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What Is Raw Feeding and How To Raw Feed Your Dog

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

It’s fair to say raw feeding has taken the dog world by storm. But what actually is it? And more importantly, how do you do it?

Like a lot of things in the dog world, raw feeding is exactly what it sounds like. It’s feeding your dog a diet of raw food, mostly raw meat, instead of commercialised wet or dry dog food. Raw feeding is usually raw meat although often includes some fruit and vegetables. It is incredibly important to note now, and I will throughout this post, that raw feeding is NOT feeding your dog random amounts of raw meat and veg based on what’s in the fridge or what they have at a supermarket. Raw feeding needs to be nutritionally balanced and I’ll explain why.

To start, it’s important that we look at what dogs are and how they digest food. It’s a common myth that dogs are omnivores but that simply isn’t true. Dogs are facultative carnivores. This means while they can survive on plant matter (unlike obligatory carnivores like cats), they thrive on a meat-based diet. Their teeth are designed to shred and tear meat and chew through bones and they have a short digestive tract and high stomach acid level designed to process raw meat. (Yes, bones! You CAN feed bone but it has to be raw bone- never cooked. Cooked bone can splinter and is dangerous to feed your dog. Raw bone is completely safe and actually great for cleaning their teeth.)

Now we get to the hard part of raw feeding and the bit that causes unbelievable levels of controversy: how to do it correctly. Commercial pet food companies have a lot of money. Insane amounts. A lot of them are owned by huge consumer brands. And they use this money to do studies and tests that prove that their food is good for your dog. It’s incredibly biased but the one thing it does do is prove that the synthetic nutrients they add to their food are correct for your dog’s dietary needs. Raw feeding… doesn’t have that (yet). While some owners have undoubtedly been raw feeding for decades, raw feeding as a business is a relatively new market and currently all that exists are small independent brands. No one yet has the cash flow to conduct the level of dietary study that the raw feeders need. So people tend to fall into two camps:

Camp A: PMR – Prey Model Raw

Also known as 80-10-10. A PMR diet is raw feeding at it’s very core. It’s based on the idea that in the wild, dogs would catch and eat a bird or small animal that would roughly be 80% muscle meat and fat, 10% bone and 10% secreting organ. A PMR diet replicates this. A very simple example would be, if your small dog eats 100g of food per day, 80g of chicken breast, 10g of chicken bone, 10g of chicken liver.

Pros: It’s exactly what your dog would eat in the wild

Cons: It lacks some vitamins and nutrients, like omegas, which can be found in oily fish.

Camp B: BARF – Biologically Appropriate Raw Feeding

The other significant player in raw feeding is BARF feeding. While BARF is based off PMR, it adds a lot more. BARF looks directly to a dog’s dietary needs and breaks down levels of vitamins and minerals, adding fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit and supplements to add in nutrients that PMR lacks. Any raw food that you buy that says “Complete” will fall under BARF.

Pros: It meets your dog’s dietary needs 100%

Cons: It can be time-consuming and pricy

But how does this translate to the average pet owner? Do you need to start getting deep with a calculator just to feed your dog? No! There’s a lot of easily accessible complete raw dog foods on the market today that I recommend as a starting point. You order online, take delivery and pop it in your freezer, then defrost it overnight and feed! Aside from storing it in your freezer and having to defrost before you feed, it’s exactly the same as feeding any other food. I even hand feed my raw! I have some disposable nitrile gloves that I order online and I use Mars’ raw food for all kinds of training sessions.

Once more for emphasis: Going to the butcher, or even your local raw food shop and buying duck necks, veal bones, lamb hearts and ox kidney is not raw feeding. Yes, it takes a lot of time and effort and clearly your intentions are good but unless those purchases are being calculated and fed at correct levels in order to meet your dog’s dietary requirements, it’s going to leave them with nutrient deficiencies.

So now we know what raw feeding is, how to do it and possibly you’ve ordered some complete raw food, but how do you know how much of it to feed your pet? We’re going to go off their bodyweight and it’s going to be different for adult dogs and puppies.

For adult dogs: (per day)

To lose weight: 2% of their bodyweight

To maintain weight: 3% of their bodyweight

To gain weight: 4% of their bodyweight

To work out what this number is, follow this super easy sum:

(Dog’s weight in kg) divided by 100, multiplied by (the percentage you want)

Your answer will come out in kg, so if you multiply by 1000 you will get the amount in grams.

For example with our dog, Mars:

36kg, divided by 100 = 0.36, multiplied by 3% = 1.08 = 1080g

Other examples:


18kg, divided by 100 = 0.18, multiplied by 2% = 0.36 = 360g.


12kg, divided by 100 = 0.12, multiplied by 4% = 0.48 = 480g.

Obviously, this is adaptable, and results will depend on your dog’s activity level. For example, if you feed 3% and they begin to gain weight, try dropping to 2.5%.

Puppies obviously need a lot more food and they also need 5% more bone- for all the growing they have to do! Their 80-10-10 split should look more like 75-15-10.

8-12 weeks old: 10% of bodyweight

3-4 months old: 8% of bodyweight

4-6 months old: 5-7% of bodyweight

6-8 months old: 3-5% of bodyweight

8-12 months old: 3-2.5% of bodyweight

And that almost brings us to the end of our raw feeding blog! There are just a few more things that I’d like to add:

Firstly, not all dogs have the same bone requirements and tolerance. Sometimes you will feed raw, and your dog’s poop will come out almost like chalk. It will be powdery, white and crumbly and your dog may appear to struggle to pass it. There’s no need to panic! This simply means that they need less bone in their diet. Most dogs are fine with 10% but for some it’s too much. There are ways around this, but we’ve run out of time to squeeze them here so if you’re struggling with too much bone, reach out and we can help you get back to normal.

Secondly, it is a myth that raw feeding is expensive or is impossible to store. Raw feeding is around the same price point as many high quality wet and dry foods, it's actually cheaper than some of the very high quality dry foods. We saved money when we switched our cat from commercial food to raw. Storage-wise, our dog is huge so we bought an under-counter freezer (£100) to store his food because he goes through it quickly but on average you can store around 6-9kg per freezer drawer, which is usually enough for 2-4 weeks for a small-medium pet.

Finally, there is a lot of controversy in this subject. I'd strongly advise not getting sucked in! Do your own research, come to your own decisions, even trial feed it for a few weeks to see how your dog gets on with it or hire a canine nutritionist, but avoid the facebook groups and the debates. It gets toxic very quickly. Just do your own thing for you and your pet!

Unsurprisingly, I have a LOT more to say on the topic so I absolutely will be writing more Raw Feeding blog posts in the future, which I’ll link here when I have. But for now, I think we’ve nailed the Intro to Raw Feeding!

Happy Feeding!


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