You love your doggo, so it’s natural you want to give them a diet that not only tastes great, but nourishes their body too.
After all, your family eats a balanced diet, why should your furry friends be any different?
Raw dog food diets are growing in popularity as pet owners look for natural options that are less processed than your average store bought dog food. With raw food diets booming, it's important to dispel some common myths and provide some simple, easy to digest truths about this dietary decision.
Like humans, each dog’s dietary requirements are different. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach that works so it’s crucial you know what to do and what to steer clear of..
If you’re looking to join the raw dog food revolution, here’s everything you need to know.
Is a raw dog food diet good for my dog?
Raw meaty bones, as well as meat muscle, organ meat, and raw nuts/fruit/veggies, are an important inclusion in a balanced raw diet.
There are many health benefits that come with feeding your pets a raw food diet as dogs are biologically designed to eat raw food. Many pet owners assume a raw diet is dangerous, just as you wouldn’t want to serve your family a raw chicken (eww, no thanks). However, raw food unlocks a number of proven health benefits for your pup, including:
- Superior bone and joint health
- Strengthened immune system
- Improved skin condition
- Softer and shinier coat
- Superior dental health
- Reduced stool volume and odour
With so many ways for your dog to look and feel healthier, the challenge is to transition from a commercial dog food diet to a raw dog food diet without upsetting your dog’s digestive system.
How to transition your dog to a raw food diet
You probably wouldn’t enjoy eating a service station sausage roll every meal. Unfortunately, store-bought kibble provides a similar experience for your pet, with overly cooked, heavily processed and low quality food at the heart of most commercial pet food.
While some dog breeds are able to handle an immediate switch to raw food, it’s better to make the transition a slow one to avoid any digestive problems. Start by choosing one type of meat and introduce this to your dog’s diet over the course of at least a week. This slow introduction will let you spot any potential allergies and see which type of meat your dog enjoys most (after all, you want them to enjoy each meal).
Over the course of a few days, gradually reduce the amount of kibble and increase the amount of raw meat until your dog’s diet is 100% raw. You can repeat this process with each type of meat, rotating the protein type.
You’ll need to check your dog’s stools each day as a way of tracking their transition. If stools are loose it’s advisable to cut back on the amount of raw food being eaten and integrate slowly, maintaining regular kibble until your pup’s digestive system can catch up.
How much raw food should I feed my dog?
OK let’s dive into some numbers. As a starting point, most adult dogs eat between 2-3% of their body weight each day. It’s crucial to remember that all dogs are different, so it’s better to use this figure as a guide and not a hard and fast rule.
Body condition, as well as weight, is a more effective marker of how much raw food your dog should be eating. We all love to slip the odd treat to our dogs, but if your pup has put on a few pounds you’ll need to take this into account when crunching the numbers. If your dog needs to drop a few kilos to enjoy their doggy park dates, you should drop the amount of raw food eaten to 2%.
Here’s an example raw food diet with an imaginary pupper - we’ll call him Buster - to help you figure out your own daily raw food diet:
Meet Buster. Buster is a 25kg dog. Here’s what Buster needs to eat to stay healthy.
- 2% of 25kg = 500 grams/day
- 2.5% of 25kg = 625 grams/day
- 3% of 25kg = 750 grams/day
If your dog is extremely active and loves to get moving, they may need to be fed on the higher end with more raw food daily. While a less active dog who spends the day on the couch (let’s be honest, sometimes you just need to zen out) should be fed on the lower end of this range with less raw food each day.
Keep in mind, the table above is a guide only. Your dog’s individual metabolism and lifestyle will impact how much raw food they enjoy each day. It’s always best to round down when uncertain, as most dogs are overfed and could afford to lose a little weight.
Can I still give my dog snacks during the day?
We all love to treat our pups from time to time (especially if you’ve got kids who slip food under the table). The figures in the table above include ALL daily food. If you give your dog bones (which you should be regularly for their health), treats or brekky, you’ll need to reduce the above figures accordingly.
For example, I give my dog Lulu a chicken wing, duck wing or duck neck for breakfast each day (there’s no resisting her morning stares) so I reduce her dinner (roughly) by the weight of her morning meal. Lulu is 27kg which works out to be 540 grams of raw food per day (roughly 2% of her body weight). Once I subtract her 100 gram breakfast, that brings her dinner down to around 440 grams. I don’t weigh her dinner every night, as I have a good idea of what that amount looks like, but when you’re starting out it’s a good idea to know exactly how much you’re giving.
Just like our human diets, it’s all about balance.
And if you’d rather simplify each meal even more, use the following guide based on our Saltiest Dog ready-made meals.
Looking to save time and money with ready-made meals? Explore our raw dog food choices here.
What if I have a puppy?
Congrats on your new bundle of joy!
Puppies require a slightly different raw feeding approach as they have growing bodies to fuel. Puppies under 12 months should be fed up to 10% of their body weight each day, with the amount of raw food decreasing as they get older.
2 - 4 months old = 8-10% of body weight (3-4 meals)
4 - 6 months old = 6-8% of body weight (3-4 meals)
6 - 8 months old = 4-6% of body weight (2-3 meals)
8 - 12 months old = 3-4% of body weight (2-3 meals)
As puppies need to maintain their energy (whether at the dog park or keeping you busy at home) it’s recommended to split meals into 3 or 4 per day - rather than the one meal per day for mature dogs.
Does it matter what type of raw meat I feed my dog?
Short answer, yes.
Slightly longer answer, follow the BARF guidelines.
Don’t stress if the name sounds like something your dog would do after eating store-bought kibble, the BARF guideline breaks down a healthy raw food diet for your dog (it’s the most popular and common raw diet for dogs, so you’re in good hands).
They recommend: 70% muscle meat | 10% raw edible bone | 7% vegetables | 5% liver | 5% other secreting organ | 2% seeds or nuts | 1% fruit
For many pet owners this can feel a little confronting. It’s not easy to divide a diet up into the recommended BARF guidelines. That’s why The Saltiest Dog ready made raw meals are such a time saver. Each meal is pre-made with the perfect mix so you can give your dog the balanced diet they need without investing the time or money to source and measure individual ingredients.
Are you ready to start your pup on a healthy, new path?
When was the last time you sat down and tucked into a meal that your body had been craving?
Switching to a raw food diet gives your beloved pet that same feeling, all while unlocking a range of health benefits that make your dog look and feel like they should. Remember to make the transition slowly, figure out your daily meals using our simple raw dog food formula, and change your approach if you’re raising a puppy.
When you’ve got your dog’s best interests at heart, you’ll have raw food in their bowl.