There are a few things to be prepared for before taking the plunge into raw feeding. Be sure to review the following guides to ensure a full understanding of raw feeding for dogs.
If your dog is overweight, feed 2% to lose weight and if your dog is underweight, feed 3% to gain weight. Once your dog is at his ideal weight, feed 2.5% to maintain a healthy weight.
If you have an active dog, you may need to feed more than 2.5% to maintain a healthy weight. If you have an inactive dog, you may need to feed less than 2.5% to maintain a healthy weight.
Any dog can be a gulper – small or large. If your dog is a gulper, larger cuts of meat are recommended to feed to avoid choking hazards. Feeding frozen meals also helps slow down a gulper.
If your dog has any sensitivities, you will want to make sure you do not feed those items to avoid issues. If you suspect your dog to have a sensitivity, feed an elimination diet to determine the problem.
Calculate the meal weight, muscle meat, edible bone, liver, and other organs using the calculator below.
When feeding raw, only feed meat under 100mg sodium per serving. It should not be enhanced, seasoned, smoked, or cooked in any way.
Only white meat and bone is fed when first transitioning to raw feeding. Additional proteins, such as red meat, and organs are added later. Feeding bland meals in the beginning helps your dog’s GI adjust to the new raw food. Too much rich foods will cause diarrhea and digestive upset. Chicken is a great starter protein. However, turkey, rabbit, quail, and Cornish hen can be substituted as the starting protein for raw feeding.
Adding extra bone to the first couple meals in the transition period is recommended to help firm loose stool. Remember to always feed cuts appropriate to your dog’s size and eating habits. Feed small dogs chicken wings, drumsticks, necks, and/or feet. Feed medium to large dogs leg quarters, backs, or half breast. Continue feeding white meat and bone to your dog until stools are firm and regulated. It can take anywhere from 1-2 weeks for a dog to fully adjust to a bland meal.
If your dog experiences digestive upset and diarrhea for two or more days, remove the skin/excessive fat, increase the bone content, and provide Slippery Elm Bark (SEB) with probiotics 15 minutes before each meal until stools firm up. Once your dog’s stool is firm and regular, decrease bone content to 10%, stop providing Slippery Elm Bark, and move to the next step. Continue providing probiotics during the transition period if your dog shows signs of GI upset when a new item is introduced.
Monitor your dog while eating. Most kibble fed dogs who transition to raw do not know how to properly chew food. Sometimes choking happens for dogs who typically eat fast and gulp their food.
Red meat is essential to a raw diet and should be introduced following a successful week on white meat. Pork, beef, lamb, and goat are good examples of red meat options to introduce at this step. Introduce in small amounts and gradually increase over a few days. Red meat naturally creates dark brown stool, so do not be alarmed if your dog’s stool becomes dark after the introduction of red meat. If stools remain firm and regular, move onto the next step.
Once your dog is successfully eating a variety of protein sources and raw bones, it is time to begin feeding organs. Liver and other secreting organs will need to be introduced at this step. Organs are very rich. Therefore, start small and gradually increase to requirements. Organs create dark colored stools. If stool is firm and dark, that is ok and to be expected. If stool is loose and dark, then you’ve fed too much organ. Decrease organ content and add a little more bone to firm up stools.
Monitor your dog’s stools during the transition process. If they get loose – slow down when adding new items. If your dog experiences digestive upset and diarrhea for two or more days remove the skin/excessive fat, up the bone content, and provide Slippery Elm Bark (SEB) with probiotics 15 minutes before each meal until stools have firmed up. Regular, firm stools are a good sign your dog is ready for the next step.
At a minimum, a raw diet should consist of 3 protein sources and 50% of the diet should be from red meat. Make sure to follow the guideline requirements for muscle meat, organs, raw bones, and vegetables and fruit for your dog’s specific needs. Following the recommended ratios for your dog’s dietary requirements will ensure your dog is receiving the essential nutrients needed.
Individual meals do not need to be balanced every day. If you choose to feed a method like this, you will need to achieve a balance over time to maintain optimal pet health. However, do not forget balance must be met daily if you’re raw feeding a puppy. Once the puppy matures, you can feed balance over time.
To help avoid a guessing game, you can choose to make each individual meal properly portioned out and balanced. Always monitor your dog’s potty schedule and stool.
Yellow tinted stool following a chicken meal is normal.
Add more bone to the next meal to firm up your dog’s stool.
Cut back on the amount of organ for the next meal, and add more muscle meat and bone.
Trim the skin and fat off of the muscle meat for the next meal.
Don’t feed any bone, and add more muscle meat and organ to the next meal.
To complete your dog’s transition to raw, add additional proteins to the meal plan. When adding new raw food to your dog’s diet, remember to start slow and gradually increase the amounts until you’ve reached the required ratio.
Successful raw feeders always look for cheap sources and a variety of options.
Local ethnic markets have odd cuts and organs at affordable prices.
Butchers sometimes sell “soup bags” (trimmings from cleaning fish or trimmings from processing meat).
Hunters are a great way to get organs, scraps, and RMBs for free!
Grow your knowledge and optimize the benefits your dog is receiving through a raw diet.
Benefits are provided through fish oil, garlic, spirulina, etc.
Remove all processed foods from your dog’s diet and provide natural treats for training and rewards.
Prepping in advance helps achieve balance in your dog’s diet and saves time.
Raw feeding requires commitment, dedication, and patience to succeed.
You should monitor your dog’s stool throughout raw feeding.
You’re handling raw meat, always clean your dog’s bowl, tools, and prep area after dealing with raw meat.
A raw diet is only beneficial when the appropriate food is served in the correct amounts.