typical dog smell. Or what we generally consider to be normal dog smell!
Why do raw-fed dogs not smell?
Well, turns out that dogs have no stinky body odor or breath about them when they eat fresh, raw dog food. It’s also less present when they eat cooked, homemade dog food.
Why is that? Because kibble is typically made with rancid meats that cause said smell, and raw dog food isn’t. Pretty gross when you think about it, right?!
Case study: My Home on Air BnB
I remember this one instance when I had listed my previous home on Air BnB. One of my guests asked me how I managed to keep the dog smell out of my house although I had two large pups.
She was super surprised AND interested to learn about raw dog food in general, and the particular side effect of no dog smell.
She didn’t have any dogs, but she did have two guinea pigs who also stayed at my place. Obviously the guineas didn’t eat meat but they got a bunch of fresh veggies and fruit every single day, along with hay and guinea pellets! So the concept of feeding fresh food made complete sense to her.
Fun fact: This guest stayed at my place because she was waiting to close on her new house not far from me, and ended up becoming a pet sitting client. I’ve watched her guineas Lady and Ruby a few times and got to veggie- and fruit- prep for them.
Strengthened immune systems
This was particularly noticeable in my cancer patient Missy.
Like I mentioned earlier, Missy’s cancer diagnosis was the main reason why I started looking into raw dog food. I figured that it can’t possibly get any worse than cancer, so I might as well just give it a try.
That’s exactly what I did after her tumor had been surgically removed by her oncologist at the VSH in Cary, NC in early 2015. It was this same oncologist who told us that her cancer would probably come back within the next 6 months or so.
Well, it didn’t come back for another 3 years, and I’m certain that her new raw diet contributed tremendously to this achievement. Missy was always full of energy and ready to go on the many adventures we still had together until cancer eventually came back and took her from me in April 2018.
Missy always had fairly clean teeth, even back in her kibble eating days. Her brother Buzz however had some plaque build-up that required an expensive dental cleaning at our vet’s.
That cleaning was shortly before Missy’s cancer surgery, and guess what, he never needed another one once he was on raw dog food. No more teeth brushing required!!
That’s because raw meaty bones are an integral part of a balanced raw diet. They’re known as Mother Nature’s toothbrush because the act of chewing on them naturally keeps dog teeth clean.
By the way, all of the pups’ favorite raw meaty bones were/are duck heads!
Fresher dog breath
Just like there’s no more stinky dog smell when dogs eat raw dog food, they also won’t have bad breath.
You know that smelly dog breath I’m talking about, right? The kind that makes you say “pup, I love you, but please don’t give me any kisses”.
Well, raw-fed dogs have wonderful, fresh doggie breath that’s not repulsive at all! That’s because they don’t have any plaque build-up on their teeth.
Clean ears/Less ear infections
Just like everything else on raw-fed dogs, their ears are clean.
Kibble-fed dogs often have dirty ears in combination with an angry/inflamed looking red color on the interior.
I remember that Buzz had ear infections several times per year when he was on a kibble diet. That meant schlepping him to the vet to pay for his expensive ear washing medicine which he HATED. I can’t blame the poor pup.
Raw dog food put a sudden end to his ear infections! He never had another one.
A dog’s digestive system is designed to process raw meat. You’ll see proof of this in his much smaller, less offensive smelling poop when he eats raw dog food.
That’s because his body can use and absorb much more of the nutrients that he eats.
This is one of the main reasons people switch their pups from kibble to raw. Dogs who suffer from allergies have itchy bodies, including itchy feet and skin that ultimately cause hot spots.
Dogs who eat raw dog food are bothered considerably less by allergies, and most of the time they’re completely cured. When I adopted Wally, he was constantly scratching his body and licking his legs and feet.
Once I switched him to raw, this changed tremendously. I still had to iron out a few ingredient details that caused him some inflammation. Now that I know what he does poorly on, he simply doesn’t get to eat it anymore. One example of this is chicken and another one is quail.
Please leave any questions or input you might have in the comment section below!