The message I’d like to bring across today is that raw feeding doesn’t have to be overly expensive.
I’ve been running a survey on my blog for a few months about reasons keeping dog owners from feeding their four-legged besties a raw diet. Affordability is a common concern.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Feeding your dog a balanced, raw diet certainly can be expensive, especially if you’re relying on pre-made raw dog food from a pet retail store.
That convenience factor is somewhat comparable to human fresh food that has been pre-assorted and packed up. I’m thinking Blue Apron or Hello Fresh – these typically come with a steeper price tag.
Today I’m going to share two easy raw dog food recipes my pups Missy & Buzz start drooling for the minute I mix them up.
They consist of only 5 ingredients each, all of which I was able to find at a local big name retail chain!
I found all the ingredients at Walmart
This may sound surprising, but I was able to find all the ingredients for our raw meals in the grocery section of a local Walmart.
I made it a point to go ingredient shopping there to prove that a raw meal:
- doesn’t have to be ridiculously expensive
- can be shopped for locally
Bonus: By combining raw dog food shopping with your own grocery shopping, you can reduce your carbon footprint. No need to have raw dog food purchased online shipped your way.
I put together two different meals following the 80-10-10 formula:
- 80% muscle meat
- 10% raw meaty bone
- 5-10% organs
The only component I wasn’t able to find at Walmart was a different secreting organ besides liver.
Ultimately, you’ll want to add some of those such as kidneys or sweetbreads. They don’t necessarily have to make it into every single raw meal. We strive to achieve balance over time, within about 7-10 days.
You can find secreting organs in Asian markets or ask your local butcher/farmer if they’d be willing to sell them to you.
Buying organ meat online is another option but will require shipping unless you live close enough to the retailer’s warehouse and are able to pick up your order.
I also want to note that I’m feeding my dogs beef liver and chicken liver because beef liver is far more nutritious.
Raw dog food on a budget – two easy recipes for dogs of all sizes
The following are two easy recipes with all ingredients from Walmart. After each ingredient, I listed out the price I paid and the weight, just to give you an overall idea on cost.
Easy beef raw dog food recipe:
- Beef tongue: $19.42 for 3.57 lbs
- Ground beef: $5.98 for 1 lb
- Beef oxtails: $12.73 for 2.34 lbs
- Beef liver: $2.23 for 1.21 lbs
- Chicken liver: $2.03 for 1.21 lbs
Total Cost: $42.39 for 9.33 lbs
Cost per pound: $4.50
Easy chicken and turkey raw dog food recipe:
- Chicken breast: $8 for 4 lbs
- Chicken gizzards: $1.35 for 1 lbs
- Chicken wings: $4.43 for 1.5 lbs
- Ground turkey: $3.95 for 1.85 lbs
- Turkey necks: $2.39 for 1.87 lbs
Total Cost: $20.12 for 10.22 lbs
Cost per pound: $1.90
In comparison, a 6-pound bag of Nature’s Variety Beef Patties from Petco costs $43 or about $7.16 per pound
A 6-pound bag of Turducken (Turkey/Duck/Chicken mix) from Steve’s Real Food purchased at an independently owned pet retail store costs $54 or $9 per pound.
How to serve your dog’s raw meals
All you need to do is cut up or grind the muscle meats and organs and measure out your dog’s portion (more on how much to serve below).
All muscle meats are easy to cut up. I found that a bread knife works best on the beef tongue and the chicken gizzards. The ground beef/turkey are obviously easy to break up into custom portions.
Your dog will get the biggest dental benefit from eating the raw meaty bones whole because they acts like a toothbrush, but they can also be ground. See my post: How to safely feed your dog raw bones.
If your pup has weak teeth that wouldn’t be able to handle whole raw meaty bones or larger pieces of cut up meat, you can grind them.
I tested the grinding capabilities of my food processor and blender, since I don’t own a dedicated meat grinder (yet).
The food processor did a good job grinding the beef tongue:
And my blender handled the job of grinding the chicken wings:
I didn’t bother trying to throw the oxtails or turkey necks in. I had a feeling that might have been too much for my kitchen blades.
While it can be a little tricky to find small or even tiny raw meaty bones for extra small dog breeds, the oxtail packages sold at Walmart contain oxtails of various sizes.
You could use the oxtails that are too large or too small in a batch of bone broth or some other sort of nourishing soup.
Whole chicken wings work great for smaller to medium size dogs. Whole turkey necks are great for larger dogs, especially those who have a tendency to gulp bones whole without giving them a few good crunches.
How much raw dog food to serve
You’ll want to feed 2-3% of your dog’s ideal body weight on a daily basis. Your dog’s size and weight will determine how much meat their meals will consist of and how long the amount of meat purchased will last.
Missy weighs 50 lbs and eats 1 lb of meat every day. Nine to 10 lbs of food would last her about 9 days.
Buzz weighs 70 lbs and eats 1 lb 6 oz every day. The 9 to 10 lbs would last him about 6.5 days.
I measured out meals for our imaginary 10 & 20 lb doggie friends. The 10 lb pup would eat around 3 oz per day, meaning the 9 to 10 lbs would last him about 48 days!
The 20 lb pup would need double his amount on a daily basis and could make the same food last about 24 days.
You’ll also have to take your dog’s activity level and metabolism into account.
I typically feed Missy & Buzz less throughout the summer because our humid climate here in central North Carolina restricts our physical activities.
Now that it’s cooler and they’re more active again, I bumped up their food allowance by 2-3 ounces per meal.
If you’re unsure about your dog’s ideal body weight, check in with your vet and they should be happy to help you figure it out.
See our post: How much raw dog food to feed
I will say that only the ground beef I purchased was from grass-fed beef.
The tongue, oxtails, ground turkey, chicken breasts, wings, necks and livers probably came from grain-fed animals that weren’t pasture raised.
In an ideal world, you’d want to prepare your dog’s raw meals with cuts of meat from organic, grass-fed, happy animals. However, those cuts of meat come at a higher price point and aren’t sold everywhere.
If you have the choice between offering highly processed, dry dog food and a raw meal consisting of non-organic meat, I’d say the latter still trumps the first option and shouldn’t keep you from raw feeding.
You could also opt to replace one of your pups’ daily dry dog food meals with raw food. I recently wrote about being able to mix kibble & raw dog food on my blog when answering a reader’s question about that topic. A little raw is better than none!
Do you have any tips for feeding raw dog food on a budget?
Let us know in the comments!
Barbara Rivers writes regularly for That Mutt about feeding her two boxer mixes a raw dog food diet. She is a blogger and dog walker and maintains the blog K9s Over Coffee.