Getting Started with Raw Feeding

If you’re new to the world of raw feeding then this page is for you! It contains all the information you need to get up to speed quickly and start raw feeding confidently!

Raw Feeding: The Definition

So what’s it all about? A raw dog food diet is the process of mimicking a dog’s natural diet, one they would find in the wild. It’s no secret that dogs evolved from wolves, and their gastrointestinal systems are exactly the same as they’ve ever been, uniquely designed to digest their prey; bones, fat, muscle, flesh and organs – the whole shebang!

Dogs have been eating raw food as part of their natural diet long before man invented kibble, so why change things?
Kibble was created for convenience and not for the benefit of man’s best friend.

Raw food contains roughly 75-­85% fresh meat with the rest being a mixture of animal bones, vegetables, organs, and other natural ingredients designed to give your dog a healthy balanced diet.

Why would you feed raw? A raw diet introduces many health benefits such as an improved immune system, healthier teeth and gums, an impressively shiny coat and a longer life span.

You can read more about what raw feeding is here.

Types of Raw Feeding: What to Expect

There are two distinct feeding styles with raw feeding, these are BARF and Prey.

BARF

BARF stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods (but can also mean Bones And Raw Food). This is the easiest way to start with raw, and the route most people first go down. A BARF diet consist of a mix of raw meat, bones, fruits and vegetables carefully formulated to mimic a dogs evolutionary diet.

Prey

Prey (also known as Prey Model Raw, PMR) takes BARF to the next level by striving to feed whole prey whenever possible, instead of a pre-mixed meal. This includes animals whole deer, chickens, rabbits, turkeys and many other small mammals that dogs would hunt or scavenge in the wild.

More about BARF vs Prey here

How much raw dog food to feed

You should aim to feed a varied and balanced diet over the course of a week, alternating different meats wherever possible.

The ideal combination of food types are:

  • 80% raw meat 
  • 10% bone 
  • 10% offal (half of which should be liver) 

Remember, these percentages don’t need to be exact per meal or per day, just a target for the week.

Dogs need to consume 2-3% of their ideal (healthy sized adult) bodyweight per day, usually split over two meals. This figure may be different from one dog to another as you will need to adjust for their current size and activity levels.

If your dog is overweight then feed 2%, likewise if you dog is too skinny, you may want to increase this amount to 3.5%. Start with a percentage and fine tune it over time.

The table below gives a rough feeding weight in both metric and imperial, this is based on 2.5% bodyweight.

Weight in KG Feed Weight in lbs Feed
5kg 125g 10lb 4oz
10kg 250g 20lb 8oz
15kg 375g 35lb 14oz
20kg 500g 45lb 18oz
25kg 625g 55lb 22oz
30kg 750g 65lb 26oz
35kg 875g 80lb 32oz
40kg 1kg 90lb 36oz
45kg 1.125kg 100lb 40oz

Don’t forget that treats count towards the daily allowance so if you’re doing heavy training sessions, you may want to compensate during meal time.

Making the switch to raw

The best way to switch your dog onto raw food is to just do it a.k.a. going cold turkey. Stop feeding your dog kibble one day, then start on raw food the next morning. You can introduce a starve day in between if you like to help clear the dogs system of kibble, starving will not harm your dog, in nature dogs are used to going a day or two without food after an unsuccessful hunt.

Don’t be tempted to mix kibble in with the raw food, you’re best off sticking with 100% raw. Meat and kibble are digested at different rates which isn’t ideal for your dog.
For the first week or two, stick with one variant of food, a safe starter flavour is chicken. Mixing flavours so early on can lead to an upset stomach and unwanted trips to the toilet. Likewise, don’t introduce offal too early, it’s best to leave it 4-5 weeks then introduce it slowly.

If you have a puppy, switching is the same process, perhaps even easier. Puppies love raw dog food, and will very easily take to it. Start puppies off with three meals a day rather than two until they are around 6 months old.

Find out more information about raw feeding puppies.

Once your dog is happy eating raw food, you can look into other raw treats and snacks which your pooch will love. Just remember to keep a close eye on your dog whenever they’re given bones as they can be a choking hazard, most dogs are fine however some do struggle.

Is raw feeding safe?

You bet it is! Follow basic food hygiene precautions and you can’t go wrong.

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Disclaimer

As with anything, there is no single best way to raw feed your dog, everyone has a different opinion and likes to follow their own rules. The guidelines on this page are a set of well researched best practices and for educational use only.