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This post was originally written in April 2016, it has been updated and republished with more money-saving tips.
Interest in Raw Feeding is Growing
This isn't surprising to me.
What I'm not excited about is the price point of new raw brands. I couldn't afford to feed raw even if I fed our dogs these brands part of the time. My concern is that these high prices are going to frighten people away from the diet, especially if they are made to feel that they don't prioritize their dogs when they balk at the sticker price of many raw brands.
When I started looking into raw feeding, I nearly passed on the diet, because it cost too much. But connecting with other local raw feeders was a game-changer as I discovered new sources that are helping me save money.
21 Ways to Save Money on Raw Dog Food
If you're interested in feeding raw, but freaked out by the cost, there are plenty of ways to save money. However, you'll have to be willing to make raw dog food yourself.
1 – Join a local raw food co-op.
3 – Reach out to brands to see if they offer a discount on bulk orders.
4 – Contact distributors and local pet stores about a discount on bulk orders.
5 – Connect with other raw feeders in your area to see how they save on raw.
6 – Connect with other raw feeders to see if they'll go in on a discounted bulk order.
7 – Shop sales at the grocery store, Walmart, or discounted grocery stores.
8 – Contact your local butcher to see if they sell trim or parts that they'd otherwise throw away.
9 – Search online forums and Craigslist for hunters who may be willing to sell meat or the trim; be sure to check local laws to make sure that they can sell you their excess meat.
10 – Join the mailing list of Raw Paws Pet Food to be the first to learn about discounts and sales.
11 – Go hunting.
12 – Learn about the roadkill laws in your state; can you take a dead deer to be butchered? It's important to note that not all roadkill is fit for consumption.
13 – Raise your own meat; chickens, ducks, rabbits, etc.
14 – Post an add to Craigslist or the FB Marketplace for old meat that people would otherwise throw out. Keep in mind that you will have to add more taurine and other nutrients because it does degrade in old meat.
15 – Search Craigslist for “freezer dumps:” this is when someone posts free or inexpensive meat that they plan to throw away. Keep in mind that you will have to add more taurine and other nutrients because it does degrade in old meat.
16 – Contact a local rendering plant to see if you can buy meat from them. Make sure that this is a USDA approved plant and not diseased meat.
17 – Contact local restaurants to see what they do with old meat. It may be illegal for them to give it to you, so do it on the down low.
18 – Contact local farms to ask about their butchering schedules and if the meat is available.
19 – Look for less expensive cuts of meat; for instance, pork organ meat is most affordable where I live.
20 – Feed a partial dry dog food and partial raw diet; some raw is better than no raw. I started my dogs this way by feeding raw in the morning and kibble in the evening.
21 – Become a dog nutrition blogger and use the revenue to offset your raw budget. Or work with raw dog food brands as their influencer, writing about their food in exchange for free or discounted food. I have a friend who does this with a brand and she now feeds two big dogs a high-quality food.
9 More Ways to Save Money on Raw Feeding
Over the past couple of years, I've learned more ways to save money from fellow raw feeders and through my own experience and I'm updating this post with more tips.
22 – Connect with a mobile butcher; this is a person who goes to farms to slaughter/butcher animals and a fellow raw feeder suggested that we inquire about what is done with the parts of the animal the farmer doesn't keep – maybe we can purchase it off of the butcher or farmer for our pets.
23 – Don't be a short-order cook. Find affordable proteins that all of your dogs can eat. Rodrigo is sensitive to chicken, turkey, and beef. I no longer feed chicken and turkey (duck is just as affordable for us) and I swapped out the beef for grass-fed beef that I source from local homesteaders (for free!).
24 – Check the want ads for an army base. Someone told me that when soldiers are deployed, they'll often sell (or giveaway) everything in their freezer. If you live near a military base, find out where the military personnel might post such ads.
25 – Make sure you're not overfeeding your dogs. When I started feeding raw, I leaned too heavily on raw feeding calculators and ended up overfeeding my dogs. All of them. They're down to a healthier weight now, which means that the food I purchase lasts longer (saving money).
26 – Choose DIY raw feeding over feeding commercial raw. I can't believe that this isn't on my initial list, but switching to primarily DIY raw has made it possible for me to continue feeding raw after we added a fifth dog to our family. I went through our freezer and identified everything I could make myself and the savings were a surprise.
27 – Choose whole foods over supplements. Another mistake that I made was buying every supplement I saw recommended in raw feeding groups and in articles. This became very expensive and it took forever to prepare a meal with all the pills and powders I had to add. Today, I only add a few supplements – everything else comes from the food that I feed to my dogs.
28 – Incorporate a fasting day for adult dogs. Fasting a dog is a way to help the gut and immune system reset. This isn't something that everyone is comfortable doing and there are people who think that a fast is starving your dog – it's not. When I fast my dogs, instead of eating their meals, they eat two meals of raw goat's milk (with an egg added to the morning meal) or bone broth. Some people do a true fast with no food.
29 – Pick up your orders instead of having them delivered. If you feed a commercial raw diet that is delivered by a company in or near your town, ask if you can pick up the food and save on shipping costs. I learned last year that a local company in my town allows pick up. I had no idea.
30 – Shop at a local farmer's market. This is another one that I can't believe that I missed on the initial list. A farmer's market is a great place for fresh vegetables and, if you live in a rural place, you can connect with farmers and see if you can score some meat as well.
Raw feeding doesn't have to be expensive. I encourage you to join friendly raw feeding groups to get ideas on how to feed your dogs a better diet without breaking the bank. CLICK HERE for a list of my favorite raw feeding (and raw-adjacent) Facebook groups.