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Feeding a dog a raw food diet and how much raw food to feed a dog each day is a practice that an owner should research before employing.
A raw diet for your dog can consist of organ meat, muscle meat, whole or ground bone, raw eggs, vegetables, dog-safe fruits, and dairy producers such as yogurt.
While there are dogs, such as racing greyhounds and sled dogs that have long eaten raw food diets, applying that same feeding practice to family pets is a relatively recent practice.
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The Inception Of The Raw Food Diet for Dogs
In 1993, an Australian veterinarian named Dr. Ian Billinghurst suggested that feeding your pet the BARF diet (yes, that is really what he calls it) would help your pet thrive. Calling his feeding suggestions for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food, this diet consists of raw foods.
Dr. Billinghurst feels that an evolutionary diet based on what canines ate before becoming domesticated is the best diet for dogs. He contends that raw, meaty bones and vegetable scraps are better for dogs than grain-based commercial dog foods.
Proponents of raw diets say that this type of diet will give your pet:
- Shinier coat
- Healthier skin
- Cleaner teeth
- Higher energy levels
- Smaller stools
A typical diet of raw dog food typically consists of:
- Muscle meat, often still on the bone
- Bones, either whole or ground
- Organ meats such as livers and kidneys
- Raw eggs
- Vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and celery
- Apples or other fruit
- Some dairy, such as yogurt
Raw dog food can be homemade, store-bought, freeze-dried, or dehydrated. Meticulous care is required in the handling, preparation, and sanitation of raw food.
How Much Raw Food Should You Feed Your Dog
There are several recommendations for the amount of raw food that you should feed your dog.
It would be best to feed your dog about 2 – 4% of their weight in food and split this amount between two meals. The percentage will vary depending on your pet’s age, breed, activity level, and metabolic rate.
Smaller dogs require a higher percentage of their body weight, and the opposite is true for larger dogs; they will need a smaller percentage of their body weight.
Another quick way to determine how much to feed is to replace every 1 cup of dry food (high-quality grain-free) with 1/2 lb. of raw. If your dog is currently eating 3 cups of dry food per day = 1.5 lbs. of raw per day.
Another recommendation is to feed your pet 2% of your dog’s ideal body weight. Simply take the total and divide it into how many meals per day. For example 50 lb dog x 2% = 1. This means your pet requires 1 lb. per day. Divided into 2 meals = 1/2 lb. per serving.
Guidelines For How Much Raw Food To Feed Your Dog
Feeding Portion Guidelines:
- Your average 12-13 lb dog requires 1/4 lb of food daily
- For average 25 lb dog requires 1/2 lb of food daily
- Your average 50 lb dog requires 1 lb of food daily
- For average 75 lb dog requires 1 1/2 lb of food daily
- Your average 100 lb dog requires 2 lb of food daily
First and foremost, you should consult your pet’s veterinarian for the amount of food that you should be feeding your pet. Your vet will already know your dog’s history, and you can fill in their activity level. Use the guidelines that your vet gives you.
Tips For The Proper Handling Of Raw Pet Food
Make sure that your pet always has one of the best, clean and sturdy dog bowls. Whenever you use raw products, it is important to have bowls that are easy to keep clean.
Taken from the USDA website, here are some tips from the U.S. Food And Drug Administration for properly handling Raw Pet Food Diets. These tips will assure that you keep yourself and your pet safe from foodborne illnesses when feeding a raw diet.
Tips From The USDA For Handling Raw Pet Food Diets
- Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water (for at least 20 seconds) after handling raw pet food and after touching surfaces or objects that have come in contact with the raw food. Potentially contaminated surfaces include countertops and the inside of refrigerators and microwaves. Potentially contaminated objects include kitchen utensils, feeding bowls, and cutting boards.
- Thoroughly clean and disinfect all surfaces and objects that come in contact with raw pet food. First, wash with hot soapy water and then follow with a disinfectant. A solution of 1 tablespoon bleach to 1 quart (4 cups) water is an effective disinfectant. For a larger supply of the disinfectant solution, add ¼ cup bleach to 1 gallon (16 cups) water. You can also run items through the dishwasher after each use to clean and disinfect them.
- Freeze raw meat and poultry products until you are ready to use them, and thaw them in your refrigerator or microwave, not on your countertop or in your sink.
- Carefully handle raw and frozen meat and poultry products. Don’t rinse raw meat, poultry, fish, and seafood. Bacteria in the raw juices can splash and spread to other food and surfaces.
- Keep raw food separate from other food.
- Immediately cover and refrigerate what your pet doesn’t eat, or throw the leftovers out safely.
- If you’re using raw ingredients to make your own cooked pet food, be sure to cook all food to a proper internal temperature as measured by a food thermometer. Thorough cooking kills Salmonella, L. monocytogenes, and other harmful foodborne bacteria.
- Don’t kiss your pet around its mouth, and don’t let your pet lick your face. This is especially important after your pet has just finished eating raw food.
- Thoroughly wash your hands after touching or being licked by your pet. If your pet gives you a “kiss,” be sure to also wash your face.
Is a raw diet more expensive for dogs?
Yes, feeding a dog a raw diet is more expensive than regular dog food. Even if you choose the highest quality kibble, a raw diet can cost from $2.50 to $5.00 a day. In comparison, feeding a dog a super-premium commercial kibble costs about $1 a day.
How long does it take a dog to adjust to raw food?
On average, it will take a dog about two weeks to make a full transition to a raw food diet. This will depend on the age, weight, and activity level of the dog. It is better to do a slow transition. Regular food should never be mixed with raw, as these foods process at different rates in a dog’s digestive system.
Do most vets recommend a raw dog food diet?
Where your pet is concerned, always consult with your vet before beginning a new regime with your dog. There are some indications that Few Vets Say Raw Dog Food is a Good Idea. Find out what your vet thinks is the best for your pet.
What To Do If Your Pet Swallows Something They Shouldn’t
No matter how careful you are, your dog might find and swallow something they shouldn’t. Keep the number of your local vet, the closest emergency clinic, and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center — (888) 426-4435 — where you know you can find it. And, if you think your dog has eaten something toxic, call for emergency help right away.
Ian is an avid outdoorsman and dog lover. He lives in Central Florida with his wife Heather, and their 2 dogs – Panda (Purebread Rough Collie X English Golden Retriever) & Kuma (Blue Merl Purebread Rough Collie)