How to buy raw dog food

What kind of raw food you may feed to your dog depends on basically 2 things. What is available in your area and what your dog likes. Very few raw foods are not good for your dog like very hard bones. Also very fatty meats can cause problems for your dog. For example ground beef often sold in 75/25 (25% fat) but fat content can be as high as 70/30 or 30% fat. I do not recommend this type of meat as pet food.

Avoid high fat content –  Feeding fatty foods like this may cause your dogs pancreas to overreact. The pancreas is part of the endocrine and digestive system, which is integral for the digestion of foods. It produces the enzymes to digest food as well as insulin. During preparation I trim off most fat. Some meats have more fats (pork/chicken) and others less. Deer for example is very lean and has nearly no fat.

Good deals – We study the supermarket weekly flyer. After you look at it a few times you will quickly understand what a good price is for your area. We look for raw unprocessed meats preferably with bones attached.  Our list includes:

Chicken under $1 a pound
Often found for 65 cents and up and major markets.  Try to find “no salt added” if possible.  You use the entire animal, bones and feet included.

Turkey/poultry around $1 a pound
Avoid the ones packed with the “free gravy pack”, try to find “no salt added” if possible.  Also feet the entire bird.

Pork around $1.50 a pound
Mostly good as the cheap cuts include the bones, exactly what your dog wants. We frequently buy pork for 99 cents a pound but occationally we buy pork ribs. Our threshold for the ribs is $2/pound. See parasites snippet below.

Beef under $3.00 a pound
We buy on occasion a roast or the marked down packages from the day prior. For most dogs beef bones are too hard to easily break with their teeth and could cause chipped teeth and other injury.

Intestines price varies
Most supermarkets have liver but hearts, stomach and kidneys are less frequently found. Try ethnic markets like Asian or Latin markets as in other countries intestines are still a part of the diet of many people.

Butcher shops
If you have a butcher near you and he is willing to sell you a bucket of “scraps” go for it. Even so it may look yucky to you, it is yummy for your pet.  We only remove excess fat and bones that are too hard to break down for our dog.

Hunters special
If you hunt or have a friend that hunts great! We love feeding our dog any of the herbivories like rabbit, deer, antelope or buffalo. Be aware of that some omnivores like wild boar/pigs, bears and coyotes may contain parasites that can make your dog sick. We only feed wild poultry and herbivores to our dog. Avoid strong bones.

Eggs – So far every dog we encountered loves raw eggs.  You can break the shell if you wish or leave it whole.  After a few eggs your dog will know how to get to the “goodies”.

Vegetables and fruits – Add raw broccoli, spinach, and celery. Also include apples or other fruit. Avoid very sweet fruits.  Be aware that some fruits like grapes are dangerous for your pet.  Do your research!

Cooking – Never cook any bones!  This is actually dangerous and cooked bones are more brittle, break differently and are no longer digestible the same way as raw bones.  You can however briefly cook intestines should your dog not want to eat it otherwise.

Parasites – In the US it is usually safe to feed your dog raw pork due to strict FDA rules. In other jurisdictions a parasite called Trichinella spiralis may be present in raw pork and should be avoided.  This parasite can also be present in wild game, typically omnivores like bears and wild pigs.  Please do research what parasites that can affect your pet and how to avoid those.  Do not worry about salmonella and the like, your dog will be just fine.

BARF – feeding your dog raw food

The acronym BARF stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food.  Several veterinarian have spoken and written about this subject already.  For many pet owners the idea may look natural but does sound a bit scary.  There is no need to be scared.  Your pet will thank you for this.

In summer of 2016 I went out to the pet store to get some dog food. After comparing prices I realized that the “medium grade” canned dog food cost per pound was roughly US$2 (or 2 Euro per kilo) and the better grade easily cost US$5/pound or 10 Euro per kilo. These prices are roughly accurate for Las Vegas, other locations can vary considerably. Since I just came from a supermarket and bought some meats for my own consumption I realized that dog food can be expensive. So I started some research.

It turns out that dogs do not need “dog food” and that dog food or most pet food for that matter is generally speaking of terrible quality.  The documentary “Pet Fooled” will bring up some good points that will make you think twice about continuing on this route.

On one hand the industry uses any and all ingredients that are cheap.  In 2007 a major recall was issued when tainted gluten caused renal failure in cats and dogs.  See this article for more info.  This one tainted protein accounted for an estimated 8500 deaths.  Using human grade meats and vegetables will greatly reduce these risks.

Unlike for us humans our pets can and should eat the meats raw.  This includes bones and all.  Food borne diseases from meat obtained from supermarkets like salmonella and similar do not affect your dog.  You however should use the same precautions to protect your health as if you prepare food for your family.  After preparing chicken or similar raw ingredients that are potentially contain pathogens make sure to clean your work area, tools and hands properly to protect you and your family.

Please remember to consult your veterinarian before you start your pet on a new diet.  Also consider a checkup a few weeks or months after you started the BARF diet.