Millions of dog owners are making the switch to feeding raw food, now more than maybe ever.
Sure, the convenience of commercial food is tough to be. Nothing’s easier than popping down to the pet store and grabbing a bag of kibble. But when you take that approach you never really know what’s making it into your dog’s diet.
The bag might say you’re feeding your dog chicken…but what kind of chicken?
Are we talking whole muscles, the kind of chicken sold at grocery stores all over the county?
Or are we talking about “chicken meal”…which might have once been (sort of) easy to indentify as chicken but definitely isn’t any longer?
And that’s just one ingredient on the list!
Commercial dog food operations have gotten pretty slick about coming up with “weasel words” they can legally use to call one unpleasant ingredient something that sounds at least palatable. Worse, all of them do it!
By making the switch to raw dog food you’re eliminating all of that trouble completely.
Now instead of worry about all the things that are potentially making it into your dog’s daily diet you have total control over their nutrition.
All of a sudden you’re able to dial in their daily meals, feeding them the same kind of food you’d feed other members of your family. You’re able to tinker with different recipes to avoid food allergies and sensitives they might have.
You’re finally able to flood their bodies with all the healthy boosting fuel they need to live happy, healthy, long lives.
And – believe it or not – you can do all of that without spending a small fortune along the way!
We show you how below.
Let’s get right into it!
Understanding the Benefits of Raw Food for Dogs
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of saving a mountain of money on raw dog food, it’s important to cover all the reasons why its so important to make the switch in the first place.
And there are a bunch of them!
For starters, as highlighted above, when you make the jump to raw food dog options you’re instantly getting total control over their nutrition.
Instead of having to feed your dog a universal “adult” dog food designed to be a one size fits all kind of choice you’re able to create breed and age specific formulas unlike anything you can find on the market now. You’re able to make sure that if your dog needs extra protein they are getting it, able to flood their bodies with fish oil, able to guarantee they’re getting the vitamins and minerals they need.
Even better, you’re able to tinker with these formulas to see how your dog responds. Your pooch not as energetic as they used to be? Their coat not as shiny? Their stomachs a little gassier than normal?
All of that – and more – can be influenced with the right changes to raw feeding formulas.
Another big benefit is the confidence you get in know EXACTLY what’s making it into your dog’s bowl (and then their body).
Never again do you have to worry about what kind of “chicken” they are being fed. Never again do you have to worry about rice or grains or filler being snuck into the food you’ve been buying. Never again do you have to worry about allergens being added and then never disclosed.
All of those issues disappear with the switch to DIY raw feeding.
Lastly, you get to protect your dog’s health in a way feeding commercially available dog food cant.
Each and every year there’s another story about a major dog food company having to recall all of their food. Sometimes it’s because a machine broke down and some fluid leaked into the food.
Sometimes it’s because a batch of bad ingredients were used and are poisoning dogs. And other times it’s because a company gets lazy, farms their food out to a company that isn’t interested in quality control, and before you know it thousands of otherwise healthy dogs are dead.
None of those problems exist when you’re making the dog food for your four legged family member. You ALWAYS know what’s making it into their bowl.
Mapping Out Your Raw Food Meal Plan
The challenge with raw feeding (aside from having to actually handle the heavy lifting of making the food for your dog instead of popping open a bag of kibble) is keeping the costs affordable.
It doesn’t take much for these prices to get skyhigh, especially when you’re looking to make food as healthy for your dog as you can.
Thankfully, though, by making meals plans in advance you’re able to put some guardrails up around your spending that wouldn’t have been their otherwise. You’re able to easy lasso in rouge spending that would have happened if you just tried to “wing it” with your food shopping.
You don’t have to go crazy with meal planning or prep, either. Make a couple of weeklong meals plans and cycle through them. Your dog will be happy and so will your bank account.
When building dog food meal plans, though, it’s important to start everything with the protein source before anything else.
Your meat source is going to be the backbone of your meals. It’s (usually) going to make up 80% or more of the volume of the raw food you’re making. It should be high quality, it should be easily digestible, and it should be as cheap as possible.
For those reasons, most people are going to want to start with chicken when they make the jump to raw feeding. Chicken is readily available, super cheap, and is one of the friendliest meat sources for your dog’s digestive system, too.
Play around with the support ingredients from there (steering clear of grains, rice, and other fillers) and you can make a week or two of chicken based meals.
Move from there to things like rabbit, lamb, pork (if your dog can eat it) and other cheap meats. No need to go all in on beef unless you’d like to treat them!
Try to cycle in new meal plans every week or so. This helps make sure your dog gets the full range of nutrients they need rather than just the ones available from a single protein source. Make three weeks worth of plans, rinse and repeat them over and over, and you’ll be good to go.
Buying in Bulk
One of the smartest ways you can save money with raw dog food is to buy in bulk.
Too terribly many people that make this switch (especially when they are just getting started) pick up ingredients for their dog food when they are at the supermarket buying food for themselves and their family.
That’s a surefire way to overspend on dog food, sometimes spending twice as much than necessary (if not more).
No, bulk buying raw dog food ingredients is the way to go. You’re able to get your hands on pounds of meat and vegetables to make all the food you might need for a month (or more) and you get to save a mountain of money along the way.
The trick here, of course, is to find the right places to buy your raw dog food ingredients in bulk.
The first place to check is your local supermarket, especially when they are running sales. It’s not hard to find great sales on chicken, on turkey, and even on beef every month or so. Chicken thighs in particular can usually be bought for around $1 a pound – and sometimes less.
Secondly, you’ll want to check any of the wholesale or buyer’s club warehouses in your area.
Places like BJs, Costco, Sam’s Club, and restaurant supply locations have amazing deals on bulk quantities of raw dog food ingredients. These deals are usually way better than what you’d find at the grocery store – and, maybe more importantly you’ll find them available all the time. Everyday prices at these kinds of shops can have you saving big when you want to switch your dog to a raw diet.
Finally, local Asian markets and other ethnic style food markets can be great places to find insane deals on meat you’d likely not find at your corner shop. We’re talking about things like rabbit, like goat, like duck…meat sources that dogs really love and that are super healthy, too.
Online raw food for dog communities can be great sources for these “odd ball” meat. You never know what you’ll be able to find online at any one particular point in time, but the deals here are almost always the best deals on raw food diet components that you’ll find anywhere.
Finding Quality Equipment Without Spending a Fortune
Unless you want to spend hours every week making raw foods for dogs by hand you’ll need to get a hold of some key pieces of equipment.
- We’re talking about (at minimum):
- A quality meat grinder
- A quality meat slicer
- A good cleaver
- A good vacuum sealer
- Food safe storage and work bins
- (Possibly) a chest freezer to store your raw dog meals longer term
…And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
And while some folks will have all of those key pieces of equipment on hand in a (very) well appointed kitchen, most people aren’t going to have to spend some money to make raw dog food a lot easier.
Finding those key pieces of equipment on a budget is a lot easier if you know where to look.
For starters, you’ll want to jump on local classified sections like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. Lots of people find that they don’t have the energy to make dog raw food week in and week out, and those folks are almost always willing to sell their equipment at a discount to help defray the costs.
If you find something you like a little outside of your budget don’t be shy about shooting them an offer, either. The worst thing that can happen is they say no and you have to start your search again.
Secondly, look for restaurant supply stores in your area. These shops will have everything (and we mean everything) you’ll ever need to make great raw feed for your dog for next to nothing. All of the equipment will be commercial grade, super easy to use, and usually have bulletproof build qualities and great warranties, too.
Online platforms like eBay and Amazon should be checked last. Usually you’ll pay a little more of stuff on sites like these than the options we highlighted below, but they are worth checking out all the same.
If you’re only going to spend money on a couple of key pieces, make sure you drop cash on a good meat grinder. You’ll want something that can easily handle chicken feet and bones without any trouble. It’ll make life so much easier, too.
The other tool to grab would be a quality vacuum sealer. This will help you make big batches of raw meat batches at a time, saving money and energy, and freezing it away for use later down the line.
Join Raw Food Groups for More Tips, Tricks, and Recipes
The last bit of advice we want to leave you with is maybe the most important, and that’s the value of joining online communities dedicated to feeding raw diet choices to dogs.
These groups are always very welcoming and looking to help newbies to the world of raw food diet lifestyles get the hang of things quickly. The chance to connect with real dog owners that were in your shoes just a short while ago is worth its weight in gold.
These groups are always sharing inside info about the dos raw snack world that you wouldn’t be able to learn outside of trial and error yourself, too. They’ll shortcut the sometimes challenging learning curve for feeding your dog raw, help you avoid costly mistakes and mishaps, and steer you clear of bad meat choices or meat suppliers, too.
At the end of the day, there’s always going to be a lot of trial and error when it comes to feeding your dog a raw diet.
It’s not unrealistic to feel really overwhelmed early on, either. That’s to be expected. We are talking about moving away from buying a bag of commercial kibble, popping it open, and dumping it into a bowl and instead becoming the personal chef to your furry little family member, after all.
The important thing to remember when this change gets tough is the importance of it all. you’re choosing to give your dog the best possible meal you can, the best ingredients you can feed them, and it’s all to help make sure they are happy and healthy.
The raw diet is a game changer when done correctly, make no mistake about it. Dogs raw food formulas definitely take a bit more time and energy to make, but the results are almost instantly recognizable.
Chunky, lethargic, and unhappy dogs start acting years younger just as soon as you make the switch. It doens’t take a feeding dogs a bunch of raw budget ingredients for the transformation to take place.
Puppies also always respond well to the shift to raw diet feed, too. They’re going to get better nutrtion, allowing dogs to grow and develop to their genetic potential in a way that commercial “two scoops per day” food just doesn’t make possible.
No, raw feeding isn’t going to cure your dog of all ills or protect dogs from all illness. But feeding them a raw diet will change their lives for the better faster than you thought possible. It’s not unreasonable to expect dogs to live a lot longer when you feed a healthy budget diet every day, either.
Armed with the inside info we shared above you’ll able to raw feed dogs without spending a fortune and blowing your budget, either. Raw feeding dogs can be really expensive when you’re smart and strategic about what you feed.
The tips and tricks above will help you save a lot of money per day on your dogs budget, especially compared to some of the “premium” feed options that are really anything but.