How to Gut a Deer for Raw Dog Food: Illustrated Guide

Updated on July 24, 2019
Joy At Home profile image

Joy and her husband are avid hunters, home-butchering enthusiasts, sausage lovers, and cooks. Their German Shepherd dog is raw fed.

Mmm! Lunch!

k-10 the German Shepherd loves deer season.
k-10 the German Shepherd loves deer season.

Information and Pictures About Gutting a Deer

This is the second article of four that demonstrates how to prepare deer for dog food. The first necessary step is to remove the skin and head of a deer.

Previous comments on this article indicated that many people found the pictures showing the removal of the deer's head to be disturbing. None of these pictures are intended to gross anybody out, but they are realistic and graphic.

Content Warning

If the sight of blood or guts bothers you, you should not continue to read this article.

Preparing the Skinned Deer for Gutting

Our next step after removing the head and hide is to position the deer belly up. We use 4X4 wooden blocks, four feet long, to stabilize the deer in this position.

A word on knives and cleanliness. For most of the gutting process, the knife MUST be used with the sharp edge facing upward to prevent cutting into the intestines and causing a mess. The deer shown in these photos had an internal temperature of around 65 degrees F., and was not fit for human consumption. It was slightly bloated, and it was therefore critical that we not puncture the intestines.

This deer, while a poaching victim and not a road kill specimen, was similar to what you might receive if you are able to get road kill deer from your local D.N.R. or D.O.W. These deer are not suitable for human consumption.

A Warning About E. Coli

During the gutting process, it is important to realize that splitting guts will likely result in E. coli-laced meat. This is true in any grain-fed animal, and this deer grazed in corn fields. While E. coli is normally not an issue with dogs as their digestive tracts are quite short, it is important to properly wash hands and cutting utensils when finished handling your deer.

Now we will get on with removing the guts.

Step One: Splitting the Meat and Membranes Down the Belly

Start the incision at the back of the breast bone as shown, using the point of the knife to barely cut through the skin.
Start the incision at the back of the breast bone as shown, using the point of the knife to barely cut through the skin.
This is what the incision should look like.
This is what the incision should look like.
Carefully insert your hand and spread your fingers, allowing room for your knife to cut the meat and not the intestines. You can slide both hands at the same rate of speed and complete the cut to the bottom of the body cavity in a few seconds.
Carefully insert your hand and spread your fingers, allowing room for your knife to cut the meat and not the intestines. You can slide both hands at the same rate of speed and complete the cut to the bottom of the body cavity in a few seconds.
When you get near the bottom of the cavity, with the animal belly up, normally there is enough room for the knife to safely slide without the aid of your other hand.
When you get near the bottom of the cavity, with the animal belly up, normally there is enough room for the knife to safely slide without the aid of your other hand.
Continue the cut to the pelvic bone.
Continue the cut to the pelvic bone.
Reverse the direction of the knife and cut the meat down to the pelvic bone.
Reverse the direction of the knife and cut the meat down to the pelvic bone.
Note the extra room for the knife to safely cut meat and reproductive organs in this area without splitting the intestines.
Note the extra room for the knife to safely cut meat and reproductive organs in this area without splitting the intestines.

Step Two: Cutting Through the Breast Bone

Using a meat saw, hacksaw, saws-all, or chain saw with no oil in the bar oiler, begin cutting down the center of the breast bone.
Using a meat saw, hacksaw, saws-all, or chain saw with no oil in the bar oiler, begin cutting down the center of the breast bone.
Keep the saw at about this angle to prevent cutting into organs, etc.
Keep the saw at about this angle to prevent cutting into organs, etc.
The chest cavity will naturally open up due to gravity.
The chest cavity will naturally open up due to gravity.
Continue cutting until the chest cavity opens up.
Continue cutting until the chest cavity opens up.
Here you have the holy grail of organs exposed for a raw fed dog!
Here you have the holy grail of organs exposed for a raw fed dog!

Step Three: Cleaning Out the Body Cavity

Using a meat saw or other saw, cut the pelvic bone just until through it, no further. Cut around the anus with a knife, to free this area of intestines.
Using a meat saw or other saw, cut the pelvic bone just until through it, no further. Cut around the anus with a knife, to free this area of intestines.
Simply cut any tissue holding the organs and intestines, and remove these either by rolling the carcass over, or pulling them out by hand.
Simply cut any tissue holding the organs and intestines, and remove these either by rolling the carcass over, or pulling them out by hand.

Step Four: Disposing of the Guts

Here are shown the lungs (pink, spongy), heart (in the midst of the lungs), liver, and anus with attached membranes. These are all good dog food. Other organs are also salvaged.
Here are shown the lungs (pink, spongy), heart (in the midst of the lungs), liver, and anus with attached membranes. These are all good dog food. Other organs are also salvaged.
You can even salvage the green tripe if you wish! I pulled a little hard and ruptured the stomach, but that happens sometimes. That's what green tripe is anyway, and dogs love it!
You can even salvage the green tripe if you wish! I pulled a little hard and ruptured the stomach, but that happens sometimes. That's what green tripe is anyway, and dogs love it!

An Explanation of the Whole Carcass Model

Raw Dog Food Feeding Practices

Do You Already Feed Your Dog a Natural, Raw Diet?

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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

    © 2009 Joilene Rasmussen

    Comments

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      • Joy At Home profile imageAUTHOR

        Joilene Rasmussen 

        8 months ago from United States

        A round of applause to Team Hubpages! Thank you for your prompt replies, careful attention to detail, and very professional consideration while bringing these articles to fruition! Articles #3 and #4 are up and running, and I am very grateful to you all!

      • Joy At Home profile imageAUTHOR

        Joilene Rasmussen 

        9 months ago from United States

        Donkey Dogs, Stefanie, and anyone else concerned about Parts 3 & 4:

        I made attempts over the last two days to publish the remaining two parts. Within hours, they were unpublished due to "mature" content. I was advised to read the HP guidelines, and "make substantial changes" to these articles in order to try republishing. I have carefully read the guidelines, and have contacted the HP team for further instructions. Hopefully they will send me specific suggestions on how to revise these topics for public viewing.

        I am doing my best, and don't see any difference between cutting up a chicken vs. cutting up a deer...but I am only one person, with one opinion. You might consider contacting HP and let them know how you feel about this topic. Include a link to my profile, and let's try together to make sure this topic doesn't die on the operating table! Thanks!

      • profile image

        A_vt_beagle_life 

        11 months ago

        I just discovered this article as I posted about my willingness to pick up any organs successful hunters in my area might not want to keep for themselves (hunting season starts tomorrow). I shared your link under my post. So much good info! Looking forward to parts 3 & 4.

      • Joy At Home profile imageAUTHOR

        Joilene Rasmussen 

        11 months ago from United States

        DonkeyDogs, thanks a million for your thoughtful comment. I have every intention of finishing the next two parts! I have been digging out from under my workload as fast as possible, so I can spend more time writing! You can be sure that these articles are high on my priority list. BTW, I would love to see snapshots of your dogs and deer lease, if you felt like sharing. I love Great Danes!

        Where are you located?

      • profile image

        DonkeyDogs 

        11 months ago

        Ohhhh I was so into reading (and learning) everything you spoke of and then..... eeekkkk where’s the next two parts! Good timing on my behalf (and commenter Stefanie’s) cuz now I see there aren’t any other ‘parts’... YET (hopefully!).

        We have two Great Danes (160lbs 3 yrs, 190 5yrs) and the youngest is (was) just sooo unhealthy (skin and yeast) on kibble so we just switched over to raw for both - and they’re in hog-heaven and only after just a few days already ‘Steiners’ allergies are visibly clearing up. Luckily, deer season just opened up and my son (8 yrs) with his father just shot his first kill of the season on our managed deer lease. My husband is an avid hunter and chef (by trade) so he knows how to clean and dress meats... but IMO things are different when feeding off the hoof in some ways to what he’s ‘used to’. So being the mom (of humans and four legged) I am, I’m looking into it all and making sure we get off to the right start! I’d love to read any other info you have as we have ample access to venison - the land lease is biologically maintained and counts are too high - and we can store the meats indefinitely. THANK YOU for what you’ve done so far but for this girls sake, plllease continue the rest - it’s so well written and easy to follow - and throughly detailed - and even my all knowing hunter/chef husband is ‘listening’ by way of screen shots I’m sending him of your article AS he’s loading the kill in the bed of the truck!!! THANK YOU AGAIN FOR TAKING THE TIME THUS FAR TO WRITE THIS ARTICLE!!!

      • Joy At Home profile imageAUTHOR

        Joilene Rasmussen 

        12 months ago from United States

        Yea, a nice comment on this subject! (It's a bit tricky.) Unfortunately, I haven't gotten parts 3 and 4 done. About the time I finished parts 1 and 2, I got into a situation without internet for a few years. When I got back to civilization, I had so much catch-up to do that I am still working on articles started in 2009 or before. These are near the top of my list!

      • profile image

        Stefanie 

        12 months ago

        Hi, love your posts! Did you happen to post the 2nd two parts that you referred to? I can’t find them.

      • Joy At Home profile imageAUTHOR

        Joilene Rasmussen 

        18 months ago from United States

        We let our dog eat the whole stomach, unwashed and unprocessed. Dogs often enjoy it, even the contents. :-) This is how they'd do it in the wild, after all. Their digestive tracts are different than ours, and they don't seem bothered by very much.

      • profile image

        Ash 

        18 months ago

        As someone who is getting into hunting for myself and my dogs this is very helpful!! It would be awesome to see how you harvest the tripe, do you have to cut away a certain part or just feed the whole stomach? How do you wash the acid and stuff out?

      • Joy At Home profile imageAUTHOR

        Joilene Rasmussen 

        4 years ago from United States

        Shaddie, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

      • Shaddie profile image

        Shaddie 

        4 years ago from Washington state

        Good job :)

      • Joy At Home profile imageAUTHOR

        Joilene Rasmussen 

        9 years ago from United States

        Thanks, Ivorwen, I couldn't agree more. I know it's a little nasty, but hey - it's what happens. It's the necessary part before the burger or steak hits the table (or dog dish).

      • Ivorwen profile image

        Ivorwen 

        9 years ago from Hither and Yonder

        This is good information for those of us who butcher at home.

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