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Dog licking a glass dropper

Do Raw-Fed Dogs Need Synthetic Supplements?

So, raw-fed dogs eat pretty healthy food, but don’t they need any synthetic dog supplements on top?

I get this type of question via email or as a DM on social media in a myriad of variations.

So today, I’m answering it for everyone here on the blog!

Let me start by saying that I totally get why (future) pawrents of raw-fed dogs are asking this question, too.

Because it doesn’t matter where you’re shopping for your pup’s raw dog food.

Both online and at a brick-and-mortar stores, we’re surrounded by synthetic dog supplements, which in and of itself suggests that we should be feeding them.

And there’s tons of them, too:

  • Probiotics
  • Antioxidants
  • Multivitamins
  • Digestive enzymes
  • Fiber supplements
  • Joint supplements
  • Herbal supplements
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Calcium supplements
  • Weight management supplements

I probably missed a few, but the point is that the list is long.

Now, I’m not going to beat around the bush. Instead, I’ll give you my answer right away.

No!

No, raw-fed dogs don’t need synthethic supplements unless they’re sick and being treated for their condition (by a knowledgeable vet).

But what I am going to do next is explain where I’m coming from, so stick around if you’d like to know more!

Do Raw-Fed Dogs Need Supplements?

Brown dog eats a raw rabbit

I believe that dogs can get all the nutrients that are beneficial for them from eating whole foods, either in solid or liquid form.

After all, they’re a lot more bioavailable than their chemical versions.

That’s why I’m listing those whole foods along with their benefits below!

Feed These Whole Foods To Avoid Having To Add Synthetic Dog Supplements

Secreting Organs

Secreting organs are SUPER rich in all sorts of vitamins and are known as Mother Nature’s multivitamins.

So do your raw-fed dogs a favor and feed a variety of secreting organs alongside liver.

They’re really all you need in terms of dog vitamins for a raw food diet.

For example, kidneys, spleen, eyes, brains, etc.

Click here to learn more about secreting organs for dogs.

Whole Oily Fish

Oily fish like mackerel, herring and salmon are naturally rich in Omega-3s, which have anti-inflammatory properties that are extremely beneficial for your dog’s skin and coat health.

They’re also naturally rich in iodine, which is important for a properly working thyroid that controls your dog’s metabolism.

Other sources of iodine are:

  • Thyroid glands included in whole prey
  • Poultry necks that have thyroid tissue attached to them
  • Kelp

Whole oily fish like mackerel and salmon are also very rich in Vitamin D, which boosts your dog’s skeletal health and overall immunity.

It’s also rich in Vitamin E, which also supports your dog’s immune system.

Try to get and feed the fish whole, that way you’re also tapping into the fish brains and eyes. Both are great secreting organs, and full of vitamins.

If you buy any fish from the Pacific at the grocery store, make sure to deepfreeze it for 3 weeks before feeding it. That gets rid of a potential parasite.

Click here to learn more about where to source whole fish for dogs in the US.

Whole Eggs for Raw-Fed Dogs

Whole eggs are naturally rich in Vitamin D. As I explained before, it supports your dog’s immunity and skeletal health.

You can easily find chicken eggs, duck eggs, and quail eggs at many grocery stores or Farmer’s Markets in the US.

You can also feed goose eggs and ostrich eggs, but those are harder to source.

Click here to learn more about chicken eggs.

And here to learn more about duck eggs.

A dozen farm fresh duck eggs in a carton
Raw duck eggs

Meaty Joint Bones In Your RMBs

Raw meaty bones are chock-full of calcium and phosphorus.

Additionally, meaty JOINT bones are rich in glucosamine and chondroitin, the building blocks of cartilage.

They have anti-inflammatory properties that support your dog’s joint health, including hips, and are also beneficial for arthritic dogs.

Joint bones you can feed are feet and wings. For example, poultry feet and wings as well as pig feet.

Here’s a video of my Feist mix Wally eating a raw duck wing:

Feeding Whole Raw Duck Wings For Calcium Intake, Clean Teeth & Jaw Workout

Green Tripe for Raw-Fed Dogs

Green tripe is the stomach lining of ruminants, so it’s naturally rich in digestive enzymes and the trace mineral manganese.

Manganese helps raw-fed dogs absorb nutrients, slows down aging and supports the thyroid hormone production.

Here’s more information on raw green tripe.

Stainless steel dog bowl with complete beef with green beef tripe from Raw Paws Pet Food
Complete beef with green tripe from Raw Paws Pet Food

Fur, Hair and Feathers

Fur, hair and feathers are another great source of manganese.

They’re also a great source of fiber if you’re not a fan of feeding plant matter.

Here’s more information on fur in raw dog food.

2 food storage containers, one of which holds raw furry lamb ears for raw-fed dogs
Furry lamb ears in the far back food storage container (ground herring in the front one)

Different Protein Sources For Raw-Fed Dogs If You Don’t Feed Whole Prey

In addition to white meats like poultry, feed red meats like beef, lamb, and goat for zinc.

It’s important for wound healing and a strong immune system in general.

Oysters are very rich in zinc as well – unfortunately, I can’t feed my dog Wally oysters because he doesn’t do well with shellfish.

But he can eat red meats just fine.

Cut up raw lamb heart on a green plastic cutting board
Cutting up raw lamb heart for raw dog food meal prep

Raw Goat’s Milk

Raw goat milk is an awesome liquid to support raw-fed dogs and their digestive health along with their immune system, too!

It’s much easier to digest than cow’s milk and because of that, it’s known as universal milk.

Click here to learn more about raw goat’s milk.

Quart of raw Goat Milk for raw-fed dogs on a kitchen counter
Raw goat’s milk

Do You Need To Add Synthetic Supplements To Raw Dog Food: Bottom Line

Nope, you don’t have to feed healthy raw-fed dogs additional vitamins or supplements to ensure they get everything they need.

Instead, you can nourish your dog’s body with a variety of whole foods.

That’s because they provide a complex mix of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, enzymes, fiber, and anti-inflammatories.

Some of these foods are:

  • Secreting organs
  • Joint bones
  • Goat’s milk
  • Green tripe
  • Red meats
  • Oily fish
  • Eggs
  • Fur

Happy raw feeding! Please leave your comments or questions in the comment section below this blog post.

Related Reading

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Barbara launched her blog K9sOverCoffee in 2014 and has been feeding her dogs raw dog food since 2015. As a former professional dog walker, she’s passionate about balancing species-appropriate exercise with healthy dog nutrition. Barbara is raw dog food nutrition certified from “Dogs Naturally Magazine” and the author of several e-books about minimally processed, balanced raw dog food.


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2 responses to “Do Raw-Fed Dogs Need Synthetic Supplements?”

  1. CBear Avatar
    CBear

    Great article! Yes that is a subject always running around in my mind! Even as humans, if we eat Whole Foods and eat correctly, there really is no need for supplements (except if there is a health issue like you said). I get canned mackerel, so maybe I need to switch to whole (sometimes it’s hard to find fresh) and thanks for the tip to freeze it for 3 weeks! Also, I didn’t realize the necks, besides helping with keeping teeth clean, has a needed nutrient!

    Here is a question. If a person lives somewhere that cannot source or has a dog that is allergic to all zinc sources, in that case, would a supplement be in order? This would probably be a rare circumstance of course. Again, thanks for the article!

    1. Barbara Rivers Avatar

      Hey Carrie and thanks! If all of those apply in a dog with severe food allergies, a zinc supplement might be in order after talking it through with a vet who’s knowledgeable in dog nutrition!

      Then again, there’s zinc in most cuts of raw meat, even in chicken hearts (3.1 mg zinc per 100 grams), duck necks (2.79 mg zinc per 100 grams) and ground whole rabbit with bone (2.2 mg zinc per 100 grams) and since dogs only need very little of it as zinc is a trace mineral, they would probably be fine without a supplement. The only way of knowing for sure would be to do a blood panel multiple times per year.

      Hope this helps – do you suspect that Vega might need a zinc supplement?

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