An Introduction to Raw Feeding for Dogs

A Novice's Guide to Raw Feeding for Dogs

A Novice's Guide to Raw Feeding for Dogs is a book that I wrote to help others who are interested in transitioning their dogs to a raw food diet by sharing my experience transitioning my dogs to raw and learning how to feed a "balanced" DIY raw diet.

A Novice's Guide to Raw Feeding for Dogs is a book that I wrote to help others who are interested in transitioning their dogs to a raw food diet by sharing my experience transitioning my dogs to raw and learning how to feed a “balanced” DIY raw diet.

Order your copy of A Novice's Guides to Raw Feeding for Dogs

What Readers are Saying

This book is everything a new raw feeder wants and needs. It’s THEE how-to guide for raw feeders. I loved every single bit of it!

Amy G, Blogger, Turning Leaf Labradors

Read your book and loved it.  It's going on my recommended list for my puppy families.

Lynn H., Professional and Reputable Breeder of Labrador Retrievers

I just finished the book and it was Great. A lot of helpful information in there. I can't wait for Book 2.

Linda C., Life with Riley & Friends

Order your copy of A Novice's Guides to Raw Feeding for Dogs

Inspiration Behind My Blog and Book

I began blogging about my journey as a raw feeder because I found it complicated and overwhelming. If you ask a question in a raw feeding group, you'll get 50 responses and their all different. Want to add vegetables? Some will tell you that vegetables are filler foods, others will say that they are a great source of fiber, while others will say vegetables are necessary to balance a dog's diet. My thought was that if learning about raw feeding was difficult for me, then others may have the same experience. Therefore, I began to share what I was learning through this blog.

Now, let's get to the basics.

What is Raw Feeding?

Raw feeding is my attempt to replicate a natural and biologically appropriate diet for dogs.  I’m not under the misconception that my dogs are wolves and that I need to feed them like wolves, despite what the Internet says about raw feeders.  My dogs are domesticated canines, they are facultative carnivores, and while they were surviving on a kibble diet, they are thriving on a diet of fresh food.

Facultative Carnivores – Dogs are identified as facultative carnivores (not omnivores) because while they can survive on a plant-based diet, they thrive on a carnivorous diet.

Why I Switched My Dogs to Raw

I switched my dogs to a diet of raw food after one of my dogs, Rodrigo, kept getting sick.  He was put on several rounds of antibiotics and racked up a high vet bill and we still didn’t know why he kept getting sick.  He had food sensitivities, environmental allergies, digestive issues, skin rashes, recurring ear infections, he licked his paws until they developed sores, joint pain/arthritis, and he was aggressive (probably because he felt like crap).

When it became obvious that the veterinarian didn’t have a solution and after he predicted that my dog wouldn’t live long past his third birthday, I switched our dogs to raw.  I saw an improvement to his health within the first two weeks; most of the issues that he was experiencing cleared up. 

No More AllergiesShiny CoatCleaner Teeth
Healthy WeightSmaller PoopFewer Vet Visits

Benefits of Raw Feeding (my experience)

  • No More Allergies – A raw food diet boosts immune system health, helping dogs combat allergies.
  • Gorgeous Coat – The healthy fatty acids and nutrients in a raw diet for dogs improve their skin and coat health.
  • Cleaner Teeth – Enjoying raw meaty bones satisfies the chew drive while cleaning teeth and freshening breath.
  • Healthy Weight – Raw fed dogs eat natural, unprocessed foods and have more energy and focus.
  • Smaller Poop – A raw diet is easier to digest, dogs absorb more nutrients, leading to smaller poop.
  • Fewer Vet Visits – Switching to raw reduced vet visits from every other month to annual check-ups.

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BARF ModelPrey ModelFrankenBARFCommercial Raw

Raw Feeding Models

BARF Model

BARF (biologically appropriate raw food) Model Raw Feeding is a raw food diet that includes fruits, vegetables, and supplements.  This is where many raw feeders start because it's easy to incorporate and many pre-made raw brands are based on the BARF model of raw feeding.  BARF Model raw feeders believe that fruits and vegetables are an important part of a dog's diet and provide many nutrients that are beneficial to our dogs' health. 65%-75% muscle meat 10%-15% bone 5% offal 5% liver 5%-10% vegetables, dairy, eggs

Prey Model

Prey Model Raw Feeding is a raw food diet that includes meat, organ meat, and bone.  This model more closely resembles what wolves eat in the wild.  Prey Model raw feeders believe that vegetables and fruit aren't necessary for a dog's diet and only serve as fillers. Prey Model ratio: 80% muscle meat 10% bone 5% offal 5% liver

FrankenBARF Model (or 80/10/10 Plus)

This is the model that I now feed to my dogs. It's a mixture of mostly BARF Model with some Prey Model.  After more than three years of feeding raw, I have come to the conclusion that vegetables and fruit are a beneficial part of my dogs' diet.  I also add supplements to their meals.  However, sometimes I like to feed them based on the Prey Model to provide more variety. FrankenBARF Model ratio: 80% muscle meat 10% bone 5% offal 5% liver Vegetables, goats milk, raw eggs, supplements – all added in addition to the above to provide additional nutrients and satisfy each dog's specific needs.

Commercial Premade Raw

Premade raw dog food refers to commercially prepared raw.  The benefit of feeding premade raw is that it reduces the concern about sourcing and feeding a balanced diet – the brand takes care of this for you.  However, because the brand takes on the burden of providing a quality, balanced raw diet – they charge more for their food.  Premade raw can be significantly more expensive than DIY. There are several brands that I buy for my dogs although I make 99% of their raw meals.  And there are a lot of new brands coming to the market that practice questionable sourcing, use synthetic vitamins, and aren't transparent about their ingredients.  Beware. Brands I occasionally feed to my dogs include Darwin's Natural Pet Products, Answers Pet Food, Columbia Pet Food, Raw Paws Pet Food, and

How I Transitioned to Raw

I transitioned two of our dogs to raw via a Hybrid Diet, which means that I fed my dogs raw (premade, commercial raw from Darwin's Natural Pet Products) in the morning and kibble in the evening. I did this to make sure my dogs did well on the new diet and it gave me time to figure out my budget. Premade raw isn't cheap.

Ten months later, I joined a local raw food co-op, which made raw feeding more affordable by cutting my budget by 50%. Over the years, we've added more dogs to our family and I've been able to cut my budget further because I do DIY. For five dogs (55 lbs – 70 lbs), I spend, on average, $300/month. Our other three dogs were transitioned to raw cold turkey.

How to Balance a Raw Food Diet

There are a lot of people who are concerned about balancing a raw food diet. I don't believe that this is a concern because (1) there isn't one way to feed all of our dogs that will provide balance – every dog is different and (2) there hasn't been a long term study conducted to show us what is necessary for raw fed dogs (all of the food trials are based on kibble). That being said, I worked with a friend to create a spreadsheet using NRC figures (a book launched in the early 1980s and updated in 2004 or 2006) because it's the best we have. The spreadsheet helped me see if there were any glaring holes in my dogs' diet. I also run recipes through the Animal Diet Formulator to gain a better understanding of what nutrients are provided by which foods.

Although the nutrient spreadsheet is based on my dogs (their weight), it is available to my Newsletter Subscribers.

Balance Over Time

I choose to balance my dogs' diet over time because this makes sense to me – I don't eat a balanced meal three times a day every day, so why would I feed y dogs this way? And, if my dogs were wild, you can't tell me that they would be eating a balanced meal every day – no, they would scavenge for what they can get and what they need on a daily basis. I have four adult dogs and one adolescent that is still growing (so I add more calcium to his diet). I feed my dogs based on a raw feeding model called FrankenBARF or 80/10/10 Plus, which is explained above.

How I Feed 80/10/10 Plus

When I feed my dogs, I don't grab a calculator to figure out how much muscle meat I need to feed 80% to my dogs. Instead, when I'm pulling food from the freezer, I estimate the 80/10/10 because that's an estimate. For example, I'll thaw 10 pounds of ground beef mixed with organs, 5 pounds of ground turkey necks. I mix the meat and bone with Dr. Harvey's Paradigm or Raw Vibrance (these are base mixes), which allows me to add vegetables (which I think are great for fiber and antioxidants) and other nutrients. And sometimes I toss in fermented foods (fermented fish stock, vegetables, seeds) for natural probiotics to boost gut health.

While others may feel that using a software program or calculator to feed their dogs is best, I prefer the simplicity of 80/10/10 Plus. This raw feeding model combined with feeding a variety of proteins (at least three) and using a solid base mix (I recommend Dr. Harvey's) will create a healthy raw food diet.

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What I Feed to My Dogs

My dogs eat a variety of proteins and other ingredients that I purchase through a local raw food co-op. As I stated above, my goal is to keep my budget to approximately $300/month, therefore, I try to stick to proteins that cost less than $3/lb allowing me to purchase a couple at $5/lb for Rodrigo, who has a few protein sensitivities.

Where I Source My Ingredients

I source the majority of ingredients that I feed to my dogs through a local raw food co-op. You can also source food from the butcher, local grocery store, local farms, hunters, freezer dumps (when someone is giving away old meat), and more. The best way to learn about resources in your area is to join a raw feeding group. I recommend Raw Feeding University and Raw Feeding 101 on Facebook.

How Much I Feed to My Dogs

I use a raw food calculator to figure out how much to feed my dogs. I then adjust the amount based on the individual dogs. For example, if my dog is gaining weight and I don't want them to gain weight, then I decrease how much I feed.

Order Books on Raw Feeding for Dogs

The following are books that I've written and books that I recommend if you're interested in learning more about raw feeding for dogs.

Courses About Raw Feeding and Canine Wellness

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