The other day, I was asked if I’d be willing to share what I learned from the Dogs Naturally Raw Feeding course I took back in 2020.
You bet, I’m glad someone finally asked!
I got this request from Jake, one of my newsletter readers:
But while we are on the subject of making our own food, I would appreciate a blog post where you tell us about what, if any, changes, and why, you have made to your meals since taking the online Dogs Naturally Magazine course. I think that would be a great blog post!
I’ll preface this by saying that I didn’t make many changes to my homemade raw meals.
And I fully credit that to two things:
- A conversation I had with Shelly from Raw Paws Pet Food back in 2016
- The intense research I did on DIY raw dog food before making my own meals
But I did learn a lot about the why’s behind my raw feeding methods.
So here’s what I learned!
Taking The Dogs Naturally Raw Feeding Course
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When I took the Dogs Naturally Raw Feeding Course in 2020, I had already been feeding raw dog food for 5 years.
For anyone new to the blog, I switched my previous dogs, Boxer mixes Missy & Buzz, from kibble to raw in 2015. Then as of 2016, I began making my own homemade raw dog food.
My main motivation was to continue to be able to feed the pups raw.
While the premade raw meals I fed from Darwin’s Natural Pet are excellent quality food and super convenient, they’re expensive af.
As in, $400 per month to feed my 55 and 75 lb dogs raw dog food!
That saved me more than half of what I was spending on raw dog food before.
Why Did I Take The Dogs Naturally Raw Feeding Course In The First Place?
So by the time I took the course, I had already been making my own raw meals for 4 years.
And I’ll be honest with you, I wasn’t entirely sure I needed to take it.
That’s because I really took the advice I got from Shelly at Raw Paws Pet Food to heart.
I had spoken on the phone with her for an hour.
That advice was to:
- Rotate the heck out of my ingredients for raw dog food, and to
- Include fish on a regular basis
Tip: The Raw Paws Pet Food Free Raw Meal Plan is essentially a phone consultation that’s packed with loads of raw feeding tips and advice.
But anyways, I repeatedly read about fellow raw feeders and raw dog food bloggers who took the course, so I felt like I had to as well!
When I took it, I paid around $400 and completed it in 2 months. I still have all of my notes and yes, I use them every now and then to look something up.
Feeding Wild Vs Farmed Animals: Different Fatty Acid Profiles
The biggest lesson I learned in this course is how wild prey & pastured animals differ from farmed animals:
- Wild prey & pastured animals are lower in fats and higher in protein than farmed animals. That makes them leaner than farmed animals.
- Wild prey & pastured animals contain a different balance of fats than farmed animals.
This translates mostly into a difference between Omega-3 fatty acids and Omega-6 fatty acids, but also in vitamins.
I didn’t know that there are 3 different Omega-3s that decrease inflammation within the body:
- Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA)
- Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA)
- Docosohexaenoic Acid (DHA)
On that note, I also learned that there’s more Omega-3s, vitamins and minerals in ruminants than there are in poultry.
Likewise, I didn’t realize that there’s 2 different Omega-6s than increase inflammation within the body:
- Linolenic Acid (LA)
- Arachidonic Acid (AA)
On that note, I learned that generally speaking, there’s more Omega-6s in poultry than there is in ruminants.
Also, I learned that grains are rich in Omega-6s, increase the amount of fat in the meat and upset the balance of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids.
That explains why grain-fed domestic animals have a higher Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio than wild or pastured animals.
Likewise, eggs from pasture-fed hens contain up to 10 x more Omega-3s than those from factory hens.
They also contain 4-5 x more Vitamin D than factory farmed eggs because the latter have close to no exposure to sunlight.
How To Balance Fats In Ruminants (Beef, Lamb, Goat) & Poultry (Chicken, Turkey, Duck, Goose)
Now, if you can’t find or afford pastured animals or wild ones, there’s a way to balance the fats in grain-fed animals.
For both ruminants and poultry, you can:
- Trim 1/2 the fat
- Chose lean meats with a fat content of up to 10%
- Add an ounce of whole fish per pound of food
For ruminants, you can also add 2 teaspoons of ground hemp seeds instead of fish as they’re rich in Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA, Omega-3 fatty acid).
For poultry, you can also add 3 teaspoons of chia seeds instead of fish. They’re also rich in ALA.
Also, generally speaking it’s easy to balance fats when you’re feeding a variety of animals, including whole fish.
Animal Food Sources Of Vitamins & Minerals
I also learned about different animal food sources for specific vitamins and minerals.
Before taking the course, I just knew that organ meat is rich in vitamins in general, that liver is super rich in Vitamin A, and that you should rotate different cuts of meat and protein sources to avoid nutrient deficiencies in dogs.
But the course pointed out the best food sources of vitamins and minerals, and here’s a look at a few of them:
- Copper: Lamb liver, oysters
- Iodine: Fish eggs and kelp
- Iron: Chicken liver, beef spleen, beef liver, oysters
- Manganese: Mussels, lamb liver, hair and feathers
- Magnesium: Mackerel, herring, salmon, bone broth
- Selenium: Shellfish, pork kidney, lamb liver, beef spleen
- Zinc: Oysters
- Vitamin B1: Beef heart, lamb liver, deer meat
- Vitamin B2: Lamb liver, beef, mackerel
- Vitamin B3: Beef liver, pork liver
- Choline (Vit. B 4): Beef liver, beef kidney, lamb liver, pork liver, whole egg
- Pantothenic acid (Bit. B 5): Beef liver, chicken liver, beef kidney
- Pyroxidine (Vit. B 6): Chicken liver, beef liver, salmon
- Cobalamin (Vit. B 12): Lamb liver, beef liver, lamb kidney
- Vitamin C: Chicken liver, pork liver, mussels
- Vitamin D: Pastured eggs, beef liver
Generally speaking, dogs can be Vitamin D deficient if they’re not fed pastured animals, fish or pastured eggs.
Good sources of DHA are brains, eyes, fish and phytoplankton.
Phytoplankton As A Fish Alternative
Now, I was not aware of the fact that I could use phytoplankton as a fish alternative before I took the Dogs Naturally Raw Feeding Course.
I personally still prefer to feed whole fish, but I have phytoplankton in my pantry for those days when I’m running low on fish.
You can read all about phytoplankton for dogs in a recent blog post I wrote here.
Nuts & Seeds
One more thing I learned from the course was how to properly feed nuts and seeds.
Before I took the course, I only knew that I could add chia seeds to my homemade raw meals. Chia seeds can be added as is or they can be soaked, either way works.
But for all other seeds and nuts that dogs can eat, you should soak them overnight and then grind them.
To learn more about how, why and which seeds and nuts to feed dogs, read more in my blog post here.
Taking The Dogs Naturally Raw Feeding Course: Bottom Line
So while I didn’t learn a ton of new things, I appreciate the background knowledge regarding Omega-3s vs Omega-6s the Dogs Naturally Raw Feeding Course taught me.
That said, I would recommend it to raw dog food beginners who are looking to get a solid overview of the topic, including:
- The dog’s digestive system
- The different components of the raw dog food diet
- Background information about how the dog relates to the wolf
However, if you’re looking for specific recipes, you won’t find them in this course.
But you do get an overview of the bone vs meat ratio of select raw meaty bones.
And like I said, it’s interesting to learn about the best food sources for vitamins and minerals!
- Homemade Raw Dog Food
- How to Feed Raw Fish for Dogs
- Phytoplankton for Dogs: Benefits, Dosage & More
- Seeds and Nuts for Dogs: Benefits and How to Feed
- Raw Dog Food For Beginners: The Raw Paws Pet Food Variety Pack