Raw Feeding and Nutrition FAQ for Canines

Natural Akita list members follow a variety of feeding programs, depending on the particular needs of their Akitas. Some members feed commercial food, some cook for their dogs, others feed raw food. Thus, you can expect a variety of responses to questions regarding nutrition.

Question: Do commercial foods provide complete canine nutrition?

Commercial diets of themselves are generally not considered the best nutrition for the following reasons:

  1. Cooking destroys the live enzymes found in raw foods,
  2. Ingredients in commercial foods are not always high quality,
  3. Preservatives may adversely affect your pet’s health, and
  4. Commercial diets contribute to periodontal disease.
  5. Vitamins and minerals are not at optimal levels.

Question: Do some listmembers feed their Akitas raw meat?

Many listmembers do advocate feeding raw meat, most often chicken.

Question: What about the bones?

Cooking makes bones brittle, causing them to splinter. Cooked bones should not be a part of the canine diet. Raw bones are not prone to splinter and are readily digested by dogs.

Question: Do vets worry about chicken bones?

YES! Please check out this cautionary!

Question: Why should my dog eat raw bones?

  1. Bones clean the dog’s teeth and improve resistance to periodontal disease.
  2. Bones help eliminate “doggy breath”.
  3. Raw bones provide minerals in balance.
  4. Raw bones contain active enzymes. Cooking/processing food denatures important digestive enzymes
  5. Bones provide dogs good exercise and great satisfaction.

Question: What about bacteria and parasites?

Raw meat may indeed contain bacteria and parasites. However, a dog’s gastro-intestinal system is constructed and functions much differently from that of a human, so generally, a dog can handle average numbers of both bacteria and parasites normally occuring in raw meat.

  1. Canine stomach acids are more powerful than human stomach acid.
  2. Food is digested much more rapidly by dogs.
  3. Most canine digestion takes place in the stomach.
  4. A dog’s intestinal tract is much shorter than man’s.
  5. Digested food passes through the canine intestine more quickly.
  6. Bacteria and parasites have less opportunity to cause harm.
  7. Dogs are opportunistic and will eat carrion when possible.

Question: Is raw food good for every animal?

There is a caveat to feeding raw food. IF your pet is not in good health, it may not be able to cope with the challenge of switching from commercial to raw food. Some postulate that the intestinal wall of an animal raised primarily on commercial food is thinner than those on raw diets, and, thus, an unhealthy animal may not be able to handle the increased demand on their system of raw food and/or its accompanying bacteria/parasite population. An unhealthy animal needs to be restored to health before switching to raw foods.

Question: How do I make the transition to raw food?

Generally, the change from commercial food to raw needs to be gradual, though much depends on each individual animal. There are several approaches to the process:

  1. Start with small parts, such as chicken wings or necks.
  2. Grind the bones/meat.
  3. Sear the meat if your dog is uninterested.
  4. Hold the pieces if your dog tends to gulp whole food.
  5. Start by adding raw meat as a supplement, then increase.
  6. Move to larger pieces as tolerated (no diarrhea, gulping).

Question: How much should I feed?

Again, this depends on the individual animal. Some Akitas self-fast, others would eat as much as you offer. Generally, start with 3/4 to 1 pound of meat/day and adjust as indicated.

Question: What else should I feed besides meat?

Most people feed a variety of raw foods. Some feed a dairy meal, others make a vegetable slurry or mush (dogs do not digest vegetables unless they have first been broken down mechanically). Current thinking is leaning away from adding grains to the canine diet. Additional foods may include organ meats, fruit, fresh garlic, sprouts, raw eggs, various oils (flaxseed, cod liver, olive, safflower, sunflower), yogurt, buttermilk, apple cider vinegar, red meat, or meaty beef bones.

Question: What proportion of raw bones/meat should I feed?

Billinghurst, in his book Give Your Dog a Bone, suggests that 60% of the canine diet should be raw meaty bones.

Question: What about supplements?

There are many supplements available to add to your dog’s diet. Not everyone supplements, but those who do seem to favor the following: Missing Link, Nupro, Solid Gold Seameal or other kelp products, super blue-green algae, pro-biotics, herb mixes, dried greens (KYO-Greens, EarthSource Greens & More, Barley Dog), vitamins C and E, and minerals.

Question: Why should I feed kelp or seaweed?

Rodale’s Basic Natural Foods Cookbook breaks down common seaweeds as follows, based upon 100 grams dried sea veggie:

Agar: 323 calories; 6.2G protein; 0 fat; 417mg calcium; 52mg phosphorus; 21mg iron; 102mg sodium; 1,125mg potassium; 0 thiamine; 0 riboflavin; 0 vit C; 0 vit A

Arame: 235 calories; 6.0G protein; 0.1G fat; 1,170mg calcium; 150mg phosphorus; 12mg iron; 0 sodium; 0 potassium; 0.02G thiamine; 0.20mg riboflavin; 0 vit C; 0 vit A

Dulse: 0 calories; 20G protein; 3.2G fat; 296mg calcium; 267mg phosphorus; 50mg iron; 2,100mg sodium; 8,060mg potassium; 0.63mg thiamine; 0.50mg riboflavin; 24mg vit C; 0 vit A

Hijiki: 173 calories; 4.5G protein; 0.8G fat; 1,400mg calcium; 56mg phosphorus; 29mg iron; 0 sodium; 0 potassium; 0.01mg thiamine; 0.02mg riboflavin; 0 C; 555IU A

Kelp: 0 calories; 0 protein; 1.1G fat; 1,093mg calcium; 240mg phosphorus; 0 iron; 3,007mg sodium; 5,273mg potassium; 0 thiamine, 0 riboflavin, 0 vit C, 0 vit A

Kombu: 219 calories; 5.6G protein; 1.0G fat; 955mg calcium; 199mg phosphorus; 11.2mg iron; 2,500mg sodium; 0 potassium; 0.07mg thiamine; 0.26mg riboflavin; 11mg vit C; 430IU vit A

Nori: 235 calories; 22.2G protein; 1.1G fat; 434mg calcium; 350mg phosphorus; 28.3mg iron; 1,294mg sodium; 3,503mg potassium; 0.24mg thiamine; 1.34mg riboflavin; 10mg vit C; 960IU vit A

Wakame: 276 calories; 12.7G protein; 1.5G fat; 1,300mg calcium; 260mg phosphorus; 0 iron; 1,100mg sodium; 0 potassium; 0.01mg thiamine; 0.02mg riboflavin; 15mg C; 140IU vit A

Question: What about feeding raw eggs?

Many people feed raw eggs, in-shell or not, two or three times a week. You will need to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of feeding raw vs. cooked eggs, with or without the shell, in your own feeding program.

Question: What about egg whites and biotin?

Studies show it would take a massive amount of egg white to cause a significant problem with decreased biotin levels. In general, the amount of biotin found in the egg yolk greatly outweighs the avidin in the white.

Question: Should I add Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) to my dog’s diet?

People use ACV for many reasons. Some feel ACV lessens flea and fly problems. Others use ACV to acidify the urine to prevent alkaline crystal formation. When using ACV, add it either to the dog’s food or water. To acclimate your dog to ACV, use a bit of honey with the ACV, gradually eliminating the honey.

Question: Do feed and water dishes matter?

Some people report health problems associated with plastic dishes. For that reason, most recommend either solid stainless steel or glass dishes.

Question: What about vitamin C?

Many people add vitamin C to their dog’s diet for a variety of reasons, including joint integrity and immune system support. Dose with vitamin C to bowel tolerance. If your dog has diarrhea, back off the dose a bit and try increasing by smaller increments.

FOR FURTHER STUDY: Nutrition

Polluted Pet Food (not for the faint-hearted)
Dog Food Label Information
AAFCO Ingredients Definitions
API Dog Food Report