How to Make a Raw Food Diet for Dogs

Three Parts:Knowing the Right BalanceFeeding Your DogUnderstanding the Dos and Don'ts

The goal of feeding a raw food diet to dogs is to introduce all-natural homemade foods in place of kibble or canned dog food. Basically, owners who feed raw food to dogs want to replicate what wolves eat in the wild, which is the domestic dog's ancestor. By forgoing commercial kibble for a combination of uncooked bones, meat, small amounts of vegetables and fruit, and organs, raw food enthusiasts believe that this diet creates a healthier dog than ones feed kibble.

Part 1
Knowing the Right Balance

  1. 1
    Understand the risks. One of the problems with feeding a raw diet is not getting the balance right. You can have too much calcium or too little. You need to offer enough variety that your dog gets the nutrients she needs. You may provide too little or too much fat. All of these actions can lead to health problems with your dog.[1]
    • Additionally, you can cause problems if your food is infected with bacteria such as Salmonella or Listeria monocytogenes. Raw foods are more likely to contain these bacteria than dry or canned dog foods.[2]
    • However, some raw dog food followers note that a dog's digestive system is more adept at dealing with these bacteria, as it is not as long and more acidic than ours.[3]
  2. 2
    Consult with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian can help you find the right balance, as well as help you assess whether your dog is a good candidate for this diet.[4]
    • For instance, most veterinarians would not recommend a homemade raw diet for puppies, as it can be difficult to get the balance of calcium and phosphorus correct. This problem can lead to bone deformities in puppies. Also, dogs with cancer should not be on this diet.[5]
  3. 3
    Do your research. Different dogs need different amounts of protein, and by reading up on the amount of protein your dog needs, you'll be less likely to cause nutrition problems.[6]
    • For instance, puppies who are 12 pounds (and who will eventually be about 33 pounds) need 56 grams of protein and a maximum of 21 grams of fat per day, while dogs who are about 33 pounds need 25 grams of protein and 14 grams of fat per day.[7]
    • Pregnant and nursing dogs need more, however: a pregnant or nursing dog needs 69 grams of protein and 29 grams of fat per day, if she is about 33 pounds with six puppies.[8]
  4. 4
    Know how much your dog needs to thrive. Most dogs need about 2 to 3 percent of their weight per day--that is, 2 to 3 percent of the weight they should be for their breed. Therefore, a 30 pound dog needs 0.6 to 0.9 pounds of food per day.[9]
  5. 5
    Know your food. Research the amount of protein and fat in the food you are providing. You need to understand the nutritional make-up of the foods you are feeding your dog to make sure you are balancing his diet correctly.
    • For instance, 100 grams of chicken (about 3 ounces) has 31 grams of protein and 4 grams of fat.[10]
  6. 6
    Keep phosphorus and calcium at a 1:1 ratio. Meat is high in phosphorous, while bones are the opposite. Other types of raw foods have a balance, such as fish and eggs. Tripe is also a good source of both.[11]
    • This ratio doesn't mean your dog's diet needs to be 50 percent bone. Rather, it means that the amount of calcium your dog is getting should be roughly the same as the amount of phosphorous he's getting, usually about 10 percent bone to 90 percent meat.[12]
  7. 7
    Buy a kitchen scale. The best way to know what you're feeding your dog is to measure it out. If you try to eyeball it, what you feed your dog could vary vastly everyday.

Part 2
Feeding Your Dog

  1. 1
    Branch out. Tripe and chicken feet may sound gross to you, but your dog doesn't think the same way. To him, meat is meat. Plus, these cuts of meat are often cheaper to obtain. You can also try beef trachea, tails, and testicles. Beef and chicken feet are especially nutritious. [13]
  2. 2
    Feed your dog muscle meats. The majority of what you give your dog should be muscle meat, equal to about 3/4 of her diet. Muscle meats can be from most animals, from cows to chickens to lamb.[14] You can also try other meats, such as duck, moose, deer, turkey, rabbit, and goat.[15]
  3. 3
    Give your dog a bone. Dogs can and will chew up bones, providing necessary calcium to their diet. Your dog should be getting about 10 percent of his diet from bone.[16]
    • In place of bone, you can use dried, ground eggshells. Pour 1/2 teaspoon in for every pound of meat you feed your dog.[17]
    • When feeding your dog bones, you can use what's known as "raw, meaty bones," or bones that still have some meat on them.[18]
  4. 4
    Use organ meats but not too often. Organ meats such as liver are fine to feed your dog, and in fact, provide essential nutrients. However, they should only make up about 10 to 15 percent of your dog's diet. Try feeding it for a meal once or twice a week, or adding a few bits of it to your dogs meals several times a week.[19]
    • Liver by itself should be about 5 percent of your dog's diet, while other organs, such as heart, kidney, spleen, and gizzards should make up the other 5 to 10 percent.[20]
  5. 5
    Add nutrients. The other 5 percent or so of your dog's diet can come from other sources, including vegetables, fruits, and grains. When feeding grains, you should cook before you give them to your dog.[21]
    • If the meat your feeding your dog is corn-feed rather than grass-fed, you may need to add a flax seed oil or fish oil supplement to provide omega-3 fatty acids. You can also try feeding fatty fish twice a week to help counter this problem.[22]
    • You should process vegetables before feeding them to your dog to help her get the most nutrients from them. Try pureeing them or juicing them to help break down nutrients. Alternatively, you can steam the vegetables for a few minutes. Dark, leafy greens are a good choice.[23]

Part 3
Understanding the Dos and Don'ts

  1. 1
    Freeze certain meats. Some meats need to be frozen for a specific time period before you feed them to your dog. This process helps kill parasites that could harm your dog.[24]
    • Pork and salmon should be frozen for at least 3 weeks prior to you giving them to your dog.[25] However, some experts recommend never feeding salmon or trout raw.[26]
  2. 2
    Thaw in the refrigerator. The safest place to thaw meat is in the refrigerator, as it never leaves meat at an unsafe temperature. Be sure to place something under the package to catch any spills.[27]
  3. 3
    Don't wash your meat. It may be tempting to try to rid your meat of bacteria by washing it, but all that really does is spread the bacteria around. While washing it, you can splash it on the counter tops and around the sink, doing more harm than good.[28]
  4. 4
    Practice safe handling procedures. Keep all of the utensils you use for preparing raw foods separate from others in your kitchen. Wash them thoroughly in hot water and soap after using them, or put them in the dishwasher. Also, be sure to use disinfectant on any surface that came into contact with the raw food.[29]
  5. 5
    Avoid certain foods. You should never feed your dog the following fruits and vegetables: onions, corn on the cob, any fruits with pits, avocado pits, hops, raisins, or grapes. You should also not give your dog walnuts, macadamia nuts, raw dough, alcohol, or chocolate.[30]
  6. 6
    Don't feed cooked bones. When giving your dog bones, stick to raw bones. Cooked bones can splinter, causing problems for your dog.[31]
  7. 7
    Don't feed weight-bearing bones from large animals. In other words, don't feed bones such as a cow's femur to your dog because they can break teeth and cause digestion problems.[32]
  8. 8
    Pick up any leftovers. If your dog doesn't finish all of her food, cover it, and put in the refrigerator after she is done to preserve it.[33]
  9. 9
    Wash your hands. You should wash your hands thoroughly after handling any kind of dog food but especially after preparing raw dog food.[34]
    • Scrub your hands in warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds after handling dog food. Be sure to get under your nails, as well.[35]

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Categories: Feeding Dogs