When it comes to feeding your dog, there is no one right answer for every dog and every household. (Though some people will try to convince you otherwise.)

I used to feed my dogs dry dog food, or kibble. During that time, I fed my dogs a variety of different brands, though I always did my best to feed the highest quality diet I could based on my current knowledge and my current budget. I started researching raw or home cooked diets several years ago. I wanted to make the transition back when I had my Smooth Collie, Joxer, and my Greyhound, Jahzara. Unfortunately, I could not at the time figure out how to manage an appropriate (and affordable) raw diet without the use of chicken and/or turkey. My Collie had some type of allergy to poultry, which would at best make him throw up bile after eating and at worst cause some really awful diarrhea. So, I held off.

After we lost Joxer, and once we had added our Vizsla Romeo to the household, we were ready to try again. We bought a large chest freezer to store meat, researched and planned out our options, and were about a week away from starting our transition. My husband got news that he was laid off from his job. The transition (and added expense) got put on hold. It was not until early 2013 that we were able to prepare for and make the transition to a home-prepared raw diet for our dogs. We studied a variety of books, journals and online articles as well as consulted with our veterinarian (one of the few who does encourage raw diets!) We made the transition and have been going strong with it for over a year now.

Romeo’s health checks come out great (May 2014); he could not be healthier and be fitter than he is! One of the reasons for our transition was to provide our dogs with the healthiest diet we could provide them. While fresh whole foods are generally best, one of our main motivators was the fact that there have been an enormous amount of recalls and health scares from commercial pet foods and treats. Just look at the FDA website if you don’t believe me. The biggest scare came in 2007 with products coming from China. But there have been plenty more recalls since then. With a raw diet, you can buy already prepared food, but we still had the concern of knowing where the food actually comes from and how it’s processed.

By preparing our own diet, we are closer to the source and since we do most of the processing ourselves, we know how the food is handled. Our meat primarily comes from local ranches, some of which my husband has visited personally to see how the animals are treated, fed and handled. Our meats are all raised organically/hormone free. Our fruits and veggies are all organic as well. More expensive? Definitely. Healthier? Yes. A home-prepared raw diet is quite a bit more expensive than a kibble diet. And it takes a lot more work. Those are two things we have chosen to take on for the health and well-being of our dogs. I certainly do not expect everyone to do it.

It’s possible there might be a time we simply can’t afford to continue with a home-prepared raw diet for our dogs. And we’ll address that if the issues arises. But for now, we feel that for us, with our current circumstances, it’s the best choice for our dogs and we are willing to do what it takes to make it happen.

Romeo has always been a good eater, but he loves loves his current diet! And Zuzu, aside from a week of transition when we first brought her home, has been on a raw diet since she’s been with us. She loves her meals more than any other treat I can offer – and I have offered some pretty tasty treats!

Oh, and an added bonus: the clean up after our dogs is less with a raw diet. And not nearly as stinky as the dogs who stay with us who eat kibble.

What do you feed your dogs? Do they thrive on it? Do they love it? Or is it time to do some research and look at making some changes?