We often get asked about the raw diet that we feed our dogs and puppies. The truth is that we only started feeding raw in 2017. We researched the pros and cons (and continue to learn better ways to feed raw), and our dogs LOVE their food!
We hope that all of our puppy families will consider keeping their puppy on a raw diet, but we know it’s not feasible for every lifestyle. Our job is to help educate families so that they can make the best decision for their dog. At the same time, it’s never too late to switch to a better diet, and we hope we can help answer some questions for those with older dogs, too!
Here is some basic information to get your feet wet. If you’re still curious after reading this article, be sure to check out our other articles: Sources for Raw Food, Raw Feeding Groups & Resources, and the Pet Fooled Documentary.
What should I feed?
A healthy raw diet must be BALANCED. (You can’t just feed your dog ground hamburger and chicken breast!)
General Percentages - 80% muscle (includes heart) - 10% bone - 10% organ (liver + another organ) - If you want to include veggies/fruits, that can make up about 10%
Great! Can I just feed chicken meat, chicken bone, and chicken organs? or beef meat, beef bone, and beef organs? - In the SHORT TERM, yes. When we’re using single-protein blends, we’ll usually feed a chicken blend for a week, then a beef blend for a week, then salmon for a couple of days, etc. - In the LONG TERM, no. It’s best to include 2-3 proteins in your dog’s diet, though rotating them is fine.
Does every MEAL need to be “balanced”? - Adult Dogs – Nope! You can feed a boneless meal, and make up for it with a heavy bone meal (like a whole chicken leg, or the Ross Wells ground salmon or turkey) later. Balance over time is what’s important. (Most of us don’t balance our own meals all the time, but we strive for balance over time.) - Puppies – Yes. It’s easiest to feed a balanced blend, especially in the puppy phase.
What about fruits & veggies? - There are two “camps” of raw feeders – Prey Model (only meat, bone & organ), and BARF (“bones and raw foods” – which includes plants). - You don’t NEED to include fruits & veggies in your dog’s diet, but there are some benefits. - From January 2017 to December 2018, we fed Prey Model. - In December 2018, we started adding a veggie/fruit blend to our dogs’ meals.
If you’re going to include plant matter, consider these tips: - cook or puree before feeding, to help with digestion - rely mostly on leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, parsley, etc) - keep fruits & starchy vegetables to a minimum - Here’s a great article from Plear Littlefield at The Raw Feeding Community: I Started Adding Veggies to My Raw Dog Food; Here’s Why - Here’s another article I like from Kimberly Gunther at Keep the Tail Wagging: 9 Vegetables You Should Add to Your Dog’s Diet Today
What is “whole prey,” and do I have to feed it?!?! - “Whole Prey” is a whole animal, such as a rabbit, quail, chick, mouse, deer, etc. - When feeding “whole prey,” you don’t need to worry about balancing – it’s considered already balanced. - If the whole prey is too large for your dog, you can divide it into meals, or take it up after one meal and give it back to your dog for the next meal. - You do NOT need to feed whole prey! I think it’s great (dachshunds love it), but it’s a little gross for most people. If you’re on the fence, stick to balanced blends :)
How much should I feed?
A general rule is 2-3% of the dog’s ideal body weight per day.
Some dogs need more than 3% (like Shani).
Split the daily amount into 2 meals.
Examples: - 8 pound dog (128 ounces) = 2.5 to 3.9 ounces per day, split between 2 meals = $10-15/month @ $2/pound - 10 pound dog (160 ounces) = 3.2 to 4.8 ounces per day, split between 2 meals = $12-18/month @ $2/pound - 12 pound dog (192 ounces) = 3.8 to 5.8 ounces per day, split between 2 meals = $15-22/month @ $2/pound - 15 pound dog (240 ounces) = 4.8 to 7.2 ounces per day, split between 2 meals = $18-27/month @ $2/pound - 20 pound dog (320 ounces) = 6.4 to 9.6 ounces per day, split between 2 meals = $24-36/month @ $2/pound - 50 pound dog (800 ounces) = 16 to 24 ounces per day, split between 2 meals = $60-90/month @ $2/pound - 80 pound dog (1,280 ounces) = 25.6 to 38.4 ounces per day, split between 2 meals = $96-145/month @ $2/pound
The prices above are based on $2.00/pound, which can be achieved through a co-op (like the DFW Ross Wells Raw Co-Op), Texas Tripe, or DIY raw.
These guidelines are a starting point. You’ll want to watch your dog, and adjust if they’re showing signs of unwanted weight loss or gain. - Monte weighs 9 pounds. He’s sedentary and a bit overweight, so we feed him 3.2 ounces per day (1.6 ounces x 2) - Anke weighs 13 pounds. She’s fairly sedentary, but not overweight, so we feed her 5.0 ounces per day (2.5 ounces x 2) - Bernie weighs 16 pounds (down from 18 when he had his surgery). We used to feed him 8.0 ounces per day (4.0 ounces x 2), but we cut his food back 25% when he went on crate rest (3.0 ounces x 2). Now that he’s off of crate rest, we’ve bumped him back up some (3.5 ounces x 2), but we haven’t gone back to his original amount because he needs to stay slim to help with his back issues. He was never “overweight,” but we’re monitoring him closely. - Mieke weighs 9 pounds. She’s very slim & active, so we feed her 5.0 ounces per day (2.5 ounces x 2). She used to eat less (2.2 ounces x 2), but she hasn’t put on extra weight with the extra food. - Shani weighs 9 pounds. She’s very slim & relatively active, but she has a hard time keeping weight on, so we feed her 6.0 ounces per day (3.0 ounces x 2). She used to eat less (2.2 ounces x 2), but she wasn’t gaining weight and she was more skinny than we wanted her to be. Her weight is holding steady at the new amount. - Jack weighs 9 pounds. He’s very slim & super active, and he’s still in his puppy phase, so we feed him 5.0 ounces per day (2.5 ounces x 2). - Gracie weighs 8 pounds. She’s very slim & super active, and she’s still in her puppy phase, so we feed her 4.0 ounces per day (2.0 ounces x 2). She was spayed in July 2018, so we’ll monitor her weight and cut back if she starts getting pudgy.
Where do I buy it?
There are several ways to feed your dog a balanced raw diet. You can choose one method, or a combination.
Pre-Made Raw - available online or through local co-ops - this is our our preference – less expensive than Commercial and easier than DIY - See our article Sources for Raw Food for examples.
DIY Raw - usually the least expensive, but most time-intensive - requires you to balance the diet - See our article Sources for Raw Food for examples.
Commercial Raw - usually the most expensive, but requires almost no prep work - some of these are balanced, but others are not - often contain a high percentage of plant matter - found in the freezer section of pet stores, or online (Amazon or Chewy) - See our article Sources for Raw Food for examples.