So, your dog doesn’t eat raw dog food although you’ve done your research and finally brought some home?
First of all, chapeau to you, my friend!
I really mean this, because it requires quite a bit of effort as far as time for research is concerned.
It also often means contradicting and/or trying to convince your friends, family, and traditional veterinarians. Most of them lack the knowledge of all the wonderful benefits a species-appropriate raw diet provides – been there too, experienced AND overcame that!
Now the only problem is that your dog refuses to eat his or her new diet. Or maybe they ate it for a few days or weeks and then they stopped again.
You’re probably thinking what the f***, why aren’t you eating your awesome raw dog food?!
Your Dog Doesn’t Eat Raw Dog Food? Try These 9 Easy Hacks!
Disclaimer: This blog post was originally published in 2020 and has been updated in 2022. It contains affiliate links I may earn compensation through at no additional cost to you.
- Benefits of Raw Dog Food
- So, Why Do Some Dogs Don’t Want to Eat Raw Dog Food?
- 9 Easy Hacks to Get Your Dog to Eat Raw Dog Food
- Hack 1: Lightly warm up their raw dog food
- Hack 2: Next, try adding some warm bone broth instead of warming up the entire raw dog food
- Hack 3: Add some raw goat milk
- Hack 4: Mix in an overly ripe banana
- Hack 5: Add some scrambled egg
- Hack 6: Add some green tripe
- Hack 7: Purée the raw dog food
- Hack 8: Add a little wet dog food
- Hack 9: Mix in some pumpkin purée
- Closest Alternative to Raw Dog Food
- Why Won’t My Dog Eat Her Raw Food Anymore?
- Your Dog Doesn’t Eat Raw Dog Food: Bottom Line
- Related Reading:
After all, the benefits of feeding fresh, raw dog food far outweigh the minor con of inconvenience:
Benefits of Raw Dog Food
- Stronger immune system
- Smaller poop
- Cleaner teeth
- Reduced ear infections
- Healthier skin
- Shinier and softer coat
- More energy
- Minimized cancer risk
- No more dog smell
I’ve experienced all of these benefits in my personal 3 dogs I fed a raw dog food diet, and truly can’t recommend it enough.
My Boxer mixes Missy and Buzz had clean teeth and beautiful shiny coats, and Buzz never had another ear infection after he ate raw dog food. Back in his kibble days, he would get them several times per year.
My Feist mix Wally also has shiny, clean teeth and a soft red coat, and his itchy allergies are a thing of the past.
So, Why Do Some Dogs Don’t Want to Eat Raw Dog Food?
Well, there’s actually a good reason why some dogs snub their noses at raw dog food. It’s because they’re kibble junkies. Yep, you read that correctly.
The kibble industry coats their dry dog food with palatants to replace nutrients that were lost in the cooking process and to make it more enticing for dogs to eat. Those are chemical substances, salt and sugar.
The result is that dogs who’ve eaten kibble for the vast majority of their lives literally get addicted to it. That’s especially true for smaller breeds who are known to be picky eaters any way.
That said, switching kibble junkies to raw dog food can be the equivalent of a 12 step rehab program!
The longer a dog has eaten kibble, the harder it can be to make the switch. But breeds play a role, too – it’s much easier to switch a greedy Lab as opposed to a finicky Chihuahua.
You can also compare this behavior with someone who’s used to eating highly processed human food like microwaveable meals and fast food. Then, all of a sudden, they’re expected to eat salads with quinoa and grilled salmon.
It’ll take some getting used to!
Can A Dog Not Like Raw Food?
Kibble-fed dogs without flavor rotation during their first 4-5 months of life can develop flavor fatigue, which essentially means they’ll turn into a picky eater.
That’s why the key for these dogs is to slowly add variety to their bowls! Granted, this may take a little while but it’s worth being patient.
When you’re switching your dog from kibble to raw, one easy approach is to mix kibble with raw dog food. Initially, you add a small amount of raw dog food. Over the course of 7-10 days, you increase the amount of raw dog food and decrease the amount of kibble you feed.
However, this approach may not work well for dogs with known digestive issues. That’s because kibble and raw dog food digest at different rates and can cause an upset tummy when fed together.
Hack: Add a tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar to the mix of raw and kibble.
I learned that when I became raw dog food nutrition certified by Dogs Naturally Magazine. I was also made aware of pre-natal chemosensory learning. It’s the taste and smell puppies were exposed to in utero via their kibble-fed mom.
Related Tip: If you’re looking for puppies from responsible breeders, look for breeders who feed raw!
9 Easy Hacks to Get Your Dog to Eat Raw Dog Food
Now, I warmly recommend trying the following approaches to get your pup interested in their new diet. You can try some or all of these hacks to make raw dog food more enticing.
Just FYI, my 3 pups Missy, Buzz, and now Wally didn’t hesitate for one second when I offered them their raw dog food. They probably didn’t eat kibble long enough for that to happen, and although none of them were/are Labs, they sure behave(d) like them come feeding time!
That said, I know (of) several pups who more or less politely declined raw dog food at first, and then came around to it at some point.
Now without further ado, here’s how you can get your dog to eat their raw food!
Hack 1: Lightly warm up their raw dog food
The easiest way to get your dog to eat their raw dog food is to lightly cook it. Just warm it up in a pan for a few minutes, but do make sure that it’s just warm and not hot to the touch when you offer it to your pup.
Warming it up in the pan as opposed to the microwave is gentler and will kill less nutrients. One word of caution: don’t warm up raw meaty bones! Cooking turns bones brittle which is when they can easily break and cause damage.
You can read more on how to safely feed raw meaty bones here.
Coming up: What can I mix raw dog food with?
Hack 2: Next, try adding some warm bone broth instead of warming up the entire raw dog food
It’ll bring out the flavor of the raw dog food more than if it were offered cold. You can either make your own bone broth or buy bone broth for dogs (and cats) on Amazon.
Hack 3: Add some raw goat milk
Here’s another liquid you can try adding to your pup’s raw dog food – raw, unpasteurised goat milk. Unlike cow milk, it’s highly digestible and works as a great natural probiotic, and dogs love it! You can feed 2 fl oz per 25lbs of weight per day.
Get some here and save 15% with my affiliate discount code K9Savings at checkout.
Hack 4: Mix in an overly ripe banana
Overly ripe bananas are rich in sugar which is why it can work to get your pup to eat his raw dog food if you mix a little in.
Hack 5: Add some scrambled egg
Most dogs love scrambled egg, so cook some up or mix some of yours into your pup’s raw dog food. Sharing is caring, right?! Just make sure not to add any salt or any other condiments.
Hack 6: Add some green tripe
OK, so raw, green tripe means smelly business BUT it’s pretty irresistible to dogs! If you don’t know what green tripe is, it’s the stomach lining of ruminants. For example, of cows, sheep, goats and deer.
It’s naturally rich in digestive enzymes which makes it great for digestive health.
Get some here and save 15% with my affiliate discount code K9Savings at checkout.
Tip: Don’t feed the tripe you can find at your local grocery store! That kind has been bleached and stripped of all of its nutrients. It would literally be a waste of your money to buy and feed that kind of tripe.
Hack 7: Purée the raw dog food
Some dogs either don’t like the texture of raw dog food when it comes in larger cuts of meat or their teeth are in poor health and they have trouble chewing properly. Either way, puréeing it fixes both issues, you just need a meat grinder such as these.
Of course you can also buy pre-made raw dog food from trusted brands like Raw Paws Pet Food, Raw Feeding Miami or Darwin’s Natural Pet.
Hack 8: Add a little wet dog food
Another alternative is to top your dog’s raw dog food off with a little wet dog food. I recommend Ziwipeak’s wet dog food and have fed it to my own dogs in combination with their air-dried raw dog food before I made the switch to fresh raw dog food.
It comes as:
- Mackerel & lamb, and
- Tripe & lamb
Hack 9: Mix in some pumpkin purée
Canned pumpkin purée such as Libby’s is another way you can try to entice your dog to eat their raw dog food. You can find it at any grocery store as well as on Amazon.
It’s usually located in the baking aisle because people use it to make pumpkin pies. Just make sure not to buy/feed pumpkin pie filling, only 100% pumpkin purée.
Tip: You can also make your own pumpkin purée during pumpkin season and freeze some. It’s rich in fiber which is why it also works great for both diarrhea and constipation in dogs.
Check out my pumpkin purée recipe here.
Closest Alternative to Raw Dog Food
Most dogs will come around sooner or later and eat their raw dog food. Some dogs, however, are truly stubborn and will continue to refuse it.
I know one such pup who still refuses raw dog food to this day, but loves eating what I’m about to share with you instead.
So for those extra stubborn guys, it’s best to lightly cook their meat and add a freeze-dried or dehydrated mix of highly nutritious vegetables, herbs, and/or fruit. They’re known as base-mixes or pre-mixes, and are easy enough to use.
This method comes closest to a fresh raw dog food diet and is exactly how I made the transition from kibble to raw back in 2015.
I recommend two brands, both of which I’ve used and would use again if for some reason I wasn’t able to continue feeding fresh raw dog food:
- The brand Dr. Harvey’s and their dehydrated pre-mixes, for example Paradigm. It’s a low-carb blend of 6 vegetables and healing herbs like broccoli, green beans, kelp and alfalfa to name a few. All you need to add is water, meat and some oil, that’s it.
- The brand Sojos and their freeze-dried pre-mix Mix-a-Meal grain-free. This mix isn’t low-carb but it’s grain-free and consists of vegetables and fruit like sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, and cranberries to name just a few. You add meat and water, let it soak for about 15 minutes, and that’s it.
Why Won’t My Dog Eat Her Raw Food Anymore?
Here’s a twist: Your dog has already been eating raw dog food and is suddenly no longer interested!
Well, there are two main reasons why your dog won’t eat their raw dog food anymore.
1. Teeth problems
One of my friends adopted a white toy poodle who used to be super finicky at raw meal time. She tried all sorts of approaches and, as a last resort, finally took him to the vet to have his teeth examined.
Turns out, several of his teeth were in poor condition and had to be removed! She felt so bad that she hadn’t noticed herself, so if your pup continues to refuse to eat, have their teeth checked out by their vet. They may be in poor condition, even if it’s hard for us to see at first glance.
So the teeth removal solved the little pup’s eating issues – at least partially!
2. They crave variety
That same toy poodle, his name is Orlando by the way, gets tired of one protein source really quickly.
Now that his teeth no longer bother him and he eats pre-made raw dog food, he demands variety!
One week he’ll eat turkey, the next he’ll only eat lamb or chicken.
Which is fair when you think about it because variety at meal time is important! It ensures that your pup gets all of the nutrients they need, especially because different animals have different nutritional profiles.
On that note, did you know that red meat is more nutritiously valuable than white meat?
Red meat examples are beef, bison, lamb, pork and venison.
White meat examples are chicken, turkey, duck, goose, quail and rabbit.
So, if it appears like your dog suddenly gets bored with their raw dog food and you’ve had their teeth checked, take a look at how much variety you offer!
If you buy pre-made raw dog food, make sure to get different protein sources. For example, poultry, beef, rabbit, venison, fish, etc.
If you make DIY homemade raw dog food, make sure to switch up the ingredients. Don’t just feed chicken liver, beef kidneys, ground turkey and turkey necks.
- Switch between livers from different animals. For example, also feed beef, venison, duck, rabbit, lamb and pork livers.
- Offer a variety of secreting organs. For example, also feed spleen, pancreas, eyeballs, brains (yes, they’re safe to feed, read why here) and reproductive organs.
- Feed different raw meaty bones. For example, heads, wings, feet, backs and frames. If you only feed necks, your dog risks getting thyroid issues.
Your Dog Doesn’t Eat Raw Dog Food: Bottom Line
As you’ve seen, there are quite a few ways to get your dog to eat raw dog food – even if they’re kibble junkies! It may take a little time and experimenting with different dog food toppers, but I’m sure you’ll get there!
You can try the following dog food toppers:
- Bone broth
- Raw goat milk
- Mashed banana
- Pumpkin purée
- Scrambled egg or raw egg
- Green tripe
- Canned Ziwipeak dog food
- Veggie/herb mixes from brands like Dr. Harvey’s or Sojos
You can also lightly cook and/or purée your pup’s raw dog food, especially if they don’t seem to like larger cuts of meat, or if they have trouble eating because of poor dental health.
Just don’t cook raw meaty bones because cooking is what turns them brittle and makes them dangerous!
- Dog food for picky eaters: Try this easy homemade topper
- Can I feed kibble and raw dog food together?
- Bone broth for dogs: Recipe & how to feed
- Pumpkin purée recipe for you and your dog
- How to make healthy banana tripe dog treats