This post may contain affiliate links.
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 began feeding a raw food diet, it was easy because I was feeding my dogs premade raw. Just thaw, remove from package and place in the dogs' dishes. Darwin's Pet made it even easier by making each package 1/2 pound. I barely have to weigh the food!
But then I switched to DIY raw feeding and all the ease of feeding my dogs went out the window. When we feed DIY, we introduce a host of challenges that we need to overcome like education, sourcing, storage, meal prep, and balancing. So, in 2014, when I originally wrote this blog post, I believed that raw feeding wasn't easy; at least, it wasn't easy for me. Today, I'm going to share how I overcame each obstacle.
Learning About Raw Feeding
One of my favorite things to say is “raw feeding is a marathon, not a sprint.” Often we expect an ending date when we're learning something. When it comes to raw feeding, we're always learning because there is always new information coming to light I speak with fellow raw feeders content creators, raw food manufacturers, and veterinarians regularly and we're always trading information because this is an evolving community that is now gaining traction and followers.
I created a Resources Page of my website to share the people, books, courses, and other resources that I use to help me feed my dogs. And, when I receive new information, I don't freak out (anymore). Instead, I hunker down to do more homework, I ask someone who is smarter than me on the issue, or I let it go and revisit later. One thing I've learned over the past five years is that I'll eventually get it and my dogs will be fine.
Sourcing for Raw Feeding
I was introduced to a local raw food co-op shortly before I originally wrote this blog post, but I sucked at sticking to a reasonable budget. So I created a spreadsheet and began tracking costs for my dogs and stopped buying things just because someone in a raw feeding group said all dogs need _____, I was able to bring my monthly budget down to a reasonable amount for me.
Not everyone has access to a raw food co-op, but there are still ways to save money on raw:
- 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)
Storage for Raw Feeders
We have two stand up freezers in our garage which allow me to order food in bulk which saves me a ton of money. I picked up my freezers from the Appliance Recycling Outlet in Snohomish, WA. If you're looking for a freezer, check out Craigslist, the Facebook Marketplace, Costco, and shop sales. One thing that concerned me was increasing our power bill with energy inefficient appliances, so do your homework!
The second step that I made to keep everything organized wasn't a step at all. J did it! He came across an office remodel, and the people planned to trash the existing cabinets. J brought the home and put them in our garage, and I now have plenty of storage for dry goods and fermenting vegetables.
Meal Prep for Raw Feeders
I used to try and balance to 80/10/10, and I preferred to feed ground raw because it wasn't messy when the dogs ate. I would spend hours grinding meat, bones, and organ meat with a grinder that wasn't quite up to the task and I'd be exhausted by the end of the day. Today, I have a quality meat grinder (Cabela's 3/4 HP), and I began feeding more whole cuts of meat to my dogs. What's ironic is around the time I made that change, our suppliers began grinding the meat for us – so I'm back to feeding ground, I just don't make it.
Today, I mix up a batch of food for the dogs a couple of times a week, switching proteins weekly. It's super easy and takes 20 minutes, maybe 30 minutes if I'm watching TV at the same time. Every Friday, I post a recipe of what my dogs are eating to show how easy it is to make a raw meal.
Balancing a Raw Meal for Dogs
When I bought my car a couple of years ago, I chose a blue color that I loved, and I thought it was so unique. The next day, I saw my car everywhere; I still do. That's what's happening to me with the topic of balance. Because I think about it a lot, I see discussions about it everywhere on Facebook, and it's interesting that we have such varied opinions about what it takes to balance our dogs' diets.
Over the past five years, I've changed my mind a few times based on what I've been learning. I started by balancing using a base mix; then I went back and forth between Prey and BARF models while trying to balance to 80/10/10, then I decided to balance over time. Today, I still balance over time, but I do educate myself about the macro and micronutrients my dogs need.
I'm a numbers person, so when my friend Destiny White offered to help me by providing me with what each of my dogs needs in their diet, I was excited to take that information and put it into an expanded workbook to better understand what I feed to my dogs. My next step is to help others do the same without becoming experts in Excel spreadsheets. Stay tuned!