Raw diets are uncooked and never processed. Consider it the canine equivalent of “clean eating.”
A raw diet consists solely of fresh, REAL, raw foods.
Dogs have been eating raw diets for thousands of years. In fact, every wild animal in the world is eating a raw diet right now. It’s only in the last 150 years that dog owners started feeding processed convenience foods to their pets. Since then, the domestic dog has seen a steady decline in both health and life expectancy.
Today, dogs share the same “diseases of civilization” that humans face. Processed food and poor-quality diet are major contributors to the man-made diseases (obesity, cancer, diabetes, allergies, digestive disorders, kidney disease, liver disease, etc.) that your dog may face.
REAL food is the answer to the current canine health crisis and the key to a healthier, happier and longer life for your dog.
Learn why you should feed raw
While raw diets can vary, they’re always meat-based and generally contain the following ingredients:
edible bone (or a bone replacement)
plants (or fur)
Yes! When it comes to raw diets, you have two options:
Premade raw dog food is where the work is done for you: simply buy and feed. It’s sold frozen, dehydrated or freeze-dried (though I recommend frozen to get closest to the real deal)!
Premade raw dog food
Homemade raw dog food is where you prepare your own raw food for your dog at home.
Homemade raw dog food
If you’ve looked into raw feeding previously, you may have heard of two different formats: Prey Model and BARF. These terms often confuse new raw feeders and are dated, but it’s worth learning the differences.
Muscle meat is no different from the animal protein we eat ourselves. Boneless items like chicken breasts or thighs, ground beef or steak, and pork shoulder are all muscle meat options. Fortunately, when it comes to feeding meat to our dog we can utilize cheaper (or less desirable) cuts of meat that are equally as nutritious.
See below for a complete listing of animal protein options and cuts of meat you can feed your dog:
Animal protein, in the form of muscle meat, is the foundation of a raw diet and will make up the majority of your dog’s raw meals. It supplies the nutrients necessary for a complete and balanced diet, including protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.
In raw diets, bone provides essential calcium requirements and offers several other health benefits.
These are the bone-in cuts of meat you’re familiar with (like chicken wings or chicken leg quarters) that your dog can eat.
Not all bone-in cuts of meat are edible. That’s why it’s important to learn which cuts are safe for your dog to eat, and which are only for recreational purposes, like chewing.
Edible bone, often referred to as “raw meaty bone,” is exactly as it sounds.
Try our Bone calculator
Wondering how much bone to give your dog?
Consider organs a natural multi-vitamin for your dog. They provide essential vitamins and minerals muscle meats lack.
For a complete breakdown of the role organs play in a raw diet and which ones you can feed your dog, see the following guides.
Organs are important components of a raw diet because they are nutrient powerhouses!
They serve as a source of fiber in your dog’s diet, provide yet another source of vitamins and minerals, as well as enzymes, antioxidants, and phytonutrients (plants only) . Plus, they provide prebiotic fibers to nourish your dog’s microbiome and contribute to gut health.
Whether you feed plants or fur depends on what you can source (and your personal preference).
See the guides below to learn why fiber is a great addition to your dog's raw diet and which kinds (plants or fur) to include.
Plants like vegetables, fruits, herbs and select nuts and seeds (or fur, hair & feathers) make up a small but important part of a raw diet.
Raw diets are modeled after your dog’s ancestral diet, where whole prey is the food source. While raw diets do a great job of replicating canine ancestral nutrition, your dog is not eating everything that a wolf or feral dog would consume in the wild. These “missing pieces” provide a wide range of nutrition that your dog may not get in our modern world.
In addition, the nutritional depletion of our soil means means foods today are often nutritionally deficient and not as nutrient-dense as they once were.
Supplements help us fill in those gaps.
They can also boost your dog’s nutrition to optimum levels, support specific organ systems, and can aid in healing and recovery when it comes to a wide range of health ailments, diseases, and disorders.
Click below to learn more about supplementation for your dog.
Whole foods are amazing, clean, unprocessed sources of nutrition. But they may not always be enough for your dog’s needs.
When determining food volume, the short answer is to use calories when applicable. For the times you can’t find a calorie count for what you’re feeding, you can estimate food volume based on your dog’s body weight.
How many daily servings? This depends on your dog’s age and your preferences.
Once you know what’s in a raw diet, the next step is to determine how much to feed your dog.
Try our dog caloric calculator
Transitioning is the single most important factor influencing your success with a raw diet.
Just like people, some dogs handle a change in diet with ease. Others may be more sensitive, hitting a few speed bumps along the way.
That’s why it’s important to choose the correct transition option for your dog. Doing so ensures a smooth and effortless switch to a raw diet (and a healthier lifestyle).
Find out more:
If you’re feeding complete and balanced prepackaged raw dog food, then you may not have to worry about this step. But for the rest of us DIYing our dog’s raw meals, this is an important educational stepping stone.
This part is where many people get stuck and, there’s a lot of ground to cover in the learning process. But don’t worry, I’ll go over everything you need to know.
Now the fun begins: creating fresh meals for your dog!
For additional raw food shopping tips, see:
Visit the raw dog food directory
Sourcing ingredients for a raw diet may seem tough at first, but with savvy shopping skills, you can find the ingredients you need at an affordable price – and we can help.
Now that you know how to feed raw (high five!), it’s time to buy ingredients.
Raw feeding can seem difficult. But it can be also be made really simple… if you’re organized and have the right processes and systems for success. See below to learn how to meal prep like a pro, with minimal time and effort.
So, if you’re looking for advice on incorporating a raw diet into your dog’s life and maintaining it with ease, the following guides are worth checking out.
There’s no doubt about it, feeding raw is a lifestyle, just like eating healthy, staying active and going to the gym.
And I don’t think your dog should either.
If I wanted to recover from or manage a health condition, I’d eat squeaky clean. I’d feed my body with real, unprocessed food full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. And I’d choose ingredients that were known to heal or support my specific condition.
I’m not going to tell you what to do. But if it were me, I’d take the same common-sense approach human beings follow and apply it to my dog for any health conditions (or ailments) they may be experiencing.
You won’t find a reputable doctor recommending a diet of processed food for good health and recovery. Oddly enough, your vet might.
If you want to explore feeding a raw diet for a health condition, take a look below.
Some people (or articles) may scare you away from a raw diet if your dog has a health condition. But you know what? If I were sick, I wouldn’t eat a 100% processed diet.