Note: My ebook with 10 raw dog food recipes and a guide to raw feeding is now available. The cost is $9.
I have been feeding my mutt Ace a commercial raw dog food from a company called Stella & Chewy’s. This is the most convenient way to feed a dog raw food. All I do is de-frost the raw chicken patties over night and toss the food in his bowl at mealtimes. It’s almost as easy as feeding dry dog food.
Of course, the main downside to feeding commercial raw dog food is the price. Ace is a 67-pound black lab/hound mix. A 6-pound bag of raw food from Stella & Chewy’s is roughly $27 and will last my dog just four days. It costs about $200 to feed him Stella & Chewy’s for one month. $$$$!
Most of us do not have $200 in our monthly budgets for dog food. That’s the equivalent or more of feeding an extra person.
If you still want to feed your dog raw, you can save money if you buy all the ingredients yourself. These ingredients would be foods like raw beef or raw chicken meat, raw organs like hearts, raw bones and raw veggies.
You can buy most of these ingredients at your local grocery store or butcher. Look for meat that is higher in fat. This meat is cheaper and considered lower-quality meat for humans, but most dogs need the extra fat in their diets. You can likely save even more if you know any local ranchers, farmers or hunters. Deer meat and guts are perfect for dogs!
The added benefit of buying your own raw dog food ingredients is that you will know exactly what your dog is eating.
The drawback, of course, is time and making sure the meals are generally balanced.
How much raw dog food should I feed my dog?
The general rule of thumb is to feed your dog 2 percent of his body weight. This is just a general rule of thumb. Some dogs will only require 1 percent while others may need 3 percent.
Here’s a simple equation you can use to find out how much to feed your dog in ounces:
(Your dog’s weight in pounds) x 16 = your dog’s weight in ounces.
(Your dog’s weight in ounces) x .02 = roughly the amount of food your dog should eat in ounces per day. (16 ounces equals 1 pound)
According to the above example, my 67 pound dog should be eating 21.44 ounces of food per day. I feed him a bit more (24 ounces per day) since he is naturally lean and burns a lot of calories. You also want to factor in the treats you feed your dog. Ace barely gets any treats because I am a mean dog mom.
It doesn’t have to be complicated. If your dog is underweight, feed him a bit more. If he’s fat, feed him less.
I asked some readers and friends of mine to share some of their raw dog food “recipes.” For more ideas, see my ebook “10 Easy Raw Dog Food Recipes.”
Examples of homemade raw dog food recipes
These raw dog food recipes are not necessarily 100 percent balanced or meant to be fed every day. They are not necessarily recommended by a veterinarian. They are not necessarily right for your particular dog. These are just some real examples of real raw meals real dog owners have fed their dogs.
If you feed your dog raw, please share some examples of meals you feed your dog. It would be extra helpful if you could also tell us the weight, breed and activity level of your dog and where you buy the ingredients.
This following recipe is from Ace’s friend Biggie. Make sure to check out Biggie’s helpful posts on raw dog food:
Raw meat/veggie mix
This is for a 100-pound Kuvasz, twice per day:
1/4 C. plain yogurt
1/4 -1/2 C. chopped or ground veggies (carrots, leafy greens, apples, broccoli or peas)
A skinned chicken leg quarter with bone (chicken leg, thigh and some of the back, which usually weighs about 1 lb)
If the meat does not have a lot of bone, sometimes Biggie’s owners will add a calcium tablet.
Here’s another easy raw food recipe from a friend of mine:
Raw beef/organ/veggie mix
This is for an active springer/pointer mix:
2 C. raw ground beef or chicken (from local meat shop)
1 C. organ meat (from grocery store)
1 C. vegetables/fruit
Rotate the kinds of organ meat and veggies you use. Blend the organ meat and veggies and mix with the already ground meat. Add an egg if desired.
The example below is from a blogger and trainer over at Poodle and Pitbull:
Raw beef stuffed in Kongs
This method is intended to keep the dogs (a standard poodle and a pitbull) occupied while their owner goes to work. It’s as easy as it sounds. Simply stuff several Kong toys with raw meat. Then freeze and serve.
In this case, each dog gets 2 to 3 frozen Kongs per day. The Kongs are typically filled with raw ground beef from Hare Today, a farm located in Pennsylvania that grinds, cuts and packages whole animals.
In addition to the Kongs, a large portion of their daily food intake also comes from treats. Their owner typically follows the breakdown of 80 percent meat, 5 percent liver, 5 percent other organs and 10 percent edible bone. Vegetables are sometimes fed as treats.
The next recipe is from a reader and her dog with special dietary needs. Pumpkin paws are not intended as a meal for most dogs, but they make a great treat. Read more about dog health here.
Small amount of any raw meat (optional)
Small amount of spinach, chopped carrots or broccoli (optional)
2 C. water
1 large can of pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1 small can of tomato puree
9-ounce paper cups
If using meat, make sure it is finely chopped or ground. Otherwise, put it in a food processor with the water to make a soup. Mix all ingredients in a bowl until well blended. Put a very generous tablespoon in each paper cup. Freeze and serve. You probably want to serve outside!
Follow this link for more raw dog food recipes!
Some reminders about feeding raw dog food:
Remember to freeze all pork meat and pork bones for three weeks to kill potential parasites. Also, remember that some fruits and vegetables are not good for dogs such as grapes, onions and avocados. And never give your dog cooked bones or sharp raw bones.
If you are going to make your dog’s raw food yourself, I highly recommend making at least a week’s worth at a time and storing it in your freezer. For more information on making your dog’s meals, see my post on how to feed your dog raw food.
Update on feeding my dog raw food – day 39
Note: This is week six of a 12-week raw food trial for my dog Ace. Stella & Chewy’s is sponsoring this trial by providing Ace with 90 days worth of pre-prepared raw food.
All the above recipes sound easy, right? I think so. It’s just a matter of buying the food ahead of time and planning ahead. I am thinking about feeding Ace homemade raw dog food for one meal and commercial raw dog food for the second meal until I feel more comfortable making his food myself.
Ace was on antibiotics to treat pneumonia during the second week of this raw food trial, so that interrupted our raw feeding plan. I switched him back to dry food while he was on antibiotics in order to determine the cause of his upset stomach. As I suspected, it was the antibiotics. He’s back to normal now, eating 100 percent raw and doing great!
Ace started eating raw food again on Monday. So I guess you could say today is really day 6 of his raw food trial all over again.
Gradual switch vs. quick switch
Back in the beginning of March when I first introduced Ace to raw food, I gradually switched him from dry dog food to raw dog food by mixing the two together over eight days. Since he had no trouble adjusting to the raw food during the gradual switch, I went ahead and switched his food with no transition this time. He’s doing awesome!
After the pneumonia scare and our weekend trip to the doggy ER a few weeks ago, I am a bit nervous about feeding Ace raw food again. He got sick on day 10 of this raw food trial, so I will be glad when we pass the 10-day point this time around. I realize pneumonia is not caused by diet, but there’s always that chance that something else was wrong. I’m just a worrier.
Friends and family who are skeptical of raw dog food
This is just a small annoyance, but there are people who are obviously opposed to Ace eating raw food. I have to just brush their opinions aside and worry about myself. I wanted to mention this because it’s something you will likely come across if you switch your dog to a raw diet. I don’t waste time trying to explain the diet to certain friends and family members. I know what’s best for me and my dog. They can feed their dogs what they want.
So, after just six days of 100 percent raw food, here are some updates on how Ace is doing:
Unfortunately Ace has been shaking his head around lately as though he has an ear infection. He gets about two ear infections a year so I haven’t been overly concerned about food allergies or environmental allergies. This is just something we deal with every six months or so. It may or may not be related to his diet.
Ace seems to be scratching a lot less and he has no visible dandruff. It has also been much warmer (until yesterday when it snowed!).We haven’t been running our heater or fireplace at all. I do still notice Ace chewing and licking his feet a lot, and licking, you know, there.
I don’t expect to notice a difference in Ace’s teeth, and so far they do not appear any whiter. No surprise there.
I don’t notice a difference in the amount of shedding, either.
I know this is more information than you want to hear, but Ace’s poop is tiny and hard – just what I like to see! He has no more diarrhea, which was caused by the antibiotics.
My dog is always thirsty
Once again, Ace is not as obsessive about water while eating raw food. I credit this to the higher moisture content in his food. He does seem to be burping and throwing up more often, though, similar to what happens when he does drink too much water at once. It’s usually water with some food substance that he throws up (not bile or foam), and it happens when he gets too excited.
Ace is a healthy 67.4 pounds. He hasn’t lost or gained any weight, although his weight fluctuated a bit while he had pneumonia.
I’m not expecting to see a change here. If anything, he has gotten more gray hair since starting the raw food. I guess this is just a natural part of aging – my boy is getting old! I can see more gray hair on his feet and legs now, probably because I’m actually looking for it.
My dog definitely has less energy than a year ago. He doesn’t go running with me very often anymore. We stick to walking. I haven’t noticed much of a change in his energy since he’s been eating raw. He is naturally a low- to medium-energy dog (unless you bring out a tennis ball or take him to agility practice). Plus, at 5 years old, he’s well into middle age for a dog his size.
Let me know if you have fed your dog homemade raw dog food. Please share some examples of raw dog food “recipes” you have used.