Food Glorious Food

What happens when you make the transition from kibble to raw food? Find out from these pet parents.

After reading Dr Nick Thompson’s article, ‘Do I Need a Nutritionist?’ in the December issue, I felt it would be beneficial to talk to some raw feeding newbies, to discuss their fears, and more importantly why they made the switch to raw feeding in the first place. I also wanted to find out what their Vet thought of the move.

I started feeding our dogs raw food around 10 years ago and so talking to others that were about to make the switch made me think of that time again, the changes I saw in my dogs and how I came to start feeding raw too.

Daisy & Poppy

I was a volunteer with a Rescue center at the time and my sister had adopted one of our Westies, Barky Charlie, as he was affectionately known.  The Rescue arranged for a registered behaviourist to visit to see if she could shed any light on why Charlie was very anxious and unable to focus as this was causing bad behaviour in the home.  The first thing she suggested was to put him on a raw diet. It did help Charlie to a certain degree. He still had a few issues that could never be corrected but were managed well. He did live until the grand old age of 13 years, and he had a really happy, healthy life. Understandably my sister hadn’t heard of a raw diet for dogs so we talked about it and decided that I would do the research, read the books, and we would start our dogs on raw food together.  I began by reading The Honeys Natural Feeding Handbook by Jonathan Self, I then read Works Wonders by Dr Tom Lonsdale, both mind blowing little books to start with.  I then felt I needed something a little more technical, so I read Give Your Dog a Bone by Dr Ian Billingshurst, followed by Raw Meaty Bones by Dr Tom Lonsdale, all great books packed full of good information.  The Honeys Book is still my go-to guide.

I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but the positive changes in our dogs was incredible.  Martha, my little 1-year old rescue bitch was hyperactive and found it hard to focus, she calmed down and was certainly more able to concentrate and train.  One of the first things I noticed was her eyes, they started to sparkle, her coat became thicker and just gleamed in the sun, in fact she came second in a shiny coat contest.  My other dog was Merlin who was a 6-year-old rescue who had suffered for most of his life with a skin condition caused by a yeast overgrowth.  I put him on a raw diet and the changes were phenomenal. Within months his skin was clearer, the itch subsided, and his coat thickened, no more ear infections, he looked just fabulous.

When I speak to members of the Westie Advice Group (aka, WAG) about putting their westies on a raw diet the first thing they talk about is how nervous they are about doing it and they always worry about the bacteria and whether it will make their dogs ill or make their family member ill. This is usually followed by a worry of getting things wrong and a concern that they will not give their Westie the correct amount of nutrients. Occasionally, they are worried about the cost.   They are also concerned about the reactions of an anti-raw feeding Vets.

I decided that I would have a chat to a few members of WAG that had recently made the switch and were complete novices.  I just wanted a bit of a different insight into how they felt about making the switch, and what their feelings were after they had made the change?

Fergus & Skye

Rachael from Northumberland, with Fergus 6 & Skye 6 (Skye is an overseas rescue) 

Rachael decided to switch both of her dogs to a raw diet after Fergus was suffering with digestive issues and a skin problem. Rachael conducted quite a lot of research and decided it was worth a shot for the sake of Fergus’s health.

Her main concerns were whether it was just a myth that raw food was better for the dog’s health in the long run. The price was slightly more than she was paying for their food and her friends thought she was being cruel to the dogs for feeding them raw food and not cooking it.  

Her Vet was also very anti raw and said the health benefits were an untruth/myth and that it was a way of raw food companies of making more money. He also said the bacteria in raw food would make the dogs very unwell.  So, who is correct? And are the benefits of raw feeding really a myth?

Rachael telephoned around her local Vets and found a supportive and knowledgeable young Vet.  (Always worth a phone call if you aren’t happy with your current Vets).

Both dogs are loving their food and are doing very well. The poo is tiny, and practically odourless. In Rachael’s words, raw feeding is the “best thing she’s ever done for her dogs”.

Susan from Moray, Scotland with Daisy 21 months & Poppy 7 months

Susan decided to make the switch for her westies after reading about a fresh/raw food diet for her dogs right here in Westies & Besties magazine, and from reading information provided on WAG.  Daisy was suffering from itchy paws and occasionally suffered with blocked anal glands.

Her main concerns were that the Westies would not take to the food and that a raw diet would not provide enough of the correct nutrients.  Susan hasn’t had to discuss food and nutrition with her Vet but would be more than happy to let him know that her dogs are thriving.

She says she is delighted with the positive changes in her dogs.  Both girls are loving their food and clear their plates.  Daisy isn’t itching as much, and she seems to be a much calmer and focused dog.  She’s much less reactive and more able to concentrate.  Susan says he has ‘absolutely no regrets in making the switch to a raw food diet’.  She has happy healthy dogs that are thriving.


Tessa from West Berkshire with Deni (Dirty Dawg) who passed away at the grand old age of 15.5 years.  

It’s a slightly different story here but I just wanted a story about an older dog being switched to a raw diet.  It’s not always the youngsters that benefit from changing.

Tessa made the changes when Deni was the grand old age of 14 years as he started to have a skin condition.  She had already dabbled with a premade raw, but this proved to be a bit hit and miss with Deni.  She decided to go down the DIY route.

Deni loved his food, canned sardines in oil were one of his favourites (great omega 3), he had them all his life.  Tessa devised recipes using tips from WAG and it was an easy transition for him.  Deni even let the family cats share a bit of his raw before nudging them to one side so he could finish it off.  He was always very generous with his tripe kisses and Tessa still misses them.  

At first Tessa was concerned about bacteria as Deni was a grazer and with raw it was gone in an instant so no worries there.  The price was never an issue as Tessa compared the cost with premium processed foods and raw was comparable.  Her Vet was also fully onboard with a raw diet if it was balanced, and Tessa had done her research.

Deni showed his love and gratitude for his scrumptious meals by licking his lips and sharing his smelly belches.  He was a happy healthy old fella in the last 17 months of his life, his eyes sparkled, and his fur was amazing.  He never quite took to chicken feet and was known to hide the odd one in Tessa’s shoe. RIP Deni, you certainly were one lucky little Westie.


Faye from Cannock & Bobby aged 10 years 

Faye is one of my favourite converts, she sat on the fence for a very long time.  In fact, over the last few years, we have had several conversations about raw food, but it wasn’t until the end of last year Faye actually fell off the fence and went for it. 

Faye changed Bobby to a raw food diet after analysing what she was feeding and discovered the ingredients were very poor quality and the price was premium compared to a well-balanced raw food diet.  Bobby had also developed sores on his back and his tail.

Faye’s main concern was that she didn’t think she would be able to understand exactly what to feed Bobby. I explained that there were excellent quality well balanced raw dog foods on the market, so we decided to opt for Jack Wolf Raw Dog Food.  Bobby also has sardines in oil (fabulous omega 3), soft boiled eggs, watermelon, pears, the odd carrot, dried sprats, chicken hearts and as a special treat a bit of cheese.  Faye was also very concerned that Bobby wouldn’t like it, which of course he did.

A Vet wouldn’t be able to scaremonger Faye into changing Bobby back to processed food.  He is living proof that a fresh raw diet is always a good choice for dogs of any age.  She is over the moon she eventually fell of the fence and changed Bobby to raw.  Can’t wait until his next visit to the groomers, the last time he was really sore and not looking and feeling great.  The groomer is going to be amazed at the positive changes in Bobby.

Faye really wishes she had listened to us years ago and made the change then as Bobby is healthy and looks fabulous, he’s now thriving and not just surviving.  She is now converting all the local dog owners, friends, and relatives to switch their dogs to raw diet. 

Arlene from Glasgow & Rosie aged 9

Arlene had seen so many positive success stories on WAG and wanted to give it a go.  It took her a year of reading posts and watching in the background before she plucked up the courage to take the plunge.  Her main concerns were that Rosie wouldn’t take to the food and it would cause digestive upsets.

She isn’t worried about speaking to her Vet about raw food, hopefully Rosie’s general health will speak volumes.

Rosie has so much energy. she’s more like a 5-year-old than a 9-year-old.  She’s now calmer and more focused.  She loves her Jack Wolf Raw Dog food, and Arlene is gaining confidence by the day as to what else she can add to give Rosie a different eating experience, which every dog deserves.

So, the moral of the story is that everyone has a different reason, a different experience but always the same positive outcome.  It’s not scary at all, just read a couple of books on raw feeding and give it a go.  Chat to others that feed their dogs raw, ask lots of questions, its easy and so satisfying seeing your dog enjoying their food, and you as an owner seeing the joy on their faces and the little dance they do at mealtimes.


List five of the benefits of raw feeding as mentioned by the pet parents in this story. Email your answers to [email protected]

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