CONFESSIONS OF A DOG MOM - feeding a raw dog food diet

golden retriever with hunt and howlingmoon dog bandanna

We all strive to give our fur babies the very best in life and when it comes to feeding our pups, there seems to be many schools of thought. There are those who prefer to leave their pups' dietary requirements to the veterinary professionals and then there are others who go as far as feeding their pups a vegan diet (more on this another time). No doubt, the topic of what and how you feed your dog is a hot one, so we've decided to get some insider information from a dog mom that feeds a raw dog food diet.

Now, you might ask, what's all this raw dog food fuss about? Let me tell you, if you've had the honor of meeting the gorgeous Golden Cali  in person like I have, the fuss is very much very real!

She is a positively glowing ball of silky soft fluff with the sparkliest of eyes and glossiest nose and her aura simply exudes health for all to see! If you follow Cali on Instagram (@goldengirlcalibear) you would have seen some of her scrumptious meals, so we couldn't think of anyone better than Lorien, Cali's mum, to share her knowledge on all things raw dog food.

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do. 

I am originally from East London in the Eastern Cape, but spent 11 years living in London so I could work and travel. I moved back to SA almost 6 years ago and now live in Cape Town. 

I run an Airbnb and am a dog mom to our amazing Cali. 

How did you become gorgeous girl Cali's mom - how long have you had her for and how did you meet?

I needed to have some puppy love in my life again after being deprived of it for 11 years while living in London, so adding a dog to our family was one of the first things we did when we got back. 

It’s really hard to choose only one out of eleven super fluffy and fat puppies, so when we went to see Cali’s litter, I decided to sit down on the floor and waited to see which puppies approached me.

In less than a minute, this little fur ball walked straight up to me, climbed into my lap and stayed there while a few of the other puppies came over to say hello and then ran off and carried on with their game of tag. The pup in my lap raised her head to look at them as they came near, but stayed exactly where she was, content and happy and snuggled up in my lap. 

20 minutes later Matt asked me if I had managed to choose a puppy - he had been loving up the mom and dad and hadn’t even cuddled a puppy yet! I looked down in my lap at this little ball of fur who was fast asleep, smiled at him and said 'I think I've been chosen...' :) :) 

We brought Cali home almost 6 years ago and it was the best day ever!

Golden retriever in Cape town south africa

Cali, by far, has the most amazing looking raw food diet I have ever seen! Did she grow up eating a raw food diet - if not can you specify what made you change her to this diet?

Cali has eaten a raw diet since the day we brought her home. I want her to live a very long and healthy life so eating a healthy natural diet just made sense.

Are you and your partner foodies too - how did you become so knowledgeable on preparing Cali's meals?

Matt and I are both vegetarian so eating great quality, nutrient rich food is important to us. We want to eat the best and therefore want to make sure Cali eats the best too. 

Before we brought Cali home, I did a lot of research into raw feeding and everything I read about it just made so much sense. Over the years, I’ve continued to read up on raw feeding and so, as I learn new things, Cali’s meals change and improve. I also get a lot of inspiration from raw feeding Instagram accounts. 

Can you give us a little menu rundown of what Cali would eat on an average day - breakfast, lunch (if she eats lunch), dinner and snacks.

This is a rough idea of what Cali would eat in a day, as it does change regularly.

Breakfast tends to be the same as it’s early for all of us, so simple is best. She still eats lunch because she use to go into work with me for the first 2 years and when we had lunch, she had lunch. Now she still likes a midday snack. I work it into her daily food amount. Dinner is where I can be a bit more creative with her meals so it changes daily.

Breakfast: a bowl of ground ostrich or venison meat. This is pre-mixed so it contains muscle meat, bone, organ meat as well as herbs and supplements. 

Lunch: a raw egg or a couple of chicken necks or a bowl of bone broth.

Dinner: a tablespoon or 2 of pre-mixed meat, some chicken necks or feet, a lamb knuckle or some frozen sardines, a little green tripe and venison heart, and then some coconut oil, some golden paste and a little probiotic.

raw food diet for dogs

Where do you source the ingredients for Cali's meals from?

The pre-mixed meat comes from Doggobone , which can now be found in quite a few pet shops but there are private suppliers nationwide. 

Her other meat, things like chicken necks and feet, ostrich wing tips, turkey wings and tails, duck necks and wings and green tripe, as well as the venison bones she gets weekly, come from a place called As Nature Intended in Muizenberg. All their meat is personally sourced and they try their best to ensure that it’s free range. They’ve also been so helpful with answering my questions when I’ve been unsure about something.

I also shop around and am always on the look out to find things on special at a grocery store or the butcher that I think Cali will enjoy. 

Things like bone broth and golden paste and supplement mixes that we give Cali, I prepare myself. 

What are some of the pros of feeding Cali her raw food diet? Are there any cons?

There are so many pros to feeding a raw diet and these are ones we notice when we compare her to dogs we know who eat kibble

  • Very healthy and has only been to the vet twice in almost 6 years and both of those were because she ate something bad while we were out on a walk
  • No ‘doggy smell’ 
  • No bad breath
  • Shiny healthy fur
  • Healthy teeth
  • Full of energy 
  • Smaller, healthy-looking poops

We haven’t had any cons since we started feeding Cali raw.

What tips do you have for dog moms and dads thinking about making the change to a raw food diet for their pups?

The most important thing to do is research raw feeding and ask questions until you feel comfortable about the topic because people will question you and make you doubt yourself, especially your vet. We went through four vets before we found one who was happy with us raw feeding. The others questioned me and outright told me I was doing the wrong thing every time we saw them, so you have to be prepared for that. But if you’re confident in what you’re doing then you can stand your ground. One of those vets that constantly told me how I was harming Cali by feeding her a raw diet has since changed all of his dogs over to raw and recommends it to all his clients now. 

If you want to make the change, but aren’t confident about doing it all yourself then buy pre-mixed food from someone like Doggobone. Your dog will get all the nutrients that it need from that, it’s easy to feed and is well balanced diet. Then once you’re feeling more confident, you can start adding things here and there. Just make sure you have the ratio of muscle meat, organ meat and bone right.

Is there one ingredient you give to Cali that you swear by? What makes this ingredient so amazing?

There are so many - bone broth, golden paste, chicken necks, raw meaty bones, but if I have to choose one, I’d say coconut oil. It has so many benefits for example

  • it helps keep the skin and fur healthy and often helps reduce the ‘doggy smell’ that some dogs have and it can help reduce hot spot incidents 
  • it’s great for teeth and gums and helps reduce bad breath
  • It helps with digestion 
  • It helps with joints 
  • It helps with keeping weight under control too. Just don’t feed too much.
  • It can also be used externally for bites and wounds
  • And it tastes amazing

Does Cali have a favorite dog friendly outing/restaurant/ weekend away destination?

Cali is always up for an adventure and is happy to go anywhere, the mountain, the forest, or a wine farm, but her favorite place to be is the beach!

She loves to swim and play fetch with a toy and she loves to roll in the sand. She also LOVES to go stand up paddle boarding with Matt - the minute she sees the boards come out, she climbs into the car and won’t get out!  


We so loved hearing about Cali's amazing diet and we hope you have learned some tips and tricks from her knowledgeable mum on the topic! I think we can all agree that whether or not you decide to go fully raw, there are some healthy and interesting ingredients you can start your pup on, or add to your pup's existing diet.


Is your dog on a raw diet? Do you have some interesting, raw/healthy snacks you can share with us? 


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