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  • Writer's pictureNicola Smith

Why I choose a raw diet for my dog as a Toronto dog owner

December 13, 2018

Nicola Smith and her two Rottweilers
Nicola Smith founder of We Wag Toronto

For those of you who don't know, my dog Lyla is an 8 year old female Rottweiler. For 7 years of those 8 years, I fed her a dry food diet. When I think why I did that, my answer is pretty simple; it’s because that's what I thought I was supposed to feed her. After all the bag does advertise that it is healthy “dog food”. When we walk into most pet stores, we are told most convincingly that these dry pet foods are the best choices available to responsible owners who want to provide optimal nourishment for their furry best friends. As a result, it never crossed my mind that I should be feeding Lyla something other than dry food.

Typical of her breed, Lyla experienced problems with her hips as well as abnormal stools and excessive shedding. To help with her hip problems, I added glucostromene to her food which effected a great improvement in this regard. However, her abnormal stool has been something I’ve dealt with on and off throughout her life. Over time, I tried a handful of different dry food brands, with various protein bases and recipes. For a while, I would think our problem was solved until the company would make a slight change in ingredients or discontinue it. Once again, we would have to start from scratch. Yet even when her bowel movements seemed normal, they were always huge  as well as frequent, something I never considered abnormal; after all she is a big dog. In regards to Lyla’s shedding, I added fish oil to her food. This made her coat shinier yet made no difference whatsoever to the quantity of hair she was shedding. Every morning as a part of my daily routine, I swept up an astounding quantity of hair. Seeking to solve the shedding challenge I asked the vet, people who work in pet stores and searched online; only to conclude that this was just something I had to accept and learn to live with. 

Year 7 of feeding Lyla dry food, I met a dog trainer by the name of Mark Elliott. Over coffee with Mark, I was going over these few but serious issues I had with Lyla. His answer was simple; switch her to a raw diet. He told me that Lyla’s shedding would become minimal, her hip problems would improve, her stool quality would be normal and a raw diet actually adds years onto the dog's life. If this is true, why wouldn’t I try it; so I did.

I have now been feeding Lyla a raw food diet for almost a year and this is my finding:

1. I have noticed her hip pain is less frequent. She still limps after a very long walk but not on a regular basis.

2. Her stool is a normal consistency every time, less odorous and her poop is much smaller because there is less waste as her body absorbs the nutrients and therefore most of what it is being fed.

3. Lyla’s shedding is finally so minimal that I only feel the need to sweep once a week. Her coat condition is the shiniest I have ever seen it.  

4. She looks leaner which can be attributed to her new high protein diet. Dogs are carnivores; they thrive off protein and fat. Going raw eliminates the unnecessary carbohydrates that their bodies don’t need, leaving them leaner and more toned.

Dogs are designed to eat a raw food diet rich in protein.

-High meat diets are more digestible for dogs

-More nutrients from a high meat diet are able to be absorbed

-Dogs on a high meat diet had higher levels of the bacteria associated with protein and fat digestion

-Dogs on a high meat diet had smaller poo and better fecal health

“You should be practicing safe handling of raw food with your dog as you would practice safe handling when preparing for a weekend BBQ. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling raw food and wash any items that have come in contact with the product. You can wash with hot water and an anti-bacterial soap and/or you can disinfect items i.e. countertops and bowls, with undiluted white vinegar. A dog’s stomach acids are stronger than ours so you should not be worried that your dog will get salmonella from eating raw food. It is recommended to feed raw meaty bones frozen either in a crate or outside so you reduce the risk of spreading raw food around your home. Wash up feeding bowls after your dogs has finished.”


When I actually think about it, it all makes perfect sense. Just imagine if you or I ate processed shelved food every day of our life! And let’s remember that before dogs were domesticated, all they ate was raw food.

Dry food is packed with carbohydrates because it’s cheaper and (it keeps) has a longer shelf life. It’s not natural; (what is natural,) unprocessed is always best.

Processed food is no healthier for our pets than it is for us! 

I would NEVER go back to feeding Lyla kibble. Once you know the difference, you cannot go back. I feel confident knowing I’m feeding Lyla clean food without unnecessary carbohydrates, hormones, preservatives or antibiotics. As a dog walking service in Toronto I recommend the same to those who ask.

If you are looking into feeding your dog a raw food diet please speak to a reputable distributor to answer all your questions.

I feed Lyla Congo Raw and we alternate between the Beef and Turkey patties


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