I ventured into the raw feeding world around 2013, when my first Dachshund was about 9 years old.
I’d given my dogs a little raw food here and there, but not noticed the health benefits that a lot of raw feeding devotees claimed that I would.
However, once I switched his diet to 100% raw, I did see a change.
My senior dog suddenly developed the zoomies.
Her started running around the house and fetching toys…repeatedly….which he hadn’t done since he was a pup…or much ever.
Hair grew on this chest where he was bald because it always broke off.
While I don’t believe that all Dachshunds should be on a a raw diet, or that Dachshunds that eat raw dog food should never eat canned or kibble food, it’s a choice I made for my doxies that I feel good about.
If you are considering switching your Dachshund to a raw diet, here is some introductory information that will help get you make a decision.
- While there are many anecdotal claims about the benefits of a raw dog food diet, many veterinarians are skeptical due to lack of scientific evidence.
- Personally, since switching my dogs to raw food, I have observed the benefits of increased energy, a shinier coat, a thicker coat of fur, and smaller poops.
- Don’t be fooled by kibble with the word “raw” on the package because, no matter what they do or put in it, it’s processed food, not raw.
- In most cases, feeding your Dachshund raw food will be more expensive
- Only you can make the right decision for your dog
- To get started, use a commercially prepared raw first so you are sure it has all of the required nutrients
Why Do Some People Say a Raw Diet is the Best for Dogs?
Although it’s more complicated than to say your furry friend is a direct descendant from the wolf, they definitely share some similarities.
One of them is that dogs are primarily carnivores.
Since wolves primarily eat raw meat, meaty bones, organs, and, and vegetable scraps, it can be extrapolated that this may be the best diet for domesticated dogs.
However, feeding your dog a raw food diet is very controversial. Or, at least, a hotly debated topic.
There are many “pro” and “con” arguments to put it lightly, and passions can run very high on both sides.
Anytime the topic of raw food comes up in online – even in a forum for talking about such matters – arguments can erupt.
Here is an overview of the pro-raw diet and anti-raw diet argument.
The argument for feeding your dog raw food
In a nutshell, people for feeding a dog a raw food diet believe that processed food is bad and that a dog should eat a food based on what canines ate before they were domesticated.
Some also claim that the average veterinarian only recommends processed kibble dog food because many vet schools are sponsored by these brands (they’ve “drank the Kool-Aid”).
Pro-raw feeders also claim that it is easier to design a diet specifically for your own dog’s nutritional needs when you “assemble” a raw meal yourself.
The argument against feeding your dog raw food
People against feeding a dog a raw food diet primarily argue that:
- Dogs have evolved enough that feeding a dog raw food is not biologically necessary or even appropriate.
- Commercial dog food formulas offer a superior nutritional balance (in other words, raw food diets can be missing important nutrients).
- Feeding raw food is dangerous because of the risk of the meat spoiling or being tainted by bad bacteria like salmonella and listeria (these are most likely to make humans sick but can also make a dog sick, although it’s rare).
Andi-raw proponents counter any claims of the benefits of feeding a raw food diet as being purely anecdotal since no large, or even numerous small, studies have been published on the effects feeding a raw diet long-term.
What do I think about raw food diets for dogs?
I am of the mind that less processing of our food is better.
I mean, a diet high in processed food is shown to be bad for humans. Why not for our furry companions, too?
If a dog is eating kibble, their diet consists of 100% processed food.
Now, is it as bad as a person eating every meal from McDonalds? No.
Dog kibble is designed to be a balanced, convenient way to feed your dog and almost all commercial dog foods out there – even raw ones – meet at least the minimum standards set forth by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO)
However, processed dog food contains added preservatives that enhance product shelf life.
And processing the ingredients removes natural nutrients in the foods used to create it.
Those are sometimes replaced with synthetic versions, but they typically aren’t absorbed by your dog as well.
What Are the Benefits of Feeding Your Dog Raw Food?
Many people who have switched their dog to a raw food diet report significant health changes, including:
- More energy
- Relief from common skin problems, especially those caused by food allergies
- A shiny, fuller coat
- Cleaner teeth
- Improved digestion
- Fresher breath
- Smaller and almost odorless poops
- Easier weight management
- Extended life and improved quality of life
Like I said, I personally saw my Dachshund’s energy and increase, their fur grow in thicker, and their poops become smaller and less stinky.
The increased energy, smaller poops, and greater overall health are the most common benefits I see reported by others.
I didn’t experience cleaner teeth – there was no change – but I later learned that simply switching to a raw diet is not what has the greatest impact on dental health.
However, if you give your dog raw meaty bones to chew as part of their meal, or as part of your dog teeth cleaning routine, that will help scrape tartar off of your dog’s teeth.
Maintaining a proper weight for your Dachshund comes down to calories in vs calories out, not the type of food that you feed them.
No one can guarantee that feeding a raw food diet will make your dog healthier or live longer.
While I do believe that quality nutrition is one of the keys to a long, good life, so much comes down to genetics that we can’t control.
What a Raw Food Diet Is… and Isn’t!
Feeding raw dog food to pets is a trend that has exploded over the last 10 years.
Companies that make traditional kibble dog food have noticed.
Some of these companies have changed their packaging and marketing messages to dupe owners looking for a healthier dog food, but who don’t understand what a raw diet really is (or isn’t).
Once, at a pet industry tradeshow when the raw food trend was just starting, I overheard a representative for a major dog food company explaining their new packaging to a buyer.
He said -paraphrased but pretty accurately – that dog owners wanted to feel like they were feeding their dogs real meat and whole ingredients, so they put a photo of a chicken breast and whole veggies on the label.
What a raw dog food diet isn’t
There are various dog foods out with the label “raw” on them. But are they really?
My favorite is the dog food that claimed it is made of “raw ingredients”.
Like, seriously? All dog foods start with raw ingredients before it’s processed into little, dry nuggets.
Then you have “raw coated kibble”. This kibble is most typically dusted with freeze dried “raw” dog food (read on to see why raw is in quotation marks).
Then you have kibble that is mixed with separate nuggets of freeze dried dog food.
I bought several of these food from a higher quality, reputable brand and counted the number of freeze dried nuggets.
There was approximately one “raw” nugget per 15-30 pieces of regular kibble.
In the case of the dusting or freeze dried raw, or little chunks, the food was still primarily regular kibble.
AND, technically, freeze dried “raw” isn’t actually raw dog food at all. It’s still processed.
It is true that it is less processed than kibble, and the temperatures at which it is processed is typically lower than with kibble so it retains more of the original nutrients, but it’s still not a true raw dog food.
However, I do think some “real meat” without fillers is better than none, and it probably makes that kibble taste way better to your pup.
This is a true raw diet
True raw dog food is primarily a mix of raw meat, bone, and organs.
Many brands also add ground up veggies or supplements like raw egg, fish oil, etc.
These ingredients are fresh, start in in their natural form, are chopped or ground and mixed together, and not cooked.
People that make their own raw dog food often make a large batch and then freeze portions until they are ready to be used. That is the only processing that is done to the food.
Commercially prepared raw dog food is tested periodically by the FDA for safety.
Because the FDA takes a zero tolerance stance on bacteria in dog food, many companies will do some kind of treatment to eliminate bacteria from it.
For example, some companies use High Pressure Processing (also known as HPP or Cold Pressure) on the raw food they make to ensure they are free from Salmonella, E. Coli, and Listeria.
How to Get Started With a Raw Diet
I’ll go into more detail in another article later, but if you want to start on a raw diet for your dog, I suggest you begin with commercially made frozen raw first.
That way you are sure that the food contains the right nutrients, the correct mix of nutrients, that your dog likes it, and you feel comfortable feeding raw meat.
All of the raw dog foods I use regularly are in this article: Raw Foods for Dachshunds
During the transition (see how below) time, and while your dog is getting used to their new diet, you can learn more about raw feeding.
You can decide which food you think is best for your Dachshund and if you want to make your own or not (more on that in the next section).
Here are two of my favorite raw dog food resources to get you started in your learning journey.
This website provides great information about a raw diet and a raw food calculator.
Some may find all of the information on this website overwhelming, but it’s great if you want to go deep and understand how to make your own raw dog food.
This blog was one of the first about raw feeding on the internet and is written in an accessible way by a passionate Dog Mom.
Besides providing a wealth of information from a self-taught raw feeder on her blog, Kimberly is the author of the book Raw Feeding from A to Z: An Introduction to Raw Feeding for Crazy Dog Lovers Like Me (affiliate link).
Making Your Own Raw Dog Food vs Buying It – Which is Better?
There are two main ways to obtain raw dog food – make it yourself or buy it. That’s it.
If you are going to feed your dog raw food, those are your two options.
Pros and cons of making your own raw dog food
The pros of making it yourself are:
- A “feel good factor” because you are making something healthy for your dog, and getting to choose and control every single ingredient yourself.
- It can be cheaper if you buy meat, and other ingredients, in bulk or at a discount.
Cons of making raw dog food on your own include:
- Danger of not getting the nutrient mix right (it can be dangerous to your dog’s health if you don’t).
- It takes knowledge or proper food handling techniques to reduce the chance of bacterial contamination.
- It takes up more space – both in your kitchen when making a big batch and in your freezer to store.
- It often requires specialized, and costly equipment like a meat grinder, food processer, stand mixer, and a second freezer.
Pros and cons of buying pre-made raw dog food
One big pro of buying premade raw dog food is that it takes the guesswork out of it for you.
According to Dr. Karen Becker, “All of the raw food diets sold in big box stores, upscale pet boutiques, and vet clinics require the same nutrient analysis testing that any other pet food undergoes in order to be AAFCO compliant”.
The pros of buying pre-made raw are:
- Nutritional balance is done for you
- It’s convenient
- You can buy one package at a time as needed
Cons of buying raw dog dog include:
- It can be more costly, depending on how much you need to feed a day and brand
- You may still need extra freezer space to store the food until you need it.
If you are new to feeding your Dachshund raw food, I highly suggest buying it at first to make sure your dog likes it and you want to commit to this kind of diet.
How Much Does it Cost to Feed a Dachshund a Raw Diet?
How much it will cost to feed your Dachshund a raw diet primarily depends on things like how many calories your dog needs to eat a day to maintain a healthy weight, the brand of food you buy, the primary type of meat used (chicken vs bison for example), and whether you can buy in bulk or not.
Whether you choose to make or buy raw food for your dog, it will likely cost more than feeding kibble, although some high-end, boutique kibble or canned foods can be almost as expensive.
Generally, pre-made raw food from commercial brands can range from $3 to $10 per pound.
The cost of feeding one 10 lb miniature Dachshund a raw diet can range from $120 to $200 per month.
For example, a package of one of my favorite raw dog foods is $7.50 – $8.50 per pound, depending on the meat (chicken, duck, etc.)
My 11 lb, moderately active Dachshund, eats approximately 450 calories per day, which equates to about 0.7 lbs (11 oz) of raw dog food.
Therefore, a very rough estimate of the cost to feed my Dachshund a raw diet is $5.50 per day ($8 per pound = $0.50 per ounce x 11 oz = $5.50) or $165 a month.
Multiplied by 3 Dachshunds, I spend approximately $495 a month on food.
And that’s not considering treats, chews, and supplements!
Preparing a raw food diet at home can cost less per pound of food.
However, the cost can quickly exceed the cost of pre-made raw, at least for a while, if you have to buy processing equipment, storage containers, a new freezer, etc.
Transitioning Your Dog to a Raw Food Diet
Transitioning to raw food is similar to how you would transition your dog to any new food.
Basically, you gradually add a little of the new food while reducing the old food until you are feeding a full meal of the new one.
Read this article for more details: How to Switch Dog Food the Right Way
However, there are a few more nuances when switching to raw dog food.
First, although it’s not outright harmful to feed both raw and kibble in the same meal, some people prefer to switch to feeding kibble for one meal and raw for the other once the ratio in each bowl reaches a 50-50 split.
The theory is that kibble and raw food digest in the stomach at different rates, so you don’t want one interfering too much with the other.
Also, if your dog has a sensitive stomach, you may want to slightly cook the raw food at first so it’s not such a drastic change from cooked to raw.
Lightly cooking the food will also help reduce any bacteria that may have been introduced during the thawing and handling period.
There are many claimed, anecdotal health benefits of feeding a dog raw food.
However, there isn’t a consensus within the scientific and veterinary communities that raw dog food diets are definitively superior to commercial dog foods or cooked diets.
Your decision whether to switch your dog to raw food or not should consider:
- Your lifestyle (kibble is more convenient)
- Whether your dog has special dietary needs or not
- If your dog has allergies, especially to grains
- If you have enough kitchen and freezer space to store raw food until you need to use it
- Whether you believe the claims of health benefits or not
Personally, I do believe that at least some of the claims about the benefit of a raw diet are true because I’ve seen them myself.
Honestly, I also feed raw because it makes me feel good and my dogs love the taste.
I don’t have a lot of space, don’t want to hassle with sourcing the ingredients myself, and worry that I wouldn’t balance the nutrition correctly, so I have opted to purchase pre-made raw dog food up to this point.
About the Author
Hi, I’m Jessica. I’ve been studying the Dachshund breed since 2007, owned 3 of my own, and shared in the lives of thousands of others through their owner’s stories. When I’m not sharing what I know on this blog, you can find me hiking, camping, and traveling with my adventurous wiener dogs.