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How We Adjusted Raw Feeding For Our Dogs

After years of trying out various foods and diets, here’s how we have adjusted raw feeding for our dogs to fit our budget and convenience. Recipe and our favorite raw food brands included!

Raw Feeding For Our Dogs

When I recently talked about how we choose raw feeding for our dogs on Instagram, I got several questions requesting more details on their diet. I’ve talked about the benefits of raw food for dogs in this post and how it changed my dogs’ health, so I would start there if you want to learn more about it.

What is raw feeding?

Raw feeding is based on the guideline that our pets should eat the closest diet to that of their ancestors for optimal health. For dogs, that would mean eating like how wolves do in the wild. While wolves are omnivores, their ideal diet is based on raw meats, bones, and organs. You can also supplement with some veggies and fruits but they should be only a small percentage of their diet.

Raw Feeding For Our Dogs

Why we adjusted raw feeding for our dogs

When we first started out feeding our dogs raw, we used the BARF method (Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods), with a high percentage of meat, some bones and organs, and very little veggies and fruits. It worked really well for a while and my Frenchie’s skin allergies went away and my Shih Tzu’s hair got so healthy and shiny.

However, both of them were losing weight rapidly with raw feeding and we were realizing that in order for them to stay a healthy weight AND eat like how they are doing, we would have to feed them way more and it would be way too expensive for us to keep up with all the meat we were buying.

A more balanced approach for our family

So we’ve been switching up their food for a few years to find something that would work for all of us: A healthy diet for the dogs with the convenience, both financially and physically, for us. This meant switching it up quite often to see what would work best for us: high quality kibble, prepared raw food products, homemade meals, etc.

In the past year, I finally landed on a more balanced approach that’s been working really well. I’ve been raw feeding them, but with some cooked veggies and a different ratio of components to keep their weight up. Upping their carbs with veggies helps them not lose weight, and cooking them makes them more digestible.

Raw Feeding For Our Dogs

If we are too busy or we forget to make their food, we purchase prepared raw food. Luckily, we live close to a pet store called Pet Food Express, that has some amazing raw food options and they even have homemade raw food as well!

However, if we are traveling and have to leave them with a sitter, we feed them freeze-dried raw food or high quality kibble. We don’t want the sitter to worry about wet food while we are gone (not everyone’s comfortable handling raw meats and organ meats), and the dogs do great on them for a short time.

My personal raw feeding guideline

Most of the food that I prepare for our dogs consists of raw meat. I use chicken or turkey, because I’ve found that fattier cuts of meat will upset their stomachs. Every 2-3 days, I’ll add raw bones to their food, such as cut up chicken wings or bones leftover from cooking (ALWAYS RAW, cooked bones can splinter).

When I can find organ meats, I add a bit of it to their food. If I can’t, I just sprinkle some Perfect Supplements’ powdered desiccated liver to their food, which is grass fed and packed with nutrients.

You can get 10% off desiccated liver and other Perfect brand supplements with code: GREATGRANDMA10!

Raw Feeding For Our Dogs

With veggies and fruits, my guideline is this: however much meat I give them, 20% of that will be veggies and fruits. This is all in weights. I have a cheap kitchen scale to measure everything out. I measure the weight of veggies and fruits when they are raw and then cook the veggies afterwards.

For example, if I’m preparing 5 lbs of meat for the dogs, 1 lb of that would be veggies and fruits.

Raw feeding recipe for our family

Raw Feeding For Our Dogs

Of course, this is more work than feeding them kibble, so I make a big batch of their food about every 2 weeks and keep the food in the fridge. Here’s my exact recipe that our dogs love:

Our Personalize Raw Feeding Recipe for Our Dogs

Author: Jean Choi

After years of trying out various foods and diets, here's how we have adjusted raw feeding for our dogs.

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Ingredients

  • 8 lbs raw meat usually turkey or chicken
  • 1 1/4 lbs organ meats liver, kidney, spleen
  • OR 4 scoops Perfect Desiccated Liver Powder Use code GREATGRANDMA10 for 10% off your entire order
  • 1 1/2 lbs raw veggies and fruits make sure they are safe for pets!
  • Small raw bones chicken wings or thigh bones

Instructions

  1. If the raw meat and organs aren't ground up or in small pieces, cut up into smaller pieces or pulse several times in the food processor.

  2. Measure out the veggies and fruits. Fruits can be eaten raw, but for sensitive tummies, steam the veggies until they are soft. I like to use the Instant Pot to cook veggies easily and quickly.  

  3. Cool the veggies and place in the food processor with the fruits.

  4. Pulse several time until they are in small pieces or ground up.

  5. In a large mixing bowl, combine the meats, veggies, fruits, and Perfect Desiccated Liver Powder, if using. 

  6. Store in the fridge and feed the dogs during their feeding time. The quantity is different for all dogs so try different amounts until you find what's right for them.

  7. Add raw bones to their food every 2-3 days.

Recipe Notes

I have 2 dogs and one is 12 lbs, and the other is 25 lbs. This amount lasts me about 2 weeks for both of them.

Here are some of my favorite veggies and fruits to give my dogs:

  • carrots
  • bananas
  • blueberries
  • sweet potatoes
  • plantains
  • apples
  • green beans
  • pumpkin
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • brussels sprouts
  • cantaloupe
  • celery
  • cucumbers
  • mangos
  • oranges
  • pears
  • spinach

Raw Feeding For Our Dogs

Raw feeding may not be right for every dog.

Just like humans, not one diet works for every dog, AND THAT’S OKAY. I know many people who tried raw feeding for their dogs, but their dogs had a bad reaction to it. Some dogs may have evolved too much that they can’t stomach raw meats.

I definitely think it’s worth trying raw feeding for every dog because it truly has improved our dogs’ health dramatically, but I understand that it may not be right for everyone. In that case, you can feed them quality kibble or freeze-dried food instead.

If you want to try out raw feeding but don’t want to make your dog’s food or you are just too busy to, below are some of my favorite store-bought options, both frozen raw products and freeze-dried products!

High quality frozen raw food brands

Because these are frozen raw meats, you’ll have to see if your local pet store has them. However, a few do ship and deliver to your house.

High quality freeze dried raw food brands

There are some great freeze dried options as well, and these are great for when we are traveling and don’t want the dog sitter to deal with raw meat and bones. You just add water to them and they bulk up into wet food that our dogs love.

High quality kibble

We do feed our dogs high quality kibble when we are traveling as well, because they are much easier to find and really convenient on the go. There are so many brands out there, and we are still experimenting with what works best for our dogs. I’ll update with another blog post when we find one that we really love!


Hope this post helped you answer any questions about how I’ve been feeding my dogs. Again, this may change in the future depending on how my dogs react. Just like humans, our dogs need individual nutrition which may change overtime. I highly recommend you experiment with different meats, ratios, and veggies to figure out what works best for them!

Homemade Beef Jerky for Dogs

raw dog treat

If you know me at all or follow me on Snapchat, you know that I love our little pooches like they are my babies. I do my best to use the best quality ingredients when it comes to cooking and eating at home, and the same goes for our dogs. I have posted before about how we feed our dogs a raw meat diet, and while I believe this is still the ideal diet, this has changed because C and I love to travel so much and it was too much of a hassle to worry about while we were away. Also, it wasn’t working great for Sally, our shih tzu, so we have switched it up to high quality grain-free dehydrated raw kibble while still supplementing with eggs, bones, liver, and raw meat occasionally.

When it comes to treats, I’ve found that there are also many great quality products that we can buy but they are quite expensive if you want the ones with just 1 ingredient in them (high quality meat) without any kind of fillers and grains. I realized that making them at home is a much better option that’s both healthy and economical. Luckily for us, our local farmers market has a meat vendor that sells ground up grass fed raw food for dogs which includes beef meat, bones and various organs like hearts, livers, and kidneys. I’ve bought them previously to supplement their food, but I realized I could use them to make homemade beef jerky for them!

raw dog treat recipe

raw dog treat recipe

raw dog treat

If you can’t find a mixture like this one, you can just use ground beef or make your own mix after buying the parts separately. All these various parts contain different nutrients that are so beneficial and the dogs go crazy for them. Just like humans, it’s important for the dogs to eat all parts of the animal for the maximum nutrient profile. You don’t always need to get grass fed, but if you have the option and the means, I think it’s worth getting. After all, the dogs give us so much happiness in our lives, why wouldn’t we want to give them the best stuff so they can be healthy even as they get older?

raw dog treat

raw dog treat

raw dog treat

raw dog treat

Just a warning, these treats will induce those hard-to-resist “please, may I have some more??” faces (case in point: photo below). It makes me happy that even if I do give in and give them a few extra pieces of the jerky, they are eating a nutrient-dense and healthy treat that supports their development and nutrition. Just like humans, the food the dogs eat matters so much for their well-being!

Homemade Beef Jerky for Dogs

Homemade Beef Jerky for Dogs

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 12 hours
Total Time: 12 hours 5 minutes
Author: Jean Choi
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb mixture of ground beef, organ meats, and bones (you can use just ground beef as well)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven 130 degrees F or to its lowest setting.
  2. Place the meat mixture on a parchment paper and use your hands or a greased rolling pin to flatten out the meat to about 1/8 inch thick.
  3. Use a blunt knife to score the meat into a checkerboard pattern so you can later break them into bite sized pieces.
  4. Place the entire thing on a baking sheet, and dehydrate in the oven for 8 hours.
  5. Take out of the oven and tilt the baking sheet carefully over the sink to drain out any grease that seeped out.
  6. Break the beef into pieces along the previously scored lines, then place them in a single layer on a cooling rack on top of a fresh baking sheet.
  7. Place back in the oven for 4-5 more hours. There may be more drippings that fall into the baking sheet.
  8. Store at room temperature for 3 weeks, or keep in the fridge if planning to keep longer than that.

 Paleo Homemade Dog Treat Beef Jerky

Benefits of Raw Food for Dogs

Benefits of Raw Food for DogsOur dogs are the cutest. Not biased at all. We have a small Shih Tzu named Sally, and a Frenchie/Boston Terrier mix named Radley. Sally was C’s dog and Radley was mine, and when we decided to live together, they were forced to do so as well. I say forced because they hated each other at first, but now they are totally kosher for the most part.

From the beginning, I was extremely careful about what we were feeding them and only bought the highest quality dog foods. After all, they are family and I didn’t want to feed them kibble filled with unnecessary ingredients. Sally has always been a super healthy dog, but Radley came with various digestive problems, as well as skin allergies that made her scratch herself to the point of bleeding. We had to put a shirt on her to keep her from scratching herself so much, no joke. I hated slash loved it, because that’s just how I generally feel about dogs in shirts.

It wasn’t until we moved to California and settled a bit that I started doing some extensive research on raw feeding for dogs, and finally decided to go for it. Dogs, like humans, used to live in the wild, and exclusively ate raw meats, bones, and organs, and very little vegetables or fruits. Their systems aren’t evolved to process grains, corn, food colorings, and other weird fillers that are in commercial dog foods. Their digestive tracts are actually exactly the same as wolves. By feeding them a diet that is the closest to what their ancestors ate, they can thrive in their optimal health. Our dogs eat only meat for the most part, and some vegetables and fruits as treats occasionally.

Benefits of Raw Food for Dogs
After doing this for several months now, here are some things I learned:

1. Radley’s allergy is much more manageable, and Sally’s coat is ridiculously shiny. Radley used to be on monthly allergy shots, which was supposed to keep her symptoms at bay. It didn’t work that great, however, and we still had to keep a shirt on her to prevent her from scratching. Ever since going raw, I took her off of the shots and she no longer needs to wear a shirt. She still scratches sometimes, but it’s nowhere near as bad as it used to be. She seems much healthier now and so does Sally.

We used to free-feed Sally, meaning we left her food out and she ate it as she pleased throughout the day. It was sad how unenthusiastic she was about her food. These days, she actually looks forward to her morning feeding time (even whining for it) and finishes everything in one sitting. Since going raw, Sally’s hair looks and feels silky and shiny.

2. Not all dogs can eat the same meats and the same cuts. It is important to start slow when starting raw. I began feeding them just chicken for about 2 weeks, and then branched out to other meats like turkey, beef and eggs. It’s important to include bones and organ meats, but not too much. However, as you experiment with different cuts and meats, you’ll find that your dog can handle certain proteins better than others. For example, Radley can handle chicken and turkey skins much better than Sally. Sally seems to do really well on ground beef. I tend to feed them what works best for each dog, but still try to keep other proteins in the rotation so they get nutrients from a variety of meats.

Benefits of Raw Food for Dogs
3. Raw bones are totally fine. When I tell people what I feed my dogs, one of the first things I get asked about is, “Won’t they choke on the bones?” Raw bones are absolutely safe for dogs and they are soft enough to bend and be digested easily. It’s the cooked bones that you should ALWAYS avoid feeding. If your dog scarfs down food (like Radley), be sure to supervise the dog during feeding time to make sure everything goes okay. I haven’t had a problem with my dogs so far.

4. They are calmer. There seems to be a misconception that feeding dogs raw will make them more aggressive. This is the exact opposite of what happens. Since pure meat doesn’t contain carbs and fillers that can turn to sugar like kibble, dogs tend have calmer attitudes after they transition to raw. Also, their urge to chew or bite is taken care of with eating raw bones.

5. Less poop, less gas. Let’s get real. You’ll find out how your dog’s digestion is going during their walks. Once the dogs start eating raw, they are utilizing most of the food as fuel since it doesn’t contain fillers that their bodies feel the need to get rid of. This means less #2 when they go outside (or more, depending on if the protein is right for them or not). I’ll take any excuse to not have to pick up their sh*t as much, so I love it. Also, for anyone who owns a French Bulldog, you probably know what stinky gas bombs those cuties are. Radley used to clear the room instantly. These days, her stink problem has been reduced significantly and she seems to be digesting much better.

6. It’s more time consuming to prepare. It’s true. Buying and preparing raw meats will take longer than just scooping kibble into a bowl. Once your dog adjusts to eating raw though, it’s totally fine to feed them just once a day which makes it much more manageable. And once you start seeing the positive differences it’s making in your dog, it’s so worth it. After all, don’t you want your furry best friend to live a long healthy life? I’m still in denial and expect our dogs to live forever so I don’t have this concern. But I still want them to be the healthiest as they can be.

7. The price is comparable to high quality kibble. Just like humans, it’s important to feed our dogs high quality meats, preferably organic and grass-fed. If you feel that it’s too expensive to feed them this way, feeding them conventional raw is still better than kibble so I suggest you try it out. I also do it from time to time in a pinch. For us, we tend to buy quality meats in bulk when they are on sale. We also invested in a cow share so our dogs eat a bit of that too. If you can, it’s much more cost-effective to buy the whole animal rather than cuts. I buy a whole chicken from Trader Joe’s (they have free range, organic chicken for cheap!) and hack it up into pieces. Whatever bones are left over, I use it for bone broth.

If you want to start feeding your dogs raw, this guide was super helpful for me so I suggest you start there. I’m also happy to answer any questions you may have. However, if the thought of it all is still daunting to you, I still suggest you feed them high quality kibble for their optimal health. A great resource to find out what brand is the best is: http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/.

Benefits of Raw Food for Dogs