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How to Skin a Deer for Raw Dog Food: An Illustrated Guide

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

Processing Deer for Food

Processing Deer for Food

Simplified Skinning Process

In this article, we will show you how to skin a deer for dog food. The particular deer featured here was found dead and, with the game warden's blessing, was given to us for our German Shepherd stud dog, K-10. He is raw fed. This deer was not suitable for human consumption, and, had he not been used for dog food, would have been wasted. He was somewhat bloated, as he had been shot several hours earlier and was not discovered right away. (He was poached, and was shot in the wee hours of the morning.)

We will show the nitty-gritty of how to prepare the deer for gutting. Our method of skinning deer intended for dog food is less thorough than the skinning method used for animals which wind up on our table, and it is designed only for getting at the guts easily.

Content Warning

If blood or death bothers you, you should not continue reading this article! There are pictures of a bullet wound and butchering.

Our Raw Fed Dog

Our German Shepherd, K-10, loves butchering time.

Our German Shepherd, K-10, loves butchering time.

About the No-Hang Method Shown Here

This method of processing a deer is not recommended when the animal is for human consumption. Dogs are equipped with germ-killing saliva, and they can handle more crud than you probably can.

This deer carcass was brought home on a flatbed trailer, and as there was no need to be clean and tidy, we did not hang the carcass up. K-10, the dog, wanted to help anyway, and it would have spoiled his fun to hang the deer from a tree, etc., as is typically done. We did not gut this deer, as the dog preferred to do that himself, over time. So we processed it directly on the trailer.

If you plan on gutting the deer and not allowing your dog to consume the entrails (if your dog is usually welcome indoors, this may change after he eats these delicacies) or are sharing a deer between your family and dog, by all means, use the cleanest, best method you can. Don't take unnecessary chances with bacteria.

Never feed an obviously diseased animal to yourself or your pets. There are some diseases that dogs cannot catch from other species, but if you are not sure, don't risk it. Dispose of such animals in the cleanest way possible, submitting them to the proper authorities as warranted (such as with Chronic Wasting Disease in deer).

Step 1: Split the Hide Down the Belly

  1. Carefully separate the hide near the intestines without opening the body cavity. Cut around the testes to save them as a treat for your dog!
  2. Continue up the center of the belly, separating the hide from the body cavity. DO NOT cut too deeply, or you will risk splitting a gut (smelly). Continue removing the hide toward the backbone.

Cutting Around Front Legs

Pull the hide down from the rib cage. Then, using a sharp knife or utility knife, cut around the knee area (leave the hide on the lower legs). Split the hide up the inside of the legs. Continue cutting up to the rib cage cut, pulling the hide back.

Pull the hide down from the rib cage. Then, using a sharp knife or utility knife, cut around the knee area (leave the hide on the lower legs). Split the hide up the inside of the legs. Continue cutting up to the rib cage cut, pulling the hide back.

Step 2: Remove Hide From Legs

Pull the hide down from the rib cage. Then, using a sharp knife or utility knife, cut around the knee area (leave the hide on the lower legs). Split the hide up the inside of the legs. Continue cutting up to the rib cage while pulling the hide back.

Step 3: Remove the Head

  • After removing the hide around the front shoulders, cut the head off with a saw (a meat saw or chain saw is preferred).
  • Cut wherever you want. There is no "magic" place that is best.
  • K-10 eats everything, including the teeth.

Read More From Pethelpful

That's It! Except the "Cuddle" Factor

Now the hide is removed enough to allow you to gut the deer for your dog. You don't have to gut the deer if you feed outside, but you won't want your dog coming into the house for quite some while. He will enjoy smelling "wild," but you won't enjoy him sharing his experiences with you. Organ meats and guts, particularly, tend to produce a lot of flatulence. Not to mention the fact that dogs, when left to their own devices, enjoy tunneling into ribcages and wearing their dinner until the scraps wear off or are scrubbed off.

If you wish to skin the deer entirely, just roll it over and continue on the other side until you can strip it clear off.

Raw-Fed Dogs Eating Deer Meat

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.

© 2009 Joilene Rasmussen


Joilene Rasmussen (author) from United States on April 02, 2015:

Thanks, Shaddie.

Shaddie from Washington state on March 20, 2015:

Amazing hub!

Joilene Rasmussen (author) from United States on March 31, 2012:


Thanks for the encouragement, and hurray for your raw-fed dog!

Meat storage can be something of a problem. We have two chest freezers, and usually have more animal food in them than people food. We get a lot of "downed" animals from local feed lots, as well as wild game, such as the deer shown in this article. We generally do not feed our dog animals which died of an illness, but keep on the lookout for those which broke a leg, got hit by a car, or were otherwise healthy but injured. Forming a good relationship with your local game warden is a good step, if you ever become a do-it-yourself raw feeder and butcherer. Many hunters are also willing to give you heads, damaged meat (such as that found around a bullet wound), and other tidbits not considered fit for the table.

Linda Liebrand from San Francisco on March 31, 2012:

This is a really interesting article about raw food! We feed our doggie a raw diet - but living in London I somehow don't think we'd have enough space to store a whole deer :o) Voted up and shared.

Joilene Rasmussen (author) from United States on June 18, 2010:


We fed K-10 cooked meat and other things (pumpkin, yogurt, etc.) initially, during the switchover period from dog food to raw, and this seemed to make the transition easier for his system. Now he eats almost exclusively meat and some goat dairy products...doesn't care for the vegetables much anymore, though he continues to like certain grain products - pancakes and whole grain cookies. Mostly, he likes anything we tell him is "people food".

I'm glad to hear your dog is fed well. :-)

Maria Cecilia from Philippines on June 18, 2010:

wow this is something new, I know of people who raw feed their dogs but this is different... what love for pets can do to their owners...anyway I am not a raw feeder but I am not a dog food patronizer too...I fed my dog boiled meet with no spices...

Joilene Rasmussen (author) from United States on January 10, 2010:

LiftedUp, you are welcome.

I am glad to hear that you have had such good experiences with raw feeding. It takes much dedication, and a different mindset to feed raw than to feed kibble, but I, too, can testify to the lack of allergy in raw fed dogs. Our previous dog was not raw fed, and if he so much as licked my hand, I got an allergic reaction within seconds. K-10 at first had a "wet dog" smell all the time, and horrible ear infections. These disappeared - as well as the smell - within weeks of switching him to a whole foods diet. The diet at that time was not entirely raw, but it was based on whole foods - meats, vegetables, fruits, very little grains. He almost never appears to feel poorly now that he is on a cleaner diet.

LiftedUp from Plains of Colorado on January 10, 2010:

Very clear pictures. Thanks.

I can testify somewhat to the good effects of feeding a dog a raw diet. There is one which is often a guest in my porch, and I find that he does not produce the same allergic reaction that most animals produce. The owner mentioned to me that it might be the lack of corn in the diet, and I think he must be right.

Debra Allen from West By God on December 23, 2009:

It isa better for the dogs to eat what a dog would eat naturally. Read the first three ingredients of commercial dog food. Then go to the most expensive in the grocery store and you wil find that you are paying for more corn then the cheaper brands. It is pathetic. Just give your dog a raw steak and he will be very happy.

Joilene Rasmussen (author) from United States on December 23, 2009:

Whitney, thanks so much for your support. It looks like you have one happy pooch. :-)

Whitney from Georgia on December 23, 2009:

Paul, I have a few hubs on BARF diet. It's actually quite beneficial.

Whitney from Georgia on December 23, 2009:

Great pictures.

Joilene Rasmussen (author) from United States on December 23, 2009:

Paul, this can be an extremely complicated and controversial subject. Here is a forum designed around the topic:

Also, here is a page explaining some of the truths about raw fed dog diets:

These two links are good starting places.

Paul Edmondson from Burlingame, CA on December 22, 2009:

What are the benefits of raw food for your dog?

Joilene Rasmussen (author) from United States on December 22, 2009:

Ivorwen, I kept this hide. It was really rather nice. In fact, I just posted about fleshing it, on my blog:

The one from the deer which Hubby later shot wound up not being near so nice, so I was glad to have this one. The second one got scrapped.

Joilene Rasmussen (author) from United States on December 22, 2009:

Paul, [from the wife] thanks for taking a look-see. A few years ago, I would have thought that going to this much work for dog food was insane. But after seeing firsthand the benefits of raw feeding, I am a believer!

Ivorwen from Hither and Yonder on December 22, 2009:

Looks like a nice hide. Are you doing something with it? Or do you dispose of it?

Paul Edmondson from Burlingame, CA on December 22, 2009:

Wow. This is an amazing hub. We have a german shepherd at home that we use to feed raw meat paddies, but we never prepared the raw meat. I actually wasn't aware that people did this for their animals. Love the pictures and the details.

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