Welcome back to part II in my four part series on dog nutrition!
In part I I discussed why you should feed your dog raw food, which is the ideal diet for dogs. After I praised the health benefits of a raw diet and exposed the problems with dried dog food, I said that Lipton, the golden retriever I live with, continues to eat dried dog food. That’s Lipton in the above pic.
I shared a few pics of her when she was just a puppy in part I. Here’s a few more of Lipton today at 15 months:
This is from the recent Nor’easter which dumped two feet of snow on us in western MA. She LOVES the snow.
Her toilet paper-shredding phase has now morphed into a stuffed animal shredding phase.
As you can see I’m a bit of an addict when it comes to sharing pics of Lipton. I always have my camera ready to go so I can capture any priceless moments.
And if you’re wondering about her not-so-golden coat, Lipton is an English golden retriever (sometimes called a white golden retriever). English goldens are notable for their lighter coat and stockier bodies compared to the more common American goldens.
Yes, I’ve run into the one common problem that I’m sure millions run into: to feed your dog raw food isn’t exactly easy or inexpensive.
What further complicates the matter for me is that Lipton is not my dog. She’s my roommate’s dog.
When I approached my roommate about changing Lipton’s diet to a raw diet, thankfully, she was open to it. I told her I would pick up some raw food and see how Lipton took to it.
There were two freezers with raw food in the pet store, each representing a different company. Both seemed excellent in quality and were comparable in price. Here’s what I picked up:
Never having purchased dog food before I guess you can say I was pretty naïve expecting the raw stuff to be comparable in price to the dried stuff.
I was shocked at how expensive it was.
A small three pound bag cost $17.99. I purchased one for the video in part I but I knew that would be the last one. That bag lasted Lipton three days. Compare that to the dried kibble which she was getting previously which was $40 and would last about a month. To feed Lipton the raw food it would cost about $175 – $200 for the same amount of time.
I couldn’t possibly expect my roommate to pay that. Neither would I.
So I looked into other options. I asked around the internet, did some research and found that a raw food for dogs could be considerable cheaper if you could find good inexpensive sources in bulk for things like raw meaty bones, ground meats and organ meats. Local farms and various online sources could make this possible. I found most people pay between $100-$200 per month for this.
Even if I could find some sources to get it down to around $100, there’s just no way I could ask my roommate to pay considerable more. She’s a busy professional. As I mentioned in my last blog, she lost her husband a few years ago to cancer and is working hard to support herself and put her daughter through college.
So I had to settle for the most realistic, best-case scenario which was to find the best possible dried food on the market. And then to supplement that with raw food as best we could. I volunteered to chip in a little to help with the added cost and to find some good raw sources.
My roommate was open to it and I’m thankful to her that she was. She’s been a trooper in dealing with my somewhat persistent pleas to feed Lipton better quality food.
So what is the best dried food for dogs on the market? This video by veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker can help you navigate all the options out there.
Another good resource is which reviews all the different brands and choices of dog food out there.
We settled on Orijen brand dog food.
It’s one of the best dried dog foods out there. It’s grain free and there’s no soy, canola, preservatives or chemicals. Dog Food Advisor gives it five out of five stars. And Dr. Becker recommends it at the end of the above video.
Update: Orijen had a fire in their facility several months ago and my local pet store was out of stock. I switched Lipton’s dried food to Taste of the Wild Hi Prairie Formula and she seems to like it better.
I have stuck with it as it’s considerably more affordable. It also gets 5 out of 5 stars from Dog Food Advisor.
So I supplement her diet with a variety of things now. To learn how you can do the same, pick up a copy of The BARF Diet. This is extra important if you can’t 100% feed your dog raw food. You’ll learn about the different supplements and foods including vitamins, minerals and probiotics that can help keep your dog healthy.
To pick up a copy of The Barf Diet on Amazon, click here.
Here’s what I do:
1. Every morning I now add a raw, pastured egg or two to her dried food. It’s funny watching her eat the egg. She goes right to it and slurps it up around the dried food before eating the dried food.
3. I give her raw bones from my meat CSA and my local co-op which of course she loves.
4. I add some homemade bone broth to her food when I have some defrosted and ready to go. Lipton LOVES it.
Can you tell?
5. And finally, I give her human food!
So that’s what Lipton eats now. No, it’s not perfect but it’s so much better than the poor quality kibble she was eating for the first few months of her life.
Have you experienced the same dilemma? Do you feed your dog raw food? What compromises do you make?
Craig Fear is the creator of Fearless Eating and the author of three books, The 30-Day Heartburn Solution, Fearless Broths and Soups and The Thai Soup Secret. After years helping clients with digestive issues, Craig decided to pursue writing full-time. He intends to write many more books on broths and soups from around the world! Click here to learn more about Craig.