Before transitioning your dog to a raw diet, it is worth researching the different models of feeding, and deciding upon which you would like to follow. Generally speaking, there are two main models of raw feeding that dog owners tend to follow: the Prey Model Raw (PMR) Diet, and the Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (BARF) Diet.
Prey Model Raw (PMR) Diet
The idea behind the ‘Prey Model’ of feeding a raw diet is that in the wild, a dog would hunt , kill and eat it’s prey. The average prey animal that would be eaten would consist of 80% meat, 10% bone, 10% offal (5% liver, 5% any other secreting organ).
A complete PMR diet follows this 80:10:10 rule. For more information about what constitutes as meat/ bone/ offal… Please see the separate guide.
The most common way of feeding a PMR diet is to feed ‘complete minces’ that include the correct amount of meat, bone and offal. There are raw feeders however who build up to feeding ‘whole prey’. This refers to an entire prey animal, with fur/ feathers/ innards intact. Examples include whole rabbit, duck, day old chicks and quail.
Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (BARF) Diet
Although there is a general consensus amongst raw feeders that a dog’s natural diet would be largely made up of prey… Some people argue that dogs are also scavengers, and in the wild, they would eat fruits and/or vegetables that are available to them. A BARF diet aims to replicate this and thesefore consists of 70% meat, 10% bone, 10% offal (5% liver, 5% any other secreting organ), 7% vegetables and 3% fruit.
There are many ‘complete minces’ that contain vegetables already mixed in for convenience. If you choose to add vegetables to your dogs’ diet yourself, it is advantageous to feed them pureed, lightly steamed, or fermented as this will give a ‘kick start’ to the digestion process, maximising the amount of nutrients that are absorbed.
Hybrid Raw Diet
A hybrid diet refers to a more flexible diet that lies between the PMR and BARF diet. Some meals will follow the 80:10:10 rule, and some meals will have vegetables and/or fruit added.
Making the Transition
Method #1 - Cold Turkey
If your dog doesn’t have a sensitive tummy, and has no known food allergies, they are likely to be able to manage a swift changeover from their previous diet to a raw food diet.
Method #2 - Slow and Steady
For dogs with sensitive tummies, begin by feeding 75% of their current food with 25% raw and wait until they are stable on this, then move to a 50%/50% mix, again waiting for signs that they are comfortable on this, before progressing to 25%/75%, and then finally 100% raw.
Method #3 - Allergies?
Symptoms include itchy and/or scabby skin, ear infections, yeast infections (will often smell a bit like popcorn). In this scenario, an Elimination Diet is recommended to work out exactly which foods are causing the allergic reactions, and therefore which to avoid going forward. For more information, please see the separate guide: Dogs with Allergies.
What to Feed
A nice product begin with is Gosforth Bark Chicken and Tripe mince. With 90% meat and 10% bone, this mince lacks offal and is therefore gentler on tummies. Please note that Tripe has an incredibly strong smell, however has lots of nutritional goodness so perseverance (and nose pegs) may be needed!
Once we are all settled on chicken and tripe, red meats can be introduced. Gosforth Bark duck and tripe, beef and tripe, lamb and tripe are examples of minces that have approx 90% meat and 10% bone.
The next step is to include secreting organs (offal) into the diet. This is an important step as the majority of vitamins minerals in the diet come from here. The easiest way to this is to through complete minces.
Finally, you are looking to achieve a well-balanced diet that consists of as many protein sources that you can feed. Bones are a great way to provide mental stimulation for your dog. If you choose to add whole bones to your dog’s diet, start small (e.g. poultry or rabbit) and make sure that you balance this out with a boneless mince and offal. (Do not feed whole bones alongside complete minces as you are at risk of feeding too much bone.
Poos are a good indication as to whether you are getting the balance right. Hard, white, “chalky” poos suggest too much bone; Feed boneless for a day or two. Soft poos could indicate that more bone is needed, or if they are particularly dark and sloppy, there could be too much offal in the diet so try to reduce this for a short period to see if this helps.
How much to feed your dog
Most adult dogs eat between 2% and 3% of their body weight daily. Most people start at 2.5% however if your dog is not very active or needs to lose weight, feed 2%. If your dog is active or needs to gain weight, feed 3%. Please note that this is a guide, and the actual amount required can differ from dog to dog. It is advised that you monitor your dog’s body condition and increase/ decrease the amount of food given if necessary.
To calculate 2% of your dog’s bodyweight, multiply their weight (kg) by 20. To calculate 2.5% of your dog’s bodyweight, multiply their weight (kg) by 25. To calculate 3% of your dog’s bodyweight, multiply their weight (kg) by 30. The answer will be the amount you feed per day in grams. For example…
You can split the daily allowance into as many meals as you like.