What is a raw diet for dogs? With the rise in people wanting to feed their dogs a more natural and species appropriate diet, feeding raw diets has become more mainstream than they once were. Just throwing your dog a raw steak isn’t the correct way to do it though so keep reading.
Below you’ll find an overview of the 3 most popular raw diets for dogs: Prey Model, B.A.R.F., and commercial raw diets. Before switching your dog to a raw diet, make sure you consult your dog’s vet to make sure your plan is suitable for your dog specifically. Now that my disclaimer is out of the way, let’s jump right into this…
So what is a raw diet for dogs?
Raw diets are just like they sound – it’s when you feed your dog raw meat. Depending on which type of raw diet you choose will determine exactly what you feed your dog but they all share the common theme of raw meat.
Why are people feeding their dogs raw meat? As I’ve mentioned before, our pet dogs have evolved from wolves who, as you probably already know, are carnivores.
A wolf’s diet is very different from your typical dry dog food. So, since our dogs have evolved from wolves, it makes sense to feed them real meat like a wolf would eat.
The most conflicting information when learning about raw diets for dogs is between Prey Model and B.A.R.F. because the idea behind each diet is different. Also, the people who get really invested in feeding either of these types of diets can get pretty fanatical and be really against the other group. One group thinks just eating raw meat, bones, and organs is the better diet and other thinks fruits and vegetables should also be included. Let’s get into the nitty gritty of these diets now.
What are there different types of Raw Diets?
Prey model is where your dog eats only muscle meat, edible bones, and organs of animals. This can be by either eating a whole animal (whole prey) or by feeding as many different parts from as many different animals as possible.
The latter is the most popular way to feed this diet and sometimes is referred to as franken-prey.
With this diet, your dog is fed a 80-10-10 ratio of meat, edible bones, and organs. This means 80% of each meal will be muscle meat, 10% edible bones, and 10% organs (broken down into 5% liver and 5% other squishy organs).
B.A.R.F stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or sometimes bones and raw food. This diet is similar to prey model but instead of just feeding meat, edible bones, and organs – vegetables, fruits, seeds, and nuts are added as well.
Though the meat, bones, and organs are fed raw like with the prey model, the plants need to be cooked and/or pureed for proper nutrient absorption. This is because our dogs’ mouths aren’t able to chew plant matter correctly.
A dog on the B.A.R.F. diet will be eating 70% muscle meat, 10% edible bone, 10% organs (broken down into 5% liver and 5% other squishy organs), and 10% fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts (broken down into 7% vegetables, 2% seeds and nuts, and 1% fruit)
This is the pivotal argument between these two raw diets. Since our dogs have pointy teeth, that’s a clear indicator that they’re carnivores. Their teeth are built for ripping into meat and crunching through bones.
They lack the flat teeth required to grind plant matter to make it digestible. So if our dogs can’t get the beneficial nutrients from plant matter without us first preparing it, then should we really be feeding that plant matter to them?
It’s not like wolves cook and or puree fruits and vegetables before eating them.
Both sides fight over this because the wolves have been documented eating some plants in the wild; but if those plants can’t be digested properly by wolves because of the lack of flat, grinding, molar teeth then they’re not actually getting nutrition out of eating the occasional plant. Thus the debate continues.
Commercial Raw Diets
Commercial raw diets are kind of like feeding your dog a raw diet with the convenience of feeding kibble, except it’s still a little more work that just pouring kibble in a bowl. Commercial raw diets fall into 2 categories: dehydrated and frozen. The dehydrated raw is prepared by re-hydrating the food with water and the frozen is thawed before serving.
Commercial diets are more convenient since they take the prep work out of it, you just measure and serve. The downside is that your dog won’t be ripping and chewing meat and bones so they won’t get the dental benefits that they would from eating prey model or B.A.R.F. diets. The other downside is that when you compare the cost of these diets, commercial raw diets are more expensive.
The most popular and recommended brand of commercial raw diets is Stella and Chewy’s but there are a lot of other brands available too. If you are interested in feeding a commercial raw diet, I definitely recommend you check out Stella and Chewy’s though. They offer frozen patties and morsels as well as freeze-dried patties.
They also offer freeze-dried meal mixers that you can add to your dog’s kibble, though that option isn’t raw feeding – it’s more like adding a supplement to your dog’s diet.
Is a raw diet for you?
Is a raw diet for you? Only you can decide that. Feeding raw isn’t for everyone and it takes a considerable amount of research and preparation to make sure you are doing it correctly. Once you know what you’re doing and get into a rhythm, it gets easier so don’t let that deter you.
If you decide to go raw, do remember to consult your vet first. Also, something very important to remember is meat is digested much faster than kibble. That’s important to know because it’s the reason why you can’t feed both at the same time. If you feed your dog kibble and then raw food too close together, the raw meat will be in your dog’s digestive system longer than it should be which can make your dog sick. So make a choice and only feed that food.
Also remember, you are feeding raw meat which means more bacteria. This isn’t a problem for your dog but it can be a problem for humans. Make sure you take extra precautions to keep your dog contained while eating and clean the area well after each meal.
I’ve been down this rabbit hole already. I tried the prey model raw diet for my dogs and fed them raw for about 2 years. If you’d like to read more about the prey model diet and my experience with it check out this post: What is the Prey Model Raw Diet – Plus My Experience Feeding It. In that post, I go into more detail about the prey model raw diet, how to feed it, and my opinion about it after feeding it for 2 years.
Do you or have you fed your dog a raw diet? If so, leave a comment below, I’d love to hear which one you tried and what you thought about it.