How much does it cost to feed my dog raw food?



A lot of dog owners would like to feed their dogs raw dog food but can’t afford it.

I also have to decide whether or not I want to spend $150+ on raw food for my dog each month.

To help myself and others decide if we can afford to feed raw dog food, I compared some prices for commercial raw food, homemade raw dog food, natural dry dog food and standard dry dog food.

These are just some general examples intended to give you an idea of what the dog food costs without spending time searching for sales or coupons or anything like that. There are all kinds of ways to save money on raw dog food such as shopping at Costco, buying in larger quantities, only buying food that is on sale or working out a deal with a friend who hunts or farms or whatever. That’s not what this post is about.

My dog is a 5-year-old, 67-pound black lab/hound mix with a naturally lean build. I keep him active, but he is not a high-energy dog. The following examples are based on the amount of food he would eat per day (generally 1.5 pounds raw or 3 cups dry) and the cost per day and per month to feed him. Since Ace primarily eats chicken as his main protein source, that’s what I used for the following examples.

Lucy-and-Ace

Commercial raw dog food – about $210 per month

The prices of commercial raw dog food brands vary quite a bit from store to store, state to state, etc. I did my best to take the average prices, so don’t freak out if you find a certain brand for a lot more or a lot less. I also did not include any shipping costs if you plan to order online.

Stella & Chewy’s - Chewy’s chicken frozen dinner
$26.99 per 6-pound bag
$6.75 per day or $202 per month

Primal – canine chicken formula
$34.99 per 8-pound bag
$6.60 per day or $198 per month

Nature’s Variety Instinct – organic chicken formula
$29.99 per 6-pound bag
$7.50 per day or $225 per month

Homemade raw dog food – about $120 per month

There is a ton of flexibility here depending on what you want to feed your dog. If you want to spend significantly less on homemade raw dog food, you really need to buy directly from a butcher or buy in bulk. You can easily cut your costs for meat in half by shopping this way. For those of you who feed homemade raw dog food, I would love to hear your money-saving tips!

Raw dog food ebookYou’ll also want to consider my ebook 10 Easy Raw Dog Food Recipes. It is available here for $9 and includes a guide to raw feeding to get you started.

The following prices are from my standard grocery store, nothing special. I wasn’t worried about organic meat or what was on sale. I just took 15 minutes to walk through the store and jot down some prices of some foods I would use if I were to make homemade food for Ace.

Chicken thighs: $1.72 per pound, $2.58 per day or $78 per month

Ace would eat about 1.5 pounds of meat per day. Obviously you want to mix up the kind of meat you feed your dog. This is just an example.

Chicken liver: $1.99 per pound, about 1 pound per week so $8 per month

Again, just an example. You want to feed your dog a variety of organ meat.

Vegetables: $0.50 per day or $15 per month

For fruits and vegetables, I would just feed Ace whatever I happened to be eating that week (lettuce, spinach, bananas, apples, carrots, zucchini, asparagus or whatever). He would get 1/4 C. or so of veggies per meal. On the high end, that might equal out to $0.50 per day.

Yogurt: $1.25 per cup, $0.63 per day or $19 per month

Ace would get 1/4 C. of yogurt or so per meal.

Other:

Other expenses not included could be calcium tabs, glucosamine tabs, fish oil, organ meat, raw bones, raw eggs, etc. These are all things that could be included in my dog’s meals from time to time regardless of whether I’m making his food or not.

Natural dry dog food – $50 to $75 per month

Ace would generally eat about 3 cups of high-quality dry food per day.

Evo - chicken and turkey formula (Ace’s typical dry food)
$46.99 per 28.6-pound bag
$2.47 per day or $75 per month

Canidae – chicken and rice
$52.46 per 44-pound bag
$1.80 per day or $54 per month

Taste of the Wild – wetlands canine formula (wild fowl)
$47.49 per 30-pound bag
$2.37 per day or $71 per month

Standard dry dog food – $50 to $65 per month

Ace would generally eat about 4 cups of standard-quality dry dog food per day.

Iams – large breed chunks (chicken)
$31.95 per 40-pound bag
$1.60 per day or $48 per month

Hills Science Diet – large breed adult formula
$35.99 per 35-pound bag
$2.05 per day or $62 per month

Just want to point out that corn is the #1 ingredient in this food highly recommended by most vets!

Purina One - Smartblend chicken and rice forumula
$35.99 per 34-pound bag
$2.12 per day or $64 per month

I didn’t realize how expensive standard dry dog food has gotten. It’s almost as expensive as higher-quality brands. All the more reason to switch to natural dog food!

How much do you pay for your dog’s food?

I’m not out to make anyone feel bad about not being able to afford the cost of raw dog food or high-quality dry dog food. Worry about yourself and your family before you worry about what your dog is eating. Sometimes I look at my dog’s food and my cats’ food and see that all the ingredients are natural or organic and then I look at the food I’m eating – usually not organic! We definitely should not put our pets before ourselves.

Dogs can get by on a lower-quality food just like people can get by on a lower-quality diet. I do not believe someone shouldn’t have a dog just because she can’t afford the best food. That would be ridiculous. My dog and cats ate Purina One for a good two years. Eventually I started buying higher-quality food every other month or mixing the two together to save $10 here and there.

My dog eats raw dog food – day 53 update

Ace is doing great on 100 percent raw food. I am now a true believer in feeding dogs and cats raw! Ace has eaten mostly raw chicken but he’s also been eating some raw beef. I’m seriously thinking of switching my cats over to raw as well.

Ear infections

Poor Ace does seem to have an ear infection. And he has watery eyes, too. Food allergies or environmental allergies could be the cause. It is finally spring here and the grass is finally starting to turn green. Ace typically gets an ear infection around this time of year, and it’s always in one ear!

Itchy skin/dandruff

Unfortunately he still seems itchy. Part of this is behavioral. He scratches when he’s not sure what else to do, like when a cat is staring at him ;) I don’t notice any dandruff, just scratching around his collar. He also continues to chew and lick his paws often.

Gray hair

Ace is getting noticeably more gray fur on his paws, legs, tummy and face.

Less poop!

He has less poop now than when he was eating Evo. Always a plus!

My dog is always thirsty

Ace is definitely not as thirsty anymore! He drinks a normal amount of water (6-8 cups per day or so) and he’s not obsessive about drinking it all at once.

Teeth/breath

No noticeable change. I never thought Ace had horrible teeth or breath, but I’m sure other people think otherwise!

Energy

I haven’t noticed an increase in Ace’s energy. He’s always tired from playing with his dog friends!

Let me know what your dog eats and how you save money on dog food!



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29 Readers Commented

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  1. Jan on May 1, 2011

    Wow, Lindsay, you have done a lot of serious research here. Thanks for your time.

    Dog food is a subject I don’t cover on my blog because the one post I did people took me and each other to task for our choices. Selecting dog food is almost a philosophy of life to some dog owners.

    I feed mine a premium kibble and drop lots of vegetables on the floor. :-) If I had any health problems with any of them, I might experiment, but if it ain’t broke…

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on May 1, 2011

      Oh I am going to have to look for your post on dog food now! Haha!

    • Jennifer on May 3, 2011

      So true… I was on a forum and had asked a few questions. Rather than being helpful, I felt like I was chewed apart. Unfortunately… too many people think their way is the ONLY way!

      I love your comment: “I feed mine a premium kibble and drop lots of vegetables on the floor.”
      We do the same! And maybe some plain cooked chicken too. This has caused a certain 4-legged friend to become quite the shadow of us when we are near the kitchen. Oh… other things I cannot eat without being STARED at… apples, oranges, and bread. (yes bread… not sure why…)

      We discovered yesterday that a dropped ice cube is WAY more fun than a dish full of food. I guess he’s pretty secure that the rest will be there when he comes back, certainly NOT food protective. :)

  2. Judi on May 1, 2011

    We feed our small Coton and our English Mastiff homemade raw. We get chicken thighs for .58/lb. We have purchased meat directly from poultry processing plants, we have negotiated with grocery stores. Most willing to help. We feed kefir (homemade) eggs, fruit…and combine with organic bone in ground turkey and beef. Variety creates balance. We have no ear infections, no skin problems and no digestion problems. We learned from having an IBD dog, so severe we were told to pts. at 6 months. He ate raw and lived 10 years. It is less expensive to feed raw/homecooked than to treat allergies, etc while on kibble. We spend around $175 a month to feed two dogs (one is 200#) and three cats.

    • Tina on November 29, 2011

      Judy,

      I also have an English Mastiff. I have been feeding her raw for about 6 months now. I’ve heard dogs are supposed to be fed 4% of their body weight and she is currently at 130 pounds, so she is fed 5 pounds of meat per day. I get her raw food at a butcher and pay $35 for 40 pounds. So it generally costs $140 a month to feed her. On kibble it cost me $35 for a bag of Nature’s Domain to feed her close to a month. She was highly allergic to the kibble and has been doing fine on the raw, besides the fact that she won’t eat turkey. She’s filled out and has become stronger. However, I have had to buy a seperate freezer for her as well and the cost of food per month is weighing heavy on my income. I’m starting to realize that an alarm system and a gun would have been cheaper.

      • Lindsay Stordahl Author on November 29, 2011

        I’m glad you are feeding your mastiff raw food. I hope it continues to go well.

  3. Lindsay Stordahl Author on May 1, 2011

    Thanks so much for the advice, Judi!

  4. Patty on May 3, 2011

    Sophie is fed primal. Thankfully we have found a wonderful wonderful co-op so that helps reduce the price. I tried homemade raw but she just doesn’t handle bone very well. After a year of her being sick all the time Primal was the only food that worked for her.

    I did try switching her to Orijen (after a year on Primal) in the hopes her body had matured and could tolerate kibble. Within a week her coat was a disaster, she smelled, her ears were a mess and she was itchy. The vet bills she would have on kibble equal the price difference spent on Primal. So back to Primal we went and that is where we will stay.

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on May 3, 2011

      I’m glad she’s doing well. Natural Pet Center in my town sells Primal so I will look into it.

  5. Jennifer on May 3, 2011

    I have to admit, I avoided reading this for a while because I didn’t want to feel guilty about what we are feeding our dog! We simply cannot afford much right now, we are getting him Avo-Derm and seems very healthy; I’ve just been wanting to do raw for a while and can’t. I really appreciate your notes about not feeling guilty about it! Thank you!

    Something to continue studying until we can afford it! :)

  6. Lindsay Stordahl Author on May 3, 2011

    Yeah, I hear ya! Thanks for your comments!

  7. Jodi & Kolchak on May 3, 2011

    We too are considering trying a raw diet for Kolchak and Felix. I went to a very interesting Holistic Health seminar this weekend showing that dogs fed raw diets incurred on average 50% LESS veterinary bills than their kibble fed counter parts (based on four participating vet clinics). That number apparently increases to almost 75% less on vet bills when looking at pets in their senior years who had eaten raw most of their lives. It was a real eye opener and got me thinking that maybe we have been saving on kibble, but spending even more on vet care. I have to get my act together and figure out exactly how to start and what food to feed and all the stuff that comes with feeding raw. I appreciate your review!

  8. Lindsay Stordahl Author on May 4, 2011

    Good luck! Feeding the commercial raw food is more expensive, but it’s an easy way to get started.

  9. Lindsay Stordahl Author on May 4, 2011

    There are very few scientific studies showing how raw food is healthier than dry dog food. If you have any way to share the results from that particular study with those vet clinics, I’d love to see them! Even if it’s not 100 percent “scientific.”

    • Shannon Stribling on February 22, 2013

      Hi Lindsay,

      I’m a biologist so scientific studies always interest me as well. However, in this case, I believe the raw diet really does work and here’s why. For the first time in my life, I actually bought a dog from a kennel. Before I always had “mutts”! :)
      Soon it became obvious to me that my purebred dog was having immune system issues. We battled a chronic yeast infection for months that included sores all over his body and I soon realized that it would just keep coming back because we were treating the symptoms but not the real problem. My vet said his digestive system was not working properly allowing the yeast to take over and kill the good bacteria. So I immediately started him on a homemade raw diet. The difference was immediate. He loved his new diet and immediately showed more energy. BUT the best thing was that his yeast infection began to clear up immediately. He has been on raw now for over a year and he looks amazing. My cat is also on raw now and she’s doing great too! Guess I did my own small experiment and it really has made a huge difference plus they love it! Good luck…

  10. Jessi on May 4, 2011

    Charlie eats Blue Buffalo dry dog food for small breed. Even though he is an ittybitty dog we buy the big bags and that’s pretty much the extent of our awsome money saving ideas! …

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on May 4, 2011

      But that works well. That’s what I do with my cats, most of the time. A large bag is cheaper and lasts forever.

  11. lizzedru on May 6, 2011

    We re budgeted and started getting the dogs Canine Cavier dry food and they get a half can of Purina Pro Plan wet in the morning with the kiddle and then dry at night. DOG was dandruffy this winter but in Alaska that’s to be somewhat expected. We’ve had to start watching rawhide and chews because DOG will try to swallow large chunks so Belle wont get his chews. They also get carrots(large ones are almost like bones) so I don’t feel too bad about them not getting chews. Even some chicken and other human food. They are both on the pudgy side so I am thinking about switching them to the Special Needs Canine Cavier so that the calorie intake they have goes down and I can get some wieght off of them. Thanks for the cost analysis. After hearing your journey on raw I would love to do it but with two dogs and a horse its a little bit harder.

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on May 6, 2011

      Oh gosh, I hear ya! I totally understand the reasons not to switch to raw! My dog ate kibble for five years and I’m not sure if I’m going to continue raw with him or not.

  12. Scot on September 13, 2011

    Just wondering how this is going?
    One thing, you’re not really following a true raw diet by only using Stella and Chewys dehydrated foods. Really, you need to be incorporating raw meaty bones to get the full benefits. I’m in favor of raw but can see the cost problems. I’m currently looking for a local supplier/farm/butcher to lower the costs and it looks doable and if bought in bulk should not be that much more than kibble even. A secondary chest freezer is required basically.
    Good luck to all.

    • Melissa Victoria on August 19, 2012

      Scot, I’m in the market for a freezer to store raw meat for my what should be 45 pound dog (she gained some weight after her surgery from the long bed rest). How much meat (days worth feeding… 1, 2, 3 months?) do you recommend having on hand? From what I’ve read I would be feeding her slightly less than a pound a day, so about 30lbs a month. There is a 3.4 cu ft freezer that claims it can hold 119lbs of frozen food, so that would be about 3 months worth with some space for my food (I don’t have a freezer, just a mini fridge in my tiny studio). Any thoughts help! I can’t start raw without purchasing a freezer. Once I figure out her protein preferences I plan to buy bulk online and through co-ops, or at the grocery store/online grocery store.

  13. Lindsay Stordahl Author on September 13, 2011

    It has been about three months since my dog ended his raw food trial. I switched him back to dry food after the trial because the cost of raw food is so high and it’s inconvenient. I was happy feeding him raw, but I also didn’t like worrying about what to feed him when we traveled. I am 100 percent in favor of raw diets for dogs, it’s just not for me right now.

  14. Debby Barton on June 6, 2012

    I have been reading the book “Give Your Dog a Bone” and get enthused and also very frustrated at the same time. I have always fed my 43 lb. Lab mix human grade food mixed in with “holistic” kibble but the food has been cooked. Now I feel like I have made a hugh mistake. Dagmar is 10 years old. She is trim and fit and looks great. She does have an issue with her teeth. I have given her meaty bones but not regularly and my vet still has issues with the salmonella possibility even though I keep reading that this should not be a concern with dogs. I also keep hearing concerns about raw bones causing problems. I believe in raw bones but I know there is that possibility that something could go wrong . Then there is the issue of the teeth that have broken off and the vet thinks it’s because I have given her beef bones in the past. I am frustrated. I don’t have a lot of $$$ to spend but I did splurge and buy a Vitamix blender so I can puree fruits and vegetables for us both, which I do every day.

  15. Chris on August 21, 2012

    I found this blog great until I read this one line about science diet:

    “Just want to point out that corn is the #1 ingredient in this food highly recommended by most vets!”

    proves how most vets are dummies IMO. corn is bad for dogs – and science diet is crap. jus’ sayin’.

  16. Marty on September 27, 2012

    Hi Lindsay! If your dog is still itchy and getting ear infections on a raw diet, I would say try switching him to a different protein source. It sounds like he may have a sensitivity to chicken (it’s actually very common, and understandable considering what we’ve done to that species).

  17. Sole of Missy on November 13, 2014

    I was looking for a best dog food for my chow and was routed to your website. I learned a lot! I will go and try raw food diet to my dog. i am excited to see what’s gonna happen next. :D

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