Raw Dog Food

What is Raw Dog Food?

A raw dog food diet is an alternative diet that consists of fresh, uncooked, ingredients, typically, raw meat, bones and organs. In some cases, fruits and vegetables are included to provide an extra nutritional option for your four-legged friends.

There is a growing number of dog owners choosing to feed their furry companions a natural diet with no additives or processing. This approach harks back to the time when dogs primarily survived on raw, natural diets before the advent of commercial foods like kibble or canned food.

The thinking behind raw meat-based diets is to mimic what dog ancestors consumed in the wild as carnivorous scavengers, making this a species-appropriate diet.

Types of Raw Dog Food

There are different ways in which to feed a raw diet to your dog. The two main forms of species-appropriate diet for dogs are the 80-10-10 or Prey model and the Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (BARF) model.

The 80-10-10 Raw Dog Food Model

The 80-10-10 model is a popular raw dog food diet designed to replicate the makeup of small prey animals like rabbits and rodents. The idea being that dogs should eat a diet similar to what they evolved to eat in the wild.

This approach to raw feeding emphasizes a specific ratio of ingredients the makeup of which is;

  • 80% Muscle Meat: This includes a wide range of meats such as chicken, turkey, fish, lamb, beef, or venison, which provide essential proteins and amino acids.

  • 10% Offal (Organ Meat): Organ meats, 5% liver + 5% secreting organs (like kidney, heart, and spleen) are nutrient-dense and contribute vital vitamins, minerals, and enzymes to a dog’s diet.

  • 10% Bone: Raw bones provide essential minerals, contribute to good dental health, and can offer mental stimulation. The bones fed can be any type of bone, including chicken, beef and lamb bones.

The 80-10-10 model is a balanced diet that provides dogs with all the nutrients they need. It is a diet that is easy to prepare using a variety of- protein sources while keeping a simple ingredient list.

The BARF Raw Dog Food Model

The BARF model of raw feeding is designed as a holistic approach to raw feeding incorporating other ingredients beyond the 80-10-10 ratio. The makeup of the BARF model includes:

  • Raw Meat and Offal: The BARF model allows for feeding raw muscle and organ meats whether in the 80-10-10 format or as whole prey animals, such as chickens, which can be more representative of a dog’s ancestral diet.
  • Raw Bones: BARF includes feeding raw bones to dogs as a significant component of their diet. These bones help promote dental health, provide essential minerals, and offer mental stimulation.
  • Fruits and Vegetables: The BARF model includes the addition of a variety of fruits and vegetables in the dog’s diet to provide additional nutrients, fibre, and phytonutrients.

The BARF model aims to offer a wider range of nutrients by incorporating fruits and vegetables. Typically, a BARF diet is made up of a 20% mix of fruit and vegetables, in addition to the 80-10-10 ratio however, this may differ across brands and recipes.

Benefits of Raw Feeding

The most obvious benefit of feeding a raw meat-based diet is that it is 100% natural with zero additives and preservatives. A raw dog food diet, whether homemade or store-bought, has a clear ingredient list and is usually preserved simply by freezing. This means that you know exactly what your pets are eating and it makes exclusion diets much easier to manage.

Improved digestion: The enzymes and good bacteria in raw dog food make digestion easier. This is because the live cultures in raw foods like tripe, help your dog break down food, support their gut health, and reduce the risk of gas and gastrointestinal issues.

Better dental health: Bones are the highest and most natural source of calcium for dogs. Raw bones are not only nutritional and entertaining snacks, they also help to clean dogs’ teeth and gums preventing plaque buildup and gum disease.

Reduced allergies & intolerances: Processed dog food often contains indigestible filler ingredients including chemicals. These ingredients can result in allergies and intolerances in dogs. In contrast, the live cultures in a raw, natural diet, strengthen your dog's gut and reduce the risk of allergies and intolerances.

Shinier coat: Raw dog food provides essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids that are necessary for healthy skin and shiny coats.

Weight Management: The ‘transparency’ offered by a raw dog food diet means it can be individually tailored to your dog, making it easier to manage their weight and address specific dietary needs.

Increased energy levels: With raw dog food being closer to what dogs have evolved to eat, the nutrients are more readily accessible. The natural ingredients are more easily absorbed and stored correctly in the body improving the energy levels in dogs.

Start Raw Feeding Your Dog

How Do You Start Feeding Raw Dog Food?

Switching to a raw diet can seem daunting at first, especially if your dog is older and used to a different diet. However, the benefits of feeding your dog a raw diet, make it worth it. Here are some helpful tips to get you started on your raw feeding journey.

We recommend a straight switch to raw, there is no need to do a gradual introduction if you don’t need to. However, there is a chance that your dog, being used to their current food, might turn their noses up at a raw meal in which case, a gradual switch would be the way to go.
If you’re taking the gradual approach, add the raw food in increasing amounts, while decreasing the old food over several days - usually, 3-5 days depending on your dog so be patient.

There are no hard and fast rules here, so do what you feel is right for your dog and his or her needs. The most important thing is that you have chosen to make the switch.

When Should You Feed A Raw Diet?

A raw diet is great for dogs of all ages, it is never too late to get them started on it.

Raw Feeding a Senior Dog:

Although senior dogs are generally less robust and potentially suffer from age-related health problems, they often just need time to adjust to a new diet. Contrary to what most pet parents think, switching to a raw diet is better as it is a much easier meal to digest, nutritionally dense and boosts their gut health.

Learn more about switching your senior dog to a raw diet.

Raw Feeding a Puppy:

Puppies can be started on a raw dog food diet from the moment they are weaned. The fact that puppies tend to have a healthier digestive system means that even if they were started on a different diet, you can make the switch over to a raw dog food diet easily.

Learn more about switching your puppy to a raw dog food diet.

How Much Should I Feed My Dog?

Our dog food calculator is a great tool to work out how much to feed your dog. We recommend feeding 2-3% of your dog's ideal adult body weight daily. For puppies, the recommendation is to feed 5-6% of their ideal adult body weight.

Please note that every dog is different. Dogs with high metabolisms, puppies and active/working dogs may require more food because they burn more calories over the course of the day.

Use our dog food calculator.

Is Raw Feeding Dogs Safe?

Preparing and feeding a raw meal to your dog really is not much different than preparing a meal for yourself using animal proteins like chicken. The raw dog food industry in the UK is highly regulated, the manufacturers are DEFRA approved, and the food is blast frozen to kill any potential parasite ensuring the products are safe for both pets and their owners.

At Paleo Ridge, we only use suppliers that meet our high ethical and quality standards. We are also the most accredited raw dog food manufacturer by design, so you can rest assured that you and your dog are in safe hands.

The greatest risk when feeding a raw diet ultimately is poor hygiene. We have compiled a helpful hygiene guide for your benefit.

Find a Pro Raw Feeding Vet Near You

All vets will recommend a complete and balanced diet to ensure that your dog gets all the essential nutrients they need to thrive. At Paleo Ridge, we work closely with vets and pet nutritionists to formulate meals that are highly nutritious and comply with the FEDIAF guidelines.

See our list of UK vets that support raw feeding.