The reason is twofold: to see if Dozer's allergies are lessened by eating fresh foods rather than kibble (incredibly expensive special kibble), and to help Star keep her teeth clean.
It hasn't been an easy transition. On top of the need to provide a nutritionally balanced diet, I'm dealing with two very sheltered dogs. Neither of them have ever had raw meat or real bones before. Yesterday, neither of them had a clue what to do with their first raw meat bones, a couple of turkey necks. Star wasn't even certain she was supposed to be putting it into her mouth. (Her wide-eyed expression said, Is this a JOKE? You want me to eat THIS?? You're sick, lady! Sick!)
I had decided to start the experiment with poultry because the bones were smaller and I thought it would be easier for the dogs to practice eating. Dozer chewed gamely on his turkey necks, but Star abandoned hers after extensive licking and half-hearted nibbling.
Today, I gave them beef bones for the first time. The dogs were much more enthusiastic about the beef. I don't know if this is because beef tastes better than poultry when raw, or if it's because the dogs were hungrier after their failures from yesterday, or if they had just gotten the hang of this new gnawing-for-food thing.
This is ten-year-old Dozer gnawing his first-ever raw beef bone. This was a very big leg bone, more for chewing practice than for food (yes, my dogs are so sheltered, they had to practice eating a real bone). There's a smaller, meatier neck bone in the foreground; Dozer was studying it while he practiced on the big bone.
And Star is doing her best on a beef neck bone—but she's still nibbling and licking instead of chewing.
There we go... Finally, she's moved from nibbling to chewing on it! Aww, she looks like a Real Tough Dog, not a Miss Dainty Prissypants.
Two hours later... Still gnawing... And after they finished, they both went into the bedroom and took a looong nap on their beloved new bed. It was quiet here all day!
The major downside to raw feeding so far has been the constant cleanup (best not to feed raw meat indoors, must remove uneaten leftovers, have to wipe dogs' feet and muzzles before they come back inside), followed by the time-consuming nature of the process (preparing the food, sitting outside with dogs during hours-long gnaw sessions to make sure there are no fights over bones, etc). On the upside, the fresh food is less than half the price of Dozer's special allergy kibble.
It's too soon to say whether this is doing anything for Dozer's allergies. I can already concur that homemade food with raw meat and bones is a lot of mess and hassle, but if it solves Dozer's allergy problems, maybe it's worth it.
We'll see how it goes over the next few weeks.