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Pros and Cons of a Ground Raw Diet for Dogs

There are pros and cons to feeding your dog a ground raw diet vs. a whole prey raw diet.

In a ground raw diet, the meat, bones and veggies are ground.

A whole raw diet means non-ground chunks of raw meat and bones such as chicken thighs.

There isn’t a “right” or “wrong” way to feed and many people feed a combination of ground and “whole.” This post is to help you decide. I also hope others will share how they feed their dogs and cats a raw diet.

Pros to feeding your dog a ground raw diet

1. No concern about choking on bones.

Dogs are designed for chewing raw bones, but there’s always that small risk a dog could choke on a bone or be unable to digest chunks of harder bones.

It’s mostly about knowing your own dog’s chewing style and knowing your comfort level. I’m nervous about feeding anything other than raw chicken and turkey bones so I’m more comfortable feeding a ground raw diet.

See my post: Which raw bones are safe for dogs?

2. Ground raw food is easier to feed from a bowl.

When the raw food is ground, you can just feed it in a bowl like you would feed dry or canned food. Most dogs will lick the bowl clean!

If you feed your dog large chunks of meat, he most likely won’t be able to eat it from a bowl. He’ll probably set the meat on the ground to chew on. Some people feed “whole” raw outside or over a towel or in a crate. It’s just generally a bit messier.

3. It’s easier to measure portions and be consistent.

I have an easier time knowing exactly how much my dog is eating when I feed him ground raw food vs. whole raw food. The food from Darwin’s is already packaged in 8-ounce portions, and if I make raw food myself it’s easy to measure or eyeball it if it’s ground.

Darwin's raw dog food

You can get pretty good at knowing exactly how much to feed your dog if you’re feeding “whole” raw. It will just vary a bit more from day to day.

For example, every chicken thigh varies in size. Every turkey neck varies a little. No big deal. It’s just easier for “newbies” if they know exactly how much to feed.

Pros to feeding your dog a ground raw diet

4. Most pre-made commercial raw food is ground.

It’s no question that the most convenient way to feed a raw diet is to go with a pre-made brand like Balanced Blends. It’s almost as easy as feeding dry dog food from a bag.

Nearly all raw dog food companies provide ground raw food.

Feeding your dog a ground raw diet - Balanced Blends

5. Ground raw dog food is easier to store.

Ground raw dog food is easier to store because it’s compact and consistent. It comes in pre-made frozen portions if you buy from a raw dog food company. Or, you can portion it yourself in containers and stack in the freezer. Really convenient.

Darwin's raw dog food

Cons of feeding a ground raw meat diet:

There are of course a few cons to feeding ground, mostly if you’re making the food yourself.

1. You’ll need a meat grinder.

Unless you plan to buy pre-made raw dog food you’ll need to buy a meat grinder. Obviously, this is a bit of an investment. You can spend anywhere from about $170 for a basic model on up to $500 or more.

2. Risk of more bacteria in the meat.

There is generally more bacteria in ground meat, especially if you’re buying it from a grocery store. When meat is ground, the bacteria that was on the surface of the meat gets mixed in with all of the meat.

Dogs and cats can handle more bacteria than people. They’re designed to eat raw meat! However, the safest way to feed your pet ground raw meat is to go with a pre-made brand.

Beamer enjoying Balanced Blends raw cat food

3. Missing out on the dental benefits of chewing bones.

One of the benefits of a whole raw diet is the raw bones help to clean your dog’s teeth. Chewing the meat and bones also gives your dog’s jaw a good workout, and we all know chewing is relaxing for dogs and even drains some energy.

Ace chomps on a raw chicken thigh

If you feed a ground raw diet, it’s best if you can still give your dog some regular chewing options such as bully sticks.

In the comments, let me know if you feed your dog a raw diet.

Balanced Blends raw dog and cat food
Image from Balanced Blends raw food


Sunday 4th of December 2016

I have been feeding my dogs about 2.5 pounds twice a day and my puppy gets about a pound between a meals. I have a lab that is four and about a 100 lbs. I also have a Bernese puppy 7 months old and weighs the same. My lab has lost weight since the switch and I switch because I wanted a healthy diet for our puppy since the bread is prob to many diseases and average life span is 6 years. I am wondering if I am feeding to much even though it seems as if I am not feeding enough to how hungry they are. Not very active dogs yet. The Bernese I am going to train for a working dog. But I have read that about after a year to a year and a half to start the pulling exercises for their breed is a very slow grower in comparison to other breeds. But again I was wondering am I feeding to much or not enough for them.

Barbara Rivers

Friday 2nd of December 2016

I feed a mixture of ground raw & whole raw. I first started out with ground raw and stuck with it for almost 9 months. There is no doubt that it is the most convenient way of feeding a raw diet, especially when bought pre-portioned! After those 9 months I had become more comfortable with the whole raw feeding process and enjoyed shopping for the different components of the raw diet. I am always on the lookout for sales and buy in bulk as much as I can in order to save some money, both ground & whole raw. As far as raw meaty bones are concerned, I mainly feed chicken (leg quarters, feet, wings), turkey (necks), and duck (necks and heads). It is such a wonderful way of keeping those K9 pearlies clean and, as you mentioned, burning some energy as well.

Kimberly Gauthier

Thursday 10th of November 2016

I feed my dogs a ground raw diet and give them raw meaty bones and recreational bones for teeth cleaning and to satisfy their chew drive. Your points here are spot on for why I feed ground raw.


Wednesday 9th of November 2016

Ground is definitely convenient, and easy to store. I feed whatever is available, affordable, and accessible. Sometimes ground, sometimes whole parts.


Wednesday 9th of November 2016

2 goldens and a papillon all chew great, they get some whole but mostly ground prey model, tripe and raw bones. My female can't have chicken and beef bones are too hard so I get goat and wild boar bones. I process organic vegetables and blue berries, they also get organic eggs and goat milk kefir so their diet is varied.

Lindsay Stordahl

Wednesday 9th of November 2016

Sounds great! Lucky dogs!