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A raw dog food recipe which is carefully thought out and properly prepared can keep Fido happy, healthy and in peak condition.
If you want to feed your dog a raw diet, you might well be wondering how to choose the right ingredients, how much to use, and how to prepare them.
To get things right it's important to know the basics of what nutrients your dog needs, and of course what's safe for him to eat and what isn't.
Once you've learned this, it simple to prepare tasty, healthy dishes that your dog will love....
... and on this page you're going to find all the tips, advice and information you need, so let's get started!
Although a 'raw dog food recipe' may sound like a contradiction in terms - after all, you might think 'if it's raw why do I need a recipe?'
But making sure that your dog gets all the nutrients he needs involves more than just throwing a couple of bones and a carrot into his bowl!
Feeding raw food doesn't involve cooking (duh!), but it does involve research and preparation - plus effort, creativity and patience.
It's important to make sure that recipes you choose provide your dog with the right balance of nutrients for his size, age and activity level.
Just like with humans, a varied diet made up of high-quality ingredients is the best way to achieve this goal.
This means alternating raw dog food recipes so that your dog gets a wide variety of meat, vegetables and fruits every week.
Before I get down to specifics, I thought it might help to give you an example of how to put together your dog's raw meals.
Although there are a LOT of variations, you need to use the same basic ingredients in the correct ratio/balance every time.
And of course you'll tailor your own personalized recipes to suit your dog's taste!
Here's a look at the basic structure for a raw meal designed for dogs:
1 1/2 cups of raw chopped meat (including some on the bone)
1/2 cup vegetables/fruit (either lightly steam these or run them through a juicer or food processor before adding to other ingredients)
2tsp of fish oil
Vitamin/Mineral supplement as directed on product
Plenty of fresh water to drink.
Now you've got an idea of what you'll be using to prepare your dog's meals, let's take a look at some specific figures:
Of course, the mainstay of any dog diet is a good source of protein, and for most dogs that protein is best when it comes from quality meat.
Meaty bones are an important part of your dog's raw food recipes, but you'll also want to use chopped meat, organ meat or fish instead of/as well as, the bones.
It's important to always use human-grade meat and go 'organic' with all ingredients whenever possible.
Here are a selection of options for you to try:
There are tons of different fruits and vegetables that you can add to any raw dog food recipe.
Something worth noting here is that a dogs' digestive system can't absorb the nutrients from raw vegetables/fruit unless they are finely chopped or ground (as if when using a food processor or blender) or juiced.
Lightly steaming fruits or vegetables is another way to break them down sufficiently for your dog to get the maximum benefit from their nutrient value.
Like people, some dogs prefer certain ones and you will find out about your dogs' preferences as you go along.
Don't be too rigid about this though as it's important that he gets a wide variety of fruit and veggies so keep trying different ones until you have a good selection that he will eat.
Also, there are a few that can cause excess gas or other digestive upsets, others that are actually dangerous, even toxic, to dogs. Here's a list of some vegetables that you can use safely:
Don't use garlic, onions or potatoes with their skin on... these can cause stomach upset and even be toxic in large quantities.
Cabbage and turnips can result in a lot of gas, and tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms and peppers can cause tummy upsets.
You can also add a number of different fruits to any raw dog food recipe.
Here are some of the most common and popular choices:
Don't use grapes or raisins. They can be poisonous to dogs.
Other ingredients that can be used to add variety and extra nutritional value to raw dog food recipes.
They do not need to be added daily, and once or twice a week for most is generally enough...
Some people like to add grain to a raw food recipe, but this isn't actually necessary because dogs don't need grain in their diet.
However if you really want to do this, try adding cooked oats, barley or rice as these are less likely to cause allergies or sensitivities.
If feeding grains, it's a good idea to feed them separately from the meat due to the time it takes for a dog to digest grains as opposed to meat.
Vegetables and fruits can be fed with either meat or grains.
So... for example, you could feed vegetables and rice for breakfast and meat/bones for dinner) or something similar.
It's actually super easy to whip up raw dog food recipes once you have the ingredients on hand and prepared.
It's almost as easy as pouring kibble into a bowl (close anyway!).
Using the 75% meat to 25% vegetable/fruit ratio, all you have to do is mix the ingredients together and offer them as one meal, or divide into two and feed half in the morning and half in the evening.
To make up 1lb (approx 2 cups) of raw dog food, you'll need:
Obviously raw food has one big difference to dry kibble, and that is the fact that it doesn't have much of a shelf-life. Whatever isn't going to be served/eaten right away needs to be refrigerated immediately, and will be okay for 24 hours or so. After that you need to throw it away.
To make life a little easier you can prepare large batches of food in one go, then divide it into daily portions (using the guidelines given earlier for the daily requirements) and freeze it. Make sure to defrost thoroughly, in the refrigerator, before serving though - otherwise you could make your dog sick.
If you want to change up your raw dog food recipes, find new ideas, or just get a little extra help to make the whole process quicker and easier, there are lots of products out there that can do just that.
First of all, there are some great raw dog food recipe books. If your imagination gets stuck in neutral or you're not sure about combinations, measurements etc, then one of these will help you out....
Or, perhaps you really want to feed a raw dog food diet but aren't sure you have the time for preparation, freezing etc., there are some great alternatives out there.
Some are 'complete' diets, some can be added to a diet of premium commercial dog food (replacing a portion of the meal), others can be used as the meat ingredients in a raw dog food recipe.... the choice is yours.
When it comes to puppies, feeding raw dog food is a bit more complicated.
That's because pups have very specific nutritional needs,
and an improperly balanced diet can lead to all sorts of developmental and growth problems, perhaps leaving lasting effects.
Unless you're very comfortable using raw dog food recipes and are prepared to take the time and effort required to make absolutely certain that your puppy is getting exactly what he needs, then it may be best to leave the raw dog food recipe until his little body has stopped growing and he's mature.
If you do decide to feed raw dog food to your puppy/puppies, always discuss it with your vet first to make sure that you have all the health angles covered!
If you'd like to feed a homemade diet to your dog but prefer to actually COOK the food first, check out my Homemade Dog Food page.