Raw food vs home cooked food?

This is a dedicated place for all of your questions and answers about Raw Diets. There are also some really cool groups like "Raw Fed" on the topic you can join. This forum is for people who already know they like the raw diet or sincerely want to learn more. Please remember that you are receiving advice from peers and not professionals. If you have specific health-related questions about your dog's diet, please contact your vet!


Member Since
Barked: Fri Jun 7, '13 8:49pm PST 

I am thinking of switching my dogs to either raw or home cooked food diet. What are the advantages of having raw food over cooked? Are there any risks with the raw food diet, if so? Is there any way to prevent them? Do you have any "recipes" for raw diet or sites that are good to learn about it? I've looked into it a couple times but I haven't found out much about it. But from what I hear it's supposed to be good, but I'm afraid there could be some problems with raw food.

I have a beagle with a heart murmur and bad teeth and a lab with skin problems, most likely from allergies, do you know of anything in the raw food diet that would help this? I also have a husky and pit bull but they are in perfect health as far as I or the vet knows.

Member Since
Barked: Fri Jun 7, '13 8:57pm PST 
I forgot to mention, if it matters, the beagle and pit are both six years old, the husky is 9 and the lab is 12.5.

Do you even- lift?
Barked: Fri Jun 7, '13 9:15pm PST 
Basically, cooking food makes it less nutritious by altering and/or destroying proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Cooked diets very often require supplementing these nutrients back in, in addition to feeding an alternative to bone since bone must be fed raw. Whereas with a raw diet, meat, bone, and organ is all you really need. A balanced home cooked diet is superior to kibble, but still sacrifices the benefits of raw. And quite frankly, home cooked is a lot more work than raw.

Every diet has some risks because a dog can choke on anything it puts in its mouth, but for the majority of dogs raw is no more dangerous than any other diet. A dog's body is designed to process raw meat, including all the normal bacteria that entails. Kibble fed dogs regularly shed salmonella and other bacteria in their stools, and kibble takes longer to digest and so remains in the dog's body longer wink

Raw often does wonders for dogs with food allergies. It has very few ingredients, unlike kibble, and it's easy to feed an elimination diet to determine what proteins your dog is allergic to (if any, many dogs have issues with the grains in kibble or will even react to cooked proteins but be fine with the same protein raw).

Chance's Beginner's Guide to Prey Model Raw PDF is my absolute favorite source of information on switching to and feeding raw. Really the most comprehensive and accurate guide I've ever seen. It also goes into more detail about bacteria, parasites, bones, and other common worries people have about raw, in addition to all the benefits of a raw diet.

Member Since
Barked: Fri Jun 7, '13 9:21pm PST 
Do you know anything about raw food with a dog with a heart murmur or where I could look for information on that? More specifically what to and what not to feed her? It's a low grade heart murmur, but when I've taken her off the prescription food in the past her symptoms start back up!

Do you even- lift?
Barked: Fri Jun 7, '13 11:33pm PST 
I've honestly never heard of feeding a dog a prescription diet for a low grade heart murmur. What are the symptoms she gets when you take her off the prescription food?

Maybe someone with more knowledge on that subject will pop in. I think Dogster Maxwell had a dog with a heart murmur and she's a raw feeder who really does her research. She'd probably have some information on that.

Edited by author Fri Jun 7, '13 11:44pm PST


Miss Southern- Bell
Barked: Sat Jun 8, '13 6:49am PST 
Just so you know I'm the author of the thread, I just couldn't get logged into my account last night for some reason. But anyways, I also need to know about the proper nutrition for a dog, are there good sites for that?

I'm triple- superior MAD- now!
Barked: Sat Jun 8, '13 6:37pm PST 
Go to dogaware.com. Extremely valuable information on that site for feeding and health care. Any kind of feeding, kibble to enhanced kibble to cooked to raw and beyond.

Cooked is a lot more work, smells great and is wasteful if you buy meat with bone in it. If you don't know what you are doing you are likely to serve a very unbalanced diet. My 38 pound dog needs as much of a large number of nutrients as an adult human so a diet that seems sensible to us would be very inadequate for a dog fed 1/3 as many calories a day but needing the same calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and some vitamins as I do. Raw is more work to source, icky to feed for some and you don't waste anything but the wrappers the meat came in. Some worry about germs and goo and bones sticking in the gut or choking the dog.

If I did cooked I likely would try Lew Olsen's low glycemic type food but would make up batches instead of feeding a bit of this a bit of that.
My recipe would be something like 3 pounds of very lean hamburger, 1 pound of pureed veggies, 3 ounces of beef liver, a couple eggs and a can of sardines with 2700mg of calcium from bone meal. That would be 4-6 days of food for my 38 pound easy keeper. I would puree raw veggies, put all into a very large pot and cook lightly until meats are no longer pink, add sardines and egg and pack up. Weigh the whole thing and divide so I know how many ounces he would get a day from that batch.

I would try the slow or pressure cooked chicken method at least once though. The bones reportedly soften so you can mush most of them up and not have to throw away bone.
http://pressurecookerrecipes22484.yuku.com/topic/1423/Cooking -a-chicken-till-it-s-mush#.UbPUUJz3N7N
My recipe would be 1 5 pound chicken cooked until bone falls from the meat, remove meat and cook bones in broth until soft. Add 10 pounds of very lean hamburger, 1 pound of liver, 4 cans of sardines and some egg and cook very lightly. Use the broth and don't throw away skin or fat unless the dogs cannot tolerate fat. No calcium or phosphorus needed as it comes from the bone. You might need to add some veggies to firm the stool, might start with 25% which would be 4 pounds and reduce the amount as the dogs adjust to the food. That might feed Max for 22-27 days.

Dogs with heart issues need less salt and more meat. You control the salt in home made food. Do check the labels. Chicken especially is 'enhanced' with a sodium solution. If the chicken contains more than 100mg sodium per serving put it back on the shelf. I think you will note that there is plenty of meat in my idea of cooked food. Max looks like a spaniel mix and they can have heart issues caused by low taurine. In that case you would be better off supplementing if you cook the food. If you feed whole pieces of raw then there would be plenty of taurine present. Ground meats can be low in taurine. A study of cats fed ground whole rabbit had to be terminated as that diet didn't provide enough taurine and cats got sick. A whole rabbit would have been fine though.

Raw. My raw diet is 20 pounds of meat/bone/organ per month. A couple chickens cut into 8ths, a pound of liver, pound of kidney and the rest pork, beef, lamb. All goes into the clean sink on a cutting board. Get out some bowls, disjoint the chicken and put into a bowl, cut liver and kidney into 2 ounce bits and into a bowl. Get out my freezer bins, a bit of chicken and a bit of organ then fill with boneless red meat. Freeze. A bin lasts two days and I weigh out his portion daily. Add an egg if it is light on the second day.

He gets a bit of vitamin E, fish oil and joint supplements daily and I give him a mineral supplement as he doesn't get much food so his diet is light on manganese and magnesium and zinc. I would likely do the same on a cooked food. I found out after he had been on raw for a while that grains bother him so I wouldn't be using them as a manganese source. Magnesium is found in some seeds so I might add ground sunflower seed to a cooked diet. Max would rather have sunflower seeds, ground or not, but they bother him so he gets a human mineral supplement ground up and mixed with his raw food.

I know I am doing right by Max as I have the NRC 2006 numbers found in Monica Segal's books. There is a thread on the home cooking forum about balancing the diet too.
http://www.dogster.com/forums/Home_Prepared_Food_Recipes/threa d/640881

I hope you decide to try feeding fresh to your dogs. I was amazed at the improvement in my dogs' health and hope to be able to feed fresh from here on out. While you are studying up on the subject do look at dogaware's section on adding fresh to kibble. You can substitute 25% kibble calories for fresh food calories without worrying about unbalancing the diet and up to 50% if you have half way tried to create a balanced food.
Aina- Aloysius de- LeMaitre

work hard, play- hard
Barked: Sun Jun 9, '13 11:14am PST 
From my experience, no one feeding approach is absolutely appropriate for every dog. I started out on low quality kibble with a high quality supplement since that was what the breeder was using. Sounds odd but a balance was struck between time and money with the results being dogs that thrive. My person transitioned me to raw and I did poorly. The few conventional vets we saw all counseled against raw and figured that I probably had megaesophagus (based only on clinical symptoms, no diagnostics). Then I got to see a couple different vets who practice complimentary medicine, including nutritional counseling. These particular vets each felt the raw was too rich for my system at the time. I switched to cooked and was fine from there on out. Not an uncommon situation from their experience.

As for heart conditions and nutritional therapy, I have some experience there. I was diagnosed with early stage dilated cardiomyopathy and was treated using an allopathic approach as well as complimentary medicine. A big part of the treatment was nutritional therapy. Prior to this diagnosis, I got raw meat organs with my cooked meals but no particular focus on which organs. After the DCM diagnosis, my main raw organ meat was heart. Needless to say, all organs were from the highest quality sources available (grass fed, local, organic, etc). From a TCM perspective, one eats where one is lacking. So if my weak organ is heart, that is what I need to eat more of. If we look at the nutrients in heart meat, we see that components supportive for the heart (like taurine) are in high concentration. My heart condition actually improved over a year's time, based on repeated diagnostics. I don't know the cause of your heart condition or its treatment but nutritional therapy could be a powerful tool for you. It was for me!