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Raw diet for dogs: What you need to know

From kibble to wet food to raw diets and more, the options for feeding your dog are dizzying. While not a new concept, a raw diet for dogs has become trendy in recent years.

Dog eating raw food

But what exactly is a raw food diet for dogs and is it right for you and your four-legged family member? Read on to learn the basics.

What is a raw diet for dogs?

Simply put, a raw diet for dogs is a way of feeding that includes meals composed primarily of raw meat. Developed by Dr. Ian Billinghurst, the BARF diet, which stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones And Raw Food, is one of the most popular raw feeding models today. Foods commonly found in a raw diet for dogs are raw meat and raw meaty bones (RMBs), organ meat, eggs, dairy, fruits and vegetables. Typically, a healthy adult dog eats between 2 and 4 percent of its body weight per day.

Pros and cons of feeding a raw diet

Many pet owners who feed raw say their pet’s health has improved — and in some cases, visibly. Putting your dog on a raw diet can lead to some prettying fascinating results such as increased energy, a shinier coat, smaller more compact stools that don’t smell, better digestive function, brighter eyes, an improvement in skin conditions and more. But be aware that feeding raw is not the right choice for everyone. It’s a commitment that can be costly, time-consuming if prepared at home and could result in sick pooch if you’re not providing adequate nutrition.

Fact: The pet industry is a booming business and is expected to top $52 billion in sales in 2012, according to the American Pet Products Association. More than $20 billion is spent on food alone!

What are some raw diet feeding options?

The three main options for feeding raw are homemade, frozen and freeze-dried meals. The latter two are available commercially and can make mealtime a snap. All you have to do is take out the food and put it in a bowl! Many pet owners who feed raw combine one or more of the aforementioned feeding options, depending on one’s individual budget, personal preference and time.



Making your dog’s food from scratch gives you total control over what goes into the food bowl but is the most time-consuming option. Buying the food, planning out meals and preparing them does take time but it can be well worth it.


Many pet food companies make commercially available frozen raw dog food that’s already prepared in the form of nuggets or patties. Frozen meals containing duck, beef, chicken, rabbit and more are readily available in pet shops and online.


This type of raw food consists of nuggets or patties that can be rehydrated at mealtime with a bit of water. Complete and well-balanced, the freeze-dried meal option is ideal when you’re traveling and when you’re short on freezer space.
Check out companies like Stella & Chewy’s for a wide product selection of frozen and freeze-dried raw meals for your pet in yummy flavors like Duck Duck Goose, Surf & Turf, Stella’s Super Beef and others. Nature’s Variety also has a complete raw product line, including rabbit, duck, bison and more.

Depending on your dog’s size and dietary requirements and the feeding option you choose, the cost of feeding your dog a raw diet will vary. Generally speaking though, feeding raw costs significantly more than a high-quality kibble. But when you factor in the health benefits and overall impact, many pet owners say they end up saving money since their pet doesn’t require as many vet visits.

Raw dog food

Tip: The easiest way to prepare homemade meals is to make a batch of food over the weekend for the week ahead and freeze it into individually wrapped patties. Then during the week, all you have to do is reach into your freezer.

Do keep in mind that your dog’s health depends on a balanced diet and a raw diet does not consist of just throwing scraps of table food or raw meat in your dog’s bowl. If not done correctly, a raw diet could make your dog sick from a vitamin or mineral deficiency. Always consult your veterinarian before switching your dog’s diet. When done correctly, a raw diet can be a rewarding feeding option for both you and your pet.

Tell us

Do you feed your dog a raw food diet? Tell us about your experience in the comment section below!

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