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When people find out that I'm feeding 4 dogs a raw food diet without breaking the bank, they're pretty impressed. I have to say that I'm impressed too, but it wasn't always like this for us.
In February or March 2014, I was researching dry food brands and my heart was broken. I was going to have to switch our dogs back to dry food, because I couldn't afford to feed raw. I was kicking myself, because before I switched our dogs to a raw diet, I knew that it was too expensive.
I felt like a failure.
Today, more than a year later, I have been exposed to so much about raw feeding including how to find sources for our food. I keep 2 freezers full of raw meat for our dogs.
Here are some tips if you're looking for some ways to save money on raw dog food.
1. Make the Food Yourself
Premade raw is great in the beginning, but if you aren't riding the financial gravy train, premade is expensive. I can't bring myself to spend $200 on a few days of food when $200 can cover nearly a month for our 4 dogs if I make the food myself.
It's not hard at all, but you will need a few things if you plan to feed a ground raw diet like me.
- Meat grinder
- Vacuum sealer and bags or Ziploc bags
- Freezer space
You can get an extra freezer used on Craigslist (take someone with you who knows appliances) or for a great price at an appliance recycling outlet or from Costco. And if you feed whole prey model, you won't need the meat grinder.
I spend a few hours each weekend making food for our dogs.
2. Join a Raw Food Co-Op
Because of Rodrigo's protein allergies, I have to find proteins other than chicken and beef. Many premade brands offer several protein options, but the cost is too much. Our local butchers are too expensive, so they're not an option.
We belong to WAzzuOR, a local raw food co-op where I can get rabbit, venison, elk, emu, bison, mackerel, sardines, and many other proteins at a reasonable price. I have the 2015 calendar in my bag and use it to budget what I need so that I don't over buy.
3. Order from Raw Paws Pet Food
Raw Paws Pet Food offers free shipping to many US states if you order $200 in raw. This is a great source for traditional and non-traditional proteins:
They also have sales, something that I haven't seen in any other raw brand. I'm on their mailing list and will be notified of any upcoming discounts.
We received a free order of goat, quail, freeze dried green tripe, and some chews from Raw Paws Pet Food and it arrived within a couple of days, completely frozen and well packaged.
Our dogs did well on the goat and loved it. This week, they'll be eating quail.
4. Place an Ad on Craigslist
I was too big of a chicken to place an ad on Craigslist. I was afraid some psycho who hated dogs would sell me tainted meat. Then I met a friend (through her CL ad) who does it all the time and she's never had trouble. Plus it's a great way to raise awareness of raw feeding as people ask “do you really feed this to your dogs raw?”
My friend has been able to not only get freezer dumps (when someone gives you everything in their freezer instead of throwing it away), she's connected with hunters and butchers who also provide her quality cuts of meat at a great price.
5. Trade or Partner with Other Raw Feeders
Speaking of friends I've met online, I now have a local circle of great friends (raw people can be so cool) and we trade food or partner on orders all the time.
It saves me money, time, and gives us an excuse to get together.
Having trouble finding raw feeding friends? Check out raw feeding Facebook groups. Yes, they can be scary, but you can start a thread seeing if anyone lives in your area and then connect with them outside of the group.
One thing that I've learned over the past year is that raw feeding doesn't have to be expensive. I've met people who live on a limited income and still feed multiple dogs a raw diet.