Sam’s Healthwise Raw Food Cakes

Sam's Healthwise Raw Food Cakes
Our dog, Sam, died when he was a little over 20 years old. He was a large breed – a flatcoated retriever. It surprised everybody, ourselves included, that Sam lived to such a ripe old age — and he enjoyed an active happy life almost right up to the end. We feel it was at least partly because he ate such a healthy homemade raw food diet.

I developed his diet based on asking questions of my sister, Dr. Moira Drosdovech, a holistic veterinarian in Kelowna, BC … plus my own research into the diet of species like dogs (wolves, fox) and observing what Sam seemed to crave and loved to eat. It worked out for us and we are feeding this same diet to our new companion, Charlie, who came to us as a 10 year old senior. Charlie is also a flatcoat (we think he is also part afghan hound.) He is very active and seems to be thriving on the raw food diet. I’ll keep you posted!

Scroll down for the recipe.

The veggie-fruit-nuts portion of a raw dog food diet.

Sam’s Healthwise Raw Food Cakes

Makes approximately 26 cups*


  • 2 cups rice (brown or white)
  • 4 cups unsalted, no-onion chicken broth
  • 2 large yams, steamed or baked (I use the microwave to make it quickly)
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree (in season)
  • 1 large bunch parsley
  • 8 large carrots
  • 1/4 head cabbage (optional — warning: ground up cabbage has a strong smell!)
  • 1 broccoli head
  • 6 celery stalks
  • 1 large zucchini and/or yellow summer squash (in season)
  • 4 large apples (more is good)
  • 1 # cranberries (in season, sometimes more)
  • 1 # blueberries (in season. These turn food gray. If it bothers you, skip blueberries)
  • Other fruit: peaches, pears, plums are all okay for dogs and nutritious.
  • 1# green beans (sometimes more.)
  • 1# snap peas, or whatever peas in the pod you have around
  • 12 eggshells or more (baked to dry, grind in small “coffee grinder”)**
  • 9 eggs, poached lightly then cooled
  • 1 c. peanut butter (more or less — I use this as a binder & for protein)
  • 2/3 cup nutritional yeast (lots of vitamins) or 1/3 cup dog multiple vitamin powder
  • 1 cup flax meal (if you just have the seed, finely grind it in food processor)
  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds or raw almonds (finelyd processor)
  • 2 cups rolled oats, optional (1/2 ground in food processor, 1/2 whole)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup rosehips, dried and ground in coffee grinder ***


  1. Cook rice in broth til done (the way you usually cook rice — I use a rice cooker) Then, let cool
  2. Puree the yams in food processor, skin and all.
  3. Finely chop or grind the fruits and vegetables in a food processor (the finer the more digestible.) I do one thing at a time in my Cuisinart and save time by NOT washing it out between ingredients. It doesn’t matter anyway since all of the ingredients get mixed together.
  4. Put all of the ingredients into a very large bowl (I use a huge bread bowl my brother gave me over 20 years ago) Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well. (I use my hands to mix it — there is aLOT here.)
  5. Mix with your hands or a spoon til all the ingredients have been incorporated into a squishy, moist glop.
  6. Put waxed paper or parchment paper on 2 large cookie sheets. Scoop out measured amounts**** of the mixture in “balls” or “cakes” and place on waxed paper. –close together. Freeze until hard. Put the cakes in airtight freezer baggies and thaw as needed. *****

seeds and nuts for raw dog food steamed yams

Where do you get your calcium?

We save our eggshells and bake them a little to make them brittle. Then I grind them in a small processor or my coffee grinder til they are powdery.


Hens eat the scraps from making Charlie's food and lay eggs which I cook to put into Charlie's food

Hens eat the scraps from making Charlie’s food and lay eggs. I cook the eggs, to put into Charlie’s food. I use the shells so Charlie gets calcium.


* This recipe makes approximately 26 (1-cup) balls of raw food.  You will end up with more or less depending on the size of your fruits and veggies like apples and cabbage.

** We save the shells from organic eggs for our dog. Bake them for a few minutes to make them brittle. Then grind in a clean coffee grinder or mini-food-processor until finely powdered. These provide a natural source of calcium for your pet. You can use calcium citrate instead, but I prefer using the eggshells.

*** I sometimes substitute a powdered, fortified Vitamin C product called “Emergen-C” for the rosehips.  Emergen-C also contains many other vital nutrients such as folic acid, B Vitamins, Potassium, etc. If I add the Emergenc-C I make sure to use enough to provide at least 6000mg of C to the above amount of food.

***  The size of the “cakes” will depend on the size and appetite of your dog. Sam weighed 70 pounds and ate two (1-cup) cakes plus meat per day even at age 19, when he started to slow down.  Charlie, who weighs about 58 to 60 pounds, eats 2 large cakes and more raw meat than we gave Sam, each day. For a medium to large dog, the amount of raw food from this recipe lasts about two weeks.

**** You will have to determine how much to feed your pets and what else to feed with this raw food meal. We give Charlie 12 ounces or more of raw meat with each meal — usually raw ground turkey, chicken, bison or rabbit. We have also fed him raw llama meat and venison.  He gets bison or beef heart a few times a week, as well as raw turkey or chicken necks to chew on in the morning. A squirt of salmon oil on his food makes it yummy, and keeps him healthy. You might also want to add a spoonful of  yogurt to your dog’s meals, to maintain a healthy digestive tract.  When Sam was over 14 or so, he got an extra multiple canine vitamin and 250 mg glucosamine each day.

Sam at about the age of 18


© Copyright 2006 by Maureen Shaughnessy. Please please please, ask my permission (email) to use this recipe in any way beyond your own personal use. My email:  Thanks! 



  1. Gina Spadafori · Reply

    Thank you for sharing this again!

  2. Maureen · Reply

    You’re welcome, Gina. I’ve been meaning to revisit Sam’s dog food recipe for over a year, and just this summer got around to taking new photos while I made a batch. Charlie loves it. I would be glad if you wanted to share this link on your blog. Take care.

  3. Colleen · Reply

    Thanks for helping me with the first batch! Gus is very happy to eat all of his food every night! I will be making another batch in the next few weeks.

    • Maureen

      It was fun to do our dogs’ food together, Colleen in your lovely kitchen. I’m glad Gus likes it. I think this batch was particularly good — Charlie is gobbling it down too. Tell Mike, on second thought — I think he should try to dog food. It’s good to know what we are feeding our companions, right? And I want to hear his reaction to it. heh

  4. Brittany · Reply

    I’ve been researching raw diet recipes for my pooch and I keep coming back to yours. I’d love to give it a try, but can’t decide what to sub for the rice (I keep reading that dogs don’t need grains?)? Any input or ideas? Thanks in advance!

    • Maureen

      Hi Brittany, I hope you do try the recipe I developed for our dogs. Dogs don’t actually need grains, but a little grain doesn’t hurt unless your dog is allergic to a particular grain. There are “grain free” dog kibbles available, and I think that’s largely a reaction to the fact that so many cheap dog foods bulk up the food with lots of grains, including corn and wheat (GMO). I use a little cooked brown rice or sometimes raw rolled oats (both organic) just to give some different texture to Charlie’s food. You don’t need to include the grain at all. If you decide to leave out the grain, the veggies and fruits won’t form “balls” but that’s perfectly fine. You can freeze the chopped “salad” in a large rectangular baking pan and partway through the freezing process, use a knife to score it so that when it’s frozen all the way you can break the square chunks apart and freeze them in portions. Does that make sense?
      Sometimes we just whip up two or three days worth of veggies, fruits (and the supplements like egg shells, nutritional yeast, etc) and keep it in the fridge in a glass container, taking out only what Charlie eats at meals. The chopped veggies/fruits will keep for three days. After that it gets a little oogie.
      I am very interested in how the dog food works out for you if you decide to make it. Will you come back and comment here later? Or email me: Good luck, Brittany!

  5. Colleen · Reply

    I have to say we were skeptical about this food at first. Didn’t think it would be worth our time or energy to make it again and again but we’ve just made our 5th batch of this food! Our dog Gus who is an 11 or 12 year old Australian Shepard cross really loves it! The first day or two he wasn’t sure of it but once he realized this was the only food he’d get he ate it all. Gus was always a strange eater. We fed him dry food and he wouldn’t eat in front of us. He would take one kibble at a time out of the bowl and take a few steps away from the bowl then eat the kibble. He devours the raw food at each feeding! We mix it with either ground turkey, beef and sometimes white fish. Occasionally i throw in an extra egg.
    Since feeding Gus this food his coat is much shinier and he has a noticeable increase in energy. Thanks Maureen for sharing this with us!

  6. jr · Reply

    Bless the aging dogs heart….your Sam was a handsome boy!

    • Maureen

      He really was handsome and sweet too. I still miss Sam, but Charlie keeps us good company now. Charlie’s getting up there in age too. Thanks for your comment, jr.

  7. Christine · Reply

    Hi just came across this raw food recipe! I have a question on how much meat you feed your pup and at the same time as the raw or do you separate that part? We have a newfoundland that has been on a raw food plan but has recently not been interested and let’s it go bad in his dish he is losing weight. We have a vet taking a look at him tomorrow but I think this might get him interested again. Thanks in advance

  8. Zoey · Reply

    i have a 7lb yorkie with skin allergies. I would like to try this recipe. Do you know if this would be appropriate for a small dog? thanks!

    • Maureen

      Zoey, I believe the diet would be appropriate for your small dog, though I would of course, feed your Yorkie smaller quantities and grind the meat or cut it up very small. Also since he/she has skin allergies, try making the food with fewer fruits and veggies (meaning not as many different kinds) and gradually introduce different foods to see if there is a reaction or not. Just as you would with any allergy.

  9. Shelly · Reply

    Im so happy to have found this. We decided to feed our 2 yr old flatcoat on completely raw this jan coming. He gets dry kibble plus raw meat at the moment. I’m delighted to hear your flatty lived so long! We’ve always wanted to feed our lab on raw but she’s never been able to stomach it but she’s 15 in feb so she’s doing great anyway. Thanks for sharing this. I love the egg tip.

    • Maureen

      Shelly, thanks for writing. If you think of it, let me know how it goes when you switch to a raw diet. We adopted an older flattie-afghan mix (Charlie) and have been feeding him this diet as well. He has lots of energy, a glossy coat and is a happy dog!

  10. Maureen · Reply

    Little update on this recipe and how it is working for our dog, Charlie: we started alternating the brown rice with oats. As with the rice, we cook the oats in chicken broth (instead of water) in such a way that the oats are still flaky, separate (not gloppy) and chewy. Again, this is not a grain-based food but we do add some rice OR oats. The majority of the bulk of his food is veggies and fruits.

    Charlie also loves cottage cheese, so we mix in a couple spoonfuls of that into his food when we serve it.

    As you can see when you look at the image of all the foods we put into Charlie’s raw diet, we go by color (making sure not to feed him any of the foods that tend to be toxic for dogs) … sometimes we substitute winter squash for yams (especially now in the winter when we have a couple of bushels of squash from our garden) As with yams, do cook the squash and mash it into the rest of the veggies.

    Make sure you process the fruits and veggies until they are very small bits so your dog’s short digestive system can actually digest them. Good luck!

  11. Kimberly · Reply

    Thank you so much for his info, I’ve been researching the raw food diet after finding out my Great Dane had Wobblers. I’ve heard arguments for feeding 100% raw and incorporating veggies. My dane didn’t tolerate a completely raw diet very well at first, maybe I didn’t give it enough time, but he seems to want (and like) veggies although it give him terrible gas. Would you recommend starting slowly with the patties and did it take Charlie a whole for his gut to adjust?

    • Maureen

      Hi Kimberly, thanks for writing to let me know your experience with your great dane and the raw food. The diet we are giving our dog, Charlie (an afghan/flatcoated retriever cross — 14 years old) and that we fed our Sam (a flatcoated retriever, died at age 20) was almost all raw. The only things I cook are the small amount of whole grain brown rice OR rolled oats (I cook them less than if we were cooking for human consumption, and I use organic chicken broth (no onions) instead of water for the liquid). We also steam the yams or winter squash in the microwave for a few minutes. Anyway, the rest is raw. I agree that the raw veggies and fruits may have been the cause of the gas in your Great Dane. It did not take Charlie long to adjust to the raw diet. When we adopted him, he was 10 years old and came with a big bag (about 30 pounds) of dog kibbles. He refused to eat anything for 6 days (we have since found out that he is a very sensitive eater and will stop eating if his routine is disrupted) So, we started him on the raw diet with meat and he gobbled it down. No gas problems at all. Every once in awhile he gets stinky gas when we feed him the organic bison/venison kibbles we buy as a back up (for when we travel). Weird, eh?
      Maybe your dog’s gas has more to do with changing the food than with the actual food itself. You could try to simply the recipe and start out slowly, adding ingredients as he adjusts. Please let me know how it goes. <3 Maureen

  12. Samantha · Reply

    Hi! I really love this diet but was wondering if you also feed your dogs meat with this? If so, how much and what kinds? Thanks is advance!

    • Maureen

      Samantha, we do feed out dog meat. A lot of meat. 😉 Read through to the end of the post to find out how much meat — and what kind of meat — we feed our dog, and how much I suggest for dogs of different sizes. I go into detail in the post.

  13. Lorraine · Reply

    Hi , I have a 54 pound golden retrieve she is 3 years old. Just found out she had elevated bun and creating . Vet said to try this prescription diet dry food. Lucy hates it so much , she eats everything but the new kibble. I also feel like it is terrible just chicken meal . The food also gives her the runs. The vet said give it few days ect. I asked about me cooking for her, the vet said I don’t even cook for myself . But you could and I’ll look on line for you. I know a good source of protein get run thru the dogs kidney easier, and that white rice and pearl barley at better then brown. Could you give me any advise ? Sincerely beside myself with Lucy Aka Lorraine

    • Maureen

      Hi Lucy, I’m sorry you have such health challenges with your 3 year old pup. I feel like I can’t give advise like a veterinarian can, though as you can tell from my article, I have a certain strong bias against commercial dog food and in favor of a raw diet. I haven’t researched white rice vs. brown rice. We have given our dogs short grain brown rice cooked in chicken broth (no onions) and whole rolled oats lightly steamed in chicken broth. But really, you don’t want to use alot of grains. The grains basically just give a little bulk in our recipe, and give our dog something chewy — for the mouth feel. The bulk of the recipe (besides the meat) is fruits and veggies, processed VERY finely in a cuisinart (any food processor works) and they are raw.
      I’m not a vet, nor am I a scientist, although I tried my best to research canine diets and natural diets of the canine family as we were formulating the recipe. We only have anecdotal evidence that this diet is good for OUR dogs, and I swear by it with our dogs. I can’t tell you much else. I hope you can experiment kindly with your puppy. I would also give the kibbles a few extra days to see if the diarhea stops. Any change in food can upset a dog’s stomach.

  14. Natalie · Reply

    Do you happen to have a rough estimate on your monthly cost for your dogs diet? I want to make sure I’m well prepared for when I get my dog this summer and am making a cost spread sheet. Thank you so much if you happen to have a chance to reply to this ????

    • Maureen

      Natalie, I think we probably spend about $50 to $60 per month on Charlie’s food, including fresh meat from a locally-owned butcher. We also use venison, trout and other meat from friends who hunt and fish. When our garden is growing, we use lots of homegrown veggies in his food. Things like beans, peas, parsley, summer squash, yams, winter squash, broccoli and cabbage. We save money that way. If we were to feed him a high quality dog kibble, we’d be spending that much.

  15. Carmen · Reply

    My boxer-lab dog (5 years old) has food sensitivities especially to meat and has yeast issues. The cost of commercially prepared dry food is $70 for a large bag and beyond my budget when I have to think of my other 3 pets plus, of course, my family of 4. I’ve resorted to preparing food myself according to some research on the internet and asking owners of boxers. Some say they use raw salmon but the veterinarian said she’s allergic to meats in general and especially chicken. Long story short, I need a vegetarian dog food recipe with no meat proteins. For now, I’ll be putting yam, butternut squash, green beans, pumpkin puree in the slow cooker. I’ll add some coconut oil and finely chopped lettuce at the end. Just before I feed her twice a day, I mix in a teaspoon of the kelp pro-biotics along with a tsp. of hemp hearts and some peanut butter. Plus, I’ll be giving her some blueberries daily (not too many at once) I’ve been having to do something like this for about two weeks now. She’s definitely NOT getting worse. Please do share suggestions. Thank you.

    • Maureen

      Hi Carmen, I can’t say that I know much about vegetarian dog food, since dogs aren’t normally (or evolutionarily) vegetarians. In fact, they are omnivores with a big need for meat. Having said that, I would make sure to get some protein into your dog’s diet with other sources such as eggs. You are using some peanut butter — that’s probably good. Especially if your dog loves that taste. Try grinding other raw (not roasted) nuts and seeds and adding to the mixture. Almonds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are good. You might try quinoa. Also maybe just a little cottage cheese?
      I feed our dogs a *raw* diet. The only thing we cook is the hard winter squashes such as pumpkin or acorn squash, and a little brown rice OR oats. Other than that, all the other vegetables, seeds, nuts, fruits we mix into the food is raw. You don’t have to cook the vegetables you are using such as green beans. Just make sure you process them to very very small bits in a food processor. That way they are totally digestible.

  16. Chantal Handley · Reply

    This is wonderful! I’m about to begin a new journey with a new puppy next week so I can start off this time on the right foot!! I lost my Maxie 3 years ago at the age of 17 so I have to learn it all over again! Thank you! 🙂

  17. Maura · Reply

    Hi Maureen, I have an almost 3 yr old liver Flatcoat. Love my handsome boy, but he has horrible skin allergies at different times of the year. I am spending a fortune with holistic vet, but nothing is working. Acupuncture and supplements for better liver function helped but they are back again. They feel he has heavy metal toxicity from vaccinines and that is affecting his liver. Beef for protein has been suggested.

    Was your recipe developed for the breed or canines in general? Did your Flattie ever have skin allergies before starting this diet?

    Thank you, Maura

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