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In 2014, I decided to start sharing my journey as a raw feeder. I had been feeding my dogs a raw food diet for a year and wrote about what I had learned as part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Looking back, I cringe at how little I knew about raw feeding and decided to update each of those blog posts in 2018-19.
When I was initially researching raw feeding for my dogs, the one “pro” to the diet was the cost. Everyone kept telling me how they were spending a fraction of what they were spending when they fed kibble. But I couldn't figure it out because everywhere I looked, raw feeding was going to cost hundreds of dollars a month – and that was just the food. My worst month, I spent over $800 for four dogs after going back to commercial raw when DIY was a complete failure (the dogs had diarrhea). I reached out to a local raw feeder to ask about sourcing and that's when I received the best advice about raw feeding – join the local raw food co-op.
Why is Raw Feeding So Expensive?
For many people, raw feeding isn't affordable because there is a lack of local sources. If the only option is premade raw, then raw feeding can get expensive. I have four big dogs and feeding 100% commercial, premade raw that is either delivered or picked up at a local pet store is not in my budget. When I'm feeding commercial raw, I'm paying for someone else to take care of the sourcing, balancing, packaging, and, in some cases, delivery. On the other hand, DIY requires me to take on all of those steps, which decreases the cost; I'm no longer paying for someone else's overhead.
What is a Raw Food Co-Op?
A raw food co-op is a group of raw feeders who have come together to place orders in bulk at a discounted price. The reason I'm able to afford to feed four big dogs a raw food diet is that I order 100 pounds or more at a time. Currently, I have two full freezers of raw food that will last me into the new year. And because I'm ordering in bulk, I have two refurbished, stand-up freezers in our garage that I purchased from the Appliance Recycling Outlet in Snohomish, Washington.
Other Costs When Feeding a Raw Diet
When I started feeding raw, I used to share a list of things people should buy as they transition their dogs to a raw diet. Today, I recommend holding off on spending a ton of money and think about what you really need because I have a list of things I purchased that I didn't end up needing as a raw feeding.
For example, I have a $400 meat grinder that I use every couple of months when I grind duck wings. In the beginning, I ground everything because it was easier to feed and store. Over the years, raw feeding has become more mainstream and most everything I order for my dogs comes already ground. Everything else, I prefer to feed whole because it's great for teeth cleaning, working the jaw and shoulder muscles, and satisfying a dog's chew drive.
I don't regret my meat grinder purchase, because it's nice to have it when I need it. I prefer my stainless steel bowls, storage containers, and freezers. These are the items I use daily.
Saving Money on Raw Feeding
If you're looking into raw feeding and you're struggling with the price tag, there are several ways to save money on raw. Here are a couple of blog posts that I've written that may help give you some ideas.
- Raw Paws Pet Food (sign up for the newsletter to get emails of their specials)
- 21 Ways to Save Money on Raw Dog Food
- 4 Examples of Craigslists Ads for Raw Feeders
- How to Start a Raw Food Co-Op (I Think)
Today, I spend, on average, about $200 a month on raw food for my four dogs and one cat by shopping through a local raw food co-op. Feeding a raw diet affordably is possible. If you have money saving tips, please share them in the comments.