Feeding Dogs REAL Food

Feeding Dogs Real Food | areturntosimplicity.com

I am not a pet lover by any standard, and I don’t have a very strong emotional attachment to our two (mutt) dogs.

However, emotional attachment or not, I think that all animals should lead the best life we, as their owners, can give them.

For us, this includes feeding them REAL food, not a bag of GMO grain, vegetable oil, food coloring, and propylene glycol (otherwise known as antifreeze). So this summer, we are changing things up. 

We are feeding our dogs real food.

When we get our beef share each year, we also have them include all the less appetizing pieces of the cow (tongue and heart anyone?). I know they are nutritious, and some people love to eat them, but our family is not quite as enthralled with these cuts of meat, so they have become dog food. 

For our sweet elderly dog, we cut up the meat into small chunks, and mix it with raw goats milk, but for the younger dog, we just give him whole pieces of meat for him to chew and gnaw on. Along with the raw, grass fed meat, we supplement with cooked oatmeal, and any leftovers/soup bones after they are done being used in the kitchen.

Feeding Dogs Real Food | areturntosimplicity.com

So far, we have actually saved a good bit of money by using stuff out of our freezer.

I know it probably won’t last an entire year, so when it runs out, I will just use the money I would normally spend on a bag of dog food to buy more meat and bones from the butcher.

The dogs are loving it, and I feel so much better about the care they are getting!

Dog food

Our long term plan is to be butchering all of our own animals, and create a sort of “jerky” for the dogs by drying all the leftover scraps and organs. That way the dog’s food won’t be taking up our valuable freezer room!

Then we will be producing the majority of the dog’s food here on our homestead! 

Feeding Dogs Real Food | areturntosimplicity.com

Anyone else made the switch to real food for pets? If so, what are you feeding them?

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22 responses to “Feeding Dogs REAL Food”

  1. Great article! While our dog still gets kibble for breakfast (for simplicity’s sake) she gets a hodgepodge at dinner! We hunt, so she often gets the scrappy bits of venison, plus the heart and liver, etc. She also gets dinner leftovers: Pretty much anything that is more-or-less onion free is up for grabs… so she gets a lot of cooked rice, a few vegetables, the mushy bones left over from making stock, and anything else that’s lying around. I always give her a spoonful of yogurt, and if that doesn’t look like enough, I toss in an egg.
    Thanks for sharing at the From the Farm Blog Hop!
    ~ Christine

    • Angi says:

      Oh!! I really like the yogurt idea! I think I will start incorporating that into their food as well. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  2. Good for you! My mother cooks–or cuts 😉 for her dogs. I haven’t made the switch yet.

    Stop by our homestead for a visit.

  3. Louise says:

    We got 2 rescue dogs about 4 years ago and I have been feeding them Blue Buffalo dry dog food along with raw chicken, beef, and lamb hearts, kidneys, liver. I recently got a cow tongue and they loved that. I also give them raw chicken feet and beef bones. They get raw cows milk every morning and when it isn’t in their bowls when they come back inside the house they look at me as if to say ‘Did you forget something!’ They get the cooked bones from making beef stock. When I make chicken stock I give them the chicken skin, some of the meat, and the parts of the bones that I can easily crush. Concerned about the cooked chicken bones splintering and cutting their insides. They love raw veggies and fruits and always get veggie soup when I have it. They get raw egg yolks and cooked egg whites several times a week usually. I cook the whites because raw whites give them very smelly gas!!! They get canned salmon also. I do not give them bread of any nature including pizza crust, anything I have cooked that is spicey like spaghetti or chili. Quite a few people have told me my dogs eat better than they do! Very spoiled and well loved little girlies! Oh yes, I give them coconut oil or olive oil regularly also. They likes to snack on organic almond butter and peanut butter. They get some of my organic protein shake just about every morning also.

  4. We supplement a good quality kibble with venison. We got two deer this year, an elk, and my son got a bear. We’re pretty picky about trimming our meat, so the dogs have bags of scraps in the freezer. I cook brown rice in broth and add a generous amount of meat. They love it! If there are leftover veggies from dinner, those go in the pot too. I’m just beginning to be comfortable with feeding them raw meat – and there are no complaints from them! I feel much better about their diet now.

  5. Susan Schreiner says:

    I had a terrier mix for 17 years and he saw the vet one time other than vaccinations. He was seen for arthritis in his leg. He ate once a day whatever we had for dinner ourselves and he died in his sleep after 17 years in his bed at home. Dog food is a money making business and unless you have no other choice, I think real food is always better.

  6. joanne fountain says:

    what you are doing is great, in the past we have done the same for our dogs. Here are a couple more things we did too.

    1. you have your meat butchered right well when we did we asked them to save and send along all the bone marrow and scrapes from in side the saws that they would throw out when they cleaned up.
    2. in the winters ( we lived in northern panhandle of Idaho and got alot of snow and cold, cold weather) we would cook up that marrow stuff (we called it gruel) and added just a touch of cayenne pepper to help warm them up. we feed some of this to the chickens too they loved it.

    hope this helps add to your list. You guys really rock. 😉

    • Angi says:

      Oh, I like your cayenne addition! I never would have thought of that! Totally adding this to their feed on the cold days.

  7. We’ve been feeding our black lab mix raw since we adopted him a little over 2 years ago. When we look at other dogs, we think they look so fat and out of shape (we never comment on that though) and they think our dog looks too skinny (people always comment on that) At his yearly, the vet compliments on how great he looks, teeth are excellent, ears clean, hair is sooo soft. We purchase our food from a raw feeding company who strives to obtain good, quality, hormone-free meats and it gets delivered directly to our door. I would love to be able butcher our own meat but, one can dream, right? He eats anything from raw chicken, duck, whole rabbit, and quail. We add small amounts of liver and organ meats to every meal. At first I was saddened when he would actually catch (very rare) a rabbit or a squirrel and eat it. Then I thought, hmmm, free meal!

  8. sarah says:

    I am new to feeding our dog anything but bagged dogfood (about which I feel awful as I know it is killing him slowly). I wondered if i need to be picky about what kinds and sizes of bones I give him?? We get a beef share twice a year that I can save some bones out of but some of them seem small and I am worried about splinters/choking. Any rule of thumb for this?

    • Angi says:

      Beef bones don’t really splinter like chicken bones do, so I wouldn’t worry about them at all. After your dog gets used to eating more bones and other textures in his diet, you can even add in chicken bones. Our dogs have gotten quite adept at eating even the chicken bones, and I have never seen them choke on them…

      • Ashlee says:

        My vet has told me never ever give my dog any bones that splinter. I have a golden lab and his name is Hunter. I go by what my vet tells me. I wouldn’t ever want to have splinters in my belly so I wouldn’t want my dog to ever get them either. It could cause complications and it’s not fair to him to even chance it.

        • Angi says:

          Ashlee, I understand your concerns. Hear me out though. So, traditionally, dogs, wolves, and coyotes all have eaten whatever game they could hunt. That many times included birds, all of which have easily splintering bones. Dogs DO know how to eat them and not injure themselves, but it is a “lost intuition” since we humans started feeding dogs ground up animal matter and grains in the form of commercial dog food. Therefore, you can totally choose not to feed your dog bones that can splinter, or you can gradually and carefully introduce them into their diet, and retrain them how to eat like they traditionally would have. Does that make sense?

  9. G L KELLY says:

    I believe dogs were intended to eat raw due to the fact that they have been domesticated from the wild dog. Only up until now have I known enough to feel comfortable giving my dogs raw. What I’ve read/learned so far it isn’t good to give dogs any cooked bones, that it’s better to give them raw. Can anyone elaborate on this? I am always open for more knowledge. 🙂

  10. Amanda says:

    My dogs have been fed a raw diet for about three years now. They are much healthier on raw than they ever were on kibble. One word of caution… I would nix the cooked bones. Dogs can eat raw bones, but cooked ones are dangerous, especially cooked chicken bones as they can splinter. It’s great that your dogs are enjoying a real food diet. Our goal is to raise more animals to feed both ourselves and our dogs.

  11. Cherisse Epp says:

    I’ve been feeding my beagles a raw diet for several years now. I did it because of constant ear infections. I have not had to deal with ear infections since switching. The food usually consists of ground meat, veggies, yogurt, eggs (with shells) and a kelp based supplement.

  12. Tina B says:

    I’ve been feeding my four Labs a raw diet for a couple of years now. They eat all sorts of good food…beef, chicken, pork, turkey and duck…along with a variety of organs…liver, kidneys and heart. They also eat fresh, whole (not cooked) sardines and enjoy raw duck necks and chicken legs and backs (including the bones).

    I would not feed any cooked bones, tho’…bones can splinter inside the digestive system and cause drastic, deadly issues. I use any leftover bones from the family’s meal by making bone broth. It’s literally free to make…I store it in the freezer in quart containers and ice cube trays. It’s great for a dog who needs to be encouraged to eat or need an extra immune boost…bone broth is an amazing thing!


    • Angi says:

      Hi Tina! I totally love making bone broth with our leftover bones. Those are actually the only really cooked bones the dogs get, and by the time I am done cooking the stock, the bones are almost mush, and there is no danger of splintering. As an additional thought though, dogs have been eating leftover cooked bones from human food for thousands of years, and doing just fine. 🙂 I think it is so cool that you have been feeding your dogs a real food diet for so long now!

  13. Jim says:

    Never ever feed cooked bones, even when they are mushy. They can and will splinter. Dogs prefer raw bones for the same reason we humans like broth from cooked bones, the marrow. Chicken wing bones are pretty dicey except for the smaller breeds, because larger dogs are less likely to chew them properly. Also, any large animal weight bearing bone or knuckle is not meant for dogs either. They are too hard and can break the dog’s teeth. Liver is very important to raw-fed dogs, as is fat and the proper amount of bone. My wife and I have raw-fed our dogs for the last two years. They are healthy, lean, muscular, have the shiniest coats you’ve seen, rarely need to have a bath, and have very clean teeth and breath. Here’s a good place to get some more starting info: http://www.rawfed.com/.

  14. Amanda says:

    Is there a formula for how much real food to give versus dry food? For instance, if the bag says 1 cup a day what is the equivalent real food amount? Do the dogs need the same ratio of foods that we do? Meaning, what percent fats, proteins, and carbs?

  15. Louise says:

    We have a standard doxie and a terrier mix. I give them raw heart, kidney, tongue, liver of whatever animal I can get it from. Usually beef, chicken, pork. I give them raw egg yolk and cook the white to prevent gas. They get cooked and raw veggies. I also use Primal frozen patties because it is hard to find enough organ meat to give them from the farmer’s markets. I mix some green drink powder and curcumin in the food several times a week. When I make bone broth and veggie soup from it they get some of that. They usually get some raw cow’s milk every morning and I also give them some kefir for the good bugs in it. When I can get chicken feet they love to eat them raw. They get raw beef bones as well. Oh, butter is a favorite of theirs, as well as coconut oil, or olive oil. Canned salmon is good too. As you can see, I try to give them a variety. I try to not give them anything that would not be natural – pizza, bread, etc. They also like seeds, almond butter, peanut butter, nuts, apples. It has been about 5 years now they have been eating this way. Happy dogs!

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