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I received the following question over on my YouTube channel from user Ronnie:
Hello as a beginner with raw, could you help me with what to feed, per meal and where to buy? thanks for your time.
This is a great question and one that I get all the time and it's not easy to answer because raw feeding is a big topic. But most people aren't looking for every answer under the sun, they just want to know how to get started, so this blog post is going to cover how to get started.
Why I Feed My Dogs a Raw Food Diet
If you've come across this blog post, then you probably know why I believe it's a good idea to feed a dog a raw food diet. Personally, I switched to raw because of Rodrigo's allergies (food and environmental) and digestive issues. But now, more than seven years later, I see raw as a healthier diet for my dogs. I feed raw because…
- raw food is easier for my dogs to digest
- the nutrients in a raw food diet are easier to absorb
- raw food alleviates inflammation, supports an improved immune system
- raw food improves skin and coat health, joint health, and digestive health
- raw food promotes healthier teeth and gums, fresher breath
- when fed correctly, raw food promotes a healthier weight and improved muscle mass
- I control the ingredients and sourcing in my dogs' diet and can avoid sensitivities
What I Feed to My Dogs
I feed proteins and vegetables to my dogs. The proteins include muscle meat, organs, and bones. And I feed vegetables for the additional nutrients, a source of fiber, and food for the gut microbiome.
Proteins I Feed to My Dogs
The following proteins are based on what I can afford/source):
And I reach for the following vegetables when I'm shopping; I don't always buy each vegetable:
- collard greens
- yellow squash
- green beans
- dandelion greens
- bell pepper
- mushrooms (button, crimini, shiitake, oyster, porcini)
Choosing a Raw Feeding Model
I've gone back and forth on what to feed my dogs and which raw feeding model to follow. I learned that every dog is different and we should focus on what's best for our individual dogs and not allow the pressure of well-meaning people to stress us out when learning about raw feeding. That being said, I feed my dogs a diet based on the 80/10/10 Plus model, which means that I start with a base of 80% muscle meat, 10% bone, and 10% organ meat. I don't use a calculator or software program when figuring this out – it's all by sight and doesn't have to be exact.
Two or three times a month, I mix up food in large batches (50+ lbs) called “meal prep” and this is what I feed to my dogs:
- 80% muscle meat, 10% bone, 10% organ meat (half of which is liver)
- Dr. Harvey's base mix (Paradigm or Raw Vibrance)
- Pork hearts (for additional Vitamin B)
I add the followings foods to a meal prep once a month:
When I'm feeding my dogs, I add the following to their bowls:
- Fermented fish stock for Omega 3 fatty acids (for joints, skin & coat, and brain health)
- Raw eggs every other day (for a natural multi-vitamin)
- Joint supplements daily (WINPRO Mobility for my seniors and Nutramax Cosequin DS Plus for our younger dogs)
I do add other supplements to my dogs' meals, however, they are based on each dog's unique needs and not based on some random requirement of raw feeding.
Where I Buy Ingredients for Raw Feeding
I belong to a raw food co-op here in the Pacific Northwest and it allows me to place orders for everything I need from one location. I also shop at local ethnic markets for more variety and I get organ meat from friends who raise their own meat. I buy vegetables from a local market and grocery store. There are a few supplements I order from Chewy.com and Amazon, but those are specific to my dogs.
How Much Raw Food to Feed per Meal
There are several raw food calculators, but the only one I trust is on the Perfectly Rawsome website because it covers many models. I suggest starting with a raw food calculator and adjusting your dog's diet based on their individual needs. This means that if you notice your dog gaining weight and that's not the plan, then slowly decrease how much you're feeding until your dog stops gaining weight. And if you notice your dog gaining weight, slowly increase how much you're feeding until your dog's weight plateaus.
I feed my dogs based on their weight, activity level, and individual needs. I have a dog scale (purchased online) that I use to keep on top of my dogs' weight. Before I purchased the scale, I took my dogs into a local vet's office to weigh them. It's not a good idea to do this on a Saturday because this is the busiest day for veterinarian clinics. Having a scale makes it easier to keep on top of my dogs' diet so that I'm not over or underfeeding them.
Here is how much I'm currently feeding my dogs:
|Dog||Weight||Ounces / Meal||Ounces / Day||Pounds / Day||Percentage|
Have Meals Formulated for Your Dog
So, with all that said, if you're feeling a bit overwhelmed and you'd like to have someone formulate a meal or two for you to get started, then I recommend the following professionals:
- Dr. Laurie Coger, Healthy Dog Workshop
- Ronny LeJeune, Perfectly Rawsome
- Scott J Marshall II, Raw Feeding 101
With a raw meal plan service, you can receive a “recipe” for your dog that includes the proteins you have access too, making DIY raw feeding easier. Plus, a meal plan will save you from wasting money on ingredients you don't need, which makes DIY raw feeding more affordable.
Ordering a custom meal plan is also recommended for pet parents who are switching a puppy to a raw food diet. To ensure that your puppy grows into a healthy dog, you want to make sure that you're balancing their diet daily and not overtime (which is how I feed my adult dogs).
Raw Feeding Resources
This post will get you started on transitioning your dog to a raw food diet. Here are a few more resources that you may find helpful.
- A Novice's Guide to Raw Feeding for Dogs (my book)
- Raw Feeding 101 Online Course
- Facebook Group: Raw Feeding 101, Learn to Feed Raw
- Facebook Group: Raw Feeding University – RFU
Please check out the Resources Page of my website for more raw feeding resources.