Raw Feeding for Beginners

October 7, 2018

4 minute read

At most, the DNA of your dog and the wild grey wolf differs by about .04%.

All dogs, from the tiniest teacup poodle to the giant Schnauzer, originally descended from wolves. Although they may look very different on the outside, genetically, there is no other animal on earth that is as closely related to the domestic dog than the grey wolf. They're more than 99% identical, and because the grey wolf evolved to eat meat, it stands to reason that the domestic dog did, too.

What is a Raw Diet?

A raw diet is dog food that is made of mostly raw, uncooked meat, organ and bone. To put it simply, every animal has certain nutrients that they must get from their diet to survive. These "essential nutrients" for dogs include amino acids (derived from protein), minerals, vitamins, fatty acids, carbohydrates, and water. Raw diets are an excellent source of these essential nutrients, and form the equivalent of a "complete and balanced diet."

If you've only ever fed a few different flavors of kibble, the sheer variety involved in raw feeding may seem overwhelming, but it's easier than it looks. With a little planning, feeding a raw diet can be inexpensive and even easier than scooping out food from a can. In fact, you can buy everything you need to feed your dog a natural and healthy diet right from your local grocery store.

Most raw diets are made of meat that is readily available at stores, carnicerias, farms, and co-ops. Fruits, veggies, broths, dairy, and supplements are optional, and can be added (or removed) a few times a week depending on your dogs specific needs.

Beef, rabbit ear, torn coconut, sunflower seeds
@littlemutts
Recreational Bones
Cleans teeth & naturally stops boredom.
Pork, Beef, Coconut Oil, Wheatgrass
@rawfedrescuepups
Salmon, Quail Egg, Liver, Chicken Drummette
@rawfeed_fun
Recreational bones are great for teething puppies
Duck head, calf liver, pig ear, turkey hearts, raw goat milk
@rawpetsrule
Raw Meal Prep
@lillaliam

It's more important that you feed your dog a variety of fresh, nutritious food over time than it is to strive for perfection each day. But you must make sure that your dogs diet includes bone(calcium) and organ(vitamins) or a supplement to replace thems. Meat, bone, and organ are all required parts of a balanced raw diet.

A good rule is to aim for 80% muscle meat / 10% organ / 10% bone every week.

Muscle Meat (50-80%)

Muscle meat should make up a minimum 50% of your dogs diet each week, and is usually present every day. Muscle meat can be fed whole, ground, chunked, frozen, or in the form of raw meaty bones. Sources of muscle meat include:

  • Beef, lamb, chicken, pork, duck, turkey, and goat
  • Heart (fed as muscle, due to its natural protein-richness)
  • Snouts, ribs, tendon, cheeks, tongue, neck/esophogus
  • Whole small game animals such as squirrels, guinea pigs, quail, pheasant, grouse, small rodents & rabbit
  • Ground or chunked game animals, such as deer, elk, bison, and boar.
  • Fish, like sardines, salmon, mackerel, and herring are great for dogs and should be fed once a week.

Organs (10-30%) + (5% Liver)

Think of organs like a multi-vitamin. You can feed up to 30% of them to your dog every month. This should include a minimum of 5% liver, which is an important source of Vitamin A. Other healthy organs include:

  • Green tripe
  • Pancreas, intestines, kidney
  • Lung, brain, eyes

Bone & Calcium (10%)

Bone is a readily available source of the calcium your dog needs to survive. It's also a good source of phosphorous, and raw bone comes with marrow, cartilage, and attached tendon, which all have their own unique benefits. Other sources of calcium include:

  • Ground eggshells
  • Chicken and duck feet
  • Wings, skulls, backs, tails
  • Bone broth

Fruits & Veggies (5-10%)

Fruits and veggies are optional, but many dog owners add them because they can provide benefits that are only found in plants, such as enzymes, antioxidants, and anti-anflammatories.

  • Kale, spinach, chard, and flat-leaf parsley
  • Apples, mango, banana, watermelon
  • Raw Goats Milk
  • Sunflower seeds, coconut, honey
  • Turmeric, garlic, flaxseed oil,
  • Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries

Raw Meal Preparation

Although you don't have to, most raw feeders invest in a freezer to store meat for their dogs. Not only does this allow you to buy meat in bulk, you can also prepare and store more of it in advance. An easy way to prepare raw meals is to combine all of the ingredients into patties which can easily be cut up and served, or to store each individual meal in tupperware.

It's perfectly safe to prepare raw dog food in your kitchen. Provided you keep a clean workspace preparing raw dog food is no different than preparing any other meat.

Getting Started

If your dog has never eaten raw meat before, it might take some getting used to. That's normal, but keep in mind that it's safe to feed raw at virtually any age. Our puppies were weaned from their mothers milk straight to raw meat. Even if it takes a little time, your dog will get it eventually.

Every dog is different. Some dogs take to raw very quickly, and will even pick it out around their kibble! Others don't eat for several days, or need some encouragement. Introduce your dog by slowly replacing portions of his kibble with ground raw meat, until all of the kibble is gone. When your dog is eating 100% raw meat, start introducing a larger variety of food to him by offering him different meat for some meals.

Common Questions

Will my dog get sick from eating raw meat?

It's unlikely. Your dog is a carnivore who eats meat by design. Of course, it should go without saying that you should only feed your dog fresh, non-expired meat. Rancid or rotting meat is not edible.

Will eating raw meat make my dog vicious?

There's a popular myth that tasting blood turns dogs vicious, but it is just that: a myth. Dogs that eat a diet of raw meat are no more likely to be vicious than any other dog.

Does my dog have to eat organs or bones?

There are certain amino & fatty acids that your dog needs, but cannot produce on his own. He is therefore required to get them from his food. While muscle meat is very nutritious, it simply will not provide all that your dog needs for a balanced diet. Therefor, it is essential that you strive to feed a diet that includes not only muscle meat, but organ and bone as well.

Can my dog have cooked bones?

No. While you can make cooked dog food, cooked bones should never be fed to your dog. Cooked bones are brittle and can crack and splinter when chewed, causing a serious health risk.

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