5 Common Mistakes Raw Feeders Make

Savannah Welna, Cert. ACN

1. Transition Poorly

The myth that you cannot feed kibble and raw together is somehow still repeated frequently. Most people believe that you should do a “cold turkey” transition. This is where you select one protein- such as chicken- and feed just chicken (often bone-in) alone to replace kibble. Then you slowly add to the diet. However, this often results in poor stools, upset stomachs, and vomiting. It doesn’t need to be this way! While many do great with this type of transition, don’t be afraid to do a gradual transition to a complete diet by replacing the old food bit by bit. 

Detox is a myth- a dog that acquires itching, vomiting, and stool disturbances is not detoxing.

2. Choosing too fatty of ingredients (or too lean)

Especially for DIY feeders. We often reach for cheaper cuts of meat that tend to be high fat. Fat is not bad to feed- quite good and definitely a requirement. The issues arise when we feed too much energy because of the high fat that we end up with weight gain. Often the owner reduces the food, but they also reduce the nutrients in the food as well. It is important that raw diets have correct caloric density so that the dog gets all the nutrients he or she needs while maintaining good weight. Reach for cuts of meat and additions that are appropriate for your dog. Coming soon will be a resource for this!

3. Provide incomplete antioxidants

Raw diets are often short in vitamin E and manganese. Although raw diets that are primarily saturated fat (just meat, bones, and organs in general), many feed fish and fish oils (which need to be added to a PMR only diet certainly) which results in a higher need for antioxidants. This is because the type of fat in these ingredients are fragile. They directly influence antioxidant needs. When lipids are carefully dosed, this is a smaller issue. It has not been particularly rare for me to see raw diets with way too much fish oil and not enough antioxidants. Tripe and plant matter provides manganese. Vitamin E is provided naturally from plants- but often a supplement is needed. Also, many dogs miss out on the antioxidants from plants if they are not included in the diet. Even if they are not perfectly digestible, their presence in the gut is still beneficial. 

4Fail to correctly address the gut.

 Loose stool? Feed more bone…or maybe not. Increasing bone to cover an underlying issue won’t fix the problem. Often times with raw diets there is not enough fiber and/or the dog is not tolerating the amount of fat in the diet. It is very common to blame straining while eliminating on bone when it is incorrect to do so. Increasing bone only covers the issue and drives up calcium and phosphorus. This can be problematic for the diet as a whole and for older dogs.

5Misunderstand Variety

Variety is great because it allows us to rotate foods that have benefits outside of the essential nutrients- though it is not possible with all dogs. Variety does not ensure balance. It is quite common to rotate foods that are all consistently low in certain nutrients. Variety is a tool- but it isn’t a tool to ensure balance. This is where truly understanding the nutrient requirements of your dog comes in handy.