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.

Seriously! 

Go ahead; pat yourself on the back.

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


See, didn’t I tell you it was simple?

That’s it.

Dogs, cats, and ferrets to name a few.

What’s a domestic carnivore? 

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

What are Raw Dog Food Diets?

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.

Yes.

But it might help if you were to understand why.

What? Mind blown

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.

It’s the same for canine nutrition.

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.

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

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

Why Should You Feed a Raw Diet?

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?

And guess what?

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.”

Need an example?

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

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

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

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



Raw feeding comes chock-full of benefits.

Simple.

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.


How do you feed a commercial raw diet?

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.

Frozen, raw meat.

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:

2. Homemade raw diets

1. Commercially prepared raw dog food

There are two basic types.

What are the Types of Raw Dog Food Diets?

Commercially Prepared Raw Diets

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 dog’s diet – and their health.

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. 

Homemade Raw Diets: Prey Model vs BARF 

Let’s see what they’re all about.




These two options cause a lot of confusion among new raw feeders.

Prey Model vs Barf

which one’s right for you? 

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

• Fruits
• Vegetables
• Dairy
• Excessive supplementation

What does a prey model raw diet exclude?

• 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 consist of?

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.

Homemade Raw Diet Version #1: Prey Model

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.


Two options:
1. Feeding whole prey
2. “Frankenprey”

How is this fed?

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

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

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.

How come?

PMR feeders can provide a range of animal proteins. All in a variety 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.

The other option:

• MEAT PRODUCT 
• NO PLANT MATERIAL 
• LIMITS SUPPLEMENTATION 
• AND FOCUSES ON WHOLE PREY (OR AS CLOSE TO WHOLE PREY AS POSSIBLE). 

To recap: 
A PRM diet contains: 

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.

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

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…

The reason

A good rule of thumb is:

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

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

Why?

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

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

In what percentages?

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

What does a BARF diet consist of?

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.

Homemade Raw Diet Version #2: BARF Diet

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.

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

What else is different about the BARF diet?

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.


The best way to sum up both options:

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.

What do BARF and Prey Model Have in Common?

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

To recap, a BARF diet

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 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.


Good question

Which one should you feed?

But whatever you do, don’t let the choice divide you.
Our society puts labels on everything.

Black.

White.

Democrat.
 
Republican.

You know what that does?

Nothing.

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.

Just start  (here's how)

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

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?

Why?

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


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Questions on the different kinds of raw diets?

Thank you for your feedback!