That’s a lot of information to process! We learned about the problems associated with dog food. Then, a brief education in canine evolution and the domestication of the dog was in order. Lastly, we explored the anatomy and physiology of the dog to garner more information on what they should be eating.  Overall, we learned the “whys” behind raw feeding. Now Let’s learn the benefits! Before we do, let’s recap what we’ve learned.

What Should Dogs be Eating?

Dogs are carnivores. As such, they should be eating a diet of predominantly meat.  Equally as important, it should be raw. Animals don’t cook their foods. Your dog needs raw muscle meat, organs, fatty tissue, and bones.

What Shouldn’t Dogs be Eating?

Carbohydrates: such as fruits, veggies, and grains. Carbs may be nutritious for omnivores and herbivores, but carnivores don’t benefit from these nutrients in the same way that we do. What’s the point of feeding your dog these foods if they cannot properly digest and assimilate the nutrition from them? Again, fruits and veggies are not bad; they contain many wonderful nutrients. They won’t make your dogs sick or harm them. The problem lies in the fact that they digest them too quickly to properly absorb the vital nutrients they need to stay in optimal condition – so they end up being a moot point.

Cooked foods: Your dogs were meant to eat raw foods. They have the digestive system, stomach acid, and bacteria killing agents for a reason: to handle these foods. Cooking destroys the vitamin, mineral, and enzyme content that is needed! Also beware; cooked bones are more likely to splinter and cause hazards for your dog. They are equipped to consume raw foods and should only be eating raw meat and bones.

Processed foods: We already discussed why. Processed foods are unhealthy and are not good for any living animal. They are poor nutrition at best.


Benefits of Raw Feeding

What can you expect after adopting a raw diet for your furry friend?

  • White teeth, free of tartar and dental disease

  • Shiny, smooth, oil-free coats

  • Flake-free and itch-free skin

  • Chronic allergies and infections subside and/or disappear

  • Odorless breath and body

  • Improved energy and vitality

  • Decreased visits to the vet

  • Major changes in poop!

  • Mental stimulation from working at mealtimes

  • Exercise


Dental Benefits

Dogs fed commercial pet food often have poor dental hygiene. The starchy ingredients cause tartar buildup and eventually dental disease.  Dental disease in dogs is a serious matter. It can lead to abscessed roots and teeth that need to be extracted. Infections in the mouth can also occur that can cause more serious secondary infections elsewhere in the body. In addition, any of these scenarios from a simple teeth cleaning to a more serious dental procedure are usually quite costly and are a financial burden on most pet owners. In order to avoid dental issues for dogs fed traditional pet food, proper preventative care is given including brushing teeth, providing dental chews, and other recreational bones.

To prove just how damaging the effects are of a commercial diet are, look at the dental health of wild wolves and dogs.  They don’t need to brush their teeth to be free of tartar buildup. They don’t fall victim to infections or other dental ailments that require immediate attention. This is because they eat their natural diet.

Your dog will have pearly, white teeth when fed raw.  It will take no work on your part. You will not be required to provide fancy dental chews or brush your dog’s teeth. You won’t need to visit the vet and pay for pricey dental work. How is that possible? Every time they rip, shred, tear, and crunch down on bones they are receiving a thorough teeth cleaning. Crunching and grinding bones naturally scrapes and removes plague and tartar from the teeth.


Skin & Coat Improvements

Many dogs fed commercial diets have a dull, lackluster appearance to their coats. As our damaged hair can look lifeless, and proper care and treatments can leave it luxurious and smooth, your dog’s coat will be revived on a raw diet. It will be smooth and shiny.

Other dogs may also have oily, smelly coats. I’m sure we’ve all encountered a dog like this. You reach out to pet an adorable dog and  then regret the decision as you can feel a greasy film on your hands. These dogs will also see an improvement in their coat once they transition to raw feeding. The oily feeling and odor will disappear and a much nicer, smoother coat will emerge. Ask any raw feeder. I’m confident they’ll dish about the difference in their dog’s coat since the switch.

Another issue many dogs encounter on commercial diets is skin problems. Some dogs have dry, flaky skin. Others have itchy skin and cannot seem to stop scratching. Even worse, other dogs can contact mange and other more serious skin conditions. Though skin conditions might not be entirely due to diet, dogs with healthier immune systems (as a result of raw feeding) will have improved skin and coats.


Allergy Relief

Allergies can be considered a disease of civilization because it’s an ailment that is completely man made and stems from processed pet food. While some dogs may be allergic to other environmental factors, most allergies are food related. Food allergies can cause digestibility issues, skin issues, reoccurring ear and eye infections and much more. Some dogs are even allergic to cooked proteins but not in the raw form! Once on a raw diet, most dog owners are amazed to see their dog’s previous allergies clear up completely.

Odors Clear

Many people are under the false pretense that animals are supposed to smell bad. Not true! Animals in good health do not have bad odors. Owners of raw fed dogs report that their breath and coats are odor free.  Don’t take this wrong, your dog will not smell like roses but after adopting a raw diet, your dogs will lose that overall funky dog smell. It’s more about the absence of a smell. Many owners of raw fed dogs also report that their dogs pass less gas as well.

Energy & Vitality Improves

While I’m sure most dog owners have no complaints about their dog’s lack of energy and zest for life, many raw fed dog owners report that their dogs have an improved energy and vitality after switching to raw. They claim that their dogs have much more energy and older dogs act like puppies once again.

Mental & Physical Exercise

Your dog receives a tremendous amount of mental stimulation and physical exercise when eating raw. Ripping, shredding, and tearing muscle meat as well as crushing bones works out the jaw and neck muscles. Though they gain more energy overall, one of the best things about raw feeding is how most dogs easily tire after mealtime and seem quite satisfied and ready to chill out for a bit. This is because they have to expend a lot of energy ripping, tearing, and crunching up complicated pieces of meat.

In addition, you’ll also notice how much more excited your dog gets at meal times and how much they enjoy their new food. This is because they are engaging in a very primal and instinctual activity. Chewing bones and ripping apart meat actually releases endorphins in your pet. Because your dog is receiving so much mental and physical exercise during meal times, they will be more satisfied and less likely to engage in destruction behaviors out of boredom.

Stool Improvements

A favorite benefit among raw feeders is most likely the change in the consistency of their dog’s stools. Once successfully switched to a raw diet, your dog will eliminate less often. When they do have a bowel movement, it will be much smaller in size. This is because your dog is actually digesting his/her food and making better use of the nutrients from it, so there is less waste.  In addition, the consistency of your dog’s stools will change for the better when fed an appropriate raw diet. Stools will be less foul smelling and soft. They will be firmer and near odorless. The healthy stools of a raw fed dog are quite firm and won’t smear and make a mess when accidentally stepped on. When they dry they turn white and become crumbly. This makes cleanup so much easier and more pleasant.

Vet Visits Decrease

The main benefit of raw feeding is by far a healthier and happier dog.  When dogs eat food that is biologically appropriate, they will absorb all the nutrients from their food making their immune system, digestive system, and other bodily functions stronger. This will pay off over time as your dog will need less veterinary care and will avoid contracting more serious diseases as they age.


Benefits of Feeding Raw Food

Why We Feed Raw: An Insider's Perspective from Only Natural Pet Staff


For some of us, nothing beats a recommendation from someone’s first-hand experience. It's even better when that someone has some expertise in the area of knowledge in question. If you are someone who appreciates an insider’s point of view on matters of pet health care, you’ll likely appreciate what our staff have to say about our experiences feeding raw food to our pets!

If you’ve called us for help with your order or with pet care questions, you may have spoken with the some of our Customer Care team members who are offering their insights on feeding raw. Diann, Cynthia, Sarah, and Deanne have all made the choice to serve raw food to their pets, and their stories, as well as their picks for food and supplements are outlined below.

Diann and Crinkles, the Black Lab-Cattle Dog Mix & Only Natural Pet “Princess”
Crinkles is an approximately 7-year-old rescued black lab cattle dog mix dog that is three-legged. Although we have a large selection of food options here at Only Natural Pet Store, feeding raw is important because we know it is the optimal diet. We personally eat a primarily vegetarian and organic diet, so we know the importance of species-appropriate diets, and how impactful it can be with or without specific health issues. And it really is easy. So easy that our 10-year-old boys do it without complaining! 

We typically use Nature’s Variety raw, mostly rabbit, but we do alternate protein sources. The medallions are easy. We just take out the number of medallions for a couple days & put them in a container in the fridge to thaw. If we ever forget, we put the medallions we need for the immediate meal in a zip loc, run it under hot water, and a few minutes later it’s thawed. We put four medallions in her bowl, add her other supplements & if I have chopped any veggies from dinner, slide those in as well. Occasionally we add the Sojo's pre-mix items too. We soak the veggies or even the grains. 

While we don't have a picky dog, she has never left a drop of anything in her bowl! It is actually fun preparing your animal’s meal; there a sense of pride that goes with doing it, knowing it's much better than pouring some dry kibble in a bowl. I know if I had to have cold cereal everyday I would be so disappointed!

This is a time share dog, and we know, unfortunately, on occasion she gets fed dry food at the other house, but she never has a problem coming back to raw and we do not see bowel movement issues. Because we give her variety, she transitions easy. 

The benefits of the raw diet are the obvious - she's happy and she loves it. She sits at the edge of the kitchen "crinkling" her face into a smile & wagging her tail like crazy until the bowl is set down for her. She is so mobile for a three-legged doggie, and that's the raw & the supplements working together. The enzymes are invaluable. The obvious benefit for our 10-year-old boys is that they don't have a bunch of gross poo to clean up!

Crinkles gets several regular daily dog supplements with every meal - Only Natural Pet Super

Daily Vitamins + Joint Support and Only Natural Pet Get Up & Go to help with her joint support 

due to her three-legged issue, and some essential fatty acids from Only Natural Pet Pure

Icelandic Salmon Oil. She also takes some flower essences for stress & anxiety (because she is

a rescue dog and sensitive to noises - this goes right in the food, too).

For treats she gets lots of Only Natural Pet bully chews for her teeth (and to bribe her when we

need to clip her nails).

Cynthia and Kaylee the Yellow Lab
When I got my six-year-old yellow Lab from the shelter, I thought I would feed her a half raw-half kibble diet. We tried some dry food, but she did so much better with the raw food that I decided to make that her whole diet. I know that Labs in America have a short average life span, and this is my first dog, so I want her to live as long as possible! I truly believe that a raw food diet will prolong her life – when I first got her, the fur on her face was whiter than it is now – she’s actually regained color on her muzzle, and her teeth have far less plaque than they did when I first brought her home nine months ago.

I’ve noticed many benefits from feeding her a raw diet. She doesn’t have a greasy, smelly coat – she hasn’t needed a bath once in 9 months! She sheds very little, and her breath smells good – both signs of good health. She has great energy, and she digests the raw food much better than kibble. Her stools are firm, small, well-formed, and not very smelly. Kaylee loves her food so much that she will come find me to wag her tail profusely and say thank you after every meal!

Kaylee eats one pound of Nature’s Variety raw food each day, divided into two meals. We use the 2-pound chubs, and alternate between the beef and the chicken & turkey formulas. I just thaw the chub and squeeze out ¼ of it for each meal. We mix this with the Sojo’s Europa Grain-Free Pre-Mix. I figured out how much raw food to feed based on the 2-3% of body weight rule of thumb, as follows:

  • 2% - to reduce weight, or for inactive dogs

  • 2.5% - to maintain weight, and for normally active dogs

  • 3% - for very active dogs or to increase weight

Kaylee weighs 60 lbs., and with her activity level and taking into account the other things she eats, 1 pound per day is the right amount.

She has quite a few daily supplements with each meal. She has Only Natural Pet Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil for those critical essential fatty acids (great for Labs with their skin sensitivities!). She also gets Dr. Harvey’s Multi-Vitamin & Mineral Herbal Supplement and/or Only Natural Pet Super Daily Greens, and Only Natural Pet Whole Food Antioxidant Blend for overall health. For digestive support, she takes Animal Essentials Plant Enzymes and Probiotics and Only Natural Pet Probiotic Blend. She also gets a dental & oral supplement, like ProDen PlaqueOff (GREAT for reducing plaque and tartar!) and In-Clover Connectin or Only Natural Pet

Glucosamine + Asta for joint support.

For treats, she enjoys Bones Galore bully sticks, raw beef or bison bones, Only Natural Pet

HealthTreats Jerky Bites and Poultry Crispies, andNewman's Own Organics Dog Treats. She

gets a  Dr. Harvey’s Power Patty whenever I clean her ears. This is by far her favorite treat,

and it's so nutritious I feel great giving it to her as a reward!

Deanne, Lacey the Weimaraner & the Kitty Crew:
First, I put my puppy on raw, 3½ years ago. I rescued her from a severe neglect situation. She was on death’s door at 4 months of age with horrific digestive problems. I spent months of trying different commercial foods, every kibble in the world, and I also tried adding things to her diet such as pumpkin and fiber. NOTHING worked. She had permanent diarrhea. It seemed there was nothing I could do to get her to have a solid stool. It was very frustrating, and I felt bad for my baby to be so uncomfortable. The worst thing about it was the amount of food we were going through, and the amount of poop in the yard. It was extremely obvious that she was not absorbing a single nutrient from her food. Even when I was feeding her massive amounts, she wouldn’t gain any weight.

After several months of misery for both of us, I decided to try a raw diet. I had just heard about it, and although skeptical, I felt it would be worth a shot- nothing else was working, and she couldn’t possibly get worse. It was an IMMEDIATE improvement. Literally, the next day she had a solid stool. It was like a miracle! She started to gain weight, she had energy, her coat was shiny, and I could tell she was finally receiving nourishment from her meals. I could not believe what I was seeing, but I was sold for life. 

She has been on raw ever since, and she is the picture of health. If you didn’t meet her as a puppy, you’d never know the horrible beginning she started with. She is a little small from her breed, which I basically attribute to her just not growing for the first year of her life, but other than her size, she is totally normal. 

I decided to make the switch to raw for my cats after learning about important enzymes they are missing out on when they eat kibble, not to mention the dehydration issue. I was already sold on the raw concept; it was just a lot more work when it came to getting six cats switched over! Free feeding kibble was so convenient. Nevertheless, I committed to making the change because I decided their health was more important than convenience. 

Over all, the transition went ok. Three of my cats were immediately sold on the idea. They absolutely love it, and actually start meowing when I bring in their bowls. Two of them were not super excited about it at first, but would nibble on it eventually. One of my cats was not at all interested, and actually refused to eat it altogether. Over time I have worked out a schedule that works for all of us, including my budget. They still get to nibble on a high quality kibble through out the day. They get canned food in the morning and evening, and the raw mixed in whenever I’ve got the time to prepare it.

I can definitely tell a difference as far as their energy level goes. My favorite feature of the raw diet is the effect it has on the litter box. The amount of stool is greatly decreased. This tells me they are absorbing their nutrients, and the smell is virtually non-existent! There is plenty of urine, which assures me they are staying properly hydrated. I also add Dr. Harvey’s Power Patties crumbled and sprinkled on top, which they all go nuts for. In fact, once I left the bag on the counter (totally sealed up), and they totally ransacked it. I’ve never seen

them shred something like that before. They are addicted to that stuff. I also add some canned

tripe to their canned food, which is very stinky, but they like it. 

In addition to the raw food diet, I also add many supplements. Everyone gets a probiotic like

Animal Essentials Plant Enzymes and Probiotics, and an essential fatty acid like Animal Essentials

Essential Fatty Acids. The cats get daily vitamins like Only Natural Pet Super Daily Feline Vitamins,

and the dog gets her daily vitamin in Only Natural Pet Super Daily Vitamin Skin & Coat. Also, my

cat needs liver support and gets the Only Natural Pet Whole Food Antioxidant Blend, L-Carnitine

by Integrative Therapeutics, and Vetri-Science Vetri-Liver. Lacey the dog also gets Halo’s Hip &

Joint Supplement, Dr. Harvey’s Multi-Vitamin and Mineral Herbal Supplement, ProDen PlaqueOff

& Sojo’s Europa!