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This post was originally published March, 2016. It has been updated with new information and republished.
Although I'm not the only blogger who writes regularly about raw feeding, I'm one of the few who regularly posts reviews about raw dog food. My goal is to help raise awareness of raw, help change the opinion that raw feeding is a “trendy new diet.”
That changed when a raw food brand that is charging $15/pound for a protein that I can get for $5/pound told me that what people can afford depends on their priorities. Ummmm, what????
Are you saying that my dogs aren't a priority, because I won't pay for raw dog food that is priced 200% higher than what I currently pay?
I'm more than positive that this isn't the message the brand was trying to convey; maybe the person was saying that if I cut back on other expenses, I'd be able to afford their expensive food. It's obvious that I'm not the brand's target market, and I don't think my readers are either because most of the pet parents I speak with are looking for ways to reduce their budget.
Can you afford $15/pound for raw dog food?
Personally, unless the food is 100% balanced for each of my dogs (every dog is different), arrives at my door, and someone stops by to pick up and analyze our dogs' poop – giving me a weekly status report for each dog – the food is too expensive.
30 Ways I Prioritize My Dogs
- I spend an inordinate amount of time researching everything so that I can give our dogs the best life.
- We have two freezers dedicated to their food.
- I blog about my dogs' raw food diet and health.
- I travel to expos and tradeshows in search of products that would be perfect for my dogs.
- I spend at least two hours weekly making dog food.
- Some days, I'm a short-order cook, because of Rodrigo's food allergies.
- Our dogs have two main vets, and I consult with three other vets.
- I turned half of my home office into a bedroom for the dogs, including a queen-sized bed.
- When we have a power outage, I allow Rodrigo and Zoey to crawl into my lap; that's 120+ pounds of dog.
- I take our dogs to the pet store and local brewery (one at a time) just for fun.
- I am a snob about pet stores because I want only the best for our dogs.
- I've negotiated deals with brands so that I can get the best food, supplements, and treats for our dogs.
- I work so hard building my blog because I want to work from home and be with my dogs.
- My mother-in-law calls my dogs her grand doggies.
- I have a meat grinder and professional knives for raw feeding.
- I belong to a raw food co-op.
- I ferment vegetables for my dogs.
- I also ferment seeds for my dogs.
- All my friends are dog people just like me.
- I plan play dates for my dogs.
- I spent more than 3 months researching raw before I switched our dogs.
- Today, nearly 7 years after switching, I'm still researching their diet.
- I pick up poop daily to know how our dogs are doing; in the winter, I'm outside with a headlamp and flashlight.
- I make plans around my dogs' schedule.
- I attend two online conferences annually to learn more about feeding our dogs.
- Rodrigo and Sydney turned six years old when this post was originally written (today, they're 9-1/2 years old) and I still celebrate both birthdays and half birthdays with all of our dogs.
- I spent $600 on meal formulation software to make sure that I was making balanced meals for my dogs.
- A couple of times a year, I pay for a SniffSpot so my dogs can explore a new property in peace.
- I have cameras around the house so that I can check on my dogs when I'm at work. Yes, the cameras were purchased for this purpose.
- The dogs have a sitter and not for vacations. Hey, we work full time.
Does Loving a Dog Come Down to Money?
When I can't afford a brand's food, it's because I don't make enough money to justify the price point. Although my dogs have food sensitivities, I have access to and can afford the feed a variety of proteins without breaking the bank. I'm lucky because there are many people who have had to adjust their budget to be able to afford novelty proteins not readily available where they live.
I'm fortunate because I belong to a local raw food co-op; this has given me access to many proteins at an affordable price (significantly less than $15/pound). I used to pay between $2-$5/pound for raw (this includes shipping and tax). Today, I pay approximately $3 or less per pound for many proteins, less for others.
The decision to change my dogs to raw was easy after months of research. Had my first introduction been at a high price point, I would never have switched, labeling the diet as a “rich man's luxury” and continued feeding a quality kibble. My raw feeding journey inspired me to make many changes, both to my dogs' diet and to other products I buy (treats, shampoo, flea and tick repellent) to raise them naturally.
Would I have made these changes if I had been turned off in the beginning by a high price tag?
How to Afford Raw Feeding
One of the coolest things about raw feeding is that you can feed a pack of dogs for less. When this blog post was originally published, I was able to reduce my budget by buying in bulk and my budget was $125/month per dog.
When I was updating this blog post, I cracked up when I saw what I considered to be a great budget. $125/month PER DOG!!! Wow! Today, my budget is about $300/month for five dogs.
The simple fact of the matter is that prepaid raw dog food is expensive and many brands charge $10 or more per pound. I understand why the food is expensive – we're paying someone else to do the sourcing, formulating, and, with some brands, the food is delivered to our door. Premade raw would be doable if I had one or two dogs (small dogs), but with five big dogs, premade raw isn't in my budget. This doesn't mean that I have screwed up priorities; it means that I need to do DIY if I want to feed my dogs a raw food diet.