How do I get started?
What do I feed?
80% muscle meat, 10% raw meaty bones, & 10% secreting organ meat (5% of which must be liver).
How much to feed and how often?
Adults should be fed about 2%-3% of their ideal body weight. Adults over 18 months, meals can be split into 2 or you can drop down to feeding once per day.
Puppies can be fed at 3% of expected adult weight or fed according to current age and weight. When feeding puppies, depending on age, need to fed anywhere from 4 times a day to 2 times.
Kittens should be allowed to free feed or have at least 4 meals a day until the age of 1. Adult cats twice a day is recommended.
Download one of the Raw Feeding Apps. They're extremely helpful!
At what age can I start? Is my dog/cat too old to switch?
It is never too soon or too late to start! Many wean their puppies or kittens to raw. There have been countless success stories of adult cats and dogs that have been switched over. No time like the present!
Do I need to worry about about bacteria?
No, as cats and dogs are very well equipped to deal with bacteria. Their saliva has antibacterial properties. It contains an enzyme called lysozyme, an enzyme that destroys harmful bacteria. Plus, their short digestive tract is designed to push through food and bacteria quickly without giving bacteria time to colonize.
Click here to read more about bacteria.
UPDATE: The Finnish survey conducted on whether or not raw feeders had any issues with bacteria is now published. Have a read of it here.
Will feeding raw cause worms?
No, It's a common misconception that our raw fed pets are inevitably more at risk of contracting worms than pets that are fed commercial dog food. One of the most of the important ways to avoid your dog contracting worms is to ensure that all wild game, and all fish are frozen for a MINIMUM of three weeks (even fish that has been purchased from a supermarket/store as one can never be certain for how long it has been frozen). It should also be borne in mind that extremely acidic environment in the gut is a naturally hostile environment for intestinal worms. Many types of worm can be detected by a simple examination of a stool sample.
Can I mix Kibble and Raw?
Absolutely NOT! When one feeds a mixture of raw and kibble, the stomach acid can never reach that very acidic level that kills bacteria. Instead, the body is still in a depressed state actually making them more susceptible to illness and disease. Read more on why not to mix here.
Can I feed fruits and veggies?
Unfortunately, fruits and veggies tax the body and wear it down. You should not be adding fruits and vegetables to a carnivores diet who is designed to eat solely meat, bones, and organs, Click here learn more about why no fruits and veggies.
Are there any proteins my companion can’t have?
You do not want to feed other carnivores as well as wild boar, fox or bear as they contain a parasite that cannot be frozen and killed. There is also a risk of bio magnification. Read more about why we don't feed carnivores to carnivores here.
Other than that they can eat rabbit, duck, chicken, bison, beef etc.
Note: if you want to feed any wild caught animals such as venison, turkey, rabbit, etc. you should freeze these for at least 3 weeks to kill any parasites.
Do I need to add supplements?
No. A fully balanced 80/10/10 diet with a variety of proteins and organs is all they'll need. The only time they would NEED a supplement is if there is a cause.
What about organs?
The total allotment of Secreting organs is 10% of the total meal. 5% of that must be liver but the other 5% can be any other secreting organ such as, kidney, spleen, testicles etc.
Muscular organs such as heart, lungs, tripe etc. are fed between 15%-20% within the 80% muscle meat.
Why do I need to feed bone?Is bone safe?
Raw bones contain calcium and trace minerals. They are nature’s tooth brush. They scrape and scale all the teeth as they are being chewed and the meat on them is perfect as it acts as a floss getting in between the teeth. Almost all raw fed cats, dogs and ferrets when fed chunked meat and raw meaty bones will have pearly white teeth and scentless breath.
As long as you have started transition to allow the ph in the stomach to reach the proper acidity level, bones will be easy to digest. DO NOT feed any cooked bone or weight bearing bones. Only feed appropriately sized bones for your companion.
What if my companion won’t eat bone?
If you have tried whole bones to no avail next best things to try would be ground bone, bone in minces, or even smash the raw meaty bone with a hammer to help with consumption. Please note it is not recommended to feed bone meal or eggshell in place of bone. Bone meal is cooked bone and can also contain unknown ingredients. Eggshell is made up of Calcium Carbonate the key ingredient for antacid. Something we do not want for our acidic dog/cat/ferrets stomach.
How do I measure the 10% bone?
There are 3 methods: Multiplying, Dividing, or Estimating. All three methods are better explained here in our Feeding RMB's Guide
Do I need to rotate proteins?
Variety and rotation are important in the diet of our companions. Not only does it prevent boredom and food intolerance's, it also provides a varied nutrient profile and a balanced diet. You'll want to aim for at least 4 different proteins in their rotation most being red meats. Variety can include single proteins, a mix of proteins or a change in raw meaty bones and organs. This can be on a weekly or monthly basis, it’s really your choice.
Are raw eggs good to feed?
Raw eggs are the super-food of raw feeding. They contain endless amounts of nutrients and benefits to your companions. They even can help with hairballs! When feeding raw eggs, it is important to feed the whole egg as in both the yolk and the white.
Should I add any oils like coconut oil?
No. You can provide animal based oils like fish or krill oils. Fish oil contains important omega 3’s that act as anti-inflammatory. They also help the heart, improve the skin and coat and even help fight cancer. Please do not feed plant based oils such as hemp, vegetable or coconut oils. None are species appropriate and all three can actually cause harm to your cat, dog or ferret. Read more about fish oils and other oils here.
Should I include a probiotic or prebiotic?
Raw feeding in itself its great on digestion. It is the most bioavailable and easy to digest of the food types and actually helps feed and create more beneficial microflora in the gut to increase good digestion. However, there can be benefits to adding in Pre/Probiotics. Gut health is the #1 thing that keeps the immune system working properly.
Can I feed dairy products?
Most cats and dogs are lactose intolerant and often experience digestive upset when fed dairy products. Most people look to Kefir or yogurt as a snack or to help with digestion. While kefir is ok as it's lactose free, yogurt is not. Most commercial yogurt on the market today is loaded with sugar and doesn't have enough pre/probiotics in it. You would have to feed buckets full to get any of the effects.
What if my pet needs to lose weight?
A raw diet contains lean muscle meats and no additives like sugary grains or fruits and veggies. Naturally they will lose weight as fat is replaced with lean muscle. However, in drastic overweight cases it's recommended to feed at 2% of IDEAL weight to help drop some excess.
How long should I let the food stay out for?
While some animals finish their food in 2 secs others take much longer. The best indicator of how long to leave meals out other than how fast your pet eats, is the temperature in your home. If it tends to stay colder you can leave food out for about an hour. If it is much warmer leaving it out longer than 20 minutes probably isn’t a good idea. If your companion does not eat within the time frame, simply wrap it up and stick in the refrigerator for later.
Can I refreeze meat after it's been thawed?
Yes! Refreezing won't do any harm to your pet. As raw feeders we defrost to prep and refreeze all the time. Refreezing won't have any effect on you or your companion.
How long is defrosted meat good for in the fridge?
Around 3-4 days.
How much does it cost to feed raw?
This question comes up quite often and the answer is.... It's all about where you're located and how you source ie, check for sales at the shops, get to know you butcher, find raw suppliers, etc.
Here's some tips from our group and also links to suppliers:
Can I feed meat from the grocery store? Do I have to freeze it first?
Absolutely! Just be certain that there isn't any additives, flavorings, or added salt. As far as freezing, it's not necessary to freeze supermarket meats. Only freeze wild game and fresh fish for 3 weeks to kill parasites.
If I bought fish that's already been frozen from the grocery store, do I still have to freeze it for 3 weeks?
We recommend doing so. Just to be on the safe side as you never know if it was frozen long enough to kill parasites.
My dog/cat won't eat fresh fish, what can I add so they get their Omega 3's?
If you are able to source wild game and/or all grass fed meats you wouldn't need to worry about feeding fish or an Omega 3 supplement. But, not everyone can source those so some options are: Krill oil, fish oil, or even canned sardines (in water, no salt added).
I've just started and my dog/cat has diarrhea, what can I give them to help? Pumpkin?
Firstly, it is not uncommon in any new diet change for there to be some soft stool or diarrhea. Your pet will be going through a detox period and it's best to let it sort itself out. If you find it to be a non stop issue after a couple of days we recommend giving Slippery Elm. As far as pumpkin goes, being we're a PMR group and don't feed any fruit or veg, pumpkin will not be something we would ever recommend. Besides that pumpkin is merely a band-aid and will only mask the problem not fix it.
Since we made the switch to raw my dog/cat isn't drinking as much. Is this normal?
It most certainly is normal! As opposed to dry kibble that keeps them in a dehydrated state, raw is over 70% moisture.
My dog has allergies, what can I do to help?
The first step is to switch to a raw diet. X out any fruit, veg, carbs, grains etc. if you're feeding them as they will make things worse. There's some tips to combating allergies right here in our allergy link.
My dog/cat refuses to touch the raw food, what can I do to encourage them to eat?
This tends to happen quite often believe it or not to some pet owners. While it can be frustrating sometimes they just don't recognize it as food. Give some of these troubleshooting tips a try:
What kind of treats can I feed now that I've started my dog/cat on a raw diet?
Dehydrated! Save money by investing in a dehydrator and make your own. The possibilities are endless!
Does raw feeding cause aggression?
Raw food is often viewed by dogs and cats as much higher value than dry or even tinned foods and you might notice that your cat or dog becomes tense and may even growl when you approach when he is eating. This is perfectly normal! (You'd guard your favorite food, even from your best friend if you were hungry and you just knew you wouldn't get any if they took it away).
Will raw feeding make my dog blood thirsty?
Behaviorally, raw feeding does not lead to dogs hunting, killing or becoming “blood thirsty”. They are no more likely to worry livestock, bite other dogs, pets, children or people than dogs on kibble or cooked foods. Dogs have innate motor patterns, the completion of which is internally reinforcing – often much more so than any external reinforcement that we can offer. So, when a dog completes the hunt-consume motor pattern (eye-stalk-chase-grab bite-kill bite–crush bite–consume) it receives a feeling of satisfaction and the dog will most likely repeat the actions that lead to this feeling. In raw feeding, we remove almost all the steps (usually only leaving the dog with crush-bite – consume or in the case of minces, simply consume) and therefore do not tap into this sequence to the point where the dog will become 'blood thirsty' or a killer.
Recently I've read articles that "grain-free" diets can cause DCM. Does that mean because there's no grains in a raw diet that my dog/cat is at risk?
No. These "grain-free" foods have legumes such as peas and lentils in them in replace of grain. Legumes interfere with the absorption of Taurine. Taurine is important for a lot of things one of them being heart health. A raw diet is full of Taurine. Red meat and organs have an abundance of Taurine as well as seafood.
Read more about that here.
Have more questions? Come on over and post them to our group Raw Feeding Advice and Support!