Bulk meal prep makes feeding your raw fed dog so much easier. Our top tip is a big supply of quality food storage pots.
One of the first things we did when Herbert, our miniature wire haired dachshund came to live with us was to change his food and switch him to a raw diet.
There has been a huge surge in raw or BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods) feeding as more and more pet owners have realized that natural is better their much loved pets and are turning away from processed foods and kibble.
I’m baffled at the number of vets who still recommend processed food sold in bags whose labels contain umpteen ingredients that I have no idea what they are. No human medical professional would advocate eating less fresh food in favour of processed would they?
Herbert now consistently loves his food (he hated it before), is fitter, happier, healthier, has thicker fur and smaller and less smelly poops (a huge bonus for a dog owner)!
Getting started with raw feeding your dog – what you need to know
Firstly a warning – you need to know what you are doing and feed a proper balanced diet. Getting it wrong can cause your pet more harm than good. You cannot do too much research.
I’d suggest spending a good few days reading around the subject – following Dogs Naturally, Dr Karen Becker and Rodney Habib on Facebook is a good place to start, and they will point you towards more sources of information.
Basic raw food diet for dogs
80% muscle meat
10% secreting organs of which half needs to be liver
Feed 2-3% of body weigh per day
Feed at least 7 different proteins (species) and a variety of body parts, add supplements, probiotics and some vegetables and fruit as you judge fit.
*I am not a canine nutritionist so you must do your own research. There are a number of raw feeding groups on Facebook (many breed specific) with a wealth of knowledge and most of the raw companies have helplines *
Of course raw feeding is far more nuanced than this, so I’d recommend starting with a good quality complete raw food from one of the many brands, available from most pet shops, or via mail order.
We started with Nutriment because it can come with my Ocado order. If your vet is not supportive (many aren’t) then do as we did and change to a practice that is more open minded or supportive.
Once you get the hang of it you can switch to DIY and feed more interesting chunky food – Herbert’s bowl regularly contains canine delicacies such as chicken or duck feet, beef trachea and lamb lungs. All of which are far more interesting for him, taste and texture wise than a minced mix.
I order a box of frankly Dexter-esque frozen body parts from a raw food supplier every few months, taking a certain amount of delight in adding some more obscure bits!
I then used to spend a few hours hacking them down to manageable bite sized chunks and then refreezing them into bags, before assembling his two meals every day which was both time consuming and faffy.
I now bulk prepare Herbert’s meals packing his 105g of raw food per meal into these handy leak-proof Clip & Close 180ml pots from Addis which can be neatly stashed into the freezer all ready to defrost in the fridge for a day before feeding.
Spare pots double up as a leak proof water bowl when we are out and about, and for treat storage.
Addis have a huge range of shapes and sizes of containers so you are going to find one that holds enough and takes up the least possible space in the freezer; we use the Clip & Close pots with blue seals for Herbert and then the CleanSeal with the green seals for human food.
Despite that everything Herbert eats is human quality I’d prefer to keep them separate given my predilection for ALL the weird body parts.
What takes the time with raw fed dog meal prep?
I find that it’s all the faffing around getting organized. Pulling everything out of the freezer and rummaging though all those bag of food and remembering which body parts and proteins you have not fed for a while, as well as weighing everything.
My secret to raw fed dog meal prep, therefore, is a plentiful supply of identical pots and to make 10 days of food at the same time. (If I had a bigger freezer I’d do a month at a time).
Bulk prep makes it easier to correctly balance Herbert’s diet over the whole period.
I’m not worried about being exact with the 80:10:5:5 ratio on a meal by meal basis – who has got the time, energy or accurate enough scales to weigh out exactly 5.25g of liver of each meal? Certainly not me! It’s far easier to weight out around 105g then put approximately similar sized pieces into each pot, then repeat with the rest of his food.
Using identical pots means that all the lids fit interchangeably, they all weigh the same and they stack well in the freezer. This makes life even easier.
Above we have dinners with a spoon of steamed vegetables (he won’t eat them for breakfast for some reason), and breakfasts with a sprinkling of golden paste made with turmeric. Grab and go – if we are going away for a few days I just grab the pots and pop them into a cool bag with a couple of ice packs.
Some of the food above (not for the squeamish is)
- Lamb’s lung, heart and rib,
- Duck feet and gizzards,
- Chicken liver and feet,
- Ground turkey carcass
- Beef trachea and lips,
- chopped salmon heads, sprats, sardines,
- Pork heart, kidney, testicle, pancreas, and ears.
- Rabbit complete food,
- Veal kidney
- Venison chunk
- completes of chicken, lamb tripe & kangaroo or lamb trip and partridge.
The pots with less food in will be supplemented with either an egg or a frozen Kong toy stuffed with a complete minced food.
All the yum for a happy Herbert who comes running tail wagging at meal times and practically inhales the food within seconds.
And a happy owner who has an ordered freezer full of prepared raw food dog meals, with no need to rummage through umpteen bags of body parts every day. Reassurance he is eating the best diet possible is priceless.
Many thanks from Herbert and to Addis for our new food containers. Clip & Close pots start from just £1.99
Emma Taylor says
Your Herbert looks adorable. I’ve heard quite a bit about the raw food diet, have been considering it for our dogs. I love the little ready meals you make in the boxes. An ideal way of prepping in advance.
Switch! start with a good quality complete and your dogs will love you for it!
I have a cat so I’ve never really thought about what a dog would/should eat. This is really interesting and if (when) I get a dog I’ll probably stick to raw meals!
Many of the raw dog food companies also do cat food. There is a nutritional difference as I think that cats and dogs have different essential amino acid requirements and of course cats are obligate carnivores, where as dogs can survive but not thrive on a diet low or free from meat.
Sarah Bailey says
It is really interesting to hear how you have gone about feeding a raw diet! I have to admit it isn’t something I have tried with Sal – if she was younger and didn’t have so many stomach issues though I may have.
I think you would be surprised Sarah, I cannot imagine feeding any other way now – a raw diet sorts out so many issues, and dogs get switched at all stages of their lives. I read somewhere that adding just 20% fresh foods to their bowl makes a massive decrease to the chances of getting diseases like cancer.
Rhian westbury says
For any animals I think creating your own fresh food is better than the shop bought ones so this is great x
You do need some knowledge to successfully feed raw, and we had so much resistance from our vet – but I firmly believe it is better. Some of the ingredients in processed pet food are just horrible.
Laura Dove says
Great tips! Our dog eats a dry dog food diet as it has just been easier for us and he is happy and healthy on it. I would like to introduce a raw food diet as he gets older though, I think he would enjoy it!
I cannot recommend a raw diet highly enough – there are so many excellent complete foods out there. He will thank you for it.
Sally Akins says
This was a really interesting read. I can see how a raw food diet would be beneficial, and preparing the meals in bulk must really help with the convenience.
I am all about making my life easier.
Alex Gladwin says
Gosh he’s absolutely adorable. It’s really good to see how much thought and effort you put into his diet. The pots seem so handy!
My stash of pots is so useful and makes my life so much easier.
Stephanie Merry says
What a cutie Herbert is! My parents also have their dog on a raw food diet, it’s so much better for them!
thank you – we do love him. I am so delighted with how Herbert is loving his food and it is SO much better for him too.
So great to package everything up individually, makes it so much easier! My dad does this except with cooked meat xxx
Grab and go ready meals for dogs!
Not something I’ve tried before but definitely will have a look into it! PS, your pooch is adorable!
This is so cool, been hearing about this meal. Need to transit to this raw food menu