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Raw Food & Some Alternatives

Raw Food & Some Alternatives

Dog with Raw Food Please Sign 236Hold on!!!  I have received tons of email complaining that a raw diet is too inconvenient to keep up.  I understand that people who travel with their dogs could find themselves in a quandary when it comes time to feed a raw diet on the go.  I have made a breakdown of what types of food provide optimal nutrition for dogs.  This will make it easier for you to understand what options are available.  Raw, freeze-dried, and dehydrated food is essential to a dog’s well-being.  To read more about the dangers of most other types of food, read the following articles: Why a Raw Diet is Vital and Shocking Dog Food Research Study to start.  To understand why I am so strongly against other types of food.  I have written many articles about the commercial pet food industry.  An article that you MUST read is What’s REALLY in Dog Food.  Dogs are not biologically designed to live off of highly processed food that has no nutrition.  That is why vitamin premixes must be added.  Many of which include supplements from China, but that’s a whole other can of worms.   I have not included lightly cooking fresh food in this list as my blog is mainly focused on raw nutrition, but lightly cooked food (if properly balanced which is a VERY complicated task in itself), would come in right after dehydrated food.


Four food types starting with the most nutritious biologically appropriate:


1.  Prey from the Wild – Ancestral Diet

Pug at Beach with Skeleton Carcass Andrew Becraft Flickr

The optimal food is natural hunted prey found in the wild. It retains the most nutrients.  Of course this is generally not feasible.


2.  Raw Diet – Biologically Appropriate

Barfworld Diet

Barfworld Bags

Barfworld Raw Food

A raw diet is also known as a BARF diet.  BARF is an acronym for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food.  This is similar to hunted prey in that it is not processed.  It is just plain raw.  This is my favorite food for the raw food beginner who wants a convenient formula that doesn’t require the preparation needed when you put raw ingredients together yourself.  It is certainly more convenient than hunting for prey.  Raw is best because it mimics the natural diet for dogs.  Buying a raw diet is the closest to hunted prey as you can get. 

I have used the Barfworld diet for my dogs.  Taking on the task of creating my own raw diet for my dogs is a daunting task.  It requires balancing proportions and percentages of various nutrients and ingredients.  That is way too complicated for many people.

I wrote an article called, The BEST Dog Food for Beginners.  It goes into detail about the diet.

Barfworld and essentiallydogs has teamed up to give my readers a special promotion.  You receive a 3-month membership to Barfworld fee of charge.  This entitles you to free shipping for 3 months.  Just mention Janie Lerner or if you call them.  Their phone number is 1-866-282-2273 (BARF).

Barfworld Raw Diet


Raw Paws Raw Diet

Raw Paws Tubes Framed

Raw Paws Raw Diet

For more advanced raw feeders I recommend Raw Paws.  You can read more about their food in my article The BEST Dog Food for the Advanced.  In that article, I discuss the Raw Paws diet.  Although their meals don’t contain fruits and veggies as Barfworld does, they take care of the brain work by having an appropriate balance of muscle meat and organ meat in their food.  Therefore, I add supplements to their Raw Paws food to compensate.  The Raw Paws patties and chunks are easiest to serve, but they are more costly.  Raw Paws comes in large tubes and tubs so they must be cut down into portions and placed into plastic bags.  I then take a portion out and weigh each serving.  Some of their raw products come in patties, but the cost is higher than buying in bulk.  Barfworld is sold in the form of patties and nuggets which makes things much easier.


3.  The Next Best is Freeze-Dried Diets

Raw Paws Freeze-Dried Diet

The moisture is removed from the food while keeping it frozen.  This allows the food to remain uncooked and raw. Freeze-drying is more nutritional value than other dehydration processes because of the manner in which the moisture is removed.  If I would choose a freeze-dried food for my dogs, I would go for Raw Paws Freeze-Dried Food.  It comes in three formulas (beef, chicken, and Green Tripe).

Raw Paws Dehydrated Complete Green Tripe

Raw Paws Dehydrated Complete Beef

Raw Paws Dehydrated Complete Chicken


Only Natural Pet Freeze-Dried Diet


Only Natural Pet Freeze-Dried Diet

Only Natural Pet Freeze Dried

Only Natural Pet Freeze-Dried Diet

Freeze-dried can be pricey, but I found one that is not as costly as most    of the others.  It is Only Natural Pet Raw Nibs.  What I don’t like about this product is that it is the store’s private label so you don’t actually know who is making it.  I like that it doesn’t have an extensive vitamin list.  This means that the actual food itself is nutritious.


4. The following option is Dehydrated Diets

NRG Dehydrated Diet

NRG Dehydrated

Closeup of NRG Maxim Grainless Dehydrated Diet

The dehydration process is performed through the use of a temperature below 200 degrees at a low pressure for a long period of time. The food is not fully raw because it is lightly cooked, but it still retains much of its nutritional value.  If I had to choose a brand I would go with NRG.  NRG Maxim Grainless comes in four varieties – Beef, Chicken, Buffalo, and Salmon.  The 1.7 pound size comes in pouches.  The 10 pound size comes in boxes.  The NRG Maxim Grainless is superior to Optimum Blend.  Having grains in dog food is not natural to a dog’s ancestral diet.  Naked oats is the fourth ingredient Optimum Blend is naked oats.  Therefore it doesn’t qualify to be a favorite of mine as I gravitate toward species appropriate diets.

NRG Boxes

NRG De-Hydrated Diet


As I mentioned above, Barfworld and essentiallydogs has teamed up to give my readers a special promotion.  You receive a 3 month membership to Barfworld fee of charge.  This entitles you to free shipping for 3 months.  Just mention Janie Lerner or if you call them.  Their phone number is 1-866-282-2273 (BARF).  Please feel free to read more about Barfworld in the following articles:  What I Feed My Own Dogs and The BEST Dog Food.


As you can see, there are alternatives to raw food.  I will not discuss canned or dry food because they don’t meet up to my standards.  Those foods are highly processed and filled with many additives (including tons of synthetic vitamins and ingredients created in labs).  They don’t provide the real nutrition that is based on the biological needs of dogs (i.e., raw meat).


Aff Stmt

Barfworld, Raw Paws, MuttropolisOnly Natural Pet



  1. ANN


    1. Janie

      Hi Ann-

      I am so sorry, but I can’t recommend anything other than raw varieties of food. This is because it would be a moral conflict for me. If you use the little search bar in my site and use keyword “kibble” you will understand why. Non-raw food is not species appropriate and that is one of the reasons why obesity, dental issues, kidney disease, and cancer are so prevalent amongst dogs. A good article to check out is What’s REALLY in Dog Food. Dr. Karen Becker has a book called Real Food for Healthy Pets. Honestly it is very complicated for me to create appropriate meals for my dogs using the recipes because of all the ingredients and getting the proportions right. I truly apologies. It is unfortunate that consumers are taken advantage of by the pet industry at the cost of the health of our beloved pets. I also wrote two articles about the Dog Food Advisor and the issues I have with them along with plenty of reasons why. If you look up the keyword “Advisor” you will find those articles.

      The issues you described above sound like they might be linked to food issues. Many dogs have these issues due to corn allergies. Grains are also very bad for dogs. Carbs (including potatoes) make allergies even worse. Many health issues get worse because they are stimulated by the sugar (carbs convert into sugar when metabolized). A protein that some dogs have issues with is chicken.

      I have seen dogs with such issues as you mentioned above. They only got steroids and other medication from their vets. Their vets didn’t even bother to ask what the dogs were eating. Those vets would probably kill me if they knew that I suggested to change to a raw diet to address the issues because I actually took their steady patients with chronic issues away from them. Those vet appointments and all the meds were profitable for the vets. Most conventional vets don’t have the extensive education in nutrition and natural care after getting their veterinary degrees. The health issues cleared up. They were amazed. No more ear issues, no more skin issues, no more biting and licking their paws, no more stomach issues, and the list goes on. My article 8 Questions to Evaluate Your Vet is a great way to check to see if your vet is up do date and educated with more than the basics.

      Yes… Raw diets are very expensive, but they keep dogs away from the vet because they are MUCH healthier. I have plenty of articles about raw food.

      Best of luck.

  2. Ev

    Hello Janie,

    While I do appreciate your dedication to sharing health-optimal information regarding pet diet, the simple fact is the cost of the raw diets you suggest is OUTRAGEOUS and ENTIRELY UNAFFORDABLE for the vast majority of pet owners! The more I explored your recommendations, the more disgusted I became with your obviously elitist perspective. To exclusively promote suggestions that can only be implemented by the rich I find downright disingenuous and shameful! Who, besides the financially privileged, can spend hundreds of dollars per month to feed their pet, let alone multiple pets?? Or is your alternative that everyone else not give a loving home to domestic animals and simply let them be ‘put down’ because potential owners are so under-resourced to feed them to your standards?? Where is the reasonable and rational recommendation for the VAST MAJORITY of owners who cannot even consider your very egocentric, wealth-demanding suggestions??

    The fact is, while you pretend to be helping pet owners, you are only accomplishing 3 things:

    1) Making the financially under-resourced pet owners feel guilt for their inability to afford and provide a “healthy” diet to their pets…according to YOUR standards.

    2) Actually helping a minuscule, and likely, relatively insignificant number of readers, exclusively, who might actually be able to afford implementing your recommendations.

    3) Feeding your own ego to make yourself believe that you are a “good” person helping all of those ignorant pet owners out there.

    Don’t get me wrong, you make good points and offer valid and useful information. However, the facts are what they are…few people who read your posts are likely to ever be able to afford such exorbitant expense as pet owners. And, PLEASE, spare all of us the nonsense argument of “saving money in the long run in vet bills for illness and disease treatment”. Just about all pets cared for by humans, even on relatively crap diets, are enjoying significantly better lives than if they had to survive in the wild.

    Why don’t you include a balance to the equation and offer some suggestions on, at least, the best choices for AFFORDABLE foods on the market that probably 95% of your readers are going to resort to anyway?? Yes, yes, you don’t like them, and you don’t recommend any of them. But are they really all equally toxic?? If so, then all of us struggling middle-class pet owners, who ABSOLUTELY CANNOT AFFORD THE EXORBITANT COST OF YOUR SUGGESTIONS, should just euthanize our animals right now, I suppose!

    So to conclude my criticism of your intentions, I will defer to the following well-known words of wisdom:

    “THE ROAD TO HELL IS PAVED WITH GOOD INTENTIONS”. I am convinced that you might actually be doing more harm than good!

    1. Janie

      Dear Ev-

      Thank you for writing. I do appreciate your opinions, but I suggest simpler ways of doing raw diets. Thriving is very different from merely surviving. My next article will expose the damage that conventional vets and the prescription diets. You will be shocked.

      I am not comfortable with my ability to mathematically create a raw diet by scratch. There are balances and percentages and other variables involved. A great source for learning more about raw diets is Keep the Tail Wagging.

      My ego has nothing to do with anything. If you simply ask for options, I am more than happy to guide people as best as I can. Raw diets that are already prepared are easier to implement. If you create a well-balanced diet on your own it would be less expensive.

      I don’t know why you would think that I am doing more harm than good. I am educating people. I have used both raw diets that I recommend. I am familiar with those products so I speak from my own experience with them.

      We all need to find a happy medium. I am not forcing anyone to do anything. I am providing food for thought, so to speak. It is the consumer’s responsibility to do the research and make his/her own decisions. I promote awareness and education.

      All the best

    2. Jay

      Sheesh. Calm down already.
      The only way that raw diets are expensive is if you buy them pre-made, pre-packaged, and those that are “safely” HPP’ed.
      I’m feeding a lot of dogs and cats. If I had to feed a mid-grade or premium brand of kibble or “raw”, I’d go broke.
      Raw is CHEAPER if you have a large freezer and work with local farmers and butchers. I can get beef offal for less than $.25/lb, straight from the farm! Green tripe is nutritious, full of enzymes, and something that (sadly) gets thrown away at a lot of butcher shops. Many butchers are ordered to throw away meat that was cut wrong; we humans think food needs to be pretty in order to be saleable.
      Ask for scraps. Most places will sell them dirt cheap. Some butchers will make you a “dog box” full of scraps, offal and bones for free. Many farmers will happily share some of the “undesirable” parts of anything slaughtered that they have a hard time selling. No waste, healthy food for your pets, everyone is happy.
      The road to hell may be paved with good intentions, but your tone is really quite rude to someone who is doing their absolute best to provide GOOD information on food for animals that doesn’t involve stroking the ego of Hill’s and Eukanuba.

      1. Janie


        Thank you for visiting my website and for writing. I don’t think that I have been rude at all. Personally, I m not comfortable with coordinating and balancing a raw diet on my own. I like that many of the raw diets contain actual ground bone (not “bone meal”). Also, I like that the amount of organ meat is in the correct proportion when it is already made. Yes! Going to the butcher is a great idea if one is accessible. That way your meat would be really fresh.

        I feel that most people who love their dogs make an effort to do what’s best for them and for their dogs. That’s a no-brainer. The problem is that most people are not educated with regard to what dog food is all about. We all have a lot to learn. You mentioned kibble. I would steer clear of kibble and consider alternatives. What about pumpkin or veggies and rotate?

        The regulation of commercial dog food is practically non-existent and very little is done to protect our pets. It takes a tragedy before any investigation. Check out my Evanger’s article. That brand is regarded as high quality. Their labels make promises, but people have gotten horse meat with pentobarbital. What about Blue Buffalo? I wrote about them. No by-products? Think again. The big commercial pet food industry is very scary to say the least.

        All the best

  3. Roger

    I came across your site while searching.
    I have two German Shepherd sisters who get fed raw.
    Because I do a lot of travelling with them, it can be difficult logistically to have raw available when I arrive, and I was looking to see if I could find something to ‘fill in the gap’ till the raw thaws out etc.
    Anyway, after reading the rant above from Ev, I felt I had to reply..
    Basically, do the math before ranting off!
    German Shepherds are relatively large dogs. Between them, they consume 2.2KG of duck mince with 10% bone and 12% organ per day, which I get from a factory butchers @ €12 per five KG (I’m in Ireland, the Euro is basically at parity to the $ here at the moment).
    So they consume 66kg per month, at 2.40 per Kg which €158.40
    (let’s call it $160)
    This works out at $5.33 per day
    $2.67 per dog per day
    And that’s for a relatively large dog
    A collie for example would be less than $2 per day, and a terrier size considerably less.
    So, how is feeding raw a luxury reserved for the super rich, as she? seemed to be ranting on about??

    Just as an aside, while changing over to raw, one of my dogs became ill. I brought her to a vet, who pumped her full of drugs, told me I’d poisoned her, and go back on kibble. She began to get worse, so I brought her to another vet, who pumped her full of more drugs, which made her worse.
    In desperation, having thought about the whole ordeal, the only common factor through her ‘treatment’ was the kibble. I reckoned somewhere along the way she became allergic to some ingredient in it.
    So I starved her for a day, fed her brown rice and natural yogurt, gradually reintroduced the raw, and she’s back to being a healthy dog.
    €170 in vets bills to be killing her, and €3 for a bag of rice and some yogurt to save her…
    It’s all about researching what’s right for your dog, not finance.

    1. Janie

      Hi Roger-

      Thank you so much for visiting my blog and for writing. I appreciate your defense. Unfortunately, the majority of convention vets are misleading us when it comes to food (not to mention other things). I don’t think that wild dogs and cats would do well if they ate kibble sprinkled in the forest instead of fresh food from hunting.

      Personally, I find that purchasing pre-made raw products are much easier for me. The meat I purchase already has the appropriate amount of ground bone and organ meat in the correct ratios. I add additional natural supplements to each meal.

      I think the point of the other person whose comment you are responding to is that PREPAPRED raw diets are expensive. It is much less expensive to make it yourself.

      Kibble is completely inappropriate. It is highly processed, and extremely high in carbs for dogs to digest adequately. We see dogs with diabetes, kidney disease, allergies, and inflammatory conditions because highly processed kibble is the equivalent of frosted flakes. Manufacturers don’t even disclose carb amount on labels. That stuff is poison. It is best to spend money on food and health instead of on disease later on.

      Thanks again for writing.
      All the best,

  4. Dr. Erik Johnson

    I’m a veterinarian trying to better understand raw meat diets and I have become a proponent of a natural 60:30:10% protein:fat:carb ratio as held in raw meat diets. I am looking for places to send people for more information, and even foods to try. However, I keep running into this problem: Sites like yours that demonize me. I’m a Western Medicine Vet and I am always broadening my experiences to include homeopathy and better nutrition but I can’t really put my client on a website that bags on vets. And you might say “I endorse people who bag on bad vets” except it doesn’t really come off that way. So, I don’t know what to do. You guys are on to something and it works, I have cases on it. But I have zero resources to educate my clients that do not simultaneously attempt to prove I am a charlatan full of lies. I am a good vet.
    Here’s my video on Youtube regarding Carbohydrate Intolerance, I think that is at least one of the main reason that raw diets and dumping grains is working so well.
    [Link deleted]

    1. Janie

      Hi Doc-

      Boy am I happy to hear from you!!! This issue I have is with vets who do refuse to go outside of corporate interests. Those manufacturers who endorse veterinary programs and do shoddy studies are the worst and so many conventional vets don’t see to want to hear anything execpt what they were encouraged to learn about in school. I demonize vets who deliberately over-vaccinate our pets despite the documented serology. Please check out my vaccine articles. You will be surprised if you read my heartworm article to see how so many vets are misleading pet owners.

      I admire that you care enough to learn more – “first do no harm” is apparently something you believe in.

      The ratios/percentages are actually supposed to be approximately:
      75%-80% muscle protein source
      10% crushed bone or calcium source (crushed eggshells can be thrown in as well)
      10% organ meat

      I throw off those percentages by adding whole food sources for greens.

      Carbs are not necessary in its direct form (i.e., rice, potato…). Many veggies have naturally ocurring carbs. By overdoing carbs, you increase inflammation and (bad for allergies, seizures, bone issues…).

      BUT… If a dog is doing excessive calorie-burning (Greyhounds racing or sled dogs), some carbs may be necessary because of the extreme amount of energy required.

      OK… So let me recommend a GREAT website that you will get a lot of advice from: Keep the Tail Wagging.

      To learn about commercial food check out: Poisoned Pets and Truth About Pet Food.

      Dr. Andrew Jones has some great courses – Veterinary Secrets Revealed. Dogs Naturally has EXCELLENT online courses as well.

      Thank you so much for visiting my website and for writing. You made my day!!!
      If you would like more information, please feel free to write again.

      All the very best

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