About three weeks ago, Dagny’s diet got a whole lot more fun for her. Much to her surprise, dry kibble just disappeared out of her bowl, and instead, she was given yummy hunks of raw meat like beef, beef heart, liver and a host of other raw diet options that she loves to scarf down. Switching to a raw diet for dogs is not the right choice for everyone and I’m the first to say that. Some dogs can live perfectly healthy lives eating kibble, but Dagny is not one of them. What is a raw diet for dogs?
Why did we switch Dagny to a raw food diet?
First off, I’m not a vet or nutritionist. There are various schools of thought regarding the raw diet and I’m not looking at any of them critically here. This post is about my personal experience with the raw food diet for dogs. Why did we decide to go raw? It wasn’t because of any strong nutrition convictions, nor was it to be trendy or to fulfill a need to make my life considerably more difficult. The reason why we decided to switch Dagny to a raw diet was simple: She was having major diarrhea from kibble and after trying a couple varieties (holistic, grain-free, etc.) and consulting with her vet, we thought we’d give the raw diet a try in an effort to spare her intestines and our carpet the trouble.
We’ve been diarrhea-free since we started feeding raw and the best part is that Dagny LOVES her food. Yes, it’s a little more work, and yes it’s a little more expensive, but we spent a pretty penny at the vet three times trying to get to the bottom of her glorious diarrhea issue. So when you look at the whole picture and her health overall, the cost of the raw diet seems to equal out in the long run.
What is a raw diet for dogs?
A raw food diet is exactly what it sounds like. It mirrors what your pet would eat in the wild and doesn’t contain any commercial kibble. Instead, a raw diet revolves around feeding your dog a fresh and varied diet that is made up primarily of raw meat. Isn’t that dangerous? Not if it’s done right. You have to remember that a dog’s digestive system isn’t like ours. They have an extremely short digestive tract and a dog’s stomach has more hydrochloric acid than a human’s making it easier for them to process raw meat.
A raw diet for dogs is too hard
Think you can’t handle feeding your dog a raw diet? For anyone reading this who says, “Oh, I can’t do a raw diet myself,” I’m here to tell you that you can. If I can do it here in France in a tiny kitchen, so can you. A raw diet for dogs isn’t super involved but you do have to know what you’re doing so your dog doesn’t develop a deficiency and plan a little bit more. If you don’t feed your dog raw meaty bones, you’ll need to add a calcium supplement. But it’s not complicated. A raw diet book that I bought to help me figure this out is called Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs: The Definitive Guide to Homemade Meals. It contains lots of useful info on how to prepare a raw diet for your dog as well as variations based on any special conditions your dog may have. You’ll also need a food scale, at least in the beginning, to measure out the right portions of food. Also, before changing your dog’s diet, speak with your dog’s vet and talk to as many people as you can about it. There are several risks to keep in mind when considering the raw diet, so make sure you really do your research.
Benefits of a raw food diet
Have we noticed any changes in Dagny after switching to a raw diet? Yup. First and foremost, the diarrhea disappeared within a day and in its place were smaller, more compact stools. Her poop is very dark in color and barely smells. Her coat is much softer and her coat shines as well. She also had a little dandruff before and now it’s gone. Coincidence? Probably not.
Pre-made raw diet options
No time to make your dog’s food? If you live in the United States, there are a bunch of companies that make prepackaged raw patties and nuggets that you can buy online or at your favorite pet food store. Primal, Stella & Chewy’s and Nature’s Variety have great options that are frozen raw and freeze-dried. A raw diet for dogs doesn’t get easier than that. If you’re more of a DIY type, have the time and/or are looking to save a little money, you can do what I do and make batches of food on the weekend that you freeze until it’s time to use it. France really needs to get in gear with distributors of prepared raw diets for dogs. Stella & Chewy’s and Primal Pet Foods, are you listening? The only drawback to buying pre-made raw foods would be the cost especially if you have a large dog. One 14-ounce pouch of Primal’s freeze-dried formula is about $25 and and a 16-ounce bag of freeze-dried food from Stella & Chewy’s is about the same price. That won’t last long. But, if money isn’t an issue and preparing raw meat meals isn’t your thing, these companies make it really easy for you to feed your dog raw.
How much does a raw diet cost?
As I mentioned above, a pre-made raw diet can get pricey. But what about a homemade raw diet? I’d estimate that I spend about 9 euros per week on meats (rabbit is more expensive so we buy that sparingly) and an additional 3 euros per week on the vegetable and other protein components (sardines, eggs, etc.). Her supplements last a while, so I’m not sure of the weekly cost. So each month, her food costs about 48 euros, which, right now with the favorable exchange rate, comes out to US$62/month. If you’re looking for the cheap route, feeding your dog raw isn’t an option. But like I said, her vet bills weren’t cheap and I feel we’re making an investment in her health. But that’s just my opinion.
Raw foods: So what does Dagny eat?
Here’s a snapshot. She eats all kinds of raw meat including beef, beef heart, chicken and rabbit as well as organ meat like liver. About once a week she’ll get some sardines and all this is mixed with various vegetables, her calcium supplement and fish oil. There are many other items that have a perfectly healthy place in a raw diet for dogs as well like raw eggs, yogurt and cottage cheese. This week, her meat component consists of ground beef and beef liver along with cauliflower and spinach. One caution about liver. There’s something about liver that when mixed by hand, just smells awful. The smell doesn’t come off my skin no matter how many times I wash my hands. But hey, you do what you have to do for your dog, right? We make up a week’s worth of patties and freeze them so all we have to do is thaw one out the night before and it’s ready to go when it’s time to eat. If we have time to go to the grocery store in the afternoon, we’ll buy some chicken and just chop up the pieces. But our homemade frozen patties work wonders when we don’t have time to make her food.
Dagny says she doesn’t have any complaints. And if she’s happy, so am I. 🙂
Debra H says
We had the exact same experience with our Gracie. But we went MUCH longer trying to resolve the diarrhea issue and tried MANY more brands of kibble and canned food. Even cooked fresh chicken with rice did not help that much. We tried raw in desperation to find a solution. We started with some raw lamb and pureed raw veggies as a test. Same as you… within ONE day the poop was better and within two totally normal for the first time in 6 weeks. And she used to be so picky but she LOVED her raw dog food and we have never looked back. We got a second Cavalier who was already being fed raw food by his breeder, so both of them get Stella & Chewy’s organic raw patties. We just thaw and feed. I can’t understand why these brands have not made a foray into France…. it is beyond me. Good for you for finding a way to help your Dagny.
Christine Snyder says
I’m happy to hear that Dagny is doing so well on her new raw diet. She deserves all the best that life can give her, and she has a wonderful mom to make that happen.
I’m so glad sweet Dagny loves her new diet! 🙂 I wonder how Charlie and Micky will like it.. they already love their food. I will be making my trip to the local butcher asap xxoo
I am glad you found a solution for Dagny’s diarrhea problem. Personally I am still uneasy about raw meat. I used Grandma Lucy freeze dried with cooked chicken for my dog, Bee.
What do you use to tie up Dagny’s ears? It is lovely.
This is a really great post about a raw diet. A lot of useful information.
Pam & Oskar
I always think about making the switch with Bentley, right now we are doing Blue free (grainfree) small breeds, it is the first dog kibble I have been able to get him to eat with out mixing wet food in with it. I wanted to try some of the raw brands. BTW I need to do the same thing with Bentleys long cavie ears, I was going to knit him a snood but it has been so long since I have knitted I am not sure I can remember how.
Hello https://www.ouiinfrance.com/2012/05/30/raw-diet-for-dogs-why-we-made-the-switch-with-dagny/ webmaster. I came to your “Oui In France Raw diet for dogs: Why we made the switch with DagnyÂ Oui In France” page via Google but it was hard to find as you were not on the first page of search results. This means you are missing out on a lot of web traffic from Google. I have found a website which offers to dramatically increase your rankings and traffic to your website: http://www.linklegends.com/7-day-free-trial. They managed to get close to 1000 visitors/day using their services, you could also get lot more targeted visitors from search engines than you have now. I used their services and got significantly more traffic to my website. Hope this helps 🙂 Take care.
Great article with lots of useful info. Our four dogs are on kind of a mixed regimen — a little kibble, and then raw whatever-meat-and-veggies-we’re-having-for-dinner. They’re pretty healthy. If cost weren’t an issue, we’d go all-raw, but we do what we can. Close to nature is always better.
It’s not that different from when our kids were babies. Hang on… that’s not as bad as it sounds. Rather than feeding prepackaged mystery stuff in little glass jars, we just put a little of our dinners in a blender (just the healthful, non-spicy stuff) , then froze the result in ice cube trays.
So have you been able to find raw food in France? My dog is on raw and we are moving to France in a few weeks- would appreciate any vendors that you are aware of- also are you in Paris or elsewhwere?
Hi, I’m in the Loire Valley not too far from Angers. There are no commercial raw food vendors that I know of in France. Closest I could find was a Belgian brand but they didn’t sell online. If you make your own meals, the local butcher is your best bet. I ship my dog’s to myself from the US. Works for us. Good luck!
Hi, Any news about distributors of raw food in France? I am making my own but sometimes it would be good to be able to buy BARF mix.
Hi Cecilia, unfortunately no. I contacted major suppliers and none of them export to France due to the legal and financial hurdles. Pain in the butt, I know — thank goodness I have a small dog! Good luck
Melissa Bauernfeind says
We use Nature’s Variety Instinct brand of raw food. Charlie loves it and does so well on it (and now the new little guy, Peanut inhales it). He loves rabbit, duck or beef (no chicken since he’s allergic). We used a different brand in California but we can’t get it in NY. They won’t even ship cross country so I understand how frustrating it must be not to get things over there.
That’s a great brand too — they do freeze dried too or just frozen? While more expensive, commercially made raw food is so easy to prepare and the nutrition profile doesn’t even compare to most kibble. Plus, dogs LOVE it. And yes, I am crazy for shipping myself Stella & Chewy’s but my dog is my baby so I don’t even blink over it anymore. 😉
Melissa Bauernfeind says
We wanted to ship the CA brand but they wouldn’t ship because they make it fresh daily. You’re not crazy – we would do anything for our baby too. He has health insurance. Yes, they do freeze dried also.
In addition to that, if your dog isn’t doing well with their food or you just want to change it, I advise going to Exoticonlinepetstore dot com. They’re a great website and they share excellent foods and even other stuff, such as doggy beds. I highly recommend checking them out, they’re fantastic!
Cool Maddie, thanks for the recommendation. Is the site based in France? I clicked and see about 4 products total…
Hi, are there any updates on being able to get raw dog food in France? We’re coming over in the summer with our dogs and would like to know if we can buy it. Thanks!
Hi, the only update is a company called Vital Essentials who is licensed to sell raw food in Europe. They plan to be starting distribution in Europe in July, so keeping my fingers crossed they don’t get delayed. They have a variety of freeze dried and frozen meals and treats: http://www.vitalessentialsraw.com/
Other than that, I don’t think any of the big names in the US (or anywhere) are legally allowed to distribute from within Europe. I recommend doing what I do and buying online and shipping to yourself, if your dogs are small. Good luck!
Thanks Diane, I’ll check that website out. There are plenty of places in the U.K. that do raw, but the journey there will defrost it all!
I get the impression that France isn’t as geared up for raw food as the U.K. or the US is!
I feed freeze dried raw so the temp of the box isn’t an issue. Way easier that way if we go away for the weekend, etc. I know that the raw food pet scene hasn’t really hit here yet and the pet industry in general seems a little behind what we have in the US/UK in terms of trends and new products. The only US manufacturer that i know of that legally can distribute in the EU is Vital Essentials but maybe that will change. The press release w/certification info and more is here: http://www.petfoodindustry.com/articles/5679-vital-essentials-exports-to-european-market
We have just moved to Paris from Munich. In Munich, there was a dedicated shop which sold frozen raw food for dogs at extremely fair prices. It was just a “hole in the wall” shop, a butcher just for dog food.
Ok, so it sounds like such a thing doesn’t exist here in Paris…
Have you found that local butchers are able to sell meat for dogs that is cheaper than for humans? For instance, scraps that they would otherwise throw away? Do you have any suggestions on what to say to explain the situation to them and ask a butcher?
Hi Dave, I haven’t found any shops that sell frozen raw food (commercially packaged or otherwise) but butchers will help you out — not a cheaper price though. Luckily my dog was small because the foie de veau was 46 euros/kg when I was making it. I think my butcher threw in a few veal bones ever now and then because they were going in the trash anyway but not sure you’ll get much of a discount unless you’re buying large quantities. You can just explain to the butcher that “mon chien mange un regime cru” and then just say how much you need of each meat.
As I mentioned in another comment, Vital Essentials (US raw food company) is set to start distribution in Europe this summer so hoping that comes through sooner than later. Shipping myself Stella & Chewy’s is getting expensive!
Enjoy Paris and good luck! Leave me another comment if you find anything that suits your needs and I’ll update my post. 😉 All the best to you!
Hi – would you share the online retailer who ships primal to France? I have yet to find it……
Hi there, I’m replying from my phone and I’m not sure if I said there was a French retailer who ships primal. I will look at the post on my computer. I buy all of my food from Chewy.com and then have family repackage it and re-ship it to me in France. Aside from seeing freeze-dried raw once in a while on Amazon.a far, I am not aware of any retailer that sells American raw food brands in France. The only brand that has the correct certifications but has not yet set up shop in France is a company called vital essentials I believe.
Thank you! So far I have not been able to find Vital Essentials. I am able to find Primal on Amazon.fr but the price is crazy! The other one that I am able to find is Orijen freeze dried online, which is available from many online retailers. The texture however is not the same as Primal. I will keep searching!
Vital essentials doesn’t have a distribution in Europe yet but hopefully soon! Keep me posted if you find anything please.
Mark Hastings says
I’d love to do a raw diet for my dog but it’s just too expensive. I just try to do the best I can within my budget. Buy the best quality dry/wet foods that I can/etc. Same thing for my kitty.