My Dog Eats (Mostly) Paleo

Paleo dog ZalaThis is my dog, Zala. She is 5 years old and she’s never been to the vet for anything except to get a chipped tooth removed and to be spayed. No, she does not usually wear leg warmers, but that day she was feeling particularly stylish, so she asked to borrow them from me. Zala is a border collie mix and she enjoys sprinting at a freakishly fast pace to retrieve balls and frisbees. She has more energy than any creature I’ve ever seen, besides maybe Hammy the squirrel from Over The Hedge. But she contains it well.

She’s very lady-like, except that she lifts her leg to pee. She doesn’t drool or lick, and her farts smell like pumpkins. She will not touch another dog’s ball if she isn’t invited to, and she will not touch her own ball if it has rolled in poop. She responds appropriately to about 50 English phrases, like “You’re not begging, are you?” (walks away), “Kill your frisbee!” (violently whips the frisbee around), and “Do you want to eat that kitty?” (licks her lips). We love our dog a lot.

Zala’s Diet

That’s why she eats better than we do. That little brainstem gets a marrow bone once every two days to gnaw on. We take them out of the freezer and just let her chew on them frozen, gradually licking the marrow out of them. It keeps her busy. You can buy them from the butcher section at your grocer or ask for them when you buy meat in bulk from ranchers. She also eats raw, pastured meats and eggs, coconut oil, and kibble that costs almost as much as gold nuggets.

I believe that dogs should eat DOG food – not grains and sugar like most “dog food” companies are mongering.

Crappy Dogfood Details

Here’s a list of the ingredients in Ol’ Roy Walmart brand dog food, one of the best-selling dog foods in the U.S. You can buy a 20-lb bag of it here. Note that the ingredients are NOT listed on their page. This product is 22% protein, 26% fat, and 52% carbohydrate = not enough protein for a dog.

Walmart brand dogfood - not Paleo INGREDIENTS: Ground yellow corn, soybean meal, ground whole wheat, corn syrup, poultry fat, Meat and bone meal, Animal Fat Preserved with BHA and Citric Acid, Chicken by-product meal, Rice, Animal Digest, Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Vitamin D and E Supplement, Niacin, Copper Sulafate, Manganous Oxide, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, *Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex Source of Vitamin K, Calcium Iodate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Cobalt Carbonate, Folic Acid, Sodium Selenite, Folic Acid

And here’s a list of some other common dog food brands’ ingredients.


I’m not going to feed my highly carnivorous dog something whose first 4 ingredients are grains and soy. Now, having said that, my dog doesn’t eat an all meat diet like some Boulder dogs do. She eats kibble and goodies on top of it. I haven’t yet figured out how people feed their dogs completely raw diets without going totally broke. I guess you just have to buy enough meat for another little person (like you would for a kid), and I’m not ready for a kid yet, so she gets the most Paleo kibble I can find: Orijen.

Better Dogfood Details

Here are the ingredients of Orijen’s Regional Red Adult Dog Food. It is more expensive than Ol’Roy, but your dog’s health and happiness are priceless, and it might just save you thousands of dollars in vet bills.

Orijen dog foodINGREDIENTS
Fresh deboned wild boar*, fresh deboned lamb*, fresh beef liver*, fresh deboned pork*, lamb meal, peas, salmon meal, russet potato, herring meal, fresh whole eggs*, fresh deboned bison*, potato starch, fresh deboned salmon*, pacific whitefish meal, fresh deboned walleye*, salmon oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), sun-cured alfalfa, pea fiber, dried organic kelp, pumpkin, chicory root, carrots, spinach, turnip greens, apples, cranberries, blueberries, licorice root, angelica root, fenugreek, marigold flowers, sweet fennel, peppermint leaf, chamomile, dandelion, summer savory, rosemary, vitamin A, vitamin D3, vitamin E, niacin, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, d-calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, selenium yeast, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Enterococcus faecium.

* DELIVERED FRESH, preservative-free and never frozen.

I don’t know how I feel about the peas and the pea fiber, but I’m pretty sure the peppermint leaf will help her digest it… I certainly like that their meats are free-ranging, wild-caught, and the meats are fresh. And that meat comprises the first five ingredients. It’s 80% meat, 20% plant matter, and 0% grains. I like that. The food is slow cooked into kibble, and dogs are meant to eat raw food, but she’ll have to suffer through it. Oh, and if you’re wondering, all of those words after the vitamin E in the list are vitamins, minerals, and a probiotic.

Best Dogfood

On top of her kibble twice a day, she gets one or a combination of the following: pastured egg(s), raw ground turkey thighs, raw liver or whatever other raw organ meat from our freezer we don’t feel like eating, canned salmon, chicken necks, whatever meat is on sale, and sometimes coconut oil. She likes bully sticks (that’s dried bull penises for the uninitiated), grass-fed beef rawhides, and dried sweet potatoes to gnaw on.

To be quite honest, I haven’t done a whole heap of research on dog nutrition per se, but I do have quite a bit of common sense. And judging by how well humans do on a human (Paleo) diet, I will assume for now that dogs do best on a meaty, dog diet. A lot of dogs have terrible allergies, gross gas, they’re overweight, they have fatty cysts, digestive problems, they stink, and they just look.. well, sick. I know that when a lot of dogs switch over to a dog diet, they thrive and they don’t have these problems.

Here’s a website on the ins and outs of going raw with your own dog or cat. Once again, don’t look to many vets for info on it, as they’re not given much of an education on animal nutrition, and a lot of them make loads of money on crappy kibble.

Anyway, back to Zala. This is what I’m faced with on a regular basis.

Zala waiting for the frisbee to be thrown

Would anyone care to chime in? How does your dog eat and what benefits have you seen from feeding your dog a dog diet?


  1. We feed our dogs total raw meat, bones and all. No kibble or anything. We have been doing this for almost 5 years. The dogs are healthy as can be, teeth are perfect, weight is so easy to control and we know where all the food is coming from. We feed a lot of chicken, a bit of beef, and then eggs and other organ meat when we can. We feed our cats in a more BARF style raw diet since getting cats to eat whole bone-in animal parts would be messy and difficult.

  2. Hi Nelly –

    In Australia, we have the following pet food for cats and dogs:

    It’s a portioned, raw frozen food, formulated by a vet, with only whole food ingredients, and preservatives free. We used commercial kitten foods with our cat at the beginning, at the insistence of our vet, but switched to this after only 2-3 weeks. Net results: our cat is in excellent health AND she stopped stealing food only after 1-2 days on her raw meat diet.

    It’s also much cheaper, since we feed her much less in volume, and the price is overall comparable with commercial “upscale” brands. So whatever argument you choose, it seems a no-brainer for me!

    Please, do feel free to add the product(s) you recommend to the Paleo Resources directory, there’s a “Primal Pet Foods!” category under “Product Brands”. BTW, did you know this one, available in the US? :

  3. I also use Orijen brand for my dog. But I get the Fish kind. My black lab mix, Shadow has a lot and I really mean, A LOT of allergies. One of them being allergic to human dander. 0_0. So needless to say when I rescued her a couple years ago, she is now 7, I had a very special needs dog. So after trial and error and finding out after doing a blood draw to find out the top 20 prominent allergies she had, found out it was mostly every grass and tree you could imagine. So I finally figured out, “what if I give her a kind of meat that doesn’t eat grass? Could she be that sensitive to it?” I went and found Orijens and saw it had no grains, fish and fruit and vegetables only. She has thrived on it for over a year now. You would never have guessed she had all the allergies she really has. Even with her being 80lbs I only give her 1 cup 2 times a day because it is so nutrient dense. I’ve had no problems with her health ever since. :)

  4. What about my cats? I have tried the dry “all meat” brands but they aren’t keen on them after using them awhile. I have been transitioning them to mostly wet food and just putting a little dry food out and not during the night as they are both a bit overweight. (They are both house bound cats). Anyone got any ideas or what has worked for them? One likes chicken, the other doesn’t, blah, blah. You all who have cats know what I’m talking about. One weighs 19 pounds. the other 9. The big guy is a total bruiser though–Maine Coon mix with huge legs and paws who kind of swaggers when he walks but is the sweetest baby there is–still wants to “nurse” on my chest at 6 ys. old. Ha. I want to keep them healthy. Thanks. Love the recipes and info here. Been Paleo since January and have gone from size 12 jeans to a consistent 6 and other health indicators and problems improved or gone. Before January I felt like an old decrepit 63 yr. old granny. After January–kind of a rockin’ happy and pain free, younger feeling and looking granny. Just by changing my nutrition!!

  5. Janet:
    We feed our cats blue buffalo evolution diet. And pure, untainted water. They are family too and deserve to eat as well as we do. Yes, it’s more expensive. Pay now, live now. They’ve been eating it for years with no problems. We tried many other kinds but they always threw it up. That one stuck.

    Border collies rock! Super smart dogs. I used to have a border collie red heeler mix and she could turn lights on and off on command. So awesome!

    To your point, it is just as important to take care of our animals’ health as our own; doing anything else is hypocritical and while the food has the same high price tag as our grass fed everything, well, it’s a damn sight cheaper than vet bills and the like!

    Great article, this needs to get circulated more. Off to Facebook i go….

  6. Neely –

    I’ve been trying, apparently not hard enough, to find this information on the internet. When I read this article, it made me so happy to see other people actually know about it. My little shih-tzu eats a diet consisting primarily of prescription dog food because my vets can’t figure out what he’s allergic to in his diet. He has tons of environmental allergies (gets allergy shots too) and has regular bouts of gastritis regardless of his food. I knew for a long time that if I could switch him to Paleo, not only would he feel better, but he would be happier and healthier. His food is an upwards of $50/month and another $80 every two months for the dry food. I work full time, go to school full time, and spend the rest of my time trying to keep him healthy. This article has lifted a huge weight of worry off my back as I’ve been trying to find more inexpensive and less-time-consuming ways to make him Paleo as well. Thanks so much! You’ve made my Monday!

  7. I can’t believe you all feed your carnivores overprocessed commercial canned and bagged food and call it “paleo”. Kibble didn’t even exist when I was growing up in Europe, I still remember the first small boxes of dry kibble for dogs, we fed those as an occasional treat, just because it was something new and modern. The dogs ate raw meaty bones and lots of tripe and whatever was good and cheap at the butcher’s. Nowadays I live with cats who eat raw meat and whole prey. Period. Btw kibble (even on the side or as a treat) is very dangerous for cats, especially males who were neutered before maturity. I can only hope for the sake of your cats that you don’t find yourself with your feline in an emergency room with a urinary blockage some day, usually after 2-6 years of kibble. And I sincerely hope you notice the blockage in time to even get there.

    1. Hi Ulrike – I agree with you, actually. I changed the name of my post to “My Dog Eats (Mostly) Paleo” to reflect that. I do think a totally raw diet is best, like I said. But in terms of kibble I really think Orijen is the best, most Paleo option. Thanks for your thoughts.

  8. Hi! Sadly I’ve only been introduced to eating Paleo recently for myself. It’s been great and I love it. It has made me think about what I feed my dogs. I have a Pug who’s almost 9, has cataracts and is showing signs of senior dog dementia. I really want to change our dogs diet to something more natural and real. Do you think feeding the Pug a ‘mostly’ Paleo diet could help him age more gracefully? I’d love to know! Thanks!!

  9. Hi all! I was recently introduced to the paleo community and am slowly evolving :-) I would love for my dogs to go paleo but they recently had an accident and got into my acetaminophen and killed their kidneys. Now they are on crappy science diet kibble that’s made for kidney problems. I can tell that they are not as healthy as they once were when they were getting premium kibble. Does anyone have any ideas on how to live on a paleo diet with bad kidney function?

  10. My dog had a struvite bladder stone the size of a dime in Jan. after an X-ray revealed it when her frequent urinations continued after being on antibiotics for two weeks. My vet ordered a case of science diet canned which was basically cornstarch & chicken fat with a little egg. Looked like crumbling cardboard lard. After 2 cans, I said no way can I feed this to my beloved dog. Did some research. Found a blog with a guy named Doghealth that wrote how he dissolved his dog’s struvite stone in 10 weeks. Contacted him & did some more of my own research. Found a place in Ontario, Canada, Creature Comfort Pet Emporium, that I bought products kidney care & hydrangea root. Also, gave her cranberry relief, Vit. C, distiller water, buffalo blue freedom canned with homemade chicken broth along with antibiotic from vet. I also have Geneflora , probiotics, for when she finishes her antibiotic. I take her urine every am with btnx strips also ordered from Ontario , Canada due to Doghealth’s advise & test for ph & leukocytes. Need to keep ph at 6.0. Which I mostly have. A week ago the vet did another test & there were only 3 little specks left in her bladder; he surmised they were remnants of the dissolved struvite stone. I am confident by the time she finishes her antibiotics & gets her next x-ray she will be completely clear. Carol, Maggie’s Mom. I think Hill”s Science diet sucks; which is why I returned 10 unused to my vet in case he had another client who was not as anal & into nutrition as I am.

  11. Also have a shih Tsu that seems like she has skin allergies & have her on buffalo blue for sensitive skin which has turkey, potato & oatmeal which seem anti-Paleo. Explored www. today. I am considering making my own dog food; but after seeing his u-tube video, cannot figure out why he gives yoghurt to dogs which is dairy which is anti-Paleo rather than Geneflora for pets. Carol (a cavachon & shih Tsu Mom)

  12. I’m glad I found this when I googled paleo puppy.. haha.

    I stopped feeding my dog the cheap dog food for the obvious reasons, but even the “lamb and rice” food I buy her from Costco is full of filler.. I wouldn’t eat half those ingredients myself, so why should she?

    She loves to snack on carrots, green peppers, sweet potatoes and squash, eggs, and of course meats, so it only makes sense to feed her what I would eat myself.

    thanks for the further reading link; going to continue to research!

    How much would you estimate it costs a month overall to feed your pup?

  13. You are awesome! :-)
    I love this post.
    My dogs have been eating paleo before I even thought they were eating Paleo!
    I didn’t know anything about dog food until one of my picky eater Lhasa Apso stopped eating his Alpos and Eukanubas.
    He didn’t show any interest in food until I would give him a piece of chicken or a steak which I was told never to give to dogs! Well, after smelling Alpo, I didn’t blame my dog for not wanting to eat that garbage.
    After a long research (this was before the luxury of information on web) I began to make food for him until I found a company ‘Sojo’. Now I just mix meat with Sojo grain free recipe.
    I don’t know why it never dawned on me that he was eating paleo and getting healthy while I wasn’t and getting bloated all the time.
    Happy Eating!

  14. I have been feeding my dog raw for over 7 years, and she is a healthy 15 now, and still enjoys walking a few blocks every day.

  15. the very best. All U.S.D.A. inspected. Only pet food company that’s made in a kitchen not in a factory. You gotta try it.

  16. I have a 2 year old Italian mastiff (Zoka) who was raised on a raw diet (some cooked veggies) since she was a puppy. She’s the picture of health. I have also chosen not to vaccinate her except for rabies. I did titers on her and she was postive for both canine distemper and parvo, so I now know she has been exposed, without an outbreak of disease.

    My other dog is a 4 year old pitbull mix (Greycee) that I rescued. She came to me with nine different medications, allergy shots, a nasty kibble and a laundry list of issues. She was so hot, inflammed, and red I did’nt want to touch her for fear of inflicting pain. I immediately threw out the kibble and took her off all medications. I fasted her on homemade broth for three days and began an all raw food diet, homeopathy, essential oils, skin brushing, and lots of love.

    I thought it would take at least 6 months to a year to see results, but I was so amazed that she was symtom free in 26 days. She continues to do great. No skin issues and she loves her raw food diet.

    The diet I feed my girls is 80% muscle meat, 10% organ meat, and 10% bones. I do add cooked veggies to their diet along with raw eggs, DE, coconut oil, and cod liver oil. They both have a weekly, one day, bone broth fast.

    Also, I detoxed Greycee of vaccines, as I felt that was an important part of her healing.


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