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5 Easy Tips for Feeding Raw Dog Food

I’ve transitioned my dog from a dry dog food (kibble) diet to a raw diet a couple of times.

Feeding your dog a raw diet is overwhelming at first, but it’s easy once you get the hang of it.

If you’re feeding your dog a raw diet for the first time or would like to learn more, the following are some tips to make the initial transition easier. If you feed your dog a raw diet, please add your tips in the comments.

Or, if you have any questions about feeding your dog raw food, don’t hesitate to leave your questions and I’ll get them answered for you.

5 easy tips for feeding raw dog food

1. Remember raw feeding is a learning game, and we’re not perfect.

I do the best I can by adding variety – by feeding a homemade raw diet using affordable grocery store meat and feeding a pre-made raw dog food brand every now and then too. I feed fruits and veggies. Others don’t. I mix in dry dog food sometimes. Others don’t.

No one is perfect. No one is better than anyone else.

Easy tips for feeding raw dog food

Some people switch their dogs to raw because they think it’s a cure for disease or a way to prevent cancer or to make cancer go away or to make the dog live longer.

A raw diet can’t do any of those things.

What a raw diet can hopefully do is make our dogs healthier in general.

Raw feeding is a work in progress and we all do the best we can.

If you would like more information on feeding raw dog food, you will find my ebook helpful. The cost is $9 and it goes over everything you need to know about raw feeding.

Raw dog food Ebook

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2. Don’t worry about your dog getting sick from bacteria.

This is a worry a lot of us have at first. Even though we know dogs are carnivores (or at least omnivores), we’re still freaked out about raw meat.

I was worried about this too, which is kind of funny to me now. Today, I have literally zero worries my dog will get sick from bacteria in raw meat. If I could have a negative percentage of worry, I would. That’s how little I worry.

Just make sure to wash your hands after handling raw meat and you’re good. 🙂

Black Lab eating raw dog food chicken

3. Keep homemade raw dog food simple.

You can make raw feeding as complicated as you want, but there’s no need. See my easy raw dog food recipes here.

Just stock up on the protein source you plan to start with, and add more variety in a couple of weeks.

I recommend starting with chicken quarters or chicken thighs (bone in). Feed them partially frozen to slow your dog down or hold onto the meat while he eats to encourage him to chew vs. gulp.

It’s OK if your dog ends up swallowing chunks of raw chicken meat and bone, but it’s easier for him to digest the bone if he crunches it up a bit first. Some dogs need to learn to do this.

I recommend you avoid other types of bones for now because chicken bones are the softest and easiest for dogs to digest. I know plenty of raw feeders who give their dogs pork bones and even beef bones, but I prefer to stick to the softer chicken and turkey bones.

See my post on what bones are safe for dogs.

Start adding in a little organ meat in a week or two and a few other protein sources and about 10 percent bone.

It’s not rocket science.

Just strive for variety over time, following the general rule of 80 percent meaty meat, 10 percent organ meat, 10 percent bone.

See my post How to save money on raw dog food.

4. Buy a bag or two of frozen, pre-made raw dog food.

Just buy at least one bag of pre-made frozen raw dog food to have on hand while you get started. Even if you don’t plan to feed pre-made raw food longterm (that shit’s expensive!), it’s nice to have at first.

For me, feeding my dog pre-made raw food takes some of the pressure off because the food is ready to go and balanced. I recommend you start with a protein source your dog is used to, like chicken.

It doesn’t matter what brand you go with. I’ve fed Stella & Chewy’s and Primal, but you can’t go wrong with most brands.

5. Feed one meal dry and one meal raw.

Some people will freak out and say you can “never” mix raw dog food and kibble. “Oh the horror!”

I say, get over it.

The reason some raw feeders warn not to mix the two is because dogs digest the raw food faster than they do the kibble, so mixing the two can give some dogs upset tummies.

Primal raw dog food

I’d also like to point out that people have an easier time digesting certain foods compared to other foods, and that doesn’t stop us from eating a random combo in one meal! Gotta love a good buffet or pot luck!

But, just to be safe, you could feed your dog one dry meal per day and one raw meal instead of mixing the two. Space them out by 10 to 12 hours to give your dog plenty of time to digest the dry food.

If you still notice your dog has an upset tummy, then perhaps feeding both in one day is too much for your dog. Each dog is a little different. I find that older dogs that have been eating dry food the longest have the hardest time with new foods.

Another tip that seems to help my dog is to actually cook the real food the first couple of days.

So, if I’m feeding chicken, I’ll just bake it, remove the bones and mix that in with his kibble. That seems to help his system realize, “Oh! We’re about to eat real food now!”

So those are my simple tips to help you get started.

Do you have any tips or questions about feeding raw dog food?

Let me know in the comments!

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Meredith

Tuesday 5th of July 2016

I just started feeding my5 year old Chihuahua, Manny, raw.... Well, sort of. Right now he's on Taste of the Wild small breed kibble in the morning, and I feed him raw bone in chicken mixed with Sojos grain free Pre-Mix at night. Once the last of his TOTW is gone from this bag, I will have him on raw only (and I will still only mix his food with the freeze dried pre mix once a day). I do have a question regarding the Sojos, though. I noticed that they use carob powder and garlic in their pre mix. Umm, why?? Should I find a different brand? I like the idea of having a little vegetable matter in his meals, but those two ingredients concern me. Should I worry?

Lindsay Stordahl

Tuesday 5th of July 2016

No, I don't think there's anything to worry about with carob powder and garlic. No big deal. I didn't like Sojos for my dog (Lab mix) overall though, because it was so high in carbs and fiber vs. protein. I couldn't keep weight on him! But I think it would work better as a mix like you're doing.

Nikki

Friday 24th of July 2015

The reason why it is not recomended to feed raw and kibble in the same meal isn't necessarily because of upset tummys... It's because of bacteria. Dogs are Able to eat raw meat for many reasons like the acidity in their stomach, short digestive tract. Kibble isn't species appropriate and changes the pH in the stomach to less acidic and also moves through the digestive tract WAY slower giving the opportunity for bacteria to flourish and potentially create an issue. If raw is added in with kibble then the fear is they both move through slower and can create a bacterial overgrowth.

Lindsay Stordahl

Friday 24th of July 2015

Yes, that is how I understand it too. Some dogs seem to handle it fine, others have a harder time.

Elizabeth

Wednesday 22nd of July 2015

My other half is a little leery of raw food for our pups. However, I do try to occasionally buy some pre made raw (In Alaska its even MORE EXPENSIVE Try $60 for 12 patties) and give them one meal a week. Normally its Saturday morning meal, cause if we have any upset stomachs there's two people home to take the pups out. We feed the highest brand kibble we can afford. And they've changed our formula, lowered the weight of the bag and still kept the same price, so I'm a little annoyed right now. Need to go to the local feed store and see what other brands I might want to try. But you know, I like being able to read every ingredient on the label... So its an afternoon type of thing....

Lindsay Stordahl

Wednesday 22nd of July 2015

Oh gosh ... yeah that is nuts! $60! I know you've said before how you try to feed them a meal or so of the pre-made raw per week. I think that's a great way to do it. I bet they're nuts about their Saturday breakfasts! :)

Sylv

Tuesday 21st of July 2015

As you expand on the menu, try adding some (unbleached) tripe to the mix. That is definitely an outdoor meal (man, that stinks!!!). On the other hand, bison smells delicious and should be tossed on the bbq for us :)

Rodney

Friday 17th of July 2015

Just wanted to add an additional warning. Since chicken is usually among the cheapest meats to buy, many raw feeders rely on it, especially when just starting out on a raw dog food diet. The problem here is that many chicken producers enhance their chicken with up to 12% brine (sometimes called plumping the chicken). When buying chicken to feed your dog, pay attention to the labels, and completely avoid those that state in small print (up to x% broth). Look for sodium content, and try to keep that as low as possible.

While some sodium in a dogs diet is definitely necessary, too much can be extremely harmful.

Lindsay Stordahl

Friday 17th of July 2015

Yes, that's good advice. Just look at the labels.