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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.