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How to Make a Homemade Raw Paleo Diet for Your Dog

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Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.

In Paleolithic times, puppies competed for natural foods. Consider giving your dog a Paleo diet.

In Paleolithic times, puppies competed for natural foods. Consider giving your dog a Paleo diet.

Should Dogs Have a Paleo Diet?

Dogs can benefit from a Paleo diet, too. They were not developed to eat grain, and the commercial dog foods have only been in place since the mid-20th century in the U.S. Those commercial processed foods are not keeping your dog as healthy as his ancestors, and anyone who works with dogs will be sure to tell you about the skin, dental, and obesity problems that have all come about since these foods were introduced.

The Paleo diet will keep your dog fit enough to run with the pack. If a wolf on a natural diet can live 20 years, why can't your dog?

Switch your dog to a Paleo diet. He is ready for a change.

What Goes Into a Paleo Diet for My Dog?

The main ingredient in a natural diet for your dog should be that which has been keeping dogs alive for so long—meat and bones. A lot of the founders of the raw diets recommend that dogs only be fed human-quality ingredients. My dogs and I disagree with this. That is not what has been keeping dogs alive for thousands of years.

Dogs Ate the Food That People Didn't Want

When Paleolithic humans fed their dogs, it was with those ingredients that people were not going to eat. It should still be that way. There are a lot of great alternative feed sources out there. Chicken necks, chicken feet, beef heart and kidneys, and tripe are all easily available since humans do not eat them. Old laying hens and Coturnix quail that no longer lay can be purchased cheaply if available in your area. If you live in an area where you cannot get chicken necks and feet, you can still purchase inexpensive chicken wings at the supermarket.

Since dogs are scavengers and will eat almost anything if the opportunity arises, you can feed them almost anything. (If you want to find out a few things that dogs should not be eating, you can read another article here.)

So feed your dogs what is natural. That is an ideal Paleolithic diet.

Is It Expensive to Feed My Dog a Paleo Diet?

It is actually cheaper to feed your dog a natural Paleo diet than most of the major “premium” dog foods. In fact, if you choose the ingredients carefully and take advantage of inexpensive sources when available, you can feed a Paleo diet for as little as the cheapest dog food at Walmart.

It is not necessary to invest in a big freezer. There are no special requirements to feeding a Paleo diet. I buy available ingredients and feed my dogs this way every week.

To learn more about cheap sources of raw dog food, you can read more here. Be creative. A dog on a natural, Paleo-type diet can and should eat everything you provide.

We may no longer be in the Paleolithic era, but your dog can still eat right.

We may no longer be in the Paleolithic era, but your dog can still eat right.

What Should I Feed My Dog Every Day?

  • Mostly meat and bones. About ¾ of his diet can be provided by bringing home chicken necks, beef scraps from the butcher, and even raw tripe.
  • Some organ meat like an occasional piece of liver or kidneys. If you feed chicken backs, the organs are attached to the inside of the back, and it is not even necessary to worry about buying extra organs.
  • Some vegetables, mixed with a few tablespoons of raw yogurt to provide bacteria to aid digestion. (In Paleolithic times, the probiotic most commonly consumed was fecal material. Most people will want to look for an alternative.)
  • Fresh fruit. Almost all dogs enjoy fruit.
  • Some areas of the world will be deficient, and dogs may require some supplements—if there are local street dogs that are healthy and doing fine, do not worry about this. (Commercial dog foods will not take this into account and will just provide enough nutrients to keep your dog alive.)
  • All dogs benefit from the addition of fish oil, and some benefit from other antioxidants like vitamin C.
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Read More From Pethelpful

Are Some Commercial Dog Foods the Same as a Paleo Diet?

No. Most dog foods are made with grains. They are, after all, cheap fillers, and that is why dog foods were invented in the first place. There may be some diets that are now grain-free, but, despite the sloppy labeling, they are not natural, and they're certainly not what your dog needs to be healthy.

Feeding your dog correctly will take a little effort. If you feed your family boxes of macaroni and cheese and go out for fast food hamburgers, you might not consider your dog worth the effort.

How Do I Switch My Dog's Food?

Most dogs will take to a Paleo diet right away—after all, it is what dogs want to eat. Take a raw chicken neck or chicken wing and put it in her bowl when she is hungry. If she does not want to eat raw food, you can cook it in a skillet, but do so quickly, and leave the bone and the meat inside the cut raw. The next day, cook the piece of chicken even less, until eventually your dog gets used to eating it raw.

You can do the same thing with organ meat if your dog does not like it. Most dogs enjoy organs raw, and they can even be mixed in with your vegetable mixture if your dog does not want to eat it.

Are You Ready to Make the Change?

Are you ready to switch your dog to a natural diet like those that have been keeping his ancestors healthy for thousands of years? Find out what your dog needs, and get to it right away.

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

Question: Are chicken bones safe for dogs to eat?

Answer: When consumed raw, chicken bones are digested normally. They are safe and a good source of calcium.

Question: Aren't dogs only supposed to have beef bones?

Answer: I am not sure who told you that or what the logic was. Maybe they were thinking of cooked chicken bones, which can be brittle and splinter when eaten. When consumed raw, however, chicken bones are soft and easily digested.

Question: Can you please provide a paleo recipe for a dog? What would a whole week of dog food consist of?

Answer: There are already details on what to feed your dog in the section titled "What should I feed my dog each day?". You do not need an exact recipe. As far as amount, and how much you will need in a week, I can not tell you. Base your feeding amounts on your dogs condition. If he is geting thin, feed more. If he is getting fat, feed less. The commercial diets will tell you exactly how much, and always recommend way too much, which is why there is a great problem with obesity in dog fed commercial dog food. Feed your dog correctly and he can stay in great shape.

Question: My dog is older and is missing a few teeth. Is there a diet without bones?

Answer: Some of the companies that sell raw food grind the bones so that the calcium is part of the diet. I do not want to recommend one brand, so you will need to check at the pet superstores that sell ready-to-eat raw food.

It is more expensive than making up your own diet. Have you tried to allow your dog access to chicken wings and necks? The bones are very small and unless he is missing all of his teeth I do not see that there will be a problem.

© 2014 Dr Mark


hermes on April 19, 2019:

Cfin is correct.

cfin from The World we live in on February 06, 2014:

I doubt very much the likes of the chihuhua were developed for the very purpose of hunting ;) But then again they came much later.....maybe?

When I said hunt, I meant kill/hunt in nature. It is a fact that once a domesticated dog kills a sheep or begins to kill other animals that it is ruined and it gets the crazy eye. They will continue to do so, and I have seen first hand many times, how a sheep dog will become more aggressive once they take down a sheep or taste it's blood. Dogs used for "the hunt"(i.e tradional muzzled or what not) are usually muzzled and prevented from killing and are simply used as sniffer dogs (in most cultures at least).

Dogs were used for many purposes such as Turnspit Dogs and what would become the sausage dog. Dog's are marvelous creatures and if we are to feed modern domesticated dogs the paleo diet, it will most likely over time, create a whole new breathe of dog. It seems that no matter what man has done with dogs, they have changed over generations to adapt. Heck, maybe it will be for the better, as most new dog breathes are becoming "inferior" to say the least. Let us know in 247 years ;)

Dogs really are magnificent creatures and make for some very good reading. Thank you for this topic.

Bob Bamberg on February 06, 2014:

If I might offer a comment on cfin's childhood surrounded by German shepherds...that's a situation where pack dynamics will alter the dogs' behavior relative to food. Although they're domesticated, they don't know it, and will react instinctually to matters we find mundane.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on February 06, 2014:

Thanks for contributing your viewpoint, cfin. I do not think dogs were developed by preventing wolves from hunting. Early man may have only wanted wolves around because they were able to help in the hunt. How would he have even decided that keeping a wolf confined and fed cooked food was going to change his personality?

I think dogs were developed from those wolves that were less afraid of humans and willing to hang out in the junk piles around the caves. The wolves would have followed the humans when they hunted, and their superior ability to smell must have come in handy. Unfortunately, I cannot prove how dogs were developed, so it is really just an academic argument!!

(Maybe I will be able to give you a better reply when I have been raising dogs on a Paleo raw diet for a few hundred years.)

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on February 06, 2014:

I would agree that feeding cooked food for several generations changes dogs, but not for the better. I do wonder about your statement "and if they begin to hunt, they are ruined". Almost all hunting dogs where I live are fed raw, as well as fruit they can scrounge up. They are certainly not ruined.

cfin from The World we live in on February 06, 2014:

Also, just to confirm, I never stated that Dogs eating raw meat have a "thirst for killing". I stated "A large part of domestication included feeding a dog less raw meat in order to lower it's thirst for killing." i.e over generations many breathes of wolves were prevented from hunting and fed cooked food, creating the varies dog breathes we have today and the very domesticated pooches we all enjoy as our friends. Because yes, most of our current dog breathes came from the wolf and yes all wolves had a thirst for killing. "Careful now" because without the destruction of the Paleo diet, we wouldn't even have "dogs".

cfin from The World we live in on February 06, 2014:

Although you might be right about raw meat not turning an individual dog wild, and it may be a myth, it is in fact true that feeding a dog or any animal for that matter, cooked food, changes them and through the generations they evolve differently. I was referring to the evolution of dogs more than anything.

Myth or not, I grew up surrounded by German Shepard dogs and when they are eating raw meat, they will become more protective of their food and noticeably more territorial. And if they begin to hunt, they are ruined. The old myth of raw meat in the individual dog came about because when a dog hunts and kills they become more vicious. But it is not the meat in this case that makes them vicious. It is the chase and the kill itself. That is no myth.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on February 06, 2014:

cfin : Dogs eating raw meat do not have a "thirst for killing". Do you think if you raise a lion on Purina Cat Chow that it will turn as mellow as a DSH?

Dogs were not wild because they ate natural food, dogs ate natural food because they were wild.

cfin from The World we live in on February 06, 2014:

Careful now. Although it may be natural, it also increases the aggression in a dog, thus the reason their ancestors were wild. A large part of domestication included feeding a dog less raw meat in order to lower it's thirst for killing.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on February 06, 2014:

Hi Mary, if your dog is not consuming the bones he is not getting enough calcium, and would actually be better off on one of the cooked commercial diets.

The thighs might be cheaper, but the bones are larger than the wings. It really depends on the dog--as long as he is eating the bone the thighs are okay. My Havanese eats bones that size with no problem, but I can't say if your Min Pin would.

I give puppies hamburger when very small but after about 6 weeks they can eat bones.

Thanks for sharing this!

Bob Bamberg on February 06, 2014:

Hhmmph hmmmphh hhmmmphmmph hhmmph, hmhmmhhph. :)

Mary Craig from New York on February 06, 2014:

Okay Dr. Mark, as usual all you say makes sense and is totally reasonable. As Bob said, thighs and legs are cheaper and I assume they would be okay too?

Would it be wrong to give the dog half and half? Like dog food at night and Paleo in the morning? I'm not worried about my dog eating it as he will eat absolutely anything!

Lastly, better with the bone in or out? Like chicken leg versus hamburger?

Voted up, useful, and interesting. Shared too.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on February 06, 2014:

Thanks for adding your viewpoint, Lauranimal. I do not agree that slaughtering animals in animal abuse. I am glad to hear your dogs are doing okay on that vegan diet, but I can only assume they are good scavengers since if they were not they would be vitamin and fatty acid deficient. Do you at least give them fish?

If you look back over the article, I do recommend fresh fruit being given as part of the diet; yes, I realize wild canines will eat fresh fruit. The berries are a great source of antioxidants, which keep them healthy.

Lauranimal on February 05, 2014:

Well, get to hating on me, peeps, because my rescued dogs (one since 2005, one since 2007) are mostly vegan except for what they find or are given rarely by friends as treats. They love my shared fruits & veggies and their fortified kibble and stew; their stools are perfect, they rarely if ever have gas. One at age 7 and the other 13 are quite healthy, strong, energetic, playful, and loving their lives. They especially love peanut butter. They only occasionally eat a bit of select grass now, less than when they ate animal products.

Wild canines work extremely hard to hunt and kill, often going hungry; they don't wait for a plate to be served. Wolves & coyotes are often seen eating wild berries, so other foods are also good for canines:

We're not in the wild, we're in civilization, and so are the dogs we keep.

I oppose animal abuse and slaughterhouses, as reprehensible as you may find that position. Actually it is quite the opposite.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on February 04, 2014:

I know--lets get Cesar, he can do anything! (He even could have replaced Mikey in the old Life commercial, all he would need is a good editor.) It could be the night is worse, but I want her to be nervous around cars during the day, too.

Eiddwen from Wales on February 03, 2014:

A very useful hub for all dog owners. voted up and looking forward to so many more.


Bob Bamberg on February 03, 2014:

I suspect it would take a period of time to recondition her to trust motorized vehicles, again...if she ever does. Cesar could do it in the time frame between two commercial breaks :) Glad to hear that, physically, she's fine and healing without infections to complicate matters.

I just had a thought: she was injured at night, and was frightened away last night. Could the combination of darkness and motorized vehicles be a factor? Have you walked her near the street in the daylight since her accident? Just a thought.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on February 03, 2014:

Hi Bob I was looking forward to your comment when I was writing this! Yes, you are right about wolves in the wild--life is hard when you have to compete, and no one is around to put a bowl of food down twice a day. I think dogs can live longer, however, just that we are not going about it the right way.

Thanks for asking about Ajej. Physically, fine, mentally, not so sure. I took a bunch of dogs out walking after midnight last night and when a car started getting close I had to grab an 8 wk old puppy. Normally Ajej would sit by my side until the car passed, but last night she ran away from it and since my hands were full I could not do much about it. I have been researching road sense to see if there is anything I forgot, and plan on publishing about it this week. I´ll pass on the chicken neck this afternoon!!!

Bob Bamberg on February 03, 2014:

Of course, the other side of this coin is that preditors were, and are, often relegated to accepting the sickest and weakest of prey available, when it's available at all. Many predators spend a good part of their lives in a less than well-nourished state. In captivity, wolves can live 20 years, but one shouldn't expect more than half that in the wild. Finally, chicken wings are no longer the cast-offs they once were. Around here, anyway, you can often buy thighs and drumsticks cheaper than wings. Who knew?

Changing the subject, is Ajej recovering well physically and mentally? I would think that trauma such as she experienced could alter the mindset and change the personality. You can bandage the wounds, but the mind is a difficult thing to treat. Please give her a belly rub and a chicken neck for me.

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