New to raw feeding or have questions? We’re here to help!
Note that our product is in deli containers in this video and we have recently updated to chubs. Also, please see puppy and kitten modifications below in the “Raw Fed Puppies & Kittens Tab.”
Select a topic to expand and learn more.
Raw feeding for Beginners.
Feeding A Prey Model Raw Diet
WHAT IS A PREY MODEL RAW DIET?
Our blends come in ready to feed prey model ratios. Feeding a prey model raw diet strives to come as close as possible to the diet of a wild canine without going into the woods to hunt wild prey animals. It is based on whole meats, connective tissues, fat, organs, blood, etc from a variety of prey animals in order to achieve balance and to feed all the nutrients in whole prey. Prey model raw feeders only feed meat, bone, and organ, and rotate 3-4 proteins over time to achieve balance.
Note: If you choose to feed BARF model raw, which includes plant foods, you can still use our blends. You will be set up with the proper ratios of meat, bone, and organ in easy to serve deli containers. Simply add in whatever else you would like.
HOW TO TRANSITION
When feeding raw, it is best to transition “cold turkey” to a complete raw meal, rather than what we’ve heard with transitioning kibbles where you mix in a little bit of the new stuff gradually changing over.
The problem with that and raw is that processed foods such as kibble and canned food are digested at different rates. Processed foods are digested at a slower rate, so this food can “hold up” raw in the GI tract and you can have GI upset.
Furthering on the above information, when switching from your dog or cat from their old food to raw, unless they are a puppy or kitten, it is ideal to have a 12-24hr fast beforehand, so that all the processed food is out of their system. After that, they are ready for their first raw meal.
If you want to do any extra preparing of your pet’s system before starting raw to ease the transition, you can introduce a probiotic supplement prior to starting raw. This simply helps balance your dog or cat’s gut flora so that it is all ready for raw.
If your dog or cat is not interested in their first meal, pick it up, put it back in the fridge and try again later. However, in most cases they will happily dive in!
If you want to do a smaller introduction to your dog or cat, give them a tablespoon sized portion of a raw “snack” away from their meal time. However, most dogs and cats do not need this. It is more of making the pet owner feel better about it, and that is okay if you need to do that.
CHOOSING A STARTING PROTEIN
It is best to start with an average or low fat protein, until your dog or cat has been accustomed to raw food. Chicken, beef, turkey, and boar tend to be good starting proteins.
If your dog or cat has been on kibble for many years or has health problems, it is best to feed one protein for the first month. If stool, gas, and skin are normal, then you can start rotating in a second protein the following month. Typically these dogs and cats who have been on processed food or with health problems such as allergies, will go through a purge. The body purges through the GI tract and the skin. There may be some interesting looking poops, some extra gas, and maybe some flaking or itching of the skin as the nutrients from the raw food allow the dog or cat’s body to rid itself of any “junk.”
HOW MUCH TO FEED
On average, dogs and cats eat 2.5% of their ideal body weight daily. If you have a dog or cat who is more sedentary, you can drop to 2%. If you have a very active dog, you can increase to 3%. If unsure, 2.5% is a good starting point. If your dog or cat starts to lose weight, you can increase. If they start to gain weight, you can decrease. Most will be somewhere between 2-2.5%.
DOING THE MATH
To enter into your calculator, change the % to a decimal…
2.5% = 0.025
Meals can be split into 2 meals or given as a single meal.
Examples to help you.
30lb Average Activity Dog:
- 30lbs x 0.025 = 0.75lbs daily (Get daily feeding amount)
- 0.75lbs x 16oz = 12oz. (Get how many ounces per day)
- 0.75lbs x 30 days = 22.5lbs (Get how much food for the month)
12lb Average Activity Dog or Cat:
- 12lbs x 0.025 = 0.3lbs daily (Get daily feeding amount)
- 0.3lbs x 16oz = ~5oz. (Get how many ounces per day)
- 0.3lbs x 30 days = 9lbs (Get how much food for the month)
50lb Active Dog:
- 50lbs x 0.03 = 1.5lbs daily (Get daily feeding amount)
- 1.5lbs x 16oz = 24oz. (Get how many ounces per day)
- 1.5lbs x 30 days = 45lbs (Get how much food for the month)
90lb Sedentary Dog:
- 90lbs x 0.02 = 1.8lbs daily (Get daily feeding amount)
- 1.8lbs x 16oz = 28.8oz. (Get how many ounces per day)
- 1.8lbs x 30 days = 54lbs (Get how much food for the month)
ROTATION = BALANCE
Just like you don’t eat the same food over and over again or sit down to a bowl of food with every single nutrient you’d ever need in it, animals are the same. No animals in nature eat exclusively the same prey over and over. Variety in proteins = variety in nutrients. This allows balance in the diet over time.
Once you are past the transition process stated above (introducing them to one protein and beginning to rotate in another as long as gas/stool/skin are normal), it is ideal to rotate 3-4 proteins. You can choose whatever proteins your pet would like. You do not have to stick to the first 3 or 4 proteins introduced. Feel free to branch out and try others as well. There are 8 different proteins that we offer… it is totally acceptable to rotate through all 8 if you so desire.
If you are feeding our blends, this is simply fed in a bowl just like any other food that you would give to your dog or cat.
If you are feeding our whole prey, this is best fed outside or in a crate that can be easily wiped down afterward. If feeding outside, grass is best. Avoid feeding on mulch or gravel so that your pet doesn’t accidentally consume either with their food.
It is not recommended to feed raw on carpet or on a towel. It is easy for bacteria from raw food to get deep inside the fibers and difficult to sanitize after.
With feeding raw, you only want to have about 1-3 days thawed out in your refrigerator at a time. The rest will be stored frozen. Check to be sure you have ample space for your dog’s monthly feeding amounts (or whatever purchase time frame you plan). Many raw feeders use a chest freezer. You may not need to if you have a small breed dog or cat and/or if you plan on purchasing a month or less worth of food at a time.
If looking to purchase a chest freezer, it may be beneficial to know that 1 cubic foot of freezer space holds approximately 30lbs of food, so a 5 cubic foot freezer would hold about 150lbs. A 7 cubic foot freezer would hold about 210lbs. A 12 cubic foot freezer would hold about 360lbs.
(Note: If you look online, it will say 35lbs per cubic foot, however, this number is for food that is wrapped or in zip locs to form fit in the freezer, not containers, so it will be a little less for 2lb deli containers, which is why we go by 30 rather than 35.)
Once you feed raw for a couple months, it becomes simple and a part of your normal, daily routine. Once you get the above basics down, the hardest part about feeding a raw diet is remembering to thaw out the food. 😉
Supplements can be added into a raw diet, just like you would in any other diet. However, remember supplements are exactly that, they “supplement” the meal. They should not make up the bulk of your pet’s bowl and should be highly specific to your pet’s needs.
Rather than throwing every supplement there is at them because of X-Y-Z benefit. The internet is full of, “you should take this supplement for this, this, and that.” The question is, do they really need that? Are they getting those nutrients already from a healthy diet that consists of nutrients in the form that they are designed to recognize and utilize?
The best way for your pet to get the nutrients they need is through the foods they are eating, such as a prey model raw diet in proper ratios of raw meat, raw bones, and raw organs (our blends are ready to serve in this form) while rotating ideally 3-4 proteins to achieve balance of nutrients. If you feel your dog or cat needs something additional or you would like to add a supplement for some extra support for a certain organ or system of their body, simply add it in. Ground raw food makes it easy to hide any supplements.
Questions Or not sure which proteins to choose? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can help. To Get Started With the Highest Quality Raw Food.
Design of a Carnivore
Dr. Jeannie Thomason and I recently collaborated to make an infographic on the design of a carnivore explaining some of the many ways our dog and cats are, in fact, carnivores. Lolo, my border collie, helped us by being a great model for us to use.
I hope this helps you better understand the anatomy and physiology of our wonderful canine and feline companions as well as (if you haven’t already) help you make the decision to feed your pet what they are designed to eat.
Raw Fed Puppies & Kittens
Where To Start With Raw Fed Puppies and Kitties
If you are starting your dog or cat who is under 6 months of age on raw, you will feed the same amount as an adult but in multiple feedings. You also will not do a 12-24h fast, but rather a much shorter 4-5h fast.
Hopefully you have an estimate of about how much they will weigh as an adult. You can always adjust accordingly if your puppy or kitten seems to be gaining too much weight or if they look like they need more. Most puppies and kittens are active, so you will feed 2.5-3% of their estimated body weight daily.
There is less variability with feeding puppies and kittens. With eating such a large amount of food, you will need to divide this up into more frequent meals in a day.
Under 4 months = daily amount split into 4 meals per day
4-6 months = daily amount split into 3 meals per day
6 months-1 year = daily amount split into 2 meals per day.
You can extend these time frames, if needed. How can you tell? If your puppy begins bile vomiting, this is also known as “hunger vomiting.” They vomit up a yellowish substance, which is bile from their gallbladder. This is nothing to worry about and an easy fix of keeping them on their previous amount of meals per day for a little longer! Dogs do this when their stomach is empty and expecting food. If you transition your 4 month puppy from 4 meals to 3 meals a day and they begin to do this, you can go back to the 4 meal a day plan. Their body wasn’t quite ready to go down to 3 yet. The same goes for when you put their daily amount into 2 meals from 3. If they start bile vomiting, go back to 3 and keep them there for a a few weeks before trying again.
3-month-old golden retriever, estimated to weigh 70lbs as an adult:
- Very active, so we’ll use 3%
- 70 x .03 = 2.1lbs or 33-34oz daily
- <4 months = 4 meals per day
- 28oz divided by 4 = 8-9oz per meal
5-month-old chihuahua, estimated to weigh 5lbs as an adult:
- Light to moderate activity, so we’ll use 2.5%
- 5 x .025 = .125lb or 2oz daily
- 5 months = 3 meals per day
- 1.6oz divided by 3 = just over .5oz per meal
With growth spurts and puppies and kittens, you may need to go over these amounts. Almost every other raw feeder I know has told me that their puppies ate more than expected during rapid growing phases.
If your puppy or kitty isn’t finishing their meals and losing weight, add in another feeding time per day to help create smaller portion sizes. If they are maintaining weight and not finishing all meals, eliminate a feeding time. If they have abnormal stool, maintaining weight, and finishing meals add in another feeding time. With adding or eliminating feeding times, they are still eating the same daily amount.
Variety in Protein
With puppies and kittens starting on raw, unless they spent some time on kibble, you can typically do much more variety from the very start. Onyx ate mostly chicken the first week he was home and then I began adding in other proteins. He did great with every one, even the fattier ones like duck and lamb. With starting so young, there’s no having to get used to raw… their system is already ready for it!
If your puppy or kitten weaned onto a processed food before coming home with you, try to feed their first raw meal 4-5hrs away from their last kibble or canned meal. Then, simply stick to the same protein for a couple weeks. Chicken, pork, beef, or turkey are great starter proteins. If gas and stool is normal, you can start introducing more variety. Puppies and kittens tend to be better capable of handling more variety earlier as the processed food hasn’t had a long time to cause imbalances in their gut. If your puppy or kitten was on a very poor diet previously, their body will purge it out very quickly once introduced to raw, so you may see some interesting stool initially.
Ground raw food is perfect for puppies because they can readily eat it and it is all balanced out. We have 8 proteins to choose from… puppies typically love them all! 😉
They can also eat raw meaty bones. It takes them a while to get through it when they still have puppy teeth and they may not be able to get through all the bone. However, this gives them great mental and physical stimulation, so many times they get their gnawing fix out on raw bones rather than your furniture. Chicken and rabbit are easier bones to get through, so you are welcome to try out our whole prey chicken or rabbit.
Anything that goes in your dog’s mouth can be a choking hazard – toys, balls, kibble (but let’s avoid that 😉 ), treats, chews… as well as raw meaty bones. Being in the raw feeding world for 8+ years now and having many patients on raw, I have yet to hear of any occurrences of this. However, you want to have some safety measures in place. Typically puppies readily recognize and know exactly what to do with raw meaty bones, but just like with raw bones for adults, be sure that you supervise your dog and the pieces you are giving are size appropriate. When feeding bones, you want to aim size of your puppy or kitten’s head or larger, so that they are forced to gnaw and crunch rather than gulp. They are hungry and growing, so will try and get food down as fast as they can. A few times with Onyx, he learned that some of the chunks he swallowed were too large. He would then regurgitate that piece back up, re-crunch as fast as he could, and re-swallow. This is a learning process for our pets as well as us. If your puppy is trying to gulp or eat bones quicker than the speed of light, like Onyx, you can feed partially frozen. This forces them to slow down.
Myths About Raw Feeding
There are so many myths about raw feeding. Many times these myths are already seeming to set up a pet owner to decide they do not want to feed raw or make it seem like it is very difficult to properly feed. If you are feeling uncertain, trust that you will learn how to properly feed a raw diet with ease. Many myths are fear tactics. Know that you were right in deciding to embark on the path raw feeding. It will become something natural in your routine. Feed your pet what their body is designed to eat.
Raw diets are complicated/hard to feed.
Raw diets aren’t complicated or hard. It may take a little time to get used to how to feed it, but once you get the hang of it, it is easy… many times much easier than making your own “human” dinner! As with all new things, it is a learning process. In the end, you’ll have a healthier pet compared to if they were eating processed foods. If it’s the difference in health between adding in a few extra steps to throwing food out of a bag into a bowl, it’s worth it.
The bacteria is harmful… salmonella… eek!
The main reason that some mainstream veterinary organizations are fearful of bacteria is for the pet owner, not the actual pet. However, working with raw food for your pet has the exact same safety measures as working with raw meat to cook for yourself. Always wash bowls after or put in the dishwasher, stainless steel or glass are best. Wash any surfaces or utensils that touch the meat. Wash your hands with soapy water if touching raw meat. As long as you use common sense when it comes to handling raw meat, you will be ok.
There are commercial raw pet foods that go through a process called high pressure processing, basically a pasteurization process. The benefit of feeding raw is that is has live, fresh nutrients in it. Raw foods that go through HPP, while still less processed than kibble and canned foods, are biologically dead. Dogs and cats on these foods still have to supplement enzymes and probiotics as they are killed off during HPP. Animals fed HPP foods have been found to show increased incidence of disease compared to fresh, unprocessed. With HPP foods, you’ll pay more money and not get as many benefits.
The bodies of dogs and cats are designed to handle the bacteria. Their stomach pH is less than or equal to 1, highly acidic, compared to our resting stomach pH which is 4-5.
Bones are not safe for dogs.
Raw meaty bones are a normal and essential component of a raw diet. The raw diet would not be complete without raw bone which can lead to nutrient deficiencies. Raw meaty bones serve many health benefits to our dogs and cats and are essential.
Cooked bones are NEVER safe and can be fatal as they can splinter. This is talking about cooked bones in ANY form, baked, grilled, dehydrated, smoked, etc. “Wreck bones” (weight bearing bones of large animals, such as a “marrow” or “soup” bone) are also not recommended as they can cause expensive dental work, unless the dog does not chew it to consume it.
Raw diets are not “balanced.”
“Complete and balanced” is a buzz phrase from the processed food industry. You will never find any food sources in nature that contain all the nutrients needed in one meal. Feeding a raw diet is the same. You obtain balance by feeding a variety of protein sources. Every protein source has different amounts of nutrients. By feeding a variety, you achieve balance over time, just as you achieve balance in your own diet.
Raw diets make dogs aggressive or want to catch animals outside.
Simply un-true. Do you feel aggressive after eating a steak or a piece of chicken? No? Well, the same is true for our dogs, cats, and ferrets. As for prey drive, this will be the same in your dog no matter what you feed. Dogs who chase rabbits on kibble will continue chasing rabbits on raw. A dog who could care less about rabbits outside, will continue to care less on raw.
On kibble, my Italian greyhound was nicknamed “my little predator.” At the time, we lived in the Quad Cities and would walk along a path with a long stream. We would see a decent amount of wildlife on this path. One day we spotted a few beavers. She thought she could catch a huge beaver! (Luckily she was on leash!) Another time we had a buck and a doe right in the middle of our path. This was an area where fence was on one side of the path as I-80 was close. I slowly picked Bella up and held her mouth shut and walked very calmly past them, as I knew if she had the chance she may try and chase them, and I did not want to get trampled by deer! She chases rabbits, squirrels, and birds too. She still will chase since being on raw, but she actually probably did more chasing on kibble. There may be a reason for that too, other than age, and that is: any species eating the whole foods that they are designed to eat are of greater health, a sound mind, and a calmer energy.
You can also put that into a different perspective: compare kids on processed and junk foods compared to kids eating a whole food, balanced diet of meats, veg, fruit, nuts, and water.
Questions and more information on which proteins to start?
Email us at email@example.com.