I’m a HUGE fan of raw diets for sick dogs and I encourage them to anyone with a younger dog or an adult dog for that matter. However, my problem has always been with whether or not it’s safe to switch an older dog or a dog with health problems over to a raw diet. This article is meant to shed some light on this very topic for those out there that are struggling with what to do with regards to feeding your older dog a raw diet. Before we move forward, let me start by saying that one of the simplest and best things you can do to feed your senior dog is to the home cook and our cookbook simplifies the process for you in every way.
Are My Feelings About Raw Diet Outdated?
Because many dogs live lives of continuous vaccinations, monthly chemical heartworm and flea and tick applications and kibble-fed diets, their bodies lack EVERYTHING they need to flourish. A dog who has lived through eating a diet that is completely against his nature, is over-vaccinated, poisoned monthly through parasite treatments, receives zero oral care on the teeth and gums and gets little exercise and/or social interaction, without a doubt has an immune system that is completely shot by the time the dog is a senior! The chronic skin, stool, lumps, bumps, ear problems, joint pain and finally disease, ARE in my opinion all related to what the dog endured over his lifetime. It’s just common sense. While I have always shied away from starting a senior, or sick senior dog on raw due to a weakened immune system, many say this is just what they need to recover, regardless if the dog has health concerns.
Opinions From Holistic Veterinarians
In an article from Whole Dog Journal, Veterinarian, Dr. Ian Billinghurst (considered the father of raw feeding for dogs), shares how his experience with feeding raw food diet for senior/older dogs to immune-compromised animals actually accelerated the immune system back to normal. He indicates that was the reason that he wrote his book “Give Your Dog a Bone” which was how the movement for feeding raw began. Other holistic vets weighed in with their opinions as well. Dr. Jean Hovre shared how she wouldn’t feed dogs with a weak immune system, leaky gut or dogs that are debilitated, raw diets. However, one of my favorite vets, Dr. Beckershares in one of her articles that by removing processed foods from a sick dog’s diet and adding a species-appropriate diet (this means raw), plus the appropriate supplements to target any inflammation and/or yeast (as necessary) and assist organ function, can eliminate symptoms and target the root cause and heal leaky gut. She also mentions that every dog is individual and the needs vary from dog to dog.
In the article, Dr. Wynn shares that elderly dogs, dogs weakened due to chronic illness or disease, dogs who suffer with pancreatitis and dogs already suffering with “dampness” in the body (TCM which relates to Chinese medicine believes that certain foods cause blockages in the body) should not eat raw, in her opinion.
Dr. Newkirk who is a huge fan of home-prepared raw meals stated that his biggest concern with raw has to do with dogs who have serious bowel issues. In the article, he recommends feeding cooked meals for a short time only.
Dr. Silver: Another one of my favorite alternative vets. 🙂 Dr. Silver likes to take it slow for older dogs when they are compromised in any way. Here’s what he had to say when I talked with him: “I’m not a raw food nut. I think there are values to having the food raw or minimally processed, but they’re also are values to cooking the food, in terms of increasing its availability. For instance, broccoli is more available for absorption of its micronutrients when its steamed, versus serving it raw. Gentle cooking, as compared to the brutal high temperatures and pressures used with manufacturing kibble and to a lesser extent canned, doesn’t destroy many nutrients. This is why we eat food that is both cooked, and raw as with salad and fruit, to have all of the benefits of cooking where appropriate and raw where appropriate. I don’t believe that raw feeding is what improves dogs and cat’s health, it’s the feeding of wholesome food, gently cooked or raw, as compared to the highly processed manufactured pet foods.” Dr. Kollath’s study on raw vs cooked/processed food for dogs: I’m not sure exactly when the study was done, but it took place at Karolinska Hospital in Sweden where they fed animals a cooked and processed food diet. While the animals were young, they looked healthy, however, as they matured into adulthood, they started to age faster than normal. The animals also showed symptoms of chronic degenerative diseases. Osteoarthritis, cancer and inflammatory bowel disease are just a few common degenerative diseases in dogs.
This should tell you something since all three of these diseases mentioned are rampant in pets today!
They then selected a group of animals that were to be raised on a raw food diet for senior/older dogs. These animals aged slower and were free of the symptoms of degenerative diseases.
Eliminate Skin Issues
If you’re thinking of changing your dog’s diet to raw due to skin problems and yeast infections, please see our #5-star Anti-Yeast & Allergy Kit here which can help manage this skin while building your dog’s immune system.
Is raw food diet good for older/senior dogs?
At this point, I definitely would NOT rule out feeding raw to an older dog. (Read the comments from others below). However, for dogs with a serious illness such as cancer, I think that I would lightly cook the meat (which is something that I have always recommended to my readers anyway when feeding older dogs) at a lower temperature. There’s nothing wrong with feeding both a cooked and raw diet to your senior dog. Again, there’s a lot of considerations such as disease, before jumping into all raw. *READ THIS IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT RAW BEEF: If feeding beef, make sure that it is frozen for several days before feeding due to the Neospora intestinal parasite often found in cattle. So, don’t just purchase beef from the grocery store and feed. Freeze it first for several days before feeding it to your dog. Learn more about Neospora here. I also like the idea of adding nutritional supplements that contain antioxidants or powder form along with additional calcium and toxin free fatty acids which are all critical when home cooking.
What is a raw diet for dogs?
Make Your Life Easier
Another excellent idea is to use a food such as Dr. Harvey’s Paradigm which is a super green food. Or, their Raw Vibrance is an excellent choice as well. Both are premixes and you simply add your protein and oil to it. We recommend organic cold-pressed coconut oil. Either of these foods (or you can rotate them as well) in combination with our cookbook is an excellent combination for feeding your old friend a diet that he not only needs but craves and will thrive on. You can order Dr. Harveys Paradigm or Raw Vibrance and save 10% when you use the code MOD0219.
References: Whole Dog Journal – The Evolution of The Raw Dog Food Diet, HealthyPets.Mercola.com, Wikipedia, Janie’s Own Experience 🙂