Have you wondered if you could ever feed your dog a raw diet…
…but hesitated because it seems complex and easy to mess up? What if you made your dog sick, or weren’t giving them enough of the right nutrients?
Once you dive into the foundational elements of a raw diet, you’ll discover that it’s no more complicated than feeding yourself or your family.
Learn the basics of how to feed your dog a raw diet:
Most foods are safe for canine consumption, it’s just that some are more beneficial than others. Dogs love a variety of flavors in their diet, and they benefit from eating different foods to supplement all of the nutrients they need.
Muscle Meat makes up the bulk of most raw diets for dogs. This may consist of ground or whole cuts of chicken, beef, turkey, or pork.
Bones provide calcium in your dog’s diet. You can feed raw meaty bones like chicken wings and necks, which are broken down in your dog’s highly acidic stomach. Bone-in meat can also be ground for dogs who are prone to choking, for dogs with few or no teeth, or for dogs who simply do not like to chew whole bones. Ground eggshell or store bought bone meal powder can also be substituted for whole bones.
Offal or Organ Meat like beef, chicken, pork, or turkey liver, kidneys, and brain contains high concentrations of vitamins and minerals. They make up around 10-15% of the typical raw diet, and high amounts of these rich meats can cause loose stools in some dogs.
Fish such as sardines, salmon, and smelt, are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Small fish are best, as they have a short lifespan and are less prone to high mercury levels. Salmon should not be fed raw as it contains a parasite that is killed during cooking. Fresh cooked or canned salmon is good for dogs.
Eggs such as those from a chicken or quail are a popular addition to raw diets.They’re easy for dogs to digest and break down into nutrients. Eggs can be given whole, shell and all, cooked or uncooked. If you can, feed eggs from free range chickens, as they’re higher in omega-3 fatty acids.
Seeds like flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds are all safe for dogs to eat, though they’re tough to digest and typically re-emerge unchanged in your dog’s stool if fed whole. Instead, try soaking them and pureeing them, or grinding them, so they’re easy to digest. Seeds are a good source of manganese, magnesium, iron, and zinc.
Fats don’t necessarily make your dog fat. Fat is a good source of energy, and some fat sources also provide omega-3 fatty acids that support your dog’s immune system, brain health, and fur and skin health. Fish oil is a good choice for your dog’s raw diet.
Fruits can provide vitamin C to support your dog’s immunity, plus antioxidants to help fight disease and prevent cancer. Berries are the most beneficial, with blueberries being one of the most nutrient dense fruits you can feed your dog. Never feed grapes or raisins, even in small amounts they can cause acute kidney failure.
Vegetables are a good source of fiber, antioxidants, and many vitamins and minerals. Dark, leafy greens are the most nutritious for your dog. Sweet potatoes, carrots, and squash have been shown to help prevent cancer. Veggies must be ground, pureed, steamed, or fermented before serving, as fresh produce can be hard for dogs to digest.
Raw feeding gives you more freedom to change up your dog’s diet, give fun new treats, and offer seasonal ingredients to keep them guessing. Even so, having a set menu makes it easier for you to plan meals in advance.
Starting with a raw grind like Bone Appetit makes it easier for you to make sure your dog gets the right ratio for each meal.
Dogs need to eat at least three protein sources to get all of the nutrients they need. We recommend feeding a rotation of our beef, turkey, and chicken grinds. Dogs need more red meat than white meat, so you should serve up a menu that’s half beef, and 25% turkey and 25% chicken. It’s that easy to create a balanced menu for your dog.
You can also add ingredients that your dog enjoys to change up their routine. You might add fish for extra omega-3 fatty acids, especially if your dog suffers from an inflammatory health issue like arthritis. Just make sure those add-ins make up less than 10 percent of your dog’s diet so you do not throw off the ratio of ingredients in their premade grinds.
Some dog parents prefer to feed a partially raw, partially kibble diet. This is ideal if you are not able to afford a fully raw diet or if you have some days on which you will not be able to feed raw, for example, if you travel often.
You can feed Bone Appetit Raw as a morning meal, and then give your dog kibble for their evening meal. It’s better to give raw as the first meal because it takes longer for dogs to digest.
You can mix raw with kibble, if you’d like. While some raw feeders say that you cannot feed raw with kibble, many do with no ill side effects. Just as we are able to eat a salad with pasta in the same meal, dogs can eat different foods at once without getting an upset stomach.
When you first get your order of raw dog food, you can defrost it and portion it into meal prep containers, if needed. Bone Appetit comes in handy one and two pound packs so you don’t have to spend hours weighing and dividing your dog’s food into containers.
Refrigerate as much food as your dog can eat in about 3 to 5 days.
Store the remainder of your dog’s food in a freezer. Frozen food is best used within 3 to 4 months, but it will be fine to feed if it remains completely frozen, never defrosted, for up to a year.
Raw dog food should be left out at room temperature for no longer than two hours. It’s best to remove food from your dog’s bowl within fifteen minutes, refrigerate it, and serve it again later.
Raw dog food is like any raw meat. It can contain salmonella and e.coli. While these pathogens are harmless to most dogs because of their short, acidic digestive tract, it is possible for humans to get sick from improper raw food handling and sanitation. Raw fed dogs also shed bacteria in their feces, so as always, wash your hands thoroughly after picking up poop.
It’s not a bad idea to have old towels on hand for setting around dog food areas, especially if your dog tends to drop their food out of the bowl. Old towels can be easily sanitized in a washing machine.
Food bowls, cutting boards, tools, and utensils used to handle raw food should be washed in hot, soapy water or in a dishwasher. Wipe up counters with a bleach solution, castile soap, white vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide.
For healthy dogs and puppies, transitioning to a raw diet is pretty simple. Use the cold turkey method!
First, you may want to fast your dog for up to 24 hours to reset their digestive system. Puppies under one year old should not be fasted.
Then, simply begin feeding your dog raw food, using just one protein for the first week. If that goes well, you can introduce a second protein during the second week. Then, you can introduce your third protein.
For older dogs and those prone to stomach problems, you can make a more gradual switch.
You can replace about 10 percent of your dog’s kibble with raw food and mix it in, or use the raw food as a treat between meals, cutting back on their kibble to compensate for the added calories.
If your dog tolerates a 10 percent raw diet, you can gradually increase the ratio of raw food to kibble. For some dogs, this will only take a few days. Plan for a slower transition if you see any signs of tummy upset, or if your dog is especially sensitive to new foods.
Try one of our combo packs today to get your dog started on a fresh, raw diet packed with whole food nutrition.