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How Does a Raw Fed Dog Get Enough Nutrients?



Whenever I meet people who are new to raw feeding, the question always comes up about the nutrients.  People are so used to seeing a laundry list of synthetic vitamins on bags of dog food that they assume that we have to do the same for a raw food diet for dogs.


As long as we're feeding a balanced raw diet, our dogs are getting everything they need. I no longer add a multi-vitamin, nutrient blend, or base mix to my dogs' raw diet because it's not necessary.  Thankfully, I have access to muscle meat, bone, liver, and organ meat – so I'm good to go.

Feeding a Balanced Raw Food Diet

But how do you make sure you're feeding a balanced raw food diet?  You can do this by starting with the following ratio:

You can do this by starting with the following ratio:

  • 80% muscle meat
  • 10% bone
  • 10% liver
  • 10% offal (secreting organs like kidneys, spleen, pancreas)

I consider this a starting point because not every dog is different.  While 10% bone may be perfect for one dog, another dog may need a little more or less.  The longer I feed a raw diet, the easier it is to know what each of my dogs needs.  And while I know how to calculate the ratio when making raw dog food, I prefer to balance over time.

What is Balancing Over Time?

The reason balancing over time is easier is because it requires less work.  I used to spend a half a day, twice a month, calculating, grinding, and mixing up balanced raw meals.  It's not a big deal but the storage containers take up a ton of freezer space.  When I balance over time, I can better stock the freezer and just pull out what the dogs need from day to day.

For example, if I feed duck frames (the body of the duck, no wings, neck, or feet) tonight, I understand that this is a high bone raw meal; so tomorrow, our dogs will eat muscle meat and organ meat only.  The theory is that by the end of the second or third day, their diet is balanced.

But to really understand how my dogs are doing, I've become an expert in their poop.  If their poop is hard and dry, then I add less bone (or more muscle meat or more organ meat).  If their poop is soft, then I add more bone (or less organ meat).

So, How Does a Raw Fed Dog Get Their Nutrients?

So, you're welcome for all the balance chatter, but I haven't answered the initial question, have I?  A dog gets their nutrients from their diet, but for many people, that statement isn't enough.  So here is a list of common foods that I feed to my dogs with a list of nutrients that they'll get in their diet.

Raw Meal…

  • Duck Wings – protein, fat, calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, copper, selenium, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E.
  • Venison – protein, fat, iron, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12
  • Organ Blend (heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas, spleen) – protein, fat, copper, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Niacin, Zinc, iron, riboflavin
  • Sardines – protein, omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, calcium, phosphorus, selenium, iodine, copper, choline
  • Eggs – protein, fat, Vitamin A, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B12, selenium, phosphorus, folate


  • Spirulina – protein, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, copper, iron, chlorophyll, calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, zinc, potassium
  • Kelp – iodine, Vitamin K, folate, magnesium, calcium, iron
  • Raw Goat's Milk – protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin B2, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, copper, zinc

Veggie Mix…

  • Kale – Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, maganese, fiber, copper, calcium, iron
  • Spinach – Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, manganese, folate, mangesium, iron, potassium, calcium
  • Zucchini – Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, fiber, manganese, riboflavin, potassium, folate
  • Celery – fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, folate, potassium, calcium
  • Collard Greens – Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, riboflavin, thiamine, niacin
  • Broccoli – fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium

Is This All My Dogs Really Need?

Maybe. Maybe not.  My dogs are doing great and once a year they are subjected to blood work and my vet and I go over their diet and he lets me know what I need to change.  In the past four years, the only change my veterinarian suggested was adding more vegetables to their raw meals.

And it's important to know that every dog is different and some dogs need additional supplementation.  This is something that a holistic veterinarian experienced in raw feeding can guide you on AND it's something that many raw feeders figure out as they learn more about their dogs and raw feeding.  For example, Sydney has joint issues as a result of a past injury and she gets a supplement called Canine System Saver and golden paste four days a week.  Rodrigo has gut issues and gets a pancreas supplement 6 days a week.

While raw feeding can be intimidating and overwhelming, it's amazing how quickly you learn what your dog needs.


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