Raw Dog Food For Beginners
Feeding a raw diet to a large or giant breed dog requires a well thought out plan and, in some cases, an expertly designed raw dog food calculator in order to balance it. As such, for beginners, raw dog food diets can feel intimidating and risky.
Are ordinary dog owners able to formulate and balance a homemade raw dog food diet without a degree in veterinary nutrition? And if so, how?
Over the last month, I have been feeding Dr. Harvey’s Raw Vibrance and their new Dr. Harvey’s Health & Shine – two products that promised to be those silver bullets. Magic pills which would eliminate the overwhelm, confusion, and risk of formulating a homemade raw diet for my big dogs.
But did they?
In this post, you will see how Dr. Harvey’s lived up to this promise.
On a scale of one to five PAWS (who needs stars, when you have paws), Dr. Harvey’s was rated on:
- Ease of Use
- Quality & Durability
- Drool Score
Ordinary dog owners CAN formulate a balanced homemade raw dog food diet for their big dogs and I will show you HOW in this post.
Let’s get started….
Dr. Harvey’s provided a bag of Raw Vibrance, Grain-Free Foundation for Raw Diets, as well as Dr. Harvey’s Health & Shine for this honest review. I have been using these products for several weeks and am excited to share with you my experience! This review is targeted toward large and giant breed dog owners currently feeding a raw diet, or those considering transitioning to raw feeding soon. This post contains affiliate links from which I may receive a small compensation. There is NO ADDED COST to you should you use these links.
Put simply, Dr. Harvey’s Raw Vibrance is a grain-free base-mix that is used to balance homemade raw meals.
It is not meant to be the diet!
It is a supplement to your dog’s diet. A foundation with the promise of being the perfect raw dog food diet particularly for beginners
Let’s walk through all of the ingredients in Dr. Harvey’s Raw Vibrance in a little more detail, so you can start to see the value that is offered to your dog in each scoop.
- Broccoli – fiber, vitamin c
- Green Beans – fiber, iron, calcium, vitamins B6, A, C, and K, prebiotic
- Squash – rich in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. Aids digestion like pumpkin.
- Carrots – beta-carotene, potassium, niacin, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K. Contains essential phytonutrients lycopene and lutein.
- Celery – fiber; vitamins A, C, and K, folate, potassium, and manganese.
- Cabbage – fiber, vitamins K and C, prebiotic
- Crushed eggshell – calcium to balance phosphorus in added protein
- Spinach – vitamins A, B, C, and K, iron, antioxidants, beta-carotene
- Pumpkin – fiber and beta-carotene, vitamin A; great for diarrhea and constipation
- Beets – vitamin C, fiber, folate, manganese, and potassium,
- Apples – fiber, vitamin A and C. Powerful antioxidant and prebiotic.
- Blueberries – vitamin C, fiber, and phytochemicals
- Bone Meal – calcium, phosphorous, protein and minerals
- Green Lipped Mussel Powder – omega-3 fatty acids ( EPA, DHA), glucosamine, chondroitin, zinc, and magnesium; natural anti-inflammatory
- Sesame Seeds – protein, antioxidants, and omega-6 fatty acids
- Chia Seeds – protein, fiber, B vitamins and they are loaded with important Omega-3, 6 and 9 fatty acids and antioxidants.
- Raw Goat Milk Powder – full of probiotics and vital nutrients, enzymes, vitamins, electrolytes
- Milk Thistle – silymarin for liver support
- Ginger – digestive support, anti-inflammatory, the potential for releasing gas during bloat (GDV)
- Spirulina – protein, beta carotene, vitamins B-1,2 and 3, iron, trace minerals, GLA, and phytonutrients like phycocyanin, polysaccharides, and sulfolipids for the immune system,
- Kelp – iodine, vitamins A, B, E, D, and K.
- Parsley – flavonoids, antioxidants, and vitamins, lycopene, and carotenes
- Eggshell Membrane – glucosamine, chondroitin, collagen, hyaluronic acid for joint health
- Shiitake Mushrooms – fiber, copper, and vitamin B5. Boosts immune system.
So often we see a product, glance at the ingredients and fancy marketing on the front, look at the price, and make our decision.
But in this case, I wanted to give credit where credit is absolutely due.
Each scoop of Dr. Harvey’s Raw Vibrance packs an enormous punch of nutrition that is undeniable!
And when combined with high-quality sources of protein and oil, Dr. Harvey’s Raw Vibrance creates a balanced raw dog food diet even beginner raw feeders can master.
Dr. Harvey’s Health & Shine is marketed as a skin and coat supplement, however, I believe the benefits of this product line far surpass just the surface of our dogs.
There are three varieties of Health & Shine that we tested out:
- *NEW* Wild-Caught Omega-3 Fish Oil Pump – with Mackerel, Herring, Anchovies, and Sardines
- *NEW* Wild – Caught Salmon and Krill Oil Pump
- All Natural Salmon Oil Capsules
All three are premium fish oil supplements rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
They are made from some of the highest quality, purest fish available using sustainable fishing methods.
And to top it off, Dr. Harvey’s Health & Shine products are made in the USA with no toxins or artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.
Big Dog Mom Dr. Harvey’s Review
This is where the rubber meets the road.
Dr. Harvey’s looks fantastic on paper, but is it a viable option for large and giant breed dog owners longing for a simple solution to the complexity of raw feeding?Dr. Harvey’s looks fantastic on paper, but is it a viable option for large and giant breed dog owners longing for a simple solution to the complexity of raw feeding?
Ease of Use
For this category, I will just come out and say it.
As a busy wife and mom of two young children and two huge dogs, coupled with a growing business, my time and patience are limited.
Yes, I would love for my dogs to have the best nutrition possible, but when it comes at the expense of serving the other areas and people in my life, I have to prioritize what I spend my time on.
Dr. Harvey’s is a near-perfect solution for a maxed-out big dog momma!
Feeding Dr. Harvey’s Raw Vibrance is as simple as measuring out the right number of scoops according to your dog’s weight, adding a little warm water, and topping with protein and a fat source.
And now with the new formulation of the Health & Shine pump, it seriously doesn’t get any easier!
In Homemade Dog Food: Is Balance Possible (or a Pipe Dream)?, I addressed the concept of “balance” and my views on what means to most people versus what it should mean.
When fed as directed, Raw Vibrance provides the best of both worlds – it meets dietary guidelines while providing optimal nutrition.
A win-win in my book and a fantastic option for beginners new to a raw dog food diet!Dr. Harvey’s is a near-perfect solution for a maxed-out big dog momma! Find out why and whether Dr. Harvey's is right for you and your big dog here...
Quality and Durability
This category is about the overall quality of the product and how well it stands up to the needs of large and giant breed dogs.
Again, after using Dr. Harvey’s for about a month now, I am scoring both Raw Vibrance and Health & Shine with another 5 PAWS of awesomeness!
Dr. Harvey’s Raw Vibrance is made with 100% whole food ingredients right here in the USA!
With a highly bioavailable blend of dehydrated vegetables, fruits, and healthy superfoods, Raw Vibrance contains no dyes, fillers, preservatives, corn, wheat, or soy!
In each scoop, you can see the blend of wholesome and nutritious ingredients.
Health & Shine is no different.
No fishy odor as is common with so many fish oil supplements and the oil was clear with appropriate viscosity for high-quality fish oil.
This category is for the dogs, because, let’s face it… they eat poop.
Can I get an amen?!
There is no point in getting their input on the virtues of organic produce or non-GMO sustainably-fished Icelandic Salmon.
My boys do not care in the least that a brand is 100% Made in the USA (although they should).
But what they do care about is taste.
This category is all about how well Junior and Sulley liked Dr. Harvey’s Raw Vibrance and Health & Shine.
Did these products produce the proverbial “drool” at mealtime?
The simple answer is YES. Watch the video below to see for yourself.
I am awarding Dr. Harvey’s with a Drool Score of 4 PAWS.
Unfortunately, Junior has been battling a resurgence of pain over the last month. When this happens, his appetite can be unpredictable.
Some days he will act ravenous, other days he simply won’t eat.
When offered Dr. Harvey’s on these worst of days, I would hand feed Junior.
This is a small price to pay for the comfort of knowing how this raw diet is helping him heal from the inside out.
Due to the challenge of accurately assessing Junior’s Drool Score over the last month, I’m deducting one PAW.
Quite honestly, if Junior would have scored Dr. Harvey’s lower had I not hand-fed him some days, Sulley would have scored it 6 PAWS or more.
So it all averages out in the end.
Raw Dog Food For Beginners and Big Dogs Too? An Honest Review of Dr. Harvey’s VIDEO
Cost of Dr. Harvey’s Raw Vibrance for Large and Giant Breed Dogs
One huge omission from the company is the lack of information for giant breed dog owners.
The packaging and website only go up to 140 pounds, leaving a huge gap for those with much bigger dogs – the majority of the Big Dog Mom Community!
In this short section, I am providing a simple calculator for you, my big dog friends.
After several days of research, pulling multiple pieces of information together, and forcing myself back to my pre-algebra days in middle school, I created a simple raw dog food calculator that will help you figure out how much Dr. Harvey’s Raw Vibrance and oil (Dr. Harvey’s Health & Shine, coconut oil, etc) to feed based on the weight of your dog, and the approximate cost of each.
As luck would have it, I couldn’t find this dosing anywhere for giant breed dogs, so I had to calculate that manually for you as well.
[Remember when I mentioned being told I should become an actuary? Ha!]
This calculator assumes you have an adult large or giant breed dog (50 – 250 lbs) between the ages of 1 – 7 years old. You will want to round your dog’s weight to the nearest 10 pounds. Simply click the big yellow box at the top, select your dog’s weight, and the rest is done for you!
This is a must-have resource for all raw dog food diet beginners!
Here’s where we get real.
As you can see, Dr. Harvey’s is a seemingly perfect product.
With a near-perfect score in 3 of the 4 categories, the last question is really the elephant in the room, is it not?
Such an amazing product does come with a cost.
In the category of Affordability for big dog owners, I am giving Dr. Harvey’s 3 PAWS.
Like so many areas of life, we get what we pay for, however.
Quality comes with a cost.
But let’s try and put this in perspective in three ways:
1. Indirect Savings on Pet Supplements
Prior to feeding Dr. Harvey’s, I was adding numerous other supplements to balance out their raw diet.
With Raw Vibrance, I am able to discontinue many of those now while adding numerous other nutrients I don’t have the time to research or the money to buy individually.
Streamlining the number of supplements I need makes the addition of Dr. Harvey’s Raw Vibrance an economical alternative for raw feeders. This is a welcome message for beginners who are overwhelmed by the complexity of putting a raw dog food diet together.
2. Long-Term Health Benefit of a Raw Dog Food Diet for Big Dogs
The health benefits of optimal nutrition should lead to lower healthcare costs over the life of your dog.
While difficult to quantify and a little bit of speculation, when you combine all that we know about the impact of quality nutrition on overall health, I do not believe this one is a stretch.
It is, however, a long-term investment.
3. Not an All or Nothing Proposition
I do believe large and giant breed dog owners can supplement with Dr. Harvey’s rather than making a complete transition.
I have always believed that SOME fresh food is better than none.
**Please keep in mind, this is my opinion, not a recommendation endorsed by the brand.
Dr. Harvey’s Buy-In-Bulk Option for Big Dog Owners?
On the topic of affordability is this genius idea (if I do say so myself) that I am offering to the folks at Dr. Harvey’s.
On behalf of the many raw feeding big dog owners out there, I can tell you the only way we can afford to feed our giants a raw diet is through buying in bulk at quantity discounts.
While these large orders are an upfront investment, they bring our per-pound costs down substantially.
Thus, when calculated over time, a raw diet becomes a possibility for those of us with large and giant breed dogs who eat multiple pounds of meat a day.
The expiration dates on the bags of Raw Vibrance I received were January 2021, so there would be more than enough time to use a year’s worth of product before the expiration date.
Providing large and giant breed dog owners with the ability to purchase products in bulk at a significant discount, much like we do through our raw dog food co-ops, would be a huge step in the right direction for Dr. Harvey’s.
Because without these co-ops, many of us would be forced to feed kibble. EEEWWW!Providing a bulk-buy discount option, like a raw dog food co-op, would be a huge step in the right direction for Dr. Harvey’s. Without bulk discounts, many of us big dog owners would be forced to feed kibble. Eeeew!
5 Keys to Optimal Health in Big Dogs
Anyone who tells you diet alone will solve all of what ails your dog is just trying to sell you dog food.
What do I mean by that?
I had the fortune on a few occasions over the last month to speak to Dr. Harvey.
Yes, THE Dr. Harvey!
A legend and brilliant veterinarian, Dr. Harvey wanted me to convey to you that there is more to our big dog’s health than a wholesome diet.
He emphasized several other keys to optimal health that he and I wanted to share with you briefly.
Swimming, Dr. Harvey, believes is one of the absolute best forms of exercise, particularly for large and giant breed dogs.
So if you don’t have a pool, find one and give your dog the gift of a little water-time.
While adding Raw Vibrance is a terrific choice, Dr. Harvey also recommended following the protein requirements closely based on your dog’s weight and age.
As dogs get older, their requirement for protein decreases, so you will want to adjust the amount you are feeding accordingly.
In addition, he mentioned the value of adding things like bone broth, particularly for large and giant breed dogs.
Ensure your dog is consuming enough water and that the source of that water is clean.
While Dr. Harvey and I didn’t touch on this during our conversation, there is no denying the importance of adequate socialization.
When dogs suffer from behavior issues, anxiety, fear, etc., those imbalances affect their physical health as well.
Read Nature Versus Nurture and the Drivers of Canine Temperament and Puppy Socialization: 5 Common Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make for more information on temperament and puppy socialization.
Our dogs love us unconditionally. They would do anything for us.
And whether we feed them gourmet food or Dog Chow, their adoration of us is evident.
I believe it is our responsibility to respond in kind.
With a simple plan and an expertly crafted raw dog food calculator, feeding a raw food diet to big dogs does not have to be intimidating or impossible.
While there are no silver bullets or magic pills that will make feeding a raw dog food diet for beginners as simple as feeding Dog Chow, there is Dr. Harvey’s.
Share in the comments below If you are using Dr. Harvey’s now or are considering them. I would love to hear from you!
What additional questions do you have about Dr. Harvey’s that I didn’t address in this review?
**Please note: Dr. Harvey Cohen is not a veterinarian. He may educate you about feeding guidelines and about vitamin and herbal supplements. However, he does not prescribe products or treatments for medical conditions. The educational information Dr. Harvey Cohen provides is not a substitute for, nor does it replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult your veterinarian before starting any new treatment approaches to determine if it is right for your companion animal.
Who Formulates Dr. Harvey’s Products?
According to Dr. Harvey’s website: “Dr. Harvey’s utilizes a team approach toward product formulation. Our research and development team is headed by Dr. Marie Limoges, who holds a Doctorate in Animal Nutrition and Food Sciences. Dr. Limoges and her team follow AAFCO feed guidelines and NASC supplement guidelines to ensure the highest levels of nutritional integrity.
Dr. Harvey works in conjunction with his research and development department to ensure the highest quality human-grade ingredients are sourced for the formulations. Before any product is released to the market, the formulation is reviewed by several holistic veterinarians with whom our company works closely.”
With a simple plan and an expertly crafted raw dog food calculator, feeding a raw food diet to big dogs does not have to be intimidating or impossible. While there are no silver bullets, there is Dr. Harvey’s.