I hear you’re interested in learning more about raw diets for dogs.

Go ahead; pat yourself on the back.


Not all pet owners are as enlightened as you.  Many lack an open mind or the courage to venture into the unknown. You’re different. You have a genuine interest in providing a healthier lifestyle for your dog.


Upon first hearing of raw feeding, most people aren’t sure what to make of it.

And that’s completely normal.

Hesitant and apprehensive, their mental movie screen begins to highlight reels of Cujo. Or another blood thirsty, frightening, or salmonella-ridden creature may come to mind.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

And while raw feeding sounds complex and intricate, it’s quite simple.

But what’s even more confusing for new raw feeders is the kind of raw diet to pursue. Prey Model vs BARF vs commercial diets. What do these even mean and which one is best?

Let’s navigate through this together. But before we get started, it might help to define raw feeding.

What are Raw Dog Food Diets?

Raw feeding is the act of feeding a domestic carnivore a diet of raw meat, edible bones, and organs.

What’s a domestic carnivore? Dogs, cats, and ferrets to name a few.

That’s it.

See, didn’t I tell you it was simple?

Despite the straightforwardness, it’s hard for many of us to grasp. You see; we’re conditioned to believe otherwise. So when we learn about raw dog food, it doesn’t sound quite right.

In fact, the most common raw diet questions I receive sound like this: “It’s really raw?” or “You don’t cook it?”


Let me reiterate: This is a raw diet. It includes uncooked meat, edible bones, organs, and often other ingredients.

If you’ve asked one of those questions, don’t fret.

There’s no judgment here, only incredible amounts of support.

Because the truth is: the concept can be shocking at first. Like the first time your mother said Santa Claus didn’t exist. It takes time to get used to the idea. But it’s for the best. No one likes a college freshman that still believes in Santa.

It’s the same for canine nutrition.

Except today, the shocking new information goes something like this:

Kibble could be contributing to your dog’s health issues. And there’s a better way to feed your dog.

What? Mind blown.

But it might help if you were to understand why.

Why Should You Feed a Raw Diet?

The short answer is because it’s the natural diet for dogs – wild or domestic.

Raw feeders believe this type of diet is superior to cooked foods and processed pet food.


This is the fare your dog’s ancestors eat in the wild and the food they’re designed to consume.

Plus, it’s REAL. Raw diets contain fresh, raw, unprocessed foods and nutritionally – you can’t beat that.

Need an example?

You might be familiar with the trendy Paleo or Primal diet. You know, the idea that we should follow a diet like our ancestor’s?

Yes, the foods advocated in these regimens are different. But raw feeding is the same concept. Except, it’s geared towards dogs, not people.

Common terms for raw feeding also include: “ancestral diet,” “species appropriate,” and “biologically appropriate.”

And guess what?

Raw feeding has been around for thousands of years. Well before the Paleo Diet exploded into mainstream popularity. Or before kibble was even invented. How’s that for ancestral?

The bottom line:

Raw feeding comes chock-full of benefits.

For more resources on the subject, click here.

What are the Types of Raw Dog Food Diets?

There are two basic types.

  1. Commercially prepared raw dog food
  2. Homemade raw diets

Commercially Prepared Raw Diets

This type of raw dog food is premade.

It’s purchased from a pet store, grocery store, or even online.  Except it’s not found on the shelf. It comes in a different format:

Frozen, raw meat.

Raw dog food is stored in the freezer section of specialty pet stores and even some national chains. Why?

Because it’s real and it’s perishable.

It’s ironic. Commercial raw dog food is one of the few items in a pet store that’s unprocessed.  Despite the sea of meaningless words like organic and natural plastered on every package.

How do you feed a commercial raw diet?


Buy, defrost and serve.

Commercial raw dog food is more convenient. No doubt about it. And many dog owners are content feeding this type of diet.

Others start here before transitioning to the homemade variety.

Still, some prefer to skip this option all together.

Homemade Raw Diets: Prey Model vs BARF

A homemade raw diet is exactly as it sounds.

You prepare your dog’s food, rather than relying on another company to supply it for you.

It’s that simple.

And it’s no different than making dinner for yourself or your children. Other than the menu’s different and there’s no cooking involved.

You source the ingredients, create meals, and watch your dog gobble it up.

This is less convenient but tends to be more affordable. It also allows the dog owner the most control over their dogs diet – and their health.

There are two types of homemade raw diets with slightly different ideologies.

  1. Prey Model
  2. BARF

These two options cause a lot of confusion among new raw feeders. Prey Model vs Barf, which one’s right for you? Let’s see what they’re all about.

Homemade Raw Diet Version #1: Prey Model

The prey model approach attempts to best resemble what dogs would eat in the wild.

And that’s whole prey.

This diet operates on the philosophy that dogs are true carnivores.

Prey model raw (PMR) feeders believe domestic dogs should follow in the wolf’s footsteps. This means consuming a diet that mimics what their predecessors ate in the wild.

So what does wild prey consist of?

Bones, muscle meat, skin, organs, fat, connective tissues and either hide, hair, or feathers.

The “Prey Model” method models our pet’s diet on the ratios of parts found in wild prey animals. Dog owners feed these proportions through raw product that’s readily available.

What does a prey model raw diet consist of?

  • 80 – 85% Muscle meat
  • 10 – 15% Raw meaty bones
  • 5- 10% Organs & Offal (with half of this amount being liver)

What does a prey model raw diet exclude?

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Dairy
  • Excessive supplementation

How is this fed?

Two options:

  1. Feeding whole prey
  2. “Frankenprey”

Some dog owners provide these dietary components by feeding their dogs whole prey.

This might mean allowing your dog to help themselves to a deer carcass or perhaps a whole rabbit – fur, feet, and all.

That’s dedication.

But whole prey is not practical for everyone. So what does the average Prey Model feeder do?

They piece together whole prey as best they can.


A more realistic approach might be feeding a whole chicken or duck. But the grocery store version.

Cane Corso eating a turkey illustrating Prey Model vs BARF raw diets

The other option:

PMR feeders can provide a range of animal proteins. All in a varety of different formats to reach the proportions above. Raw meaty bones might include animal feet, tails, backs, ribs, necks or whole carcasses. Organ and offal could include liver, kidney, lungs, pancreas, spleen or green tripe.

Some call this “Frankenprey.” It’s the act of assembling parts from different animals. Then, combining them in a way that mimics the relative proportions of prey animals.

PMR feeders also try to keep food as natural as possible. Some don’t approve of ground beef because it’s not in its natural form.

Variety is the key to any healthy diet but is especially important in a PMR diet since it’s a meat-only diet.

How come?

Commercially raised livestock does not contain the same nutrients found in wild prey. Feeding a range of animal product helps to provide a better spectrum of nutrition.

The important takeaway:

  1. PMR feeders believe plant matter is not appropriate for carnivores.
  2. Excessive supplementation is limited

The reason:

Wild animals sustain their nutritional needs through whole prey alone. And since a prey model diet mimics this lifestyle, it should – in theory– provide a dog with all that they need.

Of course, there’s always an exception to the rule…

You might notice that many PMR feeders still choose to provide omega 3 supplementation.


Grain fed commercial livestock and factory farmed meats lack the proper omega 3:6 ratios. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements compensate for this. That is, if grass fed and more natural products are out of your price range.

To recap:

A PRM diet contains:

  • meat product
  • no plant matter
  • limits supplementation
  • and focuses on whole prey (or as close to whole prey as possible).

Homemade Raw Diet Version #2: BARF Diet

BARF stands for “bones and raw food” or “biologically appropriate raw food.”

Awful acronym.

Outside of the hideous nickname, this feeding program is also based on a dog’s ancestral diet. And it’s also comprised of fresh, raw, unprocessed foods.

So what’s the difference?

The theory behind the diet.

Some BARF feeders operate based on the philosophy that dogs are omnivores. Other BARF proponents believe dogs are carnivores but consider them to be facultative carnivores.

The common denominator?

Both of these camps advocate the use of raw fruits and vegetables in the diet.

What does a BARF diet consist of?

  • Muscle meat
  • Raw meaty bones
  • Organs & Offal (with half of this amount being liver)
  • Fruits & vegetables
  • Sometimes dairy
  • Supplements

In what percentages?

There’s no hard and fast rule. If you asked 20 people, you’re likely to receive 20 different answers.


This depends on the BARF feeder’s point of view and also their own experience feeding their dogs.

Those supporting the faculatative carnivore theory might feed less plant matter. Omnivore theory supporters are more likely to include a higher percentage of plant matter.

A good rule of thumb is:

  • 70% muscle meat
  • 10% raw meaty bones
  • 10% organs (liver being half)
  • 10% fruits, veggies and/or dairy

What else is different about the BARF diet?

Some include a higher percentage of bone content, especially the commercially prepared BARF varieties.

Regardless, BARF feeders maintain raw meat should be the focus of the diet.

The format is also more forgiving.

Whole prey and large meaty bones are provided. But ground meats or chopped meats are also acceptable

New raw feeders gravitate to the BARF diet for several reasons.

It has a lower barrier to entry and has a wider commercial availability. Because it’s less restrictive, it’s more appealing and approachable for newbies. Plus, most of the commercially prepared raw diets are BARF diets. They contain meat, bone and organ but also plant matter and come in a ground format.

To recap, a BARF diet:

  • Contains meat product
  • Contains plant matter
  • May contain diary
  • Tends to more heavy-handed with supplementation
  • Has a more lax attitude towards “whole prey”

What do BARF and Prey Model Have in Common?

We know how they’re different but what concepts do they share?

Neither diet requires your dog hunt or kill wild prey. This is a homemade and modern way to feed our pets. This means we provide the food.

Both raw feeding styles also exclude all processed foods and grains.

Feeding Your Own Mash Up

The best way to sum up both options:

  1. Prey Model is stricter. This approach has an ardent commitment to doing things as natural as possible.
  2. The BARF approach is a bit more lenient and accepts fruits, vegetables and dairy.

Which one should you feed?

Good question.

Don’t feel compelled to take a side. Go with an option that makes the most sense to you: logically and financially.

Unfortunately, these two varieties divide the raw dog food world. And make some people super angry (you should see some of the comments I receive).

And it’s sad.

Raw feeders should stick together.

If you’re feeding a raw diet compromised of REAL food, you’re ahead. Ahead of all the other people shelling out kibble and “prescription” foods.

Here’s the best piece of advice I can offer:

Just start (here’s how).

Then, tweak as you go.

Start with something that’s manageable, accessible, and practical. Do your research, try both models and see what works for your household and your dog.

Some dogs do better on one type of raw. Take your time, try both, and figure out which one works better.

It might be reassuring to hear many dog owners feed a variety of foods and don’t 100% commit to either model. One day, meals might align with PMR. Another day, they may support the BARF diet.

But whatever you do, don’t let the choice divide you.

Our society puts labels on everything.





You know what that does?


People take to one ideology, become blind, then see everyone else’s opinion as wrong. Next thing you know, we’re divided. Again.

Let’s stick together as raw feeders and support one another on the raw feeding journey.

If you already feed raw, I want to hear your opinion. Do you support a model or do you feed your own mash up?


Share your story…but in a productive and accepting way, please.


Share Your Thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments (70)

  • Kenneth Kalligher

    Hi Amy, thanks for the great article. I feed raw mash up. My feeling is that dogs are facultative carnivores and are opportunistic feeders, even down to the water they drink which can be filled with green vegetative growth. Prey model feeding is not for me. Largely because it is messy (my dogs are fed indoors), unavailable on a regular basis, stain the dogs which they then transfer to household items and I just don’t like the method. I purchase all human food grade meats, organs, veggies, fruit, eggs and organic vinegar. I do vary the ingredients slightly. When I do preparation all the meat and fowl bones are ground into the muscle meat and frozen. All of the other ingredients are prepared fresh and mixed with the meats at feeding. I could not end here without commenting on sanitation and water. Sanitation is paramount in the raw mash and we focus heavily on prompt and intense sanitation. I filter and distill all the water that both family and furry members drink. We are on city water that is fluoridated and choramined. Never had any ill effects or reaction to any of the raw foods. Our dogs are not exposed to any pest treatments (pesticides) or heart worm treatments or vaccinations. They rarely go to the vet and are never really ill. So far, 7 years now, we are ardent BARF feeders. Our pack consists of 3 large German Shepherds, 3 Yorkies, and 1 cat. Thanks again for you great site, we consider it the bible of proper nutrition and care. Ken

    Reply to Kenneth
    • Hope

      I totally agree with everything you said. I am new to raw feeding with my new puppy. I looked into it after my puggle died of a huge cancerous mass. I was feeding her Blue I thought I was giving her the best and then I found out all kibble has almost half sugar! Now I know to do better! My puppy has the whitest teeth I have ever seen and her coat is so silky! I don’t immunize her either. At this point feeding anything but kibble is an improvement

      Reply to Hope
    • Tracy Gibson-Lake

      Kenneth, you say that you grind the bones up into the meat. Does this not negate the teeth cleaning/oral care aspect of the natural diet? Or are you compensating in some other manner?

      I’m looking into feeding my Doberman a raw diet and am very concerned with ensuring he has good oral health. Your take on it would be greatly appreciated.


      Reply to Tracy
      • Amy Marshall

        Hi Tracy – good question! It’s true, ground bone will not clean the teeth as whole raw meaty bones (RMBs) will. To get around this, many raw feeders provide recreational bones (not meant to be eaten) for chewing and teeth cleaning :)

        Reply to Amy
      • Megan Batchelor

        Hi Tracy,

        I feed my dog a variety of store bought BARF based meals. They have ground bone, so we supplement with an algae based plaque product (bonus it contains iodine) and feed a raw meaty bone 1-2x per week as his meal. (He is a 5-6 year old rescue who was confined to a wire crate prior to me adopting him and has a lot of tooth wear from gnawing on the crate). He tends to take it easy with RMB’s once he gets the meat off of it, so the plaque supplement gives a little boost to his oral hygiene :)

        Reply to Megan
  • Brenda Hinton

    Thanks for the information. I’ve been feeding my dog home made mash for 3 years because I could not find what I wanted to feed her. She has liver damage but, but I got her off of commercial dry food her liver enzymes have come down to normal.

    Reply to Brenda
    • Pietrina

      Hi Brenda. My dog also has liver disease and I believe she can be healed by what she eats. I am so new to this. Please tell me what u feed your dog exactly. You mention homemade mash. What is that? Thank you

      Reply to Pietrina
    • Lynne

      Would be interested to know what you feed her Pietrina, my Lottie a saluki/borzoi cross has liver damage too. She was fine until she ate something awful in the woods probably fox/dog poo which is something I cannot get her out of as she is rescue and found starving to death on the moors. She was in intensive care for days fighting for her life and the vet still cannot believe he saved her. He said that fungus/bacteria would have migrated from her bowel and infected her liver – the vet had never seen liver enzymes so high but we got them to normal low on a raw diet. However she gets fatty lumps under her skin (lipomas) otherwise she is fine. I do not understand why she has fatty blood as it is usually a high carb/sugar (grains) and industrialised polyunsaturated oils that cause fatty liver, which she has none of. She has just had an infected anal gland and the bacteria/micro-organisms have migrated again. Her blood was that full of fat that the machine couldnt read her enzyme level. I presume her blood is fatty because her liver function is compromised and not dealing with the fat well.
      I feed her varied raw meats with ground chicken bone,cider vinegar and raw egg yolk(she will not touch raw chicken or fowl) She occasionally has lamb breast/ribs of meat with the bone in which she eats (to be honest I only gave her a few days before the test – doesn’t usually have, and has still had the lipomas)
      A large dried salmon skin as a treat every day
      Dried tiny whitebait as treats when out walking
      A spirulina tablet which she takes and chews
      Home made bone broth regulary when I have made – with the fat taken off the top so just the jelly
      A brazil nut a day which she loves and just takes from me – for selenium.
      Raw liver and raw tripe in food about once per week for vit A and good bacteria – too often makes her have diahorrea
      A little amount of berries or peas/carrots etc in one of her meals.
      And she absolutely loves raw cauliflower/broccoli stalk – she would never take anything from the kitchen worktop – I could leaver her on her own with a joint of beef sitting there but I can’t leave a cauliflower. As soon as she hears me chopping preparing it for our meal she comes running. I never see any undigested cauliflower or broccoli in her poo but definitely berries and grass which she eats.
      She also has SAMe and milkthistle (Samylin supplement)
      I was wondering about chopping up some fresh rosemary as liver support and possibly Alpha Lipoic acid supplement (known to regenerate human livers in weeks) but cannot find consistent information on the internet re dogs.
      I would love to hear from you

      Reply to Lynne
      • Karen

        Yes, I can see where you could be going wrong. Your post is old, hope dog is doing ok

        Reply to Karen
  • Pat O'Hearn

    I really enjoyed your breakdown of home prepared raw diets/commercial raw diets. I have been feeding a BARF diet since 2000. I hade a highly allergic GSD and started to feed him this diet. Let me say commercially balanced raw diets arethe easiest to feed but the most expensive IMHO. You will pay for the convenience of not having to figure out a balanced diet. I fed this for years but currently it is out of my budget.
    I am not a prey model person but do incorporate certain aspects of it in my BARF diet. Like I feed chicken/duck feet as treats at times. I now belong to aRaw food coop and buy a ground frozen raw diet whichis not complete so I supplement with fruit, veggies and dairy products. I have always done this even when feeding a commercial raw diet.
    I buy in bulk and find the coop is a great resource to get my raw, ground meat at an affordable price. They also carry the meaty bones etc. I do feed the meaty bones but not daily. I feed the eggs with the shell. I have fed fish and the dogs love it, which surprises many folks.
    I hope this info encourages folks to think outside the box & try a raw diet with their pets. I do not think they will be disappointed.

    Reply to Pat
  • Rafiki's Mom

    In my experience, my dogs did not thrive on a commercial raw diet, in fact I was buying three times the amount called for! And my dogs were still loosing weight and hair and their happy puppy smiles were all but gone! I tried a BARF style and they started to look better but after a few months, they just started picking out the meat and leaving everything else! So I decided to go “frankenfood” and just leave out the omnivore stuff leaving only meat bone and organ(PMR) now my scrawny(45) adult dog was 60lbs and full of puppy vigor! I have had success with BARF in the past with other dogs but my current breed of choice (catahoula leopard dogs) seem to thrive on PMR I just don’t even go into commercial pet stores any more! There is not really a need for us! The dogs don’t need tons of toys or chews because the diet they eat provides enough stimulation, and if for some reason a game of tug o war is in order, we find a great big stick /branch and everyone is happy for hours! THANKS FOR THE GREAT RESOURCE HERE, AND TGE ACCEPTANCE OF OPINION! I BELIEVE EVERY DOG HAS DIFFERENT NEEDS AND FINDING THE CORRECT BALENCE SHOULD BE THE DIET TITLE!!!

    Reply to Rafiki's
  • Shannon

    Thanks for the great and informative article!

    I am curious if there is a resource anywhere that helps to discern the amount to feed a dog based on weight and activity level. I’m interested in switching my dogs over to a raw diet, but need to work on budgeting to see if it’s feasible with my income.

    Reply to Shannon
  • female calico cat names X

    A  raw dog food diet  in general is exactly as it sounds raw. Raw meat, raw bones, raw organs, raw fat and sometimes raw fruits and veggies. This model follows the belief that dogs, like wolves, are true carnivores. The whole prey model is an attempt to feed dogs as close to whole prey as possible with the understanding that dogs will get all the nutrients they need from their prey. No grain, fruits or veggies are necessary.

    Reply to female
  • Aimee Jurenka

    I’m just wondering. Why is there no mention of the Ancestral Diet for Dogs?

    Reply to Aimee
    • Amy Marshall

      Feeding a raw diet is an ancestral diet for dogs. Let me know if you have any questions on the 3 types in this post: Prey Model, BARF, or premade raw dog food :)

      Reply to Amy
      • Abby

        Hello! I’ve been feeding my two shih tzus, chow mix and American Staffordshire Terrier BARF for about 3 weeks now. Had a really scary choking incident with my female shih tzu on a turkey neck. She has always been an inhaler of food. And my 1.5 yo American Staffy also likes to gulp down her food but has more control when she takes too big of a piece. My male shih tzu and chow mix actually chew their food so no worries there. My question is on which meat grinders anyone has had luck with for grinding down the bones so I can have peace of mind that they won’t choke again! I’d like to just start making my own. I do keep the meals mostly frozen for the female shih tzu and American Staffy to slow them down a bit.

        Reply to Abby
  • Annette

    I have always heard that dogs should not eat chicken bones. They break into sharp pieces and lodge in the stomach and gut. Is this not true?

    Reply to Annette
    • Amy Marshall

      Annette, dogs are capable of eating raw meaty bones. By raw meaty bones (RMBs) we mean bone that is covered in meat like a chicken leg or chicken leg quarter for example. Dogs should not be fed bones alone or bones that are cooked. Cooked bones are at a higher risk of splintering. Certain raw meaty bones (not all) are digestible for dogs. Obviously, a dog owner should know which kinds are safe and how to feed them safely if they’re interested in doing so :)

      Reply to Amy
  • Tina Almario

    I have 3 dogs and one of my boxers, a 2 yr old and has sever allergies. He is allergic to everything. Over the past several years I’ve made the chicken, rice and veggie food for my dogs-which I now believe was pretty bad for them.

    Anyway, I started the raw diet 10-12 days ago and while my boxers sores are clearing up and he doesn’t try to eat himself alive anymore he is even more pink than normal. His eyes are red, watery and irritated and his snout is super pink.
    I stopped feeding him chicken, I think maybe the chicken skin was the issue, I’ll see in a few days.

    I’m feeding them most of the listed foods except venison or duck, everything raw of course and no veggies.

    Reply to Tina
    • Amy Marshall

      Glad to hear you’re seeing some improvement with raw! Some dogs go through a transitionary period or a bit of a detox. I would keep an eye on this though and definitely work on transitioning to some other proteins. Many dogs have issues with chicken and poultry products. I would try duck and turkey and try transitioning onto beef as well. Good luck and feel free to contact me and let me know how it goes :)

      Reply to Amy
  • Kayla

    Can anyone help me? I have pit bulls bully breeds! I have been told that feeding them such things like raw red meats an so fourth could turn them from being nice to having a temper an so fourth is this true? Will it change their personality?

    Reply to Kayla
    • Amy Marshall

      Absolutely not, this is a myth :-) Your dog will not turn mean or change personalities because he’s eating raw meat. He might enjoy it more though!

      Reply to Amy
  • Ellie

    Thank you so much for such a great article! When I first adopted my dog Luna I fed her dry biscuit food which was said to be very “nurtritional”. Which always confused me because dogs naturally eat meat so I have been feeding her BARF for the past 3 years and it has worked wonders, she always really enjoys it and sometimes I mix it up and feed her chicken necks, sardines, egg and other bits and pieces to add variations to her diet. She also loves her veggies mixed in with her meat every now and then. Xx thank you again

    Reply to Ellie
  • Heather

    We started feeding raw in December because we got a puppy from a breeder who feeds only raw (prey model) and had started the puppy on raw. Having had many dogs in our lifetimes, it was deeeeefinitely weird for us to go from feeding our “grain free, taste of the wild” kibble to handing a raw chicken thigh, bones and all, to a puppy. But, holy cow, is he the silkiest, most beautiful, fastest growing puppy ever? You bet! The other observation we’ve made is that our other dogs (still on kibble) go crazy when we feed him and will turn their noses up at the $55 a bag “natural with purified water” dog food they’ve eaten happily for the past three years.
    Thank you for sharing your knowledge – I learned some new stuff today that will help in transitioning our other dogs to raw.

    Reply to Heather
    • Amy Marshall

      So glad to hear your dogs are enjoying their raw diets! Thanks for sharing Heather :)

      Reply to Amy
  • Apollo's Mom

    We are considering changing our 1.5 yo pitty to raw feeding so this was such great info! However, I was wondering if its safe to not have a fully raw diet? Maybe raw in the AM and kibble in the PM… Is it safe/okay to have a diet like this for him?

    Reply to Apollo's
    • Amy Marshall

      It’s totally fine to mix both kibble and raw. But if you can afford to go 100% raw, I recommend it as you’ll likely see a bigger benefit. Best of luck :-)

      Reply to Amy
  • Carlos Trindade

    Great article by the way! I’ve been around dogs all my life and as a kid I’ve seen a variety of diets. I had a boxer for almost 14 years old that died from bone and prostate cancer. At that time (90’s) the majority of dogs owners fed kibble from Purina to Eukanuba (here in Portugal). I thought feeding Eukanuba was the best thing. Ten years have passed without a dog companion. Now I’ve a JRT. I feed him a mix of everything. For the dry food I go only with Orijen/Acana then I swap to a mix-barf (like 10% kibble and 70% fresh chicken or lamb meat, plus chicken heart and liver and the rest 20% vegetables and fruits). For snacks I give my dog raw meaty bones (for teeth cleanning) and dehydrated treats from Orijen. I cannot go barf all the way. So I’ll introduce raw meals with kibble and when I give him kibble, I always try to put some fresh vegetables. My experience’s so far has been great! Of course I would prefere to give him 100% barf but cos I’ve to consider kibble, I give him the best I know. cheers!

    Reply to Carlos
    • Amy Marshall

      Thanks for the kind words! I agree, you have to do what you can and some fresh food is better than no fresh food :)

      Reply to Amy
  • Charlene Craig

    How to deal with a vet that is warning you to “be careful” feeding your puppy raw since she will be at risk for salmonella?

    Reply to Charlene
    • Amy Marshall

      Hey Charlene, good question! I’d like to do a post in the future on this topic because it’s a question I get asked ALL the time. Unfortunately, there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer. Obviously, I want everyone to take their vet’s opinion seriously but this happens to be an area I disagree with. Statistically speaking, there are many more salmonella recalls with kibble and according to veterinarian, Dr. Bruce Syme (see quote in this article), kibble fed dogs are more likely to shed salmonella in their feces. Dogs that eat high-starch, high-carb diets have a higher stomach pH (more alkaline) which is less able to handle bacteria in raw foods. Dogs on a meat-based, raw diet will have a lower stomach pH (more acidic) which is much more effective in destroying food-borne pathogens, bacteria, etc. If your vet is not supportive of raw, he/she may always disagree with you so you’ll have to make a personal, judgement call on this one. I know it’s tough but I suggest doing your own research so you can feel comfortable with whatever you decide. Good luck!

      Reply to Amy
  • Kayla M Inman

    Hi! I based my dogs diet off of the BARF plan. I did this due to my background in animal biology, fully believing in them being facultative carnivores, and becauseyou dog can only eat 2 protiens. I really like the ability to make sure he has a variety of added nutrients from the fruits, veggies, yogurt and bone broth that we can add since his proteins are so limited.

    Reply to Kayla
  • Dedicated servers

    Commercial BARF often comes premixed in frozen chubbs or smaller packaged portions, but many dog owners choose to cut costs and prepare their own BARF diet at home. Following the Prey model diet means striving to feed whole prey wherever possible, in an attempt to mimic the exact diet dogs would naturally consume.

    Reply to Dedicated
  • Noreen

    Thank you for the information. I am starting my large great dane and sm breed dogs soon. My main concern is for the larger breed the amount of food? 8 cups seem to me a proper amount 3 in a.m 2 at noon 3 for night. But not sure. Also if you have any recipes you could send me. I’m starting homemade raw my first feeding will be tomorrow morning. Should they fast though?

    Reply to Noreen
    • Amy Marshall

      Glad to hear your starting your dogs on raw! And good question :) I’ll be publishing a post next week that goes over this in detail. It will cover everything you need to know to determine how much raw food to feed your dog. Be on the lookout or subscribe to the Primal Pooch email list (right from the home page) if you’d like notifications!

      Reply to Amy
  • Kim

    Thanks for the helpful info! I have been reading up on the raw food plan for weeks now in hopes to transition my sweet girl to completely raw soon. She’s an American bully and will be a year old next month. We’ve always fed grain free organic kibble and she’s super active but still seems to be a bit over weight and seems to tire easily. About two weeks ago I started her on a supplement and on organic flax oil as well. We have also recently began taking small steps toward transitioning to raw but I’ve been worried about having the perfect balance for her. Some articles I read overwhelm me cause they seem very complicated to make and stress making sure the ingredients are perfectly portioned each meal so as not to cause harm to the animal but then other articles I’ve read seem more lax and simply say to balance over time and not stress over every meal they eat. This article has been the most informative thing I’ve read and makes me feel more confident in making the change to all raw…. So thanks again!!

    Reply to Kim
    • Amy Marshall

      You’re so welcome and that makes me incredibly happy to hear. I was once in your shoes so I completely get it. I’ll be putting out MUCH more info on how to read a raw diet so stay tuned! And if you want to get notifications of new posts, sign up for the email list by navigating to the homepage and entering your email. Looking forward to hearing how the transition goes :)

      Reply to Amy
  • K Kee

    Great info – thanks

    Reply to K
  • Feliks

    Awesome info! I’m trying to make a switch from BARF to whole prey (largely bc my pooch has a nasty cancer and I aim to avoid carbs for him as much as possible, so no fruits and veggies) and it’s hard to find food (currently only know where to find chickens and rabbits in one piece, guts skin and all) but the joy and enthusiasm with which my doggo is tearing a rabbit carcass apart? totally worth it. he’s a 100 pounds GWP/AST mix so for him, it’s just a few snaps of the jaws and the rabbit is in half. Amazing to watch. As for blood and leftover pieces of guts- no problemo, the floor in kitchen is smooth tile, i just pick up the chunks and wipe the smears. We live in a flat and it’s never been a problem. He has regained much of his old energy once we switched from oncologic vet food to raw meat, and takes chemo quite well. His temperament didn’t change at all- I once pulled a bone straight from his muzzle (it was slightly too thick) and he didn’t growl or snap, just sighed and looked at me as if I just told him he’s adopted (he is.). So definitely no negative temperament developments or resource protecting happening there.

    Reply to Feliks
    • Amy Marshall

      Glad you found it helpful and sorry to hear about your dog’s cancer. As far as where to find food, I will be relaunching the Primal Pooch website soon and will have vendor guides to help dog owners find more options for raw dog food. This guides will continually grow so I encourage you to check back often. If you want to be notified when the new version of the site (and the vendor guides) are up, feel free to navigate to the homepage and sign up for the email list. Sourcing food is a question I get all the time so I’m hoping this will be useful for many raw feeders out there. Best of luck with the diet change and so happy to hear your dog is thriving on raw!

      Reply to Amy
  • Jade

    Thank you for the wonderful article i now know a lot more about raw diets i am getting my two siberian huskies in the next month or two and i was wondering what anyone thinks about feeding raw to puppies is it the same thing or should i do something else i am going to feed a mix of PMR and BARF maybe on different days anyone have a tips for feeding a raw diet to a puppy or is it the same thing with adult dogs just with different sizes and portion sizes

    Reply to Jade
    • Amy Marshall

      You’re very welcome! And I’m so glad to hear that you’ll be starting your puppies on raw! You can definitely feed raw to your pups. See this article for how much to feed and this article for transition directions.

      Reply to Amy
  • Susan

    Thank you for clearing up the differences in raw feeding. I have just made my first purchase, a freezer :) but am having trouble sourcing anything but commercially prepared which is quite pricey. My thought was to go with half BARF and half quality kibble to start but am being told not to bother if I don’t go raw 100%. It seems to me any raw should be beneficial. Your thoughts on some raw?

    Reply to Susan
    • Amy Marshall

      You’re welcome Susan! I’m happy to hear this was helpful. A freezer is an excellent first purchase :-) As for finding food, checkout this article with tips for sourcing raw. Plus, I highly recommend navigating to our US-based Raw Dog Food Supplier Guide for premade raw dog food brands and raw meat and bone suppliers. Kibble is a junk food and it’s highly processed so I think the best course of action would be to feed a 100% raw diet. But some fresh food is better than no fresh food, so start where you can.

      Reply to Amy
  • Sofia

    Thank you SO MUCH for this article!!! You have literally just given me a huge breath of fresh air.
    We have a 16 weeks old pup that I have been wanting to transition to raw (I meant to wait until our household had settled with the new family addition, but his continuously soft poos on ‘high quality kibble’ pushed me to venture out sooner than expected). I started introducing raw meat about a week ago (bought a premade mix with muscle meat, offal and supplements as a start), mixing it with his kibble. Is it possible that I can already see the effect?? His behaviour changed from the day I started: went from often over excited and overwhelming to all around well behaved and delightful! And his fur has gone from dull to shiny in a matter of days! But I have been super hesitant about making the full switch because I have been over-reading, and have felt completely torn between Barf and Prey Model. I felt wrong and guilty for choosing either one of them, so simply couldn’t make a decision :( Now, thanks to your article, I feel I have regained faith in my own common sense, and feel ready to approach this with trial and error. No more feeling guilty about every small decision I make! Also, he had his second bone this morning, handled it like a champ (after swallowing a smaller one after only 2 bites yesterday, which freaked me out!), and has had perfect poop all day, which is a first in the 8 weeks we’ve had him! Thank you so much for the wealth of information, the flexible open mind, and the incredible peace of mind you have given me :)

    Reply to Sofia
    • Amy Marshall

      Sofia, this makes me SO happy to hear! I too struggled with “choosing a side” when I first started raw and now I realized it’s just wasted energy. Continue to read, learn, research, and test and don’t worry about which type of diet you’re feeding. It sounds like you’re on the right track and I’m so glad to hear the raw transition is going well! <3

      Reply to Amy
  • Luna115

    Hi, I once heard that uncooked eggs are bad for dogs, is that not true?

    Reply to Luna115
    • Amy Marshall

      Nope :) Just like raw meat, raw eggs are safe and healthy! But if your dog has never eaten raw before, I suggest transitioning raw foods in their diet slowly.

      Reply to Amy
  • Kate

    Thank you so much for this great article! Even though we are cat owners and make food for cats, I think it is so important for people in the raw community to stand together. Some raw is better than no raw. Plus, everyone has different budgetary constraints, and in some locations there is a more limited selection of meats and especially organs. Thank you!

    Reply to Kate
  • Sheri

    Hello Amy,

    Wonderful website – thank you! We are adopting a Great Pyr puppy this month who has been whelped on a raw diet. We plan to continue and are planning on using the Perfectly Rawsome calculator for BARF. But raw eggs are referenced everywhere . Where would we include these – as part of the raw meat percentage or somewhere else? I am also wondering about yogurt and apple cider vinegar.

    Thank you again.

    Reply to Sheri
    • Amy Marshall

      Good for you Sheri! Eggs, dairy, ACV (apple cider vinegar) can all be fed as extras in the diet so don’t worry about calculating those in. Figure out your meat, bone, and organ ratios and supplement with the rest :)

      Reply to Amy
  • Sarah

    What a great article. Very well written and encouraging. I love your positive approach as well as the clear information you’ve provided. We’re bringing a puppy home next week and we’re thinking BARF so i’ll let you know how we get on! Thanks again! :)

    Reply to Sarah
  • Ruth

    I want to thank you so much for such a clearly written difference between the two diets. I started feeding my youngest a couple of months back on the PMR diet, and now that I’ve moved to include my other, older dogs on the raw diet as well, I’m finding myself gravitating toward the BARF plan. I’ve read both Dr. Billinghurst’s and Dr. Becker’s books which explain why this way of feeding seems to be best, at least for my dogs. I feel like I’d have to worry less about missing a vital mineral or vitamin with this plan as well.

    Thank you again for your website and it’s wealth of info!

    Reply to Ruth
    • Amy Marshall

      You’re welcome, glad it was helpful Ruth! Keep your eye out for an update to this article soon!

      Reply to Amy
  • Ruth

    Ms. Marshall, I wanted to give you BIG thanks for your very informative and incredibly helpful website. I’ve been reading about this diet for years and finally made the jump this year. I particularly love your resources page, and this beginner section both, which I now recommend to other new feeders on r/rawpetfood on reddit. It’s not as huge a community as some of the FB groups, but I prefer it simply for the fact that there is no sniping between raw feeding factions, like you mention.

    Raw feeding has definitely picked up steam in the last few years, and I truly hope it continues. Keep up the excellent work! You are appreciated! =)

    Reply to Ruth
    • Amy Marshall

      Ruth – thanks SO much for the kind words (this made my day)! I’m so glad you’re finding the resource page helpful and am even happier to hear that you finally made the switch to raw. Congrats on getting started, I hope your dog is loving it! :-)

      Reply to Amy
  • Brad Andrew

    Hi, I just adopted a puppy, he is 4 months old and I don’t know what to give him for start to introduce him to raw diet.please help me

    Reply to Brad
    • Amy Marshall

      Hi Brad, congrats on the new addition to the family! If you haven’t already, I suggest checking out this article on transitioning your dog to raw. I always recommend poultry for dogs new to raw but you can find more information there. :)

      Reply to Amy
  • dan

    Our shepherd mix had lots of digestive problems as a young puppy. Several vet visits leading to mixing the most expensive kibble with rice, egg, a probiotic and finally Metamucil as recommended by our vet led me to try something different. We get a 40 pound box of chicken backs and necks from our local butcher and estimate how much to feed our dog based on their weight. We store the food in a deep freezer and defrost about 10 pounds at a time to store in the fridge. The backs have some organs. We also give a multi vitamin each night. We recently got a new puppy and started her on the same diet at about 3 months old. So far so good, and its generally cheaper than most kibble dog foods.

    Reply to dan
  • Tia

    This site is wonderful. I also have an Italian Mastiff and I have been doing a million hours of research on the BARF diet. I believe it will be the best for him, although it will be difficult since i travel so often with AKC confirmation shows. Maybe i need to look into a heavy duty cooler for his meals.

    Reply to Tia
    • Amy Marshall

      Thanks Tia, I’m so glad you’ve found it helpful! Traveling with raw can be difficult but there are workarounds. You could always bring a cooler and feed prepackaged raw dog food while you travel. Sometimes, it’s easier to defrost and dump with premade raw than homemade raw meals (depending what’s in them). Additionally, for the times you’re really in a pinch you could feed freeze dried raw food since it doesn’t have to be refrigerated!

      Reply to Amy
  • Jennifer Givens

    I’m new so I’m feeding Stella & Chewys raw frozen patties, alternating between beef &chicken. I intend to also alternate with Vital Essentials & Answers.
    I wanted to switch from TOTW last year after watching “Pet Fooled” but my vet convinced me to stay with TOTW. I switched to raw after the problem came out with grain free and cardiomyopathy. Fortunately, my dogs, a Pomeranian & Chihuahua/Manchester Terrier were perfectly healthy.

    Reply to Jennifer
    • Amy Marshall

      Hi Jennifer, congrats on making the switch! Let me know how you liked those brands and if you’re looking for more ideas, see this list of raw dog food brands and raw meat and bone suppliers.

      Reply to Amy
  • Zola edwards

    I have a 12 year old Cavalier King Charles spaniel‘s. He does have MVD and is a five on a six scale. He is on no medications but canine CBD oil and so far is showing very few signs of the MVD. I changed to a raw diet about two weeks ago to try and lengthen in his life, lower his weight and give him a better quality of life. He weighed about 25 pounds two weeks ago which is about 4 pounds too much. He has already begun to lose weight and he feels much better as he has more energy and sleeps less. I have been purchasing chicken gizzards, hearts, boneless breast, turkey thighs bone in, alaskan salmon and beef liver. I have been mixing it up and freezing a weeks worth in individual freezer bags. I have needed to teach him how to eat the turkey thigh bone and I do watch him carefully. My question is what else should I include in his diet. I am neither hard-core barf or raw thinker. Any suggestions as to additions or amounts of these foods would be greatly appreciated. As far as the total amount of food I am feeding him I am following the 2% guideline as best as possible and he is losing weight. If he loses below 20 pounds I will increase quality. My biggest concern is that I am not feeding him all the nutrients he needs. I would prefer to not give him supplements. My wonderful veterinarian is all about natural approaches. Chaz, my cav, has had some issues with seizures over the past year but between chiropractic adjustments and the CBD oil he has been seizure free for three months. Your website has been very very helpful. Thank you for your time, Zola

    Reply to Zola
    • Amy Marshall

      Hi Zola, I’m so glad to hear the site has been helpful! I’m thrilled a raw diet and CBD oil are creating positive changes in your dog’s health! Keep up the good work :-) These are all great questions and I will have content coming out soon that can help answer these questions. I’d subscribe to my email list if you haven’t already to be notified when new posts come out. More information IS coming and I’m so excited to share it!

      Reply to Amy

Subscribe to the site & get access to more raw feeding goodness

If you’d like to get exclusive raw diet and nutrition information (not found on the blog), gain first access to raw dog food deals and giveaways, receive subscriber-only responses, and be notified of what’s new, become a Primal Pooch subscriber.

Get extra stuff. Improve your dog’s health. Just click the button below to GET STARTED!