The Wild Dog's Diet

Nature-based diets have their benefits and their drawbacks for domestic dogs.


Christine Swingle of Bonnie Brier West Highland White Terriers in Vernon, Conn., has raised Westies since 1964. Her methodology took a drastic turn in 1996: She began to utilize natural-rearing techniques to raise her puppies.

“I changed the way I raise my dogs,” Swingle says. “I like to think I got smart in 1996 after the loss of one of my Westies. I started to examine what I’m doing, the medical profession, the whole nine yards, and that year I changed over to natural rearing.”
A natural-rearing technique mimics how dogs develop in the wild. That means no vaccinations or booster shots. It means foregoing chemical pest prevention. It means providing the dogs with lots of fresh air and sunshine. And it means feeding a raw diet centered on organ meat, meaty bones and muscle meat, and regularly fasting the dogs to let their bodies recover. It all points to an approach that supports health rather than one that treats disease, Swingle says.

“Natural rearing means we raise our dogs as naturally as possible,” she says. “Instead of looking at all the ways that the allopathic community thinks we should be preventing disease with vaccinations and chemicals, we like to support health.

“We believe that supporting health is going to give each individual animal the best opportunity to have a healthy immune and digestive system,” she says. “And when that’s in place, these animals will generally not come into disease and illness over time.”

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