Frequently Asked Questions
Answers to some of the most common questions about Raw Dog Food
Why feed Raw (biologically appropriate food)?
We have several reasons for developing a natural diet, and as dog lovers, we encourage you to research raw feeding and compare it to processed food. Our primary motivation for creating our food is experiencing firsthand the positive changes in our dogs. As a pet owner, it was quite a shock to see the luxurious coat, clean teeth and enhanced vitality when we replaced a cooked, processed, grain-based kibble with fresh beef, chicken, lamb, pork, fish and vegetables.
More and more pet owners find they cannot feed kibble in good conscience after educating themselves on the topic.
My dog gulps his food
You need to first distinguish between a dog eating normally and a dog that is a dangerous gulper. To do that, you need to understand the mechanics of how a dog eats. Unlike humans, dogs cannot move their jaws laterally and can not chew their food like a person. Canine teeth are used for crushing and slicing food into a manageable size for swallowing. Don’t expect your dog to chew a chicken neck until it is broken down into small pieces. Depending on the size of your dog, many will swallow a chicken neck whole or crunch it once before swallowing. This is normal. If, on the other hand, your dog tries to swallow a large piece such as a beef neck bone without chewing, this is not normal.
Please ensure your pet is not concerned that his food is in jeopardy from another dog if he doesn’t eat it quickly. Allow your dog privacy from other household pets while he is eating. You can also try holding the bone and let him get the idea of chewing without being able to swallow the whole food item.
If you have an identified gulper, make sure you provide him bones that are large enough that it can’t be swallowed whole.
I have noticed my pet is drinking less water daily. Should I be concerned?
This is entirely expected. Totally Raw provides food in its natural state; the moisture necessary for digestion is contained in the raw food. Because kibble has had the water removed, pets have to drink an enormous amount of water in an attempt to maintain proper hydration.
My dog won't eat mackerel. Is this a problem?
Cold water fish, such as mackerel, provide important omega 3 fatty acids and essential minerals such as iodine. For those dogs that do not eat mackerel, TRDF recommends supplementing with Totally Raw Omega 3 Oil and Kelp & Alfalfa. If your pet is already eating Balanced Blends, there is no need for further supplementation.
How often should I feed my adult dog?
Unless your dog has a special medical requirement, we recommend that adult dogs are fed once per day. The empty canine stomach is like an accordion containing many folds. Within these folds are glands that assist with proper digestion. It is only when a dog has taken on a substantial meal that the stomach is stretched and the glands exposed and activated.
Feeding a dog more than once per day leads to inadequate digestion and a constant feeling of hunger. Providing your pet with one substantial meal per day leaves them satisfied and satiated. Please view the Meal Calculator to determine your dog’s food requirements for every life stage.
Should I feed pork?
Pork is very popular among dog mushers. This is because pork is related to faster muscle growth and faster muscle training. In addition, pork is a very clean meat, meaning it has less metabolites or residues than other meats. People often don’t associate pork with dog food, yet it is a very popular ingredient in many kibble brands.
When is the best time to feed my dog?
You can either vary your dog’s mealtime or stick to a schedule. If you consistently feed your pet at the same time every day, he or she will become conditioned to eat at that time. Your dog will produce strong digestive juices based on the time of day rather than having a reaction to the meal being prepared. The digestive juices are very strong chemicals designed to break down organic tissue. If the food is late, dogs will rid themselves of the acid by vomiting, which is very unpleasant for your pet. If you choose to feed on a schedule, ensure you are consistent.
If you vary the feeding schedule, your pet will produce digestive juices based on seeing you prepare the food, rather than the time of day. Many pet owners find it more convenient not to have their dog on a feeding schedule.
Will feeding raw meat make my dog become aggressive and vicious?
This is a myth. There is NO causal relationship between eating raw meat and aggression. Whole, natural, unprocessed food is what dogs ate before the invention of kibble in the 1930s. Feeding an animal the way nature intended will add to its overall health and mental well-being. However, research does indicate that behavioural problems may result from feeding an inadequate diet (such as a chemical-laden kibble product).
How do I ensure the proper calcium to phosphorus ratio?
The proper balance of calcium and phosphorus can be challenging to determine when feeding a kibble product. Kibble manufacturers try to ensure the ratio is correct through chemical analysis. Still, it may be in a form that is impossible or difficult for the dog to digest (e.g., limestone). It is not surprising to find that raw bones and meat contain the proper ratio of calcium and phosphorus.
Wild dogs do not have the benefit of a lab and chemists, yet they can thrive on what nature provides. If we feed enough bones (10-15% of the total diet), we can ensure our pets receive the proper minerals in the necessary ratio.
I am concerned about salmonella. Is this a problem for dogs?
Salmonella is not a problem for dogs. The acidity level in the canine stomach is very high; creating a very inhospitable environment for bacteria. Tests of various brands of kibble have shown that many contain salmonella, so, in reality, if your dog is eating kibble, it has already been exposed to salmonella.
When it comes to handling raw chicken, or any other raw meat, common sense is in order. Just like when you prepare chicken for your family, proper sanitation techniques must be used. Use a separate bowl for thawing the meat, and wash the bowl with hot soapy water or put it in the dishwasher. Keep the dog’s food bowl clean by regular washing or by feeding the dog outside. A little dirt on your dog’s food is not a problem; think about some of the distasteful things you have seen your dog eat!
I've noticed my dog pooping less and it turns white. Is this normal?
Yes, this is entirely normal for a dog eating a biologically appropriate diet. The dog has less waste because of the high bioavailability of a raw diet.
The meaty bones account for the poop turning white. After a boneless meal (e.g., tripe, beef heart), you will notice the stool will be darker and looser. A bonus is that the poop biodegrades much faster than when the dog is eating commercial food!
My dog no longer needs its anal glands expressed. Why?
You will probably notice that your dog will no longer need to have his anal glands expressed. The bone component of the diet firms feces, which naturally squeezes the anal glands with every bowel movement. With a cooked, processed, grain-based diet, the feces remains soft, allowing anal secretions to build up. This condition can result in unnecessary, painful compaction and possible rupture of the glands.
What types of vegetables do you use?
We use a wide assortment of seasonal vegetables. We change types constantly to provide as much variety as possible.
Why are the vegetables raw?
When food is cooked it loses much of its nutritional value. Vitamins are lost and many necessary enzymes (proteins) are destroyed. Enzymes are crucial to digestion; without them, the pancreas is forced to work harder and produce more digestive enzymes. This is not to say dogs should never be given cooked vegetables, however raw vegetables provide more nutrition. Although many raw feeders add vegetables to their dog’s diet, it is not a necessary part of a complete raw diet.
My dog won’t eat vegetables. What can I do?
The best way to start your dog on vegetables is to mix them with something he loves (e.g., whole raw egg, gravy, broth, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt). Although vegetables, fed on occasion, are a healthy additition to the raw diet, they are not necessary. Many raw feeders do not include fruit or vegetables in their diet, and their dogs are in peak health.
More to Chew On
Are raw eggs healthy for my dog?
Raw eggs are an excellent source of protein, essential fatty acids and calcium when fed whole, including the shell. Some manufacturers coat the egg with a waxy substance to maintain freshness. If that is the case, do not feed the shell to your pet.
Is AAFCO appropriate for assessing raw dog food?
The short answer is, NO!
Fake Industrial Food (FIFs) is a term coined by Dr Billinghurst. FIFs refer to commercial kibbles that have been denatured and sourced from industrial food waste. A whopping 90% of dogs that consume FIFs develop cancer and other forms of degenerative disease. AAFCO approves FIFs.
Listed are examples of foods that are approved by AAFCO: Soybean Hulls, Peanut hulls, Cellulose.
Dogs and cats should be consuming a majority of their calories from animal protein and fat. Feeding FIFs means the bulk of the calories originate from carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are inappropriate for carnivores and are only present in FIFs because they are cheap and plentiful.
AAFCO standards, based on cooked/denatured foods cannot be used to analyze fresh foods. Cooking destroys proteins, collagen, vitamins and minerals. Once the food is rendered almost nutritionally void, it is necessary to add synthetic vitamins and minerals. Regarding nutritional fortification, what needs to be included and in what quantities can only be estimated. Recommended amounts are constantly changing which means AAFCO does not have the correct answer.
There are significant differences between raw food and FIFs and using the same standards is illogical. Synthetic vitamins do not respond like naturally occurring vitamins. The measure used to determine quantities of synthetic vitamins for FIFs are not appropriate to determine the proper amount of naturally occurring vitamins. Another example of the poor fit between AAFCO standards and raw food can be seen in relation to phytates. Phytates are compounds found in grains which bind to specific dietary minerals and slow their absorption. Dietary minerals need to be in more abundance in FIFs than raw. As the ratio of grains increase, absorption of minerals decrease. Boosted mineral levels are not needed in a raw diet since grains are not reducing mineral absorption levels.
Evolution is the best educator to determine the optimum natural diet for dogs and cats. Canine and feline evolution provides evidence that a prey model diet is what the dog evolved eating. Getting as close to a natural diet would logically be considered the most nutritionally complete.
Is there a safe, natural pest and parasite control option?
Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is a fantastic non-toxic, safe form of pest control. It is made from crushed fossils of freshwater organisms and marine life and has the consistency of talcum powder. The fossils are crushed to a fine powder, and when viewed through a microscope, the particles resemble bits of broken glass. DE is deadly to any insect and utterly harmless to animals, fish, fowl or food. DE is an excellent nutritional supplement containing 15 beneficial trace minerals.
Diatomaceous Earth works in two ways. Insects have a waxy outer shell covering their bodies, and DE scratches their protective coating, causing them to dehydrate and quickly die. Rub it into your pet’s fur and bedding to kill fleas, ticks and dust mites. DE is useful for pets that are allergic to mites.
DE added to your pet’s food will safely destroy internal parasites. To kill internal parasites, provide DE every second day for one month:
1/2 Teaspoon – Puppies & small dogs (under 10lb)
1 Teaspoon – Puppies and small dogs (10-19lb)
1 Tablespoon – Medium Breeds
2 Tablespoons – Large Breeds
Feeding DE every second day will eliminate whipworms, roundworms, pinworms and hookworms within seven days. Feed DE for 30 days to ensure all developing worms are destroyed, as DE will not kill eggs. DE is a safe, natural alternative to chemical pesticides that have been linked to many serious health concerns for pets and their owners. Do not inhale DE and keep away from the eyes.
Should I feed my dog recreational bones?
There are two types of recreational bones: weight bearing and non-weight bearing. Weight-bearing bones (e.g., marrow bones) are extremely hard and very difficult or impossible for a dog to consume. Totally Raw does not advocate the use of this type of recreational bone. It can lead to premature wearing of the tooth enamel and even cause tooth breakage while providing very little nutritional benefit. You should never give your dog a bone that is harder than his teeth.
Totally Raw advocates non-weight-bearing recreational bones, such as Beef Neck Bones and Beef Knee Caps. They provide a safe alternative that will not place undue stress on the teeth. These bones provide lots of chewing enjoyment without the risk of tooth breakage or wear. Even small dogs are able to gain nutritional benefit from chewing on natural bone. For customers who enjoy our ground food line we highly recommend providing our recreational bones on a regular basis. This will provide lots of chewing enjoyment and, more importantly, clean, tartar-free teeth.
When should I give my pup his first bone?
Some puppies and kittens will start to show interest in chewing bones as soon as they develop their milk teeth at around four to five weeks. However, most will show a keen interest in bones between 12-16 weeks. At this time, a pup’s adult teeth will start to emerge. This is a painful time for pups; they will instinctively chew almost anything. Chewing bones is a natural way to help relieve the pain associated with cutting teeth. Raw Beef Neck Bones and Pork Neck Bones are excellent choices. Directing your pup to an appropriate raw bone is a healthy way to save the furniture and provide hours of recreation.
I've heard stories of bones being bad for dogs, is that true?
Cooked bones are very dangerous for both dogs and cats. The cooking process causes the bones to become dry and brittle. Feeding a dog cooked bones can cause the bones to splinter and possibly cause serious harm. Appropriate raw bones, on the other hand, are perfectly safe and healthy for your pet to eat. At Totally Raw, we like to use softer bones such as chicken backs, chicken necks and the smaller lamb bones. This allows the pet to eat the entire bone and access all the nutrition.
Should I be concerned about bloat and torsion?
The key to preventing bloat and torsion is maintaining a healthy digestive system. Bloat and torsion are extremely rare in pets that consume a high protein, raw meat-based diet, containing less than 25% carbohydrates.
What does the Purdue Bloat Study tell us about food and feeding practices?
The Purdue Bloat study is the largest most comprehensive research project to date. This study confirms previous reports of increased risks of bloat, also known as Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GSV) associated with food and feeding practices. Raised food bowls, which were initially designed to lessen the incidences of GSV, were found to increase rates of bloat significantly. Raised food bowls are no longer recommended practices.
A 170% increase of GDV was found in dogs that consume dry foods containing fat among the first four ingredients. The risk of GDV was increased by 320% in dogs that consumed moistened kibbles containing citric acid.