Should I Feed My Dog Raw?

Image By: Perfectly Rawesome

Authored by Emily Shirey

Part 2: Raw Fed Dogs

When we think of dog food, we think of one thing: kibble. But in the recent push for humans to eat less processed and more whole, fresh foods, the same push has been made for our canine companions. More and more people are now feeding fresh, raw diets and seeing the vast benefits of doing so.

What Is A Raw Diet?

A raw food diet for dogs consists of fresh, raw foods that are species-appropriate. This looks like a variety of muscle meats, organs, raw meaty bones and potentially some fresh fruits and vegetables. The two most popular ways to feed raw are:

  • PMR (Prey Model Raw): PMR is designed to provide family dogs with a homemade diet that replicates the diet of a wild canine without requiring the pet to hunt and kill wild prey while eliminating all processed foods and grains. A complete PMR diet for dogs consists of 80% muscle meat, 10% raw edible bone, 5% liver, and 5% other secreting organ. (Reference:
  • BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods): BARF is an alternative raw diet, designed to provide family dogs with a modified homemade diet that consists of raw meat and bones as well as vegetables and fruit while eliminating all processed foods and grains. A complete BARF diet for dogs consists of 70% muscle meat, 10% raw edible bone, 5% liver, 5% other secreting organ, and 10% veggies fruit. (Reference:

Why raw?

There are an enormous amount of benefits from feeding fresh, raw foods. Many of these are the result of less carbohydrates and processed foods in the diet. In simple terms, think of humans eating a diet of fast food and pizza compared to eating whole fruits, vegetables and meats. The difference in carbohydrates in kibble vs. raw food is huge; as we discussed in Part 1: Best Dry Dog Food, dogs do not have a requirement for carbohydrates. Yet, the majority of kibble is carbs, anywhere from 40-70%. Compare this to the dogs ancestral diet, which contained anywhere from 0-15%. It’s a fact: kibble fed dogs are experience carb overload. By feeding fresh, whole meats, you’re feeding in the biologically appropriate values for carbs, rather than feeding an abundance of carbs that your dogs don’t even need. Check back to Part 1: Best Dry Dog Food for the low down on the risks of high carb diets. Looking for a book on why to feed raw check out Primal Pooch’s E-Book!

The benefits of feeding raw include:Raw Fed Benefits

  • Improved overall health
  • Improved energy
  • Cleaner teeth and fresher breath
  • Less Allergies
  • Less infections
  • Healthier weight
  • Improved muscle tone
  • Shinier, softer coat
  • Smaller poops

How do I feed raw?

Raw Fed DogThere are a variety of ways to feed raw, but the most common are pre-made raw or homemade raw. Pre-made raw can be purchased as a complete diet, ready to feed. Pre-made raw often comes in patty form (like a frozen hamburger); all you have to do is thaw them and feed. No cooking or preparing required. Homemade raw requires a lot more work, but gives you the ability to alter the diet to your liking. This requires purchasing muscle meats, organs, and raw meaty bones, then doing a little math to make it a balanced diet. Variety is key here!

The majority of the diet should be red meats (at least 50%) and at least a variety of 3 proteins (such as chicken, beef and pork). The variety is so important because it ensures you are feeding a balanced diet. You cannot feed only raw chicken; it will be lacking in vital nutrients and lead to health problems. This is where we see a lot of controversy over raw feeding. Many vets will tell you that raw feeding isn’t balanced, which can be true. But if you follow the PMR guidelines and provide variety, raw feeding can certainly provide all of the nutrients required. Unlike the nutrients in kibble, the nutrients in raw are unprocessed, making them more biologically available.

If you’re interested in buying premade raw, here are a few brands you could try:

If you are interested in making homemade raw, continue to research and checkout these websites:

Whether you’re interested in pre-made or homemade raw, research local co-ops in your area! These groups often get bulk discounts and can be a great source of support and guidance!

Will Feeding Raw Make My Dog Sick?

If you were told to never feed your pup bones or that he will get salmonella from raw meat, you’re probably pretty skeptical about feeding raw. Feeding raw appropriately is perfectly safe! Never feed bones that have been cooked or dehydrated; it is these bones that splinter. Feeding size-appropriate raw bones is safe and a great way to improve dental health.

If you’re worried about salmonella or parasites, there are a few ways to keep your pet safe. All dogs, regardless of what they are fed, should have regular fecal checks for parasites.  Feeding quality meat (like human-grade meat from the grocery store) is very safe and should not contain parasites. Wild game, such as venison or fresh fish, should be frozen for 3 weeks to kill any potential parasites. The salmonella risk is minimal due to a healthy dog’s natural ability to handle bacteria. Keep in mind that any pet food, including kibble, is at risk for salmonella contamination. Of course, if you are handling raw meat, you are at risk for salmonella, too. But this risk isn’t any different than if you cook raw chicken at home. Clean up after feeding just as you would after cooking and there is nothing to worry about.

Get Support

Dog Training DurhamIf you decide that you want to switch raw, that’s awesome! Your dog will appreciate it! One of the keys to success in making the switch is to make sure that you have a good network of support. Not all vets, as well as friends and family, will agree with your decision and that’s okay. Only you can make the decision for your dog. Find a vet who is on board and join raw feeding Facebook groups to help you along the way. Once you see the amazing results, you’ll never look back!





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