What Your Dog & Your Diabetic Uncle Have in Common

Guest post written by: Amy Marshall


It’s your family’s customary night out for dinner at your average chain restaurant. It’s a special occasion because your favorite uncle was able to make it, but your heart sinks with each labored step he makes toward your table.  It wasn’t that long ago that you learned he has Type 2 Diabetes and it doesn’t appear his weight or health is improving.

As you navigate your trusted Paleo Dining Out Guide, you watch in horror at what he chooses to fuel his body with. Ultimately, you realize that you can’t force others to change and some people just don’t take as much of an interest in their health.

The next few days go by and you’re coming home feeling satisfied after a killer workout. You make your protein shake and prepare the most awesome Paleo dinner you’ve made in a while.  Before you sit down to relish in your ultimate feat of healthiness you realize your dog has been scratching at his empty food bowl.

You reach into the closet and scoop out a heaping serving of kibble just as the image of your sick, overweight, and generally unhealthy uncle pops into your head. Uh ohh. It finally dawns on you… your dog isn’t’ all that different from your diabetic uncle after all.


In fact, the average dog today shares the same fate as the rest of our unhealthy westernized society.

Over half of the dogs in the US, at 55.6% or 43 million, are overweight according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. Of those numbers, 20% or 16 million are considered obese. Yes, OBESE DOGS. These days it’s as unlikely to find a well-muscled and trim dog as it to find a six-packed individual. The average family dog has a midsection that looks more like a sausage instead of a deep strong chest that tapers off to a slim waistline.

The canine health crisis doesn’t end there. The modern canine diet is at the root of the degenerative diseases they share with their two legged friends: diabetes, cancer, liver disease, heart disease, digestive troubles, reoccurring infections, and much more.


Why Isn’t Dog Food Ideal?

Too many reasons to be able to reasonably discuss in this blog post. But, it can be summed up with these three main points: it’s processed, it’s in the wrong form, and quality is poor.

To start, pet food isn’t real; it’s a processed food. It’s the king of processed meals. It’s comparable to you eating McDonalds every day – if that McDonalds was dried, ground up, put into pellet form, and was served to you every day for a month from an open cardboard bag.

It’s also cooked. Can you think of any animals in the wild that cook their food? Especially carnivores? Carnivores eat muscle meat, bones, organs and other raw offal and they have the digestive systems equipped to handle it – despite what your veterinarian may have said to scare you.  While real food is superior to kibble, the form of the food is also important. Cooked food destroys the precious vitamins, minerals and enzymes that existed beforehand and reduces the nutritional value.

More importantly, pet food contains the wrong type of food for your dog – food that is not biologically appropriate. As followers of the Paleo Diet, this is something you will understand and relate to. Even more so than humans, dogs were not built to consume or digest grains.  As descendants of carnivores, they weren’t built to consume plant matter either. Do you know of any true carnivore in the animal kingdom that needs plant matter in their diet? This is because carnivores get their energy needs from fat, not carbs.

That leads me to my last point. The quality of your average bag of dog food is less than ideal. The majority of pet food is not made from organic, antibiotic, hormone free, or grass fed meats. While some brands source meat from more credible sources, most commercial pet food is made from substances created in inedible rendering processes. These rendering facilities were developed for the profitable utilization of our country’s food waste – food not fit for human consumption. It’s often compromised of diseased, dead, or euthanized animals from farms or your local vet’s office. These “leftovers” are whisked off and turned into an ingredient used in pet food. Yum…


How Did Our Dogs Get Here?

People in general (pet owners are no different) have a habit of trusting conventional wisdom and believing what “authorities” tell them without much thought or question.

How many of you believed in the FDA’s food pyramid and the recommended 6-11 servings of bread, cereal and pasta every day? It wasn’t until you became educated, that you learned massive businesses like grain and diary are multi billion dollar industries. These industries have a lot to gain when they convince the public that their product is required for maintaining a proper diet and good health.

The pet industry is no different. It’s a 21 billion dollar industry that decided to follow suit, utilizing clever marketing ploys to sell their products to pet owners.  Pet food originated around the time of the Great Depression and was originally marketed as a cheaper and more affordable way to feed your pet during the tough times.

Over time, these marketing messages evolved and pet food became necessary for your dog to maintain optimal health. Now, these messages support the industry’s best practices of feeding food that isn’t biologically appropriate since utilizing leftovers from our food supply is highly profitable.

Today, dog owners are plagued with mixed messages labeling our dogs as omnivores despite the fact that they differ from their carnivorous relative, the wolf, by at most 0.2%.

But you’re all smart enough to know that our dogs digestive tracts didn’t evolve to one of an omnivore in just 154 years – the time commercial dog food has been in existence.

154 years for the dogs’ entire digestive tract to evolve to that of an omnivore? Please. My dog takes approximately that long to spin in circles, find a comfy spot at the foot of my bed, and fall asleep let alone perform a complete biological makeover.


Why Your Dog Should be Eating an Ancestral Diet

It’s no surprise that animals should eat a diet based on their genetics. Why do you purchase grass fed beef for you or your family? Because animals that consume their natural diet are superior, nutritionally. Well, it’s the same principle for your dog.

Nutrition is the foundation of health and if you want your furry friend to live a long and healthy life (one free from frequent trips to the vet and costly medical bills), diet is of utmost importance. Without a proper diet, your dog can develop nutritional deficiencies over time leading to a general weakening of the immune system, making room for disease and chronic infections to creep in.

Animals aren’t meant to consume food formulated in a lab or from an industrial manufacturing facility. They’re meant to lead an authentic primal lifestyle, one where they eat real food.

An ancestral diet is the only diet that will work with your dog’s genetics to keep your pooch lean, strong, energetic and in optimal health.


Do The Right Thing By Your Dog

Although you may not be able to take the French fries out of your uncle’s mouth, you can certainly control what you put in your dog’s bowl.

Imagine feeding your dog by the principles you live by. What better way to share your passion for a healthy lifestyle with the people or animals you love by following your true ancestral diets together?

Sure, it may seem scary at first and there may be some bumps along the way. But, you didn’t get through your transition to a Paleo Diet all alone, did you? You most likely leaned on the support of friends, family, and the Paleo community. You too can get the same level of support when switching your dog to a raw diet. There are plenty of people out there committed to helping other dog owners provide a healthier lifestyle for their dogs.

One resource to consider is Primal Pooch, a site to learn about raw diets, holistic health and exercise and activity ideas for your dog. I know because I founded it with the mission of bringing health back to the loyal animals we share our lives with – the only animals that are genetically programmed to be in sync with us, to work with us, and who evolved with us.

So the next time you’re focusing all of your time and energy on perfecting your health, remember your loyal friend looking up at you with his big brown eyes, pouty face, and the thump of his tail. Help him to be the healthiest version of himself. That’s what this is all about after all.





Categories: Anti inflammatory diet, General


Robb Wolf’s 30 Day Paleo Transformation

Have you heard about the Paleo diet and were curious about how to get started? Or maybe you’ve been trying Paleo for a while but have questions or aren’t sure what the right exercise program is for you? Or maybe you just want a 30-day meal plan and shopping list to make things easier? Then Robb Wolf’s 30 Day Paleo Transformation is for you.


  1. Old Man CrossFit says

    2 years ago I switched to a pure raw meat diet for our dog. We grind up the scraps from butchering legally harvested game including organs, fat and connective tissue. We supplement with chicken and wildfowl necks and bones (raw and uncooked-they only splinter if they are cooked, heated or baked). I was nervous at first thinking I was depriving our little dog of needed nutrients or risking the dreaded bone splinters the vet talks about, but after doing my due diligence I took the plunge. Our dog has stopped his incessant itching, his coat is brighter, he has no teeth tarter, stamina is off the charts and his eyes are bright and clear. Just like the change I enjoyed in switching my diet, the proof is in the pudding for pooch. ‘Man’s Best Friend’ deserves our best. THANKS for the POST and the awesome website.

  2. Elenor says

    BRAVO! I struggle with whether or not to support the ASPCA after they published — in their *official* magazine — a completely idiotic article about how to transition YOUR DOG to a vegetarian diet!! (Other than a wistful comment about NOT trying to force your cat onto this fatal diet, they left cats as strict carnivores!) On the one hand, the people you’re most likely to get to work at low pay in an emotionally wrenching workplace are going to be the young folks who buy into the “peace-love-dove, don’t eat anything with a face” (crapola!), but on the other hand, shouldn’t there be some responsible adult looking over articles before they’re published?!

  3. Elenor says

    “Dogs are omnivores and can do well on either meat-containing or vegetarian diets, while cats are strict carnivores with very precise nutritional needs.”

    from: “ASPCA’s own Julie Morris, Senior Vice President, Community Outreach.”
    “The ASPCA philosophy is that the decision of whether to consume animals and animal products is a personal and private determination and should be left to each individual. Our staff ranges the full gamut from strict vegans and vegetarians to piscevores and carnivores. In any case, the ASPCA firmly believes that animals who are bred, raised and slaughtered for human consumption are entitled to protection from distress and suffering during their lives and at the time of their death.”

    “Homemade diets can certainly provide pets with an adequate diet, but they do require a substantial amount of work and guidance by your veterinary team to ensure that the final product includes a complete nutritional balance,” explains Dr. Hansen.

    “This is especially important if you plan to give your pet vegetarian or vegan food— — some fruits and vegetables, in certain doses and circumstances, can be extremely harmful to pets.” For example, onions, garlic, chives, avocado, grapes, raisins, and macadamia nuts can all cause illness when eaten by pets. …

    Some appropriate healthy snacks for dogs include: carrot sticks, apple slices (without seeds), green beans, and cantaloupe.”

    • says

      Thanks for your thoughts Eleanor! I can understand your frustration with the ASPCA. I don’t find their statements surprising since pet related companies and organizations often share information that supports the claims of the pet food industry. I believe it’s quite likely that big businesses such as the ASPCA probably have ties with the industry.

      I agree it’s unfortunate when people try to force carnivorous animals into vegetarianism, because it’s the animal that will pay for those nutritional choices down the line. Everything about a dog’s physiology and anatomy and more importantly their digestive tract illustrates they are carnivores.

      Most people believe that just because a carnivore can eat and survive on carbohydrates, that makes them an omnivore. It’s important to point out that if that’s how we’re going to think, then there can be no herbivore, omnivore, carnivore classification because all animals are capable of handling foods that are not biologically appropriate for them. For example, it’s common practice to feed cows grains and even meat proteins. The natural diet for a cow is grasses and plant matter. Cows can certainly survive on this diet but because it’s not the biologically appropriate diet for their genetic makeup, they often get sick (the reason cows today receive antibiotics). Foods that are not natural to them can cause the immune system to weaken over time and infection and disease to become more common. In fact, feeding cows meat was one of the factors that caused mad cow disease.

      Unfortunately the pet food industry and some veterinarians (though they mean well) instill fear into pet owners who decide to take their pets nutrition into their own hands. As you mentioned, they claim it’s “substantial work” to provide pets with an adequate homemade diet. That’s just silly. So is the statement that they need guidance from a veterinary team. Do we need medical teams to feed ourselves?

      Nutritional coursework in veterinary schools is often limited and what they do receive is often sponsored by the pet food industry. The pet food industry is even known to author a good deal of the textbooks used by these students.

      We don’t eat perfectly balanced meals every day, neither does any other wild animal. Balanced nutrition happens over time. “Complete and balanced nutrition” doesn’t exist in a processed formula from a lab. That’s unfortunately a marketing ploy that’s been in use for quite a while.

    • says

      So, it’s misleading to have a pic of a CF athlete in a goofy montage, but not misleading to have an unknown big fat dude in it?

      Flesh this out for me.

      • says

        Fair point. I guess I am more critical of “our” claims than I should be. I just recalled what Froning has said about his diet and maybe thought he was not a great choice for the illustration, but I get it, it is an illustration that has a solid point.

        • says

          I wasn’t trying to be a dick but it’s just amazing to me some of the things that bunch folks britches! That could have been a stock photo of some huge roid dude doing preacher curls…If the article had been “paleo for athletic performance” then I think you have a really legit gripe, but this was a (possibly?) funny montage supporting a pet food post.

          • says

            Yeah, I know you weren’t being a weenie. I wan’t trying to be one either, I just came off that way I’m afraid. I should have a full pot of coffee before I am allowed to comment on anything…

      • Bentley says

        Hey bro, who knows if that fat dude even eats burgers and fries? Maybe he got fat eating pizza. I call shenanigans on Robb Wolf and the whole paleo movement! /s

  4. Mark. says

    I know that coyotes habitually damage fruit in orchards by taking bites out of it so perhaps dogs are okay with a diet that isn’t purely animal parts. (Or the coyotes are desperate scavengers who would also eat bread from garbage cans in a pinch.) Still that’s a far cry from the grain-rich kibble that dogs (and cats) usually get fed.

    • says

      Thanks for the thoughts Mark! You’re correct in noticing that dogs will of course eat things that are not biologically appropriate. Wolves are known to scavenge on berries from time to time That’s because wolves, coyotes, dogs, etc. are considered opportunistic carnivores. This means they’ll eat what they can to survive. So whether, it’s fruit in an apple orchard or a garbage pile, they’ll go after the easy win.

      I’m definitely not saying a dog won’t eat some vegetation but their diet of choice and the one that supports their digestive tract, that is their species appropriate diet, is raw meat bones, organs, etc.

      This concept is often hard for a lot of people. They refuse to believe dogs don’t need fruits and veggies like we do (it’s so ingrained in our minds after all)! Fruits and veggies are not toxic by any means, just like grain isn’t toxic to cows. There are just foods that support the a genetic makeup of a particular animal better, that’s what ancestral nutrition is all about – providing food that supports our genetic makeup.

      Because dog’s have a carnivore’s digestive tract, digesting plant matter takes a big more work. And because carnivores have short digestive tracts meant to move meat through quickly, fruits and vegetables often aren’t fully digested before they pass through their digestive tracts, meaning dogs can’t properly assimilate all the nutrition from them.

      But, if pet owners like to throw in some vegetation from time to time, along with an appropriate meat based diet, I think that’s far better than commercially prepared pet food and is definitely a step in the right direction. It’s at least real food vs processed food and that’s always better. :)

  5. Jen says

    I try to feed raw when possible, and only feed Orijin Regional Red for kibble. It’s at least grass-fed, quality meats, and is one of the few meat-based grain free foods I’ve found. Keeps my pit/boxer in optimum health and looking like the athlete that she is :)

    • Cyndi Dennis says

      Hi Jen could you tell me where I could order Orijjin Regional Red Kibble. I to have been looking for a emergency alternative to my Doxie’s Raw Paleo Diet. I have researched every other pet food, Can I say All Junk! It’s Sad what is being put out there for pets

  6. Merry says

    I thought this exact same way when I was going “primal” and would look at my sausage Lab! I would dip into her icky kibble and just cringe. I switched her to a “good” canned meat with just lamb and brown rice. The weight came off and the labored breathing lightened up. I also recommend a site by a vet who feels the way we do, called DogDishDiet.com.

  7. Beatrix Willius says

    Recently I read the ingredients of the “quality” dry food that I give my cats: rice, wheat, sugar were the most common ones. I was totally horrified. But how can I do better for my cats? They don’t even like meat and the 2 are very stubborn.

    • says

      We have sued some better quality cat foods like Evo by Innova (I know they were purchased by purina…) jsut checking the labels should help you dial things in.

    • says

      Hi Beatrix, thanks for your question. I have an article on my site that may be helpful for you to called, “Raw Feeding Troubleshooting: My Dog’s Not Interested in Raw Meat” that you may want to check out. It’s not uncommon for pets to turn down raw food at first. If they’ve been fed commercial pet food their wholes lives, they often aren’t sure what raw meat is. It looks and smells much different than the food they are used to (which is often sprayed with fat to make it more appetizing for pets). Picky eaters aren’t born they’re created. Most pet owners have to use a variety of tricks accompanied by some tough love at first to get their pets to eat raw food. No animal will intentionally starve itself, so don’t worry. Most people find after employing these suggestions, their dogs will happily start eating raw foods. Good luck!

  8. Christiane says

    Dogs are companion animals, they are accompanying humans for more than 10000 years eating their leftovers.
    As we are a primal family our dog gets nothing but our leftovers whatever it may be. No special raw dogfoot, no grains.
    He ist happy and healthy.

  9. Colleen says

    While I don’t disagree in the least that a primal diet for dogs and cats is an excellent idea I would like to caution that I have heard from several different veterinarians that animals fed a raw food diet are typically considered possible carriers of salmonella and are often quarantined at the owners expense upon admittance to an animal hospital. This is not without precedence. It seems reasonable to assume that an animal transitioning from a lifetime of commercial diet might not have an immune system as capable of fighting infection as an animal being fed a primal diet it’s entire life. Perhaps it might be prudent to reccomend a transition period from one stage to the next. Perhaps a year of a cooked primal diet before a transition to raw? Just a thought!

    • says

      Colleen- It seems reasonable to me to quickly blanche the food…boiling water, quick immersion. Virtually all the bacterial contamination is on the outside. A quick “dip” and it’s pretty clean. This is also why i tend to prefer VERY hot soup when i’m traveling in areas where the food may be suspect.

      • Tom says

        The stinkier the better for my dog… he buries the last piece of raw chicken then eats it a few days later; it gets really ripe!!

    • Bob Johnston says

      Check out a book called “Meaty Bones” written by an Australian vet named Tom Lonsdale. In it he talks about his fight against the Australian vet society and dog foo makers, a good read. He also talks about how how a dog’s stomach acid is much stronger than a human’s and can handle bacteria quite a bit better than we can. Think about it – dogs will bury a bone and days later will come back to it and have no problems.

      My two Labs are on a raw diet mainly consisting of chicken, pork and beef organs. They get the chicken with the bone in and the pork and organs I grind up to make it easier to judge portions. They also get bacon fat when I have it, fish oil and salt. I wouldn’t be able to look myself in the mirror if I fed my dogs food I knew wasn’t good for them while I ate the good stuff myself.

    • says

      Hi Colleen, thanks for sharing. While, I won’t argue that dogs can contract salmonella, this is usually a scare tactic. I have never heard of a raw fed dog being quarantined at a vet or animal hospital nor have I ever had that treatment with my own dog.

      Something you might want to look into is a video from Dr. Karen Becker where she explains that ALL dogs (commercially fed or raw fed) actually carry a small amount of salmonella in their digestive tracts, and this is completely normal. This usually isn’t a problem because a dog’s digestive tract is equipped to handle bacteria. They have very powerful stomach acid and their digestive tracts are short, moving meat through it very quickly. This environment makes it difficult for bacteria to thrive within dogs.

      However, dogs that are unhealthy and who have compromised immune systems are the ones that normally contract salmonella infections (that is where it multiplies and becomes a problem). Raw fed dogs generally have healthier immune systems don’t usually have this issue.

      If you were to do the research on all the deaths and salmonella poisonings caused by kibble along with the countless pet food recalls over the years, it would be clear raw feeding is much safer despite the fact many people try to argue against it. In fact, try to find instances of raw fed dogs will salmonella infections (it will be hard to find them) and compare them to the numbers of commercially fed dogs with salmonella infections, the facts are startling.

      As far as transitioning, a lot of people share different thoughts on the subject. I support a cold turkey transition because the digestion times between commercial pet foods and raw foods are quite different and mixing them up can be confusing and cause stress on the digestive system. Dogs swathing from commercially prepared foods need to detox and will usually exhibit detox symptoms lasting from a few days to a week or so. In my opinion, it’s better to get this period over as quickly as possible so your dog can get on the health track :) Thanks again for sharing!

  10. Boundless says

    Our last two cats died of complications from diabetes. This was years before we discovered that humans and wheat aren’t compatible.

    The majority of marketed pet foods contain wheat, and are otherwise loaded with other only slightly less toxic carbs. A high-gly diet, esp one containing gluten-bearing grains, does the same things to pet carnivores that it does to their omnivore owners.

    The other processing and questionable industrial ingredients in pet food are certainly a concern, but just switching to wheat-free low-carb has prompt and substantial benefits.

  11. says

    Excellent post! We switched our Deerhounds over to raw soon after we went paleo. It made no sense to apply evolutionary principles to our diet and yet continue to feed our dogs kibble. Our two boys have thrived on it and it is a pleasure to feed them. Our girl won’t eat raw so we changed from kibble to a natural diet of cooked meats with rice and vegetables and she loves it. There is a huge amount of pressure to feed them a grain-based diet – just as there is for humans – and all the championship competitions are sponsored by the big companies in league with veterinarians. Let’s hope things are beginning to change…

  12. Old Man CrossFit says

    I have to disagree on the notion that dogs can contract salmonella. Ask your vet when was the last time she/he treated a dog for salmonella. The answer will always be, ‘never’. A stray dog, wolf or coyote isn’t going to sniff a carcass and reject it because it hasn’t been treated in accordance with FDA regulations. Now, that is all just my nonprofessional opinion from watching, raising and training dogs for 40 years. Now, if there is a slight chance of salmonella, I’ll take the risk over the obvious risks of feeding my pooch a diet of grain and processed food byproducts.

  13. says

    I agree with this completely. About 4 years ago not long after my wife and I got our first dog, we heard about raw food for dogs from some friends and decided to give it a try. The first few days were rough and the dog didnt really want to eat the chicken, but we havent turned back after she got going on it, and the dog loves it now. She only gets dry food when we are out of town now.

  14. says

    I wanted to do RAW, but is was not feasible for the amount of time I have. We did switch to a 2/3 grain free Seafood Select Grain Free – NutriSource & 1/3 Real Meat Pet Foods Air Dried New Zealand Lamb.

    The Real Meat company has cat food too. I worked with our favorite pet boutique ‘Woof…Cool Stuff for Dogs’ owner to come up with foods that will be healthy for our girls. Not make me crazy and satisfy our rescue pups need for volume.

    Their behavior improved quite a bit when grain was removed. :-)

  15. Maria says

    7 years ago I adopted a labrador, which is my first dog. I followed the previous owners advice and fed him Tux biscuits. He always had skin problems including oozy sores on his back. We changed to a better quality biscuit product and were amazed with the improvement in his skin and the colour of his coat.
    A couple of years later we met a woman in nz who makes a fantastic dog roll from human-grade meat, added amino acids and is cooked at low temps to preserve enzymes.
    Changing our dog to this diet improved his coat to an incredible softness, plus his arthritis from hip dysplasia has not advanced at all.
    It is an amazing product made by someone who didnt buy into the hype of ‘complete and balanced’.
    This dog roll in only available in new zealand – animal essentials.
    Our lab still eats grass, fallen apples, and scavenges at every opportunity but he is lean and healthy. I think though that I will add more raw meat and bones to try to help his permanent moulting problems.

  16. says

    too funny, I had the same aha moment last week in regards to my own cat. I have been using paleo type diets to great effects for several years to treat various stomach issues, and the other day while thinking about how well I have been feeling since going on my last real food diet, I was like, man, I need to look into making my own catfood. I did a bunch of reading, and got some good raw meat pet food, but kitters is not to fond of it yet. I am trying different ways to serve it up to entice him. But ya, this goes for our furry friends too, the dry kibble in particular is pretty bad.

  17. Steve says

    yes, you are what you eat. No matter who you are, dog or human. You are right that pet food isn’t real; it’s a processed food like our human’s Macdonald food. If we have to eat Macdonald everyday, we will be become the junks. So, I only feed my dogs with real food.

  18. Kim M says

    There’s a group on Facebook called Raw Feeding, they have lots of great articles and posts. They talk about dogs and cats. It’s how I learned to feed our rescue raw food and how to prevent cannon butt! Go check it out.
    Everyone is amazed at how lean our dog is. What makes me cringe is when people tell me “You just rescued her? Don’t worry, she’ll fatten up soon.” Uhm, not worried, I don’t want her fattened up, thank you very much. Oh, and Maggie (my rescue) is a breast cancer survivor…hmmm, wonder how that happened, eight years of kibble maybe???

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