You want to start making raw meals for your dog, but there’s only one thing holding you back.
You don’t know where to start.
What’s a dog parent supposed to do? Can you learn? Is this even possible?
YES! YES! YES!
I’m am assuming you know how to feed yourself, right?
Have you fed another person? Your significant other? A friend? A child?
Did they enjoy the meal you made?
See! You know you can make meals!
Raw feeding is a learned skill. I’m going to guide you eight ways to raw feeding success.
Start By Sticking To A Recipe
If you want to learn the basics of dog nutrition, you need to stick to a recipe. During this time, you’ll be learning:
- The basic pillars for your core recipe
- How to shop for your ingredients and learn how to get the best quality at the best price
- How to store all the meat, bones, organs, and seafood you bought
- Develop the habit of defrosting
- How to prepare each bowl
- How to monitor your dog’s health markers
- Learn how to practice good food safety practices when handling raw food
Join Your Local Co-Op
Raw feeders tend to be a helpful lot. Start off on Zuck’s Metabook (is that what we call it now?)
Search Facebook for (name of your City) Raw Feeders Group. For example, San Diego has the “San Diego Raw Feeders Group”.
Co-ops will help you save money by:
- Sharing the best prices for raw ingredients
- Group buys to bring prices down
Connect With Other Raw Feeders
It’s so much easier when you have a mentor or a friend whom you can turn to for guidance.
I am fortunate to live in one of the best dog-friendly communities in the country. I’ve found other raw feeders through:
- Companies that have a strong local presence. For example, Real Dog Box is available at our local farmer’s markets. I co-host weekly pack walks with them.
- Connecting with other dog parents on Meet-Up
- Events that your local pet store might be hosting
Start Off With Commercial Grinds
An easy way to start feeding raw is to buy a commercial grind. I put them in two categories:
1. Complete and Balanced to AAFCO’s Standards
These companies formulate their meals to AAFCO’s standards. You won’t need to add anything to the bowl when you feed these brands. A short list of what I recommend are as follows:
2. Ratio based grinds
These companies follow a ratio recipe. Typically I would add fish and fiber to blends. A shortlist of brands I would recommend are:
Explore Nose To Tail
Even though you might not be ready to feed “whole prey,” you can do so through the various nose to tail animal parts such as:
- Duck heads
- Rabbit heads
- Rabbit feet
- Pig ears
- Lamb’s ears
Sourcing these types of parts can be difficult but you can find air-dried or dried options from:
Join Online Communities
There is no shortage of online communities. It’s a bit of a choose your own adventure experience three I love are:
- Raw and Holistic Cat & Dog Support Group
- Raw Feeding (PMR+) & Holistic Pet Care: The Holistic Canine
I’ve found these groups to be the more supportive type instead of the “let me tell you what you’re doing wrong type”.
Develop A Keen Sense of Observation
You have to develop a keen sense of observation. Journaling your fresh food journey will make things easier to track.
Signs of health include:
- Healthy skin and coat
- Clean ears
- Bright eyes
- Optimal digestion
- Healthy stools
- Well developed muscles
- Strong tendons and ligaments
- Appropriate and balanced behavior
- Appropriate weight
Listen and watch symptoms and respond to them early. Please don’t wait until they become a problem.
For example, when your dog is experiencing allergies, inflammation is usually present. Rashes and an itchy dog are equivalent to the “check engine light” turning on in your car. You need to ask:
What is missing that is causing this inflammation?
What is the toxicities my dog is exposed to that is causing this inflammation?
Giving your dogs a pill or a shot doesn’t address the underlying issue; it’s merely turning off the “check engine light” and fooling you into thinking your dog is healthy, but the minute the shots and pills stop working, the allergies are back with a vengeance.
Test Don’t Guess
Your dog’s health will ultimately be the indicator as to how their diet impacts them.
Your vet can run nutritional blood count tests to assess how healthy they are. Make sure your vet tests for Vitamin D, E, and Zinc.
I recommend that you have this test run annually or every two years at most.
Another test would be through Animal Biome to check your dog’s gut.
3 Final Takeaways
Anyone can learn how to make fresh food for their dogs. You can cook it or prep and feed it raw.
Remember you don’t have to go it alone. Connect and find your support group to make your journey easier.
Lean into companies that provide tools, resources, and ingredients to help you along the way.
And if you’re looking for help to get you started on your transition with a recipe, you can reach out to me below.