Farm to Dog Bowl: Everything You Need to Know about Raw Diets
If you are one of the many pet parents who’s thought about giving your pet a raw diet you probably started with the question, “what even IS a raw diet?”.
Assuming raw diets consist only of whole, uncooked meat cubes is a natural place to start. However, raw diets actually have a lot of nuance to them.
Before embarking on the path to raw diet-ville, check out the information and options we’ve put together to help you get your pup (and your wallet) the ideal meal plan for them.
Defining What IS a Raw Diet
According to the American Kennel Club, raw dog food doesn’t have to be from butcher to bowl and can actually be homemade, freeze-dried or dehydrated and it doesn’t even have to just be meat.
Raw diets include additions of various produce and dairy as well as cartilage, muscle, and bone from other sources of meat.
Benefits and Risks
While the diet itself can be executed safely for your pet and has potential benefits like increased and/or more regulated energy levels, decreased joint pain or a shinier coat; the main health concern is that unregulated raw diets (aka ones concocted at home) can release bacteria that is potentially unsafe for both humans and animals.
Bacteria sounds like a scary reason to avoid raw diets, however, it’s a known fact that raw meat requires attention and lots of hand-washing so don’t let this turn you away if you’re set on exploring this path for your furry family member.
Where to Begin
Ah, options. We love to see them! If raw sounds good to you but the price point or potential poultry pathogens freak you out – not to worry.
Low mess, easy storage, and the most cost effective.
Freeze-dried options are worth looking into. The coolest part about freeze-dried food is that it’s made up of the same things as raw-meat diets (bone, cartilage, skin, etc.) but has a much longer shelf life.
Plus, you have the option of re-hydrating this type of food and adding it into your dog’s breakfast or dinner for all the meaty goodness in no time.
Fresh and Pre-packaged ($$$)
If you want fresher than freeze-dried there’s options for that, too.
Fresh, pre-packaged dog food is a bit more costly but just as convenient as freeze-dried or kibble.
Many fresh dog food brands combine meat, veggies, and grains and portion them into packets that you store in the fridge.
For the brands listed here you fill out the online form describing your dog’s age, breed, and other details and the team there recommends a recipe just for them. You can also buy them online and are given the option to auto-ship so that you never forget to pick up food for your pup ever again.
Full Raw Diet ($-$$$$)
The tricky part about raw diets are the amount of options involved. It can feel overwhelming and awkward to go into the grocery store and ask for feet or heads of animals no matter how much you love your dog.
One of the best ways to start the raw diet journey is to call local farms in your area and see what they have to say about their discarded animal products (heads, wings, you get it). A huge benefit of a raw diet is how eco-friendly it is and by taking some would-be-wasted animal products from a farm both your community and puppies benefit.
Other raw foods can be found at grocery stores, farmer’s markets, and pet stores.
Some raw foods are:
- Coconut Oil (bonus points if you put it in a cute silicone mold)
- Dog-safe Veggies (like peas, spinach, carrots, and green beans)
- Pumpkin Puree
- Eggs (shells included)
- Fish tails
- Heads, tongue, hearts, brain, liver, and more of lamb, rabbit, beef, chicken, turkey, and pork
For a comprehensive vet-reviewed raw diet plan, check out this article. Note: Consult your vet before beginning a raw diet. This 5-day diet was created by Madi, host of @rawfedmax Instagram account. We’re obsessed with Max’s feed (both digital and actual).
Did you see some ingredients on the raw food list that seemed more approachable? We’re here to tell you it’s okay to mix and match.
If kibble is the most cost-effective for you – there’s no shame in your game! High quality kibble doesn’t mean a slighted diet. You can truly pick and choose elements that work for you.
Lean Greens and Fatty Oils
If you can incorporate greens like peas and a good source of healthy fat like salmon oil or coconut oil into your dog’s diet along with kibble that’s great too.
Raw Meat as a Treat
Adding raw-ish treats are also a great call. Any jerky-like treats for dogs allow them to get the taste of real meat in a roommate-approved mess-free way.
Definitely consult your vet on his or her opinion of raw diets before starting this journey. They will also be able to advise you on the best way to transition your dog from its normal current diet.
Raw diets have vast potential benefits but they’re not for everyone or every dog. There is a possibility a picky eater won’t take to any changes in diet quickly or if you a have one-gulp-dinner-eater that the bones in raw diets could be an additional risk.
Slowly incorporating what elements of raw-diets that work for you is a sure-fire way to keep mealtime interesting and nutritional without adding too much to your metaphorical plate.
With the quantity of accessible options and your own ability to add or remove elements, you’re sure to figure out what works best for your family – and we hope you have fun doing it!