At 6 months old my GSD puppy almost died.
From about 24 weeks (6 months) he just went off his food.
I tried every brand of food on my vet’s shelf…
But every time I’d fill his bowl with food he’d look at it and move away slowly like it was a loaded gun.
At one stage I was sitting on the floor, tears rolling down my cheeks, trying to hand feed him.
I was a nervous wreck and he was losing weight – fast.
If he did eat, it wouldn’t be long before he’d vomit it all up again. And he had the most terrible runny tummy too. Plenty of it, and it stank!
In the background, I’d already started researching the best raw food for German Shepherds.
And the longer this drama continued the more I became convinced that something had to change. But more about that in a minute…
I was terrified to make the switch to feeding a raw diet, but the more I researched, the more scared I became of feeding my dogs’ kibble…
I often get emails from German Shepherd owners dealing with similar issues. These emails usually go something like this one sent in by Jeff recently…
“I have a 10 week old GSP (…German Shepherd Pointer…) that has lost interest in her kibble. I don’t have much confidence in the quality of the food and am looking into an alternative. Every time I think I’ve found a good brand I see negative reviews and it’s back to the drawing board. What would you recommend feeding my pup?”
Or comments from concerned readers like Donna…
“…She eats the same food but I’m changing it bc I’ve read horrible things about it on other sites and she has been throwing it up on occasion undigested hrs later.”
If you’re new to the idea of raw feeding, the easiest way to make the switch is to rely on high-quality premade, frozen meals.
And that’s how I started off almost 8 years ago. I’ve done everything from premade frozen meals to grinding and mixing my own.
I used to follow a Prey Model Raw or Frankenprey feeding style, but as my knowledge and education in canine nutrition developed – I’ve become “nutrient-savvy”.
And today I create and follow nutritionally balanced meal plans for my dogs, formulated to NRC guidelines.
In this article, I’ll share the best raw food for German Shepherds in terms of premade meals.
At the end, I also share a short guide as an introduction to raw feeding to give you a high-level overview of how raw feeding works.
So keep reading to find out everything you need to know to ensure that your GSD gets the nourishment they need from the best foods out there.
Use the links below and be magically transported to any section you’re interested in.
Quick Navigation Menu
- Where to Find the Best Raw Food for German Shepherds
- Raw Paws Pet Food Review
- Raw Wild Dog Food Review
- Why are Dog Owners Questioning Commercial Dog Food
- Why are Ingredients Important?
- Why I Feed my Dogs a Raw Diet?
- 9 Benefits of a Raw Diet for Dogs
- So What is the Best Raw Food for German Shepherds?
Where to Find the Best Raw Food for German Shepherds
Okay, so you’re convinced that raw feeding is the way to go for you and your German Shepherd.
You’ll be happy to know that you can get high-quality, healthy meals delivered to your door.
If you’d like to explore other non-raw food options that are still packed with nutrition, check out the Spot and Tango Reviews I wrote.
Although, there are very few companies out there that can be trusted with the nutrition of your dog.
Raw Paws is one of those companies…
I’ve checked them out from tip to toe and reviewed them for your convenience.
As a raw feeder myself I think there are a few must-haves when it comes to creating a nutritional meal plan for your dog…
Where to Start with a Raw Food Diet for Your GSD
Raw food recipes for dogs are all over the internet. And dog owners like you can prepare their dog’s raw food diet from scratch with careful planning and time.
But as I mentioned, there are frozen raw diets on the market that help make raw feeding easier for you.
These diets are delivered frozen or freeze-dried to your door. Some have everything you need rolled into one.
Ingredients like vegetables, vitamins, and fruits already mixed in. Or you can buy them separately.
Raw Paws Pet Food Review
Raw Paws Pet Food
Raw Paws offers premade raw food that’s grass-fed, certified organic, GMO and hormone-free! They offer a range of diets from beef to chicken to duck, goat and lamb. If you’re looking for variety, Raw Paws has what you want.
Who is Raw Paws?
Raw Paws is one of the suppliers that provide frozen raw food diets to dog owners like you. So let’s take a closer look at a few of their products.
All of Raw Paws products are sourced from local farms that treat their stock ethically. This means Raw Paws is a small-scale manufacturer.
What this means for you and your dog is healthy meat, free from toxins.
RawPaws ship their food frozen in styrofoam containers filled with dry ice. And it’s guaranteed to reach your door within 48 hours – still frozen rock solid.
From my research, there have been no complaints about the food being thawed on arrival.
On a side note, their website is super easy to navigate with all kinds of great information.
There’s no guesswork on your part when it comes to portion size or how to transition your dog from a cooked diet to a raw food diet.
I like the fact that Raw Paws offer an auto-ship service. This means you’ll never end up with an empty freezer and a sad dog, looking at a bowl of kibble!
You can get 20% off your first Auto-Ship by using this code: AUTO. Plus you’ll get 10% off all your future auto-shipments.
And they offer free shipping all across the United States – that’s a serious bonus!
Transitioning to the Raw Paws Diet
- Are you on a budget?
- Do you want to feed a mix of raw and kibble?
- Are you unsure of how to create a nutritional raw diet for your GSD?
- Does your dog have food allergies?
Raw Paws offer a free meal planning service where they will create a meal plan for you based on the needs of you and your dog.
Click Here to Get Your Raw Paws Free Meal Plan.
Raw Paws also has some great advice on transitioning your dog to a raw food diet.
Making it super easy for both you and your dog. Start with a mixture of 75% of current food and 25% raw food.
If your dog is particularly sensitive to food changes, you should start with a 90% to 10% ratio and increase incrementally.
It could take several weeks to transition your dog to their new raw food diet, so be patient!
Although, here I have a different approach. I believe in fasting a dog for 12 hours and then transitioning 100% to raw.
Many dogs vomit up their first raw meal, but that’s totally normal. This is because they’re so stunned and excited about the raw meat.
Making them gulp down the meal. But at the next go, they take to it like a duck to water.
Raw Paws Preparation and Food Safety
Raw Paws have left no stone unturned and give great advice on how to prepare and handle their raw food.
They recommend transferring the food into the freezer immediately. And you should only thaw a portion for 3 days worth of feeding.
If you read between the lines here, you can tell their food contains no preservatives. If it did, it would last much longer when thawed.
This is a fantastic and healthy benefit for your dog. And a point of peace of mind for you.
When it comes to thawing, Raw Paws suggests doing this in the refrigerator not on the counter or in the sink. Of course, this ensures there’s no room for bacteria to breed.
Once the food is portioned for thawing, wrap the remaining food tightly and place it back in the freezer.
Tip: Use separate cutting boards and utensils to prepare the food.
This, by the way, is the same protocol for handling the raw foods that we cook for ourselves and our families.
For storing food in the refrigerator, keep raw food stored in a plastic bag or a bin and store it on the lowest shelf to prevent cross-contamination.
After handling raw food, wash your hands and clean all preparation surfaces with a disinfectant such as bleach.
How to Serve Raw Paws Pet Food
Raw Paws suggests serving a raw food diet out of stainless steel bowls rather than plastic or ceramic. Stainless is non-porous and will never trap food or bacteria.
You should feed your dogs on a floor or solid surface that is easy to clean and disinfect.
Once a portion is served, return any remaining food to the refrigerator. If your pet leaves any food over, place it back into the fridge.
If any food sits out for more than two hours, toss it.
Wash your dog’s bowl after every feeding, and disinfect any surfaces that have come in contact with raw food.
Wash your hands often during the preparation and clean-up of raw food.
Click Here to Find Out More About Raw Paws Pet Food.
Raw Paws Signature Blend Food
I really like the Signature Blend from Raw Paws. It’s great to serve as the main part of a raw food diet for dogs. And it offers balanced nourishment for your dog.
The meat they source is human-grade, high quality, and sourced from family-owned farms in Indiana. In fact, it’s probably healthier than the meat you eat every day.
Many commercial farms use growth hormones in their herds. And some even use genetically modified growth hormones.
In humans, these can cause all kinds of problems from developmental disabilities, reproductive issues, to breast and colon cancer.
And the same can be said for the problems caused in our dogs.
Antibiotics that are regularly used on commercial farms trickle up the food chain and contribute to antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
Click Here to Check Out the Variety of Raw Paws Signature Blend Raw Food.
But Raw Paws only use meats that are:
- Certified organic.
- USDA inspected.
- 100% natural.
- Antibiotic-free and hormone-free.
Their foods also contain no fillers or additives. And they are minimally processed. All of the beef used in Raw Paws products are locally sourced from farms in Indiana.
Earlier I mentioned that mixing up the meats equals a healthy diet. So I like that the Signature Blend comes in a variety of proteins like:
Raw Paws has also taken great care to ensure the proper ratio of meat, bone, and offal. I can’t stress how important these ratios are to optimal nourishment.
Getting this wrong can cause problems so it’s great that Raw Paws have taken the guesswork out of it.
Click Here to Check Out the Variety of Raw Paws Signature Blend Raw Food.
Raw Paws Green Tripe
Green tripe is THE superfood for dogs. Tripe is the stomach lining of cows, bison, sheep, and buffalo. It’s called green because it’s unbleached and in its natural state.
Green Tripe contains enzymes and probiotic bacteria that aid these grazing animals to digest grass. And it has great benefits for our dogs.
It helps with digestion, eases constipation, and improves appetite. Not to mention the benefits for your dog’s immune system.
And if your dog suffers from seasonal allergies Green Tripe is a natural way to help soothe their discomfort.
Tripe is definitely one of the foods that you DO NOT WANT TO PREPARE yourself! It stinks!
And I’m not exaggerating! But dogs LOVE it! I recommend you use this product as a supplement to the signature blend.
Click Here to Find Out More About the Raw Paws Green Tripe Mix.
Raw Paws Raw Meaty Bones
Raw Paws offers a nice variety of raw meaty bones (RMB). This means you don’t need to try and source these from a butcher.
Which can be difficult since most butchers remove all the meat from bones.
Beef marrow bones are a great source of protein, chondroitin, collagen, calcium, and phosphorous.
Bone marrow releases adiponectin which is linked to a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It also builds immunity and supports kidney function.
Although I don’t recommend marrow bones for anything other than recreation for your dog. They are too hard to break and can cause damage to their teeth.
Click Here to See the Variety of Raw Meaty Bones from Raw Paws.
The other bone choices on offer are an excellent variety. There’s everything from:
- And Duck.
And you’ll find everything from:
- And quarters.
You can add these to your dog’s diet by substituting 1 or 2 meals a week with RMB which is what I do.
Or you can opt to feed your dog a prey model raw diet using these very meaty bones.
And like I mentioned before, RMB are a wonderful way to stimulate your dog’s need to rip, chew, and tear. And not to mention the natural teeth cleaning RMB offer!
Click Here to Find Out More About Raw Paws Pet Food.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again…
Whether you opt for a ground BARF diet or a whole prey model, you’re heading in the right direction.
The only question on your lips should be “what are the best ingredients, and where can I find them?”
You can source them yourself. Or you can go with a company like Raw Paws to help you feed your German Shepherd the best raw food.
Raw Wild Dog Food
The folks at Raw Wild care about small-batch nourishment. Their food is human-grade, organic, GMO and toxin-free. If you’re looking to the highest quality will game meat – check out Raw Wild!
Who is Raw Wild
A few years back, there were very few companies I’d recommend for premade raw dog food.
But thankfully more and more dog guardians are making the switch to species-appropriate food. And companies are committed to giving pooch parents what they want.
Enter Raw Wild!
Raw Wild is a brand of complete and balanced, premade fresh food for dogs. They offer frozen, premixed raw food to dog owners across the United States.
And they stand out as a brand that has some serious boasting rights – here are a few of those…
Raw Wild is:
- Human grade meat.
- Growth hormone-free.
- 100% wild game meat.
- Made in the USA.
- Filler and grain-free.
Raw Wild is a family-owned business that believes in “small-batch nourishment.” This is the first and most important benefit of Raw Wild dog food. Here’s why…
Small-batch manufacturing means:
- Ingredients are traceable back to the source.
- Individual batch testing will quickly reveal any problems.
- Attention to detail, care, and craft.
- A higher level of sustainability and ethics.
And when you consider the mass-produced dog food recalls of the past two decades, you can see why a company that believes in small-batch manufacturing is so valuable.
Plus, instead of using a mass packaging system, Raw Wild hand packs their food. This adds an extra layer of attention to detail that makes this family-owned business so unique.
The company also guarantees your satisfaction, and if you’re not 100% happy, they’ll refund your payment in full if you let them know within seven days.
But this is dependent on which shipping method you use.
I just love this short video from Raw Wild – warm fuzzy feeling for sure!
To help dog owners like you fill their freezer with wholesome, complete meals for your dog, Raw Wild offers free shipping on all recurring orders through their auto-ship subscription plan.
So you’re guaranteed that you’ll never run out of food. And you can log into your account at any time to modify your auto-ship settings.
It’s worth noting that if you’re on the east coast of the United States, shipping is not free.
This is because shipping to these states is by air and not ground to guarantee the highest standards of freshness.
Check out Raw Wild’s Auto-Shipping Deals Here.
What’s in Raw Wild Dogs Food?
Raw Wild specializes in dog food made from Elk and Deer. The source of their protein is from the forests of the western Rocky Mountains.
These animals are wild, spending their lives grazing on pesticide-free grasses and plants. And they drink from clean springs and other water sources.
This kind of meat is healthy, fresh, and toxin-free, which is vital for the health of our dogs.
Raw Wild works with hunters who ethically source and hunt healthy animals for their own families.
So you can be sure they use no dead, dying, diseased, or disabled animals. Yes, all their meat is human-grade.
This also means you don’t have to be concerned about Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).
And their food is prepared in a human-grade facility that prepares wild game meat for the human food chain too.
Their food consists of 99.4% Elk and Deer meat and .06% proprietary blend of vitamins and minerals.
Now, you might be wondering…
- Why does Raw Wild add a premix of vitamins and minerals?
- Does Raw Wild meet minimum standards to be a complete and balanced food?
I was curious about this myself, so I went digging for the answers…
Why Does Raw Wild Add a Premix of Vitamins and Minerals?
Maybe you’re familiar with the hunting tradition of field dressing…
Field dressing is when a hunter removes the internal organs of the prey animal. And although a lot of what they leave behind is highly nutritious for our dogs, field dressing is crucial for these reasons:
- Cooling the carcass.
- Slows bacterial growth.
- Preserves the meat.
So since the nutritious organ meats are left behind, Raw Wild adds a blend of vitamins and minerals carefully developed by an “industry-leading specialist,” according to their website.
Raw Wild chose not to add organ meats from domestically raised animals or slaughterhouses.
The reason that these options can potentially contaminate their product, and it makes sense.
Also, Raw Wild only uses meat from Elk and Deer. They don’t add any bone. So to be balanced, they need to compensate for the calcium and other mineral requirements.
Raw wild goes to great lengths to ensure that nothing in their vitamin and mineral mix comes from China.
Everything is sourced in the United States, except for vitamins A, D, and E – these are sourced from Switzerland.
Does Raw Wild Meet Minimum Standards to be a Complete and Balanced Food?
Yes, Raw Wild formulates its food to meet the nutritional standards set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
And their food meets the dog food nutrient profiles for all life stages.
Raw Wild offers an impressive Guaranteed Analysis of:
- Crude Protein, minimum – 18.0%
- Crude Fat, minimum – 10.0%
- Crude Fiber, maximum – 0.45%
- Moisture maximum – 70.0%
When I look that the guaranteed analysis of diet I formulate for my dogs using Animal Diet Formulator, it’s in the same range.
So I’m happy with what Raw Wild offers here in terms of guaranteed minimums.
Transitioning to the Raw Wild Diet
Transitioning to a raw diet can be stressful for dog owners. But unless you have a finicky eater, you should be able to make the transition smoothly.
Raw Wild recommends the following steps to transition a puppy to the Raw Wild diet:
- Go “cold turkey” and switch out your puppy’s kibble for Raw Wild.
- Feed your puppy three times a day until around six months of age.
- Reduce feeding to twice a day from 6 months old.
- Feed your puppy 2 to 3% of their ideal adult body weight.
- For mixed breed pups with an unknown adult body weight, feed 10% of current weight.
- Always monitor weight and adjust meal sizes accordingly.
For adult dogs, Raw Wild recommends making the transition like this:
- Try the “cold turkey” method and feed 1/2 of your dog’s daily Raw Wild ration twice a day. My advice is to feed it separately from kibble.
If after two days your dog is still resisting the new food, do the following:
- Return to feeding kibble.
- Replace a percentage of the kibble with Raw Wild – for example, 90% kibble 10% Raw Wild.
- Gradually increase the amount of Raw Wild, while reducing the amount of kibble until you are feeding only Raw Wild.
Keep in mind that many dogs vomit up their first raw meal. My Charley did precisely that and promptly ate it again.
So don’t stress out if it happens, it’s normal and likely because they wolfed their new dog food down too quickly.
Raw Wild Preparation and Food Safety
The first step is to transfer Raw Wild into your freezer as soon as your delivery arrives. According to their website, if it’s slightly thawed, you can refreeze and use it as needed.
But I have not found any complaints from customers saying that Raw Wild arrived even slightly thawed. But it’s still vital that you transfer the food into your freezer asap.
Raw Wild dog food should be handled like you would any other raw meat. Use clean utensils and containers.
And once you’re done, wash everything (including your hands) with hot, soapy water.
I highly recommend thawing Raw Wild in your fridge and not on the counter or in the sink.
Also, place the package inside a bowl or on a plate to catch any meat juices released during thawing.
This juice is high in water-soluble vitamins and free amino acids. It’s good stuff! You should add some to your dog’s bowl – don’t throw it away.
How to Serve Raw Wild Pet Food
Being a raw feeder for going on seven years, I’ve learned a lot about bowls and bowl hygiene.
My first recommendation is to feed your dog’s raw food from either a stainless steel bowl that is not from China or India.
Alternatively, use a name-brand glass, or ceramic bowl that you can trust has no hidden toxins.
Once you have portioned your dog’s meal, place the remaining food in the fridge for the next meal.
After your dog has finished eating, wash their bowl with hot soapy water and rinse with hot water and apple cider vinegar, then leave to air dry.
Also, make sure to clean and disinfect the floor area where your pooch eats after every meal.
I love feeding wild game meats to my dogs. I know they are toxin and antibiotic-free.
It’s excellent that Raw Wild is so particular about what goes into their food and that they meet AAFCO standards.
I would have liked to see real game organ meats used instead of a premix of vitamins, but I know the logic in why Raw Wild does this.
Feeding only Raw Wild is not something I recommend since I do think it’s essential to provide a variety of proteins to our dogs.
My dogs eat a diet made up of a variety of wild meats like antelope and ostrich, as well as duck, rabbit, and wild-caught fish.
Raw Wild is an outstanding food, in my opinion. It’s clean, toxin-free, and organic.
And I love that it’s made in small batches and that none of the ingredients come from questionable sources.
Whether you are feeding a DIY diet or you feed other premixed dog food brands, I strongly recommend adding some Wild Raw to your dog’s diet for variety.
Why are Dog Owners Questioning Commercial Dog Food
Nutrition is an important topic, so I’ve decided to share how I manage the nutritional needs of my dogs. And from the title of this article, you can already tell I feed my dogs a raw diet.
If the thought of feeding your GSD a raw diet is scary, you’re not alone. There’s a ton of information out there.
Some good, some bad, and some dangerous. And because you love your dog it’s natural for you to be cautious.
I was cautious too. I needed to be 100% sure I was choosing the best raw food for my German Shepherds.
But the more I researched, the more scared I became of feeding my dogs’ kibble…
First, I want to say that this is not about making kibble feeders feel bad. I was a long-time kibble feeder too.
Feeding a raw diet might not be for you. And that’s okay. You can still opt for kibble, but with a few changes…
- Switch to grain-free kibble.
- Choose a kibble that’s certified organic and made with whole foods.
- Go with a company that manufactures in small batches. These foods usually have a shorter shelf life, which is good.
Or better yet, start cooking for your dog. It’s way better than any kibble diet in the world.
For years large commercial food manufacturers have been filling their products unknown to us. Packaging it up all pretty. And selling it as “a complete diet”.
But you’re not here to read about my rant. You’re here to find the best raw food for German Shepherds. Right?
Why are Ingredients Important?
Here’s a list of ingredients of a large breed puppy food from a well-known high-end dog kibble…
Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Wheat, Whole Grain Oats, Whole Grain Sorghum, Corn Gluten Meal, Whole Grain Corn, Pork Fat, Chicken Liver Flavor, Flaxseed, Dried Beet Pulp, Fish Oil, Lactic Acid, Pork Flavor, Iodized Salt, Potassium Chloride, Dicalcium Phosphate, Choline Chloride, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Taurine, minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Oat Fiber, L-Carnitine, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Natural Flavors, Beta-Carotene, Apples, Broccoli, Carrots, Cranberries, Green Peas.
Firstly, anyone will tell you, the fewer ingredients the better. More ingredients mean the food has been messed around with and processed loads. This list has 46 ingredients!
Also, the rule of thumb with any ingredient list is…
The higher up in the order, the more of it there is. So let’s do a quick analysis…
So just looking at ingredients 2 through to 6 and what do you notice?
Yup, that’s right wheat, oats, sorghum, corn, and corn again.
And nowhere in the first seven ingredients do so see anything that resembles muscle meat!
Chicken meal makes up the majority of the food. What’s Chicken meal?
Note: Chicken meal, or other animal meal, is fine if it forms part of the protein (not all of it). So for example, if the ingredients were Chicken, chicken liver, chicken heart, chicken gizzards, chicken meal.
According to the AAFCO meal “is the dry rendered product from a combination of clean chicken flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, derived from whole carcasses of chicken, exclusive of feathers, heads, feet and entrails.”
And “Chicken meal is mainly used in pet foods.”
So what’s a rendered product? According to Wiki, “Rendering is a process that converts waste animal tissue into stable, value-added materials.”
So the majority of this kibble is made up of animal (in this case chicken) waste products.
Next up are the grains I just mentioned…
We’ve got whole grain wheat, whole grain oats, whole grain sorghum, corn gluten meal, and whole-grain corn. These ingredients are used as fillers.
Bulking up the food this way is much cheaper than using actual whole meats fit for human consumption.
Yes, these are also sources of protein but they are incomplete proteins. I’m not trashing grains because I think they are a “pointless” ingredient.
Some dogs do really well with some grain in their diet. In fact, I add a small amount of cooked cereal grains to my dog’s food.
What I do have a problem with is a diet filled with as much grain as this well-known food.
Next, we have pork fat…
I’ll admit, I love fried bacon. And I especially love dipping my toast into the fat.
Of course, our dogs need fat – it’s essential for their health. and balancing fats is one of my obsessions when it comes to formulating meals for my own dogs.
But here’s the kicker about fat…
It’s an essential part of a dog’s diet, but once it’s been through the processing required for kibble, it reduces the shelf life of any product dramatically. So to keep that kibble from rotting it’s baked at insanely high temperatures. This process makes the kibble sterile.
The next shocking ingredient is salt. Seriously, they add iodized salt to our best friends’ food. Of course, sodium chloride is vital for health, mineral balance, and much more.
But I’m not a fan of iodized salt. I’d much rather see a more natural Himalayan rock salt or natural sea salt.
Okay, I’m not going to go through all the ingredients and in all honesty, I can’t even pronounce some of them. But you get the picture.
Ingredients that Really Matter
Now check out the last 5 ingredients…
Apples, Broccoli, Carrots, Cranberries, and Green Peas. Those are the only ingredients that are remotely healthy, and they are right at the bottom of the list.
They don’t even feature in the greater scheme of things. And even if they did, the kibble is still sterile and so are these ingredients.
Here’s a rundown from Dr. Becker from best to worst dog food types.
Why I Feed my Dogs a Raw Diet?
That’s an easy question to answer…
- Simply because I want to control the ingredients that are going into my dog’s bodies.
- Ingredients I can eat too – not that I’ll ever eat green tripe though!
- I want ingredients that promote the optimal health of my dogs.
And unfortunately, as you’ve seen, with kibble, that’s not always the case.
Now I want to move on to a positive note…
9 Benefits of a Raw Diet for Dogs
My 3 dogs have been enjoying their 100% raw diets for almost 4 years. And there are several amazing health and other benefits that I’ve noticed.
My 3 musketeers have lush, shiny coats. Sure, their coats had a shine while they ate kibble.
But not like this.
There’s a sheen to them now that is obvious even when they’re not in the sun. Even the lighter, tan parts shimmer.
Their coats are sleek and soft to the touch. The outer coat of the GSD tends to be naturally rougher.
This is because it serves as waterproofing to keep the undercoat dry. While the undercoat’s function is to keep them warm.
Grooming is easier. Especially working with their undercoats because the hair clumps together easily so brushing them out is a breeze.
Keeping the skin of a German Shepherd healthy is extremely important. And it’s more difficult to do than with dogs who have only one coat.
Charley my 9-year-old GSD struggled a lot with her skin. I’d regularly wake up to find her with swollen and inflamed hot spots on her hindquarters.
These had developed overnight and were roughly the size of golf balls.
I tried a bunch of different natural remedies but once they showed up there was no getting rid of them.
The only solution was to treat the symptoms with conventional drugs like cortisone.
After changing her diet – and riding out the detox period (more on that later), Charley has had no hot spots since.
Although my dogs had regular grooming and bathing, they always had the ‘doggy smell’. Especially when they were wet.
Since eating a raw diet I’m happy to tell you, they smell a whole lot better!
Ensuring your dog has healthy eyes is important because acute eye discharges can lead to blindness.
When my now 5-year-old GSD-Collie mix turned up at my doorstep she had dull eyes covered in gunk. And the whites of her eyes were dark brown.
After eye treatment for a bacterial infection from the vet, the gunk cleared up. And I’m happy to report that those beautiful eyes are bright and shiny.
Doggy breath makes me feel queazy. And as much as I love my 3, I could never quite get used to them breathing anywhere near my face.
Now I can’t say their breath smells like nothing because that’s not possible. Even if a human’s breath doesn’t smell bad, it still has a smell.
I’m happy to say, all my dogs now have great smelling breath! So now I can enjoy those face kisses without feeling dizzy from the smell.
Dental health is one of the most important things to care for in dogs. Bad teeth cause gum disease which leads to other problems like heart disease.
And if you’ve ever taken your dog for dental work, you know how expensive it is. None of my dogs have ever had dental work done.
I don’t brush their fangs and they don’t eat those unhealthy dental sticks either.
Here’s a picture of Charley’s mouth. For a 9-year-old dog who ate kibble for the first 6 years of her life, she has pretty healthy gnashers.
The 2 young ones have beautiful pearly whites too!
Recently we had a visit to the vet for their yearly check-up. I was smiling from ear to ear when the vet listened to their hearts and said, “Geez, your dogs are fit!”
I’m not saying dogs who eat kibble are not fit. But imagine if your diet was Burger King twice a day.
Would you be fit enough to do a minimum of 1.5 hours of exercise a day? I definitely wouldn’t!
My GSD was the one who struggled with his gut most. Each month he’d either be vomiting or have a runny tummy.
There were a couple of mornings I woke up to find he’d puked all his food up during the night.
I can’t remember the last time he puked up his food. The only time he pukes is when he’s munched on a plant in the garden!
Poop patrol is my least favorite thing. But someone’s got to do it! Kibble poop was big, smelly, and A LOT! And often runny.
Sure, I have 3 dogs but I’m sure their poop was equal to that of 6 dogs!
Raw food poops are well-formed. They go hard and turn white within a day so they’re easy to scoop up. And if I accidentally miss one, by the next day it’s turned to powder.
Okay, so if you’re still reading you’re interested to find out even more. So let’s dive into the in’s and out’s of raw feeding for your German Shepherd.
You might already know this, but there are a lot of myths surrounding raw feeding for dogs.
I won’t go into these here. But if you’re interested, check out this article I wrote on a fellow blogger’s site about 9 of these myths.
No More Poop Eating
Yes, my boy Zè was also a regular poop eater! Yuk!
Poop eating is actually a thing, it’s called Coprophagia. I literally tried everything possible to get him to stop. Pineapple and bitter sprays.
I even scooped the poop after every toilet break but if I missed just one piece, he’d find it and eat it. After switching him to a raw diet the poop eating stopped and we’ve never had the problem again.
Switching to a raw diet, was one of the most essential steps to getting my boy to stop his poop eating habit in its tracks.
So What is the Best Raw Food for German Shepherds?
Before you decide on the best raw food for your German Shepherd there are some ‘tricks of the trade’ you’ll need to know about first.
Essentially there are 3 schools of thought in the raw feeding community.
If you can give you any advice, don’t get wrapped up in it. If you do, you’ll never make the change. Just stick to the facts and focus on the benefits.
BARF feeding or ratio feeding relies on feeding a wide variety of foods, some folks who subscribe to this style of feeding like to add plant matter to their dogs’ meals.
Prey Model Raw (PMR) or Frankenprey feeding relies on feeding a whole prey animal or creating a “Frankenstein” style animal from various parts of different animals.
Both of the above feeding styles tend to be unbalanced in several nutrients and require heavy supplementation.
After years of studying canine nutrition and completing some of the best courses available, I no longer feed or encourage others to feed ratio or BARF diets or even exclusively PMR.
I followed my own advice and stuck to the facts (and science) as I learned more and more. From a personal perspective, I am comfortable admitting that I needed to improve on the way I was preparing my dog’s meals.
And the words of the famous American poet Maya Angelou, helped me overcome the “guilt” I felt once I realized I wasn’t doing the best I could.
Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.
So today I formulate meals for my own dogs that meet the nutrient guidelines of the NRC. I’m pleased to see even more improvements in my dogs since I started following nutrient guidelines in their meals.
I’ll be writing in more detail on balanced nutrition for dogs in future articles.
But the bottom line is if you’re new to raw feeding, the best decision you can make is to go with a nutritionally balanced, premade raw food while you learn the ropes.
And in my opinion, as a Canine Nutrition Consultant, Raw Paws and Raw Wild are both excellent options to choose from.
Quick Checklist to Judge a Premade Raw Dog Food and Company
You can safely use this short checklist to find the best raw food for German Shepherds.
- The ingredients must be human grade.
- All ingredients must be ethically sourced.
- Preferably small-scale farmers or wild meat from remote areas.
- Companies that are able to tell you exactly where their ingredients come from.
- Companies that manufacture their food in small batches.
- Foods free from additives, hormones, and toxins.
I’m passionate about canine nutrition and I’m constantly studying new research and development in the field. I’d like to help you if you have any doubts or questions. So feel free to drop them in the comments below.
Can meat grinders crush bones and other tough parts of the animal while keeping the soft parts intact?
When using a meat grinder, the idea is to grind up all the parts. However, most meat grinders sold for domestic kitchens cannot grind dense bones like those from beef or game. But smaller animals like chickens, rabbits, etc should be fine. If you prefer not to grind the softer animal parts, then you can keep those separate and either chop them or feed them in bigger chunks.
I have a 5 year German Shepard mix
I would like to change her kibbles but not sure what to give her.
I am feeding her homemade food mixed with grain free kibbles but was told I need to give her kibbles with grain.
So Im not sure exactly what to feed her now.
I am from Canada and we are first time GSD owners.. King is 5 months old and on Kibble. Alike many of the posts I have read, I am not pleased with the ingredients. Recently recovering from pneumonia, i am making the change to Raw- cold turkey as recommended. I am struggling with what to add to the raw meat- veg, grain, egg, blueberries etc. and the amount.
I will be supplied with Human Grade raw meat- starting with Beef and Veal (with a mix of 80-10-10)… what can I add to make most nutritional- supplements (glucosamine, omega??). Any resources and recommendations welcomed .
Thank you for reaching out here with your question and for making the decision to feed King in the most nutritional way.
For puppies, I would not recommend feeding a ratio diet (80-10-10), Frankenprey, or PMR diets. These can (although I don’t recommend or do this anymore), with quite a bit of supplementation in the formulation be fed to adults because they are much more equipped to assimilate and store as well as up and down-regulate the nutrients they receive.
Puppies do not yet have the ability to do this and so these diets are not ideal for a growing puppy. I’m skilled in formulating raw and cooked diets for healthy adult dogs, but I’d be very happy to refer you to some nutrition professionals who specialize in puppy formulations. Just reach out to me via email and I’ll send over the websites of the professionals.
I am enjoying reading through every link, page and article on your site. I recently lost my GSD, she was a very healthy 11 ½ year old who died suddenly from Hemangiosarcoma. We rescued her at 6 years old, so don’t have much of her history, but I fed her a combination of Raw and Cooked meals. She had Raw for breakfast, mostly the Fish mixes from Tuckers and then I prepared her dinner meal by using the Just Food For Dogs Lamb or Beef Recipes.
We will be getting a 4 month old puppy from a VERY reputable breeder in August and I want to make sure I feed him the best right from the start! What are your thoughts on a Raw/Cooked combo like before? Have you heard of Tuckers and Just food for dogs?
Thanks for posting your question here. Hoping you got the lowdown in the private Facebook group in the discussion on your post. 🙂
Good afternoon I am a DSD mom of 2 one 3 yrs and the other 4. I was wondering if you can send me a well balanced list for raw and cooked foods for them.I was feeding Jenny O turkey and salmon and oatmeal bill and yogurt and blueberries and and 3 scoops of balance it. But the younger German shepherd had diarrhea diarrhea what am I doing wrong?
It sounds like you’re on the right track with your choice to feed a species-appropriate diet.
I also received your email and sent through the steps you can take to get on a call with me to discuss your dog’s dietary needs more in-depth. 🙂
Thank you very much for your response. Timber does get a vitamin mix 3x a week with his egg. I purchase from Dog Bloom. (VM Supreme). Other than that, I do not know the levels of minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and fatty acids of his current diet. What would he be missing with the chicken quarters (which include kidney)? At times I would feed him a whole chicken purchased at the store. I may look into the meat grinders you recommended in another post. Sounds like the best way to get the 1:1 ratio correct. I would love to purchase from Raw Paws, although that would cost me close to $400 a month, and if I can get this right, it would be more cost effective to try this myself. Would adding green tripe help balance his diet? I see that is sold on Raw Paws. Really appreciate all your help.
Thanks for the details. so tripe won’t be able to balance out a diet, it will provide some nutrients though. Get in touch with me via email and I’ll show you what the profile of your current diet looks like to give you an idea of how things currently stand and then make a few suggestions for improvements. You can find my details on this page. 🙂
Good morning. I am researching alternative to RMB in my 9 year old GSD’ s diet. He has eaten raw since he was 6 months old. Mainly chicken quarters that I purchase in 40lb box, and at times ground beef mixed in. He gets an egg every day as well as fish oil. Has been great up until this year. He started throwing up and had diarrhea. Still eating and wanting to play, but panting a lot and gurgling belly. Vet visit and bloodwork all checked out ok. I purchased raw patties at PetPeople for a week and he got better. Back to the chicken quarters and he started feeling yucky again. His teeth are also cracked some and does not chomp the bone as well as he used to. Any suggestions for replacing the bone? I do not have a meat grinder at this time. Thank you!
Thanks for reaching out with your question here.
If you don’t have a grinder and not planning on getting one anytime soon, you have a few options to replace the calcium provided by RMB.
First, you can opt for a premade raw mix that will have everything ground already. The brands I reviewed in this article provide ground pre-made meals – come are complementary (meaning they need extras added) and others are complete and balanced.
Your other option is a calcium supplement. I prefer to use ground eggshells from the eggs of pasture-raised hens. I grind these myself at home after gently drying the eggshells in the over at roughly 200 F for a minimum of an hour. Although the caveat here is that the eggs must absolutely be from organic pasture-raised hens and definitely not rinsed in chemicals before hitting the supermarket shelves. Most suppliers of eggs rinse them in bleach before packaging to kill any pathogens but you don’t want to be giving your boy those eggshells.
The issue with using calcium supplements is that you need to know how much calcium your dog needs and then dose accordingly. So just measuring out (without a clear picture of requirements) and serving over his food is likely going to either be in excess or too little, with almost no chance of hitting the requirement just right since there are so many variables. How are you formulating his meals? Do you know what levels the minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and fatty acids of his current diet?
As a side note though, a diet of chicken quarters, occasional ground beef, fish oil, and an egg is not balanced – unless you’re adding a range of other ingredients and supplements that you haven’t mentioned. And often imbalances take a long time to manifest physically.
Because your boy is a senior, and unless you have clear values of the minerals, vitamins, fatty acid profile, and amino acids in your dog’s diet, I highly recommend using an AAFCO registered premade food – this will ensure meticulous balance and sort out the issue of the RMB. Raw Paws has a special promo code for readers of German Shepherd Corner and you can use it to get 15% off just use the code GERMANSHEPHERD15 during checkout.
I hope this helps some. Feel free to reach out with any other questions you have.
I just found this site, wonderfully informative. I am transitioning my 8 month old/80 pund GSD from the kibble that the breeder recommended to raw. I’ve been nervous about making sure that I am meeting his needs, so I’ve started the transition with Ziwi Peak, Lamb and Mackerel. I have a couple of questions to ask…have you heard of this brand and would you recommend them to someone starting out on the raw path? I’ve looked at the nutritional info for the food, but being a lay person, not sure if the numbers look appropriate for his age. Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much, Victoria
Thank you for your questions!
Yes, I have heard of Ziwi Peak and I know several folks who either feed the brand or use it as training treats. I like that it doesn’t contain any grain, wheat, soy or corn. Neither potatoes, sweet potatoes or pea protein. The food is AAFCO approved for all life stages, so if you follow the feeding guidelines for your pup, he will be getting all the nutrients he requires for his age and to grow at the right pace.
Overall it really is outstanding food and since it’s air-dried it’s pretty close to a genuinely raw diet – think about highly nutritious jerky – but without the need for freezer space. Although I’d never switch out my dog’s current raw diet for Ziwi Peak permanently, I would be 100% happy and confident to feed it if we were on a holiday where raw was not practical or if I had to kennel my dogs at a place that does not accept feeding a raw diet. And the only reason I wouldn’t switch their diet out completely is that I simply love preparing their food myself, and they love crunching on whole foods, so it’s got nothing to do with Ziwi Peak as a food, just a preference.
The one thing I would recommend you consider it mixing up your pup’s diet with other flavors in the Ziwi Peak range. The reason I recommend this is because Lamb is low Taurine meat. Taurine is essential for heart health. And although dogs manufacture Taurine from Methionine and Cystine, these essential amino acids are lower in Lamb than in Venison for example. You can see these values by using the USDA FoodData Central website. If I was feeding this food, I’d certainly vary my dog’s diet with other flavors while keeping within the same brand. And Ziwi Peak is a good brand to stick to if you don’t want to go the complete raw route but still want the benefits of raw.
Another point is, for beginners to raw who are not ready to make the full leap, especially when feeding a pup that needs balance every single day and preferably in every meal, something like Ziwi Peak is an excellent choice.
I hope this helps! Let me know if you have other questions or when you’re ready to go fully raw. 🙂
Hello I have a 7 year old male GSD who at times has a sensitive gut. He’s currently on Royal Canine for Shepherds ( 4 years) I figured this was the best dry food for him because it’s, supposedly, taylored for shepherds. For the most part his poop is usually more soft than hard. And I have settled for that based on previous poops from other dry foods. Somewhat figuring this is the best it gets. He also eats cooked chicken , boneless skinless chicken thigh, as a treat in the morning and usually a piece of cheese at some point of the day. I started looking into the raw diet after reading about health/skin improvements associated with this diet. My dog has always had dandruff , more so in the winter, and itchy skin. He also seems to get sores easily that take what I think longer to heal than should. Overall he is in good health goes to the vet regularly , up to date on all shots. So I started the diet this past Monday. I made some my own stuff and bought some pre made BARF from a local meat market using both throughout the week. So far all has gone good until yesterday( Saturday) morning. It is now Sunday morning and my poor boy has had diarrhea every 2-3 hours for the last 24 hours. Other than having the runs he appears to be in good spirits, shows no sign of any discomfort other than whining at me when he needs to go out. My question is, is this part of the detox you talk about, is this normal if transitioning to quick and should I continue with the raw or go back to kibble. Any advice would be greatly appreciated
Thank you for your question.
Congratulations on being proactive and looking into feeding your boy a whole food diet! It really is the best you can do for him. Poops should always be well-formed and reasonably firm but not hard or crumbly.
I don’t think diarrhea every 2 to 3 hours is a detox symptom and ideally, this should not be happening.
It sounds like what might have happened is too much of a good thing too soon. This happens especially if a wide range of proteins are introduced too soon and the intro of offal too soon can cause this too. If his poop is black and tarry, it’s a sign that he had way too much offal.
Some doggo’s, especially the ones with sensitive guts need time to transition. And age can also play a role in how fast or slow transition takes place. But it’s not a train smash, and I definitely don’t think going back to kibble is the answer.
My one main concern is that your boy might be dehydrating if he’s got constant diarrhea, especially since he’s a senior boy. Losing fluids and not replenishing them affects everything from the body’s pH to nerve function. So I’d definitely keep an eye on him and take him to the vet immediately if you see any of the signs in this article: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/warning-signs-dehydration-dogs/
In fact if I was in your shoes, I’d get in touch with the vet anyway and let them know what’s happening. And also get some electrolytes to mix into your boy’s water which will help greatly to balance his minerals and help him feel better sooner.
When my dogs have the runs, I feed a diet of cooked white meat, boneless and skinless with a small amount of rice and a type of pumpkin or squash as their meal. This is by no means a balanced meal, so it’s not for long-term feeding but it’s bland and does help bind up the tummy. Since your boy is a senior I wouldn’t let him skip a meal and I’d offer a bland meal at his next mealtime.
The other thing that comes to mind in terms of what caused this bout of the runs, is what is the quality of the BARF diet you bought at the market? Is it balanced to NRC or AAFCO standards? Was it hygienically prepared? And is the meat used human-grade? Any of these factors can lead to an upset tummy.
It sounds like you’re keen to do DIY raw, I do too, and love the control I have over what goes into my dog’s bodies. If you’d like me to help you out with a diet, feeding amounts and such, feel free to drop me an email using the email address here. I’m happy to help you get your boy onto a well-balanced whole food diet.
Hi My GS is 6 y.o. And I’m looking to make a switch to raw food. He went from kibble (5 yrs on) to dehydrated food (Past 8 months) that we add water to, but I feel like we could be saving money and giving him better food. Since we already prepare his food, I would think raw diet wouldn’t be much of a change for us.
My question lies in being able to prepare the food. Do you ever prepare food in bulk and freeze in portions so that you aren’t “fully preparing” food every day/buying raw meat every other day?
Thanks for your question – it’s a good one.
Over the years I’ve gone from grinding to preparing meals with chunks. So now depending on what my month looks like, I either prep in bulk, portion, and freeze. Or I keep my ingredients in the freezer, take out and thaw as needed.
If you’d like, I can do an article on the steps I use to prep in bulk. A lot of folks new to DIY like to prep in advance. So let me know if you’d like me to share my steps in an article. 🙂
I am thinking of starting raw diet w my 3 yr old GSD. I would like to know your steps and recipe
Thank you for your question.
I recommend going with a premade raw food until you’ve gathered enough information to prepare your dog’s food yourself. Let me know where you are based, and I can recommend some AAFCO approved foods for the interim.
You can reach me via email here.
would like to know your preference on bone grinder and mixer
Thanks for your question.
For grinders I’d recommend any of these, you can find them on Amazon:
STX International 3000-MF
STX International 3000-TF
Weston Pro Series 22
These will comfortably grind softer bones like chicken and duck. Although, tougher bones from beef, for example, need a commercial grinder. So I grind only duck bones because I don’t feed any chicken. And bones from lamb, beef, venison I feed as whole parts for dental hygiene and stimulation.
If I’m making a small batch, I just use my regular Kenwood mixer to mix the ingredients. But if I’m doing a large batch, I’ll mix by hand.
Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. 🙂
My GSD Gunner will be a year old next week. We recently found out that he has a terribly sensitive stomach and now has to have probiotics daily and ANY new food or treats ends up with terrible liquid/slimey diarrhea for 5-7 days.
*Sorry for the T.M.I*
We are planning to switch him to a raw diet and I honestly don’t know where to start. He’s 80lb currently – so I’m guessing 2.5lb per day, what meats/combo would you recommend starting him on? Can I just add the probiotics to the raw food? Do you recommend raw goats milk?
Thanks for your comment.
Raw feeding really changed things for my dogs. Especially my 2 thoroughbred German Sheps.
If you’re going to go the DIY raw route, I highly recommend joining a Facebook group like Raw Feeding University. they have some excellent calculators available so that you can be sure you’re feeding the right ingredients in the right amounts. It’s important to get the ratios and nutrients right. Their calculators are Excel-based and very detailed and also free. Alternatively, you could work with a company like Raw Paws which I have detailed in this article.
Many folks start with a premade raw and then later transition to DIY once they are more confident – that’s what I did. Now I di a mix of premade and DIY depending on my schedule.
The amount you feed will depend on whether you’re looking to maintain weight, increase weight or weight loss. But Gunner is still considered a pup at 12 months since he’s a large breed dog. So you may need to experiment with amounts to make sure he’s getting the sustenance he needs.
I know goats milk is very popular with some folks. But I prefer to use a plain Kefir for probiotics. If you go this route, be sure to get the plain one not anything flavored.
Hope this helps. 🙂
You mention you process your own raw food and mentioned processing the bones. What equipment do you use and does this mean you can ‘blend’ the bones so it is not solid?
Thanks for your question.
Yes, once you’ve ground everything the bones will no longer be whole.
You’ll need a grinder that is capable of grinding bone to make this work. You’ll need something with high wattage. No less than 1800-watt but higher is better. If you can get a 3000-watt grinder that should work fine.
And stick to chicken, duck, fish and rabbit bones. They are much softer and pliable than other bones. A non-commercial grinder will not be able to handle bones from sheep, lamb, beef or bigger animals.
Keep in mind that most non-commercial grinders will lose their warranty if you use it to grind bones. But I was happy to make that decision. Even if my grinder lasts 3 years, it’s still a valuable investment and in the long run, does save money making food at home.
Hope this helps you. Let me know if you have other questions.
I was wondering if you would be able to clarify a point about providing eggs. Would this be raw eggs, or should they be boiled first. Many thanks for all of the information – our Stanley is just six months and we have found your site extremely helpful. Greetings from the UK
Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment.
I feed eggs raw. I do make sure the eggs are organic and pasteurized. The pasteurized eggs are safe to feed raw. If you’re not sure about whether the eggs you want to feed are pasteurized, then boil them first.
Some folks wash the egg first and feed with the shell. I do that too sometimes, but mostly I dry them out on very low heat in the oven and then grind to sprinkle over their food a few times a week.
Also, I only feed eggs about three times a week.
Stanley sounds like a lucky boy!
Let me know if you have other questions. 🙂
Thanks for this post…it really resonated with me because we have one 6 year old long haired German shepherd and a year and a half old Cattahoula Hound. With our German shepherd, Kaiser, we’ve had itchiness, hot spots, licking, and poop eating for years. We’ve tried so many things, supplements, changing his food diet, etc. We even tried doing a raw food diet for a short amount of time and he had massive diarrhea. I did a list of research because our vets here don’t know anything…they say it’s just allergies and give him antibiotics to stop his misery. Well we already know that antibiotics are bad for dogs when it comes to feeding yeast infections. Long story short, I stumbled across a forum that talked about dogs having yeast overgrowth. The symptoms were exactly what we’ve been dealing with with Kaiser. So I followed their recommendations and we’ve been giving Kaiser these supplements: liver cleanse formula, yeast/fungal detox, protease plus, and probiotic eleven. We also changed his food to no grain no starch, which is Wysong brand. The only brand out there with that requirement. We also add to Kaiser’s food: coconut oil, pumpkin, and a supplement called Nutra Thrive. He gobbles his food up in one or two minutes, but he’s constantly hungry. He still eats his poop and licks. However his licking is better, he still itches. But I will say that his itching used to be so bad that he literally licked and scratched patches of his fur off and had raw skin underneath. He’s also lost a LOT of weight. He looks healthier now…his coat is so glossy and his eyes are so bright, but he’s so skinny…bad skinny. I’ve looked to see what food we can add to his diet to help him gain weight and not be so hungry, but I get so many contradictory do’s and don’ts. I’ve wanted to do the raw diet, but I’ve been advised not to because I have kids that play in the yard and also the dogs lick them in the face. I’ve heard that if you do a raw diet, dogs will still have ecoli or salmonella in their mouth and if they lick you, you will get it too. So that turned me off of raw diet. Plus the raw diet is soooooo expensive…more expensive than doing what we’re doing and there’s also very limited meat and bone sourcing where I live. If this tells you anything, we’re paying around $300 a month for feeding our dogs…not including the supplements. My husband loves our dogs, but he’s saying we can’t afford to keep those kind of food expenses for our dogs. Please help me!!
Thanks for sharing your experience.
You’re doing something right if you’ve managed to give Kaiser some relief from his itching. And I totally agree that antibiotics are no good unless there’s an infection that warrants giving them. I can’t comment on the supplements you mentioned since I’m not familiar with them. But my crew regularly get pumpkin in their meals. We love coconut oil too. Just keep an eye on how much you’re giving because it is fat (although a healthy one) and so should be given in moderation.
I’m not a vet, so I can’t advise you from a medical perspective. But I can tell you what I’d do in your situation…
There can be many factors to consider that might be contributing to the issues you mentioned. But I do recommend you find a good vet and have Kaiser tested for EPI. I’m not saying that it is EPI but your description of him looking “bad skinny” and being “constantly hungry” and persistent poop eating should be checked out.
Also, German Shepherds are notorious for having sensitive guts. And there’s something that comes along with EPI that is known as SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth), it’s not always present and it can be present without EPI. And so it might be worthwhile finding a knowledgeable vet to investigate Kaiser’s gut health. SIBO might account for him being skinny and constantly hungry too since if there’s dysregulation in his gut, he might not be absorbing all the nutrients from the food he’s eating.
A good vet will check for parasites too since these critters can be hard to detect and can cause malnutrition. The best way is to take a stool sample to your vet and ask them to check for parasites and eggs. I do these samples at my vet every 3 months because I get the results instantly and it also saves me from having to deworm them unnecessarily. If there’s nothing in their stool, I don’t deworm.
In terms of raw feeding, there are a few things that could have caused Kaiser’s diarrhea. Some dogs need a slower transition to raw. And if it happens too fast, it can cause diarrhea. Even if you’re switching to a new kibble, it’s advised to do it slowly. And some dogs need the same slow process when switching to raw. Also, if there was too much organ in the food, that can cause black tarry diarrhea. And I’ve found that if I give too much veg in a meal, they can also have some diarrhea – but not massive.
I’ve heard the myths about raw feeding, E-coli, Salmonella and other fearmongering. But here’s the thing…
My dogs have been eating a raw diet going on 6 years now. And none of us have ever been infected with E-coli, Salmonella or any other pathogens that can cause issues. As long as what you’re feeding is human grade (it comes from an animal that’s certified for human consumption) and you keep strict hygiene protocols, just like you do when you’re prepping food for your family you’re good to go.
If I’m doing raw DIY or even buying a premix, I make sure I buy from trusted sources and I also like to work with suppliers who can trace their products back to the source.
Also, keep in mind that there have been many instances of kibble and even fresh produce that have been recalled for pathogens like E-coli, Listeria, and Salmonella.
If you’re concerned about your kids, I agree, if the ingredients or food is not human grade it’s a concern. And extra care must be taken with hygiene protocols. I know raw feeders who separate their dogs and kids for an hour or so after feeding their dogs. And some even use disinfectant wipes to clean their dog’s around their mouths, front legs and paws. I can’t tell you not to be concerned about this, but I know a lot of raw feeders who have kiddies and I’ve never heard of issues.
And then, of course, daily poop patrol to scoop their poop off the yard is essential too. But that goes without saying no matter what you feed.
In terms of the costs of raw feeding, I know it can get expensive. So if you’re keen to give it another try, there are ways you can save money. I used to do premix only but over time and with experience I have found that DIY is cheaper. But for convenience sake, I do always keep some premix onhand.
First, join a Facebook group and get chatting to other raw feeders. “Raw Feeding University” is a very popular one and most of the members are based in the United States. Often folks will share information about where to get good ingredients at reasonable prices.
You’ll also learn about parts that you never thought of feeding. This can be a great money-saver.
If you’re going to do DIY, then download the calculators in this group (it’s free) and start building the diet you want to feed.
Next, make connections with local farmers, ranchers, and hunters. This is the top way I make sure I can find high-quality ingredients at reasonable prices. Sometimes it means I need to drive a distance to collect the ingredients but I try to do this once a month so there’s not too much up and down. Some suppliers will deliver though, so find out about that.
Also, look for specials in the supermarket when you’re doing your regular shopping. You’ll be amazed at what you can find. And it’s a great way to save some money. Just remember to only buy ingredients from animals that are human grade.
And, if you have space, consider raising your own prey animals like chickens, rabbits, and ducks. It’ll take some research on your part, to begin with, so you can learn what these animals need to be healthy in terms of shelter, food, and breeding. I’m not doing this right now but plan to in the future when I have a bigger space.
I hope this has been helpful. Let me know how things go with Kaiser. 🙂
So I currently have a 3 year old Border Collie/ Pit bull mix male , 50lb.
I’ve been feeding him Victor grain-free active dog and puppy dog food since I have been training him for agility(this rainy weather put a pause on that), he gets at least 2 hour-long walks a day, plus training and other miscellaneous things once in a while(hikes, park).
We got him when he was about 4 months and fed him Rachael ray… , he started getting stomach problems when he neared his 1st bday; super noisy stomach at night, throwing up in the mornings a lot, hiccuping a ton after he ate and throughout the day. I figured it was him eating too fast(he eats really fast) and got him a slowfeeder(I washed each day). He got a little better, but began free feeding himself because he got bored of the slowfeeder. Now I’m not saying anything against free feeding but I just prefer not to for many reasons especially for a hyper and active dog.
I switched to a piepan because if its spread around in a wide round piepan, he can’t get huge gulps of food in his mouth. I still am using it and seems to be doing well as far as eating fast(he still gulps his food down though but a little better). I switched his food to Victor(I’m feeding him now) because he has a really sensitive stomach, its grain free, and better than those cheapy dog foods at the local Wal-Mart(no offense anybody!! This is my opinion, and if the cheap dog foods work for you, than good!!) . The only downside is the kibble is small so he can eat it without chewing. The change of food helped with his hiccups but they just started coming back.
I have researched a ton about the BARF diet and really like what I’ve seen. I think it would help his dandruff, hiccuping , his poops don’t look the best(ranges from moist brown poops to dark tiny stretched out poops that he strains to get out. He strains while pooping at all. And yes I’ve had his glands emptied for his first time), he has been pretty tired lately, drinking tons of water( a whole bowl at once. And yes it’s probably because of the winter season.). Anyway! The only things I’m worried about are;
-transition. I’m sure everyone has this worry and it is probably pretty easy, but he is very sensitive and I don’t want to feed kibble and raw at the same time because of the bacteria bulding up. He gets sick super easy.
-balance!!! I am frightened by the aspect of feeding my dog an unbalanced diet without realizing. Is there anyway I can follow the basic of what you feed and do with your dogs?? And how much do I feed him??
-cost. This is related to the balance worry because, I’m sure if I basically know what I’m going to get or go for during that month/week, it won’t freak me out about the cost as much!
My dad said I could get a freezer for my dog’s meats and such specifically, so if I buy bulk that would probably be better??
I’m planning on someday owning a large dog rescue, based on BARF diets, and in a way in which the dogs are never stuck in small kennels and hear a ton of dogs barking(chaos) and such!!
So yeah! I really want to start feeding him BARF and if you could answer , that would be awesome!!! Thanks!!
Thanks for your comment.
Sounds like you’ve got a lot of good stuff going on with your dog – he’s a lucky boy!
BARF is a great feeding regime and I highly recommend it. Right now, I’m not doing BARF but have switched to using chunks and whole parts. My dogs have gotten accustomed to eating this way over time and it saves on prep time. But BARF is still a super way to feed.
Since your dog has a sensitive gut you might need to experiment to see what works best for him. The way I transitioned was to fast them and then fed a 100% raw meal. It worked fine for my crew. Except my older dog vomited up her meal after 30 minutes (this is very common) and likely because she inhaled her food that first time. If you don’t want to do a raw and kibble mix for a slower transition, and because he already likes to inhale his food, try fasting him for 12 hours and then offer half of his raw meal. Then a few hours later the other half. This might prevent the vomiting.
The nice thing about doing a kibble/raw mix over time is also to introduce dogs to the new scents, tastes, and textures. Some dogs can take a while to adjust to this. So you’ll have to play things by ear and see what works best with your dog.
Balance is always over time. Just like you don’t balance out each of your meals to make sure you get everything you need in each one. So the same applies to feeding our dogs. As long as he’s getting what he needs over time (I work on a 30 day period), he’ll be just fine.
Usually, for an adult dog, it’s 2.5% of body weight for maintenance, 2% for weight loss and 3% plus for weight gain. A more active dog might need more than 2.5%, and since your boy does agility in the warmer months, you might need to up his food. But the best way is to keep an eye on his weight and adjust amounts accordingly.
If you have any doubts, or you’re really worried about these points, I recommend you should find a vet that supports raw feeding in your area and chat with them. Not all vets support raw feeding but there are many, many who do so hopefully you can find someone in your area.
Costs vary based on what you buy and where you live. If you can connect with hunters, that’s a great way to score high-quality parts at reasonable prices. Speak to local butchers and visit farmer’s markets. Tell them what you want to do and see what they have on offer. And definitely shop around. Sometimes I get whole duck at great prices and then I’ll stock up, but I won’t buy whole duck at regular prices. Then I’d rather go for rabbit or something cheaper. That’s just an example. It’s really about shopping around, stocking up on specials and being creative with the ingredients we offer our dogs.
I highly recommend you join a group like The Raw Feeding Community on Facebook. They have a variety of raw food calculators in their “File” section. You can check them out and pick the one that is the easiest for you to use. Most of them work on an 80-10-10 basis which is ideal for calculating feeding amounts. There are a few that will break down the meat, bone and offal content of most items raw feeders offer their dogs.
I hope this helps. Let me know if you have other questions. and all the best with your future plans – they sound amazing!
We just got a 6 month old GSD puppy three days ago. He has had nothing but runny poop, not quite diarrhea, but close. I figured he was getting used to not being on mommas milk anymore. (he was weaned a few days before we picked him up, so we feed him the kibble that they were feeding him). I started researching this, and figure the food just isn’t right for him, and I want to make sure we start him off with a good strong healthy diet. So I’m very interested in raw food. How early is too early to start? Also, on the subject of bones, I’ve been seeing people who cut up chickens to give to their GSD’s, can they actually eat the chicken bones? I’ve always heard chicken bones were bad for dogs. I saw from a comment above that turkey necks are fine for them to eat, but the bigger bones, like knuckle bones are meant only for chewing. What other bones are okay for them to fully consume? When you mentioned processing the bones, do you mean that you put them in a food processor to grind them up? This is all very new to me, and I’m very excited!
Thanks for your questions. And congrats on the new pup!
A raw diet can be started from any age. Some breeders who feed raw as a rule, wean their pups onto it when coming off mom’s milk.
Bones are great for dogs even chicken bones. As long as they are raw. Cooked bones are brittle and splinter which is where the problems come in. Raw bones are soft and pliable.
I would totally avoid heavier bones like knuckle as you mention and any weight bearing bones. These are usually for entertainment. But can break teeth, especially small puppy teeth. So only consider these when he’s much older and only for entertainment for example ripping of meat and working out the marrow.
Chicken necks and turkey necks are the safest for pups. They are small but not so small that he’ll end up trying to swallow one whole. Although, you should supervise all bone eating. Especially with new pups who are new to raw eating – they get super excited and need a little guidance.
Mine get things like duck carcasses and venison tails. The duck carcasses are soft and can be consumed as a meal. The same goes for chicken carcasses.
I do process some of their bone when I prepare their food by putting it through the grinder. You’ll need one that can handle bone. If you need recommendations let me know. But I do recommend feeding whole bone like necks and small poultry carcasses. It’s amazing for their dental hygiene. And it works magic to help their jaws and facial muscles develop to help those ears perk up. It also stimulates their natural need to rip, tear and crush.
So I’d say start him off with chicken and turkey necks until he’s older and more experienced with bones. Then you can add things like poultry carcasses and venison tails. Chicken feet and poultry heads (like duck or chicken) are also great to try out now.
You’ll also become more confident in feeding bone as you go.
Let me know if you have other questions as you get into raw feeding, I’m happy to help. 😉
Oh my goodness! Thank you so much for the reply, information & encouragement. It’s been hard to find a vet that will listen to my concerns. They all wanted me to wait &keep feeding him the same puppy junk. Everything I have done I have learned online from folks like you. He is a happy 94 lb,10-month old gsd pup. I knew nothing about dogs let alone a pup, he was kind of unexpected & I was ill prepared. But at his 9 month vet exam the vet himself was very impressed with how healthy he was. Impressed at how obedient, sweet & well behaved he is. So easy going, highly intelligent & happy pup _ with a shiney coat & sometimes still itchy skin. He uses a special shampoo with benadryl in it once a week. Then we rub him down with organic coconut oil. Unfortunately the itchiness starts whenever we try to introduce new food. I will try gradually adding the raw ground lamb you recommended. I expect to see some diarrhea but probably will lesson over time. My main concern is he will like it so much he will not want anything else. My budget can’t sustain that. Will see what time will bring. I figure God brought this little blessing to our doorstep, He will have to provide for us to care for him.
Thank you again for your help.
I agree, doggo’s that have specific needs usually end up with folks who have the will, empathy and love to give them what they need! Coconut oil is great for the skin. Mine also get Coconut oil rubdowns for an hour before they have a bath. I like to wash the oil off after. But either way is fine.
You could try out a more natural shampoo to see if that helps. Benadryl is great but it is an antihistamine so if possible, it’s better to use it sparingly say every other wash or so. I wrote about shampoos for sensitive skins and allergies here. Also, since the Shep has a double coat it can improve skin and reduce itching by helping them shed. Here’s a guide to help with grooming in the summer when they shed a lot more. And also my favorite grooming tools can be found here.
It’s not a train smash if you can’t transition him to raw 100%. Just adding raw to his diet should bring a positive change. Once he’s comfortable with eating a little raw (like lamb) you can start shopping for meats on special which is something I do to keep my budget in check (of course always go for human grade meats). Take your time though, rushing will only cause tummy upsets. When you start adding organs (which shouldn’t be immediately) keep an eye out for black runny stools. If you see this, you’re giving too much organ meat. If you see hard white stools then there’s too much bone (calcium).
You could also try and give him some green tripe at some point. Dogs love it, but humans don’t because it stinks to high Heaven. Although I’d wait with this for now until he’s got healthy stools.
Keep in mind though, that stools from a raw fed dog will dry up fast, so it’ll help to do “poop patrol” when he’s out for a potty run to check on his stool color, shape and consistency.
Feel free to drop me more questions as you go along. 😉
I am confused about the raw bones. In one sentance you say Raw bones are great & easily digestible, but then you said when bones start to break apart they should be taken away. So is it specific to certain bones? If so what bones? Right now his chew toy is Buffalo Horns. Is that ok?
I have a 10 month old gsd who is extremely sensitive. He is on dry dog food. Only lamb, no chicken or grains. My hubby tried giving him a raw egg every couple of days but then he started with the itching again. We tried introducing him to fish dry dog food. Didnt go well. Now he has become extremly fussy about food. He was never fussy. Poor baby. So now I fear feeding him anything but his dry lamb. I make a thick broth from Lamb shanks. Boil it for hours until bones fall apart & marrow slides out. I do this to TRY & ensure he is getting enough fat & protein. Funny thing is he doesnt have a problem with rice (grain). I did gradually introduce pulp of pureed veggies & fruits. He vomited it up & had some diarrhea the next day.
He also has issues with acid reflux. We have to give him a little snack before bedtime & feed him by a certain time the next morning or he will vomit white foamy stuff. He is still fed 3 times a day with 4th late night snack. Total of 5 1/2 cups of food. Help.
Thanks for your great comment. Thanks for pointing that out. I’ve clarified in the article that if bones are given for entertainment they should be taken away when they begin to splinter (these are usually heavier bones. And I only give then so they can chew and tear off meat and work for the marrow.
But a duck carcass, poultry necks or anything that can be consumed entirely is fine. Then you get the situations like with venison tail, where the first vertebra on the tail is hard. This one I remove. But the rest of the tail they eat entirely. As you become more comfortable with feeding bone you’ll get a feel for it too.
The Sheps do tend to have sensitive guts. Mine can’t eat chicken at all. But they are fine with other poultry like duck and even ostrich. Have you tried a raw diet with your boy? It might be necessary to move very, very slowly when introducing him to new foods to avoid the vomiting. But a raw diet is worth a try, especially if he’s got such a sensitive gut. And feeding 3 times a day is still fine, also because of his sensitive tum.
You’re doing great with the bone broth from lamb shanks. He’ll definitely be getting enough calcium and good, healthy fats that way. But it’s important to balance that with phosphorus from muscle meats. You could try adding some ground lamb and then just lower the amount of dry food for that meal. See how things go and hopefully his gut will settle in slowly.
Buffalo horns should be fine as long as they are natural, have not been treated with anything and come from a reliable source. Elk antlers are also a healthy chew toys and filled with stuff like zinc, phosphorus and calcium. I wrote about them here.
I hope I’ve been able to answer some of your question here. Let me know if you have any other questions. I know how it feels to have a doggo with a sensitive gut, I’m happy to help where I can. 😉
My shepherd is 1 year and 2 months. He loves the raw meat; venison , squirrel, etc. I mix the raw with a high grade dry. Total is 4 1/2 cups/day and he’s about 95 lbs. I’m just trying to determine if this on the right track for him. We went through the whole phase of what you described of your gsd not eating. November I was butchering a deer and he helped…since then his diet has been primarily raw venison with dry. Thank you for any advice.
Thanks for your comment!
I’m so pleased that you found the solution to your boy not wanting to eat! I’m sure he loves helping out with the deer!
The rule of thumb with raw is to feed between 2.5 and 3 percent of adult body weight. Are you adding organs like liver and kidney? These organs are an essential part of a raw diet, even a half raw half kibble diet. You can play around with the amounts by doing poop patrol. If you see a very dark poop that means there’s too much organ and you can then adjust accordingly.
Also, bone is essential too. And you can gauge how much bone is sufficient by his poop. If it’s hard and white there’s too much bone (calcium).
I don’t feed a mix of raw and kibble but if I did I’d do alternate days. So one day raw and the next day kibble. That way it’ll be much easier to follow the 80/10/10 rule (80: meat, 10:bone, 10: organ) on the raw days. And it’s also, in my opinion, easier on the tummy. But I know some folks that feed raw and kibble together in the same meal without any issues.
I hope this helps, if you’ve got any other questions, drop them here. I’m happy to help. 🙂
My GSD is 2 yes old and weighs 105 lbs. She gets fed 4 cups of Iams a day and is ALWAYS still hungry.
I have a question ,as you are familiar with my puppy soldier and his health issues and Giardia I’ve thought about the raw diet for him but have concerns because of his issues and sensitivity.
He’s on a gluten free dry dog food, it’s supposed to be a quality product, But I do have concerns about the quality of ingredients etc. My question is this first
Due to the issues soldier has is a raw diet the best choice? And second is there a reputable already prepared dry food that contains everything he needs I think someone called it freeze dried?
If raw isn’t the way to go are there certain things I can add to his kibble that he’s eating now? Without aggravating his existing issues?
I’ve had a chat to some of my raw feeding friends some of whom have dogs with chronic Giardia. All of them are on a raw diet. And they have tried many kibble diets before hand. So yes, I do believe raw could be a better option.
There is a company I reviewed in this article who I believe to be the best place to get prepared raw or freeze dried food. They also deliver anywhere in the US. Just use the navigation menu at the top of this article to jump down to my review so you can check it out before you make a decision.
The also have a fantastic meal planning service that’s free. These folks are experts so they’ll be able to answer all your questions about their food. And they’ll help to work out a meal plan to suit Soldier and your budget. I highly recommend them. But I suggest first reading my review before you decide if you want to find out more.
One friend also suggested adding Golden Paste and pro-biotics to Soldier’s diet. I’ve got a recipe for the Golden Paste and I’ll make sure to share it here in the next couple of days. Golden Paste is used a lot as a natural remedy for inflammation in humans and animals. I actually use it for Charley my 9 year old GSD who had hip surgery for Dysplasia. And I have noticed a difference.
What I would suggest though is to change one thing at a time. We tend to change too many things at once because we want the best for our dogs and then it’s hard to tell what’s working.
Hope this helps. I’m around for questions.
Also, come and join the Private FB group. It’s a great place to share experiences, get advice from other owners and share pictures of our dogs. I’m around there most of the day to answer any questions.
Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1734159926609104/
See on the inside!